- This topic has 5 replies, 2 voices, and was last updated 17 years, 7 months ago by Pete Giwojna.
April 18, 2006 at 1:12 am #796SEAGAZERMember
Good day all,
I am very concerned about one of my females. She seems to have injured her tail. It is swollen, and she is having horrible boyancy problems. She can\’t seem to stay upright, and is having problems manouvering thru the water. She is grasping at objects, but her tail seems lame. There is a small spot with no open wound. It seems to have been pinched. Maybe stuck in reefrock? My pumps are not strong enough to injure. In fact they play on/in them. She has wedged herself around a pump and the glass and seems comfortable now. I\’ve turned all the pumps off so there is no current to give her further probems. Does anyone have any suggestions on how I should handle this?
your urgent reply is appreciated!
Best rgdsApril 18, 2006 at 3:34 am #2425Pete GiwojnaGuest
When you say your female is having horrible buoyancy problems and difficulties staying upright, do you mean that she is positively buoyant — the tendency to float — or negatively buoyant, struggling against the tendency to sink?
If her swollen tail is positively buoyant, the tendency of her tail to float upwards would certainly upset her equilibrium and cause difficulty swimming. That can sometimes happen due to Gas Bubble Syndrome (GBS) when extravascular gas bubbles grow deep within the tissue of the tail, rather than just beneath the skin as in subcutaneous emphysema or tail bubbles. Such a problem could also account for the lameness or loss of prehensility in her tail. Deep-seated gas emboli can put pressure on key nerves, resulting in the loss of motor control of the affected muscles. This type of paralysis is often temporary, and can be reversed when the gas emboli are resorbed.
If that’s the case, treatment with Diamox (the tablet form of acetazolamide) would be appropriate, and I would recommend administering the medication orally via gut-loaded or injected shrimp for best results. How is her appetite? Is she still able to feed?
If her tail is swollen, but not positively buoyant, that could be the result of a serious infection, such as vibriosis. Some Vibrio infections start out as a swollen tail, which may have a discolored spot(s) or lump(s), which become scabrous and develop into ulcers or lesions as the condition progresses. Inflammation and edema from the infection causes the tail to swell, and the affected area of the tail may become so irritated and tender that the seahorse refuses to use it to grasp objects.
If that’s the case and her tail is infected, the appropriate treatment would be to reduce the water temperature, administer beta-glucan orally as an immunostimulant, and treat the seahorse aggressively with antibiotics (preferably chloramphenicol or Chloromycetin) in isolation.
Another possibility is that her buoyancy problems are due to a malfunction of her swim bladder, and that her tail problem is simply due to a mechanical injury of some sort, as you suggest in your e-mail. Hyperinflation of the swimbladder causes positive buoyancy, whereas an underinflated swimbladder results in negative buoyancy. Such swim bladder problems are often associated with digenes or other parasites that infest the gas bladder. In that case, treatment for endoparasites with antiparasitics such as metronitazole or praziquantel would be appropriate.
If you can give me a little more information about her condition and the nature of her buoyancy problems, and whether or not her swollen tail itself appears to be buoyant, we can narrow down the treatment options and better determine the best course of treatment. Please get back to me as soon as possible and include your current aquarium parameters in your follow-up e-mail.
Pete GiwojnaApril 18, 2006 at 3:51 am #2426SEAGAZERGuest
Her tail seems to be positively boyant. When she releases, and tries to swim I can see her tale fly up over her head, and she winds up, completely upside down, and swimming. She then gets frustrated, and tries to grab back onto something else. She’s settled for the night now. I’ll be keeping a close eye on her tonight though. There seems to be no abnormal marking or, open wound, not even a scratch. Just a small section of her upper tail, below the bottom tip of her dorsal fin is swollen, and she def doesn’t want to bend it at that point. Her respiration seems, fine, but she didn’t eat today. I tried hand feeding, and still no luck.
My tank parameters are
amonia .25 (stays this way)
nitrite less than 10
Thanks again Pete!April 18, 2006 at 4:00 pm #2428Pete GiwojnaGuest
Thanks for the additional information — it really helps clarify the situation. If your seahorse’s tail is positively buoyant, then it seems pretty clear that this is a problem with Gas Bubble Disease (GBD).
Gas Bubble Disease (GBD) is believed to be caused by gas emboli forming within the tissue of heavily vascularized portions of the seahorse’s anatomy — the placenta-like brood pouch of males, the eye, the muscular prehensile tail — and it can take several different forms depending on where the bubbles or emboli occur. When it occurs in the brood pouch of the male, chronic pouch emphysema or bloated pouch results, leading to positive buoyancy, and this is by far the most common form of GBD. When it occurs in the capillary network behind the eye (choroid rete), Exopthalmus or Popeye results, and the eye(s) can become enormously swollen. When it affects the capillary network of the gas bladder (the rete mirabile), hyperinflation of the swimbladder occurs, resulting in positive buoyancy. When it affects the tail or snout, external gas bubbles form just beneath the skin and look like raised blisters. When intravascular emboli occur deep within the tissue and occlude blood flow, generalized edema results in the affected area. Or extravascular emboli may cause gas to build up within the coelom, often resulting in positive buoyancy and swelling or bloating of the abdominal cavity (internal GBD). If untreated, the gas bubbles worsen and the condition is fatal.
The prehensile tail of the seahorse is often affected when conditions are favorable for the formation of such gas emboli because it has a rich blood supply via the dorsal aorta and caudal vein (hence plenty of carbonic anhydrase to induce the formation of intravascular gas bubbles) and because the tail is the site where seahorses tend to store their limited fat reserves (extravascular seed nuclei or emboli that trigger GBD form most readily in adipose tissue due to the higher solubility of certain gases in lipids than in aqueous tissues)..Intravascular bubbles are seen in both the arterial and venous circulation, with vastly greater numbers detected in venous flows (venous gas emboli). The far more numerous venous bubbles are believed to first form in lipid tissues draining the veins. Lipid tissue sites possess very few nerve endings, possibly masking critical insults at first, and veins, which are thinner than arteries, appear more susceptible to extravascular gas penetration.
In seahorses, oxygenated blood is delivered to the tail via the dorsal aorta, a major artery running the length of the body below the spine, and CO2-laden water is returned via the caudal vein which runs along the inside of the tail. In your case, Seagazer, venous bubbles appear to have have formed in the affected area of your seahorse’s tail and led to the growth and development of extravascular gas bubbles in the adjacent tissue, causing the tail to swell and become buoyant.
The etiology of GBD is still poorly understood, and there are many theories as to what causes the gas emboli or micronuclei in the first place. Nitrogen gas supersaturation of the water, the unique physiology of the male’s brood pouch, inefficient degassing of CO2 in small closed-system-aquaria, low pH in the aquarium resulting in acidosis of the blood, malfunctions of the pseudobranch or the gas gland of the swimbladder, stress-related changes in blood chemistry that affect the oxygen-carrying capacity of hemoglobin, infection with gas-producing bacteria — all have been advanced as mechanisms that could trigger the formation of the gas emboli. Very likely GBD has multiple causes, but most experts now believe it is due to physical conditions in the seahorse tank rather than a pathogen.
In other words, despite its name, GBD is not a disease seahorses contract. Seahorses do not arrive with GBD, but they often develop the condition when kept in a system that exposes them to gas supersaturation, inefficient degassing of carbon dioxide, stress (especially if due to poor water quality and/or low pH), inadequate water circulation, a bacteria-laden substrate or other environmental factors conducive to the formation of gas embolisms. Not too long ago there was really not much a hobbyist could do for seahorses with GBD, but now, for the first time, there is a very promising new cure hobbyists can easily administer.
In all its various forms, Gas Bubble Syndrome is probably the most common affliction among seahorses. Public aquaria, labs, and big institutions that display Syngnathids or work with seahorses are accustomed to dealing with it and have developed several cures for GBD over the years. This includes submerging the affected seahorses at depths great enough to recompress them (> 10 feet) and cause the gas to go back into solution; using hyperbaric chambers to accomplish the same thing (the same treatment used for divers with the bends); surgical removal of the pseudobranch; and injections with carbonic anhydrase inhibitors such as Acetazolamide and Ceftazadine. Note: carbonic anhydrase is simply a zinc-containing enzyme that catalyzes the following reversible reaction, which helps change carbon dioxide into bicarbonate ion, a form of CO2 that is more easily carried in the bloodstream, or vice versa:
CO2 + H2O <—–> H2CO3 <—–> HCO3- + H+
carbon dioxide….carbonic acid…. bicarbonate ion
As long as the body’s normal equilibrium is maintained, all is well, but when imbalances drive this reaction too far in either direction, gas emboli can result. For instance, an excess of CO2 in the system will drive this reaction to the right, resulting in the accumulation of carbonic acid. When the carbonic acid builds up sufficiently, it disrupts the body’s acid-base balance and lowers the pH of the blood, producing acidosis.
The decrease in blood pH reduces the oxygen carrying capacity of certain types of hemoglobin, resulting in the release of oxygen in the blood, which eventually causes gas emboli to form in the most vascular parts of the seahorse’s body. Low pH in the aquarium can also result in acidosis, with the same outcome. And chronic stress or prolonged exertion can also cause a decrease in the blood pH, producing emboli via the same mechanism.
Likewise, imbalances which favor the exchange of bicarbonate for carbonic acid can drive this reaction too far to the left, triggering physiologic processes which liberate C02, again causing gas emboli to form in the most vascular parts of the seahorse’s body which are richest in carbon anhydrase. In either case, inhibiting this enzyme seems to prevent the formation of such gas emboli and allows the body to restore its normal equilibrium.
Unfortunately, none of the methods developed by the professionals for treating GBD are available to the average hobbyist. But it has recently been found that Diamox, the tablet form of Acetazolamide, a potent carbonic anhydrase inhibitor, is nearly as effective as the injections for treating GBD, making it the first practical cure for hobbyists to combat this dread affliction.
The Diamox is used in different ways to treat the different forms of GBD. For instance, Diamox pouch flushes are effective for treating chronic recurring pouch emphysema. On the other hand, a series of Diamox baths works better for treating external GBD (tail bubbles), and Popeye. And administering the Diamox orally is often most effective for treating internal GBD or hyperinflation of the gas bladder.
If if your female is still able to eat while anchored to a hitching post despite his positive buoyancy, Seagazer, you might try administering the Diamox orally via injected shrimp. I have found that the Diamox is often more effective when it’s ingested and administering the medication orally allows you to treat the seahorse in the main tank where she is most comfortable and relaxed. Here are the directions for this method of treatment, if you think it might be feasible in your case:
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 Diamox 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."
Volcano shrimp or red feeder shrimp from Ocean Rider (iron horse feed) 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 has cured seahorses with tail bubbles and pouch gas using this technique. She found 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. There 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. So if your Vet or family doctor will prescribe the Diamox for treating your seahorse, ask them also to provide a 1/2 cc insulin syringe with a 26-gauge needle.
If you are using 250-mg tablets, Leslie found that 1/8 of a tablet provides enough Diamox for several days’ worth of injections. In other words, 1/8 of a 250-mg Diamox tablet provides enough of the medication to inject two shrimp daily for about 5 days. So each day, I would take 1/8 of a tablet and shave off approximately 20%-25% of it to make the Diamox solution for that day’s injections. (NOTE: if you are using 125-mg Diamox tablets, adjust your dosage accordingly — that is, start with 1/4 of a tablet and then shave off 20%-25% of it to make the Diamox solution.) Then crush the Diamox you have shaved off and to a very fine powder and dissolve it in a very small quantity of water.
Use the result solution to inject a few of the live feeder shrimp and feed them to the affected seahorse immediately after injecting them. You don’t want the healthy seahorses to ingest the medicated shrimp, so target feed them to your female after the other seahorses have already eaten their fill, or offer them to your female will she is isolated in a critter keeper or fish net breeder trap in your main tank. In that case, leave for in the critter keeper or breeder net only long enough to eat the medicated shrimp and then release her back with her tankmates.
Diamox doesn’t dissolve especially well in water; there’s always a residue of undissolved material left behind. Try to avoid this residue when you draw up the medicated solution in your syringe, the particles can sometimes clog up the fine bore needle when you are trying to inject the shrimp.
Each day you will have to prepare fresh Diamox solution to inject the shrimp for that day’s treatment, so just repeat the steps above each day. If all goes well, she should show improvement rapidly, with 2-3 days. If not, after you have fed her injected shrimp for 3 straight days, give her a break from the Diamox for a few days and try again. (Diamox can suppress the appepitite, so feed her unmedicated/uninjected shrimp for a few days to keep her eating and help restore her appetite.) Then feed her Diamox-injected shrimp again at the rate of 2 per day for a total of 3 more days, but this time increase the dosage of Diamox slightly (shave off a bit more of the tablet each day when you mix the new Diamox solution).
Depending on how severe her problems with positive buoyancy are, you may need to handfeed the medicated shrimp to the seahorse. If you can place it right up to his mouth, or even directly in his jaws, that may trigger his feeding instinct and she’ll slurp it right up. If not — if his positive buoyancy is so severe she cannot perch and feed normally on her own, and she refuses to accept handfeeding — then you have to administer the Diamox in a hospital tank as a series of baths instead. Let me know if that happens Seagazer, and I will send you detailed instructions for administering the Diamox as a bath.
Diamox is a prescription med so you’ll have to get it from your Vet or perhaps your family doctor (it often used to treat glaucoma, altitude sickness and a number of other conditions in humans). Veterinarians are often unfamiliar with Diamox — it’s very much a people med and unless you find a Vet that works with fish regularly, he or she 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 but it can sometimes be difficult to get your MD to jump that final hurdle and prescribe it for a pet.
Go ahead and try your family doctor. If you can get him (or a local Veterinarian) to look at the information on GBD above it should make perfect sense to them and, hopefully, persuade them to prescribe it for you. If not, there are other options we can pursue.
Best of luck obtaining the Diamox and treating your female, Seagazer!
Pete GiwojnaApril 18, 2006 at 5:56 pm #2431SEAGAZERGuest
Well, No Luck!
I can’t get a VET to prescribe it, and my Dr won’t even discuss it. I called the NC Vet. School of Medicine, Fort Fisher Aquarium, and several websites. Not having any luck getting Diamox. Can you help me out here. The Vet school said they would give the Dr the option of calling me, and "if" he called, it would be late tonight, or poss tomorrow morning. Also, he’ll need to make a housecall before he can prescribe any meds.
Thanks again!April 18, 2006 at 8:02 pm #2433Pete GiwojnaGuest
Wow, a house call for a seahorse! That’s a new one on me!
Okay, please contact me off list at the following email address and I will be happy to discuss some other options for you, Seagazer:
Best of luck treating your female with the swollen tail, Seagazer!
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