09-05-2010, 11:14 AM
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Ich is about the only disease I may comment on; I think we've all had it and more often than we should.
Many ich remedies are copper-based, and care must be exercised with plants and fish; some fish are especially sensitive (characins, catfish, loaches). Plants will usually be negatively affected, though this can be temporary and after treatment the plants usually recover--i.e., they do not normally die from the treatment.
The "safest" treatment is simply raising the temperature to around 90F for a week. However, not all fish can tolerate this (some Corydoras for instance will die at this high a temp). But this treatment does avoid adding any chemicals which are generally more detrimental to fish (and plants) than a higher temp.
Some recommend salt with increased temp, but as with any chemical product salt is very detrimental to characins, catfish, loaches, most soft-water fish, and definitely with plants if it is used at the dose often suggested.
Personally, if I had to resort to adding a substance, I would choose a medicine over salt. I have had success with Aquari-Sol which though copper-based seems to be less trouble for sensitive fish, in my experience. And I have not noticed any effect on plants. I have also used Copper-safe, and the fish did not seem too bothered but the swords definitely were; existing leaves were affected but after a couple water changes new leaf growth was fine again.
If the ich infestation is not major, i.e., if it is just a spot or two on one or two fish, I leave it alone. Fish in a well-maintained tank are usually able to fight off ich. The last two times I saw it (with new fish) it cleared up on its own. Healthy fish will build up what some call an immunity to ich, by increasing their slime coat.