Troubleshooting Ich Without Chemicals - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 4 Old 02-16-2017, 11:23 AM Thread Starter
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Troubleshooting Ich Without Chemicals

Hey all,

I'm pretty new to this hobby and I've made some bad rookie mistakes, and now I'm in need of advice from some of you wise veterans.

I've got a 65 gallon tank (36x24x18 inches) that is stocked at about 90% with platies, mollies, and swordtails, a few fry, 9 cories, 2 plecos, and a female betta.

I've had this tank up and running for almost 2 months. I started adding fish without knowledge of the nitrogen cycle, but with some help from the guys at the local shop, I was able to get some dirty filter media in my tank to jump start the cycle. However, once I had the tank totally cycled and ready to add more fish, I replaced some filter media and some tank decorations and started another mini cycle. I also added more fish. I ALSO had a pH crash, which I haven't found the reason for. (It fell from 7.4-7.6 to 6.6 for about 3 days, and now has returned to 7.4-7.6 -- I am blaming API water conditioner?). Anyway my tank had some brief stability issues.

So my tank came down with ich two weeks ago (I noticed the first white spots on Wednesday, Feb 1st). I did some internet sleuthing, and decided to try heat treatment before adding salt. I slowly increased temperature to 87 degrees. I continued to see spots four days into treatment. Over the course of a full day, I raised the temperature to 92 degrees, and I kept it there for 3 days. As of Saturday Feb 11, I continued seeing spots appear (2 or 3 in total at that time). I then began adding salt, and slowly lowered the temperature back down to 86. I filled a Nalgene with tank water and shook 1 tablespoon of salt every 12 hours (or so) and now have salinity of approximately 1 tablespoon for 5 gallons. As of today, 15 days later, I still have at least 1 ich spot in the tank.

I've done daily water changes of anywhere from 20-50%, including sporadic gravel vacuuming, for two reasons. One, to remove ich trophonts. Two, to remove nitrites, which are still consistently hovering around 5ppm (Ammonia is at 0). Note that I've compensated for any salt removed through water changes.

Now to my questions. I have two of them.

1) What do I need to do at this point to get rid of the ich? From what I've read, this is taking longer than usual. I should be clear of spots at this point, shouldn't I? What have I done wrong? 1a) Do I need to use chemicals?? I'd really like to avoid it, but if it needs to be done, so be it.

2) Should I be vacuuming my gravel right now? I've read some conflicting opinions on this issue. One camp says the beneficial bacteria need to build up in the gravel during this kind of mini-cycle, and the other says that all fish waste needs to be removed. Ideally I'd like to get my water parameters in check as quickly as possible, but is my vacuuming doing more harm than good?
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post #2 of 4 Old 02-16-2017, 12:24 PM
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Welcome to the group.

Number 1
I have had Ich in my fish room a few times, I always treat with heat and no chemicals. The last time I dealt with it was a few years ago but if my memory is right it sounds like you have done the right things. Some times it will take a few weeks to get rid of it if the case was bad. With you researching Ich I'm guessing you found out that heat doesn't kill the ich but it does cause it to grow faster and shorten it's over all lift span. Keep doing the water changes and vacuuming out gravel it will clear up. With the tempature above 85 you need to make sure the water has enough air for the fish because the warmer it is the less air they have. Adding 1 air stone or 2 would be all you need.

On the salt others might not agree but I feel the 1 table spoon for 5 gallons is high. I know lots of places list that is a good level for treating fish but after having mixed up salt to treat my oscars (last month) I think that is too high. I used about half that and my oscars recovered nicely.

Number 2
Most of your bacteria will live in your filters because of the water flowing through there makes it a better place for it to grow. I don't vacuum my gravel on my tanks with live plants growing in the gravel. I let the junk build up and the plants take care of that for me. But I will vacuum the gravel every 2-3 months but stay 3" from the palnts so I'm not getting all the gravel. My tanks with out plants I vacuum about 80% of the gravel every 3-4 weeks only to removed the waste that builds up. Some people vacuum half the gravel at a water change then next week the other half but I don't do it that often.

You can follow Old Fort Exotics on You Tube and on my Fish room thread.

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post #3 of 4 Old 02-16-2017, 04:19 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply Warhawk

I noticed there might be an oxygen issue on the 2nd or 3rd day of high temperatures, so I did lower my water levels to allow the 2 HOB filters to agitate the surface a little better. The fish seem to be doing okay since that time.

I'm glad you mention the salt level being a little too high. I hate to have as much as I have in there, with it not being ideal for the cories.

I take it that the salt level wont affect the speed at which the ich is cleared up? Meaning, if I reduce salt by 50%, will that increase the treatment period by 50%?
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post #4 of 4 Old 02-17-2017, 06:58 AM
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Troubleshooting Ich Without Chemicals

Treating ich without chemicals is very, very simple. 86 degrees for 2 weeks. That's all there is to it. There's is absolutely no need for salt - doesn't do anything but add stress to an already stressed fish. There's absolutely no need to do water changes or gravel vacuums during that period. All you are doing is risking ruining the effectiveness of the treatment. Heat kills the parasite indirectly by stopping the life cycle. Dead parasites don't reinfect fish, and that's how the heat treatment works. There is no need to hedge your bets by adding additional aspects of different treatments into the mix. 2 weeks at 86 or higher. That's it. You do have to let the treatment take its course though. In my experience fish are all clear by the end of the first week.

There are very rare instances where heat doesn't work - some strains of the virus can withstand higher temps than normal, which is why I don't like to dance on the line - I'm almost always at 87-88 degrees.

The other thing to consider is that it's not ich. Not seeing pictures, that possibility exists. Many times people have assumed they had ich when they didn't. Just throwing that out there too. Can you post some pics?

125 - BGK, chanchito cichlid, pictus cats, silver dollars, palmas bichir
125 - cichlids (severums, bolivian rams, chocolate), rainbows ( turquoise, red), loaches (angelicus, zebra, kuhli and horseface), plecos (BN, RL and clown), denison barbs, tiretrack eel, pearl gouramis, betta
90 - Congo tetras, african knife, upside down cats, spotted ctenopoma, kribensis, delhezzi bichir
2.5 - betta

Last edited by jaysee; 02-17-2017 at 07:05 AM.
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