August 1, 2021 at 9:14 am #63836erictpapeParticipant
I have a male Erectus that has been getting air in his pouch a lot recently. I have evacuated it each time but it reoccurs within 2 or 3 days. This time I have removed the air and he is still just floating near the surface upside down. He seems fine otherwiseAugust 1, 2021 at 12:33 pm #63857
If your male is floating but his pouch is not swollen and distended, Randy, that’s an indication that the gas is building up within his abdominal cavity or within his swim bladder, rather than in his marsupium. If that’s the case, a medication known as acetazolamide (brand name Diamox) is sometimes the only treatment option that will help.
Unfortunately, obtaining Diamox (the tablet form of acetazolamide) can often be a Catch-22 situation for hobbyists. It is a prescription drug often used for treating glaucoma, hydrocephaly, epilepsy, congestive heart failure, and altitude sickness in humans so you have to get it from your Vet or perhaps your family doctor. Regrettably, Veterinarians are often unfamiliar with using Diamox to treat gas bubble syndrome in seahorses — it is sometimes used by vets to treat glaucoma and cats or dogs or as a diuretic to treat certain conditions in horses (the four-legged kind), but your veterinarian will probably never have heard of gas bubble disease or treating it with carbonic anhydrase inhibitors. Many pet owners are on very good terms with their Vets, who are accustomed to prescribing medications for animals, so it’s often best to approach your Vet first about obtaining Diamox despite the fact they may never have heard of it until you brought it to their attention. Your family doctor, of course, will be familiar with such medications and have Diamox on hand but it can sometimes be difficult to get your MD to jump that final hurdle and prescribe it for a pet. Either way, it can be tough to get the medication you need under these circumstances.
However, I would always exhaust those possibilities first before I considered an alternative source for the Diamox. Do a search for “carbonic anhydrase inhibitor” on the “Seahorse Life and Care” discussion forum on the Ocean Rider website (www.seahorse.com), and print out some of the detailed information that’s been posted regarding gas bubble disease and how it’s treated using Diamox and present that to your family veterinarian and/or your family practitioner. Bring photographs of your stallion with the positive buoyancy problem and be prepared to bring the seahorse in for a visit, if necessary. (Veterinarians are prohibited by law from prescribing medications to treat an animal they have not personally seen and examined. If you have had a close personal relationship with your vet over a period of years, they are often willing to bend that rule in the case of fish, but you may well have to bring the ailing seahorse in for a quick checkup to get the desired results.)
As I mentioned, if the pouch-flushes are unsuccessful in resolving this problem and it keeps re-occurring, you can try administering Diamox orally if your seahorses are still eating, or as a series of baths if they’re not, or try pressurizing the seahorse in a homemade decompression chamber next.
Let me know if you if you can obtain the Diamox, Eric, and I will be happy to provide you with detailed instructions explaining how to administer the medication properly.
If the pouch-flushes are unsuccessful in resolving this problem and it keeps re-occurring, or the problem is due to a hyperinflated swimbladder or internal gas bubble syndrome, then Diamox is the best treatment option.
If the affected seahorse is still eating, you can administer the acetazolamide orally, which will allow you to treat the affected seahorse in the main tank amidst familiar surroundings and in the company of its tankmates where it is the most comfortable. You get the acetazolamide into the food by preparing a solution of the medication, as described below, and then injecting it into live feeder shrimp or even the large Piscine Energetics frozen Mysis relicta. The medication is deactivated fairly quickly once you prepare the solution for injecting, so you must prepare a new acetazolamide solution each day during the treatment period. Here’s how to proceed:
Administering Acetazolamide Orally
I have found that acetazolamide is often more effective when it’s ingested and administering the medication orally allows you to treat the seahorse in the main tank where he’s most comfortable and relaxed.
If you can obtain a small syringe with a fine needle, the acetazolamide solution can simply be injected into feeder shrimp or even frozen Mysis. Mic Payne (Seahorse Sanctuary) used this method of administering acetazolamide successfully when he had recurring problems with GBD due to maintaining a population of Hippocampus subelongatus in shallow tanks only 16-inches (40 cm) deep:
“Seahorses maintained in this system are susceptible to gas bubble disease. Specimens with bubbles around the eyes or under the epidermis of the tail are readily treated with acetazolamide (Diamox tablets 250 mg). Mix a very small amount of crushed tablet with water and inject it into several glass shrimp that are then frozen. These are then fed to the target animal at the rate of two per day for four days. Bubbles disappear on the second day.”
Hawaiian volcano shrimp or red feeder shrimp (Halocaridina rubra) work great for this. If a fine enough needle is used, they will survive a short while after being injected — long enough for their twitching and leg movements to attract the interest of the seahorse and trigger a feeding response.
Leslie Leddo reports that a 1/2 cc insulin syringe with a 26-gauge needle was ideal for injecting frozen Mysis or live red feeder shrimp. They plump up when injected and ~1/2 cc is about the most of the solution they can hold. Their bodies will actually swell slightly as they are slowly injected and excess solution may start to leak out. The 26-gauge needle is fine enough that it does not kill the feeder shrimp outright; they survive long enough for the kicking of their legs and twitching to assure that they will be eaten.
If the affected seahorse is no longer eating, then you will have to administer the acetazolamide (tablet form of Diamox) as a series of baths in your hospital tank instead:
The recommended dosage is 250 mg of acetazolamide per 10 gallons with a 100% water change daily, after which the treatment tank is retreated with acetazolamide at the dosage indicated above (Dr. Martin Belli, pers. com.). Continue these daily treatments and water changes for up to 7-10 days for best results (Dr. Martin Belli, pers. com.).
The acetazolamide baths should be administered in a hospital ward or quarantine tank. Acetazolamide does not appear to adversely affect biofiltration or invertebrates, but it should not be used in the main tank because it could be harmful to inhibit the enzymatic activity of healthy seahorses.
Using the tablet form of acetazolamide (250 mg), crush the required amount to a very fine powder and dissolve it thoroughly in a cup or two of saltwater. There will usually be a slight residue that will not dissolve in saltwater at the normal alkaline pH (8.0-8.4) of seawater (Warland, 2002). That’s perfectly normal. Just add the solution to your hospital tank, minus the residue, of course, at the recommended dosage:
Place the affected seahorse in the treatment tank as soon as first dose of medication has been added. After 24 hours, perform a 100% water change in the hospital tank using premixed water that you’ve carefully aerated and adjusted to be same temperature, pH and salinity. Add a second dose of newly mixed acetazolamide at the same dosage and reintroduce the ailing seahorse to the treatment tank. After a further 24 hours, do another 100% water change and repeat the entire procedure until a total of up to 7-10 treatments have been given. About 24 hours after the final dose of acetazolamide has been added to the newly changed saltwater, the medication will have lost its effectiveness and the patient can be returned directly to the main seahorse tank to speed its recovery along.
One of the side effects of acetazolamide baths is loss of appetite. Try to keep the affected seahorse eating by plying it with its favorite live foods during and after treatment, until it has fully recovered.
Okay, Eric, that covers the different ways of administering the Diamox.
Best of luck treating your male’s positive buoyancy, sir.
Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech SupportAugust 3, 2021 at 9:06 am #63954erictpapeParticipant
That does not exactly sound like what is happening. His pouch is fully extended even after I remove all the air. He seems fine afterwards too just floating upside down at the surface with his pouch above the water but no more air is coming out. He doesn’t even swim much just floats in 1 corner of the tankAugust 3, 2021 at 11:04 am #63972
Your stallion is floating because he is positively buoyant, sir. And he is positively buoyant because he is afflicted with gas bubble disease (GBD), which causes excess gas to accumulate in certain areas of the seahorse’s body. Pouch emphysema, in which the excess gas accumulates in the seahorse’s pouch, is the most common form of GBD.
In your case, Eric, if your stallion is floating but there is no gas in his pouch, then that indicates that excess gas is building up elsewhere in his system, most likely in his coelom (abdominal cavity) or in his gas bladder/swim bladder.
Acetazolamide (brand name Diamox) is the best way to treat those forms of gas bubble disease. If you contact me off list ([email protected]), I’ll be happy to send you a lot more information on GBD so you can do a little more research on the matter.
If you cannot obtain the Diamox, let me know, and we can discuss how to attempt treatment using the recompression/decompression cure for internal GBD.
Good luck resolving this matter, sir.
Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech SupportMarch 5, 2022 at 10:32 am #72910kristenmillerParticipant
I have been working with a PhD molecular biologist/diver/reefer on this issue. After very brief research (that’s a disclaimer: I’m waiting for a full report) on Diamox, the first thing out of his mouth as a potential alternative was Zinc. Then he explained something about how it works…opening pathways something…and I can’t explain it here without a PhD myself. About the same time that he was researching, I ran across an article that advised feeding peas to fish to deal with buoyancy & swim bladder issues, though it was about freshwater fish. But guess what: peas are high in zinc. Zinc is used in reef tanks as an additive so I knew it was safe-ish but I had to go to my local fish store to calculate the safe amount to add. That requires a water analysis to be precise. Without that (it takes time to get results), I started with zero because Fred the Seahorse was in dire straits and zinc depletes quickly. The amount of zinc I added was tiny: 0.1 mg daily for my 20 gallon hospital tank. So, I added the recommended amount for the recommended 3 days. Miraculously, Fred’s bubble pouch expansion slowed down substantially. However, after the 3 days, I took the recommended break and the expansion started again. After three months of being a good sport, Fred stopped eating and passed away. His girlfriend had zero negative effects from the zinc addition and managed to survive post-depression.
The lesson here is that non-prescription Diamox substitutes exist. The exact way that Diamox works is a scientific mystery but we’re working on it (my PhD friend had immediate COVID vaccine solutions that ended up being legit AND knew what the J&J vaccine would do before it hit the papers; he’s brilliant so I’m optimistic). As soon as I get more info, I’ll broadcast it to the world.
As for Diamox itself, if you use Duck Duck Go, you may find legal online options. And it’s also used for altitude sickness, like when going to Colorado, and is commonly prescribed for such trips. Disclaimer: I’m not suggesting illegal methods but just informing about the reasons why and how Diamox is prescribed; these are all legitimate purposes and methods so don’t lie or do anything illegal to get Diamox.
Just a side note: As a diver, my PhD friend loved the idea of putting Fred at the bottom of my heated pool but it was winter and I didn’t think it was deep enough anyway. The pressure from my extra large commercial trash bin wasn’t enough so I was stuck with making a tough decision, and I opted for no.March 5, 2022 at 12:34 pm #72927
All my thanks for your collaboration with the molecular biologist and for posting about the potential of zinc for treating gas bubble disease in Hippocampus. It would be a great boon for home hobbyists to have a non-prescription alternative to Diamox/acetazolamide, especially an item that can be obtained inexpensively from any health food outlets that carry vitamin and mineral supplements.
Please keep us posted when any more information is available regarding the correct dosage for treating with zinc and the preferred form of zinc for best results. This is the first time I have heard about this treatment option and I am eager to learn more about it!
Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support
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