Help - Ich, Fin Rot, Something else? - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 6 Old 05-30-2008, 11:43 AM Thread Starter
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Help - Ich, Fin Rot, Something else?

1. Size of aquarium (# of gallons) 20 gal
2. Is your aquarium setup freshwater or brackish water? freshwater
3. How long the aquarium has been set up? About 3 months
4. What fish and how many are in the aquarium (species are important to know) 1 angelfish, 2 cherry barbs – down from 1 angel, 5 cherry barbs, 1 gold nugget pleco
5. Are there live plants in the aquarium? Yes
6. What temperature is the tank water currently? 80 degrees F
7. What make/model filter are you using? Whisper something . . .
8. Are you using a CO2 unit? No
9. Does your aquarium receive natural sunlight at any given part of the day? Yes, most of the day
10. When did you perform your last water exchange, and how much water was changed? I’ve been doing daily 30% to get rid of ich
11. How often do you perform water changes? Weekly to biweekly
12. How often and what foods do you feed your fish? Hikari flakes, frozen bloodworms, Hikari freezedried bloodworms
13. What type of lighting are you using and how long is it kept on? Fluorescent – not sure of exact type
14. What specific concerns bring you here at this time? Ich + other potential infection
15. What are your water parameters? Test your pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 60 ppm nitrate
16. What test kit are you using and is it liquid or test strips? Liquid freshwater kit, unsure of brand
17. When was the last time you bought a fish and how did they behave while in the pet store tank? Three weeks ago – the gold nugget pleco. It was feisty in the store, had a few glum days at first, but then perked up. It was extremely active at night, sluggish during the day. No signs of infection (ich, fin rot, etc.) until it died.

I am a new aquarist and had great beginner's luck for a few months (1 small angel, 5 cherry barbs, 1 pleco in 20 gal - all happy, no losses), but a plague has fallen on my tank. I went out of town for the weekend and came back to find my pleco dead and covered in white fuzz, and all of my cherry barbs infected with ich (3 nearly covered, 2 with several spots). Angel appears perfectly healthy.

I started treating for Ich with Ick Guard four days ago. I lost the three worst barbs, one by one, and my remaining two seem to have fewer spots. The two remaining barbs seem to be sickly and their fins are starting to fray with white edges. **Could the fraying be caused by the ich or do I have another infection to contend with?** If another infection, what medication should I use and is it okay to use in conjunction with Ick Guard? Would the medication wipe out my biological filter?

Second question, I intend to replace my cherry barbs - should I do it now while I'm already treating the tank to get rid of any diseases the new ones may bring or wait until everything is up and running again for a few weeks? I'm inclined to get them now so that my remaining barbs have the comfort of a small school while they recover, but I don't want to make the situation worse. Likewise, I don't want them to heal up only to be reinfected from the store fish.

My water parameters were:
0 NH4
0 NO2
60 ppm NO3
78-80 degrees
pH 7.4

I don't think I had a temperature spike or heater failure, so I'm not sure what caused the sudden outbreak.

Sorry for all the silly questions. I'm very new at this.
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post #2 of 6 Old 05-30-2008, 05:37 PM
Flashygrrl's Avatar
Water changes won't get rid of ick. You should turn up your temp to around 82-84 since it speeds up the life of the parasite. The fraying is fin rot, probably due to the elevated nitrates (either from the dead pleco or the overcrowded tank). There's stuff you can medicate with but your parameters would make treatment unsafe. Good water quality is more important right now.

Now, let's talk about your stocking. You seem to already know that having an angelfish in a 20 gallon isn't exactly the housing it needs. Adding a gold nugget pleco into the mix eventually would have caused BIG problems anyways, since they get pretty large. Researching your purchases before getting them is very crucial, otherwise you're wasting money. Any other housing plans for the angel?

Continue daily water changes until you see nitrates lower than 20 and then test daily, change if necessary. However, the problem won't be fixed till the angel gets a new home. I don't know about the ick medication. And recognize this is a very good lesson on why a QT tank is always necessary with new fish. Even if you have a new fish that can't actually get the disease they could be harboring it so a 2-3 week stay in their own tank is always good.

Sorry for the bad news (and the lecture). Keep us posted.

This is the song that never ends...
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post #3 of 6 Old 05-30-2008, 06:12 PM Thread Starter
New Member
Thanks for your advice! I got a 20 gal as a 'starter' tank to see if I enjoyed the hobby and to gain some experience. I do know that my currently small angelfish will outgrow the space soon. I had planned to buy a larger tank within a few months of my first starter tank if everything went well. I had high hopes until recently.

I see that the pleco probably sent the tank over the edge. I chose the gold nugget from my fish store because it was smallish (3") and not likely to get very big (I was told 4" was the norm). I had NO idea how much waste such a small fish could generate and don't plan to put another pleco in this tank. Gross!

I will up the temperature. The water changes were suggested to prevent overaccumulation of the ich medication. I will continue the changes to hopefully decrease nitrate too, as you suggest.

If my remaining fish recover, I'll consider it a good sign and look into upgrading tanks for the angel. And the 20 gal will become the QT tank I OBVIOUSLY need. Thanks so much!
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post #4 of 6 Old 05-30-2008, 06:28 PM
jeaninel's Avatar
Gravel vacs will help to get rid of any ich cysts living in the gravel. Keep up with the medication and water changes. When you see no more spots on your fish continue medicating for about 4-7 days to make sure you kill any ich in it's free swimming form.

You may have already read this but here's a link with some good info on ich:

Good luck!

150 Gallon - Mostly American Cichlids
135 Gallon - Angelfish Community
75 Gallon - Odd couple (Polleni/Angelfish)
55 Gallon - African tank
20 Gallon Long - QT
10 Gallon - Empty
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post #5 of 6 Old 05-30-2008, 07:37 PM
Little-Fizz's Avatar

Please read this post and start treatment immediately. I will swear by this, it works. It takes a while but it works, and you don't have to dump meds into your tank.

As for the fin rot you will want some sort of medication for that and keeping your water clean is the biggest part of curing an infection in your fish.

And just before you laid dead weight upon its shores, I stung you in the face for that's the nature of my core.
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post #6 of 6 Old 05-31-2008, 05:14 AM
Flashygrrl's Avatar
Originally Posted by Jiordie
I see that the pleco probably sent the tank over the edge. I chose the gold nugget from my fish store because it was smallish (3") and not likely to get very big (I was told 4" was the norm). I had NO idea how much waste such a small fish could generate and don't plan to put another pleco in this tank. Gross!
I think it really actually has the potential to get up to 8-10 inches. Next time you could have a bristlenose or clown pleco...but not in a 20g with another biggish fish like the angel :) Glad you have plans for the bigger tank and good luck :)

This is the song that never ends...
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