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

Is my male seahorse just exhausted?

  • This topic has 1 reply, 2 voices, and was last updated 14 years ago by Pete Giwojna.
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  • #1817

    Can you give me an idea about my male seahorse who has been having a hard life since I got him six weeks ago (Barb x Aug hybrid). Is he just plain exhausted from an over enthusiast female? Sorry for the long history but I cant work out what is wrong with him/
    He has really hard time with air in the pouch for the six weeks I have had him.
    1. He had babies within two days of getting him
    2. He then got pregnant within a week of this but I had to needle his pouch because he had so much air in it and I couldn’t get the catheder sleeve in. He lost the babies.
    3. A week later he got air in the pouch again and the I flushed out a number of very small dead babies came out (did three days with diamox).
    4. He lasted a couple of weeks, good health, then mated, got another bubble in the pouch and the flush caused the eggs came out (all clear orange, about 8 eggs). Only did one diamox flush.
    5. Last week looking good.
    6. This week another mating ritual and within two days his pouch filled up with air and he was hanging upside down. I did one diamox flush

    All my parameters are good (ph 8.4, nitrite, ammonia 0, nitrate 5ppm). I have no airline in the tank but my protein skimmer creates microbubbles.

    His feeding has been enthusiast up until tonight but he has had weak snick off and on for the last fortnight . Tonight he could only catch a couple of shrimp He goes for the food repeatedly but misses by half a cm all the time, even when the food has landed on a rock or weed. He can hardly suck and takes a couple of goes to get it in. He kept trying for a while tonight and then gave up. He didnt appear to have laboured breath at this stage but I was concerned about parasites so I treated him with a hypobath for 7 minutes (I had left aerate for a couple of hours prior to treatment). He has been gulping for a couple of hours since the bath and looking exhausted.

    Should I give him a rest from the female and seperate the tank up? I am worried that he is worn out or could there be some other infection happening. He has been of good colour but has never really swam since I got him. Just does small jumps from one rock to another.

    Pete Giwojna

    Dear Carol:

    Overworking your broodstock is always a valid concern and it is certainly possible that your male Hippocampus barbouri may be getting a little rundown under the circumstances.

    However, marine fish in general are prodigious breeders that are accustomed to phenomenal output when it comes to their offspring. Seahorses are no exception. Pregnant males are accustomed to re-mating shortly after they have delivered their latest brood, so that in the wild they are normally always pregnant during the breeding season. The short answer to your question is therefore that as long as they are receiving a nutritious diet — which Vibrance-enriched Mysis certainly constitutes — turning out brood after brood is normally not a problem at all for seahorses.

    Here is how Dr. Clyde Tamaru answered a similar question in one of his Horse Forum Columns:

    [open quote]
    Dear Clyde.
    It seems like my male sea horse is always pregnant. Will this hurt him?? I am worried that it is too much for him and that he will not live as long.

    Dear Debra:

    One of the more amazing things about marine fishes is their capacity to reproduce. For example, the angelfishes (potter’s, flame and lemon peel) spawn every night anywhere from 300 – 600 eggs per night. The mahi mahi (Coryphaena hippurus) spawns every other day from the time they are sexually mature until the day they die. The skipjack tuna is thought to spawn every day. In short, it is not unusual for marine fishes to spawn so frequently and hence it is not surprising to have your sea horse male being pregnant all the time. The only thing that could hurt him is that it does take an enormous amount of energy to care for his unborn and it is crucial that these Mr. Mom’s are provided with adequate amounts of food while caring for their unborn. Most women increase their food intake during pregnancy and I hate to use this trite and hackneyed phrase but it is because "they are eating for two". For the male sea horse it may be more like eating for two hundred.
    [Close quote]

    So ordinary I would not be concerned about your H. barbouri stallion, Carol, as long as he had a hearty appetite and was eating plenty of enriched Mysis. However, in your case, the male is developing problems with gas bubble syndrome (i.e., chronic pouch emphysema) every time he is gravid, and now the off-and-on problem with weak snick is preventing him from getting enough to eat. Under those circumstances, he may well be getting worn out, and I think it’s probably a good idea to give him a break from breeding right now.

    As you know, Carol, pregnant males are particularly vulnerable to chronic pouch emphysema and other forms of gas bubble syndrome (GBS), and it is not uncommon for a male that is carrying a brood of young to develop problems with pouch gas and positive buoyancy. When this reaches the point where the affected male is floating at the surface are struggling against positive buoyancy, you have no choice but to release the trapped gas one way or another as soon as possible. Otherwise, the seahorse will be unable to feed and will exhaust itself struggling against the tendency to float, resulting in the build up of lactic acid in its blood and associated changes in blood chemistry (acidosis) that further aggravate its condition.

    Pregnancy is naturally a high-risk period for pouch emphysema and pouch gas for a couple of reasons. First of all, breeding males are often especially susceptible to chronic pouch emphysema and GBS in general because of the placenta-like changes that occur in the lining of the pouch during pregnancy. Spongelike, its tissues expand as the capillaries and blood vessels swell and multiply. A film of tissue then forms around each embedded egg, providing it with a separate compartment (alveolus) of its own. The thickening of the wall of the marsupium and elaboration of pouch structures around the implanted eggs result in a dramatic increase in vascularization, and this increased blood supply (hence increased concentration of carbonic anhydrase) transports more dissolved gases to the pouch, increasing the risk of GBS accordingly. The increased blood supply to the marsupium during pregnancy thus makes breeding males increasingly susceptible to the formation of intravascular gas emboli (micronuclei or seed bubbles) at this time, which can result in pouch emphysema and positive buoyancy problems.

    Secondly, pouch bloat can be caused by gas produced by the decay of embryonic material and the remains of placental tissue or other organic matter (possibly even stillborn young) within the brood pouch, if the male is unable to flush it out and cleanse it properly by pumping water in and out during its pouch displays (Cozzi-Schmarr, per. com.).

    I know of a couple of cases in which male seahorses developed pouch emphysema and/or other forms of GBS every time they became pregnant. When they weren’t breeding, they were just fine, but when they were carrying a brood of young, they were invariably plagued with pouch gas and buoyancy problems. Providing the GBS was managed properly (typically by administering Diamox orally via gut-loaded shrimp, in cases like this), the affected male may be able to give birth normally and recover fully afterwards.

    It appears that your male H. barbouri is one of those unfortunate individuals that develops problems with GBS in conjunction with his pregnancies, so I think the best thing you can do for him now is to give him the rest from the female, just as you are contemplating, and then to provide him with lots of soft-body adult brine shrimp to eat, which are much easier to slurp up and can often keep a seahorse with weak snick going until it has a chance to recover on its own, as discussed below:

    When feeding difficulties like weak snick arise, it’s a good idea to try tempting the affected seahorse with live adult brine shrimp. Seahorses suffering from weak snick induced by an injury may have better luck slurping up smaller, lighter, soft-bodied prey like brine shrimp; if so, that will be enough to keep them going while they heal. You’ll want to enrich the brine shrimp to maximize its nutritional value, and gutloading the shrimp with an enrichment product high in HUFA such as Vibrance is a good way to fortify it beforehand. Brine shrimp are filter feeders that will ingest whatever is suspended in the water with them, so all you need to do is add a pinch or two (or drop or two) of the enrichment formula to a small container of saltwater swarming with brine shrimp at least 30 minutes before you offer the shrimp to your seahorse.

    Some hobbyists dealing with weak snick have had good success in coaxing the affected seahorse to feed by transferring the seahorse to a critter keeper or breeder net or similar enclosure that can hang within the main tank itself, and then adding a generous amount of live adult brine shrimp to the container. Within the enclosure, the affected seahorse does not have to compete with its tankmates for the live food, and it is easy to maintain an adequate feeding density within the confined space so that there is always a big juicy brine shrimp passing within striking distance of the hungry seahorse. Add one or two hitching posts within the critter keeper or breeder net so that your male can anchor in place and wait for a tasty brine shrimp to pass within easy reach, and give him an hour or two within the enclosure to eat him fill of the softbodied adult brine shrimp. You can monitor his progress from a nonthreatening distance away from the tank to see how she is doing. In most cases, the seahorse quickly becomes familiar with the routine of being transferred to the special enclosure at feeding time and associates it with tasty live foods and a full belly — positive reinforcements that make it a very nonthreatening, stress-free procedure for the affected seahorse — and, as a result, it may actually come to look forward to it after a few feedings. You can repeat this feeding process two or three times daily in order to fatten him up again, if your schedule allows.

    Hopefully, the breathing rate of your male will return to normal over the next few hours, Carol. If it does not, he may benefit from a quick dip in methylene blue, as explained below:

    Here are the instructions for treating seahorses with methylene blue, if necessary:

    Methylene Blue

    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.

    Okay, Carol, that’s the quick rundown on the methylene blue. If your stallion continues to have labored breathing and respiratory distress, a quick dip in the methylene blue could be beneficial. But I would not subject him to any more freshwater dips.

    Best of luck getting your H. barbouri stallion back to normal again, Carol.

    Pete Giwojna

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