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

intractable infection

Viewing 2 posts - 1 through 2 (of 2 total)
  • Author
  • #818

    I have posted here before regarding my bloated pinto. He is still bloated but I returned him to the show tank and he is eating and behaving normally. I am
    afraid to stress him any more than I have so I am leaving him alone at this time.
    His tank mate has been a sunburst I have had for well over a year (it may even be two). I had mentioned in previous posts that after I removed the pinto, the sunburst developed an ulcer on his tail. He had actually had a similar problem several months ago when I had treated him in a hospital tank. It never got larger than a small white spot and remained that way. I had been treating him with antibiotics at that time so I thought that I had solved the problem.
    Anyway, three weeks ago the spot started looking inflamed and my cleaner shrimp kept picking at it so I moved him to the hospital tank and started treating with ciprofloxacin as a one hour immersion daily, neomycin and triple sulfa. The spot has gotten worse after 9 days of treatment and his tail has actually swelled above the apparent infection.
    In spite of all this he is still alive and breathing normally though he stopped eating 4 days ago. I feel I should euthanize him but he has been such a fighter. Is there any other antibiotic treatment I can try before I give up?

    Pete Giwojna

    Dear Sir:

    The most commonly seen bacteria in infections such as those you are dealing with are Vibrio spp., and the antibiotics you have been using (ciprofloxacin and neomycin sulfate + triple sulfa) are generally good choices for combating vibriosis. However, there are many strains of Vibrio and not all of them will respond to the same antibiotics, so it would certainly be worth trying another antibiotic to resolve the problems your Pinto and Sunburst have been having.

    Above all, don’t forget that reducing the water temperature is often the best thing you can do to help bring such infections under control, so what ever antibiotic you use, be sure to cool down the water in the treatment tank as discussed below.

    Some of the other antibiotics that have proven to be effective for vibriosis are listed below. In terms of effectiveness, I would rate them roughly as follows:

    Chloramphenicol (i.e., Chloromycetin) either as a bath or administered orally
    streptomycin, flumequine, and polymyxin B (all good choices but very hard to obtain)
    kanamycin as a bath (one of the few antibiotics that works well in saltwater and is absorbed readily through the skin and gills)
    tetracyclene/oxytetracycline (can be effective if administered orally)


    For example, here is a preliminary report from Olin Feuerbacher after examining a seahorse that died of a Vibrio infection. Olin is a marine biologist who is now a Molecular Biologist and a member of the research staff at the Arizona Genomics Institute, and who runs a small aquaculture business- clownfish, gobies, a bit of coral, and all sorts of odd food items- lots of pods, microalgae, etc. He is also a seahorse keeper and has done a lot of research in tropical diseases for quite a while he was a paramedic. He is also a grad student working on marine microbiology, mainly ocean borne human pathogens, and his specialty has been the Vibrio bacteria!

    In short, Olin really knows his stuff when it comes to this sort of thing. He examined the deceased seahorse, took cultures and ran their sensitivities. This is his preliminary report:

    Hi all, I have some early results:
    The most common bacteria present were Vibrios, at least 2 species are present. There is at least one that was found inside muscle tissue, not just superficially, so this is likely to be the main pathogen. It is not id’d to species yet (last count there were over 400 spp of Vibrio). But the good news is that Chloramphenicol killed all the bacteria types present, and Kanamycin was over 95% effective. This is of all the myriad bacteria that arrived, not just the pathogens, so I would expect either to be a good treatment. I will post more later when I have a better idea of what the actual etiologic agent is.

    And here are his thoughts on bacterial infections in seahorses (these are observations he shared based on his past experience but before he did the necropsy and cultures described above):


    They typically start as a secondary infection after either mechanical damage or parasites or cnidarian stings. Once established, they are difficult to control. This is due in part to the fact that they are typically normal flora in all tanks. They are generally benign until they get an opportunity to invade. The symptoms you describe make me think of a particularly nasty species, Vibrio vulnificus. Unlike most of the other vibrios which are gastrointestinal
    pathogens or cause localized tissue damage, V. vulnificus starts as a local infection, but then destroys enough tissue that it moves into the bloodstream and causes a highly fatal form of septicemia. If this is the case, you might want to be careful about sticking your hands into the tank if you have any open cuts. It is also a rare but serious human pathogen. For some reason, it is especially serious for alcoholics in whom it is fatal in about 40% of septicemic cases. So your horses had better cut down on the boozin’. It sounds like the third treatment might be the best idea. Oxytetracycline also sometimes works, but it is a bacteriastatic agent, meaning that it’s growth is halted but it is not killed outright. Instead, the horse’s immune system is responsible for ultimate clearance, and by the time symptoms appear, it is likely too far gone for this to work. The antibiotics that seem to work well for this include streptomycin (in some cases), chloramphenicol (dangerous in 1/100,000 humans) and ciprofloxacin (just hard to get).

    As for the importance of avoiding heat stress when it comes to bacterial infections (or the value of maintaining reduced temperatures when fighting a bacterial infection), this is what he has to say:

    It is interesting that you mentioned the elevated
    temperatures. I think this is a critical factor in a
    number of ways. First, elevated temperatures can have
    many adverse effects on the immune status of many
    organisms. Many of the enzymes and proteins involved
    in an immune response are very temperature sensitive.
    When studying an outbreak of vibriosis in echinoderms
    during an El Nino event in the Sea of Cortez, I found
    that several defensive enzymes in the echinoderms were
    inactivated by a rise of only a few degrees in water

    In addition to the effects on the hosts, water
    temperature may have very significant effects on the
    pathogens as well. First, elevated temperature will
    obviously increase the rate of microbial growth.
    Perhaps more importantly, recent research has
    implicated temperature as a major factor in the
    regulation of virulence genes. When in the cooler
    pelagic environment, a bacteria wants to conserve
    energy, so virulence genes will not be expressed since
    there is probably no host. However, in warmer temps,
    these genes can be turned on resulting in pathogenesis.
    This is especially true for bacteria such as the
    Vibrios which exist both as normal aquatic flora and as
    pathogens in many mammalian species with our nice warm
    digestive tracts etc. One particularly interesting
    study showed that the coral pathogen Vibrio strain AK1
    was completely benign, despite heavy colonization, in
    corals at one temp (I forget exactly what, I think it
    was about 25C), but when temperature was raised by 3
    degrees, all of the virulence genes in the Vibrio’s
    pathogenicity island were turned on. This resulted in
    severe infection and rapid death of the corals. Bad
    news for aquarists, but I still think this kind of gene
    regulation is really cool!

    So raising or dropping the water temperature just a few degrees can make a huge difference. Likewise, here are Neil Garrick-Maidment’s observations on the importance of water temperature when treating a Vibrio infection:

    I am not sure if it is of any help but I recently had a problem with vibriosis
    in Hippocampus capensis coupled with a couple of gas bubbles in the end of the
    tail. Having tried a number of treatments in the past that havn’t worked I took
    a slightly more drastic approach this time and dropped the temperature from 23
    down to 18 degrees C (64°F) having first isolated the infected animals into a separate
    tank. I then left them like this for 4 weeks after which I increased the
    temperature slowly up to 21 degrees C or 70°F (which it still is). After the second week
    the vibriosis had gone completely (and has not returned) and the gas bubbles
    were gone after the third week. In all the time the temperature was low the
    animals reduced their feeding and it has now increased with the raising of the
    temperature and they since gone on to have two broods of fry.

    Best wishes,

    Neil Garrick-Maidment
    Seahorse Project Co-ordinator

    Hippocampus erectus has an enormous range of the wild and can adapt to an equally wide range of temperatures, so your Sunburst (H. erectus) would be perfectly comfortable at the same temperatures Neil used to cure his H. capensis, if you can possibly drop the temperature in your treatment tank that far. If not, just dropping the temperature a few degrees from normal can often make a huge difference when treating bacterial infections.

    Finally, here’s a research paper I thought you might be interested in since it documents a case of mass mortality among hippocampus kuda due to a Vibrio infection, and discusses the antibiotics that were found to be effective against that strain of Vibrio (note that chloramphenicol was again found to be the most effective medication):

    Vibrio harveyi causes disease in seahorse, Hippocampus sp.
    E Alcaide1, C Gil-Sanz1, E Sanjuµn1, D Esteve1, C Amaro1 and L Silveira2

    A mass mortality among cultured seahorses,
    Hippocampus kuda and Hippocampus sp., occurred
    in spring 1998 in Tenerife, Spain. Seahorses were
    held together with tropical shrimps, Stenopus
    hispidus, in glass aquaria supplied with 1000 L of
    sea water at 25 °C. The water supply was conducted
    between different tanks that contained various
    marine species, such as octopus, Octopus vulgaris,
    star®sh, Asterias rubens, sea-urchin, Paracentrotus
    lividu, greater weever, Trachinus draco, grouper,
    Epinephelus guaz and Canarian shrimp, Lismata
    amboiens. None of these species was affected,
    including the shrimps that shared aquaria with the
    seahorses. Mortalities of seahorses were very high
    (more than 90%), and the fish died in 3-5 days
    after the first clinical signs appeared. Moribund
    seahorses were microbiologically analysed and subsequently,
    chloramphenicol was used as a bath
    (30 mg L)1) to control the outbreak. The mortality
    decreased after a few days of antibiotic treatment.

    Diseased seahorses presented clinical signs similar
    to vibriosis: external haemorrhages, and haemorrhagic
    liver and ascitic fluid accumulation in the
    intestinal cavity. A bacterium identified as Vibrio
    harveyi was obtained in pure culture from samples
    of skin haemorrhages, mouth and liver of all
    moribund seahorses. The aim of this study was
    to characterize the V. harveyi strains isolated from
    diseased seahorse, and to confirm its pathogenicity
    by means of experimental infection.

    Samples from skin haemorrhages, mouth and liver
    were analysed by streaking a piece of aseptically
    obtained tissue onto tryptone-soy-agar supplemented
    with 1% NaCl (TSA-1) and incubating at 25 °C
    for 24±48 h. Pure cultures were obtained from all
    samples. The isolated strains were Gram-negative
    rods, motile, oxidase- and catalase-positive, sensitive
    to the vibriostatic agent O129 at 150 lm and
    fermentative. The isolates were first characterized
    by API 20NE (BioMeÂrieux, S.A. France) strips,
    which gave the same profile in all cases (7474445),
    identi®ed by the database APILAB Plus
    (BioMeÂrieux) supplied by the manufacturer as
    V. vulni®cus, with a probability of 95.1%. Further
    identification was achieved by colony hybridization
    as previously described (Biosca, Amaro, Larsen &
    Pedersen 1997), using an alkaline phosphataselabelled
    oligonucleotide DNA probe (VVAP) specific
    for V. vulni®cus, constructed from a portion of
    the V. vulni®cus haemolysin±cytolysin (hlyA) gene
    sequence (Wright, Miceli, Landry, Christy, Watkins
    & Morris 1993). Positive and negative controls used
    were V. vulni®cus ATCC 27562 and V. cholerae
    ATCC 14035, respectively. All isolates were negative
    in colony hybridization experiments, which indicated
    that they were misidentified as V. vulni®cus.
    Identification was continued by testing additional
    biochemical characteristics as described by Biosca,
    Oliver & Amaro (1996). On the basis of the results
    obtained, the seahorse isolates were identified as
    V. harveyi. They were almost identical to the type
    strain of V. harveyi, except for growth at 12 °C and
    luminescence (Table 1). Vibrio harveyi is a synonym
    of V. carchariae (Pedersen, Verdonck, Austin, Austin,
    Blanch, Grimont, Jofre, Koblavi, Larsen, Tiainen,
    Vigneulle & Swings 1998), which is recognized as a
    fish pathogen (Yii, Yang & Lee 1997). The present
    strains differed from the type strain of V. carchariae in
    swarming, production of urease, growth with 8%
    NaCl and at 40 °C, and the utilization of sucrose,
    arabinose, d-mannitol and l-citruline.

    Cultures grown on TSA-1 were suspended in
    sterile phosphate buffered saline (PBS) at pH 7.2 and
    DO600 nmwas adjusted to 0.4. Aliquots of 0.1 mL
    of this suspension were spread onto Mueller±Hinton
    agar (Oxoid, Basingstoke, 2 UK), and antimicrobial
    sensitivity tested using antimicrobial discs (Becton
    3Dickinson, Pharmaceuticals, NJ, USA). The following
    drugs were used: tetracycline (30 lg), flumequine
    (30 lg), chloramphenicol (30 lg), oxolinic acid
    (10 lg), trimethoprim-sulphametoxazol (25 lg),
    nitrofurantoin (50 lg), oxytetracycline (30 lg),
    erythromycin (15 lg), furazolidone (50 lg), gentamicin
    (10 lg), kanamycin (30 lg) and polymyxin
    B (300 U). Strains were sensitive to tetracycline,
    flumequine, chloramphenicol, nitrofurantoin and polymyxin
    B. Chloramphenicol and flumequine produced
    the widest inhibition halos in the test plates.
    The 50% lethal dose (LD50) test, with batches of
    six seahorses per dose, were conducted by intraperitoneal
    (i.p.) injection as previously described (Alcaide,
    Amaro, TodolõÂ & Oltra 1999). Seahorse (mean
    weight 4 g ®sh)1), were injected with 0.05 mL of a
    bacterial suspension containing 107)102 cfu mL)1
    (determined by plate counts on TSA-1), in PBS.
    Sterile PBS was injected i.p. into seahorses as a
    control. Mortalities were recorded daily for 14 days,
    and were only considered positive if the injected
    strain was recovered from assayed seahorses. The
    LD50 as calculated by the method of Reed&Muench
    (1938) was 4 ´ 103 cfu ®sh)1. Pure cultures of the
    inoculated strains were re-isolated from liver and skin
    haemorrhages of moribund seahorse. No mortality
    was detected in the controls. Clinical signs appeared
    12±24 h after i.p. injection and mortalities began
    1±7 days post-challenge. The signs observed in
    challenged seahorses reproduced those observed
    during the outbreak. This result confirmed the role
    of V. harveyi as the causative agent of the disease.
    In the present work, an infectious disease affecting
    seahorse, Hippocampus kuda and Hippocampus sp., is
    described for the first time. The isolates from diseased
    seahorse had the same morphological and biochemical
    characteristics, and were identi®ed as V. harveyi
    from comparison of their biochemical characteristics
    with the type strain of the species. Vibrio harveyi is
    a marine bacterium that causes luminous vibriosis
    (Zhang & Austin 1999) and is an important
    pathogen of cultured penaeid shrimp (Lavilla-Pitogo,
    Baticados, de Cruz-Lacierda & de la PenÄa 1990;
    Karunasagar, Pai, Malathi & Karunasagar 1994;
    Liu, Lee, Yii, Kou & Chen 1996; Montero & Austin
    1999). It has also been reported as an opportunistic
    pathogen of common snook (Kraxberger-Beatty,
    McGarey, Grier & Lim 1990), and has been isolated
    from diseased marine fish such as Acanthopagrus
    cuvieri (Saeed 1995), sea bream, Sparus aurata
    (Balebona, MorinÄigo, Faris, Krovacek, MaÈnsson,
    Bordas & Borrego 1995), and dentex, Dentex dentex,
    cultured on the Mediterranean coast of Spain
    (Company, SitjaÁ-Bobadilla, Pujalte, Garay, Alvarez-
    Pellitero & PeÂrez-SaÂnchez 1999). Further studies are
    in progress to characterize the virulence factors
    involved in the pathogenicity of V. harveyi isolates.

    All things considered, I would say that chloramphenicol (i.e. Chloromycetin) is the treatment of choice for most Vibrio infections. It is effective both as a bath for prolonged immersion or when administered orally. Your Sunburst is not eating, so administering the chloramphenicol to the treatment tank would be a good option for him. However, I would recommend administering the chloramphenicol to your Pinto orally, via bio-encapsulated shrimp, which would allow you to treat the Pinto in the main tank where it is most comfortable, without subjecting it to any additional stress.

    The treatment protocol for Chloramphenicol or Chloromycetin is as follows:

    Chloramphenicol can be used to treat Vibriosis at 40 mg/ litre of water (which comes out to about 150 milligrams per gallon) in a bath for 10-20 hours. It is important to watch the quality of the water, and if it starts to become turbid, the water must be changed. It is best to treat in a separate tank. In stubborn cases, a series of such baths may be necessary to resolve the problem, in which case a complete water change should be performed before the medication is redosed.

    Chloramphenicol can also be used as an additive to the feed, if the fish are still eating (all to often in a major infection they will refuse to eat, but this treatment may be most useful in preventing the horizontal spread of the infection). When used as an addition to the feed use 500 mg per 100 gram of feed. (In the case of seahorses, the flake food medicated with chloramphenicol in this way would first be bio-encapsulated in live feeder shrimp, which would then in turn be fed to the seahorses.)

    If you do obtain the chloramphenicol, be sure to be very careful when handling it. Remember, in a few rare individuals exposure to chloramphenicol can cause a potentially fatal side effect (aplastic anemia). These are rare cases and almost always involve patients who were being treated with the medication, but I would use gloves when handling it as a precaution and if you crush crush up tablets of chloramphenicol, be very careful not to inhale any of the power.

    Because of this side effect, which affects one in 100,000 humans, chloramphenicol is no longer available as a medication for fishes and can therefore be difficult to obtain. If you find that is the case, you might have better luck switching to kanamycin instead. A fish medication that includes kanamycin sulfate as its primary ingredient should be available from any well-stocked LFS:

    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. Kanamycin can be combined safely with neomycin (as well as metronidazole) to further increase its efficacy. Like other gram-negative antibiotics, it will destroy your biofiltration and should be used in a hospital tank only.

    If, for some reason, you have difficulty locating the kanamycin, you will surely be able to locate a fish medication based on tetracycline or oxytetracycline at your LFS. These medications are completely useless when added to the saltwater in a marine aquarium, since they bind with calcium and magnesium, but they have proven to be very effective in treating bacterial infections, including certain strains of Vibrio, when administered orally, as described below:

    Tetracycline and oxytetracycline can also be used like Chloramphenicol as an addition to the feed, with the limitation as already mentioned that so often with Vibrio infections the fish will not eat. When attempting to use Tetracycline in the feed take 750 mg tetracycline HCL and mix same with 100 gram of feed. Use this mixture for at least one week, feeding twice daily in the morning and early afternoon. The dosages for oxytetracycline are exactly the same as for tetracycline. (Again, when treating seahorses seahorses, the flake food medicated with tetracycline/oxytetracycline in this way would first be bio-encapsulated in live feeder shrimp, which would then in turn be fed to the seahorses.)

    Feeding your Pinto feeder shrimp that have been gut loaded with chloramphenicol or tetracycline/oxytetracycline may enable you to clear up his bloated condition once and for all.

    Best of luck treating your ailing seahorses, sir!

    Pete Giwojna

Viewing 2 posts - 1 through 2 (of 2 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

America's Only Seahorse Aqua-Farm and One of Hawaii's Most Popular Attractions

Ocean Rider seahorse farm is a consistent Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence Award Winner and "Top 10 Things To Do" Kona, Hawaii attraction. Our "Magical Seahorse Tours" are educational and fun for the whole family.

Tour tickets are available for Purchase On-Line. Space is limited and subject to availability.

small seahorse Ocean Rider, Inc. is an Organic Hawaiian-Based Seahorse Aqua-Farm & Aquarium that Follows Strict Good Farming Practices in Raising Seahorses and Other Aquatic Life.

Seahorse Hawaii Foundation

Inspiring ocean awareness by saving the endangered seahorse and sea dragons around the world from extinction through conservation, research, propagation, and education.

Help us save the seahorse and the coral reefs they live in with a tax deductible contribution to the Seahorse Hawaii Foundation. You will be helping to protect and propagate over 25 species of endangered seahorses, sea dragons and friends.

Make A Tax-Deductible Donation Today!

A Different Kind of Farm (Video) »

Ocean Rider Kona Hawaii

Ocean Rider Kona Hawaii
Seahorse Aqua-Farm & Tours

73-4388 Ilikai Place

Kailua Kona, Hawaii 96740

Map & Directions


Contact Ocean Rider

Copyright ©1999-2023
All Rights Reserved | Ocean Rider Inc.

My Online Order Details

Purchase Policy

Site Terms and Conditions