Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm and Tours | Kona Hawaii › Forums › Seahorse Life and Care › EMERGENCY!!!!!
- This topic has 6 replies, 2 voices, and was last updated 15 years, 3 months ago by Pete Giwojna.
March 10, 2008 at 10:11 pm #1372SeanMember
I received my pair of Mustangs last Wednesday and everything was perfect. I have 49 gallon tall aquarium, a Fluval 404, Aqua Remora skimmer, current chiller (set @ 75) And approximately 45-50 pounds of liverock. I made a feeder for them and placed it in what I thought was out of the current and tried to put Frozen Mysis in it with a Turkey Baester and the current kept blowing it out. That first feeding (24 hours later) I used two cubes of frozen mysis and it all got blown around my tank. I learned from that and for the night feeding I used a clear tube. Same problem, the current was blowing it out of my oyster shell. For my Saturday morning and evening feeding I turned off the pump and didn\’t waste a bit of food. 🙂 I took a reading of all the levels and the ammonia was at .50, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 10. I changes 5 gallons of water and yesterday morning I took an ammonia reading and it had dropped to .25. I drained out five more gallons, pulled every piece of liverock out (placed in same salinity saltwater, and completely vacuumed the bottom of the tank (1\" crushed coral) I then took a low powered pump and gently washed out the liverock hoping to wash out any mysis that were stuck in there. I put it all back together and this morning it was just a little under .25 so I added another 5 gallons of fresh saltwater and 30 minutes later, no change in ammonia. My tank had cycled for about 10-12 weeks with a domino fish, 5-10 margarita snails, 5 cerith snails and several blue legged hermit crabs. I watched the system cycle and everything was perfect in the tank for three weeks before I put the horse in there. Did the overfeeding of 4 mysis cubes in 2 days cause this ammonia spike??? What can I do??? I DO NOT want to lose them.March 11, 2008 at 12:32 am #4007Pete GiwojnaGuest
Yes, I suspect you’re on the right track. Most likely the overfeeding initially has resulted in an ammonia spike due to the excess nutrient loading in the aquarium. If so, a 49-gallon aquarium with lots of live rock should adjust quickly to the increased bioload. It sounds like you are well aware of the situation and have already corrected the feeding problem that resulted in the excess Mysis being scattered throughout the tank. You did a good job of cleaning up as much of the uneaten Mysis as possible, and I expect that the ammonia levels will be returning to normal sooner rather than later now that you have taken the appropriate steps to prevent a recurrence of the problem.
I would feed your new Mustangs sparingly for the next few days while you monitor the ammonia levels and make sure they continue to drop back down to zero. Keep a close eye on the seahorses for any signs of ammonia poisoning in the meantime, and be prepared to make another water change or to treat the seahorses with methylene blue, if necessary. Here’s what to look out for, Sean:
The most obvious symptoms of ammonia poisoning are a loss of equilibrium, hyperexcitability, increased respiration and oxygen uptake, and increased heart rate. At extreme ammonia levels, fish may experience convulsions, coma, and death. Seahorses exposed to less extreme ammonia levels will struggle to breathe. They will be lethargic and exhibit rapid respiration. They may appear disoriented, periodically detaching from their hitching posts only to sink to the bottom.
Since your Mustangs are not showing any of the symptoms mentioned above, it appears that you have detected the problem in time to prevent any harmful effects. Just be on the lookout for any signs of the respiratory distress that is often a symptom of lesser ammonia levels and be ready to treat the seahorses with methylene blue if they are having difficulty breathing.
Exposure to moderate levels of ammonia and nitrite, or high levels of nitrates, can change the normal hemoglobin in the seahorse’s blood stream to a form (i.e., methhemoglobin) that is no longer able to transport oxygen. If this becomes severe enough, it will leave the affected seahorse starved for oxygen, which makes it very weak and fatigued. As a result, the affected seahorses may detach themselves from their hitching posts periodically and rest on the bottom, unable to exert themselves in their weakened condition. As you can imagine, being deprived of oxygen really wipes them out in terms of loss of energy and stamina. And it also results in respiratory distress, and rapid, labored breathing as they try to oxygenate themselves and compensate for the lack of normal hemoglobin.
One of the properties of methylene blue is that it can reverse this process and convert the methhemoglobin in the red blood cells back into normal hemoglobin, which can then pick up and transport oxygen again as usual. That’s why it is so helpful in relieving shipping stress and treating ammonia exposure and nitrite poisoning.
If your Mustangs begin to develop respiratory problems due to the ammonia spike, then you may want to consider a quick dip in methylene blue. Commonly known as "meth blue" or simply "blue," this is a wonderful medication for reversing the toxic effects of ammonia and nitrite poisoning. Methylene blue transports oxygen and aids breathing. It facilitates oxygen transport, helping fish breathe more easily by converting methemoglobin to hemoglobin — the normal oxygen carrying component of fish blood, thus allowing more oxygen to be carried through the bloodstream. This makes it very useful for treating gill infections, low oxygen levels, or anytime your seahorses are breathing rapidly and experiencing respiratory distress. It is the drug of choice for treating hypoxic emergencies of any kind with your fish. However, methylene blue will destroy nitrifying bacteria so it should be used in a hospital tank or as a brief bath or dip only (if used in an established aquarium, it will impair the biological filtration and the tank may need to be cycled all over again).
Here is some more information that may be helpful if you need to treat with methylene blue after all:
If you can obtain the Kordon brand of Methylene Blue (available at most well-stocked local fish stores), there are instructions for administering it as a very brief, concentrated dip are as follows:
For use as a dip for treatment of fungus or external parasitic protozoans and cyanide poisoning:
(a) Prepare a nonmetallic container of sufficient size to contain the fish to be treated by adding water similar to the original aquarium.
(b) Add 5 teaspoons (24.65 ml) per 3 gallons of water. This produces a concentration of 50 ppm. It is not recommended that the concentration be increased beyond 50 ppm.
(c) Place fishes to be treated in this solution for no longer than 10 seconds.
(d) Return fish to original aquarium.
When you administer such a dip, hold the seahorse in your hand throughout the procedure and time it closely so that the dip does not exceed 10 seconds.
And here are Kordon’s instructions for administering the methylene blue in a hospital tank if longer-term treatment seems appropriate to reverse more severe cases of nitrite poisoning and ammonia toxicity:
As an aid in reversal of nitrite (NO2-) or cyanide (CN-) poisoning of marine and freshwater aquarium fishes:
(a) Remove carbon filter and continue to operate with mechanical filter media throughout the treatment period.
(b) Add 1 teaspoon of 2.303% Methylene Blue per 10 gallons of water. This produces a concentration of 3 ppm. Continue the treatment for 3 to 5 days.
(c) Make a water change as noted and replace the filter carbon at the conclusion of the treatment.
See the following link for more information on treating with Kordon’s Methylene Blue:
Click here: KPD-28 Methylene Blue
If you obtained a brand of methylene blue other than Kordon, just follow the instructions the medication comes with.
One other tip, Sean: if you ever need to handle seahorses to administer first aid measures or treat them in a hospital tank, it’s best not to net them when you are manipulating the seahorse:
I do not like to use an aquarium net to transfer or manipulate seahorses, since their delicate fins and snouts can become entangled in the netting all too easily. I much prefer to transfer the seahorses by hand. Simply wet your hand and fingers (to avoid removing any of the seahorse’s protective slime coat) and scoop the seahorses in your hand. Allow them to curl their tail around your fingers and carefully cup their bodies in your hand to support them while you lift them out of the water. When you gently immerse your hand in the destination tank, the seahorse will release its grip and swim away as though nothing out of the ordinary has happened.
Composed of solid muscle and endowed with extraordinary skeletal support, the prehensile tail is amazingly strong. Indeed, large specimens have a grip like an anaconda, and when a 12-inch ingens or abdominalis wraps its tail around your hand and tightens its hold, its vise-like grip is powerful enough to leave you counting your fingers afterwards!
In fact, it can be quite difficult to remove an attached seahorse from its holdfast without injuring it in the process. Never attempt to forcibly detach a seahorse from its hitching post! When it feels threatened, it’s instinct is to clamp down and hold on all the tighter. When you must dislodge a seahorse from its resting place for any reason, it’s best to use the tickle technique instead. Gently tickling the underside of the tail where it’s wrapped around the object will usually induce the seahorse to release its grip (Abbott, 2003). They don’t seem to like that at all, and will quickly let go to move away to another spot. Once they are swimming, they are easy to handle.
Best of luck getting your ammonia levels back down to zero, Sean! In your case, I asked that the problem will resolve itself over the next few days without any need for any sort of treatment.
Pete GiwojnaMarch 11, 2008 at 1:38 am #4008SeanGuest
Pete, thanks for the quick response. I was in a panicked state so I took them out of my 49 gallon tank and out them in a 10 gallon quaritine tank I have at home. I appreciate your advise on the correct medicine to use if I note any of the problems 🙂
If it is ok, I thought I would change 50% of the 10 gallon quarantine tank (5gallons) and replace it with fresh, while putting the 50% I removed back into the 49 gallon tank. Common sense tells me that if I do that, wouldn’t it develop more bacteria that would be beneficial for the quality of the water once the seahorses return?
SeanMarch 11, 2008 at 2:50 am #4009SeanGuest
Also, would it hurt if I took a piece of raw shrimp from the grocery store and just set in the tank?? This is how I cycled it the first time. I just hope it doesn’t take as long this time as the first 8 weeks. I can’t imagine it would since I know there were enough bacteria to level out from the domino fish. Please advise.
Post edited by: Sean, at: 2008/03/10 23:43March 11, 2008 at 8:27 am #4010Pete GiwojnaGuest
It’s great that you have a hospital tank/quarantine tank set up and ready in case you need. You bet — I’ll give you a thumbs up on your plans to change half of the water in your hospital tank and then add it to your 49-gallon seahorse setup. Unless your hospital tank is cycled and has a biofilter already established, you will need to make regularly water changes in order to maintain the water chemistry in the quarantine tank while the seahorses are in residence. That would be the only way to prevent almost you spikes from happening in the hospital tank as well.
With all that live rock, I should think that your main tank already has plenty of beneficial nitrifying bacteria, but if you would like to give it an extra boost in light of what has happened, then you might want to consider adding some BioSpira.
Go to a well-stocked fish store as soon as possible and obtain some Bio-Spira and add it to your seahorse tank according to instructions. Bio-Spira is a product offered by Marineland which contains the live bacteria necessary to convert ammonia and nitrite into harmless nitrate. It is available for both freshwater and marine aquariums, so of course be sure to get the Bio-Spira for saltwater. Just use it as explained below and it should prevent the small amount of ammonia that is in your aquarium from harming your Mustangs in any way:
BIO-Spira is a "live" bacteria culture that is sold refrigerated and must be kept refrigerated until used. It can not be overdosed. Repeated dosing of your aquarium with ammonia removing liquids (such as BIO-Safe, Amquel, Ammo-lock and Aqua-Safe) can inhibit the beneficial action of BIO-Spira. Ammonia removing liquids should only be used to initially treat tap water. It is normal to have a small (<2 ppm) amount of ammonia or nitrate during the first few days after set-up. These concentrations are not harmful and will quickly drop to zero with proper use of BIO-Spira.
DIRECTIONS FOR USE:
Shake well before each use. Use 1 ounce (29.6 ml) of BIO-Spira per 30 gallons of water. BIO-Spira cannot be overdosed. Keep refrigerated. Be sure to shut off any UV sterilizers and remove medication by means of a water change or activated carbon.
I would try the BioSpira before anything else, Richard, and if it brings the ammonia levels back down to zero, then you can return the seahorses to the main tank and their metabolic wastes will feed the beneficial bacteria in your biofilter. I believe they would be better off in your main tank with all of the live rock and the lot more water volume than they would be in the 10-gallon hospital tank for an extended period.
If you want to toss a piece of shrimp in the tank to decay a long with the BioSpira in order to make sure that you have an adequate population of nitrifying bacteria, that’s okay, sir — just don’t leave the Mustangs in the hospital tank with no filtration for too long.
Best of luck eliminating the residual ammonia in your main tank, Sean!
Pete GiwojnaMarch 11, 2008 at 11:04 am #4011SeanGuest
Pete, I hate to have to keep asking questions, but my LFS owner is not very knowledgeable or willing to offer advice. Actually it was his advice I am asking about:
As stated earlier, I have a Fluval 404 Canister. It has 8 tray’s to place filter media in. When I first cycled my tank, I used what came with the filter: the bottom 2 trays (four compartments) had a bag of carbon in them each. The top 2 trays (four compartments) had bio rings in them.
My system had cycled and been running for about 10 weeks when I ordered my horses. I asked the LFS owner if I needed to change any media since it was 10 weeks old and he had me do the following:
1) Clean the entrance sponges thoroughly under tap water and then put back in the canister.
2) He had me replace all 4 bags of carbon with fresh ones.
3) He told me to throw away the 4 trays of bio rings and replace them with 2 trays of Nitrate remover (De-Nitrate) by Seachem, and put Fluval water polishing pads in the top 2 trays. However, my Nitrates are still high at 10 ppm, yet the nitrites are 0??? How do I lower the nitrates to zero???
I was against the change, but told me that I didn’t need the other stuff because I had live rock. That is when my ponies arrived and it all went bad. Thank God my quarantine tank is fully cycled with a filter and skimmer. Can you PLEASE tell me what to fill my canister with??
Will it take another 8 weeks to cycle?
Please help and thanks for sharing your knowledge. Because of this, I will ALWAYS buy from you guys.
Post edited by: Sean, at: 2008/03/11 17:21
Post edited by: Sean, at: 2008/03/11 19:41
Post edited by: Sean, at: 2008/03/11 19:51March 12, 2008 at 7:41 am #4016Pete GiwojnaGuest
No problem, sir — keep the questions coming!
Well, I certainly can understand why the guys at your LFS gave you the advice they did, and in general, their suggestions are quite sound. A 49-gallon aquarium loaded with live rock has all of the biological filtration it should ever need without any help from the canister filter, so it is certainly understandable that they recommended removing all of the bio rings and replacing them with nitrate remover. They would have expected that the live rock could pick up the slack in terms of the biofiltration, and that making this change would help keep the nitrate levels in the aquarium nice and low.
Likewise, activated carbon does a wonderful job of removing organic pollutants from the aquarium via the processes of absorption, adsorption, and chemisorption, but the rate that sorption occurs slows down over time so that the activated carbon needs to be changed regularly for best results. Switching out the activated carbon after 10 weeks is not unreasonable under normal aquarium usage, but probably a little premature in your case since the carbon had only been used in a new aquarium with a very light bioload. But changing out the activated carbon periodically is a very sensible, and I can’t fault them for their recommendation in that regard.
And it’s always advisable to rinse and clean the prefilter sponges regularly. So I don’t really have a problem with any of their advice per se, but the timing for replacing the filter media was certainly unfortunate. In the 10 weeks the aquarium had been running, a sizable population of beneficial nitrifying bacteria had populated the bio rings as well as the porous activated carbon, so removing all of the bio rings and all four packs of activated carbon in one fell swoop no doubt diminished the biological filtration ability of your aquarium significantly, and I would not have replaced them right when you were beginning to stock the aquarium and increasing the bioload.
In short, there was nothing wrong with that changes your LFS recommended — they just picked the worst possible time to replace the activated carbon and remove the bio rings. (If it’s any consolation, I would not have anticipated any sort of an ammonia spike in a 49-gallon aquarium with all that live rock despite removing the filtration media from the canister filter a little prematurely.)
I would have left everything in place for the first few weeks after you added the seahorses to help the new aquarium adjust to the heavier bioload, and then gradually replaced the activated carbon, changing out one bag each week for the next month.
If I wanted to remove the bio rings, I would again have waited several weeks for the system to stabilize at the heavier bioload before I replaced any of them, and then gradually phased the bio rings out, removing no more than one tray of bio rings at a time.
I would keep the four trays of activated carbon in your canister filter. Use a good brand of activated carbon that’s low in ash and free of phosphates, and be sure to replace the activated carbon one tray at a time on a regular basis.
If you want to include some of the bio rings to provide supplemental biological filtration, that’s fine. In that case, I would remove the water polisher pads and include two trays of bio rings along with two trays of the nitrate remover.
It shouldn’t take anywhere near eight weeks for your main tank to adjust to the higher bioload because of the live rock and live sand, but any new bio rings will require at least two or three weeks to build up enough anaerobic Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter bacteria before they can be of much help in the process.
Best of luck getting the ammonia levels in your main tank back down to zero again, Sean! You did great to have a fully cycled quarantine tank, complete with a protein skimmer, ready and waiting in case it was needed. Well done, sir!
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