- This topic has 8 replies, 2 voices, and was last updated 14 years, 10 months ago by Pete Giwojna.
April 12, 2009 at 4:48 am #1656duckabutMember
My female was admitting Clear Slime from top of her head somewhere, or gills..? She is very sluggish don\’t wanna eat move, NOTHIN. Breathing has slowed! What is it How can I help her?? PLEASE HELP ASAP!!!!! Thank youApril 12, 2009 at 5:50 am #4757Pete GiwojnaGuest
I’m very sorry to hear about the problem you’re having with your seahorse, but it’s very difficult to say what may be causing the trouble with so little to go on.
Seahorses will sometimes increase their protective slime coat and form excess mucus to protect themselves from external parasites, and many of these protozoan parasites attack the gills as well as the skin of the fish, so that could possibly have something to do with why your seahorse is sloughing excess slime from her head. A heavy infestation of these parasites will impair the breathing ability of the seahorse.
However, excess slime production and breathing difficulties can also occur if the pH in a marine aquarium is out of whack, and a spike in the ammonia or nitrite levels in your aquarium can also result in lethargy, generalized weakness, and respiratory distress.
And accidental poisoning can also cause the sort of lethargy, respiratory problems, and symptoms you have reported.
In other words, duckabut, we need to know more about the conditions in your seahorse tank and the aquarium itself in order to be of much help. How big is your seahorse tank? What sort of filtration system and equipment do you have on the aquarium? How long has it been up and running? Have you added any new specimens to the aquarium recently or made any other changes (added a new decoration, used any water additives or supplements, etc.)? What kind of seahorses do you have?
Please list all of the current aquarium inhabitants and tell me the current aquarium readings for the following water quality parameters:
Ammonia (NH3/NH4+) =
Nitrite (N02) =
Nitrate (N03) =
specific gravity or salinity =
water temperature =
Without any further information to guide us, the only thing I can recommend at this time would be to perform a major water change or a series of partial water changes in your seahorse tank, and then to treat the female seahorse with methylene blue to ease her breathing, as discussed below:
Commonly known as "meth blue" or simply "blue," this is a wonderful medication for reversing the toxic effects of ammonia and nitrite poisoning (commonly known as "new tank syndrome"). Since hospital tanks are usually without biological filtration, and ammonia and nitrite can thus build up rapidly (especially if you are not doing water changes during the treatment period), it’s a good idea to add methylene blue to your hospital ward when treating sick fish.
Methylene blue also 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.
In addition, methylene blue treats fungus and some bacteria and protozoans. Methylene blue is effective in preventing fungal infections, and it has antiprotozoal and antibacterial properties as well, by virtue of its ability to bind with cytoplasmic structures within the cell and interfere with oxidation-reduction processes. A "must" for your fish-room medicine cabinet. However, be aware that it is not safe to combine methylene blue with some antibiotics, so check your medication labels closely for any possible problems before doing so.
If you can obtain the Kordon brand of Methylene Blue (available at most well-stocked local fish stores), the 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 or exposure to high-level of nitrates:
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. Remember that methylene blue will have an adverse impact on the beneficial bacteria that carry out the nitrogen cycle, so don’t use it in your main tank — rather, use the methylene blue as a quick dip or for treating the seahorses for a prolonged period in your hospital tank.
So treat the ailing seahorse with methylene blue as soon as possible, and concentrate on improving the water quality in your seahorse tank through a series of water changes. If possible, transfer the seahorse to a hospital tank and administer a long-term regimen of the methylene blue.
Please get back to me with the additional information I requested as soon as possible, duckabut.
Pete GiwojnaApril 12, 2009 at 9:49 am #4758duckabutGuest
dear pete i wrote you back i guess i posted instead of replying ::huh: . im sorry new to this . i thank you for your help. any way i gave you the info on tank stats on the last post.. 🙁 i hope you get itApril 12, 2009 at 10:35 pm #4760Pete GiwojnaGuest
No problem. I found the new post you made and replied to that discussion thread — follow those recommendations to improve your water quality and treat the seahorses for nitrite toxicity and you will hopefully be able to get back on track again.
Pete GiwojnaApril 13, 2009 at 5:48 am #4761duckabutGuest
pete hello, i went and purchased – Kordon- plus— removes Nitrate,Nitrite and ammonia .. dosed the tank. i left them in there –thats the biggest tank to house them . will they be alright or should i remove them to a five gallon bucket of newlly made up salt water? i thought maybe that would just add more stress to them ? Happy Easter — thanks again kathyApril 13, 2009 at 7:51 am #4762duckabutGuest
ok do you know what would make the water look like smoke is swirling in the water ? this is and was happening before i treated the tank … so sorry about this i never experienced this with my drawf seahorses … the water out flow is not hard enough to make sand dust ? but it looks like smoke in the water…. Confused and upset i do not want them to die…tyApril 13, 2009 at 7:55 am #4763duckabutGuest
tested water again the levels are coming down slow but the smoke looking stuff is still there ? i don`t know what to do / don`t know what it is?April 13, 2009 at 8:16 pm #4764Pete GiwojnaGuest
I’m not familiar with Kordon Plus but if it is able to reduce the nitrite levels to the proper range, then it certainly could be helpful in this case. Unless you have another suitable aquarium with well established biological filtration that the seahorses could be transferred to, I agree that it’s better to work on restoring optimum water quality to your seahorse tank rather than moving your seahorses to a 10-gallon bucket with clean, newly-mixed saltwater. It is always stressful for the seahorses to be uprooted from their home and placed in strange-new surroundings and the water quality in the 10-gallon bucket would not remain good for long. As soon as the seahorses began eating and/or excreting wastes in the bucket, ammonia would begin building up to harmful levels, and ammonia is even more toxic than the nitrites.
I would leave the seahorses in the main tank, Kathy, and continue to monitor the ammonia and nitrite levels closely. If either of them are still elevated despite the addition of the Kordon Plus, then I would continue to make partial water changes to keep the ammonia and nitrite levels within the acceptable range. The best water to use for the water changes is ultrapure RO/DI water rather than tap water.
In many areas, tap water may contain significant levels of ammonia, amines, nitrates, silicates and phosphates, all of which contribute to the growth of nuisance algae in the aquarium. These substances have been removed from water that’s been purified by reverse osmosis-deionization filtration, and setting up your aquarium using RO/DI water from the start can thus help prevent nuisance algae from ever getting a toehold in your tank. And believe me, preventing nuisance algae is far easier than eradicating it once it rears its ugly head in the aquarium!.
If you do not have an RO/DI unit of your own, you can always purchase the reverse osmosis/deinonized water (RO/DI) instead. Most well-stocked pet shops that handle marine fish sell RO/DI water as a service for their customers for between 25 and 50 cents a gallon. If your LFS does not, WalMart sell RO/DI water by the gallon for around 60 cents, and you should be able to find a Wal-Mart nearby. (Heck, even my drug store sells RO/DI water nowadays.)
However, it’s not always safe to assume that RO/DI water purchased from your LFS or your drugstore or some other convenient source is as pure as you might expect. If the merchants selling the RO/DI water are not diligent about monitoring their water quality and changing out the membranes promptly when needed, then the water they provide will not be a good quality and will not produce the desired results. I suggest that you look for an aquarium store that maintains beautiful reef systems on the premises — that’s a good sign that they know their stuff and are maintaining optimum water quality at all times, so the RO/DI water they provide should be up to snuff.
Of course, RO/DI water is simply very pure freshwater, and you would have to add an artificial salt mix, and perhaps a good aquarium buffer, to the RO/DI water in order to fill your new marine aquarium with quality saltwater.
You may also want to consider purchasing natural seawater to set up your new aquarium, Kathy. Like RO/DI water, natural seawater can now be purchased at many fish stores for around $1.00 a gallon, depending on where you live. (Petco stores, I believe, often sell natural seawater nowadays.) It sounds expensive, but when you consider the alternative — paying for artificial salt mix plus RO/DI water and mixing your own saltwater — then natural seawater from a reliable source is not a bad bargain at all. It has unsurpassed water quality and seahorses thrive in it.
If you do not have access to a good source of reliable RO/DI water or top quality natural seawater, then detoxified tap water will have to suffice for filling your new aquarium. In many areas, the municipal water supply has undesirable levels of amines, silicates, phosphates or nitrates, and in the United States, it is always chlorinated and fluoridated, so be sure to dechlorinate/detoxify the water using one of the many commercially unavailable aquarium products designed for that purpose when you add it to the aquarium. A simple bottle of chlorine neutralizer will often suffice, and should be available from any fish store or aquarium shop.
In most cases, the surest way to improve your water quality and correct the water chemistry is to combine a 25%-50% water change with a thorough aquarium clean up. Siphon around the base of your rockwork and decorations, vacuum the top 1/2 inch of the sand or gravel, rinse or replace your prefilter, and administer a general system cleaning. The idea is to remove any accumulated excess organic material in the sand/gravel bed, top of the filter, or tank that could degrade your water quality, serve as a breeding ground for bacteria or a reservoir for disease, or otherwise be stressing your seahorses. [Note: when cleaning the filter and vacuuming the substrate, your goal is to remove excess organic wastes WITHOUT disturbing the balance of the nitrifying bacteria. Do not dismantle the entire filter, overhaul your entire filter system in one fell swoop, or clean your primary filtration system too zealously or you may impair your biological filtration.]
At first glance your aquarium parameters may look great, but there are some water quality issues that are difficult to detect with standard tests, such as a decrease in dissolved 02, transitory ammonia/nitrite spikes following a heavy feeding, pH drift, or the gradual accumulation of detritus. A water change and cleanup is a simple preventative measure that can help defuse those kinds of hidden factors before they become a problem and stress out your seahorses. These simple measures may restore your water quality and correct the source of the stress before your seahorse becomes seriously ill and requires treatment.
Here are some suggestions to keep in mind when you are making water changes in your seahorse tank, Kathy. Personally, I really like the convenience of mixing up a relatively large quantity of saltwater in a plastic garbage can, rather than mixing it by the bucket full on a weekly basis. A 30-40 gallon capacity plastic garbage can allows me to mix up enough saltwater for a whole month’s worth of weekly water changes at one time. Which assures that the freshly mixed saltwater will be well aged and thoroughly aerated, and that any chlorine or residual ammonia will have at plenty of time to have dissipated before it’s used. And it also allows you to preadjust the saltwater to match the exact conditions in your aquarium very accurately. It’s always a good idea to keep some premixed saltwater on hand in case of an emergency, when a quick water change becomes necessary.
Water Changing Tips
If you find that performing a major water change seems to cause your seahorses distress, try adjusting your water changing schedule so that you are performing smaller water changes more frequently rather than larger water changes less often. For instance, if you have been performing 20%-25% water changes monthly, switch to administering 5%-10% water changes every week instead. You’ll find the smaller water changes are much less stressful on the aquarium inhabitants.
Be sure to observe all of the usual water changing precautions as well. For example, it’s an excellent idea to use Reverse Osmosis (RO) or Deionized (DI) or RO/DI water for your changes because it’s much more pure than tap water. However, water purified by such methods is very soft and must be buffered before it’s used so it won’t drop the pH in your aquarium when it’s added.
When mixing saltwater for your marine aquarium, it’s important to fill your container with all the water you will need BEFORE adding the salt mix. In other words, if you are mixing up 5 gallons of new saltwater, fill the mixing containing with 5 gallons of water and then add the salt. If you do it the other way around — dump the salt mix in the container and then start filling it with water, the water can become saturated with salt to the point that the calcium precipitates out. This calcium precipitation will turn the water milky and can also lower the pH to dangerous levels.
Water changes can also sometimes be a problem because of the supersaturation of gases in tap water. Tap water distribution systems are maintained under pressure at all times, both to insure adequate flow and to prevent polluted water from outside the pipes from entering in at leaks. Any additional gas introduced into these pipes (from a leaky manifold, for example) will be dissolved at these higher partial pressures, and will often be supersaturated when it emerges from the tap. Also, gases are more soluble in cold water than warm, so when gas-saturated cold water emerges from the tap and warms up in an aquarium, or is warmed up and preadjusted to aquarium temps prior to making a water change, the water can become supersaturated. This must be avoided at all costs because gas supersaturation is one of the contributing factors that can cause Gas Bubble Disease in seahorses and other fish. To prevent this, tap water should be allowed to sit for several days beforehand or gentle aeration can be used to remove gas supersaturation before a water change (just make sure your airstones are not be submerged greater than 18 inches while you’re aerating your freshly mixed water).
There are a few accessories you should keep on hand to make water changing easier: one or more large capacity plastic garbage cans or Rubbermaid vats for mixing up new saltwater; a small powerhead for stirring and circulating the water while it mixes; a submersible heater to adjust the temperature of the newly mixed water; a large diameter siphon hose; a couple of new plastic buckets that hold 3-5 gallons.
First use a clean plastic bucket to fill up the garbage can with 10, 20 or 30 gallons of water or however much you want to mix up at one time. Add the proper amount of artificial salt mix for that much water, and toss your small, cheap powerhead into the garbage can to stir it up. While it’s mixing, put the submersible heater in to adjust the water temp, and add dechlorinator or detox if using tap water (if using reverse osmosis deionized water, or another softened source, be sure to add a pH buffer to the new water). Let the new batch of water mix, aerate, and stabilize for 24-48 hours before you perform the water change and check to make sure the temperature and pH of the new water matches your aquarium. Some artificial salt mixes produce residual amounts of ammonia when newly mixed; aerating the freshly mixed saltwater for 24-48 hours will dissipate and remaining traces of chlorine or ammonia.
If you follow the steps outlined above when mixing up new saltwater prior to performing a water change, the water cannot become saturated with salts, the calcium will not precipitate out, the newly mixed saltwater will be crystal clear and the water exchange should go smoothly.
Best of luck restoring optimum water quality in your seahorse tank, Kathy!
Pete GiwojnaApril 13, 2009 at 8:19 pm #4765Pete GiwojnaGuest
The kind of smoky or hazy aquarium conditions you describe are most likely due to a bacterial bloom. These blooms of bacteria are fairly common in newly established aquariums and are the result of vast numbers of bacteria multiplying unchecked, their growth fueled by excess nutrients in the water. The sheer numbers of these bacteria is what turns the water smoking or hazy, and the metabolic activity of so many bacteria can reduce the dissolved oxygen levels in the aquarium, making it more difficult for the seahorses to breathe.
If you have a lot of Caulerpa macroalgae in the aquarium, a vegetative event during which a mass die off of the Caulerpa occurred can also turn aquarium milky white in a matter of moments, and precipitation from improperly mixed saltwater can also turn aquarium cloudy, but I suspect the smoky or hazy water is due to a bacterial bloom and subsequent drop in the dissolved oxygen levels in your seahorse tank.
I suspect that you’re probably getting some transitory ammonia and nitrite spikes in your seahorse tank following heavy feedings, and that the cloudiness or haziness of the water is due to a bacterial bloom fueled by excess nutrients in the tank. Overfeeding or scatter feeding frozen Mysis can contribute to such problems by promoting wastage and spoilage.
If your seahorse tank has only been up and running for six weeks, that’s barely enough time to cycle a new marine aquarium from scratch. Your aquarium could have used more time to mature and for the biological filtration to become fully established before it was stocked. That’s a problem that only time can correct, Kathy, so you’ll have to rely on partial water changes to keep the water quality in the acceptable range while the biofilter in your aquarium matures. Removing the biowheel from your aquarium also removed a significant amount of the biological filtration ability for the aquarium, which may have further exacerbated the problem.
In the meantime, I would recommend increasing the aeration and circulation in the smoky aquarium and adding a good brand of activated aquarium (i.e., low ash content and phosphate free) to your canister filter. Feed the seahorses very sparingly until the water quality has been corrected and the aquarium is crystal clear again.
Best of luck restoring your water quality and getting your seahorse tank back to normal again, Kathy.
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