- This topic has 2 replies, 3 voices, and was last updated 16 years, 5 months ago by Pete Giwojna.
April 21, 2007 at 1:11 am #1188MoonValleyAzMember
During the cycling of my tank, I had severe slime algae growth. This was before I added the sea horses. GARF, sent me reef janitors that quickly ate all the algae. Now after two months, a small amount has started growing on one of my sponges. The hermit crabs are slowing eating it. However, I think, and am not sure, that there may be some growing on the back of two of my sea horses. The reason why I think this is there are two patches on the backs that are the same color as the algae, a burgandy red color. Although on the sponge, and previously when it was all over the tank, the algae ended up getting very long hair. this has not happend on the seahorse. But I am concerned. Is it possible that there is growth on the sea horse. I don\’t see any of the long slimey hair on them yet. It could be just coloring of the sea horse, but I\’m not sure. How can I tell? and if it is algae growth, how can I safely remove it from the sea horses? Your help would be appreciated. Thanks.April 21, 2007 at 2:35 am #3560LeslieGuest
Hi MV Az,
Yes algae can indeed grow on seahorses, but there is no need to worry about it. It won’t hurt your seahorses. If you are bothered by it you can take a soft new never before used paint brush and gently brush it off.
LeslieApril 24, 2007 at 1:03 am #3561Pete GiwojnaGuest
Dear Moon Valley:
As Leslie explained, algae often grows on the exoskeleton of seahorses, typically on their head and neck and upper back, which are closest to the light source. That’s perfectly normal and nothing at all to be concerned about. In fact, seahorses often encourage algae to grow on them as a protective device to enhance their camouflage, and it’s often best simply to ignore any such growth.
If you find the algae growth to be unsightly, you can certainly brush it off as Leslie described. Just be very careful when you are handling the seahorse and gently brushing away the algae so that you don’t remove any of the seahorse’s protective slime coat if you can possibly avoid it.
The seahorse’s pliant skin or integument is of course its first line of defense against disease. It contains mucus glands, and the slime covering the skin acts as a barrier to ectoparasites and infection. The protective slime can contain antibodies and antibacterial substances, and excessive mucus production is often the first sign of an infection or parasite problem. On the other hand, healthy seahorses often have small bright dots on their heads and torsos, which are actually mucus deposits. These beads of mucus glisten like little diamonds and are a sign of vibrant good health. When handling a seahorse, it’s important to wet your hands first in order to avoid removing too much of the protective slime coat.
Marine fish are always in danger of dehydration because the seawater they live in is saltier than their blood and internal body fluids. As a result, they are constantly losing water by diffusion (osmosis) through their gills and the surface of their skin, as well as in their urine. The mucus layer acts as a barrier against this, waterproofing the skin and reducing the amount of water that can diffuse across its surface.
So feel free to very gently brush away the algae as long as you take the necessary precautions and don’t disturb your seahorse’s protective slime coat any more than necessary, but you should be aware that the algae is very likely to quickly regrow if you don’t also address the conditions that are promoting the algae growth. Excess nutrients (especially nitrates and phosphates) fuel the growth of nuisance algae, so if you want to get rid of the algae growth on your seahorse once and for all, you should concentrate on reducing the nutrient loading in your aquarium and perhaps cut back on the photoperiod so the algae has less light for photosynthesis.
If you search this forum for the phrases "hair algae" or "slime algae" or "nuisance algae," you will find lots of detailed information and suggestions explaining how to get your nitrates and excess nutrients under control, which should be very helpful in preventing the recurrence of the algae growth on your seahorses.
Best wishes with all of your fishes, Moon Valley!
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