The white spot disease, more commonly known as Ich, is an epidemic.
It’s a disease that no fish tank owner wants to cross paths with.
Keep reading this article to know about identifying, treating, and how to prevent Ich in the first place.
How to Identify, Treat, and Prevent Freshwater Ich? Identifying Ich is easy; your fish will gradually develop white spots on their entire body and began behaving abnormally. Ich can be treated using different kinds of medications and salt. Preventing this disease is a little more complicated.
How to Identify, Treat and Prevent Ich (Video)
What is Ich (White Spot Disease)?
Ich is actually a disease among fish that is caused by a protozoan ectoparasite known as Ichthyophthirius multifiliis.
This parasite is attracted to fish that already have a weak immune system, because of factors such as poor quality of water.
The worse part about this disease is that it’s contagious.
Just one fish suffering from Ich can infect the entire tank.
As I mentioned before, treating this disease is not simple.
The parasite goes through a life cycle, and it feeds on the fish as they become weak.
Ichthyophthirius multifiliis does not kill the fish but brings it close to death.
It makes the immune system of the fish so weak that the fish becomes susceptible to a variety of diseases and dies due to any secondary disease or damaged gills.
What happens after the fish gets infected with Ich? (Lifecycle of Ich)
Ichthyophthirius multifiliis the ectoparasite starts by burrowing into the skin of the infected fish, and it continues to feed on the dead epithelial cells as well as the blood of the fish.
If you look closely at your fish, you’ll notice that marks that look like mosquito bites.
Wait! It gets worse!
The burrowing motion of the parasite causes irritation, and the skin of the fish swells up and begins to produce white cysts that look like white spots.
As the lifecycle of the parasite proceeds, the pest develops into a trophozoite.
It burrows through the body of the infected fish and then makes its way to the bottom of the fish tank.
At the bottom of the fish tank, the parasite secretes a jelly-like substance that forms s protective layer inside of which it divides into thousands of baby parasites which are called tomites.
The tomites than leave their home and began searching for healthy fish to feast on.
This is when the parasite can be eliminated.
Once the pest burrows itself into another fish, it is safely protected from any chemicals in the water.
How to Identify Ich?
Spotting a fish that is infected with Ich in the early stages of the infection can be a tad bit challenging.
If you take a closer look, you will notice that the infected fish has a number of white nodules on its body that look like grains of salt.
Each of these little white dots is a parasite that is preparing to reproduce.
Most fish owners are oblivious to this disease until their entire tank has been infected.
At that point, all the fish in the aquarium will be infected, and it will be difficult to control the problem.
You need to remember that this behavior might not be apparent among fish that have been newly infected, so it is vital for you to monitor your fish so that you can get to the bottom of this issue as soon as possible.
Early treatment might just be your only hope.
How does Ich get into the fish tank?
When it comes to the introduction of Ich into the aquarium, there are two theories.
One of the theory is that Ich was already in your fish tank.
It is such a common disease that most aquarists think that it’s mostly already in the fish tank and is just waiting for the right conditions to show its true colors.
Another theory is that Ich is introduced into the tank from another tank that was already infected.
It can be transferred via a newly purchased fish or décor or plant.
How long does Ich take to kill fish?
Tomites can survive for about three days without attaching themselves to any fish.
Once they burrow inside the fish, it may take a week or so for the symptoms of the Ich to become visible.
The time it takes for the Ich to kill the fish really depends on the health of your fish.
It may take days or even weeks before your fishy friends take a trip to fishy heaven.
Treatment of Ich
Ich is a very common disease, and there have been many treatments developed in order to get rid of it.
Before you start any treatment, you should know that what works for one fish, might not work for another fish.
Medications are used to treat a multitude of fish related diseases, and Ich is one of them.
The two most popular drugs are malachite green and formalin.
I would recommend you to use Seachem Paraguard, it is a mix of malachite green and other substances plus it is also less harmful.
Many aquarists also use several other medications such as methyl clue and copper, but these are not as effective as malachite green or formalin, and they are also a little difficult to find.
Before you begin with this treatment, make sure to remove all the carbon filters from your aquarium.
These filters might end up removing the medication from your tank, so it’s best to replace them once the treatment is over.
Also, make sure to conduct several water changes after you have completed the treatment.
The water changes will help you remove any chemicals in the water that your fish should not be exposed to.
When it comes to using malachite green, you need to take certain precautions.
Malachite green can be harmful to scaleless fish such as catfish or native North American fish etc.
It tends to stain the decorations as well as the silicone, green.
Kordon Rid Ich
This is another very popular medicine that is used to treat Ich among fish.
Kordon Rid Ich contains two highly powerful medications that are formalin based.
You should always handle such strong medication with the utmost care.
Transfer fish to Quarantine Fish Tank
Before you begin to use medications to treat your aquarium, remember to transfer all your fish into a quarantine tank.
Some of the medications can be very harmful to the plants as well as the anaerobic bacteria in your fish tank.
This does not just apply to plants but also invertebrates.
Most of the medications contain copper, which can be deadly for the invertebrates in your aquarium.
Read the Instructions Carefully
You should never just randomly put medication in your aquarium.
Always take your time and read everything before proceeding with the treatment.
For the best results, use a calculator to measure the dosage needed.
Overdosing can be very harmful to your fish.
You should always spread out the dosage.
Add medication with hourly intervals in order to make sure that if there are any negative effects during the lower concentrations.
If you have any doubt about the medication, just take help from an expert.
It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Other Possible Medication for Ich Treatment
API Pond MELAFIX Pond Fish Bacterial Infection Remedy
- Brand: API
- Weight: 16 oz
- Safe for fish
- Caters to parasites
- Last resort treatment for Ich
The heat treatment might be your golden ticket to treating Ich once and for all.
All you need to do is to raise the temperature of your fish tank.
Ich cannot multiply at a temperature higher than 86 degrees Fahrenheit.
The problem with this is that most fish cannot tolerate such a high temperature, but this is the only non-toxic way of getting rid of Ich.
Even if you are unable to raise the temperature that high, raising just a few degrees might also help.
The increase in temperature accelerates the life cycle of the parasite and slows the chemicals to target the Ich in the tomite phase easily, and this is when they are most vulnerable to chemicals.
The only thing you need to remember is that this treatment should only be done for a few days, and do not raise the temperature more than 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Anything more than 80 degrees Fahrenheit might stress out the already sick and weakened fish.
Carry out this treatment for cold water fish, as you might cause oxygen depletion.
You should increase the oxygen level in your aquarium during the heat treatment.
You can do this by adding an air stone or by going ahead and increasing the flow by using a filter.
Hang on back filters help to create water movement which assists in the aeration of water
Adding chlorine to the water is another way to get rid of the Ich.
This is not a very popular technique as the chlorine also wipes out the beneficial bacteria in the fish tank.
Beneficial bacteria help to process nitrites and ammonia.
Chlorine treatment is a little tricky.
You should only go ahead with this if you are able to deal with a spike in the level of nitrites and ammonia in your aquarium and can also conduct water changes on a daily basis.
The chlorine will cause the Ich parasites to disappear after just a couple of days, and rest will be gone in a few weeks.
The chlorine treatment is usually carried out in very large aquariums or large ponds, where other kinds of treatments are not so effective.
The spike in nitrites and ammonia in large ponds and aquariums is not as toxic compared to smaller aquariums where such spikes can be deadly.
Fish Removal Treatment
Ich is dependent on fish for their survival.
The fact is, that if there are no fish in the aquarium than the tomites might not have anything to latch on and will soon die off.
This treatment is not or everyone as it is challenging to have another cycled fish tank for the weak and sick fish.
The infected fish also need to be treated for Ich, as they may contaminate the new tank.
This is actually one of the most effective ways of getting rid of Ich if done effectively.
Worst case scenario:
The number of parasites in your tank will be greatly reduced.
Ich actually prospers in freshwater aquariums, and they have a very low tolerance when it comes to salt.
You can remove Ich from your aquarium by increasing the salt concentration in your fish tank.
This treatment is mostly done simultaneously with heat treatment.
The heat treatment helps to accelerate the life cycle of the parasite and also helps the fish to develop a slime coat that protects them for parasites.
Start the salt treatment by adding one tablespoon per gallon in your fish tank.
You should only use aquarium salt.
Never use table salt with added iodine.
You should abstain from using the salt treatment with any medications.
The salt in your aquarium might react with the medication, which can greatly restrict the amount of oxygen in the fish tank.
The lack of oxygen could actually be fatal for your fish, especially those who are already suffering from respiratory problems due to the increase in temperature.
API AQUARIUM SALT
- Brand: API
- Weight: 4 pounds
- Available in 4 different sizes
- Provides electrolytes to the aquarium
- Helps in fish respiration
- Battles Ich
- Cannot be used with live plants
How to Prevent Ich?
Stress is one of the reasons that lead to the weakening of the immune system of your fishy friends.
When the immune system of the fish is weak, it becomes susceptible to all kinds of different diseases, bacteria, microorganisms, and viruses.
Ich does not target healthy fish with strong immune systems.
The less stressed your fish are, the more healthy they will be and less susceptible to diseases such as Ich.
You should always place new fish in a quarantine tank for about two weeks, before introducing them into your main tank.
Two weeks is ample time to monitor your new fish and rule out any possibility of them carrying Ich.
The quarantine tank does not have to be big, but it should provide your fish with an environment where it can be happy as well as healthy.
This quarantine procedure should not be limited to fish.
You should even quarantine any new plants that your purchase for about four days.
In case the free-living tomonts or theronts came along with your new plant, they will surely die due to the absence of fish.
Diet is always important.
If you want your fish to be healthy and have the power to fight off diseases than you need to provide your fish with high-quality food.
Before purchasing any fish, you should always do your research about the little creature.
The research will help you figure out the nutritional need of your fishy friend and help you provide your fish with the diet it needs to stay healthy and happy.
Best Fish Food
- Brand: Tetra
- Weight: 100 ml
- Designed for Marine Fish
- Can be used for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums
- Kid safety packaging
- Provides extra energy to fish
- Only good for small fish tanks
New Life Spectrum Marine Fish Formula 1mm Sinking Pellet Fish Food
- Brand: New Life Spectrum
- Weight: 125 Gram
- Zero Hormones
- Contains no hormones
- Suitable for omnivores, carnivores and herbivores
- Does not pollute the aquarium water
- Challenging for surface fish to eat, as the product sinks too fast
TetraColor Tropical Flakes with Natural Color Enhancer
- Brand: Tetra
- Weight: 06-Ounce
- Clean Water Formula
- Clean water formula, prevents fish tank from getting cloudy
- Contains probitoics to assist digestion
- Contains antioxidants for healthy cells
- Plastic bottle is floppy
Quality of Water
It is crucial to provide your fish with an environment it can thrive in.
Poor quality of water stress out fish, which leads to the weakening of their immune system.
A decline in the quality of water also serves as an open invitation to harmful microorganisms.
You should always monitor the water parameters of your aquarium.
Avoid any fluctuations in the water temperature, concentration of nitrites, ammonia, and nitrates plus the pH levels.
In order to keep the water clean, stop overfeeding your fish, conduct regular water changes, and keep tabs on the water chemistry of your fish tank.
Best Aquarium Test Kits
API Freshwater Master Test Kit
- Brand: API
- Weight: 1.15 pounds
- Measure: pH level, nitrites, nitrates and ammonia
- Great product for this price range
- Gives good results
- Easy to use
- Comes with step by step instructions
- Not ideal for individuals who require to the decimal results
Red Sea Fish Pharm ARE21525 Marine Care Test Kit for Aquarium
- Brand: Red Sea Fish Pharm
- Weight: 1 pound
- Easy to use
- High quality equipment
- Does not make a mess
- Easy to follow instructions
- Some customers complained of the packing
Nutrafin Master Test Kit
- Brand: Nutrafin
- Weight: 3.9 pounds
- Comes in a durable and sturdy box
- Tests all water parameters
- Gives accurate results
- Equipment is excellently organized
- The caps of test tubes are not tight enough, they can leak
Can Ich Affect Humans?
Ich cannot affect humans.
There are only one or two very rare fish diseases that can be transmitted to humans.
Just to be on the safe side, you should always wear gloves while you handle infected fish or an infected aquarium.
The fact is that Ich can spread to humans that it does not harm humans in any way.
Can Ich Go Away on Its Own?
Yes, a visible Ich can go away on its own.
This will only happen if the immune system of your fish is strong enough to deal with the Ich.
As I mentioned before, Ich thrives on fish that have weak immune systems.
Parasites are something that always will be a part of your tank no matter what.
How Long Does it Take for Ich to Spread?
Ich spreads when you move a plant, a fish, or some kind of decoration from an infected tank into a new one.
By doing this, you infect the new tank.
Depending on the temperature of your aquarium, the whole Ich cycle can take from 5 days to several weeks.
Can Ich Survive Outside of Water?
Ich cannot survive for long in the absence of fish.
When the parasites are out in the open, the treated water can easily kill the Ich.
Since the parasite does not have a host to latch on, those that are not killed by the medication will die off eventually.
What are some common diseases among fish? Some of the most common diseases in fish include:
Fin rot and Mouth Decay
If a fish is suffering from this disease, it will, and the edges of its fins may appear whitish.
Most of the infected fish have open wounds, especially at the base of their fins.
The eyes, as well as the mucous membrane, may look a little cloudy.
When it comes to mouth decay infected fish, have cotton-like, whitish covering and tissue damage on their mouths.
This disease is caused by bacteria, and it targets fish that have a weak immune system.
This disease is common among fish that are not fed a proper healthy diet, live in poor conditions, and have parasites in their gills and skin.
The disease can be treated by using different kinds of medicines.
Apart from that, steps should be taken to improve the environment of the poor creatures, reduce their stress, and boost the health of your fish.
Hole in the Head Disease
Infected fish have cavities on their head which are small at first but grow increasingly bigger if left untreated.
In most cases, a whitish, pimple-like coating begins to become apparent.
The infected fish look as if the tissue around their head is eroding away.
There has been much speculation regarding the cause of this disease.
Most of the experts blame an intestinal parasite known as Hexamite.
Another theory suggests that a lack of nutrients and minerals plus bacteria are responsible for this disease.
The hole in the head disease can be treated by providing your fish with a diet that is rich in nutrition and caters to the needs of your fish.
Also, make sure to offer your fish a stress-free environment.
How to keep aquarium water clean? Keeping the aquarium water clean is not as challenging as you think.
Here are some tips to keep your fish tank clean.
Invest in a High- Quality Filter
A highly efficient filter will do most of the work for you.
The most important function of an aquarium filter is the biological filtration.
Remember always to get a filter that is bigger in size as compared to the size of your tank.
Conduct Regular Water Changes
I really cannot stress this statement enough.
Conducting regular water changes in really important for the health of your aquarium.
Changing the water of your aquarium from time to time helps to keep the levels of ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates low.
Changing the water of your aquarium does not mean that you need to empty the whole thing, you can do 20 to 30 percent water change in a week, and you are good to go.
Most overly enthusiastic fish owners make this rookie mistake.
We all love to add new fish to our aquarium, but at some point, you need to stop.
Overcrowding can stress out your fish and weaken their immune system.
Fish with weak immune systems are more susceptible to diseases.
The more fish you have, the more waste they will produce, thus making your fish tank water dirty much faster.