quick, need help with ich! - Page 2 - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #11 of 11 Old 05-25-2009, 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by yippee View Post
will the raised temp alone make the spots drop off of the fish, if it is actually ich? If so i can at least use it to determine if it is something to worry about. Yes, those are the snails i am referring to. The partial water change shouldn't cause ich, but will it help get rid of it? I know clean water is the best medicine. Yes, I LOVE tiger barbs - always have. I'm looking VERY forward to getting them in their new home.I'm hoping it will turn out as a very nice tank. I've been watching the fish like crazy lately and will continue to do so.

WHat other signs should i be looking for? How far spread will ich get before it starts doing a lot of damage?
I'll briefly outline the ich cycle. The parasite (unseen with the human eye) attaches itself to a fish, and buries under the skin which covers over to form a cyst that we see as a small whitish dot or spot, hence the common name white spot disease. The parasite remains on the fish for a few days [I've read varying numbers for the stages of the life cycle, and this is where temperature can make a slight difference, so will go with the average of a "few days"] and then the cyst falls off and drops to the bottom where it internally divides into dozens of new parasites that are free swimming and they begin searching for a host fish. The parasite must find a host within three days or it will die. If it finds a host, it burrows into the skin and the cycle starts over. It is during the free swimming stage that medications/chemicals in the water can kill the parasite, and only during this stage. Raising the temp does nothing other than speeding up the various stages in the life cycle. But this must be balanced against the stress that raised temperatures can cause fish, some more than others; the temp must be raised very slowly, authors suggest 1-2 degrees every 24 hours, so this is why I say not to bother with raising the temp. The whole cycle at normal aquarium temperatures (high-70's) is completed in less than a week anyway. But the medication must be maintained full strength in the water for the entire week to ensure no parasites get through the chemical barrier. Many aquarists recommend 10-14 days to ensure this.

If there is only one spot and it disappears after a couple of days and no others occur, it may or may not have been ich, but it is not worth treating when you don't know. Medications can cause other problems and should only be used when absolutely necessary. Some fish are able to fend off the first attack of ich and it goes away. The best plan is to maintain a healthy aquarium. Regular partial water changes greatly assist in this, and ensuring proper diet, water parameters (temp, pH, hardness, nitrates) that are as close as possible to the fish's natural preference, and very importantly consistency in these whatever they are. Fluctuating water conditions can stress fish and bring on various diseases.

Unless the fish is severely weakened (by any of the afore-mentioned things) ich should not result in fish death. Normally we see the spots early; I never bother about one or two, as it may be something quite unrelated or the fish may defend itself and the ich doesn't take hold. Some fish seem to never get it even when others in the same tank are covered with it. I wait until I see new spots and usually on more than one fish. In my experience, it is almost always on the fins that I first spot ich. Fish will sometimes rub against things (called "flashing") but here again this can be due to a number of other things--high ammonia (like in a new tank that is cycling), various parasites, or food caught in the gills (I've had this occur especially with live or frozen worm-like food that will come out the gills rather than go down into the stomach, and the fish may rub against something to help dislodge it) so this in itself should not be taken as a sure sign of ich. Proper and regular maintainance and regular observation are key.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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