09-25-2013, 11:51 PM
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Hi ShukiAi. I'm really sorry you're going through this. :( Don't feel like a failure though. These things happen to fishkeepers everywhere, even ones who have been in the hobby for decades.
In answer to your questions about gill flukes: They can spread pretty quickly, yes, as can other external parasites that can infest the gills. Not all external parasites or infestations cause the itchiness though. AQ salt won't kill the flukes but it will do three things: 1, help the fish create lots of slime coat so that the parasites have a harder time attaching; 2, dehydrate the flukes; 3, help the fish maintain its electrolyte balance so it stays healthy and can fight off infection.
Increasing the heat speeds up the life cycle of many parasites so they die faster of natural causes.
The AQ salt is the conservative treatment method, by the way. If you don't think it's helping, then the med to try is Mardel Quick Cure. This is one of the more effective meds because it contains formalin but it does turn the water blue and may stain. You may also need to use an airstone to help increase oxygen levels for the fish while using it.
Another med that you can use is API General Cure which contains metronidazole and praziquantel, which are both effective parasite meds. This won't turn the water blue. In both cases, you may have to do a mini-cycle on your tank as both meds can deal damage to beneficial bacteria in the filter.
If you can, keep the shrimp and snails in a separate container during treatment. Don't add them back until you are certain you have gotten all the meds out of the water by water changes and by adding the carbon back into your filter. Invertebrates are highly sensitive to medications.