Ich Treatment Blues
I'm a beginner, I just joined this forum (hi!) and this is my first brush with ich.
A little info before my questions:
60 gallon tropical freshwater tank (4'X2'X1')
Substrate: light colored sand
Planted with moss ball, scarlet temple, anachris, onion plant and corkscrew
2 2" clown loach (yes, we will get a larger tank before they need it)
4 black skirt tetras (we are planning to increase to 6)
5 raspora hets
7 zebra long fin danios
0 neon tetras (but yesterday we had 5)
Last readings (taken today - between 2 15% water changes): ph-7.5, alkinity 120, hardness 150, nitrite .25, nitrate 15, ammonia 0
4 days ago we noticed some ich (after adding some new fish from Petsmart). We don't have a quarantine tank, but we just got supplies to set one up and we will use it in the future. So far we have treated with Kordon Rid Ich+ (malachite green and formalin) for 3 days (after removing the carbon filter). We vacuumed (our sand!) and did two 15% water changes. We treated the new water with a combination of Top Fin water conditioner and API stress zyme+. Last night we saw no signs of ich on our fish.This morning, 3 neon tetras were dead. We left the house for a little while and when we returned, 2 more neons were dead. The rasporas don't look as active as they usually seem and one of our clown loaches is hiding. I'm worried that he/she isn't doing well.
I think we've got 3-4 more doses of Rid Ich+ to go, based on advice I've gotten in the chat room, the instructions on the bottle and things I've seen in articles online.
Question #1: Does that sound right? I'm worried that it is the treatment that is now stressing our fish, but I don't want to stop treatment before the life cycle of the ich is complete b/c I know they are only vulnerable to medication while they are in the life stage where they are seeking a new host. At 81F, the life cycle should be about 4 days I think, but some spots in our tank don't seem to get above 80F.
Question #2: Is there something else I can do to protect the rest of my fish during this treatment? I am worried that the neons were the "canary in the coal mine" and that tomorrow more fish will be dead. I don't want to do another water change b/c I just did a 15% today.
Question #3: When should I replace the filters during the treatment - after the last dose? Now (because we can't see any more ich)?
Question #4: Is there anything I should do with my live plants? Oh, and my moss ball has been floating since we vacuumed. What's up with that?
Question #5: I've heard I should run my tank ornaments (some rocks, a couple structures and a rock with a hole in it) through the dishwasher. I've also heard that I should not do that. I've also heard that I just don't need to do that because I'm treating the tank with chemicals, so they should be fine. Any opinions?
Question #6: Is there any way to test to see if our ich is gone besides just waiting to see if it comes back?
Anything else I need to know?
Okay first, let me say that neons are extremely sensitive to ammonia and nitrite and should be reserved for mature tanks only. I suspect the nitrite is what knowked the legs from under them and that, paired with the Kordon (if it's copper-based it will be slightly toxic to fish but not as much as it will be to the ich) probably did them in.
Secondly, it is IMPERATIVE that you keep mediating even when you see no ich. When the ich is on the fish (in those little white cysts) it is protected from the medication by the fish's skin. When the ich parasite drops off the fish and into the substrate to breed, that is when it is most vulnerable to the meds. So in essence the only time the meds can work is when you don't see any ich on the fish. So DON'T stop the medication/replace th efilter until you have finished the treatment completely.
Likewise when the ich falls off the fish you can suck some of the parasites up by vacuuming the substrate.
Thirdly, when you are doing water changes, remember you are taking some of the meds out and they need to be replaced when you put new water in.
Now for the rest of your questions in no particular order
-Since you are treating the tank there's not much point in washing the ornaments. People advise against washing any fish stuff with soap (and hence the dishwasher would be a no-no) but if you ever want to sterilise anything, pure bleach (no scents, fabric softeners, etc) is a good bet. Just rinse well.
-Live plants... just keep them in. They might be a little sensitive with the copper but its not worth removing them and possibly 'rescuing' some parasites that may be clinging to the roots, etc. The moss ball... I believe they float and sink as they consume nutrients or release gases... something weird like that. Nothing to do with the copper I'm sure.
-If you want to ensure the welfare of your fish there are some things that will help them rough out treatment:
1) Add 1 TBSP of aquarium salt per 5 gallons. Not only does it help kill the parasite, it also discourages bacterial growth, lessening the risk of secondary infection. It also replaces electrolytes much like fishy gatorade.
2) Keep the tank dark os as not to unnecesarily atress the fish and let them rest a little.
3) Keep up with water changes to get the nitrite under control. Nitrite is more toxic than both ammonia and nitrate.
4) Turn the filters on full blast or add an air pump to get some extra aeration... most medications really strip the water of oxygen. An air pump is also really useful to have on hand in the future if for some reason you have to medicate a fish again or separate a fish.
And yes the only way to know that your ich is gone is to wait and see... bu tthankfully most treatments are overkill so if you follow all the instructions there is little likelihood any will come back.
Just wanted to add my 2 cents as I also keep clowns and have had to treat for ich. I have successfully used Kordons RidIch+ so you have the right meds. Clowns are senitive to medications due to the fact that they are scaleless. I have always treated my tank with Kordons RidIch+ at 1/2 the recommended dose of medication. Clowns can also be sensitive to salt concentrations in the water so if it were me (and it's not) I wouldn't combine salt and meds in a tank with clowns.
As Kelly states, it's important to continue treating the tank for three days after the last visible white spot has been seen. For me that meant treating my tank for 14 days.
Here's an article you might find of interest as far as ich and its life cycle:
Good luck with your treatment!!
I agree, very important to read up on the ich life cycle so that you can understand how to get rid of the bug and at what stages it is most vulnerable.
Thank you! That Skeptical Acquarist article rocks. We did a 50% water change last night before we medicated and we plan to do the same tonight. I guess we should skip the salt because of the loaches and reduce the medication to a 1/2 dose for the duration of the treatment? Although that is a little scary; I must admit. I hate to have this come back again! We set up our quarantine tank and are getting the cycle going so that we can avoid this in the future. Thanks again for your help! Much appreciated!
I have always used the 1/2 the recommended dose. That may be why I had to treat for a total of fourteen days but I'd rather do it that way than lose any of my fish. Besides my loaches, my tank also has otos and a pictus cat- all scaleless fish and all very sensitive. The best thing about ich is that its highly treatable. I'd rather have ich three times over than some of the other internal parasites that are out there and nearly impossible to get rid of.
Okay. We'll do a half dose tonight. Thanks!
Sad news - even though we did a 50% water change last night before meds, we lost a loach and a danio this morning. One more day of treatment is scheduled. Just did a 25% water change in hopes that we can keep with other loach alive.
I did water testing this morning when we found the bodies but things weren't that out of whack: Ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 7.5. I guess they were just too weak from the earlier full med doses and so they couldn't take last night's dose.
Aaah! Sorry about the fish :( Good luck on the rest of treatment though!
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