Re:White Flakes on Skin

Pete Giwojna

Dear Tempest:

I am not quite sure what to make of the white flakes you noticed on the skin of your seahorses. Can you possibly give me a little better description of these flakes?

If you mean that in some areas the skin of the seahorses is beginning to peel up and flake off, that’s an indication of ulcerative dermatitis, a serious bacterial infection that should be treated in isolation with broad-spectrum antibiotics. Is the skin itself lifting up and peeling off or flaking, Tempest? If so, how does the skin appear underneath the flakes that are peeling off? Is it red and inflamed? Bloody? Discolored?

Or do you mean that some sort of white precipitate is settling out of the water in flakes that adhere to the skin of your seahorses? Or are you describing excess mucus or portions of the slime coat that are sloughing off the back and tails of the seahorses?

Do all of the seahorses and fish in the aquarium have the white flakes, or is it only two of them? Do the affected seahorses have any other symptoms of a problem other than the white flakes on their skin? Itching or scratching? Any signs of respiratory distress (e.g., huffing or panting, labored breathing, rapid respirations)? Loss of appetite or lethargy or cloudy eyes or reduced eye movement?

I need more information about your aquarium system and the appearance of these white flakes in order to determine what kind of a problem your seahorses may be experiencing. Please get back to me as soon as possible with more information about the flakes and your current readings for the following aquarium parameters:

Ammonia (NH3/NH4+) =
Nitrite (N02) =
Nitrate (N03) =
pH =
specific gravity or salinity =
water temperature =

It would also be very helpful if you could send me one or two digital photographs that provide a close-up look at the white flakes you are concerned about. If possible, please insert photographs of the affected seahorses in an e-mail and send it to me off list ([email protected]), along with additional information about your seahorse setup.

Good luck in the meantime, Tempest!

Pete Giwojna

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