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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I have a standard 6 foot 125 gallon planted aquarium, and have recently discovered that I have 2 dead fish and a pretty bad ich breakout after returning from a 5 day vacation last night. It may also be worth mentioning that the tank has been running for about 3 months now, and I've been fighting a brown algae problem for the past few weeks as well (although the water parameters all still looked excellent: Ammonia: 0, Nitrite: 0, Nitrates: <20). Other than that, everything seemed fine before a left for vacation last week. There are about a dozen various plants in the tank along with three smaller moss balls and lots of driftwood. I'm running two emperor 400 filters and 135 watts of flourescent lighting (75 watts at 6500k, and 60 watts at 6700k) 9 hours a day. I feed a combination of pellets, freeze dried bloodworms, flake, and an occasional algae wafer twice a day.

Stocking wise, here's a list:
1 female crowntail betta (RIP, I know this is an odd choice for a 125 but she actually did great in there with the other fish since she was 2.5" herself. That said, I don't believe I'll be replacing her.)
1 rubber lip pleco (RIP)
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3 pictus (currently 3", LFS told me they were the 6" variety)
1 clown pleco (currently 2")
6 Bala sharks (currently 2-3", I know that these guys get big but have never seemed too aggressive to me)
weather loach (currently 3")
6 denison barbs (currently 2-3")
3 rosy barbs (2", will be adding 3 more once I get my issues resolved)
3 congo tetras (2", will be adding 3 more once I get my issues resolved)
2 kribs (3.5" Male, 2" Female)

Pictus Cats and Clown Pleco were very lethargic and covered with ich. I had to remove the two partially eaten dead fish, and immediately did a 50% water change. Ammonia looked to be less than 0.25 ppm when I measured after the water change. I added prime and aquarium salt with the 50% water change (Ammonia was 0.25 ppm, Nitrite: 0, Nitrate: 20). I use Seachem Ph neutralizer since I have tap water, so I don't regularly test Ph. I've never used the aquarium salt before, but figured it couldn't hurt in this situation. I opted to not treat the ich with medication, but instead gradually increased the temp of my tank from its normal 75 degress to the mid 80s. It was at 82 degrees this morning before I left for work, and the pictus cats and pleco were much less lethargic. The pleco was even eating an algae wafer. However, my male Krib looked very stressed and was breathing heavy. I went ahead and set the heaters to rise to 84 degrees, and left for work.

I hope my male Krib will hang in there, since our little Krib pair are our favorites along with our weather loach (the only ones with names... of the remaining fish). My thinking is that one of the fish died soon after we left and mucked the tank up pretty good over the next few days before we got back. I just never would've expected to have ich, since I've never had problems with it before and there were no signs of it before we left for Vacation. The rubber lip pleco was one of the newer fish, and I was only able to watch him for a couple weeks before we left. Maybe he was carrying it, and when he died it spread rapidly due to the ammonia spike as well. I'm really at a loss for how exactly it happened, but I guess all that matters at this point is getting the tank healthy again.

So my plan of action as of right now is:

-More regular (daily?) water changes with Prime, Ph Neutralizer and Aquarium salt
-Add more airstones to the tank
-Maintain a temp between 84-86 for an extended period (2 weeks?)
 

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Discussion Starter #2
1. Size of tank? 125 Gallon (6 footer)

2. Water parameters
a. Ammonia? 0.25
b. Nitrite? 0
c. Nitrate? 20
d. pH, KH and GH? 7.0
e. Test kit? API (liquid)

3. Temperature? 75 normally (84 currently)

4. FW (fresh water) or BW (brackish)? FW

5. How long the aquarium has been set up? >3 months

6. What fish do you have? How many are in your tank? How big are they? How long have you had them? See original post above

7. Were the fish placed under quarantine period (minus the first batch from the point wherein the tank is ready to accommodate the inhabitants)? No

8. a. Any live plants? Fake plants? ~12 live plants/3 moss balls
b. Sand, gravel, barebottom? Gravel with flourite
c. Rocks, woods, fancy decors? Any hollow decors? rocks, driftwood, and a large pirate ship and treasure chest to function as caves on opposite ends of tank.

9. a. Filtration? 2 Emperor 400 power filters
b. Heater? 2 Fluval E300 heaters

10. a. Lighting schedule? What lights are used? 3) 25 watt microflourescent 6500k bulbs, and 2) 36" t8 30 watt flourescent 6700k Life-glo tubes.
b. Any sunlight exposure? How long? Window in room with tank, but no direct sunlight.

11. a. Water change schedule? once every 1-2 weeks
b. Volume of water changed? 20%
c. Well water, tap water, RO water? tap water
d. Water conditioner used? recently went to prime, was using API stress coat
e. Frequency of gravel/sand (if any) vacuumed? spot vac areas where I feed during every water change

12. Foods? sinking pellets, flake food, freeze-dried bloodworms, algae wafers
How often are they fed? twice per day

13. a. Any abnormal signs/symptoms? white spots and lethargy
b. Appearance of poop? normal
c. Appearance of gills? normal

14. a. Have you treated your fish ahead of diagnosis? added aquarium salt and increased water temp. No meds.
b. What meds were used? None.

15. Insert photos of fish in question and full tank shot if necessary.

Read more: http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/...orm-read-before-you-post-61135/#ixzz2W7x3aUp3
 

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Your plan of action sounds like a good one, though keep a solid eye on the fish for signs of heat stress. The other thing I would add is to try to do some substrate level vaccuming when possible.

You want to get those eggs out of there to control the outbreak. Also make sure to recheck the fish research wise to ensure they tolerate salt. I'm not well versed in many of those so I can't really say.
 
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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Thanks for the advice, I'll do a little research to make sure that all of my fish will be ok at the higher temp for a short time. I was initially mostly concerned about the Weather Loach as he is a cold water fish, but he seems to be coping with the temp increase very well so far. My biggest concern now is the male Kribensis, since he was the most stressed when I left for work this morning.
 

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Loaches don't do well in general with salt and I'm sure the Weather Loach is no different. I'd leave the salt out and just stick with heat if possible, or if you can juggle the loach to a qt so you can do salt for the tank, that would work too. Can't believe I missed that. When my Loaches had an outbreak of Ich I ended up using Kordon's Rid Ich Plus. It is loach friendly and that combined with high heat seems to have did a good number on the Ich. Didn't lose a single fish either. You have to have that extra aeration then when combining heat and meds.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I didn't realize that the weather loach might be sensitive to aquarium salt. I guess going forward I just won't add any additional salt with the water changes. Everyone was still ok this morning, and the temp of the tank was up to 85 degrees, which is where it should stay. The 3 Pictus Catfish are still very stressed and surfing the corner above the Treasure Chest that is their normal home. They are also not eating. All of the other fish are eating, and seem much less stressed with the exception of the Bala Sharks. They are acting very strange. They will suspend pointing straight down toward the bottom of the tank, and then dart rapidly across the tank repeatedly. I haven't seen them flicking like the other fish, so I guess this is their way of reacting to the ich. They also don't seem to be eating as much as normal, while all of the other fish are acting and feeding normally at this point, even the Clown Pleco that is covered in ich nearly as badly as the Pictus Catfish are.

I was initially very worried about my Male Kribensis, but he seems to be doing fine now. I think the initial increase in tank temp just had him stressed out. I will probably order some of the Kordon's Rid Ich Plus (Amazon seems to have a decent price and I'm a Prime member so I get free two day shipping), and if I don't see much improvement over the next couple of days while I wait for it to arrive, then I'll probably treat with it once it arrives. Thanks again for your help!
 

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Welcome to the forum

I would increase the temp to at least 86. I use 88. There is a threshold of tolerance for the ich with regards to temperature, and the closer you get to it, the greater the chance of it not being completely effective. 84-85 is right at the boarder of being effective.

Also, I would not use salt. The heat alone will cure the fish and eradicate the parasite from the tank. Adding salt isn't going to make them any deader. Too, meds, heat and salt are all stressful. Using salt with heat just makes the fish more stressed and uncomfortable.

It takes about 5 days for the spots to go away with the heat method. Since you've started it, it would be best to just see it through rather than switch up treatments.
 
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Discussion Starter #8
Ok, so I'll increase the tank temp another couple degrees when I get home and stop adding the aquarium salt during my water changes. That should put my tank right around 87 degrees. At least I will have the ich meds in case I need them in the future.

I will follow through with the heat method and keep everyone posted.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I just got home from work to two dead balas. They didn't show any apparent signs of ich, so I'm hoping I didn't kill them with heat stress. The four remaining balas are hovering in the back right corner of the tank, and the three pictus cats are hovering in the opposite corner. None of them look very good, and seem extremely stressed. The clown pleco is now completely covered in white spots, and is on the driftwood in the center of the tank. I hope the aquarium salt didn't have anything to do with the added stress on the balas either. I'm going to follow through with the heat and hopefully we won't lose any more fish. My wife is pretty upset with me for not using meds since we've lost two additional fish now, but I can't say for certain that we weren't going to lose them anyway. My tank temp is at 84-85 degrees right now, and I'm afraid to go higher at this point. I'm extremely frustrated to say the least.
 

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If they are at the surface, it sounds like there's not enough oxygen in the water. You can lower the water level to make more surface disturbance.

I've administered the heat treatment, at 88 degrees to 50 different species, including cold water species and high oxygen species and have not had a problem. That's not to say that no one will ever have a problem ever, but I wouldn't expect issues.

If you aren't going to go higher than 84-85 then you should abandon the heat treatment. Raising the temp but not higher than the threshold will just make the ich worse, not cure it.



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Discussion Starter #11
I now have 4 airstones in the tank, and I lowered the water level slightly for more surface agitation since it's now in the 87-88 degree range.

I've now lost 3 Bala Sharks, 2 Redline (Denison's) Barbs, and now our Female Krib this morning with no warning signs :-(

And there are still some very stressed fish in the tank, so I'm guessing that number will climb...

I had no idea that an ich breakout could be this bad. I missed a few days of treatment in the beginning because I was on vacation, and I guess it just really dug in there over those few days. I can't imagine that there's still not enough oxygen in the tank at this point, but I still can't help but wonder if this heat treatment isn't getting the best of some of the fish. I'm not going to abandon it, but I can't help but second guess myself.
 

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I feel for you. I had an ich outbreak a month ago that wiped out one of my tank entirely and that was with heat and meds.The stuff is just evil.
 

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My denisons made it through just fine - they are a sensitive cool water/high oxygen fish. Bala sharks upper temp preference is in the low 80s, so mid to high 80s should not be a stretch for them. I'm sorry to hear that you are experiencing losses - it's a rare occurrence with the treatment. A treatment can only be successful if the fish survive, so there's no sense in continuing a treatment if you are losing fish like that. I would discontinue and try a medication. Quick cure worked very well for me, back before I began using heat. Quick cure and other similar products can stain the decor, so if you have any nice pieces you may want to temporarily remove them. Placing them in a bucket of water will preserve the bacteria living there.

Did you do a water test? any ammonia/nitrite? Any time you lose several fish quickly, you should test the water right before doing a large water change. If you are medicating and fish start dying on you, then You should discontinue treatment and see about modifying your approach. Same goes for anything you do to the tank that is reversible - if it's not working, back up and see if you can figure out why and find another way to do what you want/need to do.



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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
The confusing thing is that the heat treatment does seem to be working for the Pictus Catfish, which were infected with Ich the worst, besides the clown loach that had it even worse and finally succumbed last night. So that's one more loss.

Now one of the Balas and one of the Denison's Barbs have cloudy eyes and are acting lethargic. Which leads me to another question for you veterans... Can Ich cause cloudy eye as well, or do I have something else going on in my tank in addition to the Ich?

I have a 10 gallon QT tank setup, but I'm not sure if moving the sick Bala and Denison's Barb to treat them with the Melafix or Jungle Fungus Clear is the right thing to do. I have the QT tank temp set around 85 degrees with two air stones and a small amount of gravel substrate. My plan is to pull the two fish out with cloudy eye and treat them in the QT tank if I can catch them when I get home from work this evening, unless any of you feel strongly against doing so.

I don't want to abandon the heat treatment because I feel like it is helping at least some of the fish. I'm just not sure why all of the fish died, but I don't think it was purely the heat since I feel like I have enough aeration in the tank (although I haven't measured the oxygen levels, and I have no way of doing so). I will check my water parameters again when I get home to be sure that there's no ammonia or nitrite, but I don't think there is because I've removed every fish that I've lost very quickly (I basically watched them die :-( ).

As a side note, losing all of our fish has been a terrible experience. However, my wife and I spent all of Saturday night at the emergency room with our 3 year old son. He had a Febrile seizure from a fever of 103.4, and they had to run an IV with antibiotics because they couldn't identify the cause. He's since doing much better, and after a follow up with our pediatrician this morning the doctors believe it is/was something Viral causing the high fever. Nevertheless, THAT has to be one of the scariest moments I have ever experienced. As worried about my fish as I have been, they unfortunately haven't received my full attention over the past couple of days. As a result I missed doing a water change yesterday. I'm not sure that matters, but I can only handle so much at one time. I am doing my best, and hopefully I won't end up losing every fish in the tank.

On a positive note, my 29 gallon is and has been doing great for over a year now (knock on virtual wood). I have to take some solace in the fact that I've been successful with that tank, and that I've done everything that I thought needed to be done to be successful with my 125. The big lesson that I've learned from this whole thing is that I will absolutely quarantine every new fish I purchase from now on.
 

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Agreed I would stop with the heat and run a copper medication. The heat treatment is not something I would do in a planted tank. They have increased O2 demands at night so that could easily be why you are seeing fish loss over night. Also with most plants not being able to stand such high temps you can risk water quality issues indirectly and well as plant loss.

That said I've never done the heat treatment so I can't really help there. I always use a copper medication for 3 weeks and rarely ever had any fish losses from ich. So I would suggest copper safe. Quick cure IMO is a harsher medication given its active ingredients. You will need to decrease heat either way or you are likely to continue to lose fish at night especially with added medications as it will decrease the O2 levels even more.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I've read that some Ich meds will stain the seals in the tank. Is this true for the Coppersafe medication that you suggested? If not, then I'll start reducing the tank temp and try to find the medication to start treatment. Do you think somewhere like PetSmart will sell it? My LFS closes at 6 pm, so it's too late to purchase it there this evening.
 

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At this point, I completely agree with Mikaila's advice.

I'll move on to respond to a couple questions that you (jeff) had along the way. But before I do that, may I offer my sincere best wishes for your son's recovery. That must be very devastating in itself.

The heat treatment will work fine, but not all fish can manage with such elevated temperatures. And it is far more than the oxygen issue. The warmer the water, the harder the fish (any fish) has to work just to keep its internal homeostasis functioning. This saps considerable energy and increases stress to the fish. And stress is the direct cause of 95% of all fish disease, including ich. So this is not to be sneezed at. I can't say that the erratic behaviour of some of the balas was due to this, but it might well have been.

Second question was salt, which fish can or can't handle this. The easy answer is that no soft water fish should be subjected to salt. Hard water fish can manage. But when it comes to soft water fish, salt should not be the first option. Many will say that copper-based medications are also stressful, and they are, but when compared to salt the copper is by far the lesser evil for soft water fish. Again it is internal physiological issues. And some fish like loaches and catfish can be severely burned with salt.

The third point I picked up on was your water change schedule. One-fifth of the tank every 1-2 weeks is no where near adequate. I realize you have plants, and there are those who say no water changes are needed with plants, but I don't buy that. And you have some large fish, and while I don't know the level of planting, I would surmise that the fish load is going to be beyond the point at which the plants can handle things that well. The two dead fish is indicative of this, as in a planted tank a dead fish or two should not cause problems if the tank is balanced to begin with, and your weekly water change is the best way to achieve this state. I do 50% of my tanks every week, and have for over 15 years running. At the very first sign of trouble, whatever it may be, I immediately do a major water change, sometimes as much as 3/4 of the tank. When this is resolved, get on a regular weekly schedule and up the volume.;-)

Byron.
 
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Thanks for all of the advice guys. I will plan to do a bigger water change on a weekly basis from now on, and quarantine every fish for a two week period, since I now have a 10 gallon QT tank setup.

I have started reducing the temp of the tank. I found with this whole experience that the temp rises and falls very slowly in a tank this size (125 gallon), so I just set my heaters to the temp I wanted and it changes slowly enough (my guess is about 1 degree every 2 hours) that it hasn't been an issue. I also found the Coppersafe and added the treatment last night after a 25% water change. My water parameters looked good before the water change (ammonia: 0, nitrite: 0, didn't check nitrates but assume they're in the 10-15 range at this point with all the water changes). This has been, and continues to be, quite the learning experience for me.

I change a third of the water in my 29 gallon on a weekly basis, but I guess I assumed because my fish are still very small in the 125 that I didn't need that kind of volume yet. The most I can do on my 125 without shutting down the filters and floating the biowheels is 25%, so I'll up it to that on a weekly basis for now, with the intention to increase the volume when the fish are bigger.

With all that said, I have some good news to report (along with some bad). The bad first, I lost another bala last night, and one redline and bala are still stressed with cloudy eye. The good news however is that all the white spots are gone from the fish that had them, including the Pictus Cats which were just eaten up with them. All fish are acting normal again (eating normally) with the exception of the the sick redline and bala.

The really good news is that my son is doing much better as well. :) I appreciate the concern from the community here, and I can't express my gratitude for all of the help you guys have provided to this point. I will keep updating everyone with the progress of my tank, but hopefully I am in the homestretch at this point.
 

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Thanks for all of the advice guys. I will plan to do a bigger water change on a weekly basis from now on, and quarantine every fish for a two week period, since I now have a 10 gallon QT tank setup.

I have started reducing the temp of the tank. I found with this whole experience that the temp rises and falls very slowly in a tank this size (125 gallon), so I just set my heaters to the temp I wanted and it changes slowly enough (my guess is about 1 degree every 2 hours) that it hasn't been an issue. I also found the Coppersafe and added the treatment last night after a 25% water change. My water parameters looked good before the water change (ammonia: 0, nitrite: 0, didn't check nitrates but assume they're in the 10-15 range at this point with all the water changes). This has been, and continues to be, quite the learning experience for me.

I change a third of the water in my 29 gallon on a weekly basis, but I guess I assumed because my fish are still very small in the 125 that I didn't need that kind of volume yet. The most I can do on my 125 without shutting down the filters and floating the biowheels is 25%, so I'll up it to that on a weekly basis for now, with the intention to increase the volume when the fish are bigger.

With all that said, I have some good news to report (along with some bad). The bad first, I lost another bala last night, and one redline and bala are still stressed with cloudy eye. The good news however is that all the white spots are gone from the fish that had them, including the Pictus Cats which were just eaten up with them. All fish are acting normal again (eating normally) with the exception of the the sick redline and bala.

The really good news is that my son is doing much better as well. :) I appreciate the concern from the community here, and I can't express my gratitude for all of the help you guys have provided to this point. I will keep updating everyone with the progress of my tank, but hopefully I am in the homestretch at this point.
This is good news all around.:)

If you are quarantining new fish, make it 4 weeks or even 5. There is much that you won't see with 2 weeks, believe me. Ich is a minor issue, and usually that turns up within 2 weeks, but these days there are several protozoan around and these can take longer.
 
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