Testing for dissolved organics in a seahorse tank.

Randy Holmes-Farley

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Would it be possible to calculate approximately the DON trough ammonia released from the sand bed @Dan_P

No, dissolved organics in the water column have no clear relationship to ammonia anywhere in the system.
 
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infections in other organisms do not happen just because there is organic matter present
It wasn't my understanding that the increasing levels of DO in itself caused the seahorse infections but rather the increasing DO levels were synonymous with increasing nasty bacterial levels that DO cause the infections.
If this is NOT the case then I have an even bigger problem in finding out just what actually IS causing the infections as we used to have a severe problem in the hobby with GREAT losses until we revised our protocols.
Once we began to work at keeping DO levels from increasing, the bacterial infections became a minimal problem in the hobby.
Perhaps whatever the problem is, it is helped by the protocols we are now using to limit the DO?
 
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Dissolved organics are a big problem in seahorse tanks. As the levels increase, so do nasty bacteria that cause the diseases.
The only dissolved organic test kits I can find are for dissolved organic carbon.
Would using a test like that be indicative of all the dissolve organics or is there dissolved organics NOT carbon that can be there in varying amounts compared to the dissolved carbon being tested?
Hope this question makes sense.

If you want to test this hypothesis, you can test for total and dissolved organic carbon, but it is a send it out test, not an at home test that I am aware of.
 

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It wasn't my understanding that the increasing levels of DO in itself caused the seahorse infections but rather the increasing DO levels were synonymous with increasing nasty bacterial levels that DO cause the infections.
If this is NOT the case then I have an even bigger problem in finding out just what actually IS causing the infections as we used to have a severe problem in the hobby with GREAT losses until we revised our protocols.
Once we began to work at keeping DO levels from increasing, the bacterial infections became a minimal problem in the hobby.
Perhaps whatever the problem is, it is helped by the protocols we are now using to limit the DO?

I am not versed in seahorse tank issues, but I am somewhat skeptical of the hypothesis that organic levels alone is a big driver since it is not valid for other infections in other organisms.
 
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If you want to test this hypothesis, you can test for total and dissolved organic carbon, but it is a send it out test, not an at home test that I am aware of.
Yes, I found the Triton N-DOC test that you have to send the sample away. However, the cost prohibits a hobbyist from doing enough testing to be able to say conclusively one way or the other. Searching for a means for hobbyists to test for DO was the original reason for this thread. (Plus I wanted to know if there are DO's that are NOT carbon)
I didn't know if such a test kit was because it couldn't be done in a home test, or if it was just because there was no apparent demand in the numbers needed to commercially produce.
I am not versed in seahorse tank issues, but I am somewhat skeptical of the hypothesis that organic levels alone is a big driver since it is not valid for other infections in other organisms.
If you mean other marine fish by other organisms, in my ten years of the saltwater hobby (PRIOR to starting seahorses) with roughly over 30 fish in my many fish only tanks and reef tanks, I never experienced bacterial infections like I've experienced with seahorses. I experienced a lot of parasitic infections but not bacterial.
If you put seahorses in a reef tank, VERY few will survive for long even though most reef tanks have pretty good water quality.
I appreciate ALL the input on the thread and I will still keep hoping it leads to SOMETHING that will help us keep the seahorses long term by knowing the water is being looked after without just guessing at the level of the protocols we use now.
 
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Yes, I found the Triton N-DOC test that you have to send the sample away. However, the cost prohibits a hobbyist from doing enough testing to be able to say conclusively one way or the other.
To Randy's point - a triton NDOC would be a good way to test the hypothesis that seahorse systems have significantly higher organics than reef tanks.

If true it still wouldn't establish that this is the source of the seahorse health issues, but it would establish a logical basis for that idea that seahorse water is different in this respect.

And if that's the case, then remediation and cheaper routine testing of BOD could be a way to monitor the water quality of seahorse tanks.
 
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Thank you.
I'm not claiming that seahorse systems have significantly higher organics than reef tanks but rather, seahorses suffer bacterial infections and death from water the same quality as reef tanks. It IS possible the organics are higher due to the specific eating habits of seahorses being very selective of what they eat, but especially due to the mastication of the food when they snick it up, passing the masticated micro particles out their gills into the water column. You can often see a cloud emanating from the gills upon snicking due to that process. Without testing I don't know that for sure, only that success is fleeting if we don't keep the systems cleaner than a reef tank.
It's already an establish fact that most seahorse will end up dying if in reef tanks, with only the VERY hardiest ones surviving. You CAN have certain reef contents but they have to be chosen to be compatible for the seahorses. i.e. no clams to close on tails, no stinging corals, no corals not suited to the lower temps needed for seahorses to lessen the bacterial infections.
 

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Thank you.
I'm not claiming that seahorse systems have significantly higher organics than reef tanks but rather, seahorses suffer bacterial infections and death from water the same quality as reef tanks. It IS possible the organics are higher due to the specific eating habits of seahorses being very selective of what they eat, but especially due to the mastication of the food when they snick it up, passing the masticated micro particles out their gills into the water column. You can often see a cloud emanating from the gills upon snicking due to that process. Without testing I don't know that for sure, only that success is fleeting if we don't keep the systems cleaner than a reef tank.
It's already an establish fact that most seahorse will end up dying if in reef tanks, with only the VERY hardiest ones surviving. You CAN have certain reef contents but they have to be chosen to be compatible for the seahorses. i.e. no clams to close on tails, no stinging corals, no corals not suited to the lower temps needed for seahorses to lessen the bacterial infections.
Maybe try dosing a bacteria boosting products and copepods to help outcompete bad bacteria's? Even if you could test for DOC what would you do about it after you found a number?
 
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Maybe try dosing a bacteria boosting products and copepods to help outcompete bad bacteria's? Even if you could test for DOC what would you do about it after you found a number?
Thank you but we have already been doing that for some years now.
If we could test for and determine a certain range where infections were likely to begin, then we could routinely test for like we do other aspects of the hobby and if a tank approaches that determined range, we would then institute remedial changes to our protocols to upgrade the water quality.
Right now, all we can do is set up the system with what we think would work well and then institute husbandry and water change volume/frequency that we also think will be sufficient. If/when bacterial infections occur then we know we have to make changes to do better.
A big problem is that even prior marine experience doesn't seem to be of a lot of help as no one with a fish only or reef tank has to change the amounts of water as frequent as we need to do for seahorses to live long term. It's sometimes better to help newcomers with no marine experience as they generally speaking will accept the advice to do the extremes that can make them successful.
I've seen a lot of changes in the hobby over the last 20 yrs now and success is definitely much improved but still there are a WAY too many fatalities in seahorses. One big change was stocking density where recommendations used to be one pair for the first 30g and 15g more for each additional pair to now, 1st pair 30g each additional pair 25-30g more. This lesser stocking density has made it more forgiving so bacterial infections don't spring up so fast.
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

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Yes, I found the Triton N-DOC test that you have to send the sample away. However, the cost prohibits a hobbyist from doing enough testing to be able to say conclusively one way or the other. Searching for a means for hobbyists to test for DO was the original reason for this thread. (Plus I wanted to know if there are DO's that are NOT carbon)
I didn't know if such a test kit was because it couldn't be done in a home test, or if it was just because there was no apparent demand in the numbers needed to commercially produce.

If you mean other marine fish by other organisms, in my ten years of the saltwater hobby (PRIOR to starting seahorses) with roughly over 30 fish in my many fish only tanks and reef tanks, I never experienced bacterial infections like I've experienced with seahorses. I experienced a lot of parasitic infections but not bacterial.
If you put seahorses in a reef tank, VERY few will survive for long even though most reef tanks have pretty good water quality.
I appreciate ALL the input on the thread and I will still keep hoping it leads to SOMETHING that will help us keep the seahorses long term by knowing the water is being looked after without just guessing at the level of the protocols we use now.

On the point of carbon, there is no such thing as an organic that does not contain carbon. It’s the very definition of an organic.

I was not referring to Triton test, but the wider world of companies that test DOC and TOC (which includes particulate organics).

Example:

 

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Thank you but we have already been doing that for some years now.
If we could test for and determine a certain range where infections were likely to begin, then we could routinely test for like we do other aspects of the hobby and if a tank approaches that determined range, we would then institute remedial changes to our protocols to upgrade the water quality.
Right now, all we can do is set up the system with what we think would work well and then institute husbandry and water change volume/frequency that we also think will be sufficient. If/when bacterial infections occur then we know we have to make changes to do better.
A big problem is that even prior marine experience doesn't seem to be of a lot of help as no one with a fish only or reef tank has to change the amounts of water as frequent as we need to do for seahorses to live long term. It's sometimes better to help newcomers with no marine experience as they generally speaking will accept the advice to do the extremes that can make them successful.
I've seen a lot of changes in the hobby over the last 20 yrs now and success is definitely much improved but still there are a WAY too many fatalities in seahorses. One big change was stocking density where recommendations used to be one pair for the first 30g and 15g more for each additional pair to now, 1st pair 30g each additional pair 25-30g more. This lesser stocking density has made it more forgiving so bacterial infections don't spring up so fast.

What I have heard from friends with Seahorses is that a UV is helpful.
 
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It could just be that seahorses are more susceptible to bacterial infections.

Also, DOC levels may be related to filter cleaning frequency while nitrate levels are related to water changes. This does make sense since most nitrogen is excreted in the form of ammonia and already water soluble/not in particulate matter.
 

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Thanks for the link Randy but it's still expensive and more so for me living in Canada as the exchange rate is not in my favour and then the banks add in their little charge too for the conversion.
As for UV, it's great for many things including seahorse fry, but for standard seahorses in aquariums, it doesn't help much because the bacteria doing the damage are almost exclusively benthic and don't pass through the UV.
Fry rearing containers in the early stages HAVE shown to have better survival with the use of UV.
That being said, there are many hobbyists that have UV installed and it seems to help other aspects of the tanks but just not preventing the bacterial infections.
 
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It could just be that seahorses are more susceptible to bacterial infections.

Also, DOC levels may be related to filter cleaning frequency while nitrate levels are related to water changes. This does make sense since most nitrogen is excreted in the form of ammonia and already water soluble/not in particulate matter.
Yes, it's definite that seahorses are more susceptible to bacterial infections.
Our recommendations are to clean filter material as in pads or socks, twice a week if possible but certainly no longer than a week. We also recommend extremely oversized skimmers and/or use of GAC, but it still takes a lot of larger more frequent water changes than other marine fish only, or reef tanks.
 
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Yes, dosing peroxide has been a recommended procedure since Dan Underwood of Seahorse Source began recommending it many years ago now. However, while recommended, not all hobbyists use it and we have NO data to determine just how many fewer infections might be happening in tanks that do use it compared to those not using it.
The science is there for it to be beneficial for sure.
 

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Thanks for the link Randy but it's still expensive and more so for me living in Canada as the exchange rate is not in my favour and then the banks add in their little charge too for the conversion.
As for UV, it's great for many things including seahorse fry, but for standard seahorses in aquariums, it doesn't help much because the bacteria doing the damage are almost exclusively benthic and don't pass through the UV.
Fry rearing containers in the early stages HAVE shown to have better survival with the use of UV.
That being said, there are many hobbyists that have UV installed and it seems to help other aspects of the tanks but just not preventing the bacterial infections.

I agree it’s expensive, but thats the only way to validate the hypothesis that I know of. Like testing drugs before prescribing them to people.
 
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Randy Holmes-Farley

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I'll have to hope someone else can take up the slack then. I'll be 80 at the first of the year and income is limited. Even if I was to start, I may not make it to the finish.

OK, I get that you may not be interested in proving whether the hypothesis is valid or not.

Supposing it is, what do you want to do to lower DOC?
 

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