How do i help my seahorses

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    Hi everyone,

    im a new seahorse owner and im really worried about my babies. i have 2 southern knight seahorses and make the massive mistake of accidentally putting them each in freshwater tanks for 6 hours. they have now been in a salt water tank for 2 days and arent very lively and interested in eating. theyve been resting quite a bit however still move around. when first in the tank they were drinking a heap of water however that seems to have stopped as much. they look weak and in relly worried as i just want to make sure they’re ok but im very new to this and am unsure of how to help my babies.

    please help!!!

    Pete Giwojna

    Dear Charlotte:

    I am very sorry to hear about the mistakes that endangered your seahorses and the problems they have been experiencing as a result.

    I am unfamiliar with Southern Knight seahorses and unsure what species they may be, but that’s not really important under the circumstances.

    Your seahorses are having problems because freshwater and saltwater differ dramatically in two key areas – salinity and pH. Freshwater is naturally much lower in both salinity and pH then saltwater, and your seahorses experienced osmotic shock and pH shock as a result.

    All the while your ponies were in the freshwater aquarium, water was steadily moving into their bodies via osmosis and disrupting the normal osmotic balance of their cells, which in turn may have affected their blood chemistry. This has caused the seahorses a great deal of stress with harmful consequences.

    Now that they are in a saltwater aquarium, the excess water is moving out of their bodies again, which is good, but they are also experiencing significantly higher pH in the saltwater aquarium, and it’s going to take them time to adjust.

    Whether or not he will be able to recover fully and return to good health again will depend on how much of a shock the changes they have experienced in salinity and pH have had on their systems.

    I don’t know of anything you can do to help them right now, Charlotte, since it is naturally going to take time for them to recover from this setback and we don’t know how much damage their kidneys or other internal organs may have suffered in the meantime.

    However, I can tell you that severe pH shock is very serious and difficult to recover from, so the outlook is not good…

    Can you tell me what the current aquarium parameters in your seahorse tank are for ammonia, nitrite, salinity or specific gravity, and, of course, the pH, Charlotte? I am wondering if your saltwater aquarium was just recently set up, and if the beneficial nitrifying bacteria have had a chance to complete the nitrogen cycle and provide adequate biological filtration for the ponies?

    Please get back to me with the additional information I requested as soon as possible, Charlotte. Good luck in the meantime.

    Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support


    Hi thank you for the response,

    one of the two seahorses has been more lively and the other is moving more than yesterday so hopefully that is a good sign. i just tested the water and the nitrate is around 80, nitrite is at 0.5, ph is 7.5, carbonate hardness is roughly 80 and general hardness is 180.

    Pete Giwojna

    Dear Charlotte:

    It is good to hear that some of the seahorses are becoming a bit more active.

    But you still need to work on the water chemistry in your seahorse tank, since both the nitrite and nitrate levels are way too high. The nitrate is relatively harmless, whereas nitrite is quite toxic, so the next thing you need to do is to get your nitrite level down to zero. (When it comes to nitrogenous wastes, you must maintain zero ammonia and zero nitrite at all times.)

    I would suggest dosing your seahorse tank with a good bacterial additive such as Stability by SeaChem, as explained below in more detail:

    ‹open quote›
    In my opinion, one of the most important steps that the home hobbyist can take when preparing a new saltwater aquarium is to cycle the tank using a product such as SeaChem Stability, and one of the most important steps they can take when maintaining their aquarium thereafter is to include monthly boosters of the Stability to help maintain optimum water quality and assure that the biological filtration in the aquarium is functioning at maximum efficiency.

    Not only will cycling a newly established aquarium using SeaChem Stability greatly accelerate the cycling process, it provides the aquarium with denitrification ability as well as the usual beneficial nitrifying bacteria. That is extremely important because the anaerobic, heterotrophic, and facultative bacteria included in the SeaChem Stability give the aquarium the ability to complete the nitrogen cycle, not only converting deadly ammonia into nitrite and then breaking down the nitrite into relatively harmless nitrate, as usual, but then taking the process a step further and converting nitrate into nitrogen gas (N2) that bubbles out of the aquarium into the atmosphere and is removed from the tank entirely. That prevents nitrates from accumulating in the aquarium, which is very important for seahorses and delicate invertebrates that are sensitive to high nitrate levels.

    Furthermore, the ability of the heterotrophic bacteria in SeaChem Stability to break down phosphates, detritus, waste products, and the grunge that accumulates in the substrate over time and prevents organic wastes from accumulating in the aquarium is especially helpful for keeping seahorses, which have specialized aquarium requirements, healthy and happy in the long run.

    Here is some more information on the SeaChem Stability, how to use it properly, and how it accomplishes these beneficial effects in the aquarium, Sandra:

    <open quote>
    SeaChem Stability

    Stability® will rapidly and safely establish the aquarium biofilter in freshwater and marine systems, thereby preventing the #1 cause of fish death: “new tank syndrome”. Stability® is formulated specifically for the aquarium and contains a synergistic blend of aerobic, anaerobic, and facultative bacteria which facilitate the breakdown of waste organics, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. Unlike competing products, the bacteria employed by Stability® are non-sulfur fixing and will not produce toxic hydrogen sulfide. Stability® is completely harmless to all aquatic organisms as well as aquatic plants, thus there is no danger of over use. Stability® is the culmination of nearly a decade of research and development and represents the current state of the art in natural biological management.

    Sizes: 50 mL, 100 mL, 250 mL, 500 mL, 2 L, 4 L, 20 L

    Why It’s Different

    Illustration of Stability’s™ bacteria on biofiltration material. Stability contains a synergistic blend of aerobic, anaerobic, and facultative bacteria

    The bacteria used in competing products are inherently unstable. The conditions necessary for their growth and development fall into a very narrow range of temperatures, pH, organic loads, etc. When any of these parameters are not strictly within the proper range, the bacterial culture quickly crashes and dies. Stability® does not contain any of the aforementioned bacteria.

    The bacteria strains in Stability® have been in development for over a decade. The necessary conditions for growth of our bacterial strains encompass a very broad range. When other bacteria begin to die off (usually from high organic loads caused by the undetected death of an organism), Stability® simply works harder and grows faster! The strains function in fresh or saltwater. Stability® contains both nitrifying and denitrifying bacteria, a blend found in no other product. Additionally, Stability® contains facultative bacterial strains which are able to adapt to either aerobic or anaerobic conditions. The bacteria in Stability® are non-sulfur fixing, another innovation in the industry. Most other bacterial supplements will form toxic hydrogen sulfide under the proper conditions. Stability® will not, ever.


    Use 1 capful (5 mL) for each 40 L (10 gallons*) on the first day with a new aquarium. Then use 1 capful for each 80 L (20 gallons*) daily for 7 days. Fish and other aquatic species may be introduced at any time as long as dosage is maintained for 7 days. For optimum biofilter performance use 1 capful for each 40 L (10 gallons*) once a month or with each water change and whenever introducing new fish or whenever medicating an aquarium.


    Q: I’m currently using Prime + Stability together for my weeky water changes, but on the bottle of Stability it says not to run UV. After dosing with Stability how long do I need to wait before I can safely switch back to UV?

    The UV and/or Ozone should be kept off for the 7 days you are dosing if you are cycling or for at 24 hours if it is for Stability additions of new fish or water changes. The reason both should be turned off is because UV and ozone break down and kill bacteria.

    Q: What is a reasonable amount of time to allow the Stability to come out of the spore state and find a home to attach themselves?

    A: The bacteria should be able to find a suitable home within 24 hours.

    Q: i just finished cycling my new tank, but i made a mistake of introducing many fishes at the same time. i was wondering if i could use Stability to increase the beneficial bacteria for the increased bioload?

    A: Yes, Stability will prove very helpful in removing ammonia and nitrite, including nitrate, as a result of the increased bioload. If your ammonia level is not at zero, a combination of Stability and AmGuard is very useful and great in reducing ammonia toxicity on the bacteria blend as the bacteria consumes the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate in the aquarium

    Q: Bio-spira has to remain refrigerated in order for the bacteria to survive. Why does Stability not need refrigeration? If there’s living bacteria in the solution, how do they stay alive for so long? Or is there something else besides bacteria in the product altogether?

    A: The bacteria in Stability are alive but not active. They exist in a spore form. They can withstand extreme temperatures and do not require food to survive. When you add them to your aquarium, they become active due to dilution.

    The bacteria that require refrigeration are active. Refrigerating them slows down their life cycle and they require less food when cold. Because they are active, they do require food, and that is packaged with them. They also will not survive extreme heat or cold and will die when they run out of food.
    <close quote>

    Okay, Charlotte, that’s the quick rundown on the SeaChem Stability. As you can see from the instructions above, it takes only about seven days to completely cycle a new tank with this product and establish both the nitrification and denitrification ability of the aquarium. This will allow the biological filtration to complete the entire nitrogen cycle and make it much easier for you to maintain optimum water quality thereafter. Just add a daily dose of the Stability to your seahorse tank until the nitrites are at zero, and then continue adding monthly doses of the SeaChem Stability as indicated above, and your water quality parameters will stabilize at optimum levels.

    Good luck.

    Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support



    my seahorse was looking quite sick and wasnt moving all that much. however yesterday one of my other seahorses had their pouch out and they were swimming together all the time but im jut confused abt her inactivity until now?!

    Pete Giwojna

    Dear Charlotte:

    It’s clear that your male was performing pouch displays in order to interest your female in courtship and breeding, and that she has responded to his overtures positively, which may ultimately lead to a successful mating between these two ponies.

    If you contact me off list at the following e-mail address, I will send you a lot of additional information about courtship and breeding in seahorses so that you will have a better understanding about exactly what is going on between your ponies:

    [email protected]

    In other words, Charlotte, it sounds like your ponies are showing a healthy interest in courtship and breeding at the moment. I can only speculate as to why your female was so inactive previously, but as lie-in-wait ambush predators, seahorses are naturally rather sedentary animals that do not move around a great deal since they rely on their camouflage for protection against predators, and prefer to blend into their backgrounds in order to escape notice when they are not actively feeding or breeding…

    Best wishes with all your fishes, Charlotte!

    Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support

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