- This topic has 6 replies, 2 voices, and was last updated 16 years, 8 months ago by Pete Giwojna.
June 26, 2007 at 1:47 am #1230kizurt2k5Member
I would consider myself a \"newbie\" to the seahorse/marine aquarium world. I setup my first and current seahorse/marine aquarium in July 2004 but this is my first emergency that I don\’t know exactly what to do.
I have an Ocean Rider Sunburst that I have had for almost 2 years and over the last 3-4 weeks Sunburst has developed some problems. Started developing a weak snick around 4 weeks ago but even currently is still taking enriched mysis but very weakly. After that started a freshwater dip was given but no change. I then had to go out of town for a week (had a tank sitter) and upon my return I noticed a terrible problem. On the left side there are lighter colored discolorations. I have a picture available to send. Not sure what it is, so I am not sure how to treat. In the process of doing a water change and lower
Eheim Classic 2215 canister filter
Seaclone 150 hang on skimmer
Power Sweep 228 (near surface for circulation)
Koralia 1 power filter for(lower tank circulation)
Temp: 74 F
Salinity: 29 ppt
Nitrate: 10(doing a water change now)
Alkalinity: 4.5June 26, 2007 at 3:17 am #3705Pete GiwojnaGuest
Your water chemistry looks fine but the areas of pale discoloration on the left flank of the seahorse suggest an infection of some sort. At this point, it’s impossible to say if the discoloration is due to a fungal infection and/or bacterial skin infection, possibly the initial stages of white patch disease (marine columnaris — Cytophaga or Myxobacteria spp.) or the early stages of marine ulcer disease (Pseudomonas or Vibrio spp.), or if it’s the result of a protozoan parasite attacking the skin, and I am therefore going to recommend that you treat the seahorse in isolation with antibacterial agents in conjunction with a series of formalin baths.
It will also be helpful if you can drop the water temperature in the hospital tank during the course of the treatments. Gradually reducing the water temperature will slow the metabolism and reproductive rate of the pathogens, making them easier to control, and the virulence of many bacterial infections is markedly reduced at lower temperatures (Giwojna, Nov. 2003).
As I mentioned, there are a number of parasitic infections that can easily be mistaken for for bacterial and/or fungal infections in the early stages. For example, Brooklynella, Costia and Uronema parasites all cause cloudiness or turbidity of the skin accompanied by heavy mucous production in their initial stages, which are similar to the light areas of discoloration on the side of your seahorse (Giwojna, Nov. 2003). In their later stages, these parasitic infections result in respiratory distress and ulcers or open sores that are very like the symptoms of white patch disease or marine ulcer disease when the enzymes the bacteria produce erode away the skin and the gills are involved (Giwojna, Nov. 2003). Parasitic infections are often followed by secondary bacterial/fungal infections, and such parasites are one of the stressors that can result in a bacterial or fungal infection. This can make it difficult to determine whether you are dealing with bacteria, fungus, a parasite problem, or a mixed infection (Giwojna, Nov. 2003).
But that really doesn’t matter because the treatment regimen we are discussing should be effective whether bacteria, fungus, protozoan parasites, or all of the above are involved. If you treat your seahorse with a potent combination of antibiotics, gradually reduce the water temperature in your hospital tank to as low as 68°F if possible, and administer series of formalin baths (see instructions below), that should give you the best chance of resolving this problem.
The antibiotics I recommend for this are nifurpirinol (the active ingredient in Furanase) and neomycin sulfate, if you have them on hand or can obtain them from your LFS. If not, then I suggest you try Neo3, a concentrated formulation of neomycin combined with sulfa compounds, which is available online from the following web site:
Click here: AquaBiotics.net <<http://www.aquabiotics.net/neo3.html>>
Neo3 has also been difficult to obtain lately, and if that’s the case, then kanamycin sulfate or neomycin sulfate combined with triple sulfa is a suitable substitute. Kanamycin and/or neomycin sulfate can safely be combined with various sulfa compounds. One that seems to work particularly well is combining neomycin sulfate with triple sulfa. You may be able to get neomycin sulfate and triple sulfa compound at a well-stock LFS. If not, you can obtain both 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
Formalin baths used in conjunction with these antibiotics will help eliminate any ectoparasites or secondary fungal infections that may be involved. Formalin is basically a 37% solution of formaldehyde and water. It is a potent external fungicide, external protozoacide, and antiparasitic, and seahorse keepers commonly use formalin to cleanse new arrivals of ectoparasites during quarantine. Formalin (HCHO) is thus an effective medication for eradicating external parasites, treating fungal lesions, and reducing the swelling from such infections. As such, formalin baths combined with the broad-spectrum antibiotics mentioned above should be very effective in clearing up a bacterial lesion.
Many commercial formalin products are readily available to hobbyists, such as Kordon’s Formalin 3, Formalin-F sold by Natchez Animal Supply, and Paracide-F, sold by Argent Chemical Laboratories. Or whatever brand of formalin is available at your fish store should work fine.
A formalin bath simply involves immersing the seahorse in a container of saltwater which contains the proper dosage of formalin for a period of 30-60 minutes before transferring it to your hospital tank. Include a hitching post of some sort in the container and follow these instructions: place the fish in a three-gallon bucket or a similar clean, inert container containing precisely one gallon of siphoned, aerated tank water. Medicate the bucket of water with with the appropriate amount of formalin for a concentrated bath according to the directions on the label. Place an airstone in the bucket and leave the fish in the bath for up to 60 minutes. If at any time the fish becomes listless, exhausted or loses its balance, immediately place the fish in clean, untreated water in your hospital tank.
I want you to be aware of these precautions when administering the formalin bath:
Formalin has limited shelf life and degrades to the highly toxic substance paraformaldehyde (identified as a white precipitate on the bottom of the solution); avoid using any formalin product which has such a precipitate at the bottom of the bottle.
Formalin basically consumes oxygen so vigorous aeration must be provided during treatment.
Time the bath closely and never exceed one hour of chemical exposure at this concentration.
Observe the seahorse closely during the bath at all times, and it show signs of distress before the allotted time has elapsed, remove it from the treatment immediately.
If you can obtain Formalin 3 from Kordon at your LFS, these are the instructions you should follow for your formalin dip:
METHOD 2 (DIP) FOR THE PREVENTION OR TREATMENT OF FISH DISEASES
(a) To a clean, non-metallic container (i.e., a plastic bucket), add one or more gallons of fresh tap water treated with Kordon’s AmQuel . For marine fish use freshly prepared saltwater adjusted to the same specific gravity (or salinity) as in the original tank. Make sure the temperature in the container is identical to that in the aquarium
(b) Add 1 teaspoons of Formalin·3. This produces a concentration of 100 ppm. formaldehyde.
(c) Agitate the solution with an airstone and adjust for a moderately strong flow of air.
(d) Remove the fishes to be treated and deposit them in the container for a treatment period of not more than 50 minutes. Immediately after the treatment period, or if signs of distress are noted, remove the fishes to a previously prepared recovery tank. The fishes may be returned to their original tank, but the presence of the original disease-causing agents in the tank water may result in a reoccurrence of the disease condition.
(e) Observe recovering fishes. Make sure that tankmates do not molest them during recovery.
(f) Repeat treatment as needed, every week. Each treatment is very stressful to the treated fishes. Do not reuse the dip solution.
For additional information on treating fishes with Formalin 3 by Kordon, see the following web page:
Click here: KPD-54 Formalin-3
If you get another brand of formalin, just follow the instructions that it comes with for a concentrated bath or dip (not prolonged immersion or a long-term bath).
Be sure to observe the following precautions when handling your seahorses to apply the Biobandage or to administer the formalin baths:
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.
In short, I suggest that you treat the affected seahorse in isolation with broad-spectrum antibiotics and formalin baths, as discussed above, and gradually lower the water temperature in your hospital tank. It is possible that this regimen of treatment may also have a positive effect on the weak snick that has been troubling your seahorse, since it will help to eliminate any parasites or secondary infections that could be affecting your seahorse’s hyoid bone feeding mechanism.
Best of luck restoring your seahorse to good health.
Pete GiwojnaJune 26, 2007 at 3:41 am #3706kizurt2k5Guest
Thanks for the quick reply. My Sunburt is starting to breath rapidly, do I need to do a Methylene Blue dip or bath?
I do have a picture I could send, I would like to get a more positive ID of the problem.
I currently have Trisulfa(by Mardel). I’ll start with this and then try to obtain Neomycin to add to the regimen. Do I do this for 5 days as package instructs? The Formalin dip was once a week right?
Thanks!!!!June 26, 2007 at 5:25 am #3707Pete GiwojnaGuest
Yes, sir, a quick dip in methylene blue could be helpful if your seahorse is exhibiting rapid respirations, huffing, labored breathing or other signs of respiratory distress. 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).
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 thymic closely so that the dip does not exceed 10 seconds.
It’s good that you have the trisulfa on hand so you can begin treatment promptly, but for best results, you must be sure to combine it with an aminoglycoside antibiotic such as neomycin sulfate or kanamycin sulfate. This will produce a synergistic combination of antibiotics that is much more effective than either medication used alone. Be sure to use the marine dose of the antibiotics that is appropriate for saltwater, rather than the freshwater dosage. You will want to maintain the treatment for at least five days.
Yes, Kordon recommends once a week for the formalin baths.
I would be happy to examine a photograph of the ailing seahorse. You can reach me at the following e-mail address: [email protected]
Good luck with your treatment regimen.
Pete GiwojnaJune 26, 2007 at 10:07 pm #3710Pete GiwojnaGuest
Thank you for the photograph. The whitish discolored areas on the left flank of your seahorse indicate the early stages of ulcerative dermatitis, but I cannot determine simply from a picture whether the skin infection is bacterial, fungal, the result of protozoan parasites, or a mixed infection of some sort. The treatment regimen we discussed in my previous posts is appropriate and I would continue just as we outlined.
Be sure to obtain some neomycin or kanamycin to add to the trisulfa and increase the effectiveness of the antibiotic therapy as soon as possible. That’s going to be imperative for a good result, sir.
In addition, you can consider applying a topical antiseptic to the discolored area if you can obtain a suitable product. The anitibiotic I recommend for this is povidone iodine (brand name Betadine).
The topical applications of Betadine should be performed once a day well holding the seahorse over a separate bowl of tank water to prevent any excess Betadine from entering the aquarium. While carefully holding the seahorse out of the water in the upright position, dribble the Betadine antiseptic over the affected area, being very careful not to let any of it get into the container of water or otherwise come in contact with the fish’s gills or eyes.
The idea is to dribble the antiseptic over the infected area from a short distance above the wound without actually touching the injury or contacting the seahorse with any sort of a swab or applicator. If you cannot control the application of the Betadine accurately enough by dribbling it on, then you can VERY gently apply the Betadine to the affected area with a new or sterilized artist’s soft bristle brush. If you use the latter technique, apply the antiseptic using as little pressure as possible. The discolored area is very fragile and sensitive, and you must be very careful to avoid aggravating the injury or damaging the delicate tissue any further when applying the antiseptic.
Don’t forget to gradually lower the water temperature in your treatment tank, Kurt. One simple way to drop the water temp in your hospital 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 several degrees via evaporative cooling (just be sure to top off the tank regularly to replace the water lost to evaporation). Leaving the cover/hood and light off on your treatment tank in conjunction with evaporative cooling can make a surprising difference.
When reducing the water temperature via evaporative cooling, I should also caution you to observe all the usual precautions to prevent shocks and electrical accident when you are using an electric fan or any other electrical equipment on your aquarium, Kurt.
One such precaution is to install an inexpensive titanium grounding probe in your aquariums. That will protect your seahorses and other wet pets from stray voltage and should also safeguard them electrocution in the event of a catastrophic heater failure or similar accident..
But the best way to protect you and your loved ones from electrical accidents around the fish room is to make sure all the outlets are equipped with Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters. And it’s a good idea to make sure all your electrical equipment is plugged into a surge protector as well to further protect your expensive pumps, filters, heaters, etc. from damage. Some good surge protectors, such as the Shock Busters, come with a GFCI built right into them so you can kill two birds with one stone. So when you set up your cooling fan(s) on the aquarium, be sure they’re plugged into a grounded outlet with a GFCI or a surge protector with GFCI protection.
Best of luck controlling this infection and restoring your seahorse to good health, Kurt. You have done an excellent job of keeping your seahorse eating thus far despite his problems with weak snick.
Pete GiwojnaJune 27, 2007 at 5:06 am #3712kizurt2k5Guest
Thanks again for your assistance and advice. The only Neomycin I was able to find was a product by Seachem: Neoplex -Active ingredients: neomycin sulfate (50%). Inactive ingredients: potassium sulfate (50%) Directions are to use once a week for upto 3 weeks. Is that what I should do even if I am doing water changes in my to maintain water quality in hospital tank?
How often can a Methblu dip be done?
Thanks again!!!June 27, 2007 at 9:54 am #3713Pete GiwojnaGuest
You’re very welcome to any help I can offer, sir.
No, sir — I don’t think the Neoplex is going to work for you if it’s only supposed to be dosed once a week. You will be making regular water changes every day in the hospital tank to avoid ammonia spikes, and you would be removing more and more of the medication as you did so if you are not allowed to redose.
For instance, the neomycin medication I prefer is obtained from the National Fish Pharmacy and consists of pure neomycin sulfate powder. The instructions for using it are as follows:
Neomycin Sulfate Powder
DOSAGE: use 1/4 teaspoon per 10 gallons of water. Treat every 24 hours with a 25% water change before each treatment. Treat for 10 days. For piscine tuberculosis, treat for 30 days.
So you might consider obtaining some of the neomycin sulfate powder to combine with your tri-sulfa from the National Fish Pharmacy at the following URL:
Click here: Fish Medications
Methylene blue is a very safe medication and you can repeat the very brief 10-second concentrated dips daily if need be. Or you can administer a longer dip in methylene blue at a less concentrated dosage each day if desired. In that case, you may want to consider a 20-minute methylene blue bath at a dosage of 1/2 teaspoon per gallon of saltwater.
Best of luck clearing up that patch of ulcerative dermatitis, Kurt!
Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support
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