09-10-2010, 09:08 PM
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I have never treated ich with meds but, I may in the future considering the success stories here. I use salt and heat and it will work but you have to go further than you might be comfortable with for it to work. The most common ich strain struggles to survive above 84 degrees and all ich strains are heat sensitive however some strains are resistant up to 90 degrees. This means the minimum heat for treating ich in a tropical tank is 84 degrees but success is not guaranteed until above 90 degrees. Even then it is impossible to catalog and test the characteristics of every single strain and there may be strains resistant to temperatures above 90 degrees. Now to the issue of salt, one tablespoon per 5 gallons as is written on the side of the aquarium salt box isn't going to cut it. You are going to need 2-3 tablespoons per each gallon. I have treated tanks in this manner with many fish none ever showed signs of stress although I did have a fish die that was the first to show symptoms and another jumped out once during treatment. I know he jumped out because of stress but there never were any visual signs of stress. So salt and heat does work but there are drawbacks.
I have always chosen this method because I am wary of chemicals for fish. There aren't rigorous studies done on them and rarely are there any long term studies done for them. Some fishkeepers like myself worry about the long term effects of these chemicals there have been claims that they cause fish sterility and other undesirable conditions. I don't necessarily believe these claims but I don't disbelieve them all either.
Also a little side info on salt, there are studies that show salt is an effective treatment and an effective co-treatment with antibiotics for bacterial infections. The study I saw was on commercially raised catfish. Salt works because complex organisms like fish can control their internal chemistry and counteract osmosis to maintain proper salt levels in their body provided the difference isn't too great and therefore the effect of osmosis too strong. Simple organisms like bacteria, fungus, parasites, worms, and flukes do not have this ability and will absorb the salt which in turn disrupts their biological processes and harms or kills them. Also, it is an irritant to freshwater fish and will encourage slime production which helps to protect wounds from infection and provide a barrier against parasites. I do not advocate its use as a general aquarium tonic. But, it is effective against a multitude or diseases if you are willing to raise the level high enough. It is inexpensive. It never expires. And it has uses outside of the aquarium.