Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm and Tours | Kona Hawaii › Forums › Seahorse Life and Care › Bloated Sunburst!
- This topic has 5 replies, 2 voices, and was last updated 16 years, 8 months ago by Pete Giwojna.
September 9, 2006 at 6:16 pm #925KAC30101Member
I am having a problem with one of my Sunbursts…… I think! I had the pouch emphzema with one of my Mustangs before, anf I treated him and all was good, but with this little guy something is different. He is swimming around without being bouyant, but his whole body looks swollen to me, not just his pouch. He seems to have lost interest in eating recently and just kinda hangs out. He isn\’t really displaying any signs of being sick…. he just seems very still and VERY bloated. When he does swim… he almost seems to be leaned over alittle…. head first. Any suggestions on what to do?
KrisSeptember 9, 2006 at 11:56 pm #2845Pete GiwojnaGuest
I’m sorry to hear about the problem with bloating your seahorse has developed. Of course, that’s not a good sign and it indicates that your seahorses seriously ill.
The generalized swelling you describe could be an indication of a serious bacterial infection akin to dropsy, which causes edema and ascites (fluid build up within the abdomen), or it could be a sign of kidney failure, or it could be a manifestation of internal gas bubble syndrome (GBS), which causes gas and/or fluid to build up within the coelomic cavity.
The prognosis is poor in such cases and I would suggest isolating the affected seahorse and treating her aggressively with antibiotic therapy in your hospital tank, gradually reducing the water temperature to as low as 68°F if possible, and administering beta-glucan orally if the seahorse is still eating. If you can obtain it, I would also add Diamox to the treatment regimen, since it is helpful in treating GBS and may also have a diuretic affect that can help to restore the proper fluid balance in some cases.
The antibiotics I would recommend in a case like this are aminoglycoside antibiotics (i.e., kanamycin sulfate or neomycin sulfate) combined with various sulfa compounds. You should be able to get Triple Sulfa along with a medication whose primary ingredient is either kanamycin (kanamycin sulfate, Kanacyn, Kanacin, etc.) or neomycin at a well-stocked local fish store. If not, you can obtain kanamycin sulfate, neomycin sulfate powder and triple sulfa powder from National Aquarium Pharmaceuticals. You can order them online at the following site: http://www.fishyfarmacy.com/products.html
One of the most important things you can do when trying to treat a suspected bacterial infection is to reduce the aquarium temperature, Kris. Cooling down the microbes and slowing their metabolism and rate of reproduction accordingly can slow any bacterial infection and markedly reduced its virulence (Giwojna, Oct. 2003).
A simple way to drop the water temp in your of the tank is to position a small fan so it blows across the surface of the water continually (Giwojna, Oct. 2003). This will lower the water temperature a few degrees via evaporative cooling (just be sure to top off the tank regularly to replace the water lost to evaporation). Leaving the light off on your hospital tank in conjunction with evaporative cooling can make a big difference and help you knock out this bacterial infection (Giwojna, Oct. 2003). Tropical seahorses will be fine as low as 66°F-68°F providing you drop the aquarium temperature gradually and dropping the temperature just a few degrees can make a big difference.
In a pinch, some hobbyists will even freeze plastic bottles 3/4 full of water and float the frozen bottles of water in their tank during the hottest part of the day. If necessary, that may worth trying in your case too, Jan, depending on how well your aquarium temp responds to the other measures. If you can gradually reduce the temperature in your hospital tank low enough, that alone may resolve the underlying infection. Just don’t reduce the temperature in your treatment tank too far too fast.
It’s equally important that you keep your seahorse eating well to help it recover. I would suggest that you target feed or perhaps even handfeed your seahorse during the treatment period. Not only will this provide her with nutritional support to keep our strength up, but it’s also the best way to get your seahorse to ingest beta-glucan. Administering a daily dose of beta-glucan (a potent immunostimulant) to boost the immune system of your seahorses and speed her recovery. This can easily be accomplished simply by enriching frozen Mysis with Vibrance (both Vibrance formulations now include beta-glucan as a primary ingredient).
The research on the health effects of Beta Glucan is pretty phenomenal. It has long been used in the aquaculture of commercially valuable food fishes and seafood, such as cod, turbot, salmon and shrimp. It improves the growth rate and reduces mortality rates among the fry (or larvae in the case of shrimp), and improves disease resistance in juveniles and adults.
Not only should Beta Glucan help keep healthy seahorses healthy, it should also help ailing seahorses recover faster. Research indicates that it helps prevent infections and helps wounds heal more quickly (Bartelme, 2003). It is safe to use in conjunction with other treatments and has been proven to increase the effectiveness of antibiotics (Bartelme, 2003). It will be great for new arrivals recovering from the rigors of shipping because Beta Glucan is known to alleviate the effects of stress and to help fish recover from exposure to toxins in the water (Bartelme, 2003) .
If you have Diamox, Kris, I also suggest using it in conjunction with the antibiotic therapy.
I have found that the Diamox is often more effective when it’s ingested, particularly when treating internal GBS.
If you can obtain a small syringe with a fine needle, the acetazolamide solution can simply be injected into feeder shrimp or even frozen Mysis. Mic Payne (Seahorse Sanctuary) used this method of administering Diamox successfully when he had recurring problems with GBD due to maintaining a population of Hippocampus subelongatus in shallow tanks only 16-inches (40 cm) deep:
"Seahorses maintained in this system are susceptible to gas bubble disease. Specimens with bubbles around the eyes or under the epidermis of the tail are readily treated with acetazolamide (Diamox tablets 250 mg). Mix a very small amount of crushed tablet with water and inject it into several glass shrimp that are then frozen. These are then fed to the target animal at the rate of two per day for four days. Bubbles disappear on the second day."
Volcano shrimp or red feeder shrimp from Ocean Rider (iron horse feed) work great for this. If a fine enough needle is used, they will survive a short while after being injected — long enough for their twitching and leg movements to attract the interest of the seahorse and trigger a feeding response.
Leslie Leddo has cured seahorses with tail bubbles and pouch gas using this technique. She found that a 1/2 cc insulin syringe with a 26-gauge needle was ideal for injecting frozen Mysis or live red feeder shrimp. They plump up when injected and ~1/2 cc is about the most of the solution they can hold. There bodies will actually swell slightly as they are slowly injected and excess solution may start to leak out. The 26-gauge needle is fine enough that it does not kill the feeder shrimp outright; they survive long enough for the kicking of their legs and twitching to assure that they will be eaten. So if your Vet or family doctor will prescribe the Diamox for treating your seahorse, ask them also to provide a 1/2 cc insulin syringe with a 26-gauge needle.
If you are using 250-mg tablets, Leslie found that 1/8 of a tablet provides enough Diamox for several days’ worth of injections. In other words, 1/8 of a 250-mg Diamox tablet provides enough of the medication to inject two shrimp daily for about 5 days. So each day, I would take 1/8 of a tablet and shave off approximately 20%-25% of it to make the Diamox solution for that day’s injections. (NOTE: if you are using 125-mg Diamox tablets, adjust your dosage accordingly — that is, start with 1/4 of a tablet and then shave off 20%-25% of it to make the Diamox solution.) Then crush the Diamox you have shaved off and to a very fine powder and dissolve it in a very small quantity of water.
Use the resulting solution to inject two of the live feeder shrimp and feed them to the affected seahorse immediately after injecting them. You don’t want the healthy seahorses to ingest the medicated shrimp, so target feed them to the affected seahorse only.
Diamox doesn’t dissolve especially well in water; there’s always a residue of undissolved material left behind. Try to avoid this residue when you draw up the medicated solution in your syringe, the particles can sometimes clog up the fine bore needle when you are trying to inject the shrimp.
Each day you will have to prepare fresh Diamox solution to inject the shrimp for that day’s treatment, so just repeat the steps above each day.
In summation, the only thing I could suggest in a case like yours is to treat the affected seahorse in isolation with antibiotic therapy in conjunction with Diamox, reduce the water temperature in the treatment tank, and make sure the seahorse gets a daily dose of beta-glucan by of vibrance hyper and enriched frozen Mysis, if possible. This is a difficult problem to cure, but that’s the treatment regimen that I think might give your seahorse the best chance for recovery.
Best of luck treating your bloated seahorse, Kris!
Pete GiwojnaSeptember 10, 2006 at 4:18 pm #2846KAC30101Guest
Thanks for your response, but unfortunately I was too late in being able to help my Sunburst. I did have some Beta glucan on hand and went home from work to try to remedy things, but she was already gone. I am now concerned about my other horses. Should I be treating my tank with anything? I have not seen her mate eat since yesterday and am concerned for him also. Just to be on the safe side I have started lowering the temp. in the tank, until I hear back from you. Thanks for your help.
KrisSeptember 10, 2006 at 6:54 pm #2847Pete GiwojnaGuest
I’m very sorry to hear that your female didn’t make it. It’s unfortunate, but when a seahorse becomes so ill that it develops generalized swelling it is very difficult for them to recover again. All my condolences on your loss.
I suspect that your female may have had a serious internal bacterial infection that either resulted in kidney failure or became systemic. It would not really be advisable to try to treat your aquarium for such a problem without knowing the sensitivities of any bacteria that may be involved, since the wide spectrum antibiotics you would need to treat with in such a case would destroy the biofiltration in the aquarium if used at an effective dosage. That would mean you would have to cycle the aquarium over again and the resulting ammonia and nitrites spikes would be very hard on the current residents of the tank. So that is something I would try to avoid.
A better approach would be to perform a major water change and judicious cleanup of the aquarium to restore optimum water quality, and then to gradually reduce the water temperature as far as possible, which can potentially render any pathogenic bacteria that may be present inactive by slowing their growth rate and turning off their virulence genes.
Aside from the cooling tips we discussed in my previous post, here are some additional suggestions on cooling down your aquarium from Renée at the org that you may also find helpful:
Some summer tips are:
· Use computer fans (you can wire them to AC adapters… we are making some this weekend for our tanks).
· Use a big ol clip-on-fan or a fan on a stand that you can set close. (Just be mindful of water evap.)
· Float ice containers in the tank (Use water/liquid that you wouldn’t care if it sprung a leak. Those blue lunch/picnic type cooling things are not acceptable IMO…. what if it leaks? It will kill everything. I would recommend using bottled ice water because it will stay frozen even longer than fresh water….. but if you do use fresh water make sure it is water you wouldn’t mind spilling into the tank…. good ole tap water is not acceptable.)
· If you have a hood or canopy on the tank…..keep it off or lifted.
· Cool down the room the tank is in by using a portable or window AC unit. The window units can be pretty cheap.
· If the sun really heats up this room, look into some window tinting. This is what I did when I lived in South Texas. It dropped the room temp TEREMENDOUSLY! (If ya wanna go the cheap method, foil was used in many windows in the city I lived in… wasn’t the prettiest method but it saved many people lives who lived in places without central AC and couldn’t afford well working window units.)
· Shorten your photoperiod…. if possible don’t have the lights on in the hottest past of the day. But at any rate, shorten the amount of hours the lights are on for.
In addition, Kris, if you refer to my earlier post to Suzanne titled "Re: Sick seahorse — please help," there is a good discussion of the sort of factors that are often associated with bacterial infections and other disease problems, including GBS, as well as some of the measures you can take to help prevent such problems in the future. You can find it at the following link:
Click here: OceanRider : Message: Re: Sick seahorse-please help! <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/OceanRider/message/9573>
Please read through the discussion on disease prevention and control in the thread above to see if any of those measures could be useful in your case, Kris. If you can apply any of those preventative measures, or eliminate any of the common aquarium stressors that may have played a role in this infection, that would make an excellent place to start when rehabbing your main tank after an outbreak of disease.
The female’s mate may be off his feed temporarily because he is distressed at the loss of his partner. If he does not resume feeding normally soon, or shows any other symptoms of a health problem, I would suggest treating him in isolation as previously discussed with regard to your female, while you are rejuvenating the main tank. When he does get his appetite back, be sure to feed him Vibrance-enriched Mysis so that he gets his daily dose of beta-glucan.
In addition to making sure your display tank is in tiptop shape, Kris, you may also want to consider installing an ultraviolet sterilizer on your seahorse tank. That’s always a wise precaution when you have had a problem due to a suspected bacterial infection.
Best of luck rehabbing your main tank after this disease outbreak, Kris! Here’s hoping your male is back to his old self again soon.
Pete GiwojnaSeptember 13, 2006 at 8:51 pm #2855KAC30101Guest
One more question, if I may. I am going to do a 50% water change tomorrow but am wondering if I can add more substrate at that time. I had that black slime problem several months ago and along with water changes, I did alot of scooping up of the slime layer and lost alot of substrate in the process. Currently I have live sand at the bottom of the tank and the layer is now quite thin. I would like to add another bag and maybe another few pieces of live rock. I just don’t feel I have enough natural filtration going on.
But just to make things interesting, as I always seem to do to myself…. I have a pair of Mustangs from you all, on their way to me… arriving Saturday. Should I proceed or just leave well enough alone for now?
KrisSeptember 13, 2006 at 11:02 pm #2856Pete GiwojnaGuest
I think it’s a fine idea to increase the biofiltration in your seahorse tank, but I would be inclined to do that by adding more live rock rather than live sand. Seahorses are such messy feeders that I prefer only a thin layer of live sand in the main tank (a properly maintained DLSB can do wonders, particularly for controlling nitrate levels, but is best confined to the sump on a system that holds seahorses).
Live rock will provide both additional nitrification and denitrification ability, so by all means, feel free to add several more pieces of attractive, choice live rock if you wish. But I would stick with just a thin layer of live sand, as discussed below:
A thin layer of live sand is the ideal substrate for a seahorse-only-white-live-rock tank. It is bioactive, aesthetically pleasing, and is a fine-grained sand well suited for the various snails that form an essential part of the cleanup crew for a seahorse tank. I find the dark color of an oolitic black sand substrate shows off my seahorses and macroalgae to great effect and enhances the appearance of tank in general. (As long as it’s fine enough I’ve never had any problems with seahorses "snicking" up sand in the aquarium. They will do so on occasion when feeding off the bottom, but never have any difficulty at all expelling it again as long as it’s fine grained.)
The depth of a shallow sand bed like this is a crucial factor. Too deep, and you risk anaerobic dead spots where deadly hydrogen sulfide gas can form. Too shallow, and there will be less surface area to support beneficial nitrifying bacteria and Nassarius snails and other beneficial burrowers may feel vulnerable and exposed. A bed of live sand between 1/2 to know more than 1-inch deep is just right for the main tank. A properly layered Deep Live Sand Bed (DLSB) 3-6 inches deep with a full complement of sand shifters also works well with seahorses, but is best confined to a sump rather than the display tank due to the seahorse’s heavy waste production. In other words, you can minimize the buildup of detritus in the DLSB by installing it in your sump rather than the main tank.
As for the new seahorses you are expecting, I would hold off on adding any new specimens until you’re sure that your water quality is back to optimum and your tank is in tip-top condition. Be sure to look over the disease prevention and control measures and suggestions for rehabbing your aquarium after an outbreak of disease in the following discussion thread:
Click here: OceanRider : Message: Re: Sick seahorse-please help! <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/OceanRider/message/9573>
Once you’ve made any adjustments to your aquarium that seem advisable and you’re sure all is well, then you can go ahead and reschedule the delivery of your new Mustangs.
Best of luck with your seahorse setup, Kris!
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