Ich, ick or white spot disease are all names for the effects of a parasite called
These parasites go through a life cycle that averages about 2 weeks in
duration. Other diseases can cause the appearance of white spots too, so
you can't always be certain that you are looking at ich. It is definitely
the most common disease affecting freshwater tropical fish though. There
is usually a factor which brings on an outbreak of ich. Possible sources
include poor water quality, the introduction of water caring the disease and
stress to fish causing their immunity levels to drop.
Many tetras are
easily stressed and after surviving a trip to a new home, their immunity levels
will be reduced and they will be susceptible to low levels of ich in a tank
where the original inhabitants are doing fine. It will appear that the
tetras brought the ich to the new tank, but they can actually be reacting to
small levels that were already present. Ich frequently affects tetras and
clown loaches. It can also affect many other fish, including exotic plecos.
||Cysts incubate in the substrate and hatch tomites
||Hundreds of tomites hatch from each cyst after
about three days and swim free, looking for hosts. This is
the stage when medications have the best impact.
||Tomites burrow through the skin of fish, causing
stress and exposure to bacteria.
General rules for treating ich:
- Take action quickly, as ich will
kill the infected fish in a few days. It will multiple and spread to
Quarantine the affected fish. This will
reduce the exposure of other fish.
Increase the temperature a couple
of degrees in the main tank and the quarantine tank to speed the life cycle of ich.
Change a bucket full of water out
of the affected tank. Try not to change too much water as an ammonia
spike could occur and stress the fish further.
Use aquarium salt in the main tank and the quarantine tank. In general most fish can tolerate low levels of
salt. We suggest 1 tablespoon for 40 gallons as a preventative
measure in most tanks. Wardley packages aquarium salt and it is sold at Walmart.
For fish showing signs of ich, try a salt
bath. For exotic plecos, our
readers have suggested salt baths in a separate holding area for 5 to 10
minutes with concentrations of 4 or 5 times that in the tank they will be
immediately returned to.
Consider a chemical treatment - more on this below
Be prepared to repeat the treatment. Since ich goes through a life
cycle another outbreak can occur within a few days.
There are a number
of chemicals that successfully treat ich, but these are dangerous
alternatives. The cure can be more harmful than the disease with
these. These treatment can be applied to the main tank and the quarantine
tank. When using chemicals remember to stop using your carbon and zeolite
filters, as they will remove the chemical from the water. Some of
the common treatments are:
Malachite green -
This is the most commonly suggested treatment. Malachite green is a
very minor but powerful ingredient in Quick Cure. Malachite green is
deadly to any fish. It is similar to using chemo therapy in cancer
treatment on humans, as it damages the fish at the same time as it kills
the parasite. Tetras do not tolerate this treatment well and it is
especially hard on neons and cardinals. Back way off on recommended
dosages. Quick Cure recommends 10 drops in a 20 gallon tank for
tetras, but we recommend not more than 2 or 3 drops in a tank that size.
You can get a half drop dose by releasing a drop in a cup of water,
stirring and then discarding half the solution. For plecos the most
common recommendation is to avoid using Quick Cure.
Formalin - Formalin
or formaldehyde is the main ingredient in Quick Cure. Novalec Inc
sells formalin and malachite green separately, unlike Quick Cure by
Aquarium Pharmaceuticals, which combines both ingredients.
Copper sulphate -
This is the main ingredient in Coppersafe and Aquari Sol. Coppersafe by Mardel
Industries specifically indicates that it is safe for scaleless
fish, but our readers have indicated
to us that it isn't the way to go for exotic plecos. Stick with salt
and salt baths for exotic plecos.