Are my fish sick?? Ich?? - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 6 Old 10-26-2010, 05:06 PM Thread Starter
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Are my fish sick?? Ich??

The other day I noticed white spots on my severum's fins, only my severums.....some of the others were doing a funny twitch and rub on the rocks but no white spots on fins.

Ammonia and Nitrates were low. I looked it up and found that it may be ICH. I went to a pet store and they gave me NOX-ICH. I put that in last night and checked the water quality a couple hours later as it looked like they were twitching even more.

The ammonia was low but nitrate was higher so I did a 40% water change and added a little more NOX-ICH to the tank as directed for the new water change. I have also turned the heat up to 86 and added salt.

I figured I would ask all you experts if you can take a look a the photos and tell me if im right that this is ICH and doing the right thing?? Its a 90 gallon tank.

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post #2 of 6 Old 10-26-2010, 05:22 PM
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That may or may not be ich. There are a few other diseases/parasites that look very similar to ich.

First question I must ask is what are your water parameters for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH? "Low" or "fine" does not tell us anything. Many medications can have adverse reactions in situations with any ammonia or nitrite present and/or high nitrate (at or above 40) The next question, what kind of test kits are you using? Water testing should be done with liquid kits, never dip strip tests, as they are known for their inaccuracy, which can cause more problems.

The next question I have to ask is for the ingredient list on the container of medication? Not all medications are safe for all species of fish. There are very few that are so well rounded that they can be used in almost any situation. Some fish have sensitivities to specific ingredients, so medications should be chosen carefully to avoid killing healthy fish or making existing problems worse.

Then, the next question is what species of fish are in this tank? Please list all. I have seen many sad cases where someone selects a medication that is safe for the sick fish in the tank, but the healthy ones end up dead because of adverse reactions. I'd hate to see you lose your fish to something so easily avoided.

In regards to the salt... be careful when trying to mix 2 separate treatments together. Some medications contain salt, so the added salt can overdose easily, and some fish are very sensitive to salt... and even temp changes (or elevated temps)

Some medications also use oxygen in the water, so require added aeration during treatment to avoid suffocating the fish. The warmer the water temp the less oxygen content in it, so also something to be careful of.

The more you can offer about the tank the easier it will be to offer you the help you are asking for.
Tank size?
how long it has been set up?
make/model of filter?
live plants in the tank?
do you have a quarantine tank?
what other chemicals, if any, are added to the tank? (fertilizers, water conditioner, etc)
when listing fish species please list how many of each and sizes
how often do you perform water changes? gravel vacs?
has anything else been changed or is anything else new in the tank? new plants?
how long has this problem been going on? is this the first time with this problem? (if not the first time, please list how often this happens and how far apart the outbreaks are, along with fish that are affected)

These questions and anything else you can offer for information about your tank and animals, environment, etc will help properly diagnose the problem and allow us to help you find a "safe" method to treat it.

Best of luck to you!

Dawn Moneyhan
Aquatics Specialist/Nutritionist
Juneau, WI
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post #3 of 6 Old 10-26-2010, 05:58 PM Thread Starter
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Hi Dawn, thank you for your quick and detailed reply to help me out!!

I purchased this tank approx 1 month ago already set up with the fish in it. A family was moving and couldn't take it with them. I am new to cichlids so they said that they have got along for 3 years no issues. When I tell you the type of fish you may think its a wide variety, so I've been told anyways. But they seem to live happily. I set the tank back up with new water and new substrate purchased at a pet store. I used the same filter and sponge and it didn't dry out by the time I set it up. Now as for your questions:

1) Tank size is 90 gallons.

2) I have had it set up in my home for approx 1 month (well water)

3) Filter is Aqua Clear 300

4) No live plants

5) I can arrange to have a quarantine tank possibly (25g)

6) I use PRIME in the water for ammonia and nitrate balance. When I set it up I used Nutrafin cycle.

7) I have done 20-30% water changes at least once a week, 20% if levels are good 30-40% if ammonia or nitrates have been higher as instructed by pet store.

8) I placed a new fake log ornament with fake plants on it for the to hide and swim through maybe a week or so ago, it was new from the pet store. And I transferred a grass like ornament from my 25g community fish tank into it the day I noticed the problem, but I am unaware of any problems with that tank.

9) this is the first problem that I have had with this issue, I noticed the spots and twitch & Rub with the other fish mostly on Sunday.

10) NOX-ICH medication is 50% sodium chloride & 50% Malachite green

11) I am using Nutrafin ammonia liquid test and for nitrate; the back color chart for ammonia was showing a color match basically 0 but maybe a little towards the color of 0.6 & Nitrate is showing color match of 0.1 I do not have a PH tester, the pet store guy said this is all I should need..??..?? again I am new to this...............

Okay, fish species:

4 severums ranging from 6-7 inches
3 red zebra 4-5 inches
3 species 44 4-5 inches
3 electric yellow (2 small maybe 1-2 inch) & 4-5 inches
4 Red empress (still small not showing color)
2 German Red peacock (still small not showing color)
2 electric blue 3-4 inches
1 elongatus chewere 3-4 inch
1 plecko 5-6 inch
1 talking cat fish 2-3 inch
1 jack Dempsey 6-7 inch
1 comet gold fish (actually gets along with others too)

If someone is mad at me or thinks thats crazy, this is how I bought them all in one 90 gallon tank for $200 including tank, accessories, filter ect...... I figured it was a good deal. And they seem to all get along.

I hope that covers almost all you need to help out, I look forward to your response again!!

Thank you in advance!!!!!
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post #4 of 6 Old 10-26-2010, 06:45 PM
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I will stick with you and help you out as much as I can, and I will save "most" of the lecturing for the person who put this mess together and then sold it to you for such a price. I find that to be really rude and outrageous. Did this person give you a reason why they were getting rid of it? My first guess would be that the fish are maturing and now it is becoming real work to keep them alive.

My first suggestion to you is going to be to stop all medications and salt for the time being. Do a series of 20% water changes every day for the next 5 - 6 days, and let things settle a bit. Add carbon back to the filter to help remove any medication that is left.

I can very clearly see your problem, so I will begin by breaking things down as much as possible for you. Please feel free to ask all questions you have or come up with as we progress. I will apologize in advance if some of my comments and/or suggestions are not what you are wanting or hoping to hear, but I am well known for being honest with everyone. At times I can be a bit blunt in my replies, please know that I am not intending to offend you or anyone else, that is just my personality. I also apologize now for the length of my posts, as I can already see these may get a bit long. I do my best to be as thorough as possible, for the sake of the animals, your pocketbook, and your sanity. Some people don't like that, but sometimes it is very necessary.

Ok, lets get started...
First thing first, your tank appears to be cycling, which should be expected with the move you mentioned and the full replacement of the water. In the future, that is not a healthy/good thing to do. Dirty water or not, you should always try to keep as much original water as possible. If it needs cleaning, slight or a lot, it should be done gradually over a period of time. A fish's body can only withstand so much stress before illness is imminent. Extreme changes, while not always instantly deadly, can have long term permanent effects, cause damage to vital organs, and at very least will severely weaken the immune system. Once the immune system has been weakened, these fish are vulnerable to every possible illness, disease, and parasite that exists in their world. The stress of moving is extreme enough to cause problems, but when combined with 100% water replacement, a cycling tank because of the water replacement, etc., then the problems can become a bit more complicated and dangerous.

Cichlids in general are not prone to ich. While its not an impossible thing, it is not common except in the situation I just described above. The immune system of most cichlids is quite strong, so the goal for your situation to start with is to get the fish healthy enough to fight the battle using its natural abilities/immune system. With no or low immune system, medications can be quite harsh and often ineffective.

The med ingredient you listed as sodium chloride... that is salt. Too much of a good thing is no good, so adding more salt besides would surely be more than cichlids can handle easily. For this reason I suggested the water changes and halt of any more "medications" or salt.

On to how to get these fish healthy again...
I hate to have to say this, but you are limited to 2 options here. 1. Buy a much larger aquarium asap, or 2. Choose which fish you really desire to keep and part with the rest. That tank is way overcrowded at this point and none of those fish is full grown yet. If you can list for me 3 or 4 fish you really desire to keep, I can help you work out a healthy mix, safe population size, and compatible fish to keep and what should go. The fish I suggest goes first would be the goldfish. Goldfish are very dirty, grow very large and very fast (when healthy) and are cold water fish. All of your other fish are tropical (warm water), so that leaves the goldfish in a difficult situation. The new raised temp is not going to do well for that goldfish. Warmer water contains less oxygen than cold water, and goldfish require/use a large amount of oxygen, more so than most fish species.

Once your population is appropriate for the tank size and amount of filtration, the work of keeping the water chemistry safe and getting it into a healthy state will be much easier and happen much quicker. Once the tank situation is again "healthy", your sick fish will likely heal and be just fine without any further help. If, after the tank is healthy and stable, there is still a problem, I can suggest some safer and more effective medications to use for treatment.

Adding any medication at this point is going to be a no no due to the fluctuations in water chemistry until that tank is fully cycled. Considering the large amount of waste that is going into that water (from the population size and types of fish), I would expect that tank to take quite a bit of time to completely cycle. Decreasing the population now will help speed up the cycling process.

Try as much as possible to avoid stressing the fish further. When you work in/around the tank, move slowly so as not to scare them. Don't try to catch any of them, chase them, etc. Keeping the light off for a while can also help to reduce stress. By all means, make sure the tank has lots and lots of decor in it. Rock work in particular due to the species of fish you are keeping, along with drift wood.

In regards to what water tests you should always have on hand, pH is one of the most important. While many fish can tolerate changes in ammonia, nitrite, nitrate to some degree, pH has a lot less "wiggle room". The fish rely on a stable and appropriate pH level for their organs to function properly. If the pH shifts too much and/or too fast, it can be deadly. Well water, tap water, etc. also will shift in pH during various times of the year. Weather changes, season, pollution, all affect well water. Without the ability to monitor what is in your tank vs what water you are adding, there is no way to control the changes and keep them safe for the fish. So, the basic 4, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH should be standard kits to keep on hand for any freshwater aquarium. High nitrate levels can affect pH, also. In a situation such as yours, had I been selling you the kits, pH would have been the first one I handed you.

In case you are not aware, API puts out a great master test kit which includes everything you should have on hand. They are accurate (in the top 5 for accuracy), easy to use, and relatively inexpensive (the whole set for under $30). If you need a link to them online, I can provide that for you, please just ask.

Last for this post I wish to mention your filter. Aquaclear 300 is a great filter... however... for that size waste load in a 90 gallon tank, that is not near enough filtration. I would strongly urge you to upgrade your filtration to handle the job for this tank. You have the option of adding to it or replacing it completely. A pair of canister filters could work, but I would be sure to add a small powerhead for circulation. A set of 2 Aqueon 55 filters would work nicely, or even a set of 2 Aquclears (either model 70 or 110 for each, or one of each) would work. The Aquaclear 300 is an older model of the Aquaclear filter, equivalent (if I remember correctly) to the current Aquaclear 30. According to Hagen (the manufacturer), this filter is designed for 10 - 30 gallon tanks that are properly stocked. See the problem? If you need some links to appropriate filters, please ask. I would be more than happy to provide links to the filters I would suggest based on professional experience, personal use, and what would be correct for your situation.

I know this is a lot of information to process, I think I covered everything. I am going to stop now and wait for your reply before we proceed further.

Dawn Moneyhan
Aquatics Specialist/Nutritionist
Juneau, WI
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post #5 of 6 Old 10-26-2010, 10:07 PM Thread Starter
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Sorry didn't mean to not show interest in all the work you have done to write and help me, I had to go out for a bit.......Is that many fish too many for a 90 gallon tank?? The "expert" fish guy at pet land told me I could have that many in a 55 gallon he was trying to sell me. Not trying to argue or say your wrong in any way but I have also been told by so called "experts" that it is good to over crowed a tank as the chiclids become more of a community fish towards each other. This tank really does not look over crowded compared to others 'ive seen especially in pet stores.

I will agree that I should maybe find a new home for the gold, and the severums. The others I really really like do i have to get rid of more than that??

I am pushing my luck if your still around this evening, and not sure if you are willing to do a skype instant message back and forth which would eliminate a lot of extra typing. Let me know if maybe??

Thanks for your help!!
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post #6 of 6 Old 10-26-2010, 10:08 PM Thread Starter
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OH and they were selling because they were moving far away and they could not take it with them.............
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