Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm and Tours | Kona Hawaii › Forums › Seahorse Life and Care › Is my seahorse sick?
- This topic has 15 replies, 2 voices, and was last updated 9 years, 8 months ago by Pete Giwojna.
August 19, 2013 at 12:30 pm #2016jrosenblumMember
So, one of my Erectus seems to be growing a horn on his head. It looks like his skin is stretched over a slowly growing horn — I believe another Erectus has a similar looking bump on his snout. They have been there for weeks, all of the horses appear healthy in every other way — eating, moving normally, etc.
My water parameters are all good, a chiller maintains an environment of 74-75 degrees and everybody is acting normally.
Here is a picture, the horn is visible on the left-most seahorse.
Is this normal?August 20, 2013 at 5:47 pm #5585Pete GiwojnaGuest
I examined the photograph you provided carefully under high magnification, sir, and I could not see anything resembling a horn on the leftmost seahorse or any of the other ponies. I thought perhaps you were describing cirri, which are fleshy filaments of skin that have a spiky appearance and that some seahorses can grow and shed at will, but none of the seahorses in the photograph have any cirri either, James.
The only thing out of the ordinary that I could detect is a very small white growth on the head of the leftmost seahorse, which appears to be slightly upraised and that I could best describe as a pimple. Is that what you were referring to as an incipient horn, James?
The photograph isn’t good enough to properly characterize this tiny blemish with any degree of certainty, sir. It’s possible the small purple-like growth could be an embedded parasite of some sort, perhaps the sporont stage of a protozoan multiplying within a cyst, or maybe metacercariae from digenetic trematodes, or it could be a lesion from a bacterial or fungal infection, a granuloma, or something as simple as a little viral lymphocystis, the last of which requires no treatment and usually clears up on its own.
Under the circumstances, it would probably be a good idea to treat the seahorses as a precaution as long as this can be done safely while the seahorses are in the main tank, James. This can easily be accomplished by administering medication mixed with the seahorses’ food, sir, and since there is no way to determine the nature of the suspicious “pimple” accurately, I would recommend administering a good antiparasitic such as metronidazole in this way, followed by a good broad-spectrum antibiotic. That would cover all of the bases and can be done quickly and easily without stressing the seahorses or impairing the biological filtration.
The best way treat the ponies orally is by combining the medication with Seachem Focus and then mixing it with the seahorses’ frozen Mysis, which can then be fed to the seahorses as usual, James.
For starters, I would recommend a regimen of Seachem Metronidazole to address the possibility that this might be the beginning of a parasite problems. The Seachem Metronidazole is ideal for this because it is designed to be used with the Seachem Focus and Seachem Garlic Guard and then administered orally, as indicated below:
Seachem Metronidazole Aquarium Fish Medication – 100 g
Parasitic and Bacterial infections don’t stand a chance with Metronidazole. When you find your fish infected with such nasty bugs as Ich or Hexamita, grab the Metronidazole and say goodbye to infection. This fast and effective treatment is safe for biological filtration and is easily removed with carbon after treatment. For freshwater or marine fish.
PACKAGE SIZE 100 GRAM
TREATS UP TO 265 TO 530 GALLONS
TYPE OF DISEASE BACTERIA, PARASITE
AQUARIUM TYPE FRESHWATER, SALTWATER
ACTIVE INGREDIENTS METRONIDAZOLE
INVERT SAFE WITH CAUTION
Do not use UV, ozone or chemical filtration during use.
Use 1-2 measures (each about 100 mg each) for each 10 gallons. Measurer included. Repeat every 2 days until symptoms disappear.
To feed, blend 1 measure with about 1 tablespoon of frozen food paste.
Okay, James, that’s the rundown on the Seachem Metronidazole, which comes in powder form and includes a little scoop for measuring the doses.
Here is the corresponding information for the Seachem Garlic Guard:
Seachem Garlic Guard
* For fresh and saltwater fish, planted and reef aquariums
* Contains allicin, the active ingredient in garlic
* Contains ViJamesn C for enhanced health benefits
Whet your fishes’ appetite with the natural healthful properties of garlic. Contains allicin, the active ingredient in garlic with powerful antioxidant properties that can lessen free radical damage to cells – plus ViJamesn C for enhanced health benefits. For fresh and saltwater fish, planted and reef aquariums.
Directions for Use: Shake well before use. Soak food in Garlic Guard before feeding. For enhanced effectiveness against Ich and other parasites use Seachem’s Focus and Metronidazole as follows: Add 1 measure of Metronidazole to 1 measure of Focus per tablespoon of frozen food. Completely soak this food mix in Garlic Guard, refrigerate, and feed once or twice daily for 1-2 weeks.
Garlic Extract 9900 ppm
Allicin 130 ppm
ViJamesn C 1000 ppm
In short, James, to administer this medication to your seahorses orally, you simply need to thaw out 1 tablespoon of frozen Mysis and then add one measure of the Seachem Metronidazole powder and one measure of Seachem Focus to the Mysis and carefully mix them together. Then you just soak the medicated frozen Mysis in Seachem Garlic Guard and feed it to your seahorses as usual. You can refrigerate any of the excess medicated Mysis and save it for later use. If you will be feeding more than 1 tablespoon of frozen Mysis at a time, just adjust the amount of Seachem Metronidazole and Seachem Focus you mix with the Mysis accordingly.
Continue to feed the frozen Mysis medicated with metronidazole to all of your seahorses once or twice a day for 7-14 days, James. (I would do the full two weeks to be on the safe side, sir.) The metronidazole is effective against a wide range of parasites and should be helpful if in fact the white blemish indicates a potential parasite problem. If so, this regimen of treatment will hopefully nip the problem in the bud.
However, as you know, the suspicious white “pimple” could also be the result of a bacterial or fungal lesions, James, so it would also be a wise precaution to follow-up the regimen of metronidazole by administering a good broad-spectrum antibiotic to the seahorses orally as well.
I would suggest using Seachem Focus together with Seachem NeoPlex for this purpose, James, because the Focus contains a nitrofuran antibiotic whereas the NeoPlex contains neomycin sulfate, which is a potent aminoglycoside antibiotic. This is an effective approach because aminoglycoside antibiotics can be safely combined with nitrofuran antibiotics to produce a synergistic effect that makes the combination much more potent and effective than any of the medications used alone.
The Seachem Focus and Seachem NeoPlex are readily available from any local fish stores that carry Seachem products and it’s very easy to use them to medicate the frozen Mysis to feed to the seahorse so that the medications will be ingested and move efficiently into the bloodstream, where they can be the most effective in combating be potential infection.
In short, I would recommend that you obtain some Seachem NeoPlex and administer it to the seahorses orally by mixing Seachem Focus and the NeoPlex together with frozen Mysis that you have carefully thawed and prepared. The Focus will bind with the medication in the NeoPlex and then bind to the frozen Mysis in a manner that masks the unpleasant taste of the medication and makes it more palatable to the seahorse. The active ingredient in the NeoPlex is neomycin sulfate, a good aminoglycoside antibiotic, so when the seahorses subsequently eat the frozen Mysis, they will ingest the antibiotics and get the maximum benefit they can provide.
Here is some additional information on the Focus by Seachem Laboratories, which explains how to use it to combine medication with food:
Seachem Laboratories Focus – 5 Grams Information
Focus ™ is an antibacterial polymer for internal infections of fish. It may be used alone or mixed with other medications to make them palatable to fish and greatly reduce the loss of medications to the water through diffusion. It can deliver any medication internally by binding the medication to its polymer structure. The advantage is that the fish can be medicated without contaminating the entire aquarium with medication. Fish find Focus™ appetizing and it may be fed to fish directly or mixed with frozen foods. Focus™ contains nitrofurantoin for internal bacterial infections. Marine and freshwater use. 5 gram container.
Types of Infections Treated:
DIRECTIONS: Use alone or in combination with medication of your choice in a 5:1 ratio by volume. Feed directly or blend with fresh or frozen food. Feed as usual, but no more than fish will consume. Use at every feeding for at least five days or until symptoms clear up.
Contains polymer bound nitrofurantoin.
Active ingredient: polymer bound nitrofurantoin (0.1%). This product is not a feed and
should not be fed directly. Its intended application is to assist in binding medications to fish food.
And here is an excerpt from an e-mail from another home hobbyist (Ann Marie Spinella) that explains how she uses the NeoPlex together with the Focus for treating her seahorses, James:
“When I bought the NeoPlex yesterday I also picked up a tube of Focus. According to the instructions, it says it makes the medication more palatable to fish & reduces the loss of the medication once it’s in the water.
So I followed the dosing instructions exactly. I used regular frozen mysis instead of PE. I figured it was softer & smaller. I was thinking along the lines of more surface area for the medication to adhere to & with the softer shell hopefully it would absorb into the shrimp a little better.
I used 8 cubes which came to just about 1 tablespoon. I thawed & rinsed the shrimp thoroughly in a little colander & let it sit on a paper towel to remove as much water as possible.
Then I put in it in a small dish & added the Focus & NeoPlex in the recommended ratio which is 5:1 (5 scoops Focus / 1 scoop NeoPlex). I mixed it thoroughly & added a few drops of Garlic Power.
Then I measured out 5 – 1/4 tsp. servings & 4 servings I placed on a sheet of Glad Press & Seal, sealed them & put them in the freezer, since it says in the instructions that you can freeze what you don’t use right away, & the remaining 1/4 tsp. I split in half & fed to them this morning. The rest I’ll give to them
this afternoon & I’ll do this every day with the remaining shrimp that I already prepared & froze.
In the video you can see that the seahorses are eating it. Yea!!
Thanks for all of your help & I’ll keep you posted.”
Okay, James, that’s the rundown on using the NeoPlex together with the Focus so that you could administer the medication in the NeoPlex orally after adding it to the frozen Mysis for the seahorses daily meals.
In summation, this should be a very safe way to treat your seahorses as a precaution because it will allow you to treat the seahorses in the main tank, without isolating them from his tankmates. The ponies can stay amidst familiar surroundings in the company of their herdmates, so it will be a very stress-free method of treating your seahorses.
Don’t worry that all the seahorses will be eating the medicated Mysis, James – that’s a good idea in a case like this, since all of the other ponies have likely been exposed to the same thing anyway. Treating all of your seahorses with the medicated Mysis will help to assure that none of the others develop the suspicious bump or pimple-like growths.
Best wishes with all your fishes, James!
Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Training Program AdvisorAugust 20, 2013 at 11:38 pm #5586jrosenblumGuest
Thank you for the reply, I have ordered a host of medications per your reply, but I have taken an additional series of photographs, maybe they are good enough to give you a stronger sense of what is going on? Would you mind looking, I would hate to medicate unnecessarily.
ThanksAugust 21, 2013 at 4:28 pm #5588Pete GiwojnaGuest
Very nice, sir! You did a wonderful job of assembling the new series of photographs, which clearly illustrate the suspicious upraised white bump on the head of the seahorse, and I can see why you would think it might be a new spine developing or a horn growing from the pony’s bony exoskeleton. Well done!
Unfortunately, the new series of photographs only confirm my suspicions that the pimple-like growth is abnormal and should be treated, James. I can tell that the “pimple” is not lymphocystis and is not a fistula, but I cannot determine whether it is the result of protozoan ectoparasites or perhaps a bacterial or fungal lesion, so I would recommend proceeding with the treatments we discussed in my earlier post.
You needn’t be concerned that the treatment regimens will be hard on your seahorses or on the aquarium, sir. I can assure you that the ponies will eat the medicated Mysis quite readily, and to them it will simply be their normal daily feedings, conducted in the main tank as usual. They should not be stressed in any way by these particular treatments or medications, which is why I suggested this approach to begin with, sir.
And since the antiparasitic medication (Seachem Metronidazole) and the antibiotics (Seachem NeoPlex and Seachem Focus) are being administered orally via the seahorses frozen Mysis, they will have no impact whatsoever on your water quality or the biological filtration.
That being the case, it’s best to treat all of the seahorses prophylactically so that if there is indeed any sort of protozoan problem or infection going around, you can nip the problem in the bud before it has an adverse affect on the seahorses.
Best of luck with the treatments, James!
Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech SupportAugust 21, 2013 at 4:47 pm #5589jrosenblumGuest
Thanks, Pete. Just to be clear, I first do a course of treatment with the mixture of Seachem Metronidazole, Seachem Focus and Seachem Garlic Guard for two weeks and *then* do an additional, second regime of Seachem Focus together with Seachem NeoPlex — this would be two consecutive medical regimes both having Focus as a component.
Is this correct?August 22, 2013 at 12:27 pm #5590Pete GiwojnaGuest
Yes, sir, that’s correct.
You need to use the Seachem Focus with both the antiparasitic medication (Seachem Metronidazole) and the broad-spectrum antibiotic (Seachem NeoPlex).
That’s because the Seachem Focus acts as a binding agent that attaches to the medication and then binds onto the frozen food (frozen Mysis, in this case). In addition to binding the medication to the frozen food, the Focus also masks the bitter taste of the medications, making them palatable to the seahorses.
In other words, without the Seachem Focus to act as a binding agent and to cover up the nasty taste of the meds, much of the medication would rinse off as soon as the Mysis was placed in the water and thus be wasted and do no good, and, worse yet, the seahorses would find me medicated Mysis to be distasteful and would refuse to eat it.
For these reasons, you need to use the Seachem Focus with both the Seachem Metronidazole and the Seachem NeoPlex, which does indeed mean that the Focus will be a component in both of the consecutive treatment regimens. That is necessary and perfectly safe, James.
Best of luck with the treatments, sir!
Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech SupportAugust 24, 2013 at 8:26 pm #5591jrosenblumGuest
So I started treatment Thursday night, the horses have had five medicated meals thus far. My questions is how long before I would see improvement assuming that I am, in fact, experiencing parasites of some type?August 26, 2013 at 1:45 pm #5592Pete GiwojnaGuest
That’s difficult to say, sir. It depends on the type of parasite and the life cycle of the parasite.
If the upraised, white pimple is the encysted stage of some ectoparasite, the cyst may be rendered unviable by the antiparasitic medication, but the only indication of this that may be evident is that there will be no new pimple-like growths appearing anywhere on any of the seahorses…
On the other hand, if the suspicious pimple-like nodule is a bacterial or fungal lesion, it may respond well to your upcoming treatment regimen with the Seachem NeoPlex combined with Seachem Focus. Your seahorse will be ingesting a good broad-spectrum aminoglycoside antibiotic (neomycin sulfate), and if the bacteria or fungi are sensitive to the neomycin, the lesion should clear up and disappeared during the course of the treatment.
Best of luck with your ongoing treatments, James! It sounds like you’re doing a great job of administering the metronidazole orally thus far.
Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech SupportAugust 28, 2013 at 5:17 pm #5593jrosenblumGuest
The fist seahorse is not improving, and I am seeing bumps on the rest of the herd. I do not know if these are new nodules or whether I am just noticing them now as my eyes have become more attuned to the issue. I am in day six of a planned 14 of the anti-parasitic.
So, I have two questions:
- Can I add the NeoPlex to the anti-parasitic such that the horses are getting both medications simultaneously? I am proposing to add NeoPlex to days 8-14 of the metronidazole / Focus combination.
- If simultaneous dosing is safe, would I then *increase* the Focus such that it continues to be 5:1 with respect to the total volume created by metronidazole and the NeoPlex together?
As usual, thanks!August 28, 2013 at 10:46 pm #5594Pete GiwojnaGuest
No, sir, I would not recommend using both the Seachem Metronidazole and the Seachem NeoPlex at the same time, in conjunction with the Seachem Focus, James.
The reason for this is that the Focus can only buy so much medication to a piece of frozen Mysis, and when you are dividing this finite amount of medication between two different drugs, there is a good chance that the seahorses will not be receiving an effective dose of either of the medications when they subsequently eat the prepared Mysis if you try to use them at the same time.
I would complete the treatment regimen of metronidazole and then follow it up with a complete regimen of the Seachem NeoPlex (active ingredient neomycin sulfate) plus Seachem Focus, as we have previously discussed.
But if there has been no sign of improvement with the metronidazole, James, there are a couple of other things you can safely try in the meantime that may be helpful.
First of all, if you are dealing with a problem with ectoparasites, administering a freshwater dip to the affected seahorses can provide him with some quick relief. For example, the white cysts associated with an infestation of Cryptocaryon irritans, commonly known as marine ich or white spot disease, the telltale cysts will rupture as a result of osmotic pressure during the freshwater dip, providing the ponies with relief from the embedded protozoan parasites.
Here are the instructions for performing a freshwater dip safely, James.
A freshwater dip is simply immersing your seahorse in pure, detoxified freshwater that’s been preadjusted to the same temp and pH as the water the seahorse is accustomed to, for a period of at least 10 minutes (Giwojna, Dec. 2003). It doesn’t harm them — seahorses typically tolerate freshwater dips exceptionally well and a 10-minute dip should be perfectly safe. Freshwater dips are effective because marine fish tolerate the immersion in freshwater far better than the external parasites they play host to; the change in osmotic pressure kills or incapacitates such microorganisms within 7-8 minutes (Giwojna, Dec. 2003). A minimum dip, if the fish seems to be doing fine, is therefore 8 minutes. Include some sort of hitching post in the dipping container and shoot for the full 10 minutes with your seahorses (Giwojna, Dec. 2003).
If you will be using tap water for the freshwater dip, be sure to dechlorinate it beforehand. This can be accomplished usually one of the commercial dechlorinators, which typically include sodium thiosulfate and perhaps a chloramine remover as well, or by aerating the tap water for at least 24 hours to dissipate the chlorine (Giwojna, Dec. 2003).
If you dechlorinate the dip water with a sodium thiosulfate product, be sure to use an airstone to aerate it for at least one hour before administering the dip. This is because the sodium thiosulfate depletes the water of oxygen and the dip water must therefore be oxygenated before it’s suitable for your seahorse(s). Regardless of how you detoxify the freshwater for the dip, it’s important to aerate the water in the dipping container well beforehand to increase the level of dissolved oxygen in the water. Many hobbyists leave the airstone in the dipping container throughout the procedure.
Adjusting the pH of the water in the dipping container so that it matches the pH of the water in the aquarium is a crucial step. Ordinary baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) will suffice for raising the pH of the water. If there is too much of a difference in the pH, there is a possibility the seahorse could go into shock during the dipping procedure. Preadjusting the pH will prevent that from happening. If you will are unsure about your ability to accurately adjust the pH in the dipping container, avoid this procedure altogether or be prepared to monitor the seahorse very carefully or shorten the duration of the tip to no more than about 2 minutes.
Observe the horse closely during the dip. You may see some immediate signs of distress or shock. Sometimes the horse will immediately lie on its side on the bottom. That’s a fairly common reaction — normal and to be expected, rather than a cause for concern, so don’t be alarmed if this happens. Just nudge or tap the seahorse gently with your finger if it lies down on its side. Normally, the seahorse will respond to the slight nudge by righting itself again and calm down for the duration of the dip. However, if it does not respond, stop the treatment.
Most seahorses tolerate the treatment well and experience no problems, but if you see continued signs of distress — twitching, thrashing around etc. — stop the treatment immediately and return the seahorse to normal strength saltwater. How well the seahorses tolerate a freshwater dip can vary from individual to individual and from species to species. Hippocampus barbouri seahorses, for example, often have a low tolerance for freshwater and should either not be dipped or the freshwater dip should be shortened to 1-2 minutes as a safeguard for this species…
After you have completed the dip and returned the seahorses to the aquarium, save the dip water and examine it closely for any sign of parasites. The change in osmotic pressure from saltwater to freshwater will cause ectoparasites to lyse (i.e., swell and burst) or drop off their host after 7-10 minutes, and they will be left behind in the dipping water. Protozoan parasites are microscopic and won’t be visible to the naked eye, but some of the other ectoparasites can be clearly seen. For example, monogenetic trematodes will appear as opaque sesame seeds drifting in the water (Giwojna, Aug. 2003) and nematodes may be visible as tiny hairlike worms 1/16-3/16 of an inch long. Other parasites may appear as tiny dots in the water. Freshwater dips can thus often provide affected seahorses with some immediate relief by ridding them of these irritating pests and can also aid their breathing by flushing out gill parasites.
If you suspect a problem with parasites, the dip should be extended for the full 8-10 minutes if possible for best results. .
If the freshwater dips appear to be helpful, James, it would be a good idea to dip all of the seahorses as the tank, but do not do so simultaneously. I would dip them individually so you can keep a close eye on each seahorse throughout the dip and make sure it is tolerating it well. That way, you can use the same dipping container and dipping water for all for seahorses as you dip them in sequence. I like at least a gallon of water in the dipping container, but that depends on what I’m using. If it’s a clean three or five-gallon bucket, I will fill it about half full with freshwater adjusted to the aquarium temperature.
Aside from the freshwater dip, James, this would also be a good time to begin dosing your main tank was a good probiotic. The probiotics are helpful for a number of reasons, sir. For one thing, they can eliminate potentially harmful bacteria via a process of competitive inhibition. Secondly, they can dramatically improve water quality and tanks with heavy organic loading, and improving the water quality always has a beneficial effect on the seahorses and other aquarium inhabitants.
More importantly, the probiotics also act as immunostimulants, boosting the immune system of the seahorses and thereby helping him to fight off any potential disease problems and remain healthy.
I prefer Sanolife Mic-F probiotics for my seahorse tanks, but there are a number of good probiotics that you can try:
The Use of Probiotics for Disease Prevention and Control
The use of probiotics has long been regarded a promising area for future research in aquaculture. Simply put, probiotics are mixtures of specially cultured microbes and microflora that are known to be beneficial to the aquarium and its inhabitants. When added to the aquarium, probiotics populate the aquarium substrate and filter media, as well as colonizing the gastrointestinal tract of the seahorses. Probiotics that colonize the digestive system of the seahorse with beneficial microflora can offer protection against certain pathogens by means of competitive inhibition, and there is also good evidence that suggests they may improve immune function by increasing the number of IgA-producing plasma cells, increasing or improving phagocytosis as well as increasing the proportion of T lymphocytes and Natural Killer cells.
At the same time, other beneficial bacteria in the probiotics mixture colonize the sand and gravel, live rock, and filter media, where they specialize in breaking down waste products, detritus, and other organic matter. This helps to maintain optimum water quality by reducing organic loading, stabilizing the pH, improving the clarity of the water, and reducing the levels of nitrates and phosphates in the aquarium.
In short, probiotics can prevent seahorse diseases by three mechanisms: dramatically improving water quality, boasting the immune system, and outcompeting pathologic bacterial, such as Vibrio. This is important for the seahorse keeper to know because Vibrio is the genus of bacteria that are most commonly associated with infections such as tail rot, snout rot, and marine ulcer disease or ulcerative dermatitis. in addition, probiotics are also known to markedly reduced the incidence of gas bubble syndrome (GBS) when seahorses are kept in small, closed-system aquariums, probably by virtue of their ability to promote optimum water quality (Dan Underwood, personal communication).
Until recently, the use of probiotics in aquaculture has been confined primarily to livestock intended for human consumption (e.g., food fish and edible shrimp), rather than for ornamental fish intended for the aquarium industry, but that’s beginning to change, particularly in acknowledgment of the growing problem with drug-resistant strains of bacteria.
Fortunately, for the first time in the history of the aquarium hobby, probiotics are now becoming widely available to home hobbyists and at a very economical cost. They are inexpensive, extremely easy to use, and can often be real lifesavers for fish maintained in home aquariums.
Anything that can help protect seahorses against Vibrio and other pathogens is certainly worth investigating and I strongly recommend that the home aquarist use probiotics in any aquarium that has suffered an outbreak of disease, especially bacterial infections such as snout and tail rot or marine ulcer disease (ulcerative dermatitis). Adding probiotics to the main tank at the first sign of such a problem will inhibit and help eliminate pathogenic bacteria from the aquarium. This can prevent your seahorse tank from becoming a “sick tank” that harbors a disease reservoir that will continue to take a toll on the remaining seahorses in the aquarium over time.
It is crucial to prevent this unfortunate situation from developing, because a sick tank that has suffered an outbreak of disease and now harbors a reservoir of pathogenic bacteria can continue to strike down new victims in the weeks and months ahead. At first, healthy seahorses may be able to successfully resist the opportunistic invaders, but small numbers of the pathogens will nonetheless remain, lurking silently in the background, ready to take advantage of any pony that should become stressed or weakened for any reason in the interim. What often happens under such circumstances is that the hobbyist will continue to lose individual seahorses to the same sort of disease symptoms even though all of his aquarium parameters look good and his herd appears to be perfectly healthy. For no apparent reason, one of the healthy ponies will suddenly sicken and die, so that the beleaguered hobbyist is losing additional specimens, one at a time, every few weeks or every month or so despite every precaution.
Adding probiotics to the main tank at the first sign of a disease outbreak can disrupt this deadly cycle by outcompeting the limited numbers of the pathogenic microbes and displacing them from the aquarium itself as well as the aquarium fish. At the same time, the probiotics will enhance the immune function of the seahorses, strengthening their immune response and making them more disease resistant. So please be aware of this fact and take full advantage of the benefits probiotics can provide if your seahorse tank should suffer a disease problem.
Best of all, the probiotics are equally effective in helping to prevent disease outbreaks in a healthy marine aquarium. They can prevent pathogenic bacteria from gaining a toehold in your seahorse tank in the first place via the phenomena of competitive inhibition, and will boost the immune system of the healthy seahorses, further enhancing their disease-fighting abilities. Savvy seahorse keepers can thus help prevent disease problems by routinely adding appropriate probiotics to their healthy seahorse setups.
When a seahorse has been healthy in an aquarium for a year or two with no problems, and then suddenly dies for no apparent reason, the culprit is often a gradual deterioration of the water quality caused by the slow but steady accumulation of detritus, waste products, and other organic matter over time. This is particularly true when the seahorses are maintained in small, closed-system aquariums. Even though you are diligent in cleaning the aquarium when performing regular water changes, the organic loading of the aquarium system inevitably builds up over time. Along with the increase in the detritus and organic wastes, undesirable bacteria are also building up as always happens when conditions begin to become unsanitary.
In a small home aquarium, the water quality can go downhill quickly, and what typically happens in such a scenario is that the organic loading and associated undesirable bacteria build up until the aquarium system reaches a tipping point, after which the water quality declines, stressing the seahorses. Eventually, prolonged low-level stress weakens the seahorses and suppresses their immune response, allowing opportunistic bacteria to gain the advantage, and the seahorse develops an infection as a result.
The use of probiotics prophylactically can disrupt this process by degrading waste products and excess organics, preventing them from accumulating in the aquarium. At the same time they are improving and stabilizing the water quality, they are helping to displace and eliminate harmful bacteria within the seahorses and within the aquarium by outcompeting them and boosting the seahorses’ immune response.
Using probiotics prophylactically can be especially helpful under the following circumstances:
(1) you are having difficulty stabilizing the pH in your seahorse tank;
(2) you are having a problem with nuisance algae in your seahorse tank;
(3) you are having trouble controlling the nitrates and/or phosphates in your seahorse tank;
(4) you cannot operate a protein skimmer on your aquarium to remove dissolved organics;
(5) the water in your aquarium is not as clear as it should be.
And, of course, the use of probiotics in your aquarium is always indicated whenever there has been an outbreak of disease in your seahorse setup.
One probiotic that I can recommend for disease prevention and control in the seahorse tank is Sanolife Mic-F from INVE AQUACULTURE, Inc., a Belgium-based company. Sanolife Mic-F contains special strains of Bacillus aimed at degrading organic matter in the aquarium and inhibiting pathogenic bacteria. It is inexpensive and costs $17 for half a kilogram. It can be obtained in the United States through Teri Potter, INVE’s Utah distributor, whose contact information is as follows:
3528 W 500 S
Salt Lake City
Tel. +1 (801) 956 0203
E-mail: [email protected]
The Bacillus bacteria in the Sanolife probiotic will reduce nitrates and improve water quality by degrading waste products and organic matter. They will also colonize the digestive tract of your seahorses with beneficial microflora that improve their digestion, so your ponies will produce less waste even though they may be eating the same amount. The Sanolife beneficial bacteria also help make your seahorses more disease resistant by helping to eliminate opportunistic pathogenic bacteria through the phenomena of competitive inhibition and by enhancing the immune response of the seahorses.
Dosing Sanolife Mic-F for home aquariums:
The Sanolife MIC-F probiotic can be administered in two ways — either by direct application of the powder to the aquarium water in the main tank on a daily basis, or it can be administered orally by mixing the powder with frozen Mysis or with live adult brine shrimp (Artemia), which are then fed to the seahorses. For best results, both methods should be used simultaneously. Administering the probiotics with the seahorse’s feed will help the special mixture of beneficial microbes to colonize the pony’s digestive tract, allowing the microbes to better stimulate the seahorse’s immune system and outcompete harmful bacteria such as Vibrio. Meanwhile, adding the Sanolife powder directly to the aquarium will encourage the enzymatic activity that breaks down excess organic matter and helps to assure optimal water quality.
Here are the instructions for both methods of administering Sanolife MIC-F:
Procedure for Direct Application of the Sanolife MIC-F To the Aquarium Water
The recommended daily dose is 5 grams of the probiotic per cubic meter of water in the aquarium system. Since 1 cubic meter of water equals 264 gallons, the proper dosage of the Sanolife powder is therefore as follows:
5 g per 264 gallons of aquarium water
2.5 g per 132 gallons of aquarium water
1 g per 53 gallons of aquarium water
500 mg per 26 gallons of aquarium water
250 mg per 13 gallons of aquarium water
[Note: 1 ounce equals ~28 grams]
When you have measured out the proper amount of the Sanolife MIC-F Powder, scoop up a little water from the tank, mix it with the powder and disperse the mixture evenly throughout the tank. Repeat daily.
Procedure for Administering Sanolife MIC-F Orally
Enriching Live Food with Sanolife Powder
Add 500 mg of Sanolife MIC-F powder per ounce of water in the enrichment container directly to the live adult brine shrimp (Artemia sp.) enrichment container. Apply at least two hours and no more than six hours before harvesting the enriched adult brine shrimp. Feed the enriched adult brine shrimp to your seahorses immediately thereafter or keep the enriched adult brine shrimp in cold storage for a maximum of 24 hours before using. Enrich a new batch of adult brine shrimp with the appropriate amount of the Sanolife powder for each day’s feeding.
If treating seahorses for a health problem, continue to administer the Sanolife MIC-F probiotic orally until the symptoms have completely disappeared and the seahorse is back to normal again.
Otherwise, if using Sanolife probiotics prophylactically in your main tank, add the appropriate dose every day for 14 days and then discontinue adding the probiotic powder temporarily. After one month has passed, repeat the two-week regimen of the probiotics, adding daily doses for 14 days. This pattern can be repeated indefinitely in a healthy aquarium, following monthly waiting periods: add daily doses of the probiotic powder for two straight weeks, discontinue using the probiotic for one month, re-dose the tank with probiotics daily for two weeks, rest the aquarium for one month, and so on.
Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech SupportSeptember 3, 2013 at 2:27 pm #5597jrosenblumGuest
So, something went terribly wrong with a water change and as a result one of my horses died. I don’t know if this has anything to do with them being under stress from whatever it is that we are treating, but:
- I siphoned out 25% of tank water
- I filled a trash can with 15 gallons of replacement water that I got from my LFS (same one I always used). The water was about 5 days old
- I pumped the new water into the sump
Almost immediately one of the seahorse headed for the surface, looked like he was breathing with his head partially out of the water, sank to the bottom and laid there, eventually got up but never got over being “woozy.” He died about an hour later. All of the seahorses looked stunned and stayed hitched without swimming for some time, all but the one seem to have recovered.
I did everything the same as I have always done it with the one exception that I did this water change in the middle of the afternoon instead of my usual 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM. Other than that everything else was identical (same equipment, vendor of saltwater, methodology, etc.).
As soon as I saw that the horses were stressed, I tested the tank water and discovered that the salinity was high: it tested 1.026 – 1.027 which is higher than my usual 1.0245 – 1.025, and the PH was a lower than I would have liked (7.9) when my tank seems to normally be about 8.0 to 8.2.
For what it is worth, the cardinals and invertebrates (including a tuxedo urchin) seem to be fine — although I cannot definitively know that I have the right number of snails and hermit crabs as they are difficult to count.
Can you give me any insight as to what might have gone wrong? I desperately do not want to be hurting the animals in my care.September 3, 2013 at 9:28 pm #5598jrosenblumGuest
I’m not sure what’s going on, water parameters are fine but a second horse is close to death. The only thing I can think to do is switch them to the antibiotic treatment, ending the anti parasitic after 12 days. At least 2 are eating, the very sick one is not. Any ideas.
just tested the water
ammonia, nitrite and nitrate are 0
any ideas?September 4, 2013 at 12:44 am #5599Pete GiwojnaGuest
I’m very sorry to hear about the new complication that has knocked your seahorses for a loop, resulted in the loss of two of them, and placed the others in jeopardy.
It seems clear that these new events are related to the water change, James, and my best guess is that the seahorses are suffering from a combination of dehydration and pH shock. Allow me to elaborate.
It sounds like the specific gravity of the 15 gallons of replacement water from your LFS was considerably higher than the normal specific gravity of the seahorse tank, since replacing just 25% of the water was sufficient to raise the specific gravity of the entire aquarium significantly higher than normal. That’s problematic because raising the specific gravity of the aquarium too rapidly can result in dehydration, and in severe cases, the dehydration alone can be fatal.
When adjusting the specific gravity of an aquarium, it can be lowered rapidly without any harmful consequences, but increasing the specific gravity must be done very slowly and methodically in order to avoid the risk of dehydration. I think that dehydration is likely part of the puzzle, James.
It also appears that the pH of the replacement water was considerably lower than the pH at which your seahorse tank has been running, sir, since replacing just 25% of the tank water with replacement water from your LFS also significantly lowered the pH of the entire aquarium. As you know, any adjustments to the pH of aquarium must be done very gradually to avoid stressing the aquarium inhabitants. The symptoms you describe are consistent with pH shock, James, and I believe that is also contributing to this crisis.
Both dehydration and pH shock are stressful to the seahorses and put them at risk, and both of these conditions can result in death many hours (or sometimes even days) after the critical insult occurred.
The only thing that I can recommend that might be helpful at this point, James, would be to slowly add some detoxified freshwater to your aquarium to nudge the specific gravity downwards again. Just be sure to do this downward adjustment gradually since the seahorses are already under stress, and it may be beneficial.
It may also be helpful two very slowly and gradually increase the pH of the aquarium. Under the circumstances, perhaps the safest way to accomplish this would be to gradually increase the surface agitation and aeration in the aquarium in order to facilitate better gas exchange at the air/water interface, sir. This will naturally result in an increase in dissolved oxygen levels and a decrease in the dissolved carbon dioxide levels in the aquarium water, which will elevate the pH slightly.
But mainly this is the sort of problem that only time can resolve in the ponies pretty much have to recover (or not) on their own…
I don’t believe the time of day that you performed the water change has anything to do with these developments, James. But it seems like, for reasons unknown, the replacement water you got from your LFS on this occasion was considerably higher in specific gravity and lower in pH then the water they have been providing for you previously, and that has produced the unfortunate results on the aquarium inhabitants.
Best of luck resolving this situation without any more losses, James. (If you want to switch over to the antibiotic treatment regimen by combining Seachem NeoPlex and Seachem Focus and mixing them with your frozen Mysis, that should not do any harm, sir, but I don’t think that these sudden losses are related to the white, upraised pimples you have been treating.)
Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech SupportSeptember 4, 2013 at 2:00 am #5600jrosenblumGuest
Ugh! I’m such an idiot. How could I have not tested the LFS water? I tested in the past, and it was always dead-on, what a careless mistake on my part. And animals in my care have died because of it. I won’t make this mistake again.September 12, 2013 at 1:28 am #5606jrosenblumGuest
So, the mate of the one that initially died, died after about 4 days of not eating. Then a pony that had seemed completely recovered (was eating, moving normally, etc) died.
I no longer think salinity is the culprit. I am very familiar with the LFS procedures and testing and additionally we calculated that their water would have had to have been extremely high in order to move my tank’s parameters so dramatically. Others would have noticed – the employees used that very same water in their personal tanks. I think my refractometer was not calibrated correctly.
I have done a number of 5 gallon water changes using different equipment , changed the carbon and purigen. The fish are okay, the shrimp and urchin are okay. I think the meet-eating snails have died, but in general the snails and hermits seem fine. Water parameters are fine.
Do you have any ideas at all? Is it possible that some sort of containment is only hurting the seahorses?
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