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FAQs on Freshwater Ich, White Spot Disease: Causes, Etiology, Diagnosis

Related Articles: Freshwater DiseasesIch/White Spot Disease, Choose Your Weapon: Freshwater Fish Disease Treatment Options by Neale Monks, Formalin/Formaldehyde, Malachite Green, FW Disease Troubleshooting,

Related FAQs: FW Ich 1, FW Ich 2, FW Ich 3, FW Ich 4, FW Ich 5, FW Ich 6, FW Ich 7, & FAQs on:  Ich Remedies That Work, Phony Ich Remedies That Don't Work, Ich Remedy Sensitive Livestock, Ich Medicines, Ich Cases, & Aquarium MaintenanceFreshwater MedicationsFreshwater Infectious Disease, Freshwater Fish ParasitesAfrican Cichlid Disease 1, Cichlid Disease

"I've got those darned, darned white spots... Where? Down on my body and fins, down on my... "

Is Ich possible in an established healthy tank? And Bloodworm feeding      10/1/18
Hi crew!
I noticed these white spots on my tetra's tail fin this morning. He/she is in an established 50 gallon planted tank with 5 other tetras. The tank contains only this one school of fish as another cycled tank (set up as a quarantine tank) houses one juvenile electric blue Acara and 4 Cory cat fish. Although they appear healthy, they will be in quarantine for another 3 weeks (total of one month). The main 50 gallon tank has been set up for at least 6 months and I've had these tetras for over a year. There has been no new plants introduced into the 50 gallon tank for months. The fish in the 20 gallon tank the tetras were originally from are all healthy. My tank parameters are excellent (ammonia and nitrite 0 ppm, nitrate less than 10 ppm, pH 6.8-7, dGH 6°, temp between 76 to 77° F. I do 20 % water changes every 14 days.
<I do these every week in my freshwater systems>
They eat a variety of flake, frozen and pellet food.
There are no clamped fins and appetites are good. There is some squabbling occasionally, but for most part they get along.
I don't see how Ich could suddenly show up in a healthy tank if no new fish or plants have been introduced.
<Hmm; well, does happen. A few protozoan diseases of fishes are well known to exist in resting stages, be present at sub-clinical concentrations... gaining numbers, virulence w/ concomitant loss of health to their hosts; mostly due to environmental stress/stressors; secondarily nutritional deficiency>
Could these tiny white spots be caused by something else?
<Mmm; yes; but this is likely Ichthyophthiriasis. You can/could sample and take a look under a low power 'scope. Certain features are near telling>
Should I treat prophylactically with something like Paraguard or just wait and watch.
<For me, mine, the latter.>
The tank is due for a water change on 2 days and I do have stress guard that I could add to the water.
Any ideas?
<Oh yes; smaller file sizes sent to us for one; raising temperature and aeration if problematic....>
I've never dealt with Ich but I've had friends who say it can be a nightmare to deal with.
<Some occasions, possibly "strain" differences can be trouble>
Thanks for any suggestions you can send my way.
<Have you reviewed what we have archived on WWM re? Please do. Bob Fenner>
I reached out to you several months ago about a long finned Danio with negative buoyancy issues. I followed your suggestions (plus one course of Kanaplex) and he fully recovered in about 6 weeks and is still healthy today with no sign of swim bladder issues. I stopped feeding frozen blood worms as per your suggestion, and I haven't had any problems since. I also had one tetra who always swam with his nose down, but once I stopped the blood worms he now swims normally.
<Ah, good>

Re: Is Ich possible in an established healthy tank?     10/1/18
Thanks! Sorry for large file size on photo. New phone.
<Ahh; thank you>
I will switch back to weekly water changes and try elevating the temp. It's interesting. I noticed that the spots on tail are lined up in a perfect semi circle. ???
<That is interesting. The "spots" from such external parasites are not the actual infesting agents, but rather the fish's reaction: body mucus. Perhaps the round "spot area" is/was a physical trauma here? Bob Fenner>

Causes: Ich comes from... ich... Not the sky, not some guy... Is generally carried sub-clinically on host fishes... expresses itself with stress (e.g. temperature drops). All freshwater fishes can carry/"get" ich. Can be transferred on anything wet.
Etiology: Can be transferred by anything wet from tank to tank. Invertebrates, plants don't "get" ich, but they can "carry it" as can just infested water. Generally occurs as a few dots, cycling off, reproducing, attacking fish hosts in waves.
Diagnosis: Symptoms include excessive flashing/scratching, white spotting, rapid, shallow breathing... death. There are other "dot" looking protozoans, diseases... Ich advances with hyper-infective introduction, weakening of fish hosts by thermal challenge, poor water quality, poor nutrition; in a word, too much "stress".  Acquired immunity (even Probiotics induced someday in the west) is possible.

Ich or not?       5/19/16
Hello again! I'm concerned about a female cherry barb I got several weeks ago. She has a white spot on her tail fin that looks a lot like ich.
<Just the one spot? Not Ich>
The thing is, the spot has been there since I got her (didn't notice it in the store, only after she came home). So it has been there at least a few weeks, possibly longer. Also, it is the only spot I can see and the other fish in quarantine with her have not showed any symptoms. She is not flashing or rubbing, in fact she is acting normally and eating well. What
do you think this might be?
<Accumulated body mucus... from a.. wound?>
I thought about treating for ich just in case but of course ich treatment wouldn't work until the spot dropped off. Is this something to be concerned about?
<I would not treat... with chemicals. I might elevate temperature to the low 80's F. if the other life can take this>
I'd appreciate any help you can give with this.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Whitespot? - 05/11/2012 Dear WWM team, I've been reading your site over the last few months and have learnt heaps. Thanks for the great resource! WWM: Most welcome. I'm in a mild panic about my dwarf Rasbora - not sure if the white patches I am seeing is Whitespot.. or..? They seem bigger than the pictures of Whitespot I found on an internet search. WWM: Do believe this is Whitespot, perhaps made worse somewhat with skin damage. The fish appears to be behaving otherwise normally. Not sure if one other fish has a similar spot near its tail. I'm not seeing damage or changes to fins. (Damn things move so fast!!!) Hopefully the pic attached is good enough for an ID. (The "fish" on the left of the picture is the reflection, by the way.) Tank specs: 45cm cube, heavily planted with an HOB (AquaClear 30) Tank set up in early March this year. No livestock until April. Very soft water (KH ~1 ) [My water source is rainwater and I add Equilibrium for the GH which is 2-3] The substrate has been kicking the pH up a bit more than I would like. I've been struggling to keep it below 7. My rainwater is 5.5 - 6pH and the tank keeps going to 7.5. [If this keeps up I will have to do a rebuild as I dislike having to use buffers] Temp: 24C (had been having trouble with heater so it spent a couple of weeks @ 22C, now have new heater!)
Water change ~25% weekly
The fish are all from the same (high-quality) store.
NO2 = 0
NO3 = 10ppm
NH4 = 0
Dwarf Rasboras (x19)
Pygmy Corydoras (x6)
Otto (x3)
Cherry shrimp (breeding up like mad....)
The odd snail or two. :p Naturally I am concerned about any potential chemicals going in the tank or just jacking the temp up because of the other inhabitants... If you can help in any way I'd appreciate it!
Thanks, Wendy WWM: Hmm… would treat as per Whitespot, perhaps using the salt/heat method if you can rather than standard medications. But at the very least, avoid formalin and copper as these will stress, likely kill, the shrimps if not the catfish. Cheers, Neale.

White spot on platy fin not eating, not swimming 12/2/11
<Hi there>
Please help me diagnose problems with my platy. I have a 10 gallon tank with a HOB filter , air stone and heater. The occupants are two platies, both female. No live plants, some plastic ones and gravel. My water parameters are as follows. I do a 10% water change every week. The tank is cycled and running for three months.
Ammonia : 0 ppm
nitrites : 0 ppm
nitrates : < 20 ppm
ph : 6.8-7.2
kh : 80
gH : 150.
Temperature : 76 F
<These should be fine for platies>
Ok now here's the problem. One of the female platies is behaving oddly for the past two days. She has a white lump, semi transparent and about 2mm in diameter, on her tail (sorry I tried to get a picture but the lump is semi transparent as I said and doesn't show up very well). It is not fuzzy or cotton-y it looks like some of the scales in her (transparent)fin bulged out. By semi transparent I'd say it was milky. That's the ONLY visible problem with her body. She has stopped eating. She is breathing through her mouth, I can see it open and close. I have never seen her open her mouth for breathing before. This IS new. She is much less active than before and she seems to hang motionless in the water at one spot for a long time before moving to another place. I don't think she is pregnant because its been three months since i got her and there are no males in the tank. Her poop, when she was eating looked fine, grayish brown. I feed both platies with algae flakes.
<I'd expand this diet>
Another thing is both platies now prefer to stay in the hidden areas of the tank (behind the artificial plant, Very close to the heater). Before, both used to swim around in the tank.
Ok, some more information that I think is worth mentioning. Before, the tank used to be at 78 F (summer) now in winter it is at 76 F with the heater.
<This is fine as well>
 The temperature gradient from the heater end of the tank to the other end is about a degree, not more. I can set the heater to bring the tank temperature up to 78 F (or more) if you suggest so. Besides the recent change in temperature, there are no other changes such as water chemistry, new fish etc.
Please advise and help.
<Well, for sure this is not Ich... for size, lack of spread. The one spot may be "nothing" other than expression of some internal or external injury... I would hold off on any medication addition. In the meanwhile, please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/PlatyDis8.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

icky question, FW, diag.  11/30/11
I have a 58 gallon planted tank with 1 Chinese algae eater,
<Mmm, a misnamed fish for sure... Not from China, nor much of an algae eater!>
 6 rummy nose tetras, 4 harlequin tetras, 4 Otos + a dwarf powder blue Gourami. 
I have had the Chinese algae eater for years, the others are all new to me as of 11/6. The Gourami has one really small white spot on the top of his dorsal fin for about 3 weeks. I am not sure if it was there when I bought the fish. Does this fit the life cycle of icky?
<No; not at all... IF an Ich infestation, would be all over the fishes here>
 - as I think this would have fallen off by now. No other fish has it & it is  not spreading on the Gourami & it does not seem to be bothering him. 
Temp is about 78 degrees. All of the fish seem fine - eating fine etc. 
My question is: do you think this is icky or something else?
<The latter; not to worry. This will resolve of itself (think of it as a pimple) in time>
Thank you in advance for your help.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Possible Ich?    11/29/11
I woke up this morning and noticed one of my platies has a white spot on her forehead and I'm not exactly sure what it is... I was looking online and it looks like Ich but there is only one spot and it is much bigger than the pictures I've seen... I don't have an extra tank to turn into a and wont have the money to buy one until Friday... She shares the tank with Mollies/Balloon Mollies, an albino Pleco, more platies, a neon tetra, zebra Danios, snails and (the thing I'm most worried about) around 20-30 baby mollies and platies in a breeder net... So here's my question, will that treatment be okay for all my fish (minus my snails I'm going to put them in their own bowl for a while to make sure) and if not what can i do? And i just moved some of my bigger babies into my "Baby Tank" a little over a week ago so should i be worried about them getting infected too? And would the salt/heat treatment be safe for them too? I know it might not work but its the only option i have at the moment...
Thank you,
<I would not treat this system... Not likely this is Ich... and more harm to be potentially done w/ the medicine application. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm
and the linked files above... Bob Fenner>

fish with white spots    6/1/11
<Hi there Russ>
I have a 28 gal tank with 4 clown loaches, 2 cherry barbs, 2 angelfish, 1 Raphael cat fish, 1redtailed shark
<Mmm, do keep your eye on this minnow... can become very "feisty">
and 1 African brown knife [I know tank seems too small but all fish are tiny and when they get big I am
getting a 50 or 55].Some of the oldest[two loaches and the knife] have bubble like spots[but they're not bubbles].They're sort of bulging off the fish. Help please!
<... Am wondering what these might be... Perhaps manifestation of "gas bubble disease", or simple "Ich"... This last is very easily "caught" by these types/species of fishes. Do you have a good (well-resolved) image or two to send along? Are you familiar w/ WWM's search tool to look these up?
You need to do so... now. Bob Fenner>

Strange white spots on Gourami. Please help!   5/31/11
Hello Crew,
I'm quite desperate to solve this strange problem in my tank. I have 20 gallon tank that just finished cycling (used three black tetras to cycle it).
<Using fish to cycle new tanks is not recommended even if the fish survive, you often end up with fish incompatible with the more delicate species you want to keep afterwards.>
Water parameters are stable: ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 20, ph 7.6 hard water, temp 78F, maintenance includes weekly 25% water changes and vacuuming.
I transferred my 4 year old three spot Gourami male to this tank about three weeks ago from another 36 gallon tank where he was chased badly by other fish.
<Yes; male Trichogaster trichopterus can be very aggressive.>
After the transfer he started scratching himself over the internal filter and soon later developed few white spots that looked like Ich infection to me. I slowly raised the water temperature to 88F and added aquarium salt to a final of 4 tablespoons/5 gallons (It worked very well for me in the past).
<Often does.>
The Gourami is the only fish that remains infected, he drops the spots on the daily basis and gains the new ones next day. It has been going like this for almost three weeks. The number of spots usually stays between 3-6. What in world can it be?
<Assuming it isn't Whitespot, perhaps it's Velvet? This is more difficult to treat with salt/heat. It often reveals itself as a golden sheen under certain lights. Also tends to cause fish to breathe heavily, but Gouramis, being air-breathers, might not show this symptom. Also consider Lymphocystis, which can start as small white specks. A third option is Costia, sometimes called Slime Disease.>
Other than that all fish are active and eating well including Gourami himself. If it is Ick why other fish do not get infected?
<Fish do seem to acquire a certain degree of resistance to Whitespot. Low levels of infection may persist for months, perhaps indefinitely, without any obvious symptoms among your fish. But when one of them is stressed, it starts showing the white cysts. This is presumably why Whitespot can appear out of nowhere in some aquaria.>
If it is not what can I treat it with without putting to much stress on my newly developed biofilter?
<Yes, there are good anti-Velvet and anti-Whitespot medications. I'm in the UK and like eSHa exit that seems to be tolerated by most fish and doesn't cause harm to filter bacteria. It treats both Velvet and Whitespot, and is widely sold across Europe. Otherwise, I'm sure you can find other similar medications.>
Please help me figure it out, my Gourami-boy has been with me for 4 years and I would hate to loose him!
<I would imagine you're very fond of him.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Strange white spots on Gourami. Please help! "Super-Ich"  6/1/11

Hello Neale,
Thank you very much for such prompt reply and a lot of info.
<Glad to help.>
To address your concern about tank cycling, I used fish to cycle the tank in combination with Seachem Stability and Tetra's Bio-Spira bacteria which I had really great success in the past. Cycle was completed in two weeks with only minor ammonia spike for two days (<0.05ppm NH3 and <0.25ppm total), no nitrite spike and nitrates starting coming out on day 9. I also did 50% water changes adding Seachem Prime daily when ammonia was detectable. Fish never showed any kind of abnormal behavior or signs of stress, so I assumed that it did not cause them much harm.
<Okay, sounds fine.>
For the past few days I've been extensively researching all kinds of parasitic diseases, including Velvet, Costia and have to conclude that my fish has something that looks like Ich.
It is really pure white raised spots ranging from 0.3 to 0.5 mm in diameter, they fall off leaving small wounds in the skin. From my understanding of Ich lifecycle, most Ich strains cannot reproduce at temperatures above 86-88F as well as the amount of salt I've been using should kill the free swimming form of Ich?
<That is the theory, anyway!>
I also found few articles on new genus of Ich (Neoichthyophthirius) that could survive high heat and salt, as well as it could reproduce while on the fish making most treatments ineffective. Do you have any information on that? Is this type of Ich is also common? How do people deal with this super-Ich?
<This "Super Ich" has been around for years. The usual treatment is either high salinity (obviously best with fish about to tolerate brackish water, like Guppies and Mollies) or else repeated usage of standard Ick medication. One of the reasons I recommend eSHa EXIT is that it has a fairly good track record against Super Ick compared to some of the other medications sold in Europe.>
Your help is greatly appreciated,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Shrimp query, as vectors of FW Ich 03/20/11
Hey Crew,
Been a while since my last post - hope you are all well :)
Cut to the chase......can shrimps carry Ich??
<They can't be infected by freshwater Ick, but they can certainly carry the free-living stages. Quarantining for a week or two should do the trick nicely, because the free-living stages cannot survive without hosts for more than a couple of days at tropical temperatures.>
My dear Mrs. picked up some rock shrimp and ghosties from a LFS (not my usual one) for my community tank. She mentioned that one of the tanks was quarantined for Whitespot, but that the shrimps came from a non-quarantined tank. After some discussion it became clear that the 'bay' of tanks were part of the same unit, and as such served from the same filter unit (I guess). I have the shrimps in a small holding tank prior to introducing to the community - I was thinking that keeping them here for around a week my 'break' the lifecycle of any Ich parasite should they be present (considered a little salt also but not sure how the two species may react).
<Shrimps are salt-tolerant, and in fact most will thrive in considerably more brackish water than your fish! So if you use the salt/heat method to treat for Whitespot, you should be fine.>
Essentially, am I being overcautious - any 'wet' item would pose a transfer route I think!?
Look forward to hearing from you.
Kind Regards,
ps I have had a look on WWM FAQs
<Cheers, Neale.>

White Spots on Fins Pearl Gourami  3/12/10
<Hello again,>
I am gaining much knowledge from the friendly folks on bb. I am only contacting you now because I am up against the weekend and I would like your opinion on these "bumps".
<Looks like Finrot to me, perhaps Lymphocystis. Can't really tell without a proper photo. So, please send photos if you can, and keep photos to 500 KB or thereabouts.>
It doesn't look like Ick to me because it appears to be extruding from and not burrowed in as such. Mind you I never heard of Ick until a couple weeks ago. The lumps or bumps are fairly uniform. I don't see any actual tares or whatnot.
<Finrot will typically be pinkish because its associated with congestion in the blood flow. Finrot is usually caused by physical damage and/or poor water quality. Lymphocystis is typically off-white to coffee coloured, and the surrounding tissue looks perfectly healthy. Lymphocystis is viral, but the virus only causes these cysts when conditions allow, typically poor water quality or the wrong water chemistry. It takes a long time to develop, rather than overnight. Exposure to heavy metals is a cause that's been identified in the wild. There's no cure for Lymphocystis, but it does go away by itself given time.>
Last night there was less no ammonia, no nitrite and less than 5 on nitrate. Still cycling hopefully at the end but I wouldn't be surprised to see different kinds of readings today. Regardless, I will do a water change.
Here's the latest video that shows 4 bumps or w/e and some more aggression.
It's odd that the females don't seem to be as scared of him today as they were yesterday. The non sick/injured fish has tolerated him pretty well but the sick fish has pretty mulched stayed in the cave. The last two hours she's been swimming with the other female even though her condition seems to have gotten worse.
<I see.>
There were two bumps yesterday but last night only one. Today there are four. None on other fish. Temp is 78 as I was assuming Ick and began to raise the temp. I also have removed most decorations assuming again that Ick would have attached.
<Pointless. Ick will be throughout the system, so removing one object while leaving another will make no difference at all. Stressing fish by
rearranging their habitat and removing shelters won't help either.>
Since all pearls are now pretty much free swimming maybe they aren't as stressed as I am. If things keep improving daily, and what we're seeing is NOT injury from him, I may hold off on a trade for a couple of days and get the plants back in and probably add more and likely skip the log because he's using that as a tool.
I'd appreciate your opinion on these bumps. This is my first illness/injury.
I'll try to get some pics with pro camera if you think it helpful.
<Yes. But keep to our size limit, please. Bigger than 500 KB and you're blocking up our e-mail quota, stopping other folks from sending their stuff.>
Greg in Charlotte
<Cheers, Neale.> 

FW Parasites? (RMF, second opinion on the photos) 10/20/2009
Hi Crew:
<Hello Carla,>
During the past couple of months, one of my tanks has been experiencing numerous fish deaths resulting from what appear to be bacterial infections. The first to succumb was a White Cloud (Tanichthys albonubes). The next five were all Threadfin Rainbows (Iriatherina werneri). The symptoms would begin with a small whitish spot on the body ringed with red, then over the course of 7 - 10 days, the spot would spread, and I would begin to see bright red streaks around the eyes, gills, and/or base of fins (which I believe is a sign of septicaemia).
<Can certainly be the case. Can also occur as a reaction to environmental stress, the equivalent of sunburn or chemical burns on humans. All the redness means is that superficial blood vessels have become expanded or congested.>
I also occasionally saw stringy white feces on some of the fish.
<Again, this can mean a variety of things, from constipation through to Hexamita infections.>
At this point I would euthanize the fish with clove oil, but on a couple of occasions the fish died on their own. The deaths occurred one after another, not concurrently, with usually a couple of weeks between deaths.
<I see.>
At the first sign of infection, I would transfer the ill fish to my 10-gallon hospital tank, and, since I don't have much faith in antibiotic baths, treat with either Metronidazole mixed with food, or Jungle Anti-bacterial Medicated Fish Food (Sodium sulfathiazole 2.3%, Nitrofurazone 0.13%). (The fish were still eating well during the first week or so after infection.) This treatment had no effect.
<It's worth mentioning that while antibiotics can help with some (mostly opportunistic) infections, there are some primary infections, such as Mycobacteria, that are essentially untreatable.>
I realize that most bacterial infections are a sign of poor water quality, and this has me puzzled, because I am fussy about my fish. The Threadfins were even spawning within days of getting sick.
Parameters are as follows:
-40 gallon tank
-Ammonia: 0
-Nitrite: 0
-Nitrate: 0 (heavily planted)
-pH: 8.0 - 8.2
-Temperature: 25 C
-Hardness (my KH/dH test kit is in the mail, but according to our City's water quality report, the water is very hard).
-Remaining tank mates: 3 Black Mollies, 5 Dermogenys pusilla, 5 Cherry Shrimp, 1 Threadfin Rainbow (the last one), 1 White Cloud (also the last one), 1 Scarlet Badis.
-15% weekly water changes (I don't do the usual 25% because of the Halfbeaks' sensitivity to water chemistry changes).
<Fair enough.>
Since I feel my water quality is good (although perhaps the pH is too high for Threadfins and White Clouds?),
<Yes, your pH/hardness is a bit high, but in itself, this shouldn't be killing them.>
I thought perhaps a parasite was responsible for making the fish vulnerable to bacterial infections. I do on occasion see the fish flash, although oddly, never the Threadfin Rainbows. There was never any sign of Ich or Velvet. So I pulled out my old microscope, and took skin scrapings and gill samples of three of the deceased Threadfin Rainbows. Since I really had no clue what I was doing, the results of the first two fish I examined were "inconclusive." However, by the third fish, I felt I had enough practice to get an acceptable wet-mount and take a few rudimentary photographs. I would really appreciate it if someone could take a look at the attached photos and determine if there is anything suspicious. I have placed arrows near things that look suspicious (to me), but I have no experience with this and they could well be normal microscopic detritus.
<Indeed. I am not a microbiologist. I've asked Bob to chime in here. While "scinscraping1.jpg" and "scinscraping2.jpg" have circular cells in them reminiscent of the Whitespot parasite Ichthyophthirius multifiliis, I'm not enough of an expert to confirm that either way. I will make the point here that both Whitespot and Velvet are dangerous precisely because they break the skin and make the fish vulnerable to secondary infections.><<Does appear to be Ichthyophthirius... RMF>>
Please note that my microscope is a very inexpensive unit, and probably not very good, and I took the photos with my digital camera stuck up against the eyepiece, so the quality of the micrographs is not great.
<They look great to me!><<To me as well. RMF>>
If you have any tips to pass along to improve my microscopy skills, that would be great!
Thank you so much, and thanks to all the crew members who take the time to help aquarists and their charges!
<I can't offer any easy diagnosis here. I'd do a couple of things myself though. Firstly, I'd not buy either of these fish from that particular retailer again. Or at the least, not from the current batches. Obviously both White Clouds and Rainbowfish need to be kept in schools, but I'd sooner leave them as singletons for now than risk mixing them with any more possibly infected fish. I'm saying this because it's possible that whatever is killing your fish came in with these newcomers. If you can get some of these fish from a new batch a few months from now, or immediately from another retailer, then that might be an option. Either way, I'd buy one species at a time, and quarantine them for, let's say, a month in the 10 gallon tank. I'd maintain that tank as per treating Whitespot, i.e., heat (28 C/82 F for the White Clouds, and 30 C/86 F for the Rainbows) plus a little salt, 2 to 3 level teaspoons of salt per gallon. This won't stress the fish at all, but will help deal with any Ick or Velvet parasites. After a month, it should be clear whether the fish are healthy or not, in which case, you can move them to the display tank. Hope this helps, Neale.>

Re: FW Parasites? (RMF, second opinion on the photos)  10/21/09
Neale and Bob,
thank you so much for your reply.
<Neale is "marked out for Weds." Will share>
I suppose that one cell does rather resemble Ichthyophthirius. That would explain the flashing. Is there a strain of Ich that can cause a low-level, long term (2+ months) infestation, and would the Ich be hiding in the gills?
<Yes and possibly yes>
I've always assumed if Ich was left untreated, the fish would rapidly become covered with parasites and die.
<Mmm, not so... can be resident as a low-infectious population... Triggered to infection, hyperinfection by circumstances... weakening of host/s>
Although I have read that fish previously exposed to Ich (which almost all my fish were when I first acquired them), have some resistance to it.
<This seems to be the case>
I plan to eradicate the Ich using the salt/heat method, then convert this 40-gallon tank to low-end brackish for the Mollies, Halfbeaks, and Cherry Shrimp. I can move the Scarlet Badis to my heavily-planted 10-gallon (which houses one male Betta splendens and one rogue baby Molly who was banished here because she insisted on pick, pick, picking at my Halfbeaks).
I'll then re-home the Threadfin Rainbow and White Cloud with other aquarists who already have schools of these. Then, Neale, I'm going to order your "Brackish Water Fishes" book and decide on a shoaling fish and maybe a few little oddballs for my brackish tank!
<Is a worthy read>
I will follow your advice and quarantine for a month (I usually quarantine for only two weeks) and treat as for Ich with heat/salt.
Thanks again!
<Welcome Carla. BobF>

Re: FW Parasites?  10/21/09
Neale and Bob, thank you so much for your reply.
<Neale is "marked out for Weds." Will share>
<<I'm back today, though!>>
I suppose that one cell does rather resemble Ichthyophthirius. That would explain the flashing. Is there a strain of Ich that can cause a low-level, long term (2+ months) infestation, and would the Ich be hiding in the gills?
<Yes and possibly yes>
I've always assumed if Ich was left untreated, the fish would rapidly become covered with parasites and die.
<Mmm, not so... can be resident as a low-infectious population... Triggered to infection, hyperinfection by circumstances... weakening of host/s>
<<I agree with Bob here. I simply don't believe the old story of Ick "lying dormant" in the gravel for months or years, and then suddenly attacking.
Much more likely that healthy fish have immune systems that keep chronic infections at minimal levels that cause no harm, much like E. coli and humans. It's only when something goes wrong in the tank, and the fish's immune system collapses, that the formerly small Ick population multiplies dramatically.>
Although I have read that fish previously exposed to Ich (which almost all my fish were when I first acquired them), have some resistance to it.
<This seems to be the case>
I plan to eradicate the Ich using the salt/heat method, then convert this 40-gallon tank to low-end brackish for the Mollies, Halfbeaks, and Cherry Shrimp.
<Should work grand. Only a very low salinity is required, 1.002 to 1.003, and you'll find virtually all plants will thrive under such conditions.
It's such a low-cost, no-brainer approach for keeping Mollies I fail to see why people resist keeping Mollies in such very slightly saline conditions.>
I can move the Scarlet Badis to my heavily-planted 10-gallon (which houses one male Betta splendens and one rogue baby Molly who was banished here because she insisted on pick, pick, picking at my Halfbeaks). I'll then re-home the Threadfin Rainbow and White Cloud with other aquarists who already have schools of these. Then, Neale, I'm going to order your "Brackish Water Fishes" book and decide on a shoaling fish and maybe a few little oddballs for my brackish tank!
<Is a worthy read>
<<Kind of you to say so, Bob; Carla, hope you enjoy it.>>
I will follow your advice and quarantine for a month (I usually quarantine for only two weeks) and treat as for Ich with heat/salt.
Thanks again!
<Welcome Carla. BobF>
<<Good luck, Neale.>>

Dojo loach eel and ich  6/18/2009
Hello Crew,
It's been yrs since I last emailed you guys for help & I am happy to report I have spent my teens & early 20s researching & gaining experience w/ my fish.
Sadly I made a beginners mistake by only QTing my new mollies for a week & noticing a few small spots 2 days later that I assumed to be ich.
<Do review the needs of Mollies:
Contrary to popular misconception, they aren't especially good additions to freshwater tanks, and are invariably hardier and easier to keep in brackish water conditions. Since the free-living stage of the Ick parasite is not able to live in brackish water, Mollies under such conditions aren't bothered by this disease.>
So I pulled the 2 with spots out & put them back in QT & dosed them with quICK cure, set up my 20 gallon & pulled my fire eel & dojo loach from the main tank & then treated my main tank also. This was 2 days ago and the spots on the mollies in QT are gone & no one else has shown any signs although I will continue treatment for another 3 days.
<With Loaches and Fire Eels, it's perfectly viable to treat your fish for Ick all at the same time, using the old salt/heat combination.>
My problem is that I am unsure what to do about the dojo & eel? They have shown no signs of ich and the temp in the 20g is 81 which I assumed would speed up the life cycle of ich & the fish would be showing some signs so I could know whether or not to treat them?
<Since these fish were exposed to the Ick-ridden Mollies, they should be treated accordingly. Make a brine solution in a jug containing warm water into which you add 2 to 3 teaspoons of salt per US gallon of water in the aquarium. Once dissolved, pour into the outflow of the filter so it quickly mixes. Leave at the high temperature you have for about 2 weeks. This should kill any free-living parasites. The salinity is actually very low, and won't harm fish, plants or filter bacteria.>
There is so much conflicting information on ich & the life cycle, how long it can survive & at what temps & I have spent countless hours reading only leaving myself more confused! Should I leave the dojo & eel alone & watch them, or should I treat them with Coppersafe in the 20g then and them back to the main tank in a week after the quICK cure has been filtered out? I have never lost a fish to ich & I certainly don't want my fire eel to be my first.
<Spiny Eels and Loaches are both notoriously sensitive to some medications, so where possible, use salt plus heat method instead of copper- and formalin-based medications.>
I would like to get them in the main tank as soon as possible as I am currently maintaining 7 tanks. I cant give you any specifics on water quality as I do not test my water anymore. I do change 40-50% each week as the main tank is heavily stocked (7 female Bettas, 4 platy, 8 mollies, 2 swordtails, 2 Bala sharks, 1 Gourami, & before this the dojo loach & the eel 9" & fat as a garden hose!) a lot in a 50g & I did test for the 1st few months, things were stable w/ my water changes & I had no problems until this, which was caused by the new fish.
<Quite the mix.>
I would just also I to state that I got the Balas, eel, dojo, Gourami, and a 30g tank stuffed full of several other fish (2 black skirts tetras, a serpae, a glow light tetra, 3 Kuhlis, 2 big unidentified loaches, a killifish, 2 true SAE's, another Gourami, a beautiful but fairly aggressive male electric yellow cichlid and 9 of his off spring!) so you can see why some ended up in my main tank! Also I have been trying unsuccessfully to find suitable homes for the Bala sharks & the cichlids for nearly 2 months.
But the closet big city is Vegas & it is 90 miles away so I don't know what to do! I myself would never had bought the Balas as I know how big they get, however I have grown a bit fond of there peacful nature & clicking sounds. (0: They are about 6 inches for nose to tail. Anyways this was a long email but this is really the only place I could look for help on what and not to do w/ the eel and dojo. And PLEASE if you know anyone who wants some fish send them my way! (0=
<Your best bet here is to join an online forum that includes members from your country; most have "buy, sell and swap" sections, through which members trade fish. The popular Tropical Fish Forums one for example has sections of this type for both UK and US hobbyists. Being a Brit myself, I really don't keep up to date with the fish swapping scene in the US, I'm afraid!>
Thanks for the help, Jenny
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: dojo loach eel and ich 6/18/09
thanks for the advice! I had originally started a salt, heat mix for the dojo and the eel. I had 21 teaspoons in my 20g so far and then I started feeling bad for my dojo as it was breathing rapidly so I took half the salt
<The salt was unlikely to be the reason the loach was breathing heavily; because Ick and Velvet parasites readily (perhaps preferentially?) attack the gill filaments, it's often the case that fish find it difficult to
breathe long before you see the tell-tale white cysts on the body of the fish.>
Also, I do keep salt in my main aquarium, though not to the point of brackish, 30 teaspoons in my 50 gallon.
<Unless you're keeping brackish water fish, there is absolutely no point to adding salt to a freshwater aquarium on a permanent basis. This is "old school" fishkeeping, where salt was used to detoxify nitrite and nitrate, which were often at high levels in aquaria through to the 1970s because of inadequate filtration and infrequent water changes. Like activated carbon, salt is redundant in freshwater aquaria run along modern principles: lots of filtration and weekly water changes of 25-50%. On the other hand, if you insist on keeping Mollies with freshwater fish, raising carbonate hardness and ensuring a stable pH around 7.5 to 8.0 will significantly help things, and because Mollies are so sensitive to nitrate, the use of small amounts of sodium chloride might be useful. But to be honest, I recommend against Mollies in community tanks; we get so many letters about sick Mollies, it's beyond a joke!>
I have never had any deaths besides of fry being eaten, they really have no chance with all the Bettas.
<I imagine your success with fish has more to do with good fishkeeping than the use of salt!>
So anyways I will try the salt/heat combo again. Do I need to keep the salt in the tank for a full 2 weeks?
<Yes; salt doesn't kill the Ick you see on the fish, but the free-living "babies" that emerge when the Ick cysts burst. Those cysts take a few days to a week to burst at tropical temperatures, so it's usual to run the tank
with salt in it for two weeks to minimise the chances of [a] any cysts not having burst; and [b] any free-living stages still being in the water.>
Thanks, Jenny
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: dojo loach eel and ich 6/27/09
Hey Neal,
I still unfortunately am having some problems here, whatever my fish had must not have been ich.
About 3 days ago I returned everyone to the main tank and all seemed well at first but last night I noticed my new black molly had the same thing as before. It is like small clearish white patches. Definitely not a fungus.
<Hmm... with Black Mollies this is quite common and usually means something isn't right in terms of water chemistry. They secrete an extra thick layer of mucous, and that becomes visible as greyish slime on their bodies. It's not a disease as such, but a first sign of stress; should you subsequently see unnatural swimming ("the Shimmies") or actual signs of Finrot and Fungus, then you may need to medicate. But at this stage, observe and in particular test the water conditions. Mollies need fairly warm (around 26-28 C) water; a high pH (around 7.5 to 8); lots of hardness (15+ degrees dH) and preferably some salinity (SG 1.003-1.005 being ideal).>
It's almost like you can only see them at a certain angle. They are only slightly raised and they appear to either fall off of resolve over a period of about 24 hrs or so. I was thinking columnaris (sp?) but I don't believe that drops off or resolves on its on?
Is it some other type of parasite?
<No, I don't think so.>
There is currently between 60-66 teaspoons of aquarium salt in the 50g tank.
<Assuming each teaspoon is 6 grammes, that's 360 grammes in 190 litres, or 1.9 grammes per litre. At 26 C, the optimal salinity for Mollies would be about 6.5 to 9 grammes per litre. So assuming you're keeping your Mollies with brackish water or salt-tolerant fish, you could up the salinity and expect them to get much healthier. As I've written endlessly here at WWM and elsewhere, it's a gamble keeping Mollies in anything other than brackish water because, as you're seeing, they often don't do well in freshwater conditions.>
I kept it up after the ich treatment just to be safe.
<Would stop treating once the instructions on your treatment says to stop.
Don't keep medicating just for the sake of it!>
The temp is 77 F and no one else seems to be showing any symptoms beside the black molly and one other new molly who I believe is partially paralyzed (bought that way)
<Very likely "the Shimmies" if you mean fins alongside the body, wobbling from side to side, and seemingly "treading water" rather than swimming normally.>
but she eats/acts normally beside her swimming and occasional clamped tail fin. Any ideas?
<Just the usual! Mollies aren't freshwater fish, and the salt you're adding for treating Ick isn't the marine salt mix you need for Mollies, and you aren't adding enough to ensure Molly health. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: dojo loach eel and ich 6/27/2009
I definitely can't add more salt since I do have a loach in there.
However as soon as I can get rid of some of my cichlids, I plan on moving my tank wards :). I do have an extra 20 gallon but I don't think it is big enough for mollies personally, especially not for 9 of them.
<I would tend to agree.>
Maybe I can put my female Bettas in the 20 gallon (they are huge pigs and definitely need to be separated from the main tank since my fire eel eats blood worms daily) and put my mollies in the 30 gallon and put everyone else in the 50 gallon. Well I really appreciate your help, I will keep you posted on the fish. It does seem like some slime coat issues.
<In the short term, stabilising pH, providing sufficient hardness, and above all, ensuring low levels of nitrate as well as zero ammonia/nitrite are the keys to success with Mollies. Wild Mollies certainly do live in
freshwater, so they don't "need" salt as such. But the reality is that unless the aquarium is warm, scrupulously clean, and provided with very stable hard water chemistry, adding marine salt mix tends to make keeping
them much easier. Do read here:
Thanks again, Jen
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>

ich?   8/1/08 All seems to have been fine in my cichlid tank for a while I have six giant danio's and nine cichlids lot of air and filtration I do a 30 percent water change every one or two weeks never more than two without one. Tonight I noticed a little spec on two of the danio's dorsal fins one on the tail of one of them nothing else seems out of the ordinary the temp stays at 79*. so what would cause them to get ich if it is, and will all of the other fish get it for sure. There is really no changes in the aquarium the other fish all look fine ???ooh its a 72 gal and one of the textilis has a mouth full of eggs I noticed yesterday. thank you Wes <Hello Wes. I'd wait a day or so to see if the white spot is something harmless, like a bit of sand or even an air bubble (both of these things can be deceptively similar to Ick/Whitespot). If you're in a rush, catch the fish and very gently move a wet finger along the fin: if the white speck comes away, then no harm done. (I don't recommend man-handling fish generally because you can easily damage the slime layer on the body, as well as internal organs; but the fins are fairly resilient if you take care.) If the white speck doesn't vanish within the next 24 hours or so, then yes, I'd treat on a preventative basis using salt/heat or a commercial whitespot/ick medication of your choice. As always, complement this with a quick check of the key water parameters, at minimum pH and nitrite. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: ich? 8/2/08 Neale, thanks for the quick response and you were right I woke up this morning and the spots were gone, I think it was air bubbles stuck on them any way there is a lot of air in there again thank you WetWeb for being there, Wes. <All's well that ends well. Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

No New Fish. So, where did the Ick come from?    6/24/07 Hello, <<Hi, Neil. Tom here.>> I've just discovered your website and am thoroughly impressed. It appears to be the one-stop-shopping site for all, or most, of my aquarium related research! <<I thank you for all of us, Neil.>> My question is this - In my planted discus tank, I have absolutely not added anything in this tank for over a month. It's a fairly new setup (46 Bowfront running since 4/21/2007). The plants and fish are thriving. I have 5 discus, all of which will eat right out of my hand. The tank also houses 4 Red Serpae Tetras (cycled the tank), 3 Corys, 3 Otos and a Clown Loach (snail control). The discus were the last fish added. The plants were present from day 1. <<All sounds nice, Neil, though Im, admittedly, a fan of fishless cycling.>> Last night, I noticed about a dozen cysts on one of my Discus. His behavior hasn't changed, he's not flashing or scratching, still has a good appetite. I'm baffled as to where the ick came from. I'm not a believer in the "there is always ick present in the aquarium, just waiting for a viable host" theory. <<Sounds like your fish is far more tolerant than most, Neil. As for the theory you mention, youre quite right in not believing it. Ick is not ever-present. It must be introduced via fish, plant life or even transport water. Quarantine, quarantine, quarantine!>> Would any of you have any possible suggestions as to how this could have happened? I don't feed any live foods whatsoever. Just freeze dried Bloodworms, Brine shrimp Tubifex and Flakes. All Hikari. Also, frozen Bloodworms, Brine shrimp and Mysis. Also Hikari. Other than that, I'm baffled! <<While it seems, at first, to fly in the face of logic, Neil, realize that it only takes one parasite to start the ball rolling. One lousy, little single-cell parasite. In colder conditions such as those you might find in a pond setting or Goldfish tank, for instance, the life-cycle of this parasite can take weeks rather than days. Additionally, lets consider that a weak strain of Ick there are more than one might not reproduce enough strong tomites (juveniles) to make an infestation immediately obvious. Its only in the mature trophont, or feeding stage, that the parasite is visible to the naked eye and, even then, it presupposes that the parasite has infested the animal(s) where it can be seen, i.e. on the body as opposed to the gills where it might not be readily caught by the aquarist. Now, add in that a large, heavily-planted tank may make it somewhat difficult to observe each and every fish closely on a daily basis and something can slip through. Sure, the possibility that Im offering is hypothetical in its nature but its based on the fact that, somewhere along the line, the little baddies were introduced into the tank and, more plausibly, probably with your Discus if only because they were the last added.>> Thank you! Neil D'Ambrosio Jackson, NJ <<Whatever treatment you undertake, Neil, remember not to cut it short. Continue treatment for three days after all signs of Ick are gone. You dont want to go through this twice. Best of luck to you. Tom>>

Re: No New Fish. So, where did the Ick come from? (update)   8/5/07 This message is for Tom as a follow-up to our exchange about 1 month ago: Hi Tom, Neil from Jackson NJ again. Thought I'd provide some updates to our previous exchange. <<Hi, Neil. Good to hear back from you.>> I'll start with the Red Mellon discus with the long, white stringy feces and no appetite. As you may recall, I was treating him/her in my QT with Fish Zole (Metronidazole) and was 2/3 through the treatment. <<I do recall, Neil.>> Well, that was my 1st experience with that medication and I must say it worked as advertised. <<Satisfying when something works as advertised, isnt it? :) >> The Red Mellon is a little eating machine now. Always coming to the top of the tank whenever I enter the room. His appetite has improved 100% and he actually looks like he's grown some. Interestingly enough, the first food I was able to get him to eat was Hikari freeze-dried Tubifex. I soak 1 cube in warm water and keep tapping at it with an eye dropper until it completely falls apart into individual "strings". I know there are many articles warning against the use of Tubifex. However, I'm a big fan of Hikari products - both frozen and freeze dried. I then just squirt some of the worms into the water column and most of my fish go wild on this. I feed the same way with Hikari frozen blood worms. <<Part (most?) of the warnings against Tubifex, as you know, really stems from where these little critters are cultivated, or at least where theyve been cultivated in the past, and what they can potentially harbor. Hikari irradiates the worms, in freeze-dried form anyway, to eliminate the concerns of contaminating the tank, however, so thats certainly good news. (These worms must really be "yummy" since I've yet to hear about a fish that didn't like them.)>> The ParaGuard treatment worked very well in my show tank as well. You may recall I was treating another discus in my show tank for what appeared to be Ick. This product worked well, with no apparent harm to my live plants nor my Clown Loach, Corys or Red Serpaes. The Ick went away after about 7 days of treatment and has not reappeared since. <<Cant ask for more than that, Neil.>> About 1 week ago, another of my discus in my show tank appeared with a long stringy feces the color and consistency of aquarium sealant! This was one of the toughest, more dominant of my discus. When he refused food, I knew he was sick. I raised the temperature gradually to around 87 degrees and this time used Seachem Metronidazole. I tried this brand since it comes in a fine powder instead of pill form (Fish Zole). <<Okay.>> I used the same regiment - 250mg/10 gallons every other day for 3 days with a ~35% water change in between treatments. He began to look a bit better after about 3 days but was still not eating. I tried all kinds of food but he would just chase after it, take it in, then spit it out. Finally, I tried frozen Daphnia and that did the trick. He's been inhaling it every day since. He's now taking flakes and some freeze dried Tubifex as I described above. I havent seen the "Aquarium Sealant" feces in 2 days so far. He's back to his old self chasing other Discus around during feeding time! <<Youre getting very good at this, Neil. Im happy to hear about the fine results youve been having.>> I feel a great sense of accomplishment since I've only been keeping Discus since May of this year. I've learned so much by reading many books, magazine articles and from internet sites such as this one. I appreciate that a real person takes the time to reply to my messages - and in a timely manner! <<We give it our best shots when it comes to answering in a timely fashion, Neil. Every one of us realizes how frustrating and discouraging it can be to have a sick pet, or a sick tank, and not get the information we need to do something about it quickly. Sometimes, the solution itself can be time consuming so we try to get back to our readers/writers as fast as we can.>> I do have some really interesting things to share and was wondering if there was some way for me to submit articles on this website? <Oh yes. RMF> As a newbie to Discus, I would like to focus my attention on other newbies who I'm sure are experiencing the same stress and anxiety that I have. I have also discovered some helpful hints on filter media and maintenance that may help some fellow hobbyists save some money without sacrificing water quality or the health of their livestock. <<Direct your correspondence regarding this to Bob Fenner. Bobs always open to well-written, informative and pertinent material. Might be that youve got something hed be interested in helping you develop for print.>> Well, I think I've written much too much this time. However, I hope this information can help others who are stressing over which medication to use and when to use it - much in the same way that I did! <<First-hand information is always valuable to us/others, Neil. Your experiences might shed some light where other sources have failed. I encourage you share what you have with Bob and be guided accordingly.>> Thanks again for listening! Neil D'Ambrosio Jackson, NJ <<Its an easy listen, Neil. Thanks for writing back and sharing your successes with me and the rest of our readers. My best to you. Tom>>

Re: No New Fish. So, where did the Ick come from?  - 6/25/07 Thanks for your quick response! <<Happy to do so, Neil.>> Back in the mid 80's when I was keeping salt water fish, the S.O.P for cycling was a product called Fritzyme. This was used in conjunction with another product (forget who produced it) containing Ammonium Chloride. This was how we cycled tanks. <<I confess that Ive never kept saltwater tanks, Neil, but since the push to cycle without using live critters, particularly on the FW side of the hobby, didnt gain much impetus until about the mid-90s, Im impressed that you were doing such 10 years earlier. Glad to hear this.>> I used Cycle (excellent! product, by the way) this time but could not find a good source of pure ammonia. <<Hardware stores used to be a good source for pure ammonia but I fear, in this context, too many of them have gone upscale on us to simply walk in and find what isnt stocked in a supermarket. Takes more hunting than we, among others, lead folks to believe.>> I was told to put a shrimp in the tank, fish food etc... Since I wasn't too keen on that method, I used the Red Serpaes, lots of water changes and frequent monitoring of water parameters. Even though the Serpaes were only $1 each, I take losing ANY fish very hard! <<They had an advantage that a lot of fish that are used for cycling tanks didnt. You. I still dont recommend it for beginners but Im glad all worked out.>> They are still in my show tank with my Discus, plants, Corys, etc... Much larger than when I bought them and cherry red coloration. <<Have four of these fish in my big tank and they do add great color to the community. (Im glad the little buggers finally settled out of their incessant fin-nipping, however.)>> I'm currently treating my show tank with ParaGuard and gradually moved the temp up to ~86. So far, all seems well. I chose this product since it seems to be the safest product I could find. I've been watching my Clown Loach very closely since I believe he would show the 1st sign of stress. If you have a better or more preferred method, please drop me a line. I'm new to Discus and Live plants, so any advice that you can give me would be greatly appreciated. <<Keep an eye on the Corys as well, Neil. Your Discus will handle the elevated temperature better than the Corys will. Youve already got the Loach covered and, I must say, Im surprised the Discus showed up with this before the Loach did. These fish tend to be the FW counterparts of the SW Blue Tangs where the term Ick magnet is used. Id be interested in how the Seachem ParaGuard works for you. Products such as Kordons Rid-Ich and Mardels Maracide use malachite green and formalin together, which has proven very effective against Ick. (Just a little back-burner info if the Seachem product doesnt do the job.) You already know the drill on removing any activated carbon from the filter if its used and increasing aeration to compensate for lower oxygen levels at elevated temps. For our other readers, this can typically, and cheaply, be done by lowering the water level so that theres more splashing at the surface from the filter return which, in turn, increases the oxygen exchange.>> In closing, is there any way to be more in tune with the day to day goings on with your website (membership, etc ...)? <<Neil, one way to stay on top of things is to join our discussion forums. Highly addictive and highly educational. Youll find yourself sharing, and learning, as much, or more, from the discussion boards available there are quite a few than you might think possible. (A college professor of mine once told me that in order to learn, copy the teacher. In order to understand, teach.) In other words, youll find yourself rutting around in areas of the hobby that youve never been before and, most likely, coming away with information that might just leave you a little dumbfounded, i.e. truth versus utter garbage.>> I've read a couple of articles written by Alesia Benedict on Discus and Planted aquariums. She is a fantastic writer, as well as being very knowledgeable about the subject matter she writes about. I found her article about starting off with a 90 gallon planted discus aquarium very close to what I did. I also agree that there are too many outdated books on discus out there. <<Ms. Benedict has written some wonderful stuff, to be sure. As for the outdated books, we need to be fair here, Neil. Our technology is evolving so rapidly, farm-breeding included, that its difficult to put, in hard print, a definitive volume on nearly anything. On the flip side, you must question whether new technology, for its own sake, is an improvement or merely new technology for something already tried and true.>> More current information is desperately needed, especially that most discus available to the hobbyist today are tank raised and have never been to South America. <<Youre singing my song. Ive a half dozen Albino Corys, gleefully swimming around in my community tank, that dont existfor longin a natural habitat.>> Never even seen a Cory or a Pleco until they find themselves in some hobbyists aquarium! <<Neither are aberrations, Neil. Both are part of our natural world. In fact, one of the bigger issues that comes about here at our WWM site, in the FW department, is when someone says that he/she has a Pleco. Ive got a Sailfin Pleco that grows to about 16-17 in one tank and an Angelicus Pleco that stays at about 5-6 in another. Ive also seen a Common Pleco at my LFS that grew to a size that made me say, Whoa!. Many varieties running around loose, so to speak, and theyre not farm-bred, by any means.>> Please pass along my compliments to Alesia and urge her to keep writing!<RMF will do so> <<Ill pass this along to Bob. Alesia has written articles for the Conscientious Aquarist (Bobs mag <Mmm, ours>) as a free-lance writer, not part of the WWM crew.>> Thanks again for the awesome website. Please keep it going. Newbies like me are depending on you! <<Count on it, Neil! And thanks for kind words and support.>> Regards, Neil D'ambrosio Jackson, NJ <<Tom. Macomb, MI.>>

Re: No New Fish. So, where did the Ick come from? (update)   7/4/07 Hi Tom, <<Happy 4th of July, Neil!>> Got a little busy and am behind on my e-mails. <<Understood.>> Just thought I'd give you an update on the Ick situation and my method of treatment. As you may recall (see below), only 1 of my discus (for that matter the only fish in the tank) had what appeared to be Ick. I raised the temp to 86 and added 20 ml (4 capfuls) of ParaGuard every day for seven days. Directions call for 5ml per gallon. I estimated my 46 bow front actually contains ~40 gallons taking into account driftwood, substrate, stones etc ... I maintained my normal water change schedule, redosing after the water change. I don't see any signs of ick on that 1 fish or any others. All plants appear to be in very good shape, Corys, clown loach, red Serpaes all eating like little pigs with seemingly no effect whatsoever. I'll keep watching to make sure it's gone for good this time. <<All sounds good to me, Neil.>> Strange only one fish was affected. And as I began our dialog, still wondering how ick could have appeared after not adding fish for ~4 to 6 weeks. It makes me wonder if it could have been something else other than ick. I saw a dozen or so "salt" like particles on the fish. Never saw the fish breathing heavily except after feeding, just like the other 4 discus tank mates. I believe I only saw the fish rub up against anything once, maybe twice. At a temp of 86 degrees, I would have thought I should have seen the cysts fall off of the fish within a few days as part of the ick cycle. But they seemed to just stay on the fish for almost the whole time. That is why I'm still wondering if it could have been something else. Not sure what else it could have been, though. Any thoughts? <<In a FW tank, Neil, the one that immediately comes to my mind is Velvet (Oodinium pillularis). In the early stages, this is rather easily mistaken for Ick, smaller spots but of like-appearance. The kicker here is that this parasite can exist in a tank for quite some time in non-parasitic form, which might explain the apparent inconsistency with the original problem being Ick. The body of this dinoflagellate contains chlorophyll which it uses to photosynthesize food. No big rush/need to find a host it seems.>> I'm currently treating 2 new discus in my 20 gallon QT. After I purchased the fish from a LFS, who acquires his discus from a well-known breeder in Washington State, I noticed the Red Mellon had long, stringy (not quite white but more of a tan color) feces. He didn't seem to have an appetite or much of an interest in food. So, I began adding a product called Fish Zole to the tank. Fish Zole comes in tablet form, each tablet containing 250mg of Metronidazole. I've done a lot of reading and have come to the conclusion that this is the medication I should be using, based on my observations of the fish. <<We frequently recommend this medication when its deemed appropriate and your description seems, at face value, to fit the bill. Evidence seems to bear out that Metronidazole is most effective taken internally with food but this isnt always possible with sick fish that dont have an appetite. You dont want to use it continuously or repeatedly, however, because it is toxic to fish, more particularly with extended use.>> It seems to want to eat, but just picks at micro algae on driftwood and occasionally on some pelleted food. <<See what I mean about appetite?>> The other fish is a larger White Diamond discus. Absolutely beautiful fish. This fish does not appear to be sick. However, it is extremely skittish. Hides a lot but will dash out for food, then goes back to his "safety zone" behind a plastic plant. I've watched this tank from a distance and both fish appear to do what normal discus do - they kinda rub up against each other, a little head butting, grazing around on driftwood and gravel. I only have them about 9 days as of this writing, so they may be ok with time. I'll let you know how the Fish Zole works. I do have 6 small Corys, a little Pleco and 4 red Serpaes in the tank as well. The meds don't seem to be having any adverse effect on these little guys. Some of them are going into the big tank once I believe all are healthy. The Red Mellon seems to be a lot more active now 2/3 of the way through the treatment. I'll let you know if the Fish Zole product was effective. <<Id appreciate that, Neil. Manufacturers can claim what they like but the proof comes with actual hands-on use.>> I'd appreciate any comments and/or suggestions you may have on the above. Also, if you know of some good sources of Discus information - Books, Magazines, Websites, other hobbyists or members of the WWM crew that I can communicate with, I'd greatly appreciate it if you would provide that information to me. <<Neil, if you havent done so already, start here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/discusfish.htm. There are a great many sources listed at the end of this article that should keep you going for some time.>> Thanks Tom! Looking forward to hearing from you once again! Regards, Neil D'Ambrosio Jackson, NJ <<Happy to be of assistance once more, Neil. Keep up the good work and continued success to you. Tom>>

I think our tank has Ich! -11/27/2007 Hi Crew- <Emily> I think our 75 Gallon Freshwater tank has ich! I think 2 new sail fin tetras which we bought 1 week ago (which we did not quarantine) brought it in. <Happens... more so during this time of year when temperature changes chill newcomers in transit...> They both have 2 or 3 little white bubbles on their fins and body. 1 Angel fish also has 1 white bubble on its fin. Is this ich? <A bubble... have you read much re FW ich? Looks more like salt grains> I am quite a novice when it comes to fish. I'm still learning. I have several different fish: 5 red eyed tetras, 2 sail fin tetras, 2 angel fish, 1 spotted leaf fish, 1 Pleco, 1 Farlowella twig, 1 Black ghost knife, and 1 temperamental fire eel. <Quite a mix> I don't know what to treat the tank with because of our variety of fish. <You are right to be cautious... likely temperature manipulation alone is the route I would go here> I read through your articles about ich but I was concerned that some of the treatments might harm the eel or the ghost knife. <You are correct> (On top of this our fire eel is still healing from pop eye- what bad luck we've had.) We also have quite the assortment of live plants. Do I really have to remove all of them from the tank to treat the ich? <IF you are to treat the system with harsh chemicals (metals, dyes) yes> We also don't have a good QT tank set up. Can we just treat the 75? <Might be expedient... just the elevated temp.> What do you recommend? We just got finished treating a really stubborn case of pop eye too. <Mmm, very important... What, how did you treat? This alone may be the source of the "bubbles"... NOT ich. Otherwise the treatment may have weakened your stock to such a degree that they will not easily suffer further manipulation> I am just SOO frustrated with our new hobby. I hope you can help us. <Take y/our time here... I/we need to know much more re your set-up, history... For now I would nudge up your water temperature... to the low eighties F... this should harm nothing... and may expedite the life cycle, removal of this observed phenomenon's leaving... whether its parasitic or no> Thanks so much, Emily <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Ick, FW... Discus incl.  -03/27/08 Hello, I have discus and cardinal tetra in a 44 gallon tank. The tetras have the ich white spots. As soon as I noticed them I raised the tank temperature to 82-84 removed the carbon filter and treated with Rid-Ich. After several days and treatments the ich was still on them. I then did a 50% water change and began treating with super ich treatment. The discus appeared to be stressed so after two days put filter back in and did water change. Cardinals still have white spots but not noticeable on Discus. What can I use to get rid of the Ich and not harm or stress the discus? Any assistance you can give me would be greatly appreciated. Susan <Hi Susan. There's really no magic to Ick medications, and when they don't work, it's either because the disease was misidentified (e.g., it's Velvet, not Ick) or else the medication was used improperly (e.g., wrong concentration, without removing carbon, etc.). So check these things; it's easy to make mistakes. Next up, I'd recommend trying alternate brands of medication. I've found some medications much less effective than others in some instances. I'm not a huge fan of raising the temperature when using copper/formalin medications IF the Ick problem is being dealt with early on. The standard operating temperature for Discus is around 28C/82F, and that should be ample warmth to speed the Ick life cycle to under a week. Raising the temperature makes more sense with coldwater/subtropical fish where the life cycle takes longer. Because Ick damages the gill membranes, the combo of high temperature (= low oxygen) coupled with the Ick damage can lead to breathing problems for the fish. In any case, removing carbon shouldn't be causing distress to your fish. If you have so much organic material being dumped into the aquarium that the water turns nasty within a few days, you have bigger problems than Ick! Seriously, carbon plays no particularly useful role in freshwater aquaria so I wouldn't bother with it. Do always check that "modules" in filters don't have hidden carbon sachets. Carbon exists in the hobby primarily as a way for manufacturers to extract cash from consumers, and they love to build in carbon (costs pennies) into filters to force inexperienced consumers to buy new carbon modules every month. Almost every time I've experienced or been told about Ick medication not working, it's been because there was carbon somewhere in the system. Cheers, Neale.>

Jack Dempsey ala Ich - 04/01/2006 Hello: <Hi.> I have a Jack Dempsey Cichlid, male, approx. 4.5 inches long. He recently has began to become irritated and is constantly trying to scratch himself against the gravel or another ornament in the tank. He also had very small white spots all over his body that seem to come and go. <This is ich.> The whiteness of the sports varies in intensity and on a few of the days, it appeared he didnt have any white spots at all. <Normal....  the lifecycle of the parasite.> The spots look like dandruff flakes. I began treating for ich disease. I removed all of the rocks and plants from the tank, <Live plants I can understand....  but why the rocks?  You realize any decor, filter media, rocks, gravel, etc., may be infested too, yes?  This parasite becomes free-swimming for part of its life....> added the ich medication and removed the filtration device. This has been going on for 4 days now and I see no change in his behavior. <The lifecycle of the parasite is about two weeks, give or take, depending upon temperature.> He is still uncomfortable and scratching against rocks. I raised the temp of the tank to 84 degrees, did a 25% water change, and added salt as well. Is there anything else I can do other than administer the ich medication and hope for the best? Could this be something other than ich since the spots seem to appear then disappear? <That is classically what ich does.> He eats a bit but nowhere near what he usually does. Any help would be appreciated! <Please read here, for more on the lifecycle and treatment of ich:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm .> Thanks!  Keith <All the best to you,  -Sabrina>

Driftwood With Ich  4/27/06 Hello, I caught a mild case of ick on my black moor and treated it right away.  The white spots are now all gone, however, I see some little white spots on the end of a piece of driftwood in my tank.  Could they be ick?  Is it even possible to get ick on wood, plants, or anything else in the tank other than fish? Thanks a heap!! Sossy. < This is not ich. It is a fungus that is breaking down the driftwood. Some woods are too soft for an aquarium and tend to decompose. It will not hurt the fish. Cut the piece off if it bothers you.-Chuck> Wal-Mart and ick   8/12/06 Hello. <<Hello, Lauren. Tom>> I work for Wal-Mart and we have an ICK problem right now.   <<No reflection on you, Lauren, but this is hardly surprising.>> Is there something we can do that will help our little swimmers (aside from not selling fish which isn't an option)?   <<Not selling sick fish shouldn't fall into the category of "an option", Lauren. It should be mandated by the store/department manager! As to your question, there's plenty that can be done but not until Wal-Mart is prepared to take the steps necessary to keep each type of fish they market to the public in the conditions they need to remain as stress-free as possible. Healthy, stress-free animals kept in the proper water conditions aren't likely to come down with Ich, if at all.>> The ones that seem to be the most affected are the gold fish especially the Moorish black.   <<Black Moors, perhaps? Their coloration makes it easier to see the infestation but I'll guarantee the others are just as affected.>> I was reading on your webpage something about adding salt to the water -- is this something that might help in this case to keep the whole fishy crew alive and swimming.   <<A little constructive advice here, Lauren. There's enough information on this site regarding the use of salt in treating Ich to fill a book or two. Whether Wal-Mart ever gets its act together, or not, remains to be seen but, you should make yourself aware as to how to direct your customers to proceed when they inevitably come back to you for advice on how to help their sick pets. (For what it's worth, we've lost track of how many posts we've gotten from people who've purchased fish from Wal-Mart. The most common comments/complaints? Folks in the fish department don't know how to help them when a problem occurs.) This situation needs to be changed and you can be part of that change.>> We have lost three Oscars as well and it just makes me sick to watch them give up when they are such little clowns. <<Makes me/us sick, as well, Lauren, but this doesn't have to be the case. Now, if you were (personally) asking as to how to proceed, I would recommend a 30% water change with the addition of 2-3 tablespoons of aquarium salt per five gallons of tank water. I would strongly suggest that you slowly (except in the case of the Goldfish) raise the tank temperature into the low to mid-eighties. Heat speeds up the life cycle of the parasite and makes it more quickly susceptible to treatment. (Research the life cycle of Ich and you'll find that there's only one stage of the cycle in which the parasite can be eradicated.) Goldfish are more problematic because they won't handle temperatures this high at all well. For this reason, it will take longer to clear up an infestation of Ich with these fish. I would add here that the aquarium salt provides a couple of other benefits along with dealing with the juvenile parasites. It helps decrease stress in the fish and assists in the healing process of the wounds left behind when the parasite(s) burst off of the fishes' bodies. It's also safe for the beneficial bacteria that deal with the ammonia and nitrites in the aquarium. (Note: salt will likely damage or kill live plants so these - for the customers' sakes - should be removed prior to treatment.)>> Lauren @ Wal-Mart <<Hope this helps a little, Lauren. Didn't mean to "soapbox", by the way. Please, write back with any other questions you have. Tom>>

Ghost Knife sick - please help Good Morning - I came across your FAQ on the Knife fish and was very appreciative. I read through much of what you had and it was helpful but not sure if what my fish has is Ich or not so not sure to use the info your site kindly provided. Hoping you can help as I really love my fish and am very worried. Here's the stats... 55 Gal tank - PH is 7.8. <A bit high for the fishes listed...> Tank established for 8 months. Put in feeder goldfish about 3 weeks ago to feed Arowana and two weeks later my fish are dying. <Not... an uncommon problem... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/goldfshfd.htm  this practice, feeding feeders, is a HUGE source of aquarium livestock mortality> Have removed feeder fishes from tank altogether.  <Too late> Water tested by local shop and hubby and both said it tested very good just pH a little high.  Just lost my Yo Yo Loach and Arowana with no visible signs of sickness.  Yesterday morning I checked my tank to see my Black Ghost Knife with white spots all over - but not like I've seen Ich before - like little salt sprinkles. These white spots appear to be more flat looking and more grouped. Please see attached picture. <Does look like ich... though could be another parasite... most all are treated similarly> He is eating and acting normally.  Was told to do following treatment but have seen no change as of yet; raise water temp to 82 degrees, use AquariSol 12 drops per 10 gal, add sea salt 1 teaspoon per 10 gal and remove charcoal from filter and use PimaFix 1 tsp per 10 gal. I'm worried that I'm overmedicating. <Might be... as Knifefishes are intolerant of the poisons that are used to treat such infestations... I would raise the temperature to mid eighties F., not use the PimaFix (it's of no use), and use half doses of the AquariSol (a copper sulfate solution)> Should I be doing water changes?  <Yes> Will that amount of salt hurt my BGK? <No, should help more than hurt> I'm worried he's not tolerant enough for it. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.  Thanks so much!  Jennifer Welker <Have you read the article and FAQs on ich on WWM: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm  The FAQs are linked (above, in blue)... Bob Fenner> 

Ich after quick drop in temperature? Hi, <Good evening> After a quick drop in temperature (80 to 68 over about 30 minutes) and then slowly raising the temp. back over the course of the day, should I put dose ich meds now or wait to see if anything develops? Your quick response is greatly appreciated. Thanks for the help. <Mmm, of course, you don't want to subject your livestock to this sort of chilling in the first place... You don't mention if this is freshwater, marine... what sorts of livestock... but I would not add ich medicine prophylactically. Bob Fenner>

Re: Ich after quick drop in temperature Sorry Bob for the lack of info. I was not thinking. <Happens to me... all the time> It is a freshwater cichlid tank. The drop in the tank temp was not intentional. Thanks for the help and great service you all provide. <Welcome. Bob Fenner> 

FW Ich, knowing part of solutions I have a 50 gal tank with a mixture of (17) fish including dwarf blue and pearl Gourami's, neon dwarf rainbows, boesemanni rainbows, von Rio tetras and Columbia tetras.  I just added a pair of Boesemanni to the main tank. Yes, I too should have isolated them first.  Two days after adding them I noticed 5 discrete white specs clustered on the middle of the side of one of the Boesemanni.  Within a day of discovering this I could see a couple of the white specs fall off one at a time.  I have to believe that this is ick. So far no damage, but I really do not want to risk any losses.    <The parasite is/has cycled off... is reproducing in your substrate... will be back in a few days> I went back to the Aquarium store and they tell me that ick is always present in an aquarium and surfaces at times of stress.  Is this true? <Mmm, more so than not... however, there is at least a hyper-infective component... once it gets going...> They recommended I use NOX ICK which I am now using.  The instructions say that with tetras in the tank I should half the dosage which concerns me that it will not be effective.   <Possibly...> I also read that the parasites when hatched seek light sources to help guide them the fish. <Mmm, no, not much... they find their way by chemical detection (smell if you will) and random locomotion. You may be referring to Velvet... a dinoflagellate/algae...>   I have wrapped my tank with a blanket to keep it dark which is not doing my plants any good (I can always replace the plants).  I also read that the treatment is more effective in lower pH.  In addition to the NOX ICK, I have raised the tank temp to 81-82 (should I go higher?), <Perhaps to the mid 80's> removed the carbon from my canister filter, lowered the pH (gradually), change water (30%) each day, add salt to about one tablespoon to each 10 gallons.   The instructions say to do the treatment for three days.  But if it is not effective (how does one know after three days?) they then say to skip a day and continue for three more days.  If I half the dose, does this mandate that II treat for three more days? <Possibly... I would administer this Malachite Green remedy for three cycles> I would consider a hospital tank but my 10 gal is too small for 17 fish and I dont want to infect the fish in my 30 gal tank.  I would buy another tank but it would have to be at least a 30 gal tank and it would only add to the stress of the fish perhaps leading to more serious issues.  Any suggestions? Charles <Mmm, have you read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/malachitegreen.htm and the linked files... I would. Bob Fenner>

ICH? Hi my name is Samantha. When I came home from my cousin's and aunt's last night I went up to my room to feed my fish and they had all these little white speckles/dots on their tails. Last time when I had a tiger fish he got those same little spots on him to. He ended up dying, but he was always under the rocks so that might have been why he died. My other fish don't go under the rocks, so I can't figure out what it's from. Can you please help me and figure out what these little white dots mean? < Usually these little white spots represent a protozoa infection often referred to as ich. It is common in new aquariums. I would recommend that you change 30% of the water, vacuum the gravel, service the filter and remove any carbon. Raise the water temp to 80 degrees F. Treat with Rid-ich by Kordon and follow the directions.-Chuck>

The Ich Cycle 6/31/05 Hello WWM crew. <Mike G here.> Sorry for the pestering emails on the ick problem but, I have another question. <Not a problem. That's what we're here for.> I was reading your A) B) C) stage about the ick cycle, and under C) i noticed how the free swimming stage was the time to cure. <Correct.> I'm going to get meds for the ick very soon but, after the ick has infected its host, can it ick parasite things restart cycle and continue? <Yes, yes, of course they can. The cycle is, after all, the parasite's reproductive cycle. Hope this helps, and best of luck! Mike G> Can it be something else but Ich? <definitely> - Please help soon urgent 7/15/05 To the Crew <Yes> I purchased a 20 gallon Tank to house freshwater tropical fish. After letting the tank run for 5 days with no fish, I went to the store to buy some starter fish. <... was this system cycled... in terms of biological filtration?> The store advised me that 3 platys and 2 cherry barbs will be a good start.  He did say I can go with just 5 platys, but the barbs will be a bit active and more fun to watch while I wait for the month of cycling.   <... you didn't "wait"... you added fish livestock> So I went with the suggesting of purchasing the 5 fish, the 2 barbs 1st and then the 3 platys 2 days later.  The tank temp is between 76f-80f, and I did add 1 tablespoon of sea salt per 5 gallons. Now here is my problem, last night when I went home I noticed the female barb had a small white dot (like a grain of salt) on top of her tail and 1 on the top of the dorsal fin.  When I left the house this morning the one on the tail was gone but the dorsal fin one was still there.  After some reading I concluded it was ich, and I know it is important to treat it as soon as possible so I purchased some Ich Cure.  I am reading everywhere to do a 10%, 25% or 50% water change.  This seems like a drastic difference which should I follow? <... I would wait, ascertain whether you actually have an infestation period. You can elevate temperature in the meanwhile... to the low 80's F> With a water change this big will this not cause an ammonia spike since it has only been just over 2 weeks? <You likely already have such going on> As well the bottle says to only use for 3 days, but the life cycle of ich is about 2 weeks should I use ich cure for the recommended 3 days or for a full 14 days? <... at this point, not at all> Once the last treatment is done should I do a major water change or just a regular 15%-20%? <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm> I am a bit confused because with some more reading the barb is not displaying any symptoms of ich. <Bingo> She is swimming with the male barb, her appetite is extremely high and she is not staying near the heater, but she is sometime hiding under the coconut shell, and rocks.  I was wondering if this could be anything else besides ich?   <Could be... even just slime reaction to the stress of being moved, placed in an uncycled system... Don't "shoot yourself in the foot" (anymore than you have by stocking an uncycled system), by poisoning it needlessly with toxic "medicines"... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner> Thanks for your time Chris

Chilly Plec and an Ichy Bluegill? - 08/07/2005 Hi crew, <Hello, Andrew.> I have a 30 Gal tank with one 2 inch bluegill, which has ich on its tail. I've looked through your site, but couldn't find any info on salt baths as an after-the-fact treatment, <Probably because such a method is quite ineffectual.> but I've seen it mentioned briefly in some places. I don't want to add salt to the tank because the water changes would be extremely difficult. <.... Why?  It's just for a couple weeks or so.> Would a salt bath be effective? <No, not really.  If the fish definitely has ich, then you can be 99% certain that you have ich in the tank.  Getting the parasites off the fish just to toss him back in an infected tank only stresses him enough to help him contract more.> If so, what kind/dosage of salt should I use and how long should I keep the fish in the bath? <If you wanted to put him into a clean, uninfected hospital tank after the dip, I would use water with a salinity of seawater (SG 1.022 or so) for up to five minutes.  Be absolutely CERTAIN the water is of the same pH and temperature as that of his tank.  Still, I don't think this is an effective or useful method at all, unless followed up by treatment of one form or another.  I have only used a salt dip as a last resort for a Plec whose gills were so heavily infested that he needed relief immediately or die.  I don't think it is necessary or beneficial in your case.> On a different note, I want to add a Pleco to the tank for algae control and for more diversity, but I am not sure if it could deal with the temperature (as low as 65 degrees in the winter). <Just saw a talk last night on collecting fish in Argentina - there were a great many Plecs in a river that was colder than that.  I think it would be fine, if you're cautious.> I also am not sure that a Hypostomus (all that PetCo has) would be right for my tank because of its size. Do you have any suggested species? If so, where could I get these? <I *think* the "bulldog" or "rubberlipped" Plec is happier in cooler waters.  The talk I saw did include some Ancistrus, as well, so you might look to the commonly tank-bred Bushynose.  Both of these are relatively small algae eating Plecs.  Of course, do NOT add any fish until you're certain the ich has been eradicated, and be sure to quarantine newcomers.> Thanks, Andrew <Wishing you and your bluegill well,  -Sabrina>

Ich Immunities? - 08/23/2005 Hi, <Hello.> I've been reading about freshwater fish care from all over the web and the information I find on this site makes me feel the most comfortable. <Glad to hear this, thanks for the kind words!> 3 of my 4 goldfish have clear signs of ich, but the white spots only appear on the outside of their gills and their front fins, never anywhere else. Is that odd? <Not odd, no.> I treated them before for ich but I guess I stopped treatment too soon. I have 2 black moors, 1 orange fantail, and 1 gold common goldfish. I've read a significant amount about treating ich and I know I should treat all of them for ich just in case right? I was just wondering if ich affects ALL fish. <There are some very few animals that are rarely affected by it....  but most fish are susceptible to some degree or other.> I have 4 Corydoras paleatus in my main tank and they never showed any signs of ich like my black moor goldfish. <Though they may be somewhat resistant, it is still entirely possible that they have it in their gills, where it is easier for the parasite to attach.> If they don't have ich should I still move them to my quarantine tank and treat for ich anyways? <Yes.> If not how would I know if the free swimming ich are still present in my main tank? <You couldn't ;)  Especially if the Corys DO have ich on their gills, in which case, the goldies would be reinfected right away.> If my Corys are free of ich, does that mean they ich will die because the Corys are not hosts for the ich? <Nope.> It never seemed to bother them though but I really want to get rid of ich once and for all! <A good plan, indeed!> Thanks for your time!  Wayne <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina> Can Ich be transferred from a saltwater tank to fresh?  9/23/05 Just as everyone in the US was waking up, I was returning home from work to discover a tank full of tiny white dots.  Many were on the bare bottom and  some were floating.  The first thing that came to mind was Ich.  Here's the setup:  A 10gallon freshwater bare-bottom tank with HOB Tetra Whisper Filter (with added active carbon), heater, and light.  This tank is well established and t receives a 10% water change weekly...or 25% bi weekly...never more than two weeks.  It houses about 20 baby (3 week old) "Japanese" guppies.  Without starting World War III and engaging in chemical warfare, I did a vacuum of the bare bottom and a 25% water change.. adding salt to get it around 1.001-1.002.  So far, they still look genki (healthy).   I haven't tested the water in a week or so, but last check everything was good except nitrates were around 40-60ppm (those silly color sheets to compare the vials to!)  I did a water change last week too. As far as I can see (and they are tiny!) they don't have any white sugar coating dots.  Here's the catch.  I just started a salt tank 2 weeks ago and added the sacrificial fish (Damsel) to it last week to start the bio cycle rolling.  If the salt fish had Ich, could it spread to my fresh water?  It may sound crazy, but if I didn't wash my hands and arms, I thought maybe I was the evil one.  I never share equipment between tanks either.  I know that a good preventative measure for saltwater tanks for Ich is to keep the salinity level around a low 1.019-1.020...and to raise the salt level in freshwater tanks to rid of the pests.  Sooooo, salt water Ich wouldn't stand a chance in fresh water and visa-versa...right? Thanks for an amazing website!  The best advice I've gotten from a LFS so far was to go to your site and read, read, read! >> Thank you. Ich can not pass from fresh to saltwater or vice versa. The differences in osmotic pressure would kill any parasites. When Ich is in its free floating stage and not attached to a fish you would not be able to see it, only as the parasite matures on the body of the fish can you see it with the bare eye. Good Luck, Oliver

Lack Of Quarantine, Bad Mix, Ich - 10/17/2005 I have a 37 gallon tank with 5 assorted Rainbows, 2 Congo Tetras, 1 South American Puffer, 1 Silver Dollar, 1 Pleco and 1 Clown Loach. Until recently, it also had a few Furcata Rainbows.  <Not really a great mix.... Schoolers without schools, aggressive fin nippers with very delicate animals, fish that will outgrow this tank....> 2 weeks ago, I added one of the Rainbows, the SA Puffer, a BGK and a Buenos Aires Tetra.  <The knife does not belong with fish that nip fins.... or in a 37g tank at all for that fact.> The BGK died 4 days after purchase (and no, I did not stick them into a quarantine tank), <Bad move, man.> and just 2 days ago, I noticed the Rainbows and the Silver Dollar all had chunks of their fins missing. The SD also looked like it had developed Ick.  <....and now you realize the vital importance of quarantining new livestock?> I observed the tank and noticed the Buenos Aires Tetra nipping at the other fish <To be expected.... learn about your animals prior to mixing them, and keep schooling fish in schools.> and removed him to our 10 gallon tank with our Blue Lobster and Goldfish.  <....you do realize he's likely brought ich to your goldfish now, yes? Furthermore, do you think he'll be any kinder to the goldfish than the tropicals? No. He also should not be in with cool water animals.> I turned off the bio-wheel filtration system and added an Ick medicine I had used in the tank last year called Metronidazole by Seachem.  <Not the best or most effective choice at all....> The fish were eating fine until tonight. They ate very little (including the SA Puffer who loves his Bloodworms) and I noticed several of them had the white spots. <Hope that didn't come as a surprise to you, and I hope you've read our information regarding ich: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm .> I removed all of the fake plants and ornaments and rinsed them off. Next, I gravel vac'd the tank and removed 25% of the water. I turned the filtration system back on because the water was still a little cloudy from the water change (which is done every 3 weeks) and I wanted to clean it up a bit. I have been reading all of the responses for ick and I am completely confused since I have a wide array of fish. Please help! <Much to think about here, for the long-term health of all the animals involved. Do please read the article linked above, and also search the 'net about treating freshwater ich with salt. I would likely treat with salt and elevated temperature for these fish, and begin considering what sort of fish/system I want.... and plan.> Sincerely, Steven M. Doctors <Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Ich And Infections - 10/28/2005 I have a Black Molly and a Dwarf Gourami that both have a white spot on them. The Gourami has it on is and the Molly has it between the mouth and eye. They got this after I <Future reference: please capitalize "I".> treated 2 fish that I just introduced to the tank, a couple of platies, they got Ick just after they were introduced, I think because of stress or poor water at the store.  <Mm, "stress" and "poor water" don't *cause* ich.... might make fish more susceptible to it, but this is a parasitic complaint.... if the parasites are present, fish can get 'em. Likely they were infected before you brought them home. Consider using a quarantine tank for new fish....> I was thinking the Molly and Gourami might have gotten ick but it doesn't look like ick and didn't respond to treatment. I think it might have been because the filter has to be out for ick treatment but I don't know what I do know.  <I think you mean to say that you're not sure what to do now.> I also have an Orange Molly whose flesh is just rotting away from around her mouth. This was proceeded by bubble skin. She had bubble skin once before and we put her in a hospital tank and changed the water regularly and it cleared up. This time it has not cleared up and I don't know what to do.  <Sounds perhaps like a bacterial infection, perhaps brought on by poor water quality. Are you testing the water? Maintain ammonia and nitrite at ZERO, nitrate less than 20ppm, with water changes.... This infection may need to be medicated with a broad-spectrum antibiotic.> Currently all 3 fish are in the hospital tank. Any suggestions will be helpful. Thanks, -Dan <Seems to me that you might do well to learn a bit more about the lifecycle and treatment of ich. Please take a read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm . Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Sick fish  11/22/05 Hi, hope you can give me advice please.... <We'll see> 3 weeks ago I bought 3 new fish to add to my tank which was currently containing just 1 fish - a 9 year old goldfish. Three days later the new shubunkin had tiny white spots on it <... the new fish introduced ich, a parasite> - I didn't have a spare tank to isolate it in & so bought a white spot treatment & treated the whole tank. The spots disappeared only for me to find ALL 4 fish covered in them a few days later. <The disease just cycled...> I've continued treating the tank as per the instructions on the treatment bottle but the shubunkin died on Friday after being really lifeless with a ragged tail fin, the black moor had the same ragged fin & white spots & died on Saturday. <The make-up of the system "uses up" the medication...> My Blue Oranda is swimming about still with a couple of spots but is very active & feeding. My original goldfish has spent the last week lying at the bottom of the tank with his head in an ornamental pot (coming out occasionally to a circuit of the tank before returning to the bottom). His shine has gone & he looks dull & a there's a grayish white fuzziness look about him, especially on the fins. I really don't know where to go from here - continue with the white spot treatment or is something else wrong? <Need to do a few things more here... Remove any chemical filtration (e.g. carbon), vacuum the gravel, perhaps remove it if this is the only tank you have, and the gravel is "natural" (i.e. not coated, colored... as it is/will absorb the medication... and test daily for ammonia, nitrite... keep these below 1.0 ppm by changing water> My tanks is 11 gallons with a filter running. I've had the original fish 9 years with not a problem. I did an ammonia & ph test today which were both normal. Help please!!! <An eleven gallon tank is not large enough for even the one goldfish... all new fishes should be quarantined... Sorry to read of your troubles. For review, please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm.  Bob Fenner>

Even Plants Can Transport Ich - 11/10/2005 Hi, <Hello.> I have a 30 gallon aquarium with a penguin BioWheel filter with a flow rate of 170 gallons per hour and do a 20% water change weekly.  This aquarium contains live plants, mostly Elodea (Anacharis) and recently I added some Vallisneria gigantea to the tank but I did not isolate the plants from the tank for 2 weeks since these plants were stored in a plant only tank and looked healthy.  Four days later, I started seeing what appears to be ich on my oldest goldfish's tail.  It looks like a few grains of salt.   <Ack, bummer.> I opened up the filter cartridge and removed the all the carbon from the penguin filter and immediately started treating with a malachite green/formalin based medicine following the proper dosage information on the bottle.  Prior to adding the medicine I would perform a 20% water change.  I also have been testing my tank to make sure ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates are in line.  My ammonia is 0, Nitrite is 0 and Nitrate is under 20.  My pH is 7.2.   <All excellent.> When I add the medicine, the tank turns blue but after an hour the water returns to its colorless state.   <Mm, a touch odd - are you sure you've removed all the carbon?  Including any filter cartridges that have carbon in them?> I have the temperature at 78 degrees to try and accelerate the treatment of this pathogen and so far my goldfish seem fine except for constant flashing against the gravel.  I've added an airstone to oxygenate the tank at night when the plants are in the dark.  The ich has done nothing but gotten worse with more spots and now all 3 fish have it with my black moor showing it on his body also.  I am afraid to add salt since I don't want to kill my plants.   <You could remove the plants to a separate container for a couple of weeks while you treat....  but Formalin/Malachite Green concoctions should be effective.  You will need to continue treatment for the full life cycle of the parasite - two weeks at the least.> Any help would be much appreciated.   <If you haven't yet, please read here:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm  and the files, linked in blue, at the top of that page.> Thank you very much.  -Robert <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Even Plants Can Transport Ich - II - 11/11/2005 Hi, Thanks for the reply, <Sure thing.> to give you an update I read on your site that my plants can tolerate brackish water so I decided to hit this ich with salt in addition to the medication.  <Do be aware that some of the plants may still respond badly or perish; if possible, I would still consider moving them to a separate, fishless system for a few weeks.> I gradually added 3 tsp per gallon of Morton's Plain Uniodized Salt <I would use a salt sold for use in freshwater aquaria - but this will "do".> over a 36 hour period and took my filter apart and gave it a thorough cleaning except for the BioWheel right now I have no filter cartridge in at all since I don't wasn't any activated carbon to possibly be in my tank. The medication still only stays blue for about an hour and then disappears, I have no clue why.  <I suspect that the malachite green is breaking down very quickly from organic material in your system.> My poor Black Moor died from the ich and my other two goldfish are starting to show signs of fin rot. Probably from the stress caused by the medication and the disease. Should I start treatment with Maracyn Two?  <I would not.... Be testing ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate; maintain ammonia and nitrite at ZERO, nitrate less than 20ppm, with water changes alone.> I don't want to make things worse than they already are. I also don't like how my goldfish are starting to lose interest in food, they will nip at the flakes and spit most of it out.  <These behaviours and the fin rot are likely environmentally related, from a die-off of your bacteria (from medicating) - please test, maintain optimal water quality.> I am not sure if they are still eating some of my Anacharis since that plant is still growing very rapidly, about a 1/2 inch a day. As for the ich itself, the number of spots on both fish seemed to have gone down but the fish look worse than they did before, I hope the disease is not just cycling but actually being killed off by the salt and Rid Ich+. <Test that water.... I bet you'll find it's "off". Fix it, and you'll see improvement.> Thanks, -Robert <Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Even Plants Can Transport Ich - III - 11/15/2005 Hello, <Hello again, Robert.> I am sad to announce that my second goldfish Flipper passed away from this horrendous bout of illness that hit my aquarium.  <Man.... So sorry to hear this.> I decided to transfer my last goldfish named Pig to my 10 gallon hospital tank and have completely drained my 30 gallon tank and started over by sterilizing every part of the aquarium with hot water and then letting everything air dry to remove any last trace of this disease from the tank. I even sterilized the BioWheel (I know that is not a good thing to do but I wanted to kill this bug for good). <For future reference, allowing the tank to run "fallow" (no fish in it) for two or three weeks (dependant upon temperature) will eliminate ich as they will die without their fish hosts.> I have now restarted the tank and am cycling it with the fishless cycling method while I treat Pig in the other aquarium which is cycled. Hopefully 3-4 weeks without any fish in the tank + my efforts to sterilize it will eliminate any trace of this bug.  <The 3-4 weeks alone would do it - so you should be plenty safe.> While cleaning my big aquarium, I found what was taking all the medicine out of the water. This happened to be an aquarium decoration which seemed to be made out of plaster. The inside of it used to be white when I bought it, but now resembles a darker blue from the malachite medication.  <Hm. Interesting. I'm not sure this item actually "removed" the medication, but was quite obviously stained by it at least.> Maybe Pig will recover in the hospital tank which is relatively bare except for some gravel, and the aquatic plants which are now in it with him.  <Removing the gravel from a hospital tank gives you a couple benefits - it's easier to clean, and without gravel ich doesn't really have any cracks and crevices to "fall into" when it becomes reproductive - siphoning the bottom every day in a bare-bottomed hospital tank can go a long way toward beating ich.> Maybe in a month when the fishless cycle is completed, Pig and the plants will be transferred back to his larger home and get two more friends to join him after I quarantine them of course.  <Sounds perfect.> Thanks for your help, -Robert <Any time - and again, I'm sorry to hear about your two losses. I'm hoping for the best for Pig. Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

HELP!! ICH!! As a new aquarist, I carefully followed all instructions in setting up my new 55-gallon tank, cycling with Danios and some bottom fish, and waiting patiently for my LFS's go ahead before putting my first two Mbuna in the tank...all the while reading and educating myself as much as possible on keeping my aquarium.  I then foolishly ignored advice to quarantine all new fish before adding to the tank and apparently introduced ich with a white socolofi purchased at Petco.  A couple of days later I noticed some fish scratching themselves on rocks, then some white spots on a Red Zebra.  (There are currently 9 juvenile Mbuna in my tank).  I have been treating with Malachite Green for five days; the white spots are gone but the scratching behavior continues.  I removed the 6" Plecostomus this morning as he seemed stressed and his fins were becoming ragged; the two Chinese Algae Eaters are surviving, but are nowhere near their usual obnoxious selves.  Can you tell me what else to do?!?  Thank you for any help...Ruth <Its possible that the fish now have a secondary infection. Treat them with a medication for general bacterial problems and they should improve. Ronni>

Re: HELP!! ICH!! Hi Ronni, <Good morning Ruth> Thanks so much, I didn't think about a secondary.  I went to my LFS today, and they recommended "CLOUT" (which I bought).  Will that cover it? Thanks again... Ruth <Well, Im sure youve already used it and found out for yourself since Im slow in replying to this one but Clout should work fine. Good luck! Ronni>

Re: HELP!! ICH!! Hello again Ronni... <Hello Ruth> OK, I've been using the CLOUT for 5 days now (This was after 10 days of malachite green for ich)...improvement seemed minimal, everyone was still lethargic and not eating great, so I also started Mela-fix two days ago.  BIG overall behavior/appetite improvement!  But still there is flashing going on with most of the fish (some more than others) and one white socolofi that is noticeably worse, and is also now shaking his head back and forth.  Can you tell me what now?!?  Flukes?  If so, which type?  What would the safest, most effective treatment be?  The fish all LOOK good, and are active again, it's just the rubbing and head shaking.  I've talked with another person at my LFS and have read everything I can find on line, and I'm just not sure how to proceed.  I'm just so aggravated!!  Nothing gets into my tank without being quarantined for a good long time. I appreciate ANY help! Ruth <I dont think this is flukes. Id lean more towards a residual scratching and possibly some irritant in the water itself. Have you done a water change since the treatment? And have you tested your ammonia and nitrites? I would take a look at these and possibly add a little salt to the water (unless it already has salt in it, I cant remember what your first post said) to see if this helps. Ronni>

- Ich Gone Bad - I know, I know, this situation is all too typical. I have 1 Pleco, 4 loaches, 2 Siamese shark and 1 black ghost knife. I am very excited about the 2 sharks, so as soon as I reached home from LFS, I immediately released the sharks to join in the tank. I noticed the sharks are very nervous and fast swimmers. But what I didn't notice is that they have ich. Initially, 4 loaches died one after the other white their body covered with white spots and sort of white solid slime. Then I (finally) saw the massive invasion of ich on the nose of the 2 sharks and some part of my (precious) BKG. I immediately moved the rest of the fishes to a 10 gal tank. So what really causes ich??!! <It is a free-moving protozoan. More reading for you here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm > I ask the LFS, one told me is the cold temperate and ask me to buy a heater and salt. The other told me is the water condition and ask me to buy General Aid and White-Spot by Danios. So I use every I have on my desk that "shopping spree". I increased the temp to 32C, added a cap full of White-Spot and General Aid, 2 tbspn of salt per gal. Is this ok, that tank sure looks blue. <I'm afraid to say... it's not a good idea to make several changes all at once.> On ya, one more thing, the sharks kept on rubbing their noses on the tank, the skin and flesh that the tip of the nose is GONE. So now they are bleeding and wasting more flesh away by rubbing some more. How can I stop this (the bleeding and rubbing). <Make sure the water quality is where it should be.> One more, how long does it usually takes to completely cure the fish of ich? <Several weeks, depends mostly on the fish and numbers of parasites present. Cheers, J -- >

- Extra Virulent Freshwater Ich? - Hello Crew, Bob Hartline, from The Aquarium here. <And JasonC over here...> There seems to be a new strain of freshwater ich starting to become prominent. Have you heard anything? <Not of this specific nature.> We have tried temp increases, malachite green, Acriflavine, potassium permanganate, salt and any other standard med to no avail. This sucker just laughs. Certainly no laughing matter... <Indeed.> Seems to avoid our attempts at poison by reproducing on the fish. I have seen this in Marine fish, but this is the first time in Freshwater. Comments and observations are needed ASAP. <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm > Thanks, Bob <Cheers, J -- ><<This "Super Ich" is best treated with Quinacrine Hydrochloride. RMF>>

Sick fish and cloudy water Hello All, <Hi. Steve Allen tonight.> I have to say I love your guys' website. A lot of useful information. I've gotten a lot of help previously when I had an ich outbreak that wiped out half of my tank. <Glad the site was helpful. It has certainly helped me.> Which is the reason for me writing this to ensure I do treat them in time and correctly and to find out some more info.  All 5 of my blood parrots have died but my cichlids are still alive!!!! They were Jellybean parrots which I found out later that they were all injected/dyed <A horrible, barbaric practice indeed> which made them susceptible to disease, but we won't get into that.  They've been replaced by more cichlids and catfish. With that said, I think I have too much information stored in my brain in a short period of time and now I'm somewhat lost in which direction to go.  Let me tell you what I have before I get started. I currently have a 90 gallon freshwater tank, nothing but fake plants, gravel and some driftwood. Inhabitants are no more than 2 inches <Fish grow you know.> big except for the catfish. I have 1 of each species/genus: Electric Yellow, Cobalt Blue, Kenyi, Auratus, Red Zebra, Bumble Bee, Snow White Socolofi, I think it's a Labidochromis textilis, can't really find much info on that species though since it's not as popular, Albino Fairy Cichlid, and Daffodil. <I'll be shocked if you can get this many (10!) cichlids to grow and thrive and get along in a tank of this size. You have too many.> I recently purchased 2 Synodontis upside down catfish about 2-3 inches big. A common Pleco about 5 inches and a chocolate Pleco about 3 inches. (I think it's a chocolate/rusty Pleco, it has the closest resemblance to what I can find on the web) I had quarantined all 4 of them for about a week <1/4 of the time recommended.> and acclimated them slowly into the main tank. They disappeared for several days. They've been in the main tank for about a week now. Didn't realize that they were nocturnal. <I often didn't see my Synodontis for weeks at a time.> I've had them for about 2 weeks. Up until a few days ago, I started seeing them chase the cichlids out of the caves they were hiding in. I was starting to get worried that they were dead or something.  I did have some algae growing on the wood, the fake sword plant and along the sides of the tank, but now they're spotless!! So I assume they're eating, not only that, they're poop is soo long so they are definitely eating something. Ammonia 0.25 ppm (probably due to overfeeding or from adding the catfish) <And having too many messy fish in your tank.>  I did cut down feeding to half now and will continue to do so until zero, maybe even stop feeding them if anything. Nitrite 0 Nitrate 40 ppm  Is this level okay or should it be lower? <I'd try to keep it under 20 with a good regimen of frequent water changes.> What is considered to be a safe level of nitrate? What is enough to keep algae growing? <Keep at 20 or less.> pH is at 7.6 Water temp is at 75-78 I've been doing weekly water changes since about 4 months ago I tore down the main tank due to all the parrots dying. At the time I had 5 cichlids left which I ended up using to get the tank to start cycling again. After about a month, I purchased bumble bee, snow white and the Textilis cichlid and added them to the tank. (I know I shouldn't have done that because I didn't know at the time that the tank hasn't fully cycled yet PLUS me had no test kits either...I'm so bad...) A week later I bought the 2 fairy cichlids and added them too. This is when I started doing my research on the Nitrogen cycle and then I went out and bought test kits. About 6 weeks went by and test readings dropped to zero and Nitrate was at 20 ppm that's when I started adding the quarantined catfish. I resisted the temptation of adding more fish. yay!!! <Yes, you already have too many.> I've been changing about 30% of the water weekly <good>, vacuuming the gravel <good>, adding Amquel <bad>, Stress Zyme <not very useful> and Stress Coat <why?>. Last time I changed the water was on Monday 1/26/04, 2 days after the catfish were added. I WAS using aquarium salt when ammonia and nitrite levels were peaking to aid the cichlids in breathing. <not really much help> I knew that this were to help during my research and the cichlids were all at the surface gasping for air so I added extra aeration too. <a better choice> But after getting the catfish I wasn't too sure if they were sensitive to salt so I didn't add any when doing the last water change.  Up until last night I noticed that my chocolate Pleco had one white spot on his tail. I checked again today and it wasn't there. Without panicking, I knew it was ich but the source of it was a mystery to me. <One spot may not be ich, but wise to be cautious.> I'll be trying to catch Mr. Pleco tonight and move him to a separate hospital tank which is housing a baby black Dalmatian molly (Nemo) about 1cm, the ONLY survivor out of 15-20 fry and the mommy died the day after. <What are you going to do with the Molly?> All the other fry were probably eaten by the bigger mollies or from the red worms hanging from the mommy's butt. EWW I know. Sad to say I tried to save her but I couldn't. I ended up inheriting her when all of my boyfriend's family's fish had died except a few mollies and Gouramis. That's a whole different story, won't get into that.  Anyway the cichlids are displaying A LOT of scratching which is starting to worry me. <I'd worry too. Could be ich or perhaps irritation from high nitrate.> Bumblebee is scratching itself against anything non-stop and it's not looking too pretty. And the Lab Textilis is swimming in a funny circular motion. A few of them also hang out by the heater and water current. And they're colors have been changing as well. The chocolate Pleco was the only one who had any ich visible on his body but all other fish seem to be displaying infection as well but no spots.  Should I treat the whole tank since they all seem to be showing signs of distress or should I just remove my chocolate Pleco into a hospital tank and treat him there for ich? <Start with the Pleco and getting the nitrates way down with a big water change. Stop using Amquel. It is only a stopgap measure.> I know if I treat the whole tank, the meds might destroy most if not all of my good bacteria but since I've been doing weekly water changes and is in that MODE, <more like DAILY if you kill your biofilter.> I wouldn't mind to continue for a few more weeks...just a few weeks.  <Do it forever.> BTW, I haven't changed the filter in the water pump yet, but will do so soon. It's been about 2 months since we cleaned it. <Could be pumping out a lot of nitrate.> What about the catfish, are they sensitive to medications or salt? <Salt is not helpful in with this problem. I suggest you read through the FW Ich FAQs for info on correct treatment.> They seem to be fine, no scratching or spots.  Can high levels of ammonia cause ich outbreaks? <Can weaken fish immunity> Right now it's at .25ppm What about cloudy water? <Bacterial bloom. If green, then algae.>After I did the water change, my tank got cloudy, it was cloudy even before the catfish were added....I haven't used activated carbon before but I did purchase a box of AmmoChips. Would this help? <Will absorb ammonia.> In case the cause is from the ammonia. I know it might help with my cloudy water situation.  Can ich occur when other fish are picking/nipping at the new inhabitants? <Yes, or perhaps they already had it.> I'm asking this because I've been seeing Bumble bee nip my Pleco's fins which are raggedy and torn right now. Will Maracyn used to treat fin and tail rot help? <Antibiotics will help with fin rot.> The catfish are good "fighters" so none of the cichlids are bothering them and the common Pleco is the biggest fish and I don't think they bother him either.  I do have Rid-Ich from my previous experience, which didn't go too well because by the time I found an answer, it was too late to save any parrots. <Check the FW Ich FAQs for the best options.> But the cichlids still lived through it!!! Poor fish, they've been through a lot in the last few months...the good thing is that they're growing pretty rapidly. <And soon will not fit in your tank.> I apologize for slapping you guys with a rather long email and it's been months since I've had an ich outbreak. I have somewhat of a clue of what needs to be done but I'd rather be safe than sorry. Any help or advice is greatly appreciated. Thank you!!! Sandy <My main advice is to stay away from the fish store. Don't buy any more fish until you have another or a bigger tank. You are going to need one just for the fish you already have. Do you have some good aquarium books to read? Hope this helps.> 

Transfer of Freshwater Ich - 02/04/2004  I just have a few quick but important questions. I have 3 young swordtails about 1"-1.5" long. I just cleaned their tank today, added a new plant, and put 'Bob the bully' back in after separating him from the other 2 for some time.  <Depending upon the gender of the other two (hopefully both female!) this aggression is normal, no need to rein it in. It is normal breeding behaviour for males to harass the females - removing the offending male will only stress him. It is better to just have lots of good places for the females to hide if necessary.>  I got these swordtails from a friend about 2 weeks ago and they're doing fine. Today, I let a friend use my fish net while I was cleaning their tank and after he used it I washed it with hot water. But now I see that his neon tetra has ich and he used my net!  <Eek! I would recommend boiling the net, just to be on the safe side.>  I just put a stress coat in the water hoping that will protect my fish and now I'm really worried. Are my babies going to get ich?  <I would not be too terribly concerned. It might be wise to raise the temperature (slowly!) to 82 degrees Fahrenheit for a week or so, and add aquarium salt (the stuff marketed for freshwater use) at a rate of one tablespoon per ten gallons. This should help prevent your swords from contracting ich, even if it is present in the tank. Please also avoid stressing the fish unnecessarily, as that will open the door to disease.>  Should I run to the pet store and get some medicine to use, even though they may not have it?  <Frankly, I always like to have medications on hand, in case of emergencies.>  Is using ich medicine on a non-infected fish dangerous?  <Yes. I never like to recommend medicating a healthy fish. Most ich meds are concoctions of malachite green and Formalin, or are copper-based - these are toxic to fish, just happen to be *more* toxic to protozoan parasites like ich.>  I'm afraid if they do get it I won't notice and something bad will happen.  <Just keep a close watch on your fish. If you see them "flashing" or "scratching" against decor and substrate quite often, it might be wise to medicate. Please also read here, to understand more about this parasite: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm >  Please help! Thank you, Abby  <Just keep watching your fish (I know that's not gonna be hard!), and keep your water in good health. You should be fine. Just be prepared, in case you do see signs of illness. Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Spotted Gouramis  HI, We have two kissing Gouramis, and about a week ago we transferred them from a 2.5 gallon to a 5 gallon tank and also put 5 Neons in with them. When we came home today we found our Gouramis on the bottom of the tank and they now have little white dots all over their fins and body. What is this? Are they dying? Is there anything we can do. We took the Neons out thinking they might have caused it, what more is there to do? thanks. Lauren & Jess  <<Dear Lauren and Jess; I will need to ask you some questions. What is the temperature of the tank? Is there a heater? How often do you do water changes? Do you test your water for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates? If so, what are the results? Right now your fish have ich, a parasite caused by stress. It can happen just from transferring fish into the tank, like your Neons. Or it can happen any time the temperature is too cold, or if it fluctuates at all. You might as well put the Neons back in with the Gouramis, since you will have to treat ALL the fish for this disease. At your LFS you can find some ich medications, like Quick Cure, or Super Ich Cure, which is a better choice since it is gentler on Neons. Treat the tank according to the instructions. And remove your carbon from the filter during the treatment as it will remove the meds. Do a water change after the treatment, and replace the carbon. Neons are very sensitive fish and should not be kept in a 5 gallon tank, unless you can guarantee an absolutely stable temperature. And your kissing Gouramis will grow to 8 inches in length, too large for a permanent home in a five gallon tank. You may need to upgrade :) -Gwen>>

HELP- POSSIBLE ICH on Harlequin Rasbora Hi guys, been a long time since I've had trouble with freshwater tank so of course, now is one-. I have 15 gallon freshwater tank- Eclipse charcoal filter, use Algone pack. Ph is 7 as is community tank, temp about 72-73. I have - 2 harlequin Rasboras, 2 white cloud minnows, 2 cherry barbs, 2 Otos, 1 amino shrimp. Have driftwood, variety of java ferns, watersprite, and some red Hygros growing. Change water every 2 weeks, no problems. This morning one of the harlequin Rasboras has a white thick spot on her tail- actually where the tail meets the body on the top. Small, almost looks like a piece of salt. Nothing else on her body- I always check fish- she is happy, eating, no abrupt swimming patterns etc. Unfortunately can't get a photo- she swims too fast and flash whites out everything. Is this Ick disease? All the photos I've seen of infected fish have spots all over, or at least more than one spot. And this spot LITERALLY came out overnight- when I saw her this morning I thought some salt was on her tail?! The only other strange thing with this water change is that there are salt crystals on outside of tank- a ton of them. when I change the water i put in about 2 teaspoons of aquarium salt- because of the amino shrimp to help with her shell. Never had a hard time before, until now.  Also DO NOT have a quarantine tank- this is my 6yrs old tank that somehow I have become responsible for. Anyway I can treat all of the fish without harming them??? many thanks, concerned mom < The water temp. is a little low. I would bring it up to 78 to 80 with a heater. At the lower water temps the fish sometimes become stressed and could succumb to ich. Raise the temp and watch carefully for any additional signs of ich. If more spots are found I would remove the filter cartridge and the bio wheel and keep them in a damp cool place. Don't let them dry out. Many of the ich cures may be toxic to the shrimp, so I would remove him too. Treat the tank with Rid-ich as per the directions on the bottle. When the ich is cure you can put the filter back together and the good nitrifying bacteria on the wheel should kick in and get things back to normal in no time. -Chuck> Rosa 

POSSIBLE ICH on Harlequin Rasbora - Follow-up thanks chuck- raised the temp to 80 and the spot on Rasbora is smaller---wow--- but this afternoon will lower the temp to about 78 and then see how they are all doing- some gasping last night on part of minnows AND barbs- but everyone seems ok this morning. any idea as to when I can bring temp down to where it should be??? < At least three days. That's how long the ich life cycle takes to leave the host fish.-Chuck> 

POSSIBLE ICH on Harlequin Rasbora - II Thanks chuck- but one more question. With the filter gone how will the water move in the tank- otherwise just stagnate and 'sit there'-- is that a condition that is necessary for Rid ich to work? < Just take out the bio wheel and the filter insert. Keep the pump running to circulate the water.> Sorry if this is a 'dumb' question but I thought that filter motion was necessary for well being of fish./???  Also, can the fish take that higher temperature-I guess I'm worried about the minnows.. < This is what happens sometimes when you mix cool water fish with true tropical fish. You try to keep things in the middle to keep both kinds of fish happy but sooner or later something happens. Increase the water temp a little at a time and watch the minnows for stress. I think they can handle the water temp it is just that the water can carry less oxygen at higher temps. You may need to add an airstone to increase the oxygen of the water. The minnows will let you know if they are being stressed by their gasping for air.-Chuck>

Ick and New Tank Syndrome Hi Crew <Hi back! MikeD here> I recently set up a 29 gallon aquarium....been a month or so. The fish we have are 2 black mollies 2 gold mollies 2 baby platys (born in previous tank) 2 guppies 9 neon tetra.<Here's your whole problem in a nutshell. Too many fish added too soon and in a bad combination. The Neons are very delicate and require the opposite conditions from the mollies, meaning that whenever one species is happy the other will be stressed and on death's door> Recently the fish have developed a white powder like bumps on their bodies and fins are also looking damaged. I have already tried Maracyn for 8 days and Maracide for 3 days but with little change. The guppies especially seem to be getting worse. The fish also rub themselves against rocks in the tank. Please help me save my fish!!!!!<This should be easily done. Although I normally suggest not treating your main tank, it sounds like you have little choice in this case. The Maracyn regimen that you have been using is useless against Ick, which is a protozoan parasitic infection rather than a bacterial problem.  Any good Ick remedy will knock it out, but keep in mind that most ick remedies are FATAL to neon tetras unless used 1/2 strength, possibly even then.  On the other hand, left untreated, you are likely to lose ALL your fish, so you have a tough choice to make. In the future, I'd suggest EITHER live bearers or tetras, not both, and added in small numbers gradually. The "No Willpower Syndrome" is one we all caught early on, usually with disastrous results. IN the future, remember, slower is better and check with what you're purchasing in regards to water requirements. Remember, any good Ick treatment, ASAP!> Thanks Jeff

Ichyness I have a 29 gallon tank.....established for a year. I have 2 dwarf Gouramis, 2 swordtails, 3 black skirts, and a dwarf Pleco. One of my Gouramis has 5 or 6 white spots on him (like pimples) and some sort of film that makes him look like he is shedding (mostly by his top fin). I do 25% water changes every month, my PH is basic, my Ammonia is 0ppm, as is my nitrates. I have been treating the entire tank with Rid Ich+, and recently put him in a quarantine tank (2.5 gallon). Do I treat him in the 2.5 tank? do I hold off and see what happens? PLEASE HELP. Thanks, Kurt <<Hello. Fish generally fall ill due to stress from bad water quality. It is likely that you are not doing water changes often enough. Buy a nitrAte test kit, your test kits are most likely for ammonia and nitrites, which should both be zero because they are being turning into nitrAtes. Buy a nitrate test kit, your readings are probably quite high. You need to do water changes often enough to keep nitrates at 20-60ppm, or, the lower the better. As for the actual illness, yes! you will need to treat the main tank AND the hospital tank, as well. It is hard to say if the "shedding" indicates a parasite or a bacterial infection, I cannot tell without seeing the fish, but some salt should help, one tablespoon per gallon, pre-dissolved and added slowly. And get your water cleaned up, since continuing bad water quality will mean that your currently healthy fish will also start becoming ill. Let me know how it goes, and continue to do your water testing :) -Gwen>>

Re: Dwarf Gourami Ichyness I just tested my water......Nitrates, Nitrites, and Ammonia are all 0ppm. My sick Gourami has stopped eating....will rid ich do the job, I'm wondering if its a parasite and I haven't been treating him correctly? My other Gourami looks like he has a scale that is standing up, and is getting a bit fuzzy. perhaps he was bitten by one of my other fish? perhaps its not a scale? I have tried to take photos, but it is difficult. Should I pull off the scale? <<Hello. You might want to re-test your water...there is really no way that your nitrates can measure zero in a tank full of fish. That, and the fungus, tells me that things are not as they seem.  At any rate, you can cure the parasite problem by using either salt or Quick Cure, and you can cure the fungus problem by using either salt or an anti-fungal medication. Ask your LFS what they have in stock to help you. Salt will cure most infections that are relatively new, but if these problems have been present for a while, you may need something stronger to do the job, like salt with an antibiotic. Again, ask your LFS what they can sell you to treat both of these problems. And please, take a sample of your tank water to the LFS while you are there, and have them test your water, you can compare the results with your own test kits. Your test kits might be past their expiration date. -Gwen>> 

An ich theory As a child in Alaska, I was given an aquarium but could not afford any of the paraphernalia - heater, medicine, etc. <Me too Anna and that was way longer ago than I care to think about. MacL here with you>   I knew nothing about raising tropical fish but had a large variety of platies, swords, guppies, catfish, Gouramis, Neons.  The heat in our home was turned off daily leaving the house very cold at night and warm during the day when the stove was lit.  We even had a pitcher of ice frozen on the counter when we awoke.  My fish rarely got ich and recovered quickly. I just wonder if it was because the temperature changed gradually with the room temperature of the house and also because I changed the aquarium water weekly - 100% of it. <In all honesty I think that the fish nowadays and no criticism meant to the breeders are less hearty, whether it be from using medications or from inbreeding or whatever I can't tell you but I definitely see it.>  I scrubbed all the decorations and also shook all the gravel thoroughly to make sure the water ran clear. <But the other thing is that the water these fish go into, the water that we drink now is so much less pure than the water of the past.>  I did not know anything about the PH balances.  I did know that I needed to leave the water sit for 24 hours for the chlorine to evaporate. <Nowadays its chloramines and those things are sooooo bad>  Also, I had no thermometer so used my two hands to determine if the old water and new water were about the same temp.  Also, I knew nothing of mixing the old water and new water to keep the fish from becoming shocked.  I just fished them out of the old water with a net and put them into the new fresh clean water.  They always seemed to love it and would swim like a kid with a new toy.  I changed the 'furniture' each time, too, to give variety.  Now that I read all the rules and regulations on how to keep a tropical tank and try to follow everything exactly, and test the water regularly, I am having more problems than every before.  Can you please explain the difference?  Could it be that frequent changes kept all the ammonia levels down so the good bacteria was not needed? <I doubt that you ever had rises in the ammonia because of that but also doing complete water changes with amazing water would make a huge difference.>  Could it be that the frequent changes also got rid of any "ich" babies before they had a chance to take over the aquarium? <The ich has a cycle where it becomes free floating in the water and you might indeed have eliminated a lot of it by putting fresh clean water in.>  I am totally puzzled but have been wondering. <I think its really the water quality differences in my personal opinion. MacL.> <<And a lack of ich, other pathogens to start with that could spread. RMF>> Just lost my Rainbow Shark Hi Crew - 3 days ago I spotted Ich on my fish.  Started treating with "Nox-Ich" immediately, raised the water temp to 82deg and added some aquarium salt.  The Ich appears to be gone, but this afternoon the Shark suddenly started gasping for air, turned pink around his chin and gills and turned upside-down.  We moved him right away into a clean tank, but sadly this didn't help. He just died :^( The question is:  what do you think killed him?  All the other fish seem fine - a Pleco, several Platies, 2 (new) Opaline Gouramis and one Marbled Hatchet.  Except for the Gouramis, they've all been tank mates for quite some time. Also, where did the Ich come from?  The Gouramis are new, but have never shown any signs of Ich.  We did get a new piece of driftwood (from an established tank) 2 weeks ago.  And some new plants.  Do plants and wood carry Ich? Thanks for any insights you can offer. < Many times fish that show no signs of a disease can still carry it into a new aquarium. This is why we here often recommend a quarantine tank for all new critters before they go into the established aquarium. Your new Gouramis had the ich on them and passed it on to the other fish. Some fish are sensitive to the malachite green. Rainbow sharks are not listed as a sensitive fish but I think they are. When in doubt I would use the Nox-ich at one-half the recommended dosage.-Chuck> Anne

Stocking a 10 Gallon Thanks for the help!  It looks like everybody's calmed down and pretty much back to normal. I guess they just had to get over the initial shock of the addition of the Neons, plus it looks like my temperature was actually fluctuating up and down a few degrees every day when the tank light was turned on and off (now I just keep it off except for during feeding time, is that ok?). <Sure, except for your viewing enjoyment> Another problem has shown up though: the largest barb has started flashing. I can't see any white spots anywhere on him, and none of the other fish seem to be flashing, so is it ich?  Since I don't have an empty tank sitting around, I can't quarantine him and treat him separately, so what do I do?  Would one of those cheap travel tanks (like the kind kids keep hermit crabs in) be ok for this purpose, without filtration or anything?  Would moving him to a tank like that cause too much additional stress on him? What kind of meds are the best to use? I've tried RidIch in the past (on a previous tank setup) with no success...it actually seemed to have killed the fish faster than the ich would have, and I followed the directions on the bottle perfectly. This guy is one of my favorite fish so I really don't want to lose him if I can prevent it.  Please let me know your thoughts on this situation.  I really appreciate you all taking the time to help novices like me!  Thanks so much! -Melissa <The flashing is a fish's way of scratching. The number one reason (as in 9 out of 10) they do this is Ick. However anything the bothers the skin could be a cause. Including any ammonia or nitrite OR high nitrates. If you see this continue after you get the water is in line, or if you see even one spot, use salt to treat. Please read the link below. http://www.aquariumadvice.com/showquestion.php?faq=2&fldAuto=32 Be aware that even salt may stress or even kill off the bacteria in your filter. That is why it is better to QT for treatment while leaving the tank running empty for a month. If you must treat the main, continue with the testing and do as many water changes as needed to control spikes in ammonia or nitrite. Don>

Re: tankmate issues, please help! Hi Don- Thanks for the quick response.  It seems that at least 2 more of my fish have begun flashing throughout the day. Also looks like a white spot has developed on the barb's tail. Salt seems like a great treatment for ich, but I've read in a few places that neon and Glo-light tetras can't tolerate it. Is this true? -Melissa <Yes, but if you measure out the salt, make a brine and add it over two or three days they should be OK. I used salt at these levels on Brass and Cardinal tetras in my QT. I lost only one Cardinal out of 30 assorted fish. Make sure you read up on the Ick life cycle and continue treatment for at least two weeks after the last spot drops. When you do water changes always siphon from the bottom and mix the same concentration of salt in the new water before adding it. Good luck. Don>  

Crayfish With Ich? - 12/13/2004 Hi, I was wondering if crayfish can get ich. <No.  Ich (Ichthyophthirius multifilius) is an obligate fish parasite - the Cray cannot be affected by ich.  A Cray can, however, have ich cysts stuck to it, while the cysts are reproducing and before they become free-swimming in search of fish.  These would be totally invisible to the naked eye, and can be stuck to anything from an infected tank - gravel, plant, and crayfish alike.> I have one that I saved from the feeder goldfish tank at my work. Once I got it home I realized it has what looks like ich on it. <It's more likely either his coloring or bits of detritus stuck to him.  I wouldn't be terribly worried.> I can't seem to find any info on treating crayfish with ich though, which made me wonder if it is ich at all. <Very, very highly unlikely.> I do not want to introduce him to my tank if he could make all my fish sick. <As above, he can have (invisible) cysts stuck to him - I wouldn't be too worried, but it would be best to quarantine him anyway, as it is best to do before introducing any animal to your established tank.> I have a 20 gallon heavily planted (swords, and frills) tank with one Creamsicle and one silver Lyre-tail (sp?) molly, their new fry, a dragon fish, <This common name is applied to a few different critters....  but any one of them (Polypterus sp., Erpetoichthys sp., Gobioides sp.) will all outgrow a 20g tank in short order - and the last, Gobioides, is a brackish animal.  Please research this fellah a bit, find out what you have, and what your options for it might be.> a rummy nose tetra, and a gold  mystery snail. I really don't want to get ich and have to uproot my whole tank. <Agreed.  Ich sucks.> Any info would be great. <As above, your absolute safest bet is to quarantine *any* new livestock before adding to your tank.  BUT - this is pretty important - a crayfish really isn't a good tankmate for any of the fish that you've mentioned; any/all of them are more than likely to end up as crayfish food eventually.  I urge you to set up a new tank for the Cray (even just a very, very simple 10-gallon setup would suffice).  One cool bonus is that this is more than likely Procambarus clarkii, and you would not at all need a heater for his tank.  Crayfish are unbelievably interesting animals to watch and care for, I think you would really appreciate him if you can give him a place to call home.  I also urge you to read crewmember Gage Hartford's excellent and fun article in our online Conscientious Aquarist e-zine, on care and breeding of crayfish:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/cav1i4/crayfish/crayfish.htm > Thanks, Candice <Wishing you and your crayfish well,  -Sabrina> After Ich Goes (we're gonna let it all hang out) I have an aquarium with a Pleco. I used to have a yoyo loach, two swordtails, two angelfish, an Opaline Gourami, two scissortail Rasboras and two Bala sharks and the Pleco. About two months ago we had a power outage, about two days after that I saw white spots on one of my Bala sharks so I bought some medicine, "Ick Clear" I think is what it was called, and started treating the aquarium as directed. I took the carbon out of the filter and raised the temperature and replaced 25% of the water every other day. Well I lost my sharks first, then my Scissortails, then my loach, then my angels and finally my swordtails. The only ones I had left were my Gourami, which had white spots, and the Pleco which never seemed to be infected. I moved my other fish from my 10 gallon to my twenty gallon and moved my Gourami to my ten gallon and treated it by itself. The Gourami recovered and is doing well. My Pleco is now in my large aquarium (where the ick outbreak was) by itself. How long should I leave this aquarium with the Pleco before adding more fish?  Should I treat the aquarium with the Pleco even though it did not seem to be infected at all? How would I treat it? It has been about a month and the Pleco seems normal. Thank You Mac <The Pleco can get Ick, so right now you must still consider that tank infected. Pull him out and put him in the ten for a month. Keep the infected tank fishless and crank the heater up to 84. Throw in a small raw shrimp to keep your bio filtration going. In 30 days all the parasites will have starved out if there is no fish host. Plecos have thick skin, but their gills and mouths can host the Ich. A heavy breakout on the gills will kill. Use salt and water changes to cure Ich. Salt is 100% effective and not as harsh as meds. Cheaper too. Read here for it's proper use. http://www.aquariumadvice.com/showquestion.php?faq=2&fldAuto=32 Take note of the life cycle of Ich and continue treatment for two weeks after the last spot drops. If you never see any spots, I would still give them two weeks just to be sure. Then use the ten as a QT. Everything gets 30 healthy days in QT before it goes in the main. That's 2 weeks with salt after the last spot, then 2 weeks without salt for Ich. I would do this even if they are coming from one of your other tanks. The power outage did not introduce the parasite into your tank. The lack of filtration or heat may have stressed the fish enough to lower their immune systems, but it was in there beforehand. Don>

Goldfish question Hello <Hi...I'm Jorie...> Our family has just recently entered into the fish world. <Congratulations and welcome!> We started with a very small tank and one goldfish.  Now we have a five gallon tank, three goldfish, 1 Betta, and 2 very small really shiny fish. <Not all in one tank, I hope? Bettas are tropical fish, whereas goldies are cold water.  Don't know for sure what the other two fish are, but perhaps they are white cloud tetras, or silver dollars? Check out some internet sites and see if you can make an ID on sight...if not, call the pet store where they came from to find out what they are.  Chances are they are tropical as well.> We've had the 5 gallon tank less than a week. <Are you familiar with the term "cycling", as it pertains to a fish tank? It's a way for the water to establish a beneficial bacteria colony, which in turn allows some of the fish waste to be "used", rather than immediately turning into ammonia (highly toxic to fish).  Did you allow this new tank to cycle? If not, you most likely have a build up of ammonia, nitrite and/or nitrate, allow which are poisonous to fish.  You can purchase a simple test kit to check these levels if you don't already have one; in the meantime, I suggest doing a 50% water change as soon as possible, and maybe do another 25% one tomorrow.> The three goldfish have taken to hanging out together at the bottom of the tank where they almost seem to be sleeping.  I have noticed tiny white spots on their fins....ick I'm guessing from the reading I've been doing. <Sure sounds like ich to me.> I did a 25% water change today. <Great...probably you should another tonight, if possible, and another again tomorrow.> It seemed at first only one of the goldfish had the spots and now I believe at least two do.  They seem to be mainly concentrated on the fins.  Is it best to treat the ick with just water changes or do I need to medicate too? <Water changes are definitely crucial in combating ich.  Keep them up regularly (e.g., 25% each day).  With regards to treating ich, there are many schools of thought.  You can medicate, or you can use other measures, such as increasing the level of salt in the water or adding heat (probably not the best course for cold water goldies). Personally, I like to use salt as treatment...by increasing the salinity levels from 1.000 (pure FW), to just 1.002 or 1.003, you can eradicate the ich parasites.  I'd suggest you purchase a small container of aquarium salt and a plastic box type hydrometer...add just enough to raise the salinity just those couple of points, and you'll kill the pests.  Keep up with the water changes also.> Also, is the "hanging out at the bottom all together" common for goldfish or is this because they may be ill? <Probably they aren't felling well, because of the ich, and also because of the toxins in the water, as we discussed above.  Salt and water changes should cure their/your problem, I think!> Thanks for your help Julie <You are most welcome.  Hope all goes well, Jorie>  

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