Seahorse Club
Aquarium & Livestock

Feed Ezy Frozen Mysis

Seahorse Club
Aquarium & Livestock

Feed Ezy Frozen Mysis

Seahorse Club
Aquarium & Livestock

Feed Ezy Frozen Mysis

Seahorse Club
Aquarium & Livestock

Feed Ezy Frozen Mysis

Seahorse Club
Aquarium & Livestock

Feed Ezy Frozen Mysis

Seahorse Club
Aquarium & Livestock

Feed Ezy Frozen Mysis

Infected seahorse tail tip

Viewing 6 posts - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)
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  • #1796
    tjdouglas
    Member

    Hi there,

    My largest (about 7" – 8 ") male erectus seahorse has had a swollen tail tip for about three weeks. I thought it was evidence of external gas bubble disease, so I treated him for a few days with ghost shrimp treated with diamox.

    This treatment did not work and the swelling of the tail tip continued. And since there were no buoyancy problems I probably should have realized that his problem was not external gas disease. This evening I lanced his tail tip with a sterilized needle and found that lots of white, slightly stringy looking pus oozed out. This is probably a good thing, to get the pus out…hopefully?

    For the moment, I have him in a bucket with an airstone and some neomycin and triple sulfa, but I don’t like the idea of isolating him for too long. He is a very social creature, has something of a significant other in the main tank as well as numerous other "friends," and I fear that isolation for several days will be very hard on him.

    Would one night in neomycin be enough? After several hours treatment could I just put some "Biobandage" and triple anti-biotic ointment on his tail and return him to the main tank?. He does not seem to have anything that would be contagious to the other seahorses…apparently just some kind of localized infection in the tail tip.

    I would be happy to hear your advice! Thanks so much.

    #5079
    Pete Giwojna
    Guest

    Dear Douglas:

    I’m very sorry to hear about the tail infection that your large male Hippocampus erectus seahorse has developed but I want to assure you that you did the right thing by isolating the seahorse and beginning antibiotic therapy. The bacteria that are most often associated with tail rot and other tail infections in Hippocampus are species of Vibrio and Pseudomonas, which are highly contagious and extremely virulent in most cases. One day’s treatment with antibiotics is not nearly sufficient and it is very important to protect the rest of your herd from being exposed to the infectious bacteria. Nor can you treat the affected seahorse in the main tank because the antibiotics would disrupt the biological filtration and create water quality problems that would threaten all of the aquarium inhabitants.

    You might consider purchasing an inexpensive five or 10-gallon glass aquarium to use for your hospital tank and positioning it nearby the main tank, so that the large male with the tail infection will still be in visual contact with his friends and the rest of your herd in the adjacent main tank. Just be very careful to avoid cross-contamination between the two nearby aquariums.

    I would continue treating your male in isolation with the neomycin plus triple sulfa, which have a synergistic effect when used together, but ignore the instructions regarding the recommended dosage that comes with the neomycin. For bacterial infections such as this, neomycin is dosed at 250mg per gallon (or 2500mg per 10 gallons) and the treatment regimen needs to be maintained for at least 10 days.

    This is a prolonged immersion dose — you dose it ONCE at 250 mg per gallon then replace the meds in ratio with the water changes to keep a constant level in the water as opposed to following OTC recommendations.

    For example:

    Day one: 250 mg per gallon
    Day two: 50% water change, then add 50% of the original dose (125mg per gallon, or 1250mg for a 10 gallon)
    Days three to ten: repeat water change and re-dose in the same way as day two.

    BioBandage and other topical treatments will not be sufficient to treat a problem like this in and of themselves, Douglas. The danger is that the infection is going to spread internally and result in sepsis (bacterial septicemia), which can kill the seahorse very quickly. You need to get antibiotics into the infected animal and not simply treat the superficial external wound with topical treatments.

    I would not recommend returning the affected seahorse to the main tank with the rest of your herd until its tail has healed completely.

    Best of luck resolving this infection, Douglas.

    Respectfully,
    Pete Giwojna

    #5080
    tjdouglas
    Guest

    Dear Pete,

    Thank you so much for the feedback on treating the swollen tail tip. You are much too kind!

    I am keeping the erectus isolated in a 5 gallon bucket with neomycin and triple sulfa as your suggested. However, I am worried because he has not eaten for the past two days since starting the antibiotic treatment. I tried to tempt him with his favorite food…live ghost shrimp, but he is not interested so far. (Yhis disturbs me since he has always been a great eater).

    I understand the concept of tube feeding, but how many days should I wait before attempting this? I am hoping that the antibiotics may kick in and he will eat on his own, but if not how long should I wait before trying this? And any advice on how many ml of liquified food I should tube feed to a 7"male erectus.

    I hope I am not being a bother…thank you so much for your gracious advice!

    Tom

    #5081
    Pete Giwojna
    Guest

    Dear Tom:

    Okay, sir, I am very glad to hear that you’re keeping the affected seahorse isolated from the rest of his tank mates. Your first priority right now must be to protect the rest of your herd while you treat the male with the tail infection in isolation.

    A well fed Hippocampus erectus in good condition can go a surprisingly long time without food before it is in danger of starvation, Tom, so you can certainly afford to wait a couple of more days to see if your male resumes feeding on his own before you resort to tube feeding. It’s never a good sign when the affected seahorse stops eating, particularly if it refuses its favorite live foods — the prognosis is always much better if the ailing seahorse is still eating and keeping its strength up during treatment. The lack of appetite could be an indication that the infection is beginning to spread internally…

    Because seahorses lack a proper stomach, Tom, they cannot take very much food at any given time when tube feeding. Dr. Greenwell recommends feeding between 0.05 to 0.25 mL for seahorses, depending on size. Somewhere in the middle of that range — say about 0.15 mL — should be about right for a seven-inch Hippocampus erectus:

    <Open quote>
    Dr. Marty Greenwell notes that syngnathids in general and seahorses in particular are vulnerable to emaciation in captivity because of their rapid intestinal transit time and very limited fat stores (Bull and Mitchell, 2002, p24). At the Shedd, he regularly tube feeds newly acquired seahorses that arrive badly emaciated. In such circumstances, Dr. Greenwell advises, "…syngnathids are at a high risk for loss of body condition. With this in mind, anorectic seahorses and pipefish almost always require nutritional support. At Shedd Aquarium, anorectic syngnathids are tube fed a high quality, commercial fish flake food gruel. Because of the very small, vestigial stomach, only limited volumes of gruel can be administered at any given time, i.e., 0.05 to 0.10 cc for most seahorses and up to 0.25 cc or more for the large Hippocampus sp., trumpetfish, and the sea dragons. Offering nutritional support can mean the difference between survival and death in sick and/or anorectic syngnathids (Bull and Mitchell, 2002, p24)."
    <Close quote>

    You mentioned that this particular pony has always been an aggressive eater, Tom. In that case, you may want to consider force feeding him by hand before you attempt tube feeding. By handfeeding in this case I mean holding one entire, intact (whole and unbroken) frozen Mysis that you have carefully thawed in your fingertips and then placing the tail of the Mysid directly in the mouth of the seahorse. Many times the seahorse will simply spit it out again, but often if you can insert the Mysis into his open mouth far enough, is feeding instincts will kick in and take over so that he slurps up the frozen Mysis almost reflexively. That’s a much less stressful and less invasive method of force feeding a seahorse that sometimes works well (especially if the seahorse is accustomed to being hand fed and doesn’t shy away from the aquarist). Force feeding the seahorse by hand sounds much more difficult than it actually is, and seahorses will often respond well to this method of feeding, Tom. Even the professional curators at the large public aquariums will use this technique when their highly prized (and very expensive) seadragons are experiencing problems with weak snick, as explained in the discussion thread below:

    <open quote>
    Has anyone had problems with syngnathids having a problem
    getting food into their mouths? Currently I have a few ribbon
    pipehorses (seadragons) that have lost the ability to take in food,
    either live or frozen when attempting to eat. It is as if they have
    lost the suction power when they attempt to snap up the food. They
    can see the food and chase it and attempt to eat but don’t have
    enough snap to create the suction needed to get the piece of food
    into its mouth. Even when putting the affected animal in a smaller
    tank with lots of food, it still can’t get the food in.
    This condition seemed to develop even though the ribbon
    pipehorses were eating aggressively before the problem started. They
    were mainly eating frozen mysis and occasionally were fed live mysis.
    I was thinking that possibly the diet of mainly frozen mysis could
    not be enough for them nutritionally as they were developing??? Not
    sure.
    I have occasionally seen this problem before in weedy and
    leafy seadragons as well as some seahorses.
    Has anyone else had this problem? Any ideas of what may
    cause this problem? Any ideas on how to get them to eat again? Has
    anyone had luck with force feeding seadragons to get them to eat
    again?

    Thanks,
    Leslee Matsushige

    Leslee Matsushige (Yasukochi)
    Assistant Aquarium Curator
    Birch Aquarium at Scripps
    Scripps Institution of Oceanography
    University of California San Diego

    Hi Leslee,
    Over the years, we have seen mouth problems develop in some of our dragons. Sometimes it’s attributed to injury. Sometimes we don’t know what causes it, but we are often successful in getting them to recover on their own with just supportive feedings until we observe that they are back to catching food normally. Sometimes this can take a long time…as in a month or two of force feedings before they are back to catching enough on their own to sustain themselves.
    Although I have not had experience force feeding ribbon dragons, I have both force fed and tube fed leafy and weedy seadragons. Typically, we force feed numerous frozen mysids to a sick dragon up to 3 times a day. By force feeding, I mean that we very gently place a mysid in the mouth of the animal and then lightly hold a finger in front of it so that it can’t easily spit out the food. Usually they learn pretty quickly that they are getting food this way and start to slurp mysids up as soon as they are put in their mouth. I usually try to get 6-10 mysids in per feeding. It takes good eyesight and a steady hand to make sure you don’t injure their mouth with this method. We have also tube fed using a thick slurry of cyclopeeze or pulverized and moistened pelleted food…usually giving around .3cc per feeding…though it’s dependent on the size of the animal. I think we usually use a 2-3mm french catheter cut down to fit on a small syringe. Again we do this 3 x day. We find that the animals do better with the frequent feedings and usually they go right back to searching for food after being released.
    Teryl Nolan
    Aquarium Supervisor
    SeaWorld Florida

    Hi Teryl,
    Thanks for your response to my posting. We are currently trying to tube feed one of our leafy seadragons. We have been feeding it 1x/day for now to see how it handles the feedings.
    I was wondering what was the size of the seadragon that you feed .3cc of the food slurry to? Our leafy is about 10-11 inches in length. I am not sure of the amount to feed. Since we are feeding only 1x/day we are trying .6cc per feeding.
    Do you find force feeding or tube feeding to be better in certain situations? Our leafy still attempt to get the food but can not snap its jaw with enough force to get the food into its mouth.
    When you force feed the seadragon do you hold it upsidedown? What do you use to put the mysid in its mouth? If you could give more details about force feeding that you think might be helpful, can you pass this on?
    Your response has been helpful!
    Thanks,
    Leslee

    In a message dated 7/16/2009 1:20:44 P.M. Central Daylight Time, [email protected] writes:
    Hi Leslee,
    We usually feed our full-sized leafies just .3cc at each feeding. I don’t know that you can’t go higher, we just don’t. I try to be conservative and part of my philosophy about having to force feed them is that since they naturally tend to graze on food all day long, I like to feed them smaller amounts more frequently.

    In our experience, the dragons usually go back to their normal routine after a tube or force feeding. If they were actively looking for food, but just not following through and eating it, that’s what they go back to. If prior to the feeding, they were acting pretty lethargic…maintaining a stationary position on the water, usually facing a wall, and not showing any interest in feeding…then we’ve noticed that after they get a little energy from the force feeding, they often come out, act a little more normally, and even show signs of hunting for food. The reason we started force feeding the sick ones 2-3x a day years ago, is because we see such a dramatic turn around in their behavior after they have gotten some food. If we don’t follow it up with another feeding that day, then they seem to lose steam and go back to their wall-facing behavior.

    I’ve come to the point that I believe it’s better to force feed than to tube feed (unless I need to tube with an oral medication or the dragon won’t take the force feeding). If you have the very small mysids available because you purchase live or culture your own, that’s what I prefer to use. We freeze our mysids prior to feeding them out. If you lightly restrain the dragon, in an upright position, but completely under the water, I find it’s easier to use latex gloves and very carefully insert a small mysid into the dragon’s mouth tail first using my fingers. We can usually get them to eat 10-20 per feeding. They will usually slurp it up pretty quickly. Sometimes they spit them out the first couple times though. In which case, I lightly hold my finger in front of their mouth until they’ve swallowed the mysid. That keeps them from spitting them out completely…usually. We have a few that we hold under water and pour mysids in front of, then we just move them directly in front of the food and they slurp them up. I think they probably get more from the whole mysids than from the gruel.

    We don’t even move them off exhibit unless there are other health issues. We just lean over the side of our system and handle the dragons quickly beneath the surface. Then release them. I think it is much less stressful on the animals if you don’t have to move them. They tolerate this extremely well in my experience and we have had numerous that required supplemental feedings for awhile, but then recovered.

    I hope this helps!

    Teryl Nolan
    Aquarium Supervisor
    SeaWorld Florida
    <close quote>

    Best of luck resolving this tail infection and preventing it from spreading to the rest of your seahorses, Tom. Let me know if you have to resort to tube feeding after all and I can provide you with some instructions for that procedure, if need be.

    Respectfully,
    Pete Giwojna

    #5082
    tjdouglas
    Guest

    Dear Pete,

    Thanks again for the guidance…I very much appreciate it. I know it must take a lot of time for you to be giving out your valuable advice.

    But I am afraid that the seahorse is not responding very well to this treatment of neomycin and triple sulfa. It is now going on three days of treatment; I am following your directions and doing 50% water changes 2x per day and replacing 50% of the med dosages at those times. Unfortunately he only seems to be growing weaker and weaker. Any suggestions on trying another medication combo? Something to try other than the neomycin and triple sulfa? Interestingly, lthough his growing overall weakness seems to suggest that he is suffering from general septicemia, the actual swelling on the tail tip is going down.

    Tom

    #5083
    Pete Giwojna
    Guest

    Dear Tom:

    It sounds like you have been using too much of the medication, sir. The instructions call for you to perform a 50% water change daily and then to replace 50% of the antibiotics after that daily water change; it sounds like you have been performing two water changes daily and replacing 50% of the antibiotics after each water change, which would result in too much of the medication accumulating in the treatment tank over time. That can be hard on the seahorse’s kidneys and system in general.

    So, if that is indeed the case, Tom, I would recommend that you perform a 100% water change as soon as possible to remove all of the medication (do not redose the tank after changing all of the water). Just give your seahorse a break from the medications for the next two or three days to allow him to flush all of the antibiotics out of his system. Continue to perform a 50% water change each day as usual, in order to maintain good water quality and prevent ammonia spikes, but don’t add any of the medication. If your pony has been getting an overdose, just let him clean the medications out of his system over the next 2 to 3 days to see if he perks up.

    After he has cleansed the neomycin and triple sulfa out of his system, Tom, you can consider trying another antibiotic, if you wish. In that case, kanamycin sulfate is the antibiotic I would recommend.

    Kanamycin sulfate is a potent aminoglycoside antibiotic that is absorbed very well through the skin and gills of the fish, allowing it to attack the infection internally, from the inside out, even if the seahorse is no longer eating:

    Kanamycin sulfate

    This is a potent broad-spectrum, gram+/gram- aminogylcoside antibiotic. It is wonderfully effective for aquarium use because it is one of the few antibiotics that dissolves well in saltwater and that is readily absorbed through the skin of the fish. That makes it the treatment of choice for treating many bacterial infections in seahorses. Like other gram-negative antibiotics, it will destroy your biofiltration and should be used in a hospital tank only.

    If I could only keep one antibiotic in my fishroom medicine cabinet, kanamycin sulfate is the one I would choose because of its excellent solubility in saltwater and effective absorption.

    Best of all, kanamycin sulfate can be safely combined with certain other antibiotics such as doxycycline or neomycin or triple sulfa to increase its efficacy, as explained below. If you can keep more than one antibiotic in your fishroom, make it one of the antibiotics that can be combined safely with kanamycin to produce a synergistic effect. For example, kanamycin + doxycycline is an effective combination for treating certain Vibrio infections. Likewise, combining an aminoglycoside antibiotic (e.g., kanamycin or neomycin) with triple sulfa works well for combating some bacterial infections in seahorses.

    In this case, the kanamycin may be even more effective if you combine it with triple sulfa. The triple sulfa attacks the infection from the outside, while the kanamycin will be absorbed into the bloodstream, where it can attack the infection from the inside.

    You may be able to find a medication that includes kanamycin as its primary ingredient at one of your local fish stores. Or you can always obtain pure kanamycin sulfate powder without a prescription from National Fish Pharmaceuticals at the following URL:

    http://www.fishyfarmacy.com/products.html

    best of luck resolving this tail infection, Tom.

    Respectfully,
    Pete Giwojna

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