- This topic has 4 replies, 2 voices, and was last updated 16 years, 4 months ago by Pete Giwojna.
September 29, 2007 at 8:06 am #1280tammypMember
I have a micro mini star on my one of my males. I\’m not sure if this little creature will harm him. It doesn\’t really seem to bother him (as far as I can tell). I really do not want to attempt to pick it off. It almost look like he has jewerly added to his attire. LOL
He does eat very well but still remains a little thin. Everyday he tries his best attire and dances to impress his girlfriend but she doesn\’t seem very interested. He works very hard through out the morning hours. She used to like him. So I don\’t know if the stress of trying to mate is keeping him on the thin side. 🙁 I feel bad for him that his girlfriend does not want him anymore. :ohmy: I just received another sunburst male and this little guy tries to courtship the male that has no luck with his girlfriend. My new arrival did not waste anytime but has picked a male and not a female. :cheer: What a joy to watch these guys.
Tammy PSeptember 29, 2007 at 10:42 am #3825Pete GiwojnaGuest
Whether or not you should pick the micro star off of your seahorse depends on which type it happens to be. If it is one of the miniature little brittle stars, which are commonly marketed by IndoPacific Seafarms as micro-stars or ministars , those little guys are harmless and are really cool little critters! They are tiny brittle starfish with an armspan no bigger than a five-cent piece. Unlike other starfish, these little guys are very active and extremely good climbers. They pull themselves along vigorously arm over her arm much more like an octopus than an ordinary slowpoke ceased or. They are very interesting and surprisingly fast moving. They are harmless to anything that is too large to be stuffed into their oral cavity in tact in a single piece.
But if it is one of those tiny white, typical star-shaped sea stars, then it is very likely an Asterina species. They are excellent detritivores and have a negligible impact on the bioload in the tank unless their numbers get out of hand, which can sometimes happen. There is quite a controversy in the reef community regarding whether or not the Asterina starfish are reef-safe animals are not. Some hobbyists feel they may prey on polyps and zoanthids, whereas Bob Fenner and many other reefers believe they only scavenge on dead or dying zoos and polyps, and are therefore beneficial inhabitants of the minireef. I’m inclined to believe that they are harmless and perform a beneficial service as detritivores.
Personally, I feel the little Asterinas only become problematic when their population explodes — they are very prolific and reproduce remarkably fast in the aquarium under favorable circumstances. So as long as your seahorse tank doesn’t get overrun with them, I see no reason to remove the tiny starfish from your aquarium, Tammy. Just keep a close eye on him for any sign of predatory behavior in case the starfish is not actually an Asterina species but some other type of starfish.
Although I think you can safely leave the micro-starfish in your seahorse tank even if it is an Asterina, in that case I would pick it off the pony just to be on the safe side. It might be side to everted stomach and digest some of the mucosa or protective slime coat on your seahorse, in which case it could possibly damage the integument.
And in the meantime, you might also want to check out Bob Fenner’s FAQs on Asterina sea stars:
Click here: AsterinaFAQs
I think the male that eats very well but is still a little on the thin side is probably just fine. But when a seahorse with a hearty appetite loses condition nonetheless, that can sometimes be an indication that he is carrying a heavy load of intestinal parasites. If so, that’s an easy problem to treat and correct, Tammy. I would be happy to explain the treatment options in such a case, but I wouldn’t recommend any form of treatment unless you can confirm that there is a problem. A good way to do this would be to monitor the stallion’s fecal pellets. If he is producing normal fecal pellets like your other seahorses, then all is well and you can just offer him a little more at each feeding to help fatten him up a bit. But if he is producing white stringy feces instead of the normal fecal pellets, that’s a strong indication of intestinal flagellates, and you can consider treating him with a round of metronidazole or praziquantel to eliminate the problem.
Don’t worry about your new male and his dubious choice and dance partners, Tammy. He’s just warming up and practicing his dance moves with the other stallion, biting his time. When he get serious about mating, it will be the female that attracts his attention and pheromones that will seal the deal.
The genetic imperative to reproduce is very strong in Hippocampus, to say the least. For example, solitary males often go through the motions of courtship when there are no other seahorses present in their aquarium (Abbott, 2003). They may court their own reflection and sometimes even direct their courtship displays toward their keepers (Abbott, 2003). If no females are present, over-stimulated stallions will sometimes soothe themselves by basking in the air stream from an airstone, content with the tactile stimulation provided by the gentle barrage of bubbles. They may even flirt with inanimate objects. If all else fails, a hitching post may actually suffice as a suitable surrogate when no better alternative is available (Abbott, 2003)!
Same-sex courting displays (both male and female) are also common, especially when no member of the opposite sex is present. Under such circumstances, these passionate ponies are not picky about their partners — males will dance with other stallions and frustrated females will sometimes flirt with other fillies (Abbott, 2003)!
Captive-bred seahorses are far more social and gregarious than their wild conspecifics, so it’s not surprising that cultured seahorses are particularly irrepressible in that regard. They seem to court constantly and the urge to procreate dominates their lives. If given a choice, they are apt to change partners often, and courtship, flirting and dancing are the activities that consume their days. Long before they are sexually mature, juvenile males will spend hours dancing with one another, just horsing around, practicing their moves and perfecting their technique for the real thing to come. Likewise, mature males often compete actively and aggressively with one another through harmless pouch displays and tail-wrestling tug-o-wars whether or not there is a female nearby to appreciate their efforts.
As Carol Cozzi-Schmarr of Ocean Rider, the premier aquaculture facility in Hawaii, puts it, "As far as mating is concerned, it is important to understand that because these sea horses are farm raised and therefore "domesticated" they will be breaking a lot of the rules previously established for wild caughts. They will require less horizontal as well as vertical space and they no longer tend to be shy or picky! In other words they will show off to and mate with whomever they can, even if it means leaving behind the sea horse they mated with last time! It does not matter if their selected partner appears too short or too tall or of a different color or even of the same sex!! They want to dance and court more than anything else (Cozzi-Schmarr, May 2002)!!"
Rest assured that sooner or later the seahorses will get it right, Tammy. When she is finally in the mood, your fickle filly will pick one of the available stallions, who are trying so hard to get themselves pregnant, and the pair will start producing broods of babies for you.
Best of luck with your seahorses, Tammy! Here’s hoping they pair off and get down to business very soon.
Pete GiwojnaSeptember 29, 2007 at 11:07 am #3826tammypGuest
It is one of those tiny white, typical star-shaped sea stars, I will try tomorrow to pick him off the male. I will also try this weekend to spend more time watching for fecal matter form from him also, so we can determine if parasites are there. Thanks for such a quick response. I love my ponies, and you guys.
I will update you with what I find. I will read the recommend web page also.
Tammy POctober 3, 2007 at 8:08 am #3827tammypGuest
The tiny white sea-star decided to remove himself from the pony. I don’t see any wounds or open sores. I will keep a close eye him.
My female still has not given in to the Stallion. She does look very plump like she has a whole lot of eggs. I was wondering if a female could have problems releasing eggs like maybe egg bound? Not sure if that is possible? I just want to make sure it is okay for her to carry her eggs for a while. How long do they hold them? Do they release them if they do not want to mate or hold the goodies till they find a soul mate?
Tammy POctober 3, 2007 at 9:24 pm #3828Pete GiwojnaGuest
Thanks for the update! It’s good to hear that the tiny Asterina starfish was just hitchhiking and didn’t cause any problems while it was attached to yourseahorse.
Yes, although uncommon, it is possible for a mature female in breeding condition to become egg bound. But this is unlikely to happen when there is a receptive male available to receive the clutch of eggs, and even when there not a stallion that’s eager to get pregnant ready and waiting, a female with ripe eggs will simply release the clutch of eggs before it becomes a problem.
Seahorses are fractional spawners. Females maintain a spiraling assembly line of developing oocytes (egg cells) at all times, only a portion of which are fully mature and are released at each mating (Vincent, 1990). This differs from the reproductive strategy of most fishes, which are multiple spawners that release all their eggs each time they mate and then start over, maturing an entirely new clutch of eggs from scratch for the next spawning.
The structure of these production-line ovaries is unique to syngnathids. They are paired organs, which join to form a single oviduct (the seahorse’s version of a Fallopian tube) just before the urogential pore (Vincent, 1990). Oocytes spiral out from the center of each ovary, creating a coiled sheet of developing eggs at differing stages of growth (Vincent, 1990). The earliest or primordial eggs arise from the germinal ridge that runs the entire length of the ovary, and lie at the center of the coil from which they spiral out as they develop so that the fully mature eggs are the furthest from the center of rotation (Vincent, 1990). Roughly 20% to 25% of the outermost eggs in this ovarian assembly line are mature, ready to be discharged during ovulation and deposited with the male (Vincent, 1990). Thus, fully 70-75% of the female’s developing eggs are retained in the ovaries after mating, so a new clutch of eggs will mature relatively quickly and lie in readiness for the next mating cycle.
Seahorse ovaries are thus always active, busy creating and developing new eggs (oogenesis), forming the yolk (vitellogenesis), and resorbing any mature ova (atresia) leftover after mating or at the end of the breeding season (Vincent, 1990). Eggs in all 4 stages of development can be found in the ovaries throughout the year.
Mature eggs are normally only hydrated (i.e., water is added) at the last minute, in the final few hours before mating occurs. This is done to assure that a receptive male is waiting to receive the clutch once the eggs have been hydrated. All of the hydrated eggs are transferred to the male during the copulatory rise. Unhydrated eggs are retained and continue to mature and move along the ovarian assembly line until they are needed for the next mating. The hydration is quite evident to the observer because the hydrating eggs increase in size greatly as they take on water, and the resulting swelling of the ovaries is quite visible. Once swollen with ripe eggs, a breeding female’s trunk becomes quite plump and rounded, especially in the region near the vent.
Most of this time this does not present a problem at all, since the female will deposit the eggs with her mate, or if that’s not possible for some reason, simply release her ripe eggs and spill them on the bottom. It will be quite obvious if your female drops her clutch of eggs, since she will lose up to 30% of her body weight after releasing them (Vincent, 1990). Unless you’re cleanup crew makes short work of them, the eggs she spills will be equally evident. Unlike most fish eggs, which are round or nearly so, seahorse eggs are pear-shaped. They are full of oil droplets and rich in carotenoids (yellow to red pigments), which help to provide an intracellular source of oxygen for the fetal fry (Vincent, 1990). The presence of these pigments gives the eggs their characteristic bright orange coloration. The eggs sink, so if she releases her clutch, they dropped eggs will appear as a mass of tiny (1.2 mm) bright yellow-two-orange ovoids that are very sticky to the touch. You can’t miss them.
In short, Tammy, it’s possible at your female is carrying a large clutch of mature eggs. If so, that should not present a problem in your case because she has a persistent suitor who is trying very hard to get pregnant with which to deposit the eggs. And even if she decides to resist his advances at the last minute, she will most likely either dump them on the bottom or gradually resorb them (atresia), and all will be well.
Here is an excerpt from my new book (Complete Guide to the Greater Seahorses in the Aquarium, unpublished) that discusses egg binding in more detail and explains the circumstances under which it is most likely to occur:
Egg Binding: a Health Risk for Breeding Females.
<quote> Egg binding occurs when a female has ripened (hydrated) a clutch of eggs and is unable to deposit them with a mate or release them for some reason. As more eggs develop, the egg bound female becomes increasing bloated and great pressure begins to build up internally. The abdomen will be very swollen, especially around the vent, and often prolapsed tissue or other material will begin to protrude from the vent as the pressure builds. The affected female will show rapid respiration and may go off her feed. If the pressure cannot be relieved, death results.
Tracy Warland describes a typical case in a female Potbelly (Hippocampus abdominalis) as follows: "Went into the shed one morning to find an adult mare, probably fully mature, in distress. She had been living quite happily in the main tank with about 10 males to meet any desire she might have. Anyway she was lying on the bottom of the tank, panting. I removed her immediately and placed her in sick tank, thought it could be parasites so gave her several 5-minute freshwater baths, but these did not seem to help. I had checked all parameters of large tank the day before so I knew the water was pristine, no other horse was stressed.
When I was putting her back after a freshwater bath, I was supporting her upright for a few minutes to see if she could hitch somewhere. I applied very slight pressure to her belly, and out shot masses of orange stuff. I collected some and checked under the microscope and it looked very much like roe, but the yolk was almost smashed, with globules of a fat-like substance within the centre. We’ve had roe before, due to unsuccessful egg transfer, so we picked up some of bottom of tank and checked it out! I put it down to women’s problems, egg bound, could not discharge unfertilized eggs, these became rotten within her and therefore caused perhaps fever like symptoms."
Egg binding is uncommon in seahorses. Most females have no problem simply dumping their eggs and spilling them on the bottom when a receptive male is unavailable. But there are two circumstances that sometimes promote egg binding. One of them is when breeding seahorses are kept in a tank that’s too shallow. Courtship will proceed normally and the female will hydrate her clutch of eggs in due course, but the pair will then be unable to complete the copulatory rise due to the lack of depth. In such a situation, the female is very reluctant too dump her eggs while a receptive male is standing by, eager to receive them. If she retains the ripened eggs too long in hope that they will be able to complete the egg transfer despite the inadequate vertical swimming space, she may become egg bound.
The other situation that may predispose females to egg binding is when the sexes are segregated. For example, Heather Hall reports that the London Zoo was so successful in breeding and raising the prolific Cape Seahorse (Hippocampus capensis) that, at one point, they were forced to separate the males and females in order to bring a halt to the population explosion that resulted (Bull and Mitchell, 2002, p 30). However, they were soon forced to abandon their experiment in enforced abstinence because it proved stressful to the seahorses and the isolated females began developing swollen abdomens and experiencing difficulty with egg binding when deprived of the opportunity to breed (Bull and Mitchell, 2002, p 30).
There is no ready cure for egg binding and attempts to manually massage the eggs from the body usually only result in internal injuries. However, there is a folk remedy that’s commonly used to treat egg binding in freshwater fish. This treatment consists of placing the affected fish in a bath of Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) for 10-15 minutes at a dosage of one tablespoon of Epsom salt for every one-gallon of water (Duedall, 2004). The Epsom baths are repeated once a day until the patient recovers (Duedall, 2004).
I have no idea if this remedy would have any affect on a marine fish, but many freshwater hobbyists swear by it, and egg binding is fatal if unresolved so you really have nothing to lose by trying it. Epsom salts are certainly inexpensive and readily available. If you want to give it a go, I suggest administering a 10-15 minute freshwater bath with one tablespoon of magnesium sulfate per gallon added to the bath water. Mix in the magnesium salts thoroughly, aerate the container, and observe the usual precautions for any freshwater dip. Repeat once daily as needed.
As always, prevention is the best cure. If you provide your seahorses with a reasonably tall aquarium and avoid separating the males from the females, there is a very good chance you will never see a case of egg binding. <end quote>
So that’s the lowdown on the female seahorses in breeding condition that are carrying a clutch of ripe eggs, Tammy. Chances are you’re plump female is simply very well-fed, but it’s conceivable that she could have been stimulated to ripen her clutch of eggs, in response to the persistent courtship attempts from her persistent pursuer. If so, perhaps she is ready to give in and mate with a stubborn stallion. And even if she has ripened eggs but besides not to mate with the male after all, it’s very likely she will simply expel the eggs when the time comes, or gradually resorb them before that point, and be none the worse for wear. But you’ll want to keep a close eye on her for awhile to rule out even the slightest possibility that she could become egg bound.
Best of luck with your seahorses, Tammy! Here’s hoping that your male’s persistence is finally rewarded and that your pair produces a healthy brood of babies very soon now.
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