Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm and Tours | Kona Hawaii › Forums › Seahorse Life and Care › lethargic seahorse
- This topic has 6 replies, 3 voices, and was last updated 16 years, 3 months ago by mvonbeamer.
January 31, 2007 at 3:20 am #1102mvonbeamerMember
About three weeks ago, I bought two hippocampus erectus. For the first two weeks they were doing fine. Now one has attached itself to some soft corel and pretty much stays there all the time. When i feed the one sea horse swims all over and actively feeds. The lethargic seahorse stays attached to the corel and will eat if i put the mysis shrimp next to it or it one floats by. I\’m new to seahorse but have had ponds and salt water aquariums for many years.
If this was a normal fish I would suspect it is sick. It does not have any open wounds or abnormal areas on the skin and appears to be breathing normally. Its just lethargic. Like I said it will eat, just not very aggressively.
My tank is a 24 gallon aquapod. There is no ammonia, nitrites. nitrates are between 10 and 20. ph is 8.o and the temp is 78. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. No deaths or sicknesses in the tank and the sea horses are alone with the exception of some snails. hermit crabs, and a madarin dragonette.January 31, 2007 at 4:33 am #3361KrisGuest
First I’d lower the temperature! 4 degrees a day till it reaches 74 F. I keep mine closer to 72. Bacterial infections are more predominant at higher temps.
What are you feeding and how often? Is the food fresh? How are you thawing it? Have you offered any live foods?
MIght sound like silly question’s, but sometimes, if the foods not fresh or you changed from one pack to another they don’t eat normall.January 31, 2007 at 6:14 am #3363Pete GiwojnaGuest
If the lethargic seahorse is a male, the relative inactivity he is displaying may well be natural behavior for an animal that is adapted to a sedentary lifestyle as an ambush predator. It is normal for male seahorses to be somewhat less active than the females. Males tend to be real homebodies that will often choose one particular hitching post as their home base and spend much of there time perched right there (think of your Dad hunkered down in his favorite easy chair in the den). Researchers studying seahorses in the field therefore refer to males as "site-specific" because they can be found at the same tiny patch of reef or seagrass day after day, rarely straying from their chosen spot. Mature males are often naturally more shy and retiring than females, which can be quite brazen at times. I suspect this is due to their parental duties — during the breeding season, pair-bonded males are ordinarily ALWAYS pregnant, and they can’t risk exposing their precious cargo to any more risk than absolutely necessary.) The unfettered females tend to be far more footloose and fancy free, and in the wild they typically roam over a home territory of up to 100 square meters. So I wouldn’t worry if your male only tends to wander around the tank on occasion, whereas your female is more active and explores more.
Also, if this lethargy is a relatively recent development, and the inactive seahorse is male, it occurs to me that you may be noticing "broody" behavior. Pregnant males often become increasingly shy and reclusive. Gravid males may go off their feed as the pregnancy progresses, missing meals and failing to show up at the feeding station at the appointed time, or even going into hiding. It’s possible your lethargic seahorse may be carrying a brood of young and has become less active and relatively immobile as a result. Have you noticed any dancing, color changes, pouch displays or other indications of courtship lately?
Your water quality parameters are fairly decent, but it would be best to stabilize the water temperature in the 72°F-75°F range, which is optimum for H. erectus, and to raise your pH up a notch or two (8.2 or slightly above). You might try performing a water change to see if the seahorses respond favorably.
In short, as long as the lethargic seahorse is eating and breathing normally and otherwise behaving as usual, you needn’t be overly concerned about his behavior at this point. Make sure your water quality is up to snuff and let us know right away if he develops any more symptoms.
Best of luck with your new seahorses, Vonbeamer!
Pete GiwojnaFebruary 2, 2007 at 2:05 am #3367mvonbeamerGuest
Thanks for the answers.
As I said I’m new to sea horses and the lethargic one appears to be a male. The area below his stomach has turned dark almost black and he is mostly orange in color. I have not seen any dancing and or courtship behavior but I only got them about three weeks ago. Also what do you mean by pouch displays?
I will lower the temp. As far as the PH goes, I buffer every two days and it stays in the 8-8.05 range. Been trying to raise it but easier said than done.
He is still lethargic but as long as I can get him to eat, I guess I wont worry much. Is it common for a sea horse to prefer eating mysis off the bottom..
Thanks for the help
MikeFebruary 2, 2007 at 2:46 am #3371KrisGuest
Also what do you mean by pouch displays?
The male SH will fill his pouch with water, deflate,fill ,deflate…….. In an effort to show the female how many eggs she can put in it. he’s saying "hey look at meB) " like a rooster strutting around trying to impress the hens. Beleive me, when you see it, you will know. The proverbial light will come on. Very facinating to watch. Often, while he’s doing his puoch display he will change colors right before your eyes, this is also done to impress the female.
Watch closely, if they have bred you will see his puoch grow daily. Till you awake one morning and find babies swimming about.
Is it common for a sea horse to prefer eating mysis off the bottom..
They’ve all got different personalities. I’ve got a pair+1 in a tank. Two males and one female. The two have, mated and the third will wait until the mated two eat before he eats. He often tries to court the LAdy of the tank, and is chased away by her mate. One of these day’s I’ll get him a GF.
Best of luck
KrisFebruary 2, 2007 at 11:37 pm #3377Pete GiwojnaGuest
Okay, if the less active seahorse is a male, he may indeed simply be doing his homebody routine or he may have mated and be gestating young. You mentioned that the area below his stomach (presumably his brood pouch) has turned quite dark and that could be consistent with a broody male. As his pregnancy progresses, a male’s pouch typically darkens due to the proliferation of epithelial and connective tissue and the placenta-like changes taking place in the wall of the marsupium.
As Kris mentioned, the pouch displays performed by courting males are quite dramatic and eye catching. Amorous males may perform two distinctive types of pouch displays — Ballooning or Pumping — as described below:
Ballooning is a simple display in which courting males inflate their brood pouches with water to the fullest possible extent and parade around in front of the female in all their glory as though trying to impress her with the sheer dimensions of their pouches. The pumped up paramours perform proudly, putting on quite a show for the flirtatious fillies.
Often all the males in the vicinity will compete for the attention of the same female, chasing after her with their pouches fully inflated this way. When all the boys are in full-blown pursuit of a female ripe with eggs, they look like a flotilla of hot air balloons racing to the finish line.
Hippocampus abdominalis, H. breviceps, and H. tuberculatus, in particular, have developed enormous pouches that are all out of proportion to their bodies when fully expanded. Their oversized pouches look like over-inflated balloons ready to burst when these stallions come a courting. Take the tiny Hippocampus breviceps, for example. With its brood pouch expanded to the maximum, a courting male looks like a fuzzy 3-inch pipe cleaner that swallowed a golf ball! Courtship in temperate/subtemperate species generally centers around pouch displays more than color changes, dancing or prancing.
Ballooning is much more common in temperate seahorses than tropical species, however, Mike. If your male is a Mustang or Sunburst (Hippocampus erectus), for example, he is much more likely to engage in a different type of pouch display known as "Pumping" instead.
Pumping requires a series of coordinated movements. Bending vigorously, the aroused male jackknifes his tail to meet his trunk, thereby compressing his inflated brood pouch in the middle. The male then straightens up again, suddenly snapping back to "attention" so as to relieve the pressure on his severely compressed midsection. This rapid pumping motion has the effect of forcing water in and out of the brood pouch in a manner that is virtually identical to the way the young are expelled at birth (Vincent, 1990).
The strenuous pumping action is the stallion’s way of demonstrating his pouch is empty of eggs and that he is a strong, healthy, vigorous specimen capable of carrying countless eggs (Vincent, 1990). By so doing, he assures the female that he is ready, willing, and able to mate, and that he can successfully carry and deliver her entire brood. The male’s marsupium also becomes grossly distended during displays of Pumping, but in that case, it is obvious the male is courting because it looks like he’s doing abdominal crunches as the vigorously pumps water in and out of his brood pouch.
So when a courting male is performing these vigorous pouch does place, it’s pretty hard to miss. But courtship is primarily conducted in the early morning hours, so if you are at work all day long and get your best chance to observe your seahorses in the evening, it’s possible you may have missed the show. For example, the morning greeting ritual performed by pair-bonded seahorses typically take place at first light for a period of perhaps 5-15 minutes shortly after dawn.
Yes, sir, it’s not unusual for a seahorse to prefer feeding on live Mysis after it settles to the bottom. The individual personalities of seahorses naturally extend to their feeding habits. Some are aggressive eaters that will boldly snatch food from your fingers, while some are shy and secretive, feeding only when they think they’re not being observed. Some like to slurp up Mysis while it’s swirling through the water column, and some will only take Mysis off the bottom of the tank. Some are voracious pigs that greedily scarf up everything in sight, and some are slow, deliberate feeders that painstakingly examine every morsel of Mysis and stare it down forever before they finally decide to accept or reject it. Some eat like horses and some eat like birds.
If your pH is holding consistently around 8.0 and doesn’t want to budge, you might want to try a different type of buffer. In many systems, a two-part buffer consisting of both an alkalinity component and a calcium component does a better job of maintaining the pH, since it stabilizes the carbonate hardness of the aquarium rather than merely boosting the pH temporarily. What kind of buffer are you using right now, Mike?
Best of luck with your new seahorses, sir! Please keep us informed if the lethargic seahorse shows any other symptoms out of the ordinary.
Pete GiwojnaFebruary 3, 2007 at 4:41 am #3380mvonbeamerGuest
Thanks for all the advice.
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