It is very good to hear that your stallion’s problems with chronic pouch emphysema seem to be a thing of the past. That alone should make him feel a great deal better.
And it certainly sounds like you are doing a wonderful job with the tube feeding, and that the procedure is much less stressful for your stallion now that he is accustomed to the process and perhaps realizes he is receiving good nutrition as a result.
I don’t have any suggestions for you regarding methods to make the sleeve of the catheter that you use for the tube feedings smoother and less irritating. I think that is a valid concern when a seahorse must be force fed indefinitely, but many times in cases of weak snick the inflammation and swelling that can result and sometimes complicate tube feeding are due to secondary infections rather than irritation from the catheter itself.
When a secondary infection is involved in weak snick, it often interferes with the suctorial feeding mechanism because the passage of water into the opercular cavity and/or gills is clogged or partially occluded. This can be due to hyperplasia of the affected tissue (swelling and thickening due to irritation or inflammation) or the formation of granulomas, or a combination of both. Granulomas are pyrogranulatomous nodules that form as a result of chronic inflammatory responses characterized by the presence of macrophages, a large white blood cell that is called to clean up problems. These cells "gobble up" (phagocitize) foreign material to clear it from the body. Such granulomas can result from either bacterial or fungal infections (or mixed infections, of course). Hyperplasia can be produced as a result of the irritation from embedded parasites that attack the gills and sometimes invade the esophagus, or the hyperplasia and granulomas can result from secondary bacterial or fungal infections that set in where the burrowing parasites have compromised the integument.
In other words, the inflammation and granulomas that sometimes complicate tube feeding are usually the result of an immune response to foreign invaders (most often bacteria or fungal infection, and sometimes protozoan parasites), rather than mechanical irritation from the catheter used during the tube feeding.
It sounds like the tube feedings have been going smoothly for you up to now, Carol, so thus far that hasn’t proved to be a problem. If you want to try applying a very thin layer of silicon to the end of the catheter’s sleeve, that could possibly be helpful in preventing any mechanical irritation caused by inserting the catheter. But I don’t know if that is very practical, since you would have to be very careful when applying the silicon so that you did not increase the outside diameter of the catheter (which could make it more difficult to insert and possibly make it more irritating as a result) and that you do not occlude the opening of the catheter with a buildup of the silicon at the tip. Feel free to experiment if you have a few of the catheters you use for tube feeding that are expendable and see how it goes, but if you only have one catheter of the right size, I would not risk compromising it with the silicon.
Continue to try offering your stallion some mini Mysis or softbodied adult brine shrimp each day that are easy to swallow before you administer the tube feeding, Carol. Hopefully, he will recover quickly and begin feeding normally again faster than anticipated.
Don’t worry if your posts appear to be dominating the forum at the moment. That’s merely an illusion. Normally, there would be only one discussion thread associated with the subject of your stallion’s ailment and treatments, Carol, with many different replies to that single topic, as you had additional questions or concerns you wanted to ask. But if you prefer to begin a new post with each new question, I have no problem with that all. The main thing is that the information gets exchanged, not whether it is done via many individual questions, each with a single reply, as opposed to a single discussion thread with many different replies…
Best of luck restoring your stallion to normal again, Carol!