Platy Fish with White Spot – Reasons? How to Fix?

Platy is a freshwater fish that is commonly found in aquariums around the world. These beautiful and colored fish can sometimes also fall ill and develop white spots.

What are the white spots on the platy fish? These white spots called the ich are caused by parasites that affect the tropical fish. This disease can be controlled by treating the aquarium fish with anti-parasitic medicine and checking the water parameters.

The disease, known as the ich, causes white spots to appear on the fish. In this article, we will discover the reasons behind this disease and some ways to cure it.

What are the white spots on the platy?

The white spot disease is called the ich or ick. The scientific name of this disease is ‘Ichthyophthirius multifiliis’. This is a common parasitic disease that affects the platy fish as well. It appears as if tiny grains of sugar and salt are stuck on the body of the fish.

These spots are caused when a protozoan parasite attacks the fish and attaches itself to fish’s body, fins and gills. These parasites latch on to the fish’s body and damage the fish. Once the fish is affected by the ich, it will start experiencing breathing and movement problems. If not treated, it may even lead to death.

Unfortunately, this disease is contagious and if it is not controlled, it will spread to other fish in the aquarium. Further negligence can even lead to a hundred percent death rate. However, you can take care of your fish and prevent the illness from spreading in the aquarium. To learn how to do that, you can read the section on, “How to prevent the white spots” in this article.

How to Treat and Cure ICH — White Spot Disease (Video)

Symptoms of the white spots

The most evident symptom of this disease is the white spot itself. The white spots usually appear on the body and gills of the fish. As the disease worsens, the fish becomes irritated and begins to scratch itself by rubbing on the sides or bottom of the tank. However, this does not help at all. As the situation worsens, the disease begins to cause respiratory problems, loss of appetite and eventually death.

Why do the white spots appear?

These white spots are deadly and contagious. Before you move on to finding its cure, you need to understand what causes it. The following is a list of reasons of ich:

  • Any sudden changes in the environment of the aquarium can cause ich. For instance, the replacement water has a lower temperature or a poor quality.
  • If you add new items (such as plants, decorations, etc.) into the aquarium that are already carrying the cysts of the parasites, they will spread in the aquarium as well.
  • If you add an ich-affected fish into the aquarium, other fish will also catch the disease.
  • Since this disease is so widespread, the fish have developed an immune system to fight the ich. However, when a fish undergoes stress, the immune system weakens, and the fish may get affected.
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How does this disease affect the platy fish?

Initially, the protozoan parasite latches itself onto the fish’s body. It starts to reproduce in its free phase, multiplying itself to increase the number of parasites. Once that is done, it enters the infecting phase when it starts attacking the fish. It penetrates the skin, gills, eyes and fins of the fish, and starts feeding off the tissues.

After the parasite attaches itself to the fish’s body, it releases micro-circulatory lesions that are not visible to the human eye. The immune system begins to fight the disease and tries to isolate the parasites. At this time, the white spots begin appearing on the fish which we identify as ich.

The parasite continues to feed off the fish and gets larger and larger. Once it is able to survive on its own, it leaves the fish’s body and moves to the bottom of the aquarium. Then it enters the biological phase; the multiplication of the parasite. The multiplication period depends on the temperature of the water:

  • 24 – 28 days, if the temperature is 10 degrees
  • 9 to 11 days, if the temperature is 15 degrees
  • 2 to 7 days, if the temperature is 25 degrees

What is the treatment of the white spots?

As discussed earlier, the ich parasite has three phases in its life; free, infecting and biological phase. You can only cure the disease when the parasite enters the free phase. This means you can attack the parasite when it has latched onto the fish’s body and is multiplying. After this phase, the parasite begins the infecting phase and enters the fish’s tissue, protecting itself from the medication.

  • During the free phase, you can try out anti-parasitic medications and the malachite green. The latter is a dye that will attack the white spot disease. However, only a few fish can bear this treatment. So, you need to check with your vet for an effective but suitable medicine.
  • You can also treat this disease by changing the water in the aquarium. During the early stages, increase the temperature of the water in the aquarium. This will speed up the biological phase and decrease the exposure time, making the medicines more effective.
  • Increase the temperature of the tropical aquarium water to 86 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Increase the temperature of a cold-water aquarium to 71 degrees Fahrenheit.

How to prevent the white spots?

The white spot disease is widespread and deadly. A fish will come into contact with this disease at least once in its lifetime. So, you need to make sure that you take good care of your pet fish and try your best to prevent the disease in the first place. You can try out the following measures to prevent ich from affecting from your fish:

  • Whenever you change the water, make sure there is no change in the temperature and pH of the new and old water.
  • Add clean plants and decorations in the aquarium. For safe results, boil these objects before adding them in the aquarium. Another way is to use disinfectant on new plants.
  • Whenever you want to add new fish to the aquarium’s family, observe at least a two-week quarantine period.
  • Try your best to purchase fish directly from the source. This allows the fish to escape the hassle of being moved from the source to the wholesale to your home. This will reduce the shipping stress on the fish.
  • Do not overcrowd your aquarium. Maintain a regular number of fish according to the size of your tank. An excess number of fish can lead to stress, disease and a high mortality rate.
  • Make sure the water in the aquarium is of high quality and do not forget to change the water once every week.
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Can humans get the ich from fish?

No. Humans cannot get the ich from fish. There are only one or two diseases which can be transmitted from the fish and can affect humans. However, if you wish to go the extra mile, just buy long rubber gloves as a precautionary measure.


Ich might be the most widespread disease but that does not mean it has to affect your precious fish as well. With proper care and understanding of this disease, you can make sure your fish are not affected by the ich. You can follow the treatment process to cure the disease and take the preventive measure to make sure the disease does not hit your tank.

Related Questions

What causes fish to stress out? When stress is prevalent, the immune system weakens, and the fish are vulnerable to the disease. There are several reasons of stress including change in water and improper diet. However, the main cause of stress is the shipping of the fish; all the handling from the origin to the market to your home. This causes stress and weakens the immune system.

How to find out if my fish is dying? You can check for a few things to determine if the fish is nearing the last days of its life. The fish becomes lethargic and begins to swim slowly in the tank. The fins get clamped with the body and the fish stops eating. Check for the gills of the fish. If they have changed color from bright red to purple, this means the gills are not getting enough oxygen.

How long does the platy fish live? The platy is a freshwater fish that lives up to 3 years. With proper care and nourishment, it will live a happy and healthy life. However, in some cases, this fish has also been reported to live up to 4 or 5 years long.

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Nadine Oraby

My name is Nadine; I am a passionate writer and a pet lover. People usually call me by the nickname “Joy” because they think that I am a positive and joyful person who is a child at heart. My love for animals triggered me to create this blog. Articles are written by vets, pet experts, and me. Thanks for visiting. Your friend, Nadine!

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