- This topic has 5 replies, 2 voices, and was last updated 17 years, 4 months ago by Pete Giwojna.
October 25, 2006 at 2:05 am #962dtm55Member
I have a seahorse that has a black like worm hanging from uner his snout and his pouch area. Looks like it is attached to him. Obviosly a parasite but what kind and how do I get rid of it. A malchite green bath work? Love to heqar from you guys. Seahorse is eating great but I want to eradicate the pest! From some of the books I read, maybe Fluke?
Thanks, DaveOctober 25, 2006 at 3:37 pm #2945Pete GiwojnaGuest
Yes, sir, it does sound like your seahorse has some sort of external parasites, possibly flukes, roundworms, or even leeches. Most such ectoparasites can be removed by administering a simple freshwater dip, as described below:
A freshwater water dip is simply immersing your seahorse in pure, detoxified freshwater that’s been preadjusted to the same temp and pH as the water the seahorse is accustomed to, for a period of at least 10 minutes (Giwojna, Dec. 2003). It doesn’t harm them — seahorses typically tolerate freshwater dips exceptionally well and a 10-minute dip should be perfectly safe. Freshwater dips are effective because marine fish tolerate the immersion in freshwater far better than the external parasites they play host to; the change in osmotic pressure kills or incapacitates such microorganisms within 7-8 minutes (Giwojna, Dec. 2003). A minimum dip, if the fish seems to be doing fine, is therefore 8 minutes. Include some sort of hitching post in the dipping container and shoot for the full 10 minutes with your seahorses (Giwojna, Dec. 2003).
If you will be using tap water for the freshwater dip, be sure to dechlorinate it beforehand. This can be accomplished usually one of the commercial dechlorinators, which typically include sodium thiosulfate and perhaps a chloramine remover as well, or by aerating the tap water for at least 24 hours to dissipate the chlorine (Giwojna, Dec. 2003).
If you dechlorinate the dip water with a sodium thiosulfate product, be sure to use an airstone to aerate it for at least one hour before administering the dip. This is because the sodium thiosulfate depletes the water of oxygen and the dip water must therefore be oxygenated before its suitable for your seahorse(s). Regardless of how you detoxify the freshwater for the dip, it’s important to aerate the water in the dipping container well beforehand to increase the level of dissolved oxygen in the water. Many hobbyists leave the airstone in the dipping container throughout the procedure.
Adjusting the pH of the water in the dipping container so that it matches the pH of the water in the aquarium is a crucial step. If there is too much of a difference in the pH, there is a possibility the seahorse could go into shock during the dipping procedure. Preadjusting the pH will prevent that from happening. If you will are unsure about your ability to accurately adjust the pH in the dipping container, avoid this procedure altogether or be prepared to monitor the seahorse very carefully or shorten the duration of the tip to no more than about 4 minutes.
Observe the horse closely during the dip. You may see some immediate signs of distress or shock. Sometimes the horse will immediately lie on its side on the bottom. That’s a fairly common reaction — normal and to be expected, rather than a cause for concern, so don’t be alarmed if this happens. Just nudge or tap the seahorse gently with your finger if it lies down on its side. Normally, the seahorse will respond to the slight nudge by righting itself again and calm down for the duration of the dip. However, if it does not respond, stop the treatment.
Most seahorses tolerate the treatment well and experience no problems, but if you see continued signs of distress — twitching, thrashing around etc. — stop the treatment.
After you have completed the dip and returned the seahorses to the aquarium, save the dip water and examined it closely for any sign of parasites. The change in osmotic pressure from saltwater to freshwater will cause ectoparasites to lyse (i.e., swell and burst) or drop off their host after 7-10 minutes, and they will be left behind in the dipping water. Protozoan parasites are microscopic and won’t be visible to the naked eye, but some of the other ectoparasites can be clearly seen. For example, monogenetic trematodes will appear as opaque sesame seeds drifting in the water (Giwojna, Aug. 2003) and nematodes may be visible as tiny hairlike worms 1/16-3/16 of an inch long. Other parasites may appear as tiny dots in the water. Freshwater dips can thus often provide affected seahorses with some immediate relief by ridding them of these irritating pests and can also aid their breathing by flushing out gill parasites.
In your case, Dave, the wormlike parasites should drop off of their host and be left behind in the dipping container if all goes well.
If for any reason the freshwater dip is not effective, or if you suspect your whole tank may be infested with these wormlike parasites, then I would suggest treating your seahorses with a deworming agent such as fenbendazole (brand-name Panacur). It can be administered in a hospital tank or used to treat the main tank if it’s a fish only without sensitive invertebrates that might be harmed by the fenbendazole and you observe all the proper precautions, as discussed below:
Fenbendazole (brand name of Panacur) is an inexpensive anthelmintic agent (dewormer) used for large animals such as horses, and the de-worming granules can be obtained without a prescription from stores that carry agricultural products (e.g., farm and ranch equipment, farming supplies and products, veterinary supplies, livestock and horse supplies, livestock and horse feed) or via the Internet from places such as KV Vet Supply (see link below). The granular form of fenbendazole (horse dewormer granules 22.2%) is preferable to the paste for aquarium use, as the dosage of the granules is easier to regulate (Liisa Coit, pers. com.). It is available in packets of 5.2 grams or 0.18 ounces.
Click here: KV Vet Supply / KV HealthLinks – Pet, equine & livestock supplies / Quality nutrition for you!
(Use the 22.2 % granules rather than the paste.)
Administering a regimen of fenbendazole (FBZ) or Panacur after a hypersaline bath has chased out the mobile pests will eradicate any hydroids, Aiptasia rock anemones, or remaining worms, thereby rendering your live rock completely seahorse safe. The recommended dose is 1/8 teaspoon of the horse dewormer granules (22.2% fenbendazole) per 10 gallons of water. Dose the nursery tank with 1/8 teaspoon/10 gallons every other day until you have administered a total of 3 such treatments (Liisa Coit, pers. com.).
Because fenbendazole is essentially a de-worming agent, it will destroy any bristleworms, flat worms, spaghetti worms or the like. The FBZ or Panacur treatments are best administered to the live rock in a bucket before the LR is introduced in the main tank. Otherwise, the massive die-off of the worm population in the aquarium may require large water changes in order to prevent a dangerous ammonia spike! And after the treatment is completed, its a good idea to add a portion of newly purchased live sand to the system in order to help restore its normal diversity of fauna and microfauna again (Liisa Coit, pers. com.).
Fenbendazole does not have any adverse effects on biological filtration, but be aware that it is death to many Cnidarians besides hydroids. Mushrooms and related corals are generally not affected, but expect it to have dire effects on other corals (e.g., sinularias), polyps, gorgonians, and anemones. In general, any Cnidarians with polyps that resemble the stalked family of Hydrozoans are likely to be hit hard by fenbendazole, so don’t use this treatment in a reef tank!
Also be aware that fenbendazole seems to soak into the porous live rock and be absorbed indefinitely. I know one hobbyist who transferred a small piece of live rock that had been treated with fenbendazole (Panacur) months earlier into a reef tank, where it killed the resident starfish and Astrea snails. So enough of the medication may be retained within treated live rock to impact sensitive animals months after the fenbendazole was administered. Don’t treat live rock intended for reef systems with fenbendazole (Panacur)!
At the lower dosage recommended for nursery tanks (1/16 tsp. Per 10 gallons), fenbendazole normally does not harm cleaner shrimp and decorative shrimp. With the exception of Astrids (Astrea), Coit and Worden have found it does not usually affect the types of snails typically used as cleanup crews (e.g., Nassarius, Ceriths, and Nerites). It will kill starfish but copepods, hermit crabs, and shrimp are normally not affected.
Macroalgae such as the feathery or long-bladed varieties of Caulerpa or Hawaiian Ogo (Gracilaria) are not harmed by exposure to fenbendazole at even triple the normal dose. In fact, if you will be using Caulerpa in your nursery tanks to provide hitching posts for the fry and serve as a form of natural filtration, it’s a very wise precaution indeed to treat them with a regimen of fenbendazole beforehand.
So fenbendazole (FBZ) or Panacur is primarily useful for ridding bare-bottomed nursery tanks and dwarf seahorses setups of hyrdroids and Aiptasia anemones, ridding Caulerpa and other macroalge of hydroids or Aiptasia before its goes into the aquarium, and cleansing live rock of bristleworms, hydroids, and Aiptasia rock anemones before it is introduced to the aquarium.
It can also be used to eradicate bristleworms, hydroids, an Aiptasia from an established aquarium if it does not house sensitive animals such as live corals and gorgonians, starfish, Astrea snails, or tubeworms and other desirable worms that may be harmed by FBZ, providing you monitor the ammonia levels closely and are prepared to deal with the ammonia spike that may result from the sudden death of the worm population.
Either the freshwater dip or the fenbendazole deworming agent should eradicate those wormlike parasites that are plaguing your seahorses, Dave. Best of luck ridding your seahorses of those pesky ectoparasites, sir!
Pete GiwojnaOctober 25, 2006 at 7:59 pm #2946dtm55Guest
Thnaks, for the informative dips paragraph. The Local Fish Store in my area recommended a malchite green dip, will this kill the worm/leach on my horse. Is this also ok for the horse as well. Thanks again for your time.October 26, 2006 at 12:51 am #2948Pete GiwojnaGuest
Malachite green is an effective treatment for Cryptocaryon irritans and many other ectoparasites. Seahorses typically tolerate all the usual chemotherapeutics when administered at the proper dosages, including malachite green, but that is one medication I would not recommend using as a concentrated dip for seahorses. (Dr. Amanda Vincent has reported that Hippocampus can be sensitive to concentrated doses of malachite green.)
I would say that a freshwater dip is a safer alternative for you, Dave, particularly if only one seahorse seems to be affected. If you suspect the entire tank may be infested with the wormlike parasites, then treatment with a dewormer such as fenbendazole (Panacur) would be appropriate, providing the tank houses no sensitive invertebrates.
Best of luck treating your seahorse’s worm problem, sir!
Pete GiwojnaOctober 26, 2006 at 12:57 am #2949dtm55Guest
What do you recomend to raise the PH of the RO water I have. As you know RO water has a very low ph. I will try the freshwater dip ASAP. I want to get rid of that leach. Thats what I get mixing ORA horses with wild caught horses. All are eating treat though, frozen MYSis. Thankls again for your time Pete.
DaveOctober 26, 2006 at 4:02 pm #2951Pete GiwojnaGuest
Yup, RO water is very soft and needs to be buffered to restore it to normal pH. If you just need to adjust the pH to match your aquarium conditions so that you can perform a freshwater dip safely, then good old baking soda or sodium bicarbonate should suffice for adjusting the pH upwards.
However, in my experience, the best way to stabilize your pH in your aquarium at the proper level is to gradually adjust it upwards as usual, and then use a dual-phase or 2-part Calcium Buffer System periodically thereafter. This type of buffer has two parts — an alkalinity component and a calcium component — that simultaneously adjust the carbonate hardness of the aquarium as well as the calcium level, which is very beneficial for seahorses
To adjust your pH to the proper range (8.1-8.4) initially, just obtain one of the commercially made products designed to adjust the pH upwards in saltwater aquariums and use it according to the instructions. Such a product should be available from any good LFS that handles marine fishes and invertebrates; they typically include sodium bicarbonate as their primary active ingredient and are often marketed under names such as "pH Up" or something similar. Just be patient when you are adjusting the pH and don’t add too much of the product too soon. Very often your pH won’t budge at all the first several times that you add the product according to directions. That’s perfectly normal, so don’t be discouraged if your pH stays at 7.8 even though you’ve added several doses of the product you obtained to raise the pH. Don’t don’t be tempted to add more of it or to add it more often than specified in the instructions. The product must first overcome the natural buffering ability of the saltwater in your aquarium before I can change the pH level significantly. It’s like performing a titration — typically, you add several doses and your pH doesn’t budge at all, but then the very next dose you add may change the pH dramatically. Since you never know when that critical point will be reached, remain patient and continue to carefully add more of the product as directed until the pH does start to change, and then adjust it to the desired level as gradually as possible.
Once the pH has been adjusted to the proper level of 8.2-8.4, you then add the alkalinity component of the 2-part buffer system. Next you wait a couple of minutes and add the calcium component of the 2-part buffer system. Your pH should remain stable at that pH thereafter and this method also has the added benefit of keeping your calcium level in the proper range as well. For a typical seahorse tank, you can keep it stable at the desired pH by adding more of the 2-part Calcium Buffer System about once every week or two after you perform your usual water changes with the RO-mixed saltwater.
The 2-Part Calcium Buffer System that Marcie and some of our other members report works well with their seahorse tanks is labeled "ESV B-Ionic" on the bottles, but Sea Balance and many of the other brands do much the same thing. The alkalinity component of these two-part buffers maintains the carbonate hardness or KH in the aquarium, whereas the calcium component maintains the calcium levels in the proper range. Any good marine aquarium store will have a suitable product available for this.
Best of luck adjusting your pH and the eradicating those black wormlike parasites, Dave.
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