You’re very welcome and congratulations on performing a successful pouch evacuation, sir! You’re quite right — the smaller the seahorse, the more difficult many of the procedures for releasing gas from the pouch become.
For instance, releasing the air or gas from a tiny dwarf seahorse male is much more difficult than it is for the larger seahorses, and sometimes requires extraordinary measures to accomplish. Here is an account of one such case in which Kirk Strawn — the leading expert on Hippocampus zosterae in the wild — had to evacuate the air from a pregnant dwarf seahorse several times during the course of its pregnancy:
Herald and Rakowicz (1951) found bubbles to occur in the large seahorses, Hippocampus hudsonius punctatus, as the result of gas given off by decaying young remaining in the pouch after delivery. They recommended removing the bubble by inserting a needle into the opening of the pouch after delivery. This is a more difficult operation on the little dwarfs. It is more easily accomplished either during courtship or following the delivery of young — at which times the opening to the pouch is dilated. Inserting a needle through the entrance of the pouch does not ruin a male for future breeding. A male kept away from females from February until June had bubbles removed on three occasions by puncturing the side of the pouch with a needle and squeezing out the bubble. (Males go through the motions of courtship and may pick up bubbles even if no females are present.) On June seventh he was placed with a ripe, freshly caught female. On the seventeenth I cut a slit in the side of the pouch and removed a bubble and two partly formed babies. By the twentieth [3 days later] the slit was healed over, and he had another air bubble. On the 23rd I partially removed this bubble by forcing a needle through the entrance of the pouch. On the 25th [2 days later] yolk came out when the needle was inserted. On July 5th he gave birth to a large brood after which a bubble was squeezed out of the dilated opening of the pouch without the aid of a needle. The next day he sucked in another bubble while courting. Removing bubbles does not permanently damage the fish…
Note that in this episode, Strawn had to perform needle aspirations on his pregnant dwarf multiple times in addition to eventually performing surgery and cutting open the side of the pouch on one occasion. Yet even after all of these traumatic events, some of which resulted in yolk or embryonic young being released along with the air, the male still went on to deliver a large brood normally at the appointed time afterwards. If you can obtain a suitable needle and syringe, many times performing a needle aspiration, as explained in my previous post, is the least stressful way to accomplish it difficult pouch evacuation…
At any rate, Kraut, that sounds like a very effective technique that you improvised — flushing the pouch thoroughly to cleanse it is often more effective in preventing a reoccurrence of this problem than simply releasing the trapped air. You certainly did a fine job with a tricky procedure under challenging circumstances! Well done!
Best wishes with all your fishes! Here’s hoping your stallion never needs to undergo this procedure again.