- This topic has 6 replies, 2 voices, and was last updated 16 years, 2 months ago by Pete Giwojna.
July 13, 2007 at 9:14 am #1242tammypMember
My male pony has a swollen pouch. I have have seem him swim upside down. He\’s still eating very good and does hunt but he has an awkard swim. So with me being a newbie I\’m going to have to evacuate his pouch. Can you please give me some pointers. I\’m really nervous but I know I can do it. AND of course it \’s the male that has been hitched at the top of my tank. I\’m going to take your advise about the foam filters and wrap the centipedes so he cannot hang up there no more.
Tammy PJuly 13, 2007 at 10:26 am #3733Pete GiwojnaGuest
Rats — I’m sorry to hear that your stallion is having problems with pouch gas. That’s a risk that males face when they insist on perching upright near the surface of the aquarium like that. As you know, this condition is commonly known as pouch emphysema or pouch bloat, and you will need to release the gas that is trapped in your male’s pouch in order to resolve the problem and restore him to neutral buoyancy so that he can swim normally again. Fortunately, there are a number of different methods for accomplishing that…
Bloated pouch or pouch emphysema is the most common ailment for our seagoing stallions and, as long as you address the problem early, it is also the easiest affliction to resolve. There are a number of different techniques for manually evacuating the air from his pouch and for performing pouch flushes to provide him with quick relief that we will discuss below. One of these methods should work well for you, Tammy, and I’m going to run through them all with you for the sake of thoroughness. But the procedure I recommend you use is to carefully insert a small catheter or cannula or tiny pipette into the aperture of the pouch, as explained in greater detail below, and then apply firm but gentle pressure to the outside of the pouch. This usually causes the air to escape through the catheter or pipette. This method works very well but it’s easier if you have three hands or a helper to assist you. I find that "burping" or massaging the pouch to evacuate the gas can do more harm than good if you’re not experienced with that technique, so I would insert a cannula or small diameter pipe that and then manually express the air instead.
That should work well, and if you can release all of the trapped gas and then persuade your stallion to hang out at the bottom of your 30-inch deep tank and take full advantage of its excellent depth, the chances are excellent that this problem won’t recur. If it does, then I would suggest performing a thorough pouch flush immediately, as described below:
First Treatment: Manually Evacuating Gas from the Pouch
At the first sign of a bloated pouch accompanied by any indications of positive buoyancy, the pouch should be "burped" or the trapped gas should be evacuated using a fine catheter. That will provide the affected seahorse with immediate relief, and if this simple first-aid measure resolves the issue, all is well and good.
In that case, the problem was no doubt due to simple pouch bloat, a harmless sort of gas build up that is entirely unrelated to chronic pouch emphysema. Pouch bloat can be caused by gas produced by the decay of embryonic material and the remains of placental tissue or other organic matter (possibly even stillborn young) within the brood pouch, if the male is unable to flush it out and cleanse it properly by pumping water in and out during its pouch displays (Cozzi-Schmarr, per. com.). And in some isolated cases, it’s possible that a bacterial infection of the pouch may also be involved (Cozzi-Schmarr, 2003). But it is far more common for pouch bloat to result from air bubbles trapped in the pouch during courtship displays, especially if the male chooses to display in the bubble stream produced by an airstone or bubble wand or bubble curtain (Strawn, 1954).
However, hobbyists should be aware that even a case of simple pouch bloat can contribute to recurring pouch emphysema, a much more serious problem, if it is not handled properly. The simple act of of struggling against the positive buoyancy that results from pouch bloat can alter the seahorse’s blood chemistry, and result in full-blown PE via acidosis of the blood if the problem is not relieved promptly.
The first indication of pouch bloat (or pouch emphysema) is a loss of equilibrium. The seahorse’s center of gravity shifts as the gas accumulates in its pouch, and it will have increasing difficulty swimming and maintaining its normal posture, especially if it encounters any current. It will become apparent that the seahorse has to work hard to stay submerged, as it is forced to abandon its usual upright swimming posture and swim with its body tilted forward or even horizontally in order to use its dorsal fin to counteract the tendency to rise.
The uncharacteristically hard work it must do while swimming means the hard-pressed seahorse builds up an oxygen debt in its muscles, and the lactic acid that builds up as a result of anaerobic metabolism further disrupts its blood chemistry and worsens the situation. It will struggle mightily in a losing battle against its increasing buoyancy until finally it can no longer swim at all, bobbing helplessly at the surface like a cork whenever it releases its grip on its hitching post. At this point, its pouch will be obviously swollen and bloated.
It is imperative that the gas be evacuated and neutral buoyancy restored long before that happens in order to assure that the affected seahorse is subjected to the least possible stress and does not have to overexert itself for an extended period. The longer it must fight against positive buoyancy, the greater the chances its blood will be acidified in the process and the more likely it becomes that a case of basic pouch bloat can progress into recurring pouch emphysema.
Breeding males are often especially susceptible to chronic pouch emphysema and GBS in general because of the placenta-like changes that occur in the lining of the pouch during pregnancy. Spongelike, its tissues expand as the capillaries and blood vessels swell and multiply. A film of tissue then forms around each embedded egg, providing it with a separate compartment (alveolus) of its own. The thickening of the wall of the marsupium and elaboration of pouch structures around the implanted eggs result in a dramatic increase in vascularization, and this increased blood supply (hence increased concentration of carbonic anhydrase) transports more dissolved gases to the pouch, increasing the risk of GBS accordingly.
Ideally, the air should be evacuated from the male’s pouch at the first sign of positive buoyancy. If this simple procedure does not cure the problem, then it is appropriate to move on to stronger measures once the problem recurs, as described below.
Second Treatment: Flushing the Pouch combined with administering Acetazolmide orally.
In my experience, acetazolmide (brand name Diamox) is much more effective in treating PE when it is ingested rather than administered as a pouch flush or a series of baths. Therefore, if pouch gas recurs a second time, I recommend treating it more aggressively with antibiotic/antifungal pouch washes while feeding the affected seahorse Diamox-injected shrimp (or Diamox bioencapsulated in live shrimp, depending on how badly handicapped the buoyant male happens to be when it comes to feeding).
The pouch flush solution I prefer is a combination of nifurpirinol and neomycin sulfate, since that combo works together synergistically to forms a wide spectrum antibiotic with potent antifungal as well as antibacterial properties (Basleer, 2000). Nifurpirinol (Furanase) and neomycin sulfate (Neosulfex) are the active ingredients in two different commercial products designed for aquarium use, and both of them used to be readily available at your local fish store. Neosulfex has since been discontinued, I believe, but neomycin sulfate is still found in many aquarium medications and is also available online from the National Fish Pharmacy.
Because it is so difficult to distinguish chronic pouch emphysema (PE) from ordinary pouch bloat, which has virtually identical symptoms, many seahorse keepers delay treatment too long when their prize ponies are experiencing buoyancy problems. They will often continue to evacuate the air from the pouch repeatedly in the forlorn hope that their stallion has not developed a life-threatening form of GBS but merely trapped a little air during his pouch displays. Very often this is wishful thinking, which only delays the inevitable and subjects the seahorse to ongoing stress needlessly, while making successful treatment more difficult by increasing the risk that gas emboli will form elsewhere and cause more damage in the meantime. In many cases, all you accomplish by waiting and hoping for the best is to allow the PE to become more advanced, more entrenched, and more severe in the interim.
To avoid this sort of needless delay, I suggest flushing the pouch thoroughly with antibiotics at the first sign of pouch gas and positive buoyancy should your initial attempt to evacuate the air fail to cure the problem (Garrick-Maidment, pers. com.). The affected seahorse must be handled in order to "burp" its pouch or evacuate the air via pouch massage anyway, so I recommend administering an antibiotic pouch wash at the same time.
Not only is repeatedly evacuating the air from the male’s pouch counterproductive in most cases, the constant manipulation can be hard on the tissue of the pouch, aggravating the dermal layers of the marsupium and leaving them vulnerable to secondary infections. (The male marsupium is far more complex than most hobbyists realize, consisting of four separate layers of epithelial and connective tissue, with the innermost layers being heavily vascularized.)
The skin or integument of the pouch is of course its first line of defense against disease. It contains mucus glands, and the slime covering the skin acts as a barrier to ectoparasites and infection. The protective slime may even contain antibodies and antibacterial substances (Evans, 1998). Marine fish are always in danger of dehydration because the seawater they live in is saltier than their blood and internal body fluids (Kollman, 1998). As a result, they are constantly losing water by diffusion through their gills and the surface of their skin, as well as in their urine (Kollman, 1998). The mucus layer also acts as a barrier against this, waterproofing the skin and reducing the amount of water that can diffuse through its surface (Kollman, 1998).
Repeatedly burping or massaging the pouch removes this protective barrier, and the shearing pressures that are involved may aggravate the underlying tissue, resulting in secondary infections of the outer marsupium that can further complicate the picture.
Progressing directly to flushing the pouch plus oral Diamox after the first pouch evacuation helps minimize these repeated insults to the delicate marsupium.
If all goes well, as it usually does when the proper measures are performed in a timely fashion, a third round of treatments is normally not necessary. In fact, some experts report a 100% cure rate for pouch emphysema when such pouch flushes are properly administered during the early stages of the condition (Garrick-Maidment, per. com.).
However, if the pouch flushes and an oral Diamox should fail to resolve the problem, the recompression-decompression cure would be your next recourse. Paul Groves found pressurization to be an effective cure for pouch emphysema, as well as the other forms of GBS, while he was conducting his extensive series of trials with gas bubble syndrome.
And if they happen to have the necessary equipment already on hand, some hobbyists prefer to treat PE with recompression-decompression as their second form of treatment, skipping over the Diamox and pouch flushes altogether. I have not tried the latter personally, however.
OK, Tammy, here are some instructions on how to carry out that first treatment to evacuate the air from your male’s pouch. If you can release the air that’s building up within his pouch, that should provide him with some immediate relief and hopefully no other treatments will be necessary.
Pouch Massage: Burping the Pouch
Pouch bloat is ordinarily easily resolved by evacuating the gas from the marsupium. This procedure is commonly known as pouch massage or "burping" the pouch and it provides immediate relief for the seahorse when successful. The first attempt or two at performing this procedure can be very intimidating, I know, but it is actually much easier than it sounds.
To expel the trapped air, wet your hands first and hold the seahorse upright in the water with your non-dominant hand, allowing his tail to wrap your little finger or ring finger so he has a good grip and feels secure (Burns, 2001). While the seahorse is thus restrained, use your dominant hand to massage the pouch firmly yet gently between your index finger and thumb, working upward with a circular motion from the bottom of the tail toward the top so as to work the trapped gas upwards toward the opening of the pouch (Burns, 2001). Don’t squeeze the pouch too forcibly, just maintain gentle pressure from below as you massage the pouch, always working from the base of the pouch toward the orifice at the top with your thumb and index finger to force the gas upward.
Hopefully, as your massage moves to the upper half of the pouch and approaches the top, the aperture of the pouch will begin to gape open, allowing a stream of bubbles to escape (Burns, 2001). This is the "burp" you’ve been hoping to produce, and when it happens, you can actually feel the bloated pouch slowly deflate as you gently force the bubbles out (Burns, 2001).
If that does not happen, however, you will have to modify your gas evacuation technique somewhat, this time using the thumb and index finger of your non-dominant hand to massage the pouch with a gentle back and forth motion, while you use a bobby pin or similar blunt implement in your dominant hand to carefully tease open the aperture of the pouch (Burns, 2001).
You are not trying to insert the bobby pin into the pouch at all (Burns, 2001). The idea is to use the rubber-coated end of the pin to gently manipulate the orifice of the pouch, using a sideways pressure on the mouth of the pouch to tease it open, rather than using a downward pressure to force the bobby pin into the opening (Burns, 2001).
Begin as before, holding the seahorse upright in the water with your non-dominant hand, allowing his tail to wrap your little finger or ring finger so he has a good grip and feels secure, while leaving your thumb and index finger free to perform the massage (Burns, 2001). Begin at the base of the pouch near the tail, and massage the pouch gently but firmly between your thumb and index finger, working upwards with a back and forth motion as though gently squeezing a toothpaste tube from the bottom to the top (Burns, 2001).
Meanwhile, using your dominant hand, position one of rubber coated ends of the booby pin at the mouth of the slitlike aperture, and use sideways pressure to prise the lips of the pouch open without actually inserting the pin into the pouch (Burns, 2001). This may take a surprising amount of pressure, so proceed gently but firmly, making sure you direct the brunt of the pressure sideways rather than downward (Burns, 2001). As your massage progresses to the upward portion of the pouch, a few small bubbles at a time will be expelled, and you can feel the pouch gradually deflate between your fingers.
Continue applying pressure from the bottom of the pouch up while prizing the mouth of the pouch open until the pouch feels flaccid and no more gas escapes (Burns, 2001). You may have to repeat this procedure two or three times to be sure you have evacuated all of the trapped gas (Burns, 2001).
If successful, it’s an instant cure and your seahorse should be back to normal immediately, able to swim freely and feed as usual. Burping the pouch is stressful, but seahorses are very forgiving and often will swim away and start eating immediately afterward as though nothing happened. This type of pouch gas is not a serious problem and poses no threat to the seahorse’s long-term health.
Eyedropper Pouch Evacuations
Rather than burping or massaging the pouch, some hobbyists find it easier to use an ordinary eyedropper to evacuate the air from a large seahorse’s pouch. This technique is fairly self-explanatory. Get a glass eyedropper (the smaller the better) from your drugstore — the glass kind that has a rubber bulb. The glass tip is much smoother than plastic droppers are and the rubber squeeze-bulb allows you to apply suction using the eyedropper with one hand while holding the seahorse with your other hand.
Take the seahorse in your nondominant hand, keeping it underwater, of course, and let it wrap its tail round your baby finger. Then take the eyedropper in your dominant hand, squeeze the rubber bulb and hold the bulb squeezed closed while you very gently insert the glass tip into the aperture of the pouch. Once you are just slightly inside the pouch, slowly release the squeeze bulb and the bubbles of trapped air will often be aspirated.
Remove the eyedropper, expel the bubbles it extracted, and repeat the whole procedure as necessary to remove all the trapped air and restore neutral buoyancy.
If you have a Pouch Kit from Ocean Rider, the flushing apparatus can be used in a similar manner to aspirate the trapped air.
It is also very practical to aspirate air from a bloated pouch using a small hypodermic needle and a syringe. The pouch can easily be penetrated from side and is not harmed by the entrance of the needle. It causes the seahorse surprisingly little discomfort and is often less traumatic that massaging the pouch and other methods for evacuating gas. It is a quick and effective technique and is often easier on the seahorse keeper and his patient than other approaches.
Whatever method you decide to use to evacuate the male’s pouch, be sure to observe the following precautions when manipulating 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.
Here are instructions for performing a pouch flush in case the problem reoccurrence after you have manually evacuated the gas from your seahorse’s pouch, Tammy, from Leslie Leddo, myself, and other experienced seahorse keepers explaining different ways to perform this procedure:
"Pouch Flush Techniques and Tips"
By Leslie Leddo
You will need:
·A small syringe. I like to use a 1-cc syringe.
·A catheter of some sort. It needs to be something that is plastic, very narrow, cannulated, blunt tipped, semi pliable, but not so soft that it bends from just a bit of pressure, on one end and fits snugly on to the tip of a syringe at the opposite end. Some suggestions would include an a plastic intravenous catheter, with the center introducer needle used to puncture the skin and vein order to introduce the catheter removed, a plastic pipette, or the syringe tips that come inside some of the aquarium test kits. If you have access to an IV catheter any size, between an 18 and 25g will work well.
·A bowl. I like to use something with a wide rim so I have space to move freely and have enough room should I need another pair of hands…i.e., an assistant. The syringe and pipette/catheter are both used to flush the pouch as well as to aspirate the previous days flush from the pouch.
How to prepare the Syringe and Catheter:
Draw about 1cc of the medicated flush solution into the syringe by pulling back on the plunger.
Invert the syringe so the tip is pointed up. With the syringe inverted, gently tap it until all the air bubbles come to the surface just below the syringe tip; with the syringe still inverted depress the plunger until all the air is removed from the syringe and a small amount of the solution is emerging from the syringe tip.
Attach the catheter or pipette to the tip of the syringe, depress the plunger of the syringe to fill (prime) the catheter or pipette with the solution.
Okay, now you are ready to flush the pouch. Proceed as follows:
Gently place the horse in the bowl filled with his own tank water. Very gently and slowly introduce the tip of the catheter through the pouch opening, into the pouch. When you enter the pouch you may meet some resistance. If you encounter resistance when inserting the catheter, I have found that it helps to try different angles, rather than pushing forcefully. I have never dissected a seahorse, but from all the evacuations and flushes I have done it feels to me as if the opening to the pouch is more than a simple opening. It feels like a short tunnel, with folds or pockets of tissue along the walls of the tunnel. I have had to flush/evacuate several different horses. They all seem to be built a bit differently.
I have had success entering the pouch opening straight and then angling the catheter down a bit as well as entering at an angle from the start.
Once you have the catheter tip inside the pouch, depress the plunger of the syringe, flushing the pouch until you see some of the solution coming back out of the pouch. Continue to flush the pouch with about .2 to .3 cc.
Once the pouch has been flushed, you want to leave a small amount of flush inside the pouch. Pulling back on the plunger aspirate the some of the fluid until some of the solution has been removed from the pouch, leaving enough so that the pouch remains softly full, but is not at all taught or tight. Place your horse back in his tank
The next day, prior to the new flush, aspirate the previous days flush from the pouch. Using the syringe with the catheter/pipette attached to the tip, insert it as described above. Pull back on the plunger of the syringe withdrawing the flush from the day before.
Now you are ready to administer the newly mixed flush by repeating the steps described above.
Antibiotic Pouch Washes
If you can obtain a suitable small glass eyedropper with a rubber squeeze bulb, the tip of which you can insert into the pouch orifice, you can use the eyedropper to flush the pouch instead. Otherwise, you’ll have to obtain a small pipette or use a small syringe and catheter for the flushes, as previously described in Leslie Leddo’s pouch flushing tips. You will be flushing the male’s pouch once a day for three consecutive days, using a medicated pouch flush solution.
The first thing you’ll need to do is prepare the pouch flush solution. I recommend using a combination of nifurpirinol and neomycin sulfate for the pouch flushes, since that combo works together synergistically to forms a wide spectrum antibiotic with potent antifungal as well as antibacterial properties (Basleer, 2000). Nifurpirinol and neomycin sulfate are the active ingredients in two different commercial products designed for aquarium use, and both of them should both be readily available at your local fish store. Prepare a 50:50 solution by taking approximately 1/10 teaspoon of nifurpirinol and 1/10 teaspoon of neomycin powder (from a capsule) and mixing them together with about 40 cc (or 2-1/2 tablespoons) of tank water from your seahorse setup. (Nifurpirinol comes in tablet form, so you’ll have to crush a tablet into as fine a powder as possible, using a blender if necessary, and then use 1/10 teaspoon of this nifurpirinol powder for the mixture.) Mix the nifurpirinol powder and neomycin sulfate powder with the tank water very well until the medication is thoroughly dissolved. Avoid any undissolved residue that remains. (You will have to make up a new batch of this solution each day for 3 days.)
If you can’t find both nifurpirinol and neomycin, then you can use either one alone, or substitute kanamycin capsules alone, to make your medicated pouch solution. In that case, just use 1/10 teaspoon of the antibiotic powder and mix it thoroughly with about 20 cc (or 1-1/2 tablespoons) of tank water. Again, make a new batch of pouch-flush solution each day.
And here are instructions from Keith Gentry explaining how to do a pouch-flush directly with Diamox:
In cases of recurring pouch emphysema, diamox can be administered as a solution injected into the pouch via an narrow gauge irrigating cannula or plastic 26 or 28 gauge IV catheter sleeve attached to a 0.5 or 1ml syringe (larger syringes should not be used).
Using a blender, mix ½ of a 250mg Diamox tablet with a cup of seawater at the same specific gravity as the tank. Fill the syringe with about .5ml of this solution, avoiding the residue at the bottom of the cup. The seahorse should be held as per the procedure for pouch evacuations.
Insert the catheter sleeve slowly and gently a small way into the pouch opening and inject this solution SLOWLY into the seahorse’s pouch, leaving the solution in the pouch. Make sure you are familiar with the location of the pouch opening.
Never use a metal needle for this procedure.
The procedure may have to be repeated twice to be effective. In stubborn cases, it is recommended to concurrently administer broad spectrum antibiotics. Diamox and antibiotics have been used simultaneously and successfully without appararent side effects.
I believe the dosage of antibiotic is one 250mg tablet of neosulfex per 10 gallons. It’s important you treat the horse in a quarantine tank. Diamox and neosulfex can kill your
For neomycin and sulfa you can use up to 4 times the marine dosage listed on the instruction or are up to 8 times the recommended freshwater dosage. [End quote]
Finally, here are Neil Garrick-Maidment’s instructions for performing his extremely successful pouch flushing procedure:
Hope you don’t mind me interjecting on the point about gas bubble in the
pouch but it is important to emphasise a few things.
When I devised and developed this treatment quite a number of years ago, I
was shocked to hear some of the ways people were clearing the bubbles within
the pouch, from cocktail sticks to straws, which caused irreparable damage
to the pouch and the Seahorse. It is vital that great care is taken when
doing this process and the purchase of a fine blunt ended pipette from the
chemist is the best way.
When handling the Seahorse make sure you have a
firm grip with the pouch facing outwards under the water, its best to have
the tail curled around the little finger to add stability. Then insert the
pipette almost vertically, through the pouch opening so the pipette goes
down into the pouch (almost parallel with the body) and not in towards the
body which will cause major internal and secondary problems.
Once the pipette is safely in the pouch then a fine nozzled hand spray (it must be
fine to fit into the end of the pipette) must be used to flush down through
the pipette, you will notice bubbles of gas being vented from the pouch as
you flush the pouch, initially with water from the tank, this stops shock to
the animal and at the same time clears the pouch. This same method (do not
remove the pipette in between stages) should then be used to add medication
When withdrawing the pipette use a slight twisting motion and remove in
exactly the same direction as it has gone in. The Seahorse will seem a
little shell shocked after this but the immediate release from floating etc
will provide instant relief.
I have had 100% success with this process but
you must be in mind of the Seahorse and its discomfort at all times.
Just before starting make sure you have all your equipment and medication in
place, there is nothing worse than getting part way through and realising
you have forgotten something.
Hope this helps
Neil Garrick-Maidment [close quote]
One of these techniques will hopefully work well for you, depending on what medications and equipment you have on hand or have access to for performing the pouch flushes. But no matter what method you use, the first step is to try manually releasing the trapped gas from your male’s pouch. I find the easiest way to do that is to carefully insert a small catheter or cannula or tiny pipette into the aperture of the pouch, as previously described, and then apply firm but gentle pressure to the outside of the pouch. This usually causes the air to escape through the catheter or pipette. This method works very well but it’s easier if you have three hands or a helper to assist you.
Best of luck aspirating the gas from your stallion’s pouch and restoring him to neutral buoyancy again, Tammy!
Pete GiwojnaJuly 17, 2007 at 4:26 am #3738tammypGuest
I did a pouch evacuation, I did the massage techinique first. Some white cloudy stuff came out along with a stream of bubbles. I really felt that I did not get them all. So I tried again the next day got a few more bubbles out. He’s seems to be a good camper. I never did this before so it was very intimadating to me. I did not want the seahorse to get bruised or hurt. Well he swam upright for the most part but you can still tell he a little difficulty after a while of tilting forward to almost a upsiode down position. Now comes the worst part. I took your advice about using the foam filters around my centepedes. Huge square blocks I used with holes for the centepededs to wrap in. Guess what now he lays under the foam filter block. WHAT A BRAT. Pete, his colored changed a bit during the 3rd evac, and breathing was a little heavy. So I left him alone. He’s eating morning and night 4-5 pieces of mysis enriched during each feeding. I took the foam blocks off the centepededs do to the fact they were holding alot of bubbles and anyways he is determine to hang there. After the removal of the foam blocks he perched on the centepedes upright and is back to his old color and breathing is normaland I might add he’s happy as a lark. He’s in love with the centepedes. Today I enriched frozen mysis with vitamin C. I’m thinking of leaving him alone for a while and watching and seeing how he reacts. I’m scared to another evacuation due to stress from 3rd one. Gosh Pete what am I going to do. His pouch seems deflated for the most part. I think if I have to give it a go again I’m going to do the eye dropper. Seems to me that would be more gentle. Is it? I wish there was a video you could acually watch for pouch evacuations. Sorry for the long drama. Any mor suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you so much Pete you are a blessing to Seahorse community.
Tammy PJuly 17, 2007 at 4:32 am #3739tammypGuest
I forgot to mentioned that when the foam filters were around the centepedes his tail hooked into the slits (this were the water enters the tank and gtrickles down to the bottom like a water fall) so the little buger had his tail exposed to air the whole time has a bump but I think it will be okay see how determine he is to hang with the centepedes.
I have a pony who is ridcolously silly. Why ME.
Tammy PJuly 17, 2007 at 10:19 pm #3740Pete GiwojnaGuest
it sounds like you did a fine job of manually evacuating the air from your male’s pouch. Burping the pouch is always scary the first time you attempt the procedure, but it sounds like you handled it very well, Tammy. Such a procedure is always a little stressful for the seahorse, so it’s normal for them to exhibit rapid respiration and stress coloration as a result. But that should return to normal shortly afterwards.
I know how discouraging it must be to see how persistent and determined your stallion is to go right back up to the top and seek out his favorite perch even after you have wrapped the centipedes to try to prevent that. If he is so determined to perch up there that he’ll even expose his tail to the air through the overflow for the wet/dry trickle filter, I don’t know what you can do about it short of constructing some sort of perforated barrier that walls of that entire area and allows water to pass freely through but denies him access to the centipedes and the slots the water flows through. And I can’t imagine how you would accomplish something like that…
But I am afraid his problems with pouch gas are going to be a recurring theme as long as the little bugger insists on perching up at the top like that. It sounds like he already has some more gas accumulated in his pouch if he is still swimming tilted forward and almost upside down at times. I think you are correct Tammy — if you have to release the gas from his pouch again, and it sounds like that’s going to be necessary sooner or later — I would avoid doing another pouch massage. That procedure can be too rough on the delicate tissues of the male marsupium if it has to be performed repeatedly.
An eye dropper evacuation may be a better option. It is easier on the pouch in several respects, since you can use a little suction to help remove the trapped gas, rather than compressing or massaging the sides of the pouch to force the bubbles out. But unless the aperture of the seahorse’s pouch is relaxed or dilated, as it is shortly after a male gives birth or performs vigorous displays of pumping during courtship, it can sometimes be difficult to insert the tip of the eyedropper past the sphincter muscle at the mouth of the pouch.
During the breeding season, a septum or wall of tissue forms in the middle of the marsupium of mature males that divides their pouches into left and right halves, so if you are inserting an eyedropper our small pipette into the pouch to help release the trapped gas, try to angle it to the right of the pouch once and to the left of the pouch once when you evacuate the bubbles so that you removed them from both sides of the seahorse’s pouch.
And instead of merely releasing the trapped gas next time, Tammy, I would recommend performing a pouch flush using Neil Garrick-Maidment’s technique, which we discussed in a previous post. If you don’t have a pouch kit, you could use your eyedropper as the pipette won performing the pouch flush. Just cut off the bulb from the end of the eyedropper so that you can use a handheld spray bottle to direct a stream of water down the barrel of the eyedropper in order to flush both sides of the pouch thoroughly with clean saltwater that is the same temperature as your seahorse tank. For best results, you should repeat the pouch flushes once a day for three consecutive days.
I would also suggest that you purchase a Pouch Kit (see "Accessories" under the "shop online" link at the top of this page), which would make the pouch flushes a bit easier. Here are the instructions for using the Ocean Rider Pouch Kit, Tammy:
Pouch Kit Instructions
Click here: Seahorse.com – Seahorse, Sea Life, Marine Life, Aquafarm Sales, Feeds and Accessories – Pouch Wash
The antibiotic pouch kit should be like a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and used only in an emergency and NEVER as a prophylactic. Please perform this procedure in a separate vessel so that the antibiotic wash does not flow into the holding tank. You may wish to trim the plastic tip of the syringe attachment to accommodate the orpheus of your seahorse. You can express the air in the pouch by gently inserting this tip into the opening.
PLEASE KEEP REFRIGERATED shake well before using
What you need to do:
First: Find someone to help you!
Second: Keep the head and gill area of the seahorse submerged at all times! You may cut the end of the tip to fit your needs.
Third: The Procedure should be preformed in a separate hospital tank where the antibiotic flush will not harm your biological filter:
*Have one person hold the seahorse upside down with the head in the water and his tail and abdomen out of the water. He may wrap his tail firmly around your finger. Insert the tip of the pipette into the opening in the pouch being careful not to insert it too far. (You may cut the end of the tip to fit your needs.)
*Gently massage out any air bubbles into the pipette.
*Remove the pipette and express the air bubbles from the pipette.
*Rinse the tip of the pipette with alcohol and let dry.
*Withdraw approximately 2 ml’s of pouch wash into the pipette. The quantity will actually vary according to the size of the males pouch. The extra large males can easily use 2 mls of pouch wash and the smaller males less than one.
*Reinsert the tip into the pouch and gently force the liquid into the pouch and then gently suck it out. Do this twice and then release the male into his tank.
*He may seem slightly stunned or shocked. Don’t panic! Simply turn off the lights and allow the male to rest. If you have any red shrimp he may enjoy them at this time.
*You may have to repeat this procedure again the following day.
*Return him to his normal diet of frozen mysis shrimp enriched with Vibrance the day after the procedure. <Close quote>
This would also be a good time for you to line up some Diamox (the tablet form of acetazolamide), Tammy, because if an ordinary pouch flush doesn’t resolve this problem once and for all, the next step would be to perform a medicated pouch flush using Diamox.
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. Unfortunately, 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 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. But if you have a good relationship with your family Vet or family physician, they may be willing to oblige you since all you need is a handful of 250 mg tablets, not a full prescription.
If not — if neither your Vet or family physician will prescribe Diamox — then contact me off list and there are other options you can try. You can reach me at the following e-mail address anytime, Tammy: [email protected]
Best of luck resolving the pouch gas problem once and for all, Tammy!
Pete GiwojnaJuly 27, 2007 at 4:23 am #3749tammypGuest
🙂 Hello Pete and everyone else,
I’m happy to say my male erectus has recovered. I did the Diamox treatment along with the antibiotics for his tail and he is swimming with no difficulties and tail is healing very well. I put him back into the main tank. I might add he did not eat hardly at all while in the hospital tank. When I did put him back into the main tank he started to eat the following day and is now hunting and moving around the bottom of the tank, pretty much hanging around down there. Still not very active. I think that just might be his personality. Whew! I’m just glad so far he is doing well. Pete I have a question. I have notice kinda of a brown tinge on my seahorses. I’m not sure if this natural or some type of algae growth. Most of the tinge color is on top part where the body is exposed to more lilght then the rest. Should I be concerned? They all seem to be doing OKAY. Water quality is PH 8.2, salinity 1.024, Nitrates 2, Nitrites 0, Ammonia 0, temperature is 74 to 75 degress through out the day. I’m not sure if the vibrance 2 is effecting this. I hope I’m using the vibrance the right way. I use cold seawater to thaw out. The I take the Mysis with a net and add vibrance 2 with no water let it sit for about 3 minutes then I feed. I read the vibrance would be great for the invertbrates filter feeders. So I just assumed I did not have rinse after the vibrance was added. Please correct me if I’m wrong.
Tammy PJuly 27, 2007 at 10:14 am #3750Pete GiwojnaGuest
Thanks for the update! It sounds like you did a fine job of administering the Diamox and treating your stallion’s tail injury, and it’s good to hear that he responded to the treatments so well.
It’s not surprising that he didn’t have much of an appetite while he was undergoing the Diamox treatments. One of the unfortunate side effects of acetazolamide is that suppresses appetite and may put seahorses off their feed. It’s great that he is eating again now that he is back in the main tank, and it’s really very encouraging that he seems content to hang out at the bottom of the aquarium now, rather than spending all of his time perched up near the top on the centipedes.
The chances are a lot better that his problems with pouch emphysema and positive buoyancy won’t recur if he continues to hitch near the bottom where the hydrostatic pressure in your 30-inch tall aquarium is the greatest. But I would also be a good idea for you to pick up a Pouch Kit if you don’t already have one, Tammy. That’s a handy item for any seahorse keeper to keep on hand in his or her fish room medicine chest.
I’m not surprised that your stallion is not as active as your female. That is often the case and It is normal for male seahorses to be a bit more sedentary than the females. Males tend to be real homebodies that will often choose one particular hitching post as their home base and spend much of there time perched right there (think of your Dad hunkered down in his favorite easy chair in the den). Researchers studying seahorses in the field therefore refer to males as "site-specific" because they can be found at the same tiny patch of reef or seagrass day after day, rarely straying from their chosen spot. Mature males are often naturally more shy and retiring than females, which can be quite brazen at times. I suspect this is due to their parental duties — during the breeding season, pair-bonded males are ordinarily ALWAYS pregnant, and they can’t risk exposing their precious cargo to any more risk than absolutely necessary.) The unfettered females tend to be far more footloose and fancy free, and in the wild they typically roam over a home territory of up to 100 square meters. So I wouldn’t worry if your male only tends to wander around the tank on occasion, whereas your female is more active and explores more.
Yes, indeed — algae often grows on the exoskeleton of seahorses, typically on their head and neck which are closest to the light source. That’s perfectly normal and nothing at all to be concerned about. In fact, seahorses often encourage algae to grow on them as a protective device to enhance their camouflage, and it’s often best simply to ignore any such growth.
If you find the algae growth to be unsightly, you can certainly brush it off a new, very soft Campbell’s their paintbrush. Just be very careful when you are handling the seahorse and gently brushing away the algae so that you don’t remove any of the seahorse’s protective slime coat if you can possibly avoid it.
The seahorse’s pliant skin or integument is of course its first line of defense against disease. It contains mucus glands, and the slime covering the skin acts as a barrier to ectoparasites and infection. The protective slime can contain antibodies and antibacterial substances, and excessive mucus production is often the first sign of an infection or parasite problem. On the other hand, healthy seahorses often have small bright dots on their heads and torsos, which are actually mucus deposits. These beads of mucus glisten like little diamonds and are a sign of vibrant good health. When handling a seahorse, it’s important to wet your hands first in order to avoid removing too much of the protective slime coat.
Marine fish are always in danger of dehydration because the seawater they live in is saltier than their blood and internal body fluids. As a result, they are constantly losing water by diffusion (osmosis) through their gills and the surface of their skin, as well as in their urine. The mucus layer acts as a barrier against this, waterproofing the skin and reducing the amount of water that can diffuse across its surface.
For this reason, it’s often best simply to ignore the algae growth on your ponies or to curtail its growth by reducing the photoperiod and/or intensity of the lighting.
Best of luck with your seahorses, Tammy!
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