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New horse tank with issues

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  • #52558
    balt
    Participant

    Hi there,

    I’ve been researching seahorse problems for some days now and google keeps bringing me back to your forum, so it’s probably time I engaged here! Pete Giwojna’s posts are incredibly thorough and speak to me – they’re methodical and with source references (science is my bread and butter). Also, I’m in Australia, so apologies up front for using metric units. 🙂

    I have a 400 litre marine tank (RedSea Reefer 425XL) which I dedicated to non-stinging soft corals and seahorses. The tank is 2 months young and was started using the RedSea Reef Mature method. It finished cycling 6 weeks ago at which point I started adding snails (4 trochus, 6 turbo, 1 cowrie), several corals (xenia, sinularia, leather toadstool, two large sea whips for the horses to hold on to) and a thus far lonely mandarin goby. I converted the tank for minimal flow using foam covers for the water nozzles, and wavemakers at lowest setting blowing a constant current rather than wave making. There aren’t any dead spots, and lowest flow in any part of the tank is about 0.2cm per second (5 seconds for 1cm drift), highest flow in front of the wavemakers is about 5 cm/s. Algae growth on the substrate seems to show a fairly indicative map of flow rates along the ground layer (least growth in highest flow).

    A week ago I put in my first four H. kuda, and they fared well initially and eating well. Then one of them died. The second one followed shortly, exhibiting a lot of shaking and scratching, at which point I assumed a parasitic infection is likely. I followed the 10s 3% H2O2 dip procedure Pete outlined in another post here, but sadly the next day that horse was dead as well. Yesterday, one of the last two remaining ones also displayed some shaking, but far less frequently than the others before him, but he didn’t eat, and I was going to repeat the H2O2 dip on that one today, but it was dead in the tank this morning. When I got it out, I noticed a lot of tiny crawling motions on its skin, not sure if that was the actual parasites that killed it, or whether that was parasites starting to break down the dead horse. Any opinions on that?

    The last horse seems fine, but I wonder if the others had a parasite, this one probably has it as well. Time for a less traumatic fresh water dip? Or another H2O2 treatment? Taking the salinity down in the tank isn’t really an option due to the corals.

    Some higher res images of the last two that died:
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/cxu8x40py0m9hd0/deadhorse1.JPG?dl=0
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/kjjvlno86b2t8an/deadhorse2.JPG?dl=0

    They do seem to have some skin lesions, but being totally new to this I couldn’t really tell what’s normal and what isn’t. Can you tell from those images what likely killed them?

    The tank parameters aren’t perfect, esp the NO2 and NO3: (KH 8.9, pH 8, NH4 0.2, NO2 0.2, NO3 20) and likely stressed them. I’ve started adding seachem stability a few days ago to help lower NH4 and NO2, but that will take weeks. I have a large bunch of Chaeto in the sump to help absorb NO3.

    I have two H. reidi waiting for me at the LFS, but I’m hesitant adding new horses into what looks to be a subideal environment.

    Any advice on the many questions greatly appreciated!

    Balthasar

    #52560
    balt
    Participant

    Update: I gave the last remaining horse a freshwater bath: warmed RO water to temperature of the tank with a bubbler inside to oxygenate the water, added baking soda until pH was matched (or close enough, man I hate those colour tests) then put him in there for 10 minutes. He was quite wiggly and didn’t like it, but survived it. Seems happy back in the tank now. In the water from the dip I found several hair like structures, worms presumably, and some small flecks. Good question now is how to treat the tank so those nasties go away? I can’t do this daily…

    #52562
    Pete Giwojna
    Moderator

    Dear Balthasar:

    It is terribly difficult to try to diagnose health problems from afar when you cannot see the seahorses or the system they are in, and you have no laboratory tests, cultures, skin smears, wet- mounts, necropsy reports or anything concrete to go on to guide your diagnosis, sir. But you have been quite thorough and provided me with enough information to take a stab at it in this case, Balthasar, and I would be happy to try to explain my thinking on the matter based on the meager information I have and discuss the situation with you in more detail.

    My best guess is that your Hippocampus kuda seahorses died as a result of asphyxiation due to ammonia poisoning/nitrite toxicity, compounded by the stress of a heavy nematode infestation. Allow me to elaborate:

    The freshwater dip you performed on the surviving seahorse revealed the presence of nematode worms which are enormously irritating (hence the scratching and shaking you noticed). Nematodes will invade the gills during a heavy infestation, impairing the breathing of the affected seahorses.

    Your water chemistry readings also indicate unacceptable levels of ammonia and nitrite at levels that are harmful. Your aquarium has very good water volume and it sounds like your seahorses did well initially until the accumulation of nitrogenous wastes reached a noxious level.

    Exposure to moderate levels of ammonia and nitrite (or excessively high levels of nitrates) can change the normal hemoglobin in the seahorse’s blood stream to a form (i.e., methhemoglobin) that is no longer able to transport oxygen. If this becomes severe enough, it will leave the affected seahorse starved for oxygen, which makes it very weak and fatigued, a condition known as “brown blood disease.” As a result, the affected seahorses may detach themselves from their hitching posts periodically and rest on the bottom, unable to exert themselves in their weakened condition. As you can imagine, being deprived of oxygen really wipes them out in terms of loss of energy and stamina. And it also results in respiratory distress and rapid, labored breathing as they try to oxygenate themselves and compensate for the lack of normal hemoglobin.

    Seahorses suffering from ammonia and/or nitrite poisoning will sometimes struggle to breathe as a result. They will be lethargic and exhibit rapid respiration, increased oxygen uptake, and increased heart rate. Other symptoms of low-level to moderate ammonia poisoning and/or nitrite toxicity include a loss of equilibrium and hyperexcitability. Affected seahorses may appear disoriented, blindly bumping into objects, or periodically detaching from their hitching posts only to sink to the bottom (Indiviglio, 2002).
    The most obvious symptoms of ammonia poisoning are a loss of equilibrium, hyperexcitability, increased respiration and oxygen uptake, and increased heart rate. At extreme ammonia levels, fish may experience convulsions, coma, and death. (You mentioned that some of the seahorses were shaking, which may have been the sort of convulsions or death throes that occur when the end is imminent.)

    Providing the fish were not exposed to toxic levels for too long a period, ammonia poisoning and nitrite toxicity are completely reversible, and you will need to work on restoring your water chemistry to normal as soon as possible, Balthasar, as indicated below:

    Ammonia (NH3/NH4+):
    Natural Seawater Value = 0.010 mg/L
    Acceptable Range = 0.000 to 0.050 mg/L
    Optimum Level = 0 at all times

    Ammonia is highly toxic to both fish and invertebrates in even small amounts (> 0.05 mg/L or ppm). Causes of ammonia toxicity include: immature biofilter (new tank syndrome), impairment of the biological filtration due to antibiotics and other medications, overfeeding, overstocking and dead specimens that go undetected (Webber, 2004). Ammonia levels can also rise after the addition of new animals, after a water change, or following a heavy feeding. Any ammonia level above 0.05 mg/L is a cause for concern, and the source must be found and corrected immediately. Be sure to maintain a good schedule of water changes.

    Nitrite (N02):
    Natural Seawater Value = 0.010 mg/L
    Acceptable Range = 0.000 to 0.100 mg/L
    Optimum Level = 0 at all times

    Nitrite is slightly less poisonous to fishes than ammonia, but deadly to many invertebrates at very small concentrations. Residual levels of nitrite are common in marine aquariums. Levels of 0.05 or less are of little concern in a fish-only aquarium. If the levels are higher than this, the source should be found and corrected immediately. Even trace amounts of nitrite can wreak havoc among the live corals and delicate invertebrates in a reef tank. High levels of nitrite result from the same causes as ammonia.

    Nitrate (N03):
    Natural Seawater Value = 0.050 mg/L
    Acceptable Range = 0.000 to 20 mg/L
    Optimum Level = below 10 mg/L in fish-only tanks; 0 mg/L in reef tanks.

    Nitrate is the end product of the process of nitrification, formed during the Nitrogen Cycle by the oxidation of nitrite by aerobic bacteria. Nitrate is relatively nontoxic to fishes, but elevated levels (> 20 mg/L) are stressful to seahorses over the long term and promote the growth of nuisance algae. Reef invertebrates can be much more sensitive to nitrate, and concentrations as low as 0.06 mg/L can cause problems for symbiotic stony corals. Any level above 5.0 mg/L in reef aquariums is a reason for concern and should be corrected immediately. The nitrate level is a good indicator of water quality and rising levels of nitrates are an indication of deteriorating water quality. For best results, consider using live rock and/or a live sand bed (preferably situated in your sump) in conjunction with a good protein skimmer to help filter your seahorse setup. The skimmer will remove excess organic compounds before they enter the nitrogen cycle, and live rock and a deep sand bed will provide significant denitrification ability, all of which will help keep your nitrates down. Don’t overstock, don’t overfed, remove leftovers promptly (a good cleanup crew is useful here), grow and harvest macroalgae, practice good aquarium maintenance and maintain a sensible schedule for water changes.

    In your case, sir, the SeaChem Stability you are using will be very helpful in resolving the unacceptable ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate readings, and you should see a big change within seven days.

    In addition to restoring your water quality, Balthasar, you’ll also need to address the nematodes in your aquarium system.

    When you are dealing with an outbreak of nematodes, a simple freshwater dip will provide seahorses with some immediate relief but will not resolve the problem. You will need to consider administering a formalin bath and/or treating your tank with a good dewormer such as fenbendazole, sir, which may be problematic because I don’t know if you have same medications available to you in Australia that we do here in the USA, and because your delicate live corals and invertebrates can be adversely affected by antiparasitic medications.

    Nematodes can be extremely irritating to seahorses, especially juveniles and the dwarf species. These pesky little worms are particularly troublesome for small seahorses, but they can also be an irritant for larger seahorses, and the type of scratching you have noticed is very typical of the irritation and damage the nematodes can do.

    In cases like this, I normally recommend administering a quick formalin bath to provide the affected seahorses with immediate relief, followed by treating the aquarium with a good anthelminthic agent such as fenbendazole (brand name Panacur) to eliminate all of the little worms.

    Nematodes are tiny, worm-like ectoparasites (i.e., external parasites) that attack the skin and underlying muscle of the affected seahorse, and also invade the gills when there is a heavy infestation.

    The most common symptoms are increased respiration or labored breathing and a progressive loss of prehensility in the tail of the seahorse, accompanied by depigmentation (whitening) of the affected areas of the tail. But I should point out that respiratory distress may not be involved in cases when the nematodes have not yet invaded the gills, and that twitching and scratching are typically seen in the later stages of an infestation.

    The early symptoms of a nematode infestation are thus increased respirations and a progressive loss of prehensility in the tail of the seahorse. As the tail of the seahorse loses its ability to grasp or cling to objects, the seahorses either swim or sort of slither along the bottom or the substrate with their tails extended stiffly behind them.

    Rapid breathing is sometimes the first symptom of an infestation. Flaring gills and extremely labored breathing will signal their obvious distress. The diligent hobbyist will often realize something is wrong at this point, but checking the water parameters will reveal nothing amiss.

    Next, the seahorses’ tails will be affected. First they will become colorless and rigid at the very tip and lose their grasping ability in that small segment of the tail. Then the stiffness and loss of coloration will progress a little higher on the tail day by day, until the entire tail is affected, becoming a useless weight that the seahorses must drag around like an anchor when swimming. The loss of flexibility in the tail is apparently the result of the tiny worms boring into the musculature of the tail.

    In a heavy infestation, the nematodes will invade the gills, causing respiratory distress, and they may also spread from the gills into the buccal cavity and snout of the seahorse. When that happens, you may also see the characteristic loss of coloration or depigmentation in the snout of the seahorse, together with the usual scratching or twitching, of course …

    Here is an excerpt from the biological profile on the lined seahorse (Hippocampus erectus) from the Ichthyology Department at the Florida Museum of Natural History:

    http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish/Gallery/Descript/LinedSeahorse/linedseahorse.html

    <open quote>
    · Parasites
    Captive lined seahorses are especially vulnerable to parasitic infections including microsporidians, including Glugea heraldi; a myxosporidian of the genus Sphaeromyxa; fungi; ciliates, including Uronema marinum; and nematodes.
    <close quote>

    Most cases of nematode infestation I have seen in the USA involve wild-caught dwarf seahorses (Hippocampus zosterae), but the above reference clearly indicates that the larger breeds of seahorses such as Hippocampus erectus are also susceptible to parasitic nematodes, and your Hippocampus kuda are no exception.

    As I mentioned earlier, administering a formalin bath will provide the affected seahorses with some quick relief, Balthasar.

    You can then confirm the diagnosis by a close examination of the water in which you administered the formalin baths afterwards:

    In a heavy infestation, the nematodes that have been killed during the therapeutic dip/bath will be easily visible in the water using an 8 – 10 X magnifying glass or jeweler’s loupe, and can often be seen with the naked eye.

    Fortunately, the distinctive symptoms make nematodes easy to diagnose and easy to cure.

    Formalin dips and baths are very effective at eliminating nematodes, Balthasar, but I do NOT recommend that you administer a formalin bath to your remaining kuda following the freshwater bath you administered, which accomplished the same thing. (Good job adjusting the pH of the water beforehand, sir, which greatly reduced the stress of the freshwater dip. Well done!) And, of course, you are absolutely right about avoiding daily freshwater dips.

    Whenever you do, don’t introduce the Hippocampus reidi seahorses you mentioned until you have addressed the nematode problem.

    In the meantime, I would increase the aeration and surface agitation if possible to increase the dissolved oxygen levels and reduce the carbon dioxide levels in the aquarium water.

    If necessary, you can administer a formalin bath at the first sign of any scratching, which should provide immediate relief from nematodes. Here’s how to proceed:

    Formalin Baths

    Formalin (HCHO) is basically a 37% solution of formaldehyde and water. It is a potent external fungicide, external protozoacide, and antiparasitic, and is thus an effective medication for eradicating external parasites, treating fungal lesions, and reducing the swelling from such infections. It is a wonder drug for treating cases of Popeye caused by trematodes, and also eradicates external nematodes.

    In my experience, provided it is administered properly, seahorses tolerate treatment with formalin very well at therapeutic dosages. For a long term bath the correct dose is 15 to 25 mg/L. [Note: 25 mg/L equals 1 ml (cc) of 37% formalin per 10 gallons of water.] This is done every other day for 3 treatments.

    For a short term bath (dip) the correct dose is 250 mg/L. This would equal 1 ml (cc) of 37% formalin per 1 gallon of water. This should be for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. In my opinion, formalin is a safe, effective treatment for parasitic infections in seahorses providing you don’t exceed these dosages and observe the following precautions for administering the medication properly:

    Many commercial formalin products are readily available to hobbyists, such as Kordon’s Formalin 3, Formalin-F sold by Natchez Animal Supply, and Paracide-F, sold by Argent Chemical Laboratories. Or whatever brand of formalin is available to you should work fine, Balthasar.

    A formalin bath simply involves immersing the seahorse in a container of saltwater which contains the proper dosage of formalin for a period of 30-60 minutes while monitoring it. Include a hitching post of some sort in the container and follow these instructions: place the fish in a three-gallon bucket or a similar clean, inert container containing precisely one gallon of siphoned, aerated tank water. Medicate the bucket of water with the appropriate amount of formalin for a concentrated bath according to the directions on the label. Place an airstone in the bucket and leave the fish in the bath for 30 minutes. If at any time the fish becomes listless, exhausted or loses its balance, immediately place the fish in clean, untreated water in your hospital tank.

    I want you to be aware of these precautions when administering the formalin bath:

    Formalin has limited shelf life and degrades to the highly toxic substance paraformaldehyde (identified as a white precipitate on the bottom of the solution); avoid using any formalin product which has such a precipitate at the bottom of the bottle.
    Formalin basically consumes oxygen so vigorous aeration must be provided during treatment.
    Time the bath closely and never exceed one hour of chemical exposure at this concentration.
    Observe the seahorse closely during the bath at all times, and it show signs of distress before the allotted time has elapsed, remove it from the treatment immediately.

    If you can obtain Formalin 3 from Kordon, Balthasar, these are the instructions you should follow for your formalin dip:

    METHOD 2 (DIP) FOR THE PREVENTION OR TREATMENT OF FISH DISEASES
    (a) To a clean, non-metallic container (i.e., a plastic bucket), add one or more gallons of fresh tap water treated with Kordon’s AmQuel . For marine fish use freshly prepared saltwater adjusted to the same specific gravity (or salinity) as in the original tank. Make sure the temperature in the container is identical to that in the aquarium
    (b) Add 1 teaspoons of Formalin·3. This produces a concentration of 100 ppm. formaldehyde.
    (c) Agitate the solution with an airstone and adjust for a moderately strong flow of air.
    (d) Remove the fishes to be treated and deposit them in the container for a treatment period of not more than 50 minutes. Immediately after the treatment period, or if signs of distress are noted, remove the fishes to a previously prepared recovery tank. The fishes may be returned to their original tank, but the presence of the original disease-causing agents in the tank water may result in a reoccurrence of the disease condition.
    (e) Observe recovering fishes. Make sure that tankmates do not molest them during recovery.
    (f) Repeat treatment as needed, every week. Each treatment is very stressful to the treated fishes. Do not reuse the dip solution.

    For additional information on treating fishes with Formalin 3 by Kordon, see the following web page:

    Click here: KPD-54 Formalin-3
    http://www.novalek.com/kpd54.htm

    If you get another brand of formalin, just follow the instructions that it comes with for a concentrated bath or dip (not prolonged immersion or a long-term bath) or follow the following directions, courtesy of Ann at the org:

    FORMALIN Short-Term BATH Dosage and Preparation Instructions
    Active Ingredient: 37% Formaldehyde
    Indication: external parasites
    Brand Names: Formalin, Formalin-MS
    Notes:
    1. Do NOT use Formalin that has a white residue at the bottom of the bottle. White residue
    indicates the presence of Paraformaldehyde which is very toxic.
    2. “Formalin 3” by Kordon contains only 3% Formaldehyde. Dosing instructions will need to be modified if using this product.
    • Fill a small tank with aged, aerated, dechlorinated marine water. Match the pH, temperature, and salinity to that of the tank the Seahorse is currently in.
    • Add an artifical hitch and 1-2 vigorously bubbling airlines. Formalin reduces dissolved O2 so heavy aeration is required.
    • Add 1ml/cc of Formalin per one gallon (3.8 liters) of tank water. Allow several minutes for the Formalin to disperse.
    • Place the Seahorse into the dip water for 45-60 minutes unless it is showing signs of an adverse reaction. If the Seahorse cannot tolerate the Formalin dip, immediately move it back to the hospital tank.
    • Observe the Seahorse for 24hrs for signs of improvement.

    The formalin baths will provide affected seahorses with some immediate relief from the nematodes, Balthasar, but they will not cure the problem because the seahorses can be reinfested once they are returned to the display tank due to the fact that other nematodes may be present in large numbers in the substrate of the aquarium. So you will need to take other measures to eliminate the parasitic worms from the main tank and the associated filters as soon as possible.

    A relatively light infestation of nematodes can be brought under control via a 50 percent water change, combined with vacuuming the substrate and a thorough tank cleanup. That’s always a good place to start, Balthasar, and I recommend you do so, sir. The water change(s) will also be helpful in eliminate the remaining ammonia and nitrite from your tank.

    Serious nematode infestations require more drastic measures. A bad nematode invasion will require treating the main tank with a good anthelmintic or deworming agent such as fenbendazole (brand name Panacur).

    Worms of all kinds can be controlled in the aquarium by using a medication known as fenbendazole to treat the tank over a period of days. Fenbendazole (brand name Panacur) is an inexpensive anthelmintic agent (dewormer) used for large animals such as horses, and the de-worming granules can be obtained without a prescription from stores that carry agricultural products (e.g., farm and ranch equipment, farming supplies and products, veterinary supplies, livestock and horse supplies, livestock and horse feed). If you live in a rural area, those would be good places to obtain it as well.

    However, there are a couple of things you should keep in mind when treating an aquarium with fenbendazole, Balthasar. Administering a regimen of fenbendazole (FBZ) or Panacur will eradicate any hydroids, Aiptasia rock anemones, bristleworms, or roundworms (e.g., nematodes) from live rock or live sand, thereby rendering them completely seahorse safe. The recommended dose is 1/8 teaspoon of the horse dewormer granules (22.2% fenbendazole) per 10 gallons of water. Dose aquarium with 1/8 teaspoon/10 gallons every other day until you have administered a total of 3 such treatments (Liisa Coit, pers. com.). Even one dose will usually do a fine job of eradicating worms of all kinds, but Aiptasia rock anemones and hydroids are a bit tougher and may require 2-3 doses to eliminate entirely.

    Because fenbendazole is essentially a de-worming agent, it will destroy any bristleworms, flat worms, roundworms or nematodes, spaghetti worms or the like. Unfortunately, this includes desirable worms such as featherdusters, tubeworms, Christmas tree worms, or fanworms as well..

    Fenbendazole does not have any adverse effects on biological filtration, but be aware that it is death to many Cnidarians besides hydroids. Mushrooms and related corals are generally not affected, but expect it to have dire effects on other corals (e.g., sinularias), polyps, gorgonians, and anemones. In general, any Cnidarians with polyps that resemble the stalked family of Hydrozoans are likely to be hit hard by fenbendazole, so don’t use this treatment in a reef tank!

    Also be aware that fenbendazole seems to soak into the porous live rock and be absorbed indefinitely. I know one hobbyist who transferred a small piece of live rock that had been treated with fenbendazole (Panacur) months earlier into a reef tank, where it killed the resident starfish and Astrea snails. So enough of the medication may be retained within treated live rock to impact sensitive animals months after the fenbendazole was administered. Don’t treat live rock intended for reef systems with fenbendazole (Panacur)!

    At the lower dosage recommended for nursery tanks and dwarf seahorse tanks with fry (1/16 tsp. per 10 gallons), fenbendazole normally does not harm cleaner shrimp and decorative shrimp. With the exception of Astrids (Astrea), Coit and Worden have found it does not usually affect the types of snails typically used as cleanup crews (e.g., Nassarius, Ceriths, and Nerites). It will kill starfish but copepods, hermit crabs, and shrimp are normally not affected.

    Macroalgae such as the feathery or long-bladed varieties of Caulerpa or Hawaiian Ogo (Gracilaria) are not harmed by exposure to fenbendazole at even triple the normal dose.

    So fenbendazole (FBZ) or Panacur is primarily useful for ridding bare-bottomed nursery tanks and dwarf seahorses setups of hyrdroids and Aiptasia anemones, ridding Caulerpa and other macroalge of hydroids or Aiptasia before its goes into the aquarium, and cleansing live rock of bristleworms, hydroids, and Aiptasia rock anemones before it is introduced to the aquarium.

    It can also be used to eradicate bristleworms, roundworms/nematodes, hydroids, an Aiptasia from an established aquarium if it does not house sensitive animals such as live corals and gorgonians, starfish, certain snails, or tubeworms and other desirable worms that may be harmed by FBZ, providing you monitor the ammonia levels closely and are prepared to deal with the ammonia spike that may result from the sudden death of the worm population.

    When it comes to snails, Nerites, Ceriths, and Nassarius snails are not affected by the medication and can remain in the aquarium during and after treatment with fenbendazole.

    On the other hand, Trochus or turbo snails, Astrea snails, and especially Margarita snails are sensitive to fenbendazole/Panacur and should be removed from the aquarium until the treatment regimen has been completed and the fenbendazole has been pulled from the aquarium using activated carbon and/or polyfilter pads for chemical filtration.

    Okay, Balthasar, that’s the rundown on treating an aquarium with fenbendazole or Panacur. As you can gather, treating your main tank with the fenbendazole is not feasible in your case due to the live corals and invertebrates you are keeping.

    Instead, I would recommend that you perform one or more 50% water changes, combined with vacuuming or siphoning the substrate along with the general aquarium cleaning in order to remove as many of the nematodes as possible.

    Since the water changes and thorough aquarium cleaning often do not sufficiently eradicate the nematodes by themselves, you will also need to treat your seahorse tank with the fenbendazole (brand name Panacur) to eliminate the nematodes after temporarily removing any sensitive invertebrates such as certain snails or featherdusters. The seahorses can remain in the aquarium while it is treated with the fenbendazole, since it has no effect on them at the recommended dosages, and will help to kill any remaining nematodes the ponies may be carrying. But again, that’s not a realistic option in your case, sir.

    Best of luck resolving this problem, Balthasar. If you contact me off list with a brief e-mail, I can provide you with additional information. You can reach me at the following e-mail address:

    [email protected]

    Respectfully,
    Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support

    #52573
    balt
    Participant

    Hi Pete,

    thank you very much for the detailed help! As you state, a fenbendazole treatment is not really an option. What I’ll do for now is clean the tank, do several water changes, and wait until the parameters are better before introducing any further horses. The last remaining horse seems happy and since the freshwater bath yesterday hasn’t exhibited any of the signs the other three did before they keeled over. So perhaps it’s a light infestation only.

    In the absence of the horses do the nematodes continue to proliferate? Or are the horses the only hosts for them in my tank?

    Thanks

    Balthasar

    #52575
    Pete Giwojna
    Moderator

    Dear Balthasar:

    Yes, sir, that seems like a sensible approach. If you can get your water quality issues under control, everything should start to turn around for the better.

    Just don’t add any Hippocampus reidi seahorses or other new specimens until the ammonia and nitrite levels in the aquarium are both at zero again, and your nitrates are below 20…

    Yes, nematodes will continue to proliferate even if there are no seahorses in an aquarium – they are not obligate seahorse parasites. They live primarily in the substrate of the aquarium among the detritus, and seahorses are susceptible to them as bottom dwellers because our ponies orient to the substrate and hang out at the bottom of the tank where the bulk of the nematodes are.

    Hopefully, it’s a light infestation, and siphoning the substrate during your water changes to remove detritus will also remove many of the nematodes.

    Please contact me off list with a brief e-mail and I will send you additional information you may find helpful.

    Good luck.

    Respectfully,
    Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support

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