- This topic has 2 replies, 2 voices, and was last updated 12 years, 11 months ago by lisapanigas.
January 1, 2011 at 9:19 am #1859lisapanigasMember
I have 5 Reef Riders ( a hybrid H barbouri and H augustus) – one male and 4 females. I have had them for a year now with no troubles at all but a week ago, one of the females went off her food and would hold her tail back when swimming instead of forward. It almost looked as if she were trying to force her faeces out but is continuing to do this even after doing so. She has been snapping at food but is now showing little interest. She had a bit of a bulge at her anal area and I have been giving her magnesium salt baths – 1 a day for the past 2 days. She does not look grossly underweight but is beginning to look a bit skinnier. I have removed her to a hospital tank which just has a sponge filter in it as I use the tank primarily to put babies in when necessary.
This seahorse is white in colour and almost see-through but always has beed and there are no visible signs of external parasites.
I tried a freshwater dip the other day in water that had been heated and dechlorinated,but she just curled up and wrapped her tail around herself so I took her out after a minute thinking it was distressing her. When she was in the main tank she was rubbing herself on the live rock and often found it difficult to unlatch her tail for its holding. She has twitched on several occasions and I noticed today that she sometimes yawns (displaying her trigger) and fully opens her snout and then has a shake a short time after. I am not sure what to do next as she is still not eating and her faeces is only a small white string. I do not want her to suffer but I want to make sure I have done everything for her. Could she have an internal bacterial or parasitic infection or external parasites? If so how can I treat her if she is not eating.
She was eating frozen mysyis and live brine before this – (maybe a bad lot of life brine?) and I even tried some soaked in entice (garlic) which at first interested her but her snicking was off.
Any suggestions?January 3, 2011 at 9:30 am #5243Pete GiwojnaGuest
I am not familiar with Reef Riders, and I assume that your hybrids are cultured seahorses that are being raised in Australia. I can imagine a cross between Hippocampus angustus and H. barbouri seahorses, and your Reef Riders must be very striking seahorses.
It’s difficult to say what is troubling your female, Lisa, but I suspect she has more than one health problem at this point. For example, the way she is holding her tail (scorpion style rather than curled forward as usual) and the fact that she is having difficulty grasping objects, or releasing objects after she has grasped them, suggests that her tail is very sensitive and that she may be developing tail rot. I will provide you with additional information regarding tail rot, including a number of treatment options for tail rot, later in this e-mail.
However, some of her other symptoms suggest a possible parasitic infection, and that may be what is causing her to be off her feed and experiencing feeding difficulties.
Under the circumstances, I would suggest, first and foremost, force feeding your female by hand in order to provide her with nutritional support and help her to regain her strength. Secondly, I would recommend treating her with broad-spectrum antibiotics in your hospital tank to address the problem with tail rot and possible secondary infections associated with parasites. At the same time, I would recommend treating her for parasites either by intramuscular injections of metronidazole (which will probably not be feasible for a home hobbyist) or by administering a series of brief formalin baths in addition to the antibiotic therapy.
Let’s discuss force feeding your female by hand first of all, Lisa. By handfeeding in this case I mean holding one entire, intact (whole and unbroken) frozen Mysis that you have carefully thawed in your fingertips and then placing the tail of the Mysid directly in the mouth of the seahorse. Many times the seahorse will simply spit it out again, but often if you can insert the Mysis into her open mouth far enough, her feeding instincts will kick in and take over so that she slurps up the frozen Mysis almost reflexively. That’s a much less stressful and less invasive method of force feeding a seahorse that sometimes works well (especially if the seahorse is accustomed to being hand fed and doesn’t shy away from the aquarist). Force feeding the seahorse by hand sounds much more difficult than it actually is, and seahorses will often respond well to this method of feeding, Lisa. Even the professional curators at the large public aquariums will use this technique when their highly prized (and very expensive) seadragons are experiencing problems with weak snick, as explained in the discussion thread below:
Has anyone had problems with syngnathids having a problem
getting food into their mouths? Currently I have a few ribbon
pipehorses (seadragons) that have lost the ability to take in food,
either live or frozen when attempting to eat. It is as if they have
lost the suction power when they attempt to snap up the food. They
can see the food and chase it and attempt to eat but don’t have
enough snap to create the suction needed to get the piece of food
into its mouth. Even when putting the affected animal in a smaller
tank with lots of food, it still can’t get the food in.
This condition seemed to develop even though the ribbon
pipehorses were eating aggressively before the problem started. They
were mainly eating frozen mysis and occasionally were fed live mysis.
I was thinking that possibly the diet of mainly frozen mysis could
not be enough for them nutritionally as they were developing??? Not
I have occasionally seen this problem before in weedy and
leafy seadragons as well as some seahorses.
Has anyone else had this problem? Any ideas of what may
cause this problem? Any ideas on how to get them to eat again? Has
anyone had luck with force feeding seadragons to get them to eat
Leslee Matsushige (Yasukochi)
Assistant Aquarium Curator
Birch Aquarium at Scripps
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
University of California San Diego
Over the years, we have seen mouth problems develop in some of our dragons. Sometimes it’s attributed to injury. Sometimes we don’t know what causes it, but we are often successful in getting them to recover on their own with just supportive feedings until we observe that they are back to catching food normally. Sometimes this can take a long time…as in a month or two of force feedings before they are back to catching enough on their own to sustain themselves.
Although I have not had experience force feeding ribbon dragons, I have both force fed and tube fed leafy and weedy seadragons. Typically, we force feed numerous frozen mysids to a sick dragon up to 3 times a day. By force feeding, I mean that we very gently place a mysid in the mouth of the animal and then lightly hold a finger in front of it so that it can’t easily spit out the food. Usually they learn pretty quickly that they are getting food this way and start to slurp mysids up as soon as they are put in their mouth. I usually try to get 6-10 mysids in per feeding. It takes good eyesight and a steady hand to make sure you don’t injure their mouth with this method. We have also tube fed using a thick slurry of cyclopeeze or pulverized and moistened pelleted food…usually giving around .3cc per feeding…though it’s dependent on the size of the animal. I think we usually use a 2-3mm french catheter cut down to fit on a small syringe. Again we do this 3 x day. We find that the animals do better with the frequent feedings and usually they go right back to searching for food after being released.
Thanks for your response to my posting. We are currently trying to tube feed one of our leafy seadragons. We have been feeding it 1x/day for now to see how it handles the feedings.
I was wondering what was the size of the seadragon that you feed .3cc of the food slurry to? Our leafy is about 10-11 inches in length. I am not sure of the amount to feed. Since we are feeding only 1x/day we are trying .6cc per feeding.
Do you find force feeding or tube feeding to be better in certain situations? Our leafy still attempt to get the food but can not snap its jaw with enough force to get the food into its mouth.
When you force feed the seadragon do you hold it upsidedown? What do you use to put the mysid in its mouth? If you could give more details about force feeding that you think might be helpful, can you pass this on?
Your response has been helpful!
In a message dated 7/16/2009 1:20:44 P.M. Central Daylight Time, Teryl.Nolan writes:
We usually feed our full-sized leafies just .3cc at each feeding. I don’t know that you can’t go higher, we just don’t. I try to be conservative and part of my philosophy about having to force feed them is that since they naturally tend to graze on food all day long, I like to feed them smaller amounts more frequently.
In our experience, the dragons usually go back to their normal routine after a tube or force feeding. If they were actively looking for food, but just not following through and eating it, that’s what they go back to. If prior to the feeding, they were acting pretty lethargic…maintaining a stationary position on the water, usually facing a wall, and not showing any interest in feeding…then we’ve noticed that after they get a little energy from the force feeding, they often come out, act a little more normally, and even show signs of hunting for food. The reason we started force feeding the sick ones 2-3x a day years ago, is because we see such a dramatic turn around in their behavior after they have gotten some food. If we don’t follow it up with another feeding that day, then they seem to lose steam and go back to their wall-facing behavior.
I’ve come to the point that I believe it’s better to force feed than to tube feed (unless I need to tube with an oral medication or the dragon won’t take the force feeding). If you have the very small mysids available because you purchase live or culture your own, that’s what I prefer to use. We freeze our mysids prior to feeding them out. If you lightly restrain the dragon, in an upright position, but completely under the water, I find it’s easier to use latex gloves and very carefully insert a small mysid into the dragon’s mouth tail first using my fingers. We can usually get them to eat 10-20 per feeding. They will usually slurp it up pretty quickly. Sometimes they spit them out the first couple times though. In which case, I lightly hold my finger in front of their mouth until they’ve swallowed the mysid. That keeps them from spitting them out completely…usually. We have a few that we hold under water and pour mysids in front of, then we just move them directly in front of the food and they slurp them up. I think they probably get more from the whole mysids than from the gruel.
We don’t even move them off exhibit unless there are other health issues. We just lean over the side of our system and handle the dragons quickly beneath the surface. Then release them. I think it is much less stressful on the animals if you don’t have to move them. They tolerate this extremely well in my experience and we have had numerous that required supplemental feedings for awhile, but then recovered.
I hope this helps!
In short, Lisa, the first thing I would do is to concentrate on hand feeding your female with individual Mysis as described above to provide her with nutritional support. If force feeding your little female by hand proves to be impractical, then tube feeding is probably the next best option at this point. Let me know if the tube feeding becomes necessary, and I can provide you with some additional instructions to help guide you through the procedure.
Secondly, let’s discuss some antiparasitic measures that may be helpful in a case like this. If you can obtain the liquid form of metronidazole and you can determine the weight of the seahorses accurately, intramuscular injections of the medication can be quite effective in eradicating a variety of internal parasites:
Dr. Alistair Dove, the Aquatic Pathologist at the New York Aquarium, reports that intramuscular injections of metronidazole at a dosage of 50mg/kg repeated every 72 hours for a total of 3 treatments work extremely well for eliminating Uronema and other parasites in seahorses (Al Dove, pers. com.).
Due to their bony exoskeleton, injections are particularly challenging with seahorses. The meaty part of the tail is one possibility for IM injections. 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.
As I said, Lisa, it probably isn’t feasible for the home hobbyist to attempt intramuscular injections, particularly if you don’t have access to the liquid form of metronidazole. In that event, I would recommend administering a series of formalin baths to the seahorse well he is undergoing antibiotic therapy in your hospital tank. Here are my instructions for performing a formalin beth safety:
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 go to top Chemical Laboratories. Or whatever brand of formalin is available at your fish store should work fine, Lisa.
Formalin can be useful in treating fish with the following clinical symptoms:
Increased respiration; loss of normal body color; presence of discrete white spots (freshwater or saltwater "ich"); white areas on the body with circumscribed, reddish perimeter (Epistylis and/or bacterial infection); scratching on tank bottom or objects, lethargy, white cottony tufts or strands on body (fungus); dust-like, "peppered", yellowish spots on body surface (Oodinium); whitish skin slime or filmy body covering or patches (columnaris disease); disintegrating fins or fin edges (fin rot); mouth "fungus" (bacterial infection); pustules, furuncules or ulcers.
If any of the above symptoms are similar to the problems you’ve noticed with your female upon close inspection, then administering formalin baths may be helpful, Lisa.
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 before transferring it to your hospital tank. 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 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.
Formalin 3 by Kordon is the medication I prefer for these treatments. These are the instructions for treating fish with Formalin 3, the Kordon brand of formalin, which is readily available at most fish stores in the USA:
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
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
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.
Okay, Lisa, those are couple of treatments that can be helpful if your female is experiencing problems with parasites. They can be administered while the female is being treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics in your hospital tank, as explained in the discussion on tail rot below. I don’t know which antibiotics may be available to you in Australia, but a wide variety of medications that can be effective for controlling tail rot are described below:
White Tail Disease or Tail Rot:
Ulcerative Dermatitis of the Tail Tip
Tail rot, a.k.a. white tail disease or ulcerative dermatitis of the tail tip, can result from a number of causes. It can develop when a mechanical injury to the tail, such as a cut or scrape, becomes infected. Certain ciliates and protozoan parasites can attack the skin of seahorses, and when their integument is compromised, secondary bacterial and fungal infections may set in, resulting in tail rot. Likewise, cnidarian stings or the embedded spicules from a bristleworm can become infected and lead to tail rot. Many times an underlying bacterial infection (Vibrio, Pseudomonas or Mycobacterium) may be the primary cause of the tissue erosion and ulceration that’s so characteristic of tail rot. It is often associated with heat stress, particularly in temperate seahorses that have experienced a temperature spike during a summertime heat wave.
The tip of the tail is especially prone to infection because blood-oxygen levels are often deficient in the extremities — oxygen tension is lowest in the most distal part of the tail — and the bacteria that are responsible for tail rot prefer a low oxygen environment. A dirty substrate can be a contributing factor in some cases, and stress is almost always involved. The seahorse’s tail is prone to scrapes and abrasions as well as injuries such as stings from anemones or bristleworm spicules because it is used to grasp objects and often in contact with the substrate.
Disease-causing (pathogenic) bacteria such as the ones that cause tail rot are opportunistic invaders that are normally present in low numbers but don’t cause problems until the fish is injured, stressed, infested with parasites or otherwise weakened (Indiviglio, 2002). They will then take advantage of the overtaxed seahorse’s impaired immune system and reproduce extremely quickly, causing a variety of illnesses and problems (Basleer, 2000). Some of these are specific to seahorses, such as snout rot and white tail disease, and others are common to all fishes (Mycobacteriosis).
A progressive loss of prehensility and increasing discoloration beginning at the tip of the tail are the initial stages of tail rot or white tail disease. As I mentioned, it often affects the most distal portions of the tail first, where the oxygen tension is lowest and the circulation is the poorest, which seems to make the tail tip particularly susceptible to such infections.
Here is an excerpt on tail rot from my new book (Complete Guide to the Greater Seahorses in the Aquarium, unpublished):
White Tail Disease (Tail Rot)
As you might expect, this problem is due to an infection that attacks the tails of seahorses. The tip of the tail typically turns white and, as the infection spreads, the whiteness moves progressively up the tail and ulcers or open sores begin to form where the skin peels away (Giwojna, Oct. 2003).
Hobbyists usually refer to this problem as Tail Rot or White Tail Disease, but the disease is already well advanced by the time whitening or tissue erosion occurs (Giwojna, Oct. 2003). Early detection makes it much easier to get these infections under control. Some of the early indicators of a tail infection to watch for are discussed below.
The disease begins with a loss of prehensility in the very tip of the tail (Giwojna, Oct. 2003). At this stage, the seahorses can grasp large objects just fine, but cannot take hold of slender objects with a small diameter (Leslie Leddo, pers. com.). Next the loss of prehensility spreads further up the tail and the seahorses begin to act as if their tails are very tender and sensitive. They will drape their tails over objects rather than grasping onto them and begin to drag their tails behind themselves, often arching the end of their tail upward in the shape of "U" (rather than the usual "J" or tight coil) as if to lift it off the ground and keep it from touching anything (Leddo, pers. com.).
This is usually when the tip of the tail becomes white and the loss of coloration starts advancing further and further up the tail (Giwojna, Oct. 2003). At this point, the discolored skin begins to flake or lift up and open wounds and ulcers develop on the most distal portions of the tail (Giwojna, Oct. 2003). The infection attacks the underlying tissues, and the tail is gradually eaten away, often all the way to the bone, exposing the vertebrae (hence the name Tail Rot). Survivors may end up missing the last few segments of their tail (Giwojna, Oct. 2003).
White tail disease is highly contagious disease. I have seen it often in temperate seahorse species suffering from heat stress, as well as in crowded nursery tanks where it spreads through the fry like wildfire (Giwojna, Oct. 2003).
Infected seahorses should be treated with antibiotics in isolation at the first sign of a loss of prehensility in the tip of their tails (otherwise the antibiotics may harm the biofilter in your main tank, creating more problems). There are a number of treatment options to consider, and the following antibiotics have proven to be effective in treating tail rot in seahorses in some cases:
Enrofloxin (brand name Baytril) — a potent prescription antibiotic that can be difficult for the home hobbyists to obtain;
Tetracycline or oxytetracycline (but ONLY when administered orally);
Minocycline (e.g., Maracyn-Two Powder Saltwater by Mardel or a combination of MarOxy + Maracyn-Two);
Sulfa 4 TMP (four different sulfas plus trimethoprim) — National Fish Pharmaceuticals;
TMP Sulfa (trimethoprim and sulfathiazole sodium) — Maracyn Plus by Mardel; National Fish Pharmaceuticals;
Neosulfex or Neo3 (neomycin + sulfa antibiotics) — unfortunately, no longer available
Neomycin sulfate + triple sulfa (both available from National Fish Pharmaceuticals)
Kanamycin sulfate + triple sulfa (both available from National Fish Pharmaceuticals)
Nitrofuracin Green (equivalent to Furan 2) — National Fish Pharmaceuticals
We’ll discuss each of these medications and how best to administer them to your ponies in some detail below. Hopefully, you will be able to obtain one or more of them in your area:
Enrofloxin (brand name Baytril)
Baytril (Enrofloxacin) is a powerful new broad-spectrum antibiotic that increasingly used to treat infections of the urinary tract, skin, prostate, gastrointestinal system, liver, ears, and lungs in humans. It is affective against both gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria and is widely used in aquaculture to treat marine fish. It belongs to a relatively new class of antibiotics called fluoroquinolones, which are effective against a wide variety of bacteria, and is now being used in the aquaculture industry to treat bacterial infections in valuable fish. Baytril is a more potent antibiotic than aminoglycosides such as kanamycin or neomycin, but you will probably have to obtain it from your veterinarian. In liquid form, enrofloxin (Baytril) can be administered either by injection at around 10mg/kg bodyweight every other day or administered orally.
In order to determine the proper dosage for the intramuscular injections, you need to be able to weigh the seahorses accurately, and you must obtain the injectable form of the medication.
Due to their bony exoskeleton, injections are particularly challenging with seahorses. Seahorses store their limited fat reserves primarily in their tail, which is the most muscular part of their body. The meaty part at the base of the tail is best suited for IM injections. If you attempt the intramuscular injections, I would suggest targeting the base of the tail a short distance below the pouch using a ventral approach with a shallow angle of attack. 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.
The Baytril can also be administered orally by tube feeding it to the seahorse, which is helpful when the seahorse is not eating, but it is a stressful procedure for the seahorse. Here are the instructions for administering the Baytril orally, courtesy of Ann at the org:
ENROFLOXACIN Oral Dosage and Preparation Instructions
Active Ingredient: Enrofloxacin
Indication: bacterial infection
The following information is based on the most commonly available tablet sizes for Enrofloxacin/Baytril
available in the US and abroad and an average sized seahorse of approximately 10 grams.
Tube feed the seahorse 0.1mg of Enrofloxacin once a day for 10 days.
Day 1 – 10 of Treatment
• Crush 1/4 of a 68mg or 50mg tablet into a fine powder.
• Use a mini-blender or small hand-blender to thoroughly mix the powder with marine water. Mix 1/4 of a
68mg tablet with 85mL of marine water. Mix 1/4 of a 50mg tablet with 62.5mL of marine water.
• Fill a small syringe with 0.5mL of the solution.
• Tube feed the seahorse just as if you were force-feeding the pony to provide nutritional support.
• Throw out the unused Enrofloxacin and marine water solution. You will need to make new solution daily because Enrofloxacin breaks down quickly in saltwater causing it to become completely ineffective by the next day.
Enrofloxacin is available only by prescription from a veterinarian.
Enrofloxacin International Version – Tablets are produced in 15mg, 50gm, 150mg, & a 2.5% injectable solution
Enrofloxacin US Version – Tablets are produced in 22.7mg, 68mg, 136mg, & a 2.27% injectable solution
If you are able to ascertain the exact weight of your seahorse you may want to adjust the dosage as necessary to get the most benefit from the medication. In such an instance you would dose Enrofloxacin at 0.01mg of the medication per gram of body weight.
A veterinarian who works regularly with small exotics will be familiar with the proper way to dilute
injectable Enrofloxacin solution to fit your needs.
Here are the instructions for adding the Baytril directly to the hospital tank, rather than injecting it or giving it orally:
If you obtain the tablet form of Baytril rather than the liquid, just add one 90.7 mg tablet (or the equivalent) per 10 gallons to the filter box on the treatment tank each day for 3-5 consecutive days. The circulation of the water through the filter will dissolve the antibiotic tablet and dispersed throughout the aquarium. If you don’t have an external filter on your hospital tank in which to dissolve the Baytril tablet, then just crush it into a very fine powder and dissolve it in the treatment tank as thoroughly as possible. Repeat the procedure for three consecutive days.
The tablet dosages are recommended by Dr. Peter Hill, DVM for the Newport Aquarium, and were intended for a 10-gallon hospital tank. In other words, the dosage of Baytril he recommends is one 90.7 mg tablet per 10 gallons of water (or ~45 mg Baytril/5 gallons if you are using a five-gallon hospital tank or a 10-gallon tank that’s half filled with water). This dosage should be repeated for 3-5 consecutive days. In short, the treatment regimen for prolonged immersion in your hospital tank would be as follows:
Day 1: Baytril — one 90.7 mg tablet/10 gallons
Day 2: Baytril — one 90.7 mg tablet/10 gallons
Day 3: Baytril — one 90.7 mg tablet/10 gallons
Note: enrofloxin/Baytril is most effective when injected or administered orally; the bath treatments are less effective and typically must be maintained for at least a week or more in order to be helpful in treating tail rot.
Unlike enrofloxin, tetracycline and oxytetracycline are widely available to home hobbyists over the counter, without a prescription, and are relatively inexpensive. They can be very effective in treating infection such as tail rot in seahorses, but ONLY when they are ministered orally after bioencapsulation in feeder shrimp. This means they are only helpful in cases where the affected seahorse is still eating normally, which is often the case with tail rot in the early stages. (The tetracycline antibiotics are useless when added to the aquarium water in a saltwater tank, because calcium and magnesium bind to the medications and deactivate them when the pH is 7.6 or above.) So the only way tetracycline antibiotics can be used effectively with seahorses is to gutload feeder shrimp with the medication or, alternatively, to soak frozen Mysis in the proper concentration of the medication, and then feed the medicated Mysis to the seahorses.
If you can obtain live adult brine shrimp, the feeder shrimp can be gut loaded with the tetracycline antibiotics and then fed to the seahorses. In that case, the best way to administer the tetracycline would be to bioencapsulate it in live adult brine shrimp and then to feed the medicated shrimp to the ailing seahorse.
Many times the most effective way to administer antibiotics orally is by bioencapsulating or gutloading them in live shrimp, which are then fed to the seahorses. The easiest way to gutload antibiotics is to bioencapsulate them in live adult brine shrimp (Artemia spp.), as described below. The recommended dosage of antibiotic for this varies between 100-250 mg per liter or about 400-1000 mg per gallon of water. Stay within that range and you should be all right.
In the case of tetracycline, I recommend using 500 mg per gallon of freshwater for bioencapsulating the antibiotic in adult brine shrimp. Tetracycline is a photosensitive drug, so keep the container of freshwater covered to shield it from the light or in a relatively dark area of the room while you are gutloading the brine shrimp.
If the antibiotic you are using comes in tablet form, crush it into a very fine powder (you may have to use a household blender to get it fine enough) and dissolve it in freshwater at the dosage suggested above. Soak the adult shrimp in freshwater treated with the antibiotic for 30 minutes and then feed the medicated shrimp to your seahorses immediately. (Don’t let your pumps and filters "eat" all the brine shrimp!)
The brine shrimp are soaked in freshwater, not saltwater, because in theory the increased osmotic pressure of the freshwater helps the antibiotic solution move into their bodies via osmosis. But in fact nobody knows for sure whether the antibiotic is diffusing into the brine shrimp or they are ingesting it in very fine particles (brine shrimp are filter feeders and will take in whatever is suspended in the water with them) or whether the brine shrimp merely become coated with the antibiotic while they are soaking in it. But that’s not important — all that really matters is that gut-loading adult brine shrimp with medications this way is effective.
The antibiotics I would recommend for gutloading in most cases are tetracycline or oxytetracycline. Tetracycline is widely available for aquarium use, so you should easily be able to get a product at your LFS in which the primary ingredient is tetracycline, such as Maracyn-TC by Mardel Labs or Tetracycline MS by Fishvet. These products generally include 250 mg capsules or tablets of tetracycline, or packets of 500 mg tetracycline powder, which would make it easy for you to determine the right amount to add to 1 gallon of freshwater in which to soak your brine shrimp to gutload them with the antibiotic. (Just add two of the 250 mg capsules or crushed up tablets — i.e., 500 mg worth — of the tetracycline to a gallon of water.) Or in the case of the Tetracycline MS, use one 500 mg packet per gallon of freshwater.
Although tetracycline and oxytetracycline generally work very well when administered orally, they are all but useless when used as bath treatments for marine fish. This is because the calcium and magnesium in hard water or saltwater bind to tetracycline and oxytetracycline, rendering them inactive (Yanong, US Dept. of Agriculture). In addition, tetracycline and oxytetracycline are photosensitive drugs and will decompose when exposed to light. So these drugs are very useful for seahorses when they are administered via bioencapsulation, but they are utterly ineffective when added to the water in a saltwater aquarium are hospital tank (Yanong, USDA). This is another reason why you must soak the live adult brine shrimp in freshwater when gutloading them with tetracycline or oxytetracycline.
Gutloading the adult brine shrimp in freshwater has several advantages. First of all, it disinfects the brine shrimp (the osmotic shock in going from concentrated saltwater to freshwater will kill off any protozoan parasites the brine shrimp may have been carrying). Secondly, the freshwater increases the effectiveness of the gutloading process by allowing some of the medication to enter the body of the brine shrimp via osmosis. And gutloading the adult brine shrimp in freshwater saves the hobbyist from having to mix up fresh saltwater every day in order to medicate the adult Artemia. Just use dechlorinated/detoxified freshwater as described above, and everything should go smoothly. But the most important reason that you gutload the adult brine shrimp in freshwater when you are using tetracycline or oxytetracycline is that these medications will be deactivated in saltwater and rendered useless if you attempted to bioencapsulate the medication in adult brine shrimp that are in saltwater.
I would feed your seahorses their fill of adult brine shrimp gutloaded with tetracycline once a day for 7-10 days. Gutload a new portion of the adult brine shrimp each day for the seahorses’ first feeding of the day when they are the most hungry. So that would be a total of 7-10 feedings, one per day, using adult brine shrimp gutloaded with the tetracycline. Give the seahorses a second feeding of frozen Mysis enriched with Vibrance later in the day. The Vibrance includes beta glucan as an active ingredient, which is in an immune stimulant that will help the seahorses to fight off any infections.
It is impossible to determine precisely what dosage of medication each individual fish ingests when gutloading, but the tetracycline antibiotics are very safe to use for this application and you really cannot overdose a seahorse using this method of treatment. Feeding each seahorse its fill of shrimp gut-loaded with tetracycline for 7-10 days assures that they receive an effective dose of the medication. As long as each seahorse is getting its share of the medicated brine shrimp every day during the treatment period, you needn’t be concerned if one of the ponies is eating more than the others.
As I mentioned above, tetracycline in oxytetracycline can be effective treatments for tail rot when they are administered orally. However, they are useless as bath treatments for marine fishes. This is because calcium and magnesium bind to tetracycline and oxytetracycline, rendering them inactive (Roy Yanong, US Department of Agriculture). Adding tetracycline or oxytetracycline to saltwater in a hospital tank is therefore completely ineffective (Yanong, USDA), but administering the antibiotics orally can produce good results.
Minocycline is another helpful antibiotic for treating white tail disease (i.e., tail rot). It is the active ingredient in Maracyn-Two Powder Saltwater by Mardel Labs (Maracyn-Two consists of minocycline together with a complex of B. vitamins). Maracyn-Two is readily available over the counter from aquarium stores and pet shops that carry fish.
Maracyn-Two Powder Saltwater by Mardel Labs
Each powder packet contains 20 mg Minocycline activity. 15.00 Pantothenic Acid, 8.60 mg Riboflavin, 2.60 mg Thiamine Mononitrate, 2.60 Pyridoxine Hydrochloride.
NOTE: Be sure to treat for the full duration recommended, even if symptoms disappear after a few days. DO NOT overdose. Follow dosage directions as detailed on the product packaging.
First day, add 2 packets per 20 gallons of water. On the second through fifth day, add 1 packet per 20 gallons of water.
Repeat this 5 day treatment only once if needed.
Special Notes on Diagnosis
Diagnosis of bacterial infections and parasitic infestations in salt and freshwater fish is very difficult, even for the most advanced aquarist.
For best results, consider combining Maracyn-Two with MarOxy by Mardel Labs. It can be difficult to determine whether tail rot is due to a bacterial infection, a fungal infection, or a mixed infection, and the combination of Maracyn-Two plus MarOxy will be helpful regardless of the nature of the underlying infection:
MarOxy by Mardel labs
Safe, stable and non-staining, MarOxy treats fungal as well as bacterial diseases, such as clamped fins, swollen eyes, and patchy coloration. Use of a hospital tank is recommended. Active ingredient: stabilized chlorine oxides. 1/2 teaspoon per 10 gallons daily, for no more than 5 days. 1 oz. treats 25 gallons for 5 days. For fresh and saltwater.
Sulfa drugs combined with trimethoprim can also be very helpful for treating tail rot. The most potent of these synergistic combinations are Sulfa 4 TMP and TMP Sulfa.
Sulfa 4 TMP Powder
USE: this is a special blend of four different sulfas that all have different absorption rates and solubility. The sulfas are combined with trimethoprim, which potentiates each other’s ability to kill bacteria. The result is a wide spectrum antibiotic with less chance of resistant strains developing.
DOSAGE: 1/4 teaspoon per 20 gallons of water. (1/2 pound treats 3640 gallons of water.)
TMP Sulfa (trimethoprim and sulfathiazole sodium)
USE: for treating bacterial infections, both gram-negative and gram-positive. The combination of trimethoprim plus sulfathiazole sodium retards resistant strains from developing. It exerts its antimicrobial effect by blocking 2 consecutive steps in the biosynthesis of the nucleic acids and proteins essential to many bacteria.
DOSAGE: add 1/4 teaspoon per 10 gallons of water every 24 hours, with a 25% water change before each daily treatment. Treat for a minimum of 10 days.
(1/4 pound treats approximately 940 gallons of water.)
*More effective than triple sulfa.
Both Sulfa 4 TMP and TMP Sulfa can be obtained online without a prescription from National Fish Pharmaceuticals at the following URL:
As an alternative, Maracyn Plus by Mardel Labs is another effective medication that combines a sulfa drug with trimethoprim to combat tail rot, and which is commonly available at pet shops and fish stores:
Maracyn Plus by Mardel labs
Directions for Use:
Add one capful (10ml) per 10 gallons of water. Treat on days 1, 3, and 5. Use as soon as the first signs of disease are noted. Treated water may appear cloudy at first due to the presence of the microscopic spheres. All cloudiness will be gone within 30 minutes to 1 hour after treatment. Maintain normal filtration and air during treatment.
Active Ingredients: Sulfadimidine and Trimethoprin
Maracyn Plus is a broad-spectrum antibiotic for controlling the bacteria that cause mouth fungus, fin and tail rot, Popeye, dropsy and ulcers.
Benefit: Maracyn Plus makes use of a revolutionary technology that delivers the antibiotic directly to the fish. Multi-layered micro-spheres attach to the fish and break down one layer at a time releasing the antibiotics in a controlled regulated manner. A filming agent, Chitosan, which has a molecular structure similar to the natural mucous coat of a fish, seals the treatment in contact with the tissue surface.
Use: Contains two powerful broad-spectrum antibiotics that are effective against the bacteria that cause Fin and Tail rot, Popeye, Dropsy, Ulcers, and "Mouth and Body Fungus". As the bio-spheres attach to the fish, they form a protective medicated layer over the fish’s skin that kills the infecting bacteria and prevents re-infection. The healing properties of chitosan speed up the regeneration of damaged tails, fins, mouths and skin. For use in fresh and saltwater aquariums.
Neosulfex and Neo3 — both broad-spectrum antibiotics consisting of neomycin combined with sulfa compounds to produce a potent synergistic combination of antibacterials — are the antibiotics home hobbyist choose to rely on most often for treating tail rot. Unfortunately, neither of these combination medications are available any longer.
However, many hobbyists have been getting similar results by creating their own version of these medications by combining neomycin sulfate with various sulfa compounds. One that seems to work well is combining neomycin sulfate with triple sulfa. You may be able to get neomycin sulfate and triple sulfa compound at a well-stock LFS. If not, you can obtain both neomycin sulfate powder and triple sulfa powder from National Fish Pharmaceuticals without a prescription. You can order them online at the following site:
Kanamycin sulfate used alone or in conjunction with neomycin sulfate would also be an excellent choice for treating tail rot, both of which can be combined safely with triple sulfa.
Kanamycin sulfate powder
USE: Gram-negative bacteria for resistant strains of piscine tuberculosis and other bacterial infections. Works especially well in salt water aquariums.
DOSAGE 1/4 teaspoon per 20 gallons of water. Treat every 24 hours with a 25% water change before each treatment. Treat for 10 days. For piscine tuberculosis, use for up to 30 days.
This is a potent broad-spectrum, gram+/gram- antibiotic. It is
wonderfully effective for aquarium use because it is one of the few
antibiotics that dissolves well in saltwater and that is readily
absorbed through the skin of the fish. That makes it the treatment of
choice for treating many bacterial infections in seahorses. Kanamycin
can be combined safely with neomycin to further increase its
efficacy. Like other gram-negative antibiotics, it will destroy your
biofiltration and should be used in a hospital tank only.
Neomycin sulfate powder
USE: Gram-negative bacteria (Pseudomonas), piscine tuberculosis and other bacterial infections. Works well in freshwater or saltwater aquariums.
DOSAGE 1/4 teaspoon per 10 gallons of water. Treat every 24 hours with a 25% water change before each treatment. Treat for 10 days. For piscine tuberculosis, use for up to 30 days.
Neomycin is a very potent gram-negative antibiotic. Most of
infections that plague marine fish are gram-negative, so neomycin
sulfate can be a wonder drug for seahorses (Burns, 2002). As
mentioned above, it can even be combined with other medications such
as kanamycin or nifurpirinol for increased efficacy. For example,
kanamycin/neomycin is tremendous for treating bacterial infections,
while nifurpirinol/neomycin makes a combination that packs a heckuva
wallop for treating mixed bacterial/fungal infections or problems of
unknown nature. Keep it on hand at all times.
Neomycin will destroy beneficial bacteria and disrupt your biological
filtration, so be sure to administer the drug in a hospital tank.
Triple Sulfa Powder
USE: for treatment of gram-negative infections, fin and tail rot, mouth fungus, collapsed fins, columnaris.
DOSAGE: add 1/4 teaspoon per 10 gallons of water every 24 hours, with a 25% water change before each daily treatment. Treat for a minimum of 10 days.
You can get both kanamycin sulfate and neomycin sulfate, as well as triple sulfa, from the following vendor:
Furan2 is a good combo medication that consist of two nitrofuran antibiotics (nitrofurazone and furazolidone), often combined with good old methylene blue. That gives it both bacteriostatic and bactericidal properties, and makes it active against various gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria. The methylene blue stains the water in the treatment tank as and prevents the photosensitive nitrofuran antibiotics from being deactivated by light. Methylene blue is effective in preventing fungal growth, and it has antiprotozoal and antibacterial properties as well, by virtue of its ability to bind with cytoplasmic structures within the cell and interfere with oxidation-reduction processes. This makes the combination of methylene blue, nitrofurazone and furazolidone very broad spectrum and quite potent. Furan2 is especially effective for treating mild skin infections.
However, you have to take special precautions when administering nitrofuran antibiotics such as Furan2 because they are photosensitive and can be deactivated by light. That means you’ll need to darken the hospital tank while you treat the seahorse(s). Do not use a light on your hospital tank, cover the sides of the tank with black construction paper or something similar, and keep an opaque lid or cover on the aquarium during the treatments. Remove this cover from the aquarium only long enough to feed your seahorses.
Furan2 can be administered either as a bath (less effective) or orally via gutloaded feeder shrimp (best). Here are the instructions for both methods (again, courtesy of and at the org):
FURAN-BASED MEDS (immersion) Dosage and Preparation Instructions for a 10g/38L Hospital Tank
Active Ingredients: Nitrofurazone and Furazolidone
Indication: bacterial infection
Brand Names: Furan-2, Furanase, Binox, BiFuran+, Fura-MS, Furazolidone Powder
Dose daily for 10 days. Disregard package info concerning dosing frequency and water changes.
Replace the medication in ratio to the amount of water changed daily as needed to control ammonia.
This product is best administered by feeding it to adult live brine shrimp, then in turn. feeding those animals to the Seahorse. If this is not an option, it may be administered as follows.
DAY 1 of Treatment
• Thoroughly mix the medication with about 1 cup of marine water.
• Pour the mixture into a high-flow area of the hospital tank.
DAYS 2 – 10 of Treatment
• Perform a 50% water change.
• Thoroughly mix the medication with about 1 cup of marine water.
• Pour the mixture into a high-flow area of the hospital tank.
Here are the instructions for gut loading live adult brine shrimp with the Furan2, (courtesy of Ann):
FURAN-BASED MEDS (oral) Dosage and Preparation Instructions for a 10g/38L Hospital Tank
Active Ingredients: Nitrofurazone and/or Furazolidone
Indication: bacterial infection
Brand Names: Furan-2, Furanase, Binox, BiFuran+, FuraMS, Furazolidone Powder
Feed adult brine shrimp gut-loaded with medication to the Seahorse 2x per day for 10 days.
• Add a small amount of the medication to one gallon of water and mix thoroughly.
• Place the amount of adult brine shrimp needed for one feeding into the mixture. Leave them in the mixture for at least 2hrs.
• Remove the adult brine shrimp from the mixture and add them to the hospital tank.
• Observe the Seahorse to be certain it is eating the adult brine shrimp.
A very effective technique for gut loading live adult brine shrimp with Furan2 is to set up a clean, plastic pail or bucket filled with 1 gallon of freshly mixed saltwater, and then to add one packet of Furan 2 to the bucket of water. Next, add a generous portion of well-rinsed adult brine shrimp and let them soak in the bucket of medicated water for at least two hours, in order to bioencapsulate the antibiotics in the brine shrimp.
You will be performing a 50% water change in your 10-gallon hospital tank daily to maintain good water quality, and you should be sure to include the 1 gallon bucket of medicated water and all of the live adult brine shrimp that have been soaking in it as part of this water exchange. (In other words, the bucket of medicated water will account for one of the 5 gallons of newly mixed saltwater you add to the 10-gallon hospital tank daily.) This way, you will be adding the excess Furan 2 from the medicated bucket of water to the treatment tank as well as the gutloaded adult brine shrimp, thus helping to assure that the affected seahorse receives a good dose of the medication.
Nitrofuracin Green (equivalent to Furan2)
This is National Fish Pharmaceuticals’ special formula of nitrofurazone, furazolidone, methylene blue, and sodium chloride.
USE: anti-microbial, anti-protozoan, antibacterial, and anti-fungal. Wide spectrum. Good for newly arrived fish in quarantine situations. Also be good for healing wounds and ammonia burns on newly arriving fish. Widely used for shipping or packing water. Works well for sores on fish in Koi ponds.
DOSAGE: add 1/4 teaspoon per 20 gallons every 24 hours, with a 25% water change before each daily treatment. Treat for 10 days.
Okay, those are good antibiotics to consider when treating a case of white tail disease or tail rot. The treatment I recommend for tail rot is gradually dropping the temperature of the treatment tank, hitting the infection hard with one of the broad-spectrum antibiotics listed above in a hospital tank, and administering Beta Glucan orally to stimulate the seahorse’s immune system and help the affected seahorse fight off the infection.
Reducing the water temperature in the hospital tank will further increase the effectiveness of the antibiotics and help your seahorse recover faster. Heat stress is often associated with tail rot and is especially debilitating and dangerous for seahorses due to a number of reasons (Olin Feuerbacher, pers. com.). For one thing, elevated temperatures can have a very detrimental effect on the immune system of fishes. This is because many of the enzymes and proteins involved in their immune response are extremely temperature sensitive (Olin Feuerbacher, pers. com.). Some of these protective enzymes can be denatured and inactivated by an increase of just a few degrees in water temperature (Olin Feuerbacher, pers. com.). So when seahorses are kept at temperatures above their comfort zone, their immune system is compromised and they are unable to fend off diseases they would normally shrug off.
At the same time heat stress is weakening the seahorse’s immune response, the elevated temperatures are increasing the growth rate of microbes and making disease organisms all the more deadly. Research indicates that temperature plays a major role in the regulation of virulence genes (Olin Feuerbacher, pers. com.). As the temperature increases, virulence genes are switched on, so microorganisms that are completely harmless at cooler temperatures suddenly become pathogenic once the water warms up past a certain point. Thus both the population and virulence of the pathogens are dramatically increased at higher temperatures (Olin Feuerbacher, pers. com.).
This is true of Columnaris and certain types of Vibrio. At cool temperatures these bacteria are relatively harmless, but at elevated temperatures they become highly contagious, virulent pathogens that kill quickly. Neil Garrick-Maidment, director of the Seahorse Trust in the UK, reports that he stopped a deadly outbreak of Vibrio among his Hippocampus capensis dead in its tracks and cured the seahorses simply by cooling their aquarium down to 18°C (64.4°F) for a period of weeks. The bacteria simply no longer presented a problem at that temperature:
I am not sure if it is of any help but I recently had a problem with vibriosis
in Hippocampus capensis coupled with a couple of gas bubbles in the end of the
tail. Having tried a number of treatments in the past that havn’t worked I took
a slightly more drastic approach this time and dropped the temperature from 23°C (73.4°F) down to 18°C (64.4°F) having first isolated the infected animals into a separate
tank. I then left them like this for 4 weeks after which I increased the
temperature slowly up to 21°C (70°F), which it still is. After the second week
the vibriosis had gone completely (and has not returned) and the gas bubbles
were gone after the third week. In all the time the temperature was low the
animals reduced their feeding and it has now increased with the raising of the
temperature and they since gone on to have two broods of fry.
Seahorse Project Co-ordinator
In short, it makes a lot of sense to reduce the aquarium temps while trying to get an infection such as this under control. Cooling down the microbes and slowing their metabolism and rate of reproduction accordingly can slow any bacterial infection (Giwojna, Oct. 2003). Adjusting the chiller on your main tank to maintain a temperature of 75°F at all times will be very helpful in preventing the recurrence of this problem.
Tropical seahorses will be fine as low as 68°F (20°C) providing you drop the water temperature gradually, reducing the temperature no more than 2°F daily. But the temperature does not need to be reduced markedly to have a very beneficial effect on a bacterial infection; just dropping the water temperature a few degrees will be very helpful.
One simple way to drop the water temp in your hospital tank is to position a small fan so it blows across the surface of the water continually (Giwojna, Oct. 2003). This will lower the water temperature a several degrees via evaporative cooling (just be sure to top off the tank regularly to replace the water lost to evaporation). Leaving the cover/hood and light off on your treatment tank in conjunction with evaporative cooling can make a surprising difference.
In a pinch, some hobbyists will even freeze plastic bottles 3/4 full of water and float the frozen bottles of water in their tank during the hottest part of the day. If necessary, that may worth trying in your case too, depending on how well your aquarium temp responds to the other measures.
When reducing the water temperature via evaporative cooling, I should also caution you to observe all the usual precautions to prevent shocks and electrical accident when you are using an electric fan or any other electrical equipment on your aquarium, Roger.
One such precaution is to install an inexpensive titanium grounding probe in your aquariums. That will protect your seahorses and other wet pets from stray voltage and should also safeguard them electrocution in the event of a catastrophic heater failure or similar accident..
But the best way to protect you and your loved ones from electrical accidents around the fish room is to make sure all the outlets are equipped with Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters. And it’s a good idea to make sure all your electrical equipment is plugged into a surge protector as well to further protect your expensive pumps, filters, heaters, etc. from damage. Some good surge protectors, such as the Shock Busters, come with a GFCI built right into them so you can kill two birds with one stone. So when you set up your cooling fan(s) on the aquarium, be sure they’re plugged into a grounded outlet with a GFCI or a surge protector with GFCI protection.
Finally, adding beta glucan to your treatment regimen to boost the healing seahorse’s immune system can also help them fight off this infection. The best way to administer the beta glucan is simply to enrich frozen Mysis with Vibrance and feed it to your seahorse as usual. The Vibrance formulations now include Beta Glucan, a potent immunostimulant, as a primary ingredient. As a result, we can now boost our seahorse’s immune systems and help them fight disease as part of their daily feeding regimen. Enriching our galloping gourmets’ frozen Mysis with Vibrance will give them a daily dose of Beta Glucan to stimulate phagocytosis of certain white cells (macrophages). If the research on Beta Glucan is accurate, this could be a great way to help prevent infections from bacteria, fungus, and viral elements rather than attempting to treat disease outbreaks after the fact.
Not only should Vibrance + Beta Glucan help keep healthy seahorses healthy, it should also help ailing seahorses recover faster. Research indicates that it helps prevent infections and helps wounds heal morfe quickly (Bartelme, 2001). It is safe to use in conjunction with other treatments and has been proven to increase the effectiveness of antibiotics (Bartelme, 2001). It will be great for new arrivals recovering from the rigors of shipping because Beta Glucan is known to alleviate the effects of stress and to help fish recover from exposure to toxins in the water (Bartelme, 2001) . Good stuff!
For more information on the potential benefits of Beta Glucan for aquarium fish, please see the following article:
Click here: Advanced Aquarist Feature Article
Adminstering Beta Glucan orally via Vibrance-enriched frozen Mysis, which are so naturally rich in highly unsaturated fatty acids (HUFA), is the perfect way to boost the immune response of our seahorses since vitamins and HUFA enhance the capacity of immune system cells that are stimulated by the use of beta glucan (Bartelme, 2001).
In short, if the tail rot is detected early enough, it may respond well to a treatment regimen consisting of antibiotic therapy, reduced temperature, and beta glucan administered orally. Topical treatments consisting of dipping the tail of the seahorse in disinfectants such as Betadine can also be a useful addition to the other therapies for tail rot we have been discussing.
If your female does not respond to any of the treatments, Lisa, you may want to consider putting her to sleep at some point. When the seahorse is unresponsive and displays a lack of eye movement, no longer tracking the movements of the aquarist with its eyes, that’s usually an indication that the end is near.
If euthanasia should become necessary, the "clove oil and tank water" technique discussed below is a perfectly painless procedure that can be performed by the home hobbyist:
Article by Aquatic expert, BuddyHolly
Clove Oil and Tank Water Method
Buy pure clove oil. You can get it at a health food store. For a larger fish such as a goldfish, you’ll want to make sure you have enough on hand. Two ounces minimum. Put the fish in a medium to large sized mixing bowl (depending on the size of the fish) in his own water from his tank. In a small jar or or something with a lid (I use a cleaned out jelly jar – about 6 ounces) mix the clove oil with tank water. Use ? ounce for bettas, an ounce for larger fish, and have more on hand for really large fish such as goldfish, oscars, pacus, etc. Put the lid on and shake it like crazy over and over until the liquid in it is white. Then pour a little into the mixing bowl with the fish. Swirl it with your hand. The fish might fight it just a little bit and then slow down. Then pour a little more in and swirl again. He should just go to sleep and appear dead. If he doesn’t, try a little more of the clove solution, always shaking very well before an addition to the bowl. When he goes to sleep, leave him in the solution for a good 10 minutes and then put him in a small cup or ziplock baggie and put him in the freezer. Pain free death. Very humane. We should all go so easily.
Generally speaking, when you have had to resort to force feeding and the seahorse is still does not respond, there is not much more that can be done to save the seahorse and it may be time to consider ending the seahorse’s suffering.
In addition to treating the affected seahorse, Lisa, it’s very important to determine what may have caused this problem in the first place and to correct the situation so that the rest of your seahorses don’t become infected. One of the best ways to prevent bacterial infections and other disease problems is to provide your seahorses with a stress-free environment. Many of the parasites and pathogens that plague our pampered ponies are ubiquitous — present in low numbers in most everyone’s systems or within the seahorse’s body itself (Indiviglio, 2002). As a rule, healthy fish resist such microorganisms easily, and they only become a problem when seahorse’s immune system has been impaired, leaving it susceptible to disease (Indiviglio, 2002). Chronic low-level stress is one of the primary factors that suppresses the immune system and weakens the immune response, opening the way to infection and disease (Indiviglio, 2002). Long-term exposure to stressful conditions is very debilitating.
When disease breaks out in an established aquarium it is therefore generally an indication that something is amiss with your aquarium conditions. A gradual decline in water quality is often a precursor of disease (Indiviglio, 2002). Poor water quality is stressful to seahorses. Prolonged stress weakens their immune system. And an impaired immune system leaves the seahorse vulnerable to bacterial, viral, and fungal infections to which healthy, unstressed seahorses are immune. As if that weren’t bad enough, there are a number of environmental diseases that are caused directly by water quality problems.
With this in mind, it’s important to review the most common stressors of captive seahorses. These include the design of the aquarium itself. A poorly designed seahorse setup that lacks adequate cover and shelter, or has too few hitching posts, will be stressful to the occupants (Topps, 1999). Seahorses are shy, secretive animals that rely on camouflage and the ability to conceal themselves for their safety and survival. A sparsely decorated tank that leaves them feeling vulnerable and exposed will be a source of constant stress (Topps, 1999). The seahorse setup should have plenty of secure hiding places so they can conceal themselves from view completely whenever they feel the need for privacy. It should be located in a low traffic area away from external sources of shock and vibration.
Needless to say, rapid fluctuations in temperature, pH, salinity and other aquarium parameters must also be avoided. A large aquarium of 40 gallons or more provides much greater stability in that regard than does a smaller setup. The greater the water volume in the aquarium and sump, the more sJanuary 3, 2011 at 1:58 pm #5244lisapanigasGuest
Thank you for your detailed reply. I will keep that information handy. I tube fed her as she had no interest in feeding, but after 2 days of this she has deteriorated. She is now lying on her side and her tail is stiffening behind her. So I am guessing that whatever the cause of her initial behaviour, it is probably to late to save her.
I still think the initial problem may have been egg bound as there were no outer visible signs of parasites, rot or infection. She has a pearly looking bulge at her anal opening and was carrying eggs.
It is hearbreaking to see her struggle and if she survives the night I will try and euthanase her tomorrow – hoping nature takes its course before this as I think it will be difficult.
Thanks again, Lisa
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