While trying to decide on which plants to buy for my aquarium, I became curious about plant itch. So, I researched to find out what causes ich and how to keep my aquatic plants safe from ich’s path.
Do aquarium plants transfer ich to other fish? Yes, they do. Plants in an aquarium can carry ich. Ich spreads rapidly in an aquarium so it remains in the water. The contaminated water carries the parasite. Thus, ich can be transported to rocks, plants, and anything inside the tank.
An infected aquarium is a Petri dish for bacteria and death. When ich spreads in an aquarium, ich lands on plants, rocks and anything on its path. A fish contaminated by the disease becomes vulnerable.
How to recognize ich
Ich is one of the most common fish diseases that attack both Freshwater and Marine species. Since ich is not known to affect invertebrates, aquarium owners should still be cautious. Ich is a parasite that attacks fresh and saltwater fish. Ich can be identified by the white, grain-like spots on a fish’s body. Sometimes, ich clumps together so they appear to be one large spot. Other times, ich hides under the gills.
The further the disease develops, the more blemishes a fish will have. Most aquarium owners are responsible and are diligent about the health of their plants and fish. As a result of their due diligence, most aquarium owners check their tanks daily. So, they are most likely to catch the disease on time. According to WikiHow, white spots are just one characteristic of ich. Ich may also be spotted by the changes to a fish’s personality and reaction to its habitat:
- Check for white patches on the fish’s body. Some ich hides on the fish’s gills or under its fins.
- Check for clamped/folded fins the fish presses against its body.
- Check for the difficulty in breathing. Fish with ich have labored breathing because the parasite sits on its gill blocking the oxygen. Some fish hover above the tank’s filter to catch some air.
- Check for loss of appetite. A fish infected with ich will not eat or spit out its food.
- Check for signs of reclusive behavior. Ich causes some fish to become loners and grumpy. They tend to hide under plants, decorations, and or rocks. Other fish become aggressive.
In order for ich to survive, it must have a fish host or it will die within 3 days. An aquarium infected with ich transfers ich to other fish through contact. The disease is contagious to all fresh and marine water fish. After ich attaches to a fish, the parasite begins a vicious cycle. It uses the fish’s body to feed itself and grow. Once the parasite matures, it leaves the fish’s body and latches to the glass and/or bottom of the fish tank. The parasite chooses this area of the tank to spawn a cyst it uses to reproduce. Inside the cyst, the infectious parasites undergo various reproductions creating thousands of these dangerous parasites. These parasites leave the cyst and invade the aquarium water looking for other hosts. They continue to invade the same fish.
For the most part, fish have a high tolerance for ich. However, stress is another factor that weakens a fish’s immune system. When its immune system is low, a fish is more susceptible to getting sick from ich. Therefore, it is imperative to recognize the stressors that compromise a fish’s health.
- Bad water quality
- Inaccurate water temperatures
- New fish or inhabitants
- Bad diet
- Environmental factors such as loud noise, banging walls.
- Improper handling and/or shipping of fish
Get rid of ich in a planted aquarium (Video)
How to remove ich from plants
The only way to remove ich from plants is to quarantine the fish and clean the tank separately. Since the disease is contagious, logic dictates that everything inside the tank has also been contaminated. Therefore, ich must be removed from both the tank and fish. These are two ways to kill ich from the tank:
- Quarantine the infected fish when fish and plants are quarantined, they are moved to a separate aquarium tank. The fish and plants inside the new tank are given fresh, clean water that has been treated for ich. Some fish can‘t be medicated. In this case, the water temperature inside the quarantine tank must be raised to 86 degrees to kill the ich remaining on the aquatic animals. Because gravel has a tendency to carry ich parasites, nitrates, and bacteria, it must be vacuumed. Moreover, carbon and medications must be cleaned from the filter. Once the tank is completely clean, fish can be slowly put back in the display tank.
- Treat the aquarium tank salt is a very effective treatment against ich. According to WikiHow, the recommended salt dose to kill ich is one tablespoon per five gallons of water. Start with half a spoon of salt to five gallons of water. After twelve hours, add the other half spoon of salt to the water. Keep in mind that some fish may be allergic to aquarium salt so it is best to start slowly when cleaning the tank.
At what temperature does ich die?
Ich doesn’t live too long. High temperature shortens their life cycle faster. In order for ich to die, the recommended temperature needs to be raised to 86 degrees (30 Celsius) but no higher than 90 degrees (32 Celsius). Aquarium Info advises the temperature should be increased two degrees every twelve hours until the desired temperature is obtained. This change in temperature should remain for two weeks. After which the temperature must be reduced slowly to its normal condition.
Fish that cannot handle a change in temperature should be placed in a separate tank. Heat accelerates the gestation period and the parasites replicate sooner. For this reason, the temperature must be raised. When the parasites are out in the open, the treated water will kill the ich. Since ich cannot live without a host, those that are not killed by medication or heat will also die off. Keep in my that heated water holds less oxygen so make sure the tank has sufficed oxygen or aeration.
Which fish are more susceptible to ich?
There are more species of fish more vulnerable to getting ich. According to Advanced Aquarium Concepts, these are:
- Pimodella Catfish
- Clown Loaches
- Silver Dollars
How is ich prevented?
Ich attacks fish with a weakened immune system. Those under stress become weak. Fish acclimated to their environment are happy and strong. Preventative measures include but are not limited to the list below:
- Purchase only healthy fish.
- Avoid purchasing a fish next to a dead one.
- Quarantine new fish for two weeks prior to introducing them to their new habitat.
- Maintain the correct levels of pH, ammonia levels, or temperature.
- Never overstock a tank. Fish need a roomy habitat to grow.
- Purchase plants from plant only tanks.
- Match the aquarium parameters of the store to the new inhabitant’s tank.
What medication is used to treat ich?
Local pet stores or fish stores sell products to kill ich. Medications are sold according to fish species. Tanks that house invertebrates fish will need to be treated with caution. Invertebrates include but are not limited to clams, snails, and shrimps.
The most popular medications used to treat ich are:
- Garlic Guard: Garlic Guard will produce the smell of natural garlic which is a diet enhancer to fish. This medication works best on fish that have lost their appetite.
- Kordon Rid Ich: Kordon Rid Ich is the most popular and dangerous ich medication available to consumers. The medication guarantees to kill any ich parasite while maintaining the fish alive.
- ParaGuard: ParaGuard is the less toxic of the three medications because it is made from aldehyde. Unfortunately, the medication was developed to kill more than ich so caution must be taken when used.
What is copper used for?
Ich lives longer in saltwater so copper is used as a medication to kill them. Copper cannot be used with freshwater fish. When copper is added to the tank, it combines with the calcium carbonate or magnesium carbonate from the rocks. Depending on how badly infected the tank is, copper treatment should be added to the tank for 14 to 25 days. Furthermore, it is imperative to follow the correct dosage and check for copper levels using an ion test kit.
Ich is a common fish disease that can be carried by plants. It does not discriminate when it comes to fish life. Taking precautions ensures fish in an aquarium remain happy in their habitat.