Seahorse Club
Aquarium & Livestock

Feed Ezy Frozen Mysis

Seahorse Club
Aquarium & Livestock

Feed Ezy Frozen Mysis

Seahorse Club
Aquarium & Livestock

Feed Ezy Frozen Mysis

Seahorse Club
Aquarium & Livestock

Feed Ezy Frozen Mysis

Seahorse Club
Aquarium & Livestock

Feed Ezy Frozen Mysis

Seahorse Club
Aquarium & Livestock

Feed Ezy Frozen Mysis

New Sea horse sick, I think

  • This topic has 1 reply, 2 voices, and was last updated 16 years ago by Pete Giwojna.
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  • #1482

    My seahorses arrived about two hours ago. The acclimation process went well, I did everything according to the instructions. I released the seahorses into the tank. One is swimming around with no problems. The second one , male, went right to the bottom. I noticed he has a round white spot on his belly, it actually looks like a pimple, and he has some white marks on his head that look like scratches. He sits on the bottom are grabs ahold of of plant and hangs sideways. WHAT IS HAPPENING TO OUR SEAHORSE?

    Pete Giwojna

    Dear Mike:

    The behavior of your new stallion indicates that it may be experiencing the lingering effects of long-distance shipping stress as a result of exposure to high ammonia levels in the shipping bag. If so, the usual outcome is that the seahorse makes a full recovery once it has been removed from the polluted shipping water and transferred to the main tank with good water quality and no ammonia or nitrite. You’ve already accomplished that, sir, so if your new seahorse follows the usual pattern, the one that is laying on the bottom and hanging sideways from a plant may appear quite a bit better later today and should be good as new by tomorrow morning.

    If that’s the case, and the ailing male is sitting upright and breathing better (more like the female that is doing very well), later in the day, then there’s probably no need for you to intervene at all. If the stallion has improved by then, I suspect that it will continue to recover overnight, and be looking at great deal better by next morning. But of course you should monitor the male’s condition closely for the next few days in contact me immediately if they show any more symptoms of ammonia poisoning/nitrite toxicity. Here’s what to look for in that regard, Mike:

    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. Seahorses exposed to less extreme ammonia levels will struggle to breathe. They will be lethargic and exhibit rapid respiration. They may appear disoriented, periodically detaching from their hitching posts only to sink to the bottom.

    You mentioned that the seahorse that seems the worst off went straight to the bottom and is now just sort of hanging sideways from one of the plants. I have seen seahorses quickly recover with far worse symptoms — lying prone on the bottom unable to right themselves at all for extended periods, blindly bumping into objects on the walls of the aquarium in complete disorientation, and going into actual convulsions, accompanied by severe respiratory distress. By comparison, your new male’s symptoms seem relatively mild, so I’m fairly optimistic that it is going to respond well to the first aid measures you’ve already taken and rebound fairly quickly.

    Ammonia poisoning is completely reversible providing the seahorses weren’t exposed to toxic levels for too long, and the best first aid you can provide for ammonia poisoning is to immediately transfer the seahorses into clean, well-aerated saltwater with zero ammonia and zero nitrite. It sounds like you already accomplished that, so I feel your new seahorses are in good hands.

    For now, here’s what I’d like you to do, Mike:

    Leave the aquarium light off today and give your new arrivals as much peace and quiet as possible. It’s all right to observe them from afar, but don’t try to feed them today or do any maintenance on your seahorse tank. I would like you to insert an extra airstone just beneath the surface of the water to increase the surface agitation and promote better oxygenation and efficient gas exchange at the air/water interface, but other than that, just try to provide the newcomers with a relaxing, stress-free environment in the darkened aquarium, and keep a close eye on their breathing rate for any signs of respiratory distress. And, in the meantime, I would like you to obtain some methylene blue from your local fish store in case the stallion does not bounce back as quickly as expected.

    Exposure to moderate levels of ammonia and nitrite, or 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. 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. I suspect that’s what’s happening with your stallion at this time, sir — I think he is hanging sideways from the plant because he’s too weak right now to hold himself in the normal upright position or to be actively swimming about and exploring the aquarium.

    One of the properties of methylene blue is that it can reverse this process and convert the methhemoglobin in the red blood cells back into normal hemoglobin, which can then pick up and transport oxygen again as usual. That’s why it is so helpful in relieving shipping stress and treating ammonia exposure and nitrite poisoning. For this reason, you may want to pick up some methylene blue at your local fish store and keep it on hand in case it is ever needed (the Kordon brand of methylene blue is best, in my opinion). So keep a close eye on the seahorse that is lying on the bottom — especially its breathing rate compared to the other Sunburst that is doing well — and be prepared to give it a quick dip in methylene blue as described below.

    The usual criteria for determining whether or not methylene blue is needed to help seahorses recover from exposure to high levels of ammonia is their respiration. If the seahorse has labored breathing — huffing or rapid respiration — then methylene blue is called for. Likewise, if the seahorse is experiencing convulsions or it’s behavior otherwise indicates it is suffering from more than temporary disorientation and loss of equilibrium, such as lying prostrate on the bottom, unable to right itself again at all after two or three hours have passed, it may benefit from methylene blue to assist its recovery.

    If the stallion that as cleaning sideways to the plants is not showing definite signs of improvement and making good progress after a couple of hours, then you may want to consider a quick dip in methylene blue. Commonly known as "meth blue" or simply "blue," this is a wonderful medication for reversing the toxic effects of ammonia and nitrite poisoning. Methylene blue transports oxygen and aids breathing. It facilitates oxygen transport, helping fish breathe more easily by converting methemoglobin to hemoglobin — the normal oxygen carrying component of fish blood, thus allowing more oxygen to be carried through the bloodstream. This makes it very useful for treating gill infections, low oxygen levels, or anytime your seahorses are breathing rapidly and experiencing respiratory distress. It is the drug of choice for treating hypoxic emergencies of any kind with your fish. However, methylene blue will destroy nitrifying bacteria so it should be used in a hospital tank or as a brief bath or dip only (if used in an established aquarium, it will impair the biological filtration and the tank may need to be cycled all over again).

    Here is some more information that may be helpful if you need to treat with methylene blue after all:

    If you can obtain the Kordon brand of Methylene Blue (available at most well-stocked local fish stores), there are instructions for administering it as a very brief, concentrated dip are as follows:

    For use as a dip for treatment of fungus or external parasitic protozoans and cyanide poisoning:
    (a) Prepare a nonmetallic container of sufficient size to contain the fish to be treated by adding water similar to the original aquarium.
    (b) Add 5 teaspoons (24.65 ml) per 3 gallons of water. This produces a concentration of 50 ppm. It is not recommended that the concentration be increased beyond 50 ppm.
    (c) Place fishes to be treated in this solution for no longer than 10 seconds.
    (d) Return fish to original aquarium.

    When you administer such a dip, hold the seahorse in your hand throughout the procedure and time it closely so that the dip does not exceed 10 seconds.

    And here are Kordon’s instructions for administering the methylene blue in a hospital tank if longer-term treatment seems appropriate to reverse more severe cases of nitrite poisoning and ammonia toxicity:

    As an aid in reversal of nitrite (NO2-) or cyanide (CN-) poisoning of marine and freshwater aquarium fishes:
    (a) Remove carbon filter and continue to operate with mechanical filter media throughout the treatment period.
    (b) Add 1 teaspoon of 2.303% Methylene Blue per 10 gallons of water. This produces a concentration of 3 ppm. Continue the treatment for 3 to 5 days.
    (c) Make a water change as noted and replace the filter carbon at the conclusion of the treatment.

    See the following link for more information on treating with Kordon’s Methylene Blue:

    Click here: KPD-28 Methylene Blue

    If you obtained a brand of methylene blue other than Kordon, just follow the instructions the medication comes with.

    One other tip, Mike: if you ever need to handle seahorses to administer first aid measures or treat them in a hospital tank, it’s best not to net them when you are manipulating the seahorse:

    Handling Seahorses

    I do not like to use an aquarium net to transfer or manipulate seahorses, since their delicate fins and snouts can become entangled in the netting all too easily. I much prefer to transfer the seahorses by hand. Simply wet your hand and fingers (to avoid removing any of the seahorse’s protective slime coat) and scoop the seahorses in your hand. Allow them to curl their tail around your fingers and carefully cup their bodies in your hand to support them while you lift them out of the water. When you gently immerse your hand in the destination tank, the seahorse will release its grip and swim away as though nothing out of the ordinary has happened.

    Composed of solid muscle and endowed with extraordinary skeletal support, the prehensile tail is amazingly strong. Indeed, large specimens have a grip like an anaconda, and when a 12-inch ingens or abdominalis wraps its tail around your hand and tightens its hold, its vise-like grip is powerful enough to leave you counting your fingers afterwards!

    In fact, it can be quite difficult to remove an attached seahorse from its holdfast without injuring it in the process. Never attempt to forcibly detach a seahorse from its hitching post! When it feels threatened, it’s instinct is to clamp down and hold on all the tighter. When you must dislodge a seahorse from its resting place for any reason, it’s best to use the tickle technique instead. Gently tickling the underside of the tail where it’s wrapped around the object will usually induce the seahorse to release its grip (Abbott, 2003). They don’t seem to like that at all, and will quickly let go to move away to another spot. Once they are swimming, they are easy to handle.

    In short, the stallion’s lethargic behavior is most likely simply an indication of shipping stress, in which case he may make it complete recovery overnight now that he’s in the clean aquarium water with zero ammonia and nitrites. If not, if he continues to display the weakened, disoriented behavior associated with ammonia poisoning or develops indications of respiratory distress, he would benefit from a quick dip or a prolonged bath in methylene blue.

    I am actually more concerned about the scratches on his head and the white spot on his belly, which are not symptoms of shipping stress and may be susceptible to secondary infections. A dip in methylene blue could be helpful in that case as well since it has mild antiseptic properties and anti-fungal abilities.

    Please keep a close eye on your stallion today and let me know if there is any change in his symptoms. Do get some methylene blue as soon as possible in case it’s needed — that’s a very useful medication for any seahorse keeper to have in his fish room medicine cabinet — and update me in the morning regarding the appearance of the scratches on his head and the white spot on his midsection.

    Best of luck with your new arrivals, Mike! Here’s hoping your new mail recovers quickly and is none the worse for wear.

    Pete Giwojna

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