- This topic has 5 replies, 2 voices, and was last updated 16 years, 8 months ago by Pete Giwojna.
June 13, 2007 at 9:43 pm #1221KarenSMember
I have read that H reidi and H ingens are closely related. I have also read that ingens grows a couple of inches larger that reidi. Is this true and what other differences are there?
Also, I have found a source of captive bred banded pipe fish in Western Australia and I am wondering about disease risks if I add these in a tank with your cb horses.
Also, I understand that captive bred fish may be susceptible to pathogens brought in by wild caught fish so…. should they be treated in a hospital tank with antiparasitic medications before adding them to the main tank with the cb\’s? :dry:
KarenJune 14, 2007 at 12:33 am #3676KarenSGuest
Also, almost forgot…..
I am very interested in seahorse pathology. I would like to know more about using light microscopes for diagnosing seahorse diseases and preparation of samples on slides etc. I am an undergrad science student and like to tinker with microscopes.
Could you please recommend some good books on this for me?
KarenJune 15, 2007 at 5:13 am #3678Pete GiwojnaGuest
Yes, Hippocampus reidi and H. ingens are indeed close relatives. It may be helpful for the hobbyist to think of H. ingens as a giant version of its close cousin the Brazilian seahorse (H. reidi). The largest specimens of H. ingens can reach a length of 14 inches, about twice the size of large H. reidi. Hippocampus ingens is the only seahorse in the eastern Pacific, and it is closer genetically to the Atlantic H. reidi than any of its western Pacific counterparts (Dames, 2000). In fact, the two are believed to have diverged from a single ancestral species as a result of the formation of the Isthmus of Panama three million years ago (Lourie et al 1999).
The two species are very similar in their behavior and aquarium requirements, and both follow the same reproductive strategy, delivering huge broods of very small fry after a short two-week gestation period that must undergo a prolonged pelagic period of further development amidst the lipid-rich planktonic soup. This makes the offspring of both species very challenging to raise. Like H. reidi, H. ingens is believed to be monogamous in the wild, pairing up for the length of the breeding season at least (Dames, 2000). It is not known if the Pacific Giant forms permanent pair bonds, however, since they disperse and spend winters in the open ocean (Dames, 2000).
Aside from their difference in size, H. reidi is diurnal whereas H. ingens is reported to be nocturnal by nature. Specimens of H. ingens are often caught at the surface at night. As with H. comes, which is also thought to be nocturnal, there is speculation that the nocturnal behavior of H. ingens may be a recent behavior modification that resulted from heavy fishing pressure during the day (Dames 2000). H. ingens has been over harvested for use in Tradition Chinese Medicine (TCM), which favors large smooth-bodied seahorses such as ingens, and decimated by shrimp trawlers that take a heavy toll because the seahorses are attracted to shrimping grounds as a natural food source. Nocturnal behavior may thus have been selected for in H. ingens because the seahorses that are active by day are accidentally taken in trawls or deliberately collected by seahorse fishers for TCM and removed from the population.
If you contact me off list, Karen, I would be happy to send you additional information on both H. reidi and its gigantic relative. You can reach me at [email protected] any time.
I think the captive bred pipefish would probably do just fine with Ocean Rider seahorses, Karen. There is a far greater disease risk when dealing with wild-caught pipefish and many hobbyists keep the wild pipes with captive bred seahorses successfully.
Of course, wild caught pipefish should always be quarantined before introducing them to your seahorse tank. For example, here is the quarantine protocol for syngnatids followed by the Shedd Aquarium:
Shedd Aquarium Seahorse Quarantine Protocol
The following schedule sets out the basic quarantine schedule for seahorses entering the John G. Shedd Aquarium.
Chloroquine used to be part of the quarantine process but has been discontinued as a result of sensitivity.
Seahorse quarantine = 30 days
(1) Panacur In Artemia adults or nauplii: soak at 250mg Panacur /kg food and feed out as per normal food over 3 days. Artemia can be used to gut-load other food types if necessary. Start treatment on day 10 through 13 and repeat on day 20 through 23.
(2) Praziquantel bath at 10ppm for 3 hours or 1ppm for 24 hours on Day 29.
(3) Vaccine (Alpha-Dip 2100): dip at 1 part vaccine to 9 parts water for 20 to 30 secs on Day 7 and repeat on day 14.
(4) Diagnostic dip — Osmotic (freshwater) dip on Day 30.
(5) DHADC Selco as an addition to normal food. Soak prior to feeding as per label instructions) on Days 1 through 7.
If the captive bred pipefish from Western Australia are not raised at a high-health aquaculture facility, then it would probably be prudent to quarantine them as well.
Best wishes with all your fishes, Karen!
Pete GiwojnaJune 15, 2007 at 6:57 am #3679Pete GiwojnaGuest
A good place for you to start would be to pick up a copy of "Working Notes: A Guide to the Diseases of Seahorses." It will provide you with an excellent introduction into seahorse anatomy and has some excellent dissection and necropsy photos as well as a number of photos of seahorses with various health problems. It includes a good discussion of bacteria and endoparasites and ectoparasites, with descriptions of their key characteristics for identification purposes. It’s available online at the following web site:
Click here: Working notes: a guide to seahorse diseases > books > The Shoppe at Seahorse.org | CafePress
Any good textbook on microscopy or microbiology will include good instructions for preparing wet mounts and slides, Karen.
To get you started, here are the diagnostic procedures for seahorses as described in the latest version of the Syngnathid Husbandry Manual for zoos and public aquariums. As you will see, feces can also be obtained by performing a colorectal flush as opposed to waiting for the feces to be eliminated naturally:
There are several potential etiologies when an animal is experiencing buoyancy
problems. If the pouch appears asymmetrically distended or symmetrically distended with
attendant buoyancy problems, a percutaneous fine needle aspirate should be performed on the
pouch contents. Any fluid aspirated should be dried and stained with Wright-Giemsa stain, Gram
stain, and acid-fast stain. The pouch can also be flushed with sterile saline and the aspirate sent
If a hyperinflated bladder is suspected, a bright light can be directed from behind the animal to
visualize the location and borders of the distended organ. This is useful when attempting to
deflate the bladder. The needle should be directed between the scutes/plate margins for ease of
penetration through the skin. The external area can be rinsed with sterile saline or a drop of a
triple antibiotic ophthalmic solution applied prior to needle penetration.
Diagnostic dips or baths or diagnostic washes of the branchial cavities can be performed to obtain an etiologic diagnosis since the gill tissue itself is so inaccessible. Because of the semi-closed nature of the branchial cavities, branchial washes with sterile, 0.9% NaCl are far easier and much less traumatic than traditional gill biopsies.
Skin lesions should be swabbed with a few sterile, wet (using sterile saline), cotton-tipped
applicators and evaluated by wet mount, gram stain, acid-fast stain, and/or Wright-Giemsa stain.
Skin ‘scraping’ is possible but quite difficult in practice due to the irregular surface architecture
of the bony-plated armor. Follow-up diagnostics to the initial skin swab include aerobic bacterial
culture, mycobacterial culture, and cytological exam by a pathologist familiar with fish. Fin clips
can be performed if fin lesions are observed.
Any unusual lump, bump, should be worked up with a fine needle aspirate (27 gauge needle &
TB Syringe) and sent for culture, wet mount and/or staining.
Feces can be obtained by the wait-and-watch method or a colorectal wash under MS-222 (tricaine methanesulfonate) sedation using a tuberculin syringe, 0.9% NaCl, and a 3.5 gauge red rubber catheter. Oftentimes, the seahorse will void feces reflexively after anesthetic induction with MS-222.
Blood collection is technically very difficult due to the relative absence of accessible peripheral
veins and the small size of most syngnathids. However, small amounts were obtained in a recent
study on CBCs and cortisol levels in H. erectus (P. Anderson, K. Harr and D. Heard, University
of Florida, unpublished data). They were able to successfully draw 0.2 mls from animals, even
up to 0.4 mls in some animals. Another 0.2 cc from the same two animals approximately 18 days
later. Blood was drawn at the basal part of the tail from a ventral approach. Cardiac sticks were
Radiography can be a very helpful diagnostic tool. The ideal machine for taking radiographs of
seahorses is a mammography unit in terms of optimal radiographic detail and contrast. Important
structures to evaluate include swim bladder (size, shape, presence or absence of fluid), coelomic
cavity (free air, fluid, masses), alimentary tract (aided by a small bolus of barium sulfate if
needed), liver position and size, kidney position and size, gonadal position and size, and brood
pouch contents. Larger seahorse species as well as the seadragons are particularly at risk for
foreign body (usually substrate) ingestion which can easily be ruled in or out with plain film
radiography. Ultrasonography of brood pouch contents should be made possible by using the
smaller transducers (7.5-MHz – 10.0-MHz) employed in ophthalmologic evaluations.
Sedation and Anesthesia
MS-222 at the standard fish dose of 50 – 100 ppm works quite well for most of the syngnathids.
In low-alkalinity water it is recommended to buffer the solution at a ratio of 2 parts sodium
bicarbonate:1 part tricaine (wt:wt). The seadragons have a prolonged recovery time at 100 ppm
and 50-75 ppm is the recommended dose for these two species. In a prolonged anesthetic
recovery situation, it is advisable to ventilate the animals with fresh seawater containing no MS-
222. Because of the long, rather narrow tube snout and the semi-closed nature of the branchial
cavities, assisted ventilation is easily achieved with a 3.5 to 5.0 French red rubber catheter
inserted through the tube snout to the level of the pharynx. A syringe filled with fresh saltwater is
then attached to the end of the red rubber catheter and pumped in a pulsatile manner every few
seconds until the animal is spontaneously breathing at a normal rate. The success of assisted
ventilation is easily assessed by watching the opercula move in and out. This technique has also
been successfully used to resuscitate animals in respiratory arrest. Long-term anesthetic
procedures should employ a flow-through system with oxygen supplementation in the sump or
reservoir. <Close quote>
Best of luck with your science studies, Karen!
Pete GiwojnaJune 16, 2007 at 1:21 am #3680KarenSGuest
Thanks Pete. :laugh:
I will buy the book you mentioned. I also found the notes for aquariums and zoos you mentioned on the internet. They are an interesting read.
When is your book coming out? I want to read it!!:silly:
Thanks for your time Pete,
KarenJune 17, 2007 at 5:36 am #3690Pete GiwojnaGuest
You’re very welcome to all the information I can provide to help keep your seahorses happy and healthy, Karen!
I am in the process of updating my new book for publication right now. A lot of work still remains — I have to integrate all the illustrations into the text and then convert the manuscript into "electronically ready to print" form, but I anticipate the release of the book within the year. Of course, I will keep you guys informed as soon as it’s ready.
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