Pete Giwojna

Dear Liz:

You’re very welcome to any and all the help I can provide!

Yes, I realize you’re very new to all of this and that’s one of the reasons that I recommended those particular medications — formalin, methylene blue, and Furan2 are medications that are commonly available for aquarium use from any well-stocked pet shop or fish store. I would suggest telephoning your local Petco as well as Corner Critters and asking them if they carry a brand of formalin and a brand of methylene blue (chances are good that one of them will). Then ask them specifically about the Furan2, but don’t just mention Furan2 since this medication goes by a number of different brand names, such as Furanase, Nitrofuracin Green, Binox, BiFuran+, FuraMS, Furazolidone Powder. So give them a whole list of brand names and ask them if they carry any of those.

If not, if you are unable to obtain any of these medications locally, do an Internet search for them (Google, etc.) and you’ll find thousands of places that sell them online. In that case, I believe Kordon’s Formalin 3 and Kordon Methylene Blue are the best brand names for those particular products. It’s going to take a while for the medications to arrive through the mail, unfortunately, but in your case that may be unavoidable, Liz.

If you have to order the medications through the mail, then you can try treating the tip of his tail topically using antibiotic salve that you can obtain from your local drugstore. For example, Liz, good old Neosporin would be an excellent choice for this purpose. Here are the instructions for using it to treat the tail of your seahorse, once again courtesy of Ann at the org:

NEOSPORIN Dosage and Preparation Instructions for Topical Application
Active Ingredient: Neomycin Sulfate
Indication: open external lesions.
Brandnames: Neosporin and generic triple antibiotic ointments are available at pharmacies and discount
Note: Please do NOT use ointments that list Pramoxine HCl or other pain relievers in their ingredients.
• If the lesion is on the body, hold the head underwater and gently apply the ointment with a cotton swab.
Try not to disturb the wound with the applicator.
• A thin coating is enough.
• Apply twice per day .
Note: Do not use ointments that list Pramoxine HCl or other pain relievers in their ingredients

Hopefully, treating the tail by coating it with a thin layer of Neosporin twice daily will buy you enough time for the medications to arrive through the mail, if you have to go that route, Liz.

Once you do obtain the formalin, methylene blue, and Furan2, just use them as explained in my previous post and I’m sure you’ll do just fine.

If you do not have a hospital tank set up at this time, Liz, you can improvise one using a clean plastic bucket, as explained below:

Hospital Ward Or Quarantine Tank

A bare-bottomed aquarium with plenty of hitching posts will suffice for a hospital ward or Quarantine Tank (QT). Ideally, the hospital tank should have one or more foam filters for biofiltration along with a small external filter, which can easily be removed from the tank during treatment but which can hold activated carbon or polyfilter pads when it’s time to pull the meds out. It’s important for the hospital ward to include enough hitching posts so that the seahorse won’t feel vulnerable or exposed during treatment. Aquarium safe, inert plastic plants or homemade hitching posts fashioned from polypropylene rope or twine that has been unraveled and anchored at one end are excellent for a hospital tank. No aquarium reflector is necessary. Ambient room light will suffice. (Bright lights can breakdown and inactivate certain medications and seahorses are more comfortable and feel more secure under relatively dim lighting.)

So just a bare tank with hitching posts is all you need for your hospital ward. No heater. No reflector. No lights. No substrate. You can even do without the sponge filters or external filter in your case, just adding a couple of airstones to provide surface agitation and oxygenation. That’s it.

In a pinch, a clean 5-gallon plastic bucket (new and unused, NOT an old scrub bucket!) can serve as a makeshift hospital tank. It should be aerated and equipped with hitching posts and perhaps a heater, but nothing else. This makes a useful substitute when the Quarantine Tank is occupied or in use and a seahorse needs treatment.

Stay on top of water quality in the hospital tank/bucket with water changes as often as needed during treatment, and and when you are treating the occupants for a health problem, re-dose with the medication(s) according to directions after each water change

Finally, Liz, I would also like to invite you to participate in Ocean Rider’s training program for new seahorse keepers. It’s designed specifically for newbies like you and should prove to be very helpful in the long run. As you know, Liz, I am a moderator for this discussion forum and I also provide tech-support for Ocean Rider ( Part of my duties in that regard include providing a quick training course for new Ocean Rider customers and first-time buyers to get them up to speed on the aquarium care and requirements of seahorses.

The purpose of this training is twofold: (1) to assure that the hobbyist has a suitable aquarium, completely cycled and with the biofiltration fully established, ready and waiting when his seahorses arrive, and (2) to assure that the hobbyist has a good understanding of the aquarium care and requirements of Ocean Rider seahorses by the time he or she has completed the training and been certified. All of which will help to ensure that things go smoothly and that your first experience with Ocean Rider seahorses is rewarding and enjoyable.

This basic training is very informal and completely free of charge, Liz. Ocean Rider provides the free training as a service to their customers and any other hobbyists who are interested in learning more about the care and keeping of seahorses. It’s a crash course on seahorse keeping consisting of 10 separate lessons covering the following subjects, and is conducted entirely via e-mail. All totaled, the lessons comprise over 180 pages of text with more than 100 full-color illustrations. There is no homework or examinations or anything of that nature — just a lot of good, solid information on seahorses for you to read through and absorb as best you can, at your own speed:

Aquarium care and requirements of seahorses;
Selecting a suitable aquarium for seahorses;
size (tank height and water volume)
aquarium test kits
Optimizing your aquarium for seahorses;
water movement and circulation
hitching posts (real and artificial)
Cycling a new marine aquarium;
The cleanup crew (aquarium janitors & sanitation engineers);
Water Chemistry
optimal parameters
water quality & water changes
aquarium maintenance schedule
Feeding seahorses;
Compatible tank mates for seahorses;
Courtship and breeding;
Rearing the young;
Disease prevention and control;
Hippocampus erectus
natural history
professional rearing protocols
Acclimating Ocean Rider seahorses.

If you’re interested, Liz, I will be providing you with detailed information on these subjects and answering any questions you may have about the material I present. I will also be recommending seahorse-related articles for you to read and absorb online.

In short, the training course will teach you everything you need to know to keep your seahorses happy and healthy, and it will arm you with the information you need in order to tackle your first ponies with confidence.

How long this training will take to complete depends on your experience level as an aquarist to a large extent. For example, if you have never kept seahorses before and you do not already have a suitable saltwater aquarium up and running, it will take at least eight weeks for your training and preparations to be completed before you can be certified. It will take that long to learn the basics of seahorse keeping, set up a suitable aquarium, cycle the tank from scratch to establish the biological filtration, and optimize the tank to create an ideal environment for seahorses. Only then can you be certified ready to receive your first seahorses.

On the other hand, experienced marine aquarists and hobbyists that have had seahorses before and already have a suitable saltwater aquarium up and running can be certified much more quickly. I will run through the same basic information with them, but most of the information I provide will be familiar material for such hobbyists and they should be able to review it and get up to speed quickly, plus they should have well-established aquariums ready, fully matured that they can fairly quickly adapt in order to make them more ideal for seahorses. In a case like that, certification can be completed as soon as they have absorbed the material I provide and are confident they have a good grasp of the specialized requirements and aquarium care of the seahorses.

So in order to get started, Liz, the first thing I need to know is how experienced you are with saltwater aquariums. Have you ever kept a marine aquarium before? If so, how long have you been involved with the saltwater aquarium hobby? Do you have one or more marine aquariums up and running at this time? If so, how long have the tanks been in operation?

Do you have an aquarium up and running at this time that you intend to use as a seahorse tank? If so, can you please describe the aquarium system you will be using for your seahorse tank? How large is the aquarium (length, width, and height)? What kind of filtration equipment is installed and running on the aquarium? What type of lighting system does the tank you? How long has the proposed seahorse tank been up and running? Please list all of the current inhabitants of the aquarium you will be using as your seahorse tank, if any.

If not, if you don’t have an aquarium for your seahorses as of yet, that’s just fine. I will be providing you with lots of recommendations and options in that regard so that you can pick out a tank that is just right for your needs and interests. And I will be working with you personally every step of the way until your new aquarium is ready for seahorses and you are well prepared to give them the best of care, regardless of how long that may take.

If you would like to give the training program a try, please get back to me as soon as possible with the information requested above, Liz, and we will get started with your training right away. Just send me a quick note with your first and last name, which I need for our records, and we’ll get you up to speed in no time.

Pete Giwojna

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