Keeping Seahorses in Aquaria #6 - Dealing with Travel and Sickness

vlangel

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Our previous article on Keeping Seahorses in Aquaria focused on how to feed and nourish your ponies. This, our final article in this series, will address how to deal with time away due to travel and also how to handle disease and sickness in your herd.

Now that you know what is necessary to feed seahorses, you are probably coming to the realization that perhaps the teenager next door is not the best choice as a fish sitter!

This is the aspect of seahorse keeping that was my biggest source of consternation when I was considering acquiring them. I have 3 grown children in 3 different states, so I knew I would be travelling. I had to have a plan for the care of my ponies when I went away. Here is how I handle vacations and seahorses.

My plan includes having a person who is acquainted with marine aquaria come once a day. If no such person exists in your world, my plan will not work for you. Many of you, however, are in local fish clubs and that is a good place to find such a person. You can offer to watch over each other’s tanks when you both go away. That is a good arrangement most of the time because it benefits both parties without financial obligations. There are LFS that have employees that you might be able to hire on the side to care for the ponies. This of course requires leaving a key and the trust of the rest of your house in this person’s care. My person is my sister, so I know my house and my seahorses are in good hands when I travel.


Assuming that you have a trustworthy individual to feed your seahorses once a day, you want to make the chore as easy and foolproof as possible for them. I write detailed instructions out on paper and tape that to the tank so they can double check in case they forgot something. I pre-measure the mysis for each day. It is placed in a bathroom Dixie cup with tape over the top. That way one cup and its contents are taken out of the freezer each day. The tank water is added to the cup to thaw. After the food is fed, the cup is thrown away. I have complete control on how much is fed. I have my feeder shrimp tank replenished so that when the ponies’ finish their frozen mysis, then 3 or so live shrimp per pony can be netted from the feeder shrimp for the seahorses to hunt their next meal. This is a fairly reliable way to assure that the tank is not overfed while the ponies are getting enough to eat.

If you do a series of WCs going into your vacation and plan to do another series when you arrive home, your seahorses should be ok for a week’s vacation. If you plan to be gone longer then I would plan for a knowledgeable person to do WCs on the seahorse tank. I always have the water pre-made and circulating in a brute can for WCs.

This can be a nerve-wracking experience but it can usually work. If your lifestyle entails a lot of travel then perhaps the worry associated with travelling and leaving the ponies in another’s care is not worth it. If you only travel occasionally then there is probably a workable solution.


Dealing with Disease and Sickness

When it comes to seahorses, I say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Doctoring a sick pony is both emotionally and physically taxing. Remind yourself of this when you feel tempted to skip a WC or skimp on husbandry. The reality is however, even if you are conscientiously keeping seahorses, you will probably at some time be required to treat a sick pony.

The first step is to have a first aid kit on hand to immediately treat a sick seahorse. In most all cases, the quicker a seahorse is treated, the more positive the prognosis. The first aid kit should include a soft pipette and (syringe without a needle) for pouch evacuations or for tube-feeding a sick seahorse. Bio-bandage is a good topical medication if you can find it. I have used Neosporin but it does not stay on the seahorse very well. Anti-bacterial medications like Furan 2, Triple sulfa, tetracycline, and erythromycin are all good to have and most LFS carry them. PraziPro is a good anti-parasitic medication. Kordon Rid Ich Plus which contains formalin is a good anti-fungal or for ecto-parasitic infestation (sometimes it can help with pop-eye). Always have vigorous aeration when using this and check the shelf life, as it can be toxic when it is old. Kordon Methylene Blue is good for reversing ammonia poisoning or relieving respiratory distress. Again, most LFS carry these.

A final medication used for GBD, (gas bubble disease) can’t be gotten at a LFS. It is Diamox, (acetazolamine) and must be obtained with a script from your vet or your family physician. I also understand that it can be purchased online overseas but the quality of the medication can be suspect as it is bypassing certain regulations. There is always the possibility of confiscation by custom’s officials even though this is a legal medication for glaucoma in humans.

When a Seahorse is Beyond Treatment

Unfortunately, there are times when medical intervention is not going to save your beloved pony. This can be especially difficult for seahorse keepers as seahorses often interact with such animation toward their owners. There are really only 2 options for the aquarist. One is to keep your beloved pony as comfortable as possible until the inevitable happens and the other is to gently euthanize the terminal pony with clove oil. This is a personal decision that only the aquarist can make and neither option is easy. As a seahorse owner, it is important that you know ahead of time that you will likely be faced with this dilemma. That won’t take away the pain of loss but at least you will be prepared to deal with it. Also keep in mind that the joy and love they bring to your heart is well worth the risk of loss. Isn’t it that way with anything in life worth having?


Editor’s Note: This brings us to the end of our series on Keeping Seahorses in Aquaria. I hope that in your learning, you’ve caught a bit of the passion that the author holds for these lovable aquatic ponies and that you now feel much more equipped to care for your own herd. Please be sure to share your experiences with us as you start your own pony corral and participate in all the enjoyment that caring for seahorses will bring! If you’d like to share your own adventures with seahorses, or if you have further questions, please be sure to participate in our forum for Seahorse/Pipefish Enthusiasts here on R2R!

 

gary henkel

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if you are only going to be gone for 2-3 days, i wouldn't have anybody messing with my tank. the horses will do just fine. you can preload the tank before you leave with enhanced brine shrimp, but i have frequently left my tank alone for 2-3 days and have never had an issue. many recommend fasting horses once a week to cut down on fatty liver disease anyhow.
but congrats on the series. excellent advise for those heading toward seahorse species only tanks.
 
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vlangel

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if you are only going to be gone for 2-3 days, i wouldn't have anybody messing with my tank. the horses will do just fine. you can preload the tank before you leave with enhanced brine shrimp, but i have frequently left my tank alone for 2-3 days and have never had an issue. many recommend fasting horses once a week to cut down on fatty liver disease anyhow.
but congrats on the series. excellent advise for those heading toward seahorse species only tanks.
Thank you! And I understand your feelings about having anyone messing with your tank.
 

mdbannister

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Another excellent article! Great series! I've already got my seahorse tank planned once we get a hose where I can set it up. :)
 
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vlangel

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Another excellent article! Great series! I've already got my seahorse tank planned once we get a hose where I can set it up. :)
Thank you! I will be excited to follow your tank when the time comes.
 

islandbreeze

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First off, great article, I do agree however with the 2-3 day comment w enhanced brine if you don't have someone you trust. I'm actually a small aspiring fish breeder but have had great results w multiple species of fish have u, not delving into seahorses but familiar some through my reading. After maintaining several micro algae cultures, 2 strains of rots and farming enhanced brine when needed for over 2 years now, I believe I have come up.with an automated design to grow nano or whatever to a specific desity then auto dispense to a rotifer system which requires only monthly maintenance. This system could additionally breed brine or mysis. The idea is a system which is self regulating, possibly apex compatible, allows dosing from and provides continual stocking of aquarium w live foods but optimally enhanced w live phyto. What kind of demand is there for seahorse owners and breeders even for a product? What would one pay for such a device. I'm being honest here I've been thinking of this over the past 2 yrs and have come up.with a solution. Aside from brine and mysis, what could a seahorse survive on for long periods say week or 2 alone especially if they are in water column continually. Thanks for reading this long post, I appreciate any feedback, thank you
 
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vlangel

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First off, great article, I do agree however with the 2-3 day comment w enhanced brine if you don't have someone you trust. I'm actually a small aspiring fish breeder but have had great results w multiple species of fish have u, not delving into seahorses but familiar some through my reading. After maintaining several micro algae cultures, 2 strains of rots and farming enhanced brine when needed for over 2 years now, I believe I have come up.with an automated design to grow nano or whatever to a specific desity then auto dispense to a rotifer system which requires only monthly maintenance. This system could additionally breed brine or mysis. The idea is a system which is self regulating, possibly apex compatible, allows dosing from and provides continual stocking of aquarium w live foods but optimally enhanced w live phyto. What kind of demand is there for seahorse owners and breeders even for a product? What would one pay for such a device. I'm being honest here I've been thinking of this over the past 2 yrs and have come up.with a solution. Aside from brine and mysis, what could a seahorse survive on for long periods say week or 2 alone especially if they are in water column continually. Thanks for reading this long post, I appreciate any feedback, thank you
That sounds very interesting. One problem I can foresee with your system as an automated mysis shrimp feeder is pathogenic bacteria. All the cultured creatures from Roti up through mysis will have more resistance to vibrio and other bacterial strains. As a Seahorse keeper who is concerned about keeping bacteria at bay, I personally would never directly dose a cultured creature without cleaning it first to minimize bad bacteria. It sounds promising for other applications however.
 

islandbreeze

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That sounds very interesting. One problem I can foresee with your system as an automated mysis shrimp feeder is pathogenic bacteria. All the cultured creatures from Roti up through mysis will have more resistance to vibrio and other bacterial strains. As a Seahorse keeper who is concerned about keeping bacteria at bay, I personally would never directly dose a cultured creature without cleaning it first to minimize bad bacteria. It sounds promising for other applications however.
Thanks for the response.
That sounds very interesting. One problem I can foresee with your system as an automated mysis shrimp feeder is pathogenic bacteria. All the cultured creatures from Roti up through mysis will have more resistance to vibrio and other bacterial strains. As a Seahorse keeper who is concerned about keeping bacteria at bay, I personally would never directly dose a cultured creature without cleaning it first to minimize bad bacteria. It sounds promising for other applications however.
Ok, interesting and knowing that rot water is toxic if used in tank ive been doing some thinking, so though may sound complex but not really. the idea is the culture could be dosed/ dumped in separate container then rinsed/ soaked enriched selco and more live phyto whathavu , then reservoir w culture refilled w clean salt water to closer salinity in tank from best breeding salinity for max motility then dosed to tank. Would that be clean enough? a second fill rinse could easily be programmed if needed. the system although fully automated its self rinsing and its dosing/ dumping cycles of algae/ rots/ decapped brine and or mysis/ pods into each new environment would still involve a monthly cleaning of 1 of 2 or 3 algae vessels( 2 always cycling), 2 rot vessels, one holding and one dosing, and 2 of 3 mysis(1 of 2 to clean maintaining culture and 1 dosing/enrichment/dumping/ rising vessel aside from that you would refill 2 seawater reservoirs one at 1.012-14 ( rot culture up to 20% daily of culture vessel automated ( this also yields our variable unlimited rots reguardless of need for feed to mysis/pods). Ive figured out the auto algae growing and dosing setup it requires only a reservoir w f2 formula and micro amount of measured bleach. So in all thats 4-5 small say 2-3 gallon containers to just wipe with rot cloth and or rotate w diff set and reflling of 2 seawter containers and f2 container maybe a few rigid air tubes to wipe down.. didnt say it was gonna be easy or super small, just revolutionary. apex of course w about 8 dosing pumps. sounds crazy but definitely wild idea ive had for ever now. Turn key under 500? 750? whats it worth for all those exotic seahorses, pipefish, mandarins, jellies? breeders?! breeding fish or any marine species is FULL TIME work trust me this could propel breeding to new level where people actually have major time freed up. allbeit maybe not for small time aquarist on budget but the concept entertains me just curious of demand out there?
 
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vlangel

vlangel

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Thanks for the response.

Ok, interesting and knowing that rot water is toxic if used in tank ive been doing some thinking, so though may sound complex but not really. the idea is the culture could be dosed/ dumped in separate container then rinsed/ soaked enriched selco and more live phyto whathavu , then reservoir w culture refilled w clean salt water to closer salinity in tank from best breeding salinity for max motility then dosed to tank. Would that be clean enough? a second fill rinse could easily be programmed if needed. the system although fully automated its self rinsing and its dosing/ dumping cycles of algae/ rots/ decapped brine and or mysis/ pods into each new environment would still involve a monthly cleaning of 1 of 2 or 3 algae vessels( 2 always cycling), 2 rot vessels, one holding and one dosing, and 2 of 3 mysis(1 of 2 to clean maintaining culture and 1 dosing/enrichment/dumping/ rising vessel aside from that you would refill 2 seawater reservoirs one at 1.012-14 ( rot culture up to 20% daily of culture vessel automated ( this also yields our variable unlimited rots reguardless of need for feed to mysis/pods). Ive figured out the auto algae growing and dosing setup it requires only a reservoir w f2 formula and micro amount of measured bleach. So in all thats 4-5 small say 2-3 gallon containers to just wipe with rot cloth and or rotate w diff set and reflling of 2 seawter containers and f2 container maybe a few rigid air tubes to wipe down.. didnt say it was gonna be easy or super small, just revolutionary. apex of course w about 8 dosing pumps. sounds crazy but definitely wild idea ive had for ever now. Turn key under 500? 750? whats it worth for all those exotic seahorses, pipefish, mandarins, jellies? breeders?! breeding fish or any marine species is FULL TIME work trust me this could propel breeding to new level where people actually have major time freed up. allbeit maybe not for small time aquarist on budget but the concept entertains me just curious of demand out there?
I am on vacation but gonna read your post more thoroughly and will reply after I can ponder it more, ok?
 

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