- This topic has 5 replies, 2 voices, and was last updated 15 years, 7 months ago by Pete Giwojna.
July 31, 2008 at 7:48 am #1508makala007Member
Hi. Is it normal for a seahorse to be in labor/give birth over a duration of three days?August 1, 2008 at 4:58 am #4372Pete GiwojnaGuest
It is not unusual for a gravid male to release a fraction of his brood a bit prematurely, only to shut down operations temporarily and then deliver the rest of the young normally a few days later. When that’s the case, the remainder of the brood is typically released en masse 2-4 days after the first batch of fry were expelled. So that’s one situation during which delivering the entire brood may be extended over a period of several days.
Large broods of young may also involve bouts of intense labor followed by extended rest periods before all of the young are finally delivered. Sometimes when an exceptionally large brood is involved, labor may be prolonged for two to three days as a result. As you know, the brood pouch enfolds, protects, aerates, osmoregulates, and nourishes the developing embryos as the male undergoes a true pregnancy (Vincent, 1990). The volume of the pouch normally increases dramatically as the pregnancy progresses. A male that is carrying a significant number of young becomes very rotund so that only a very thin layer of epithelium and connective tissue separates the interior of the pouch from the outside world by the time birth is imminent (Vincent, 1990).
The fully developed young emerge from their individual compartments and shake loose into the lumen of the pouch prior to birth (Vincent, 1990). They become very active toward the end of the pregnancy and can sometimes be seen wriggling about through the membrane of the swollen brood pouch at this time. This appears to be every bit as uncomfortable as it sounds, since expecting males become agitated and distressed as the big moment approaches. They experience definite labor pains when birth is imminent, evident as a series of powerful contractions, and soon begin pumping in time with these birth spasms in order to forcibly eject the fry from their pouches. Labor usually begins well after dark in the early morning hours or shortly after dawn (Vincent, 1990). The distraught male may pump and thrust vigorously for hours before finally ejecting the first of the newborns (Vincent, 1990). The fry are expelled singly or in ones and twos at first, but are soon spewing forth in bunches and bursts of a half dozen or more.
Delivering a large brood this way is hard work, and the exhausted male will pause periodically to recover from his exertions, gathering his strength until he is caught in the throes of another round of contractions. In some cases, it takes 2-3 days for the entire brood to be delivered in this manner.
Without knowing the particulars in your case, I cannot say for certain if things are progressing normally or if your male may be experiencing a difficult pregnancy with complications that could be a cause for concern. But there are certainly circumstances during which delivering a brood over a period of three days is normal and results in no harm either to the stallion or to his offspring.
Best of luck with your gravid male, makala007! Here’s hoping your male delivers a healthy brood and recovers none the worse for wear.
Pete GiwojnaAugust 1, 2008 at 9:28 am #4375makala007Guest
Mahalo for your reply and information. Today is the fourth day of labor (?). My male, Stumpy, is rotund and looks quite uncomfortable. He has already given birth to more than 100 babies. The babies are very small ~7mm, but most are eating a variety of copepods, artemia, and amphipod babies. I am wondering how long should I wait until I assume that something is wrong with Stumpy. Mahalo a Nui for your help.August 1, 2008 at 11:37 pm #4377Pete GiwojnaGuest
You’re very welcome.
It’s difficult to say if there is any cause for concern at this point are not without knowing more about your stallion and his history as a breeder. For instance, 100 offspring would be a large brood of babies for many seahorse species, but for other prolific ponies (e.g., Hippocampus reidi, H. ingens, H. abdominalis) it may be just the tip of the iceberg. So it’s important to know what species of seahorse you have, and it’s also important to know whether this is his first brood or if he is an experienced breeder that has been churning out brood after brood for you over the last several months. First-time breeders and inexperienced males often have inordinately small broods, and if you’re stallion is a Brazilian seahorse (H. reidi), then he may just be getting warmed up and the first 100 newborns may simply be his opening salvo.
Has your pregnant male experience any health problems recently that could cause complications and make this a difficult delivery? Is he having any problems swimming normally as a result of positive buoyancy (i.e., the tendency to float)? If he isn’t having any buoyancy problems, then it’s probably safe to assume that his distended pouch is carrying more undelivered young rather than bloated due to a build up of gas.
Gravid males are always distressed and uncomfortable during labor and there’s not really much you can do to assist your stallion if he’s having a difficult time. About all you can do is provide him with optimum water quality (especially good dissolved oxygen levels), give him nutritious foods to eat, and provide him with a stress-free environment in which to deliver his brood. For example, don’t separate him from his mate or transfer him from his happy home in your main tank into a "paternity tank" of some sort to deliver his young, both of which are very stressful for a pregnant male.
Best of luck with your pregnant stallion and his prolonged labor, makala007! Here’s hoping he delivers the rest of his offspring very soon.
Pete GiwojnaAugust 2, 2008 at 2:04 am #4378makala007Guest
Mahalo again. Stumpy is a Hawaiian Seahorse (most likely a Hippocampus Kuda not a Hippocampus Histrix not Hippocampus Fisheri). He has had one prior brood of six, which did not survive past one week. I believe there was just six because he missed a lot of the eggs during mating (it was hanging out of his pouch and all over the sand). Luckily, Stumpy does not have a buoyancy problems but I will keep an eye out for that. Do you have any suggestions or information on raising kuda fry? Mahalo a Nui.August 2, 2008 at 4:25 am #4379Pete GiwojnaGuest
Okay, thanks for the additional information — that clarifies the situation somewhat.
The typical brood size for true Hippocampus kuda, or the Hawaiian form of the kuda complex, ranges from 250-1400 young for a mature male. So it’s quite possible that Stumpy may have more offspring on the way following that first outburst of 100 or so newborns.
However, since he is a young male and this is only his second brood, and he did botch the transfer of the eggs somewhat during his first mating attempt, I wouldn’t be surprised if this brood was also smaller than normal. The total number of offspring he produces this time around may also be well under 250; you’ll just have to wait and see how things turn out.
Yes, I have some detailed information on breeding and raising H. kuda I would be happy to share with you if you contact me off list ([email protected]). The files are too long to post on this forum.
Best of luck with stumpy’s extended pregnancy, makala007! Good luck rearing that first batch of babies he delivered days ago.
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