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FAQs on Freshwater Ich, White Spot Disease 4

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 5, FW Ich 6, FW Ich 7, & FAQs on:  FW Ich Causes, Etiology, Diagnosis, 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

Characteristic "spots" on the tail of this Geophagus balzani.

Black Ghost Knifefish and Ich 10/24/07 <Hi Jillian, Pufferpunk here> I am at a loss as to how to treat my two BGK fish. They live together in a large tank along with two Raphael catfish and an Oto whom they surprisingly do not bother. Recently I noticed a few small white spot (suspecting ich) on one of the BGK, and am wondering what is the best course of action for treatment. Firstly, should I isolate the infected fish or treat the tank as a whole since all fish have now been exposed? <I would treat the whole tank with heat & salt.> Secondly, what it the highest temperature that BKNs will tolerate, as my usual treatment for ich is to up the temperature to 82-84 F and add 2Tbs of salt per 10g of aquarium water? <MT BGK lives in a discus tank with a normal temperature of 86. Since these are soft water fish, I'd start with 1 tbsp salt/10g.> This leads me to my third question, is it better to treat the BGK with this salt treatment or to use a product like RidIch at 1/2 strength? <I wouldn't use meds on scaleless fish. Before starting treatment you should do at least a 50% water change and vacuuming of your tank. I also suggest doing 50% water changes every other day of treatment, (again vacuuming the substrate) to reduce the number of parasites in the water. I do not like to use medication with scaleless fish, except in cases of heavy infestation. Melafix is helpful to treat any damage done to the puffer's skin from the parasite. If you run into any secondary bacterial problems, Pimafix may also be used. By the 2nd day of treatment, you can raise the salt to1 tablespoon per 5 gallons of aquarium water (remember you already have 1 tbsp/10g in there, so adjust for that), while gradually raising the temperature to 86 degrees F. Continue with this for a period of one month, adding back 1 tablespoon of salt for every 5 gallons of aquarium water that you remove during water changes. One thing to remember with high temperatures is that there is less dissolved oxygen available in warm water than there is in water at cooler temperatures, therefore it is recommended to run an additional airstone to oxygenate the water.> I am a little attached to these fish and would like to see them make it through this. Thank you in advance for the advise. <It sounds like you have caught the disease early & your fish should be fine. ~PP> -Jillian Scharfstein 

Ich elephant nose  10/23/07 I have had my elephant nose Approximately 8 months. He has been happy and healthy. He has developed tiny white spots on his pectoral fins and anal fin that look like ich. Is there any medicine I can treat him with that won't kill him? Thank You Karen <Hello Karen. With Mormyridae, the things to avoid specifically are Formalin and Copper, both of which are widely used in anti-Ick medications. So you need to treat Mormyridae in the same basic way as, say, Clown Loaches (see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/clnlchdis.htm ). Anyway, the basic trick is this: raise the temperature to 30 degrees C (around 86 F). Oxygen level goes down as temperature goes up, so you need to compensate for that. Add additional aeration if you can, but failing that, adjust the water level and/or filter so there is lots of splashing and circulation. Now make up a brine solution in a jug, with about 2-3 grammes of aquarium salt (not marine salt) per litre of water in the aquarium (in other words, a salinity of 2-3 PPT). There's almost exactly 6 grammes of salt per teaspoon, so estimating how much you need should not be too difficult. Stir the salt into the water thoroughly until dissolved, and then slowly add the brine a little at a time into the outflow of the filter so that it quickly disperses around the tank. After a few days the parasites on your fish will mature and die, but the mobile parasite larvae will not be able to re-infect your fish, and the disease will go away. This takes quite a few days, but it does work. Increasing the salt concentration to as much as 6 grammes per litre of water can be used to deal with stubborn infections, but the higher the salinity, the more gently you need to adjust your fish to it, and the higher the degree of osmotic stress placed on the fish. Conversely, once you're done treating the fish, do a series of relatively small water changes over the next few days to gradually bring the salinity down to zero. As ever, do establish why the Ick became a problem. It doesn't come from nowhere, and is either brought in by unquarantined fish or else provoked into action by stress or lapses in water quality. With Mormyridae, prevention is FAR better than cure. Good luck, Neale.>

Ich on my fish -- 10/09/07 I have a 56 gal tank all properties are in range except now I have 2 fish with ich. My fish are comprised of a Dinosaur, brown knife, black ghost knife, Bala shark, Albino Rainbow shark, black rainbow shark, 2 snails, a bamboo shrimp, 2 iridescent sharks, a Gourami, 2 rubbermouth Pleco. The Bala and brown knife have ich. I have raised the temp to 83 and would like to use Epsom salt in the tank. what else should I do, I have seen the information on the site and have decided to go with the salt but wish to make sure I am doing things right. <No idea what sort of fish a "Dinosaur" is. And your mix of fish is, as we say in England, "courageous" (i.e., unlikely to work out). But regardless, Epsom salt isn't the way forward in my opinion. You need marine salt mix (ideally) or at least some sort of non-iodised table salt. You gradually raise the salinity of the tank to 1 gramme of salt per litre of water. DO NOT add salt directly to the aquarium! Take some water out, add the salt, and then slowly dribble in back into the tank. You need to run the tank at 1 PPT salinity for around 7-10 days, and then gradually lower the salinity to zero. There's more here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm . Personally, I'd simply use an anti-ick/whitespot medication safe with the species of fish you are keeping. I find 'eSHa Exit' to be very effective and (in my experience) safe with sensitive species such as catfish and puffers. It's a Dutch medication widely sold in Europe. Follow the instructions to the letter, and make absolutely sure there's no carbon in the filter. The shrimp will, of course, need to be removed to another tank until the course of medication is finished and you have done at least two 50% water changes to rinse out the medication. Cheers, Neale>

Tetras with Ich -- 09/17/07 Dear crew, <<Hello, Evan. Tom with you.>> I have a 10 gallon tank with 4 Glowlight tetras and 3 neon tetras (I had 5 Neons originally but 2 died soon after arriving home from the LFS). That raises a question; one of the dead Neons was completely colorless when I found it. Could the cause of death been NTD? <<Could be, Evan, but not very likely. Your other Neon Tetras would have almost certainly contracted NTD by now and I can't guarantee that the Glowlights wouldn't have been affected, as well.>> If so: how long before any of my other fish exhibit symptoms? It's been over 2 weeks and I haven't noticed the fish acting sick. <<They'd have shown signs by now, Evan.>> Sorry for the digression, back to my original question. <<No problem.>> My tank has 0 Ammonia, 0 Nitrites and less than 20 ppm Nitrates, temp 84F, pH 7.8. <<The pH levels are high for the Neons in particular, Evan. Not necessarily a problem but might account for some stress in these fish.>> 10 days ago I noticed the start of ich on a couple of the Glowlights and I started a treatment of Aquarium Pharmaceuticals' Super Ick Cure (Benzaldehyde Green and Povidone/Colloid mixture). I have been treating at half dose but following Doug Thamm's recommendations found here: http://fins.actwin.com/articles/disease/ick2.php. I have the temperature at 84F and have performed 2 full administrations (5 mL initial dose followed by 5mL more 48 hours later, followed by WC after another 48 hours, and repeat) and I am in the middle of the 3rd administration (10th day). I have done 50% WC in between each. The treatment appeared to be working as the Glowlights had lost all of their white spots. <<Glad to hear this. Nice description of your regimen, by the way.>> Yesterday evening I noticed one of my Neons with ich spots on its tailfin and body. Is it normal for the ich to re-emerge during treatment? <<Not necessarily 'normal' but certainly possible. Difficult to determine the resistance the parasites may have to the medication particularly at partial dosages.>> Should I increase the dosage strength to 100% doses? <<I wouldn't do this unless the problem looks like it's getting the better of you and the fish. As I alluded to earlier, your Neons prefer water that's soft/acidic. Their preferred pH levels top out at about 7.0 which means your water is much higher in pH than they really like. This alone can contribute to diminished resistance to infestations such as Ich. Since medications also lead to stress, the least effective dosage that you can treat at will be far better in the long run.>> Should I just continue my treatment until no spots are left? <<Yes.>> Should I change medication to something like Quick Cure with Malachite Green/Formaldehyde? <<Not unless the API medication just doesn't do the job for you. The Malachite Green is highly effective but isn't without problems of its own. Highly toxic and has been described as a potential carcinogen. Not a treatment protocol to take lightly.>> Besides the ich, the fish seem healthy, they are active and eat well. <<Very good signs, Evan.>> Thank you for your help. -Evan <<Happy to be of assistance to you. Good luck to you. Tom>>

FW Ich    9/12/07 I had 2 moonlight Gouramis in a 29 gallon tanks with 3 Dalmatian mollies. The Gouramis started getting tiny white spots on their fins. One developed the white spots on its body. I thought this might be ick so I moved them to a 10 gallon tank to treat with medication. The one with the spots on the body kind of jerks in the corner, the other swims fine but still has spots on the fins. How long should I treat them? Will they be okay in the 10 gallon without gravel and decorations (I have no money to buy extra things right now)? <Hail. Yep, the white spots are whitespot/ick. It needs to be treated at once. Left alone, it becomes serious and can kill fish quite quickly. You actually treat the tank -- not the fish -- so moving fish with whitespot doesn't serve any purpose except to infect yet another tank. So, you need to treat both the 29 gallon tank and the 10 gallon tank. The medication doesn't kill the white spots you see on the fish, but the free-swimming larval stages in the water. Treat precisely and exactly as described on the bottle/package. Raising the temperature a couple of degrees often helps, too. Do not do water changes while treating the tanks (obviously this will dilute the medication). Remove carbon from the filter (carbon neutralises most medications). Cheers, Neale>

Re: FW ich  9/12/07 Thank you so much for the prompt response. I will definitely be coming to you guys for advice in the future. I have treated the 29 gallon tank and I put the moonlight Gouramis back in it so they will have a less stressful habitat. I used the Wardley, malachite green, ick treatment. I have read on other treatments that they prevent second infections, but the Wardley treatment does not say that. I also read that ick in the water can only be treated at a certain stage and that stage is a few days after the white spots fall off my fish. Will I need to treat the water again after the white spots fall off my Gouramis? <No, the medication is usually a one time thing. Treat according to the instructions. When the parasites fall off the host, they're dead. They don't re-infect the fish. It's the (invisible to the naked eye) free swimming baby parasites they've been pumping out prior to their death that infects other fish. Sometimes, one series of medication isn't enough. There's something called "Super Whitespot" doing the rounds in the UK. No-one knows if it truly is whitespot or something else entirely. Either way, you need to do a big water change after one course of medication, and then begin a second course. That usually does the trick. This varies depending on the medication used, and some brands kill it off first time. Whitespot isn't difficult to treat, and there's no reason to get paranoid about all your fish dying. Cheers, Neale>

Salt treatment for Ich, FW...    9/2/07 Dear crew, I have a 10 gallon FW tank with hang on bio-filter and heater. This is really my son's tank that he received as a birthday gift a month ago but as he is 2 I have been designated the caretaker. This is my first foray into fish keeping and I have been reading as much as possible to learn how best to care for the fish. We have the following fish: 2 Neon Tetras 2 White Skirt Tetras 2 Female Platys 2 recently departed male Swordtails (died within 2 days of each other) The Tetras have been in the tank for 1 month, I am still in the process of cycling the tank. On Tuesday my in-laws surprised (sabotaged) us with 6 new fish. I believe the 2 swordtails died due to stress/high nitrites. (Ammonia=0, nitrite=1.0, nitrates=20 before today's water change) I have been doing water changes about twice a week to keep the Ammonia/Nitrites in check during the cycling process. Now to my problem: It appears that I have an ich outbreak in the tank. I want to treat the Ich with high temperature and salt. I have read differing opinions on salting with tetras so I wasn't sure if a medication would be a better solution. Also, I have been using Aqueon Water Conditioner to remove Chlorine/Chloramines from my tap water; will this nullify the effectiveness of the salt? I have read that it is necessary to remove the carbon from the filter while medicating, but is it necessary with the salt treatment? One last question, I have only fake plants/decorations in my tank, should I remove these while treating the fish? Thank you for all of your help. -Rusty <Rusty, I would not recommend treating the tank with salt to kill whitespot. While it can work, it doesn't always work, and you are correct in suspecting tetras react badly to it. Neons come from mineral-poor waters and do not like salt in the water. To a lesser extent this also holds true for the white-skirt tetras (Gymnocorymbus ternetzi, notorious fin-nippers and all round nasty fish). Anyway, use a proper anti-whitespot medication of your choice for more reliable, easier to manage treatment. Naturally, you MUST remove carbon before treating the tank with medication. In fact carbon is a complete and utter waste of time in a tank like yours, where you should be doing 50% water changes weekly just to maintain stable water conditions. Given that, the ability of carbon to remove dissolved organic waste is redundant. Far better to give over the space in the filter to more biological media. Carbon is basically a con, used to get money out of inexperienced fishkeepers. It doesn't serve much purpose in the modern hobby, though decades ago it was useful because people kept fish in a different (and inferior) way. You also have the problem of a very small aquarium (totally unsuitable for swordtails and white-skirt tetras, and only marginally acceptable for platies). I'd HIGHLY recommend re-thinking your stocking with a view to getting fish likely to work well in a 10 gallon tank. For some reason you aren't keeping your schooling fish in groups. Two is unacceptable, and they will never settle down and likely die. Neons are fine fish for a 10 gallon tank, but they should be groups of 6 or more. If you wanted, I'd suggest replacing the white-skirt tetras with 6 Glowlight tetras, and together with 4 more Neons, you'd have a nice little group of fish there with eye-catching colours. If you got rid of the platies you could also add a couple or three kuhlii loaches. These are fun bottom dwellers and very pretty little fish to boot. I hope this helps, Neale>

Second bout of Ich in two years   9/2/07 Hello- We're in recovery from our second bout of Ich in the past two years. The first case was sheer ignorance, and I (and the fish, of course) owe WWM's crew a debt of thanks. Your site has the best comprehensive info on so many things we needed to know. For this recent outbreak, after exhaustively searching your site, I have only one unanswered question: Can Ich be introduced to a tank from frozen brine shrimp? Our 25 gal tank has been stable for over 18 months and then just three weeks ago the dreaded Ich appeared again. It wiped out all four of our black tetras before we could catch it, but by using your recommended salt & higher temp treatment the 2 yo-yo loaches, Pleco, 2 angel fish and 2 Danios are now symptom free. I plan on keeping the salt and temps up to complete a three week treatment, but really do not want to re-introduce the brine shrimp until I know what could have caused the recent outbreak. To my knowledge, nothing else went in the tank. FYI, the tank is a typical freshwater tropical tank, with mostly artificial plants but a few live ones. Any ideas where the recent Ich may have come from? Thank you very much, Roseann & Barry. <Greetings. It is extremely unlikely whitespot came in with frozen or live brine shrimp. Artemia spp. live in hypersaline or temporary lagoons where nothing much other than algae lives. Certainly, there are no fishes there, which is how such primitive crustaceans as Artemia can even survive there (Artemia are not found in regular freshwater habitats or the sea). Anyway, this means that they aren't exposed to fish parasites of any kind, and why they are considered the "perfect" live food in terms of safety. Some aquarists believe whitespot lies dormant in all aquaria, and becomes a problem only where conditions allow (i.e., the fish are stressed in some way). While there's no evidence to support this that I'm aware of, it's certainly possible. Regardless, once you've treated the aquarium, ideally with a proper medication rather than salt, all the dormant whitespot cysts should be killed. So short of adding new fish, you should be whitespot free. Good luck, Neale>

Ich infested tank. -- 08/27/07 Hello! I've recently discovered your site, and find it to be a fairly good resource, despite the fact that I've had some trouble getting my questions answered on the forums. People post links that contradict each other, and just all around end up confusing me. My tank has ich. It's 10 gallons with black tetras, blue Congo tetras, and a Pleco (yes, tank is small for when he starts growing, however, I've already made sure of trade in policies and may even get a bigger tank when the time comes). I've done a lot of research on ich, I know the basics of the lifecycle, and the common treatments. When I went to the fish store, they suggest heat and aquarium salt (added as per the directions on the box, which is 1 level table spoon per 5 gallons) This is what I've been trying, I've raised the temperature to 86F or so, and added in the salt, adding a little bit more to the new water bucket when I do a water change so that the concentration doesn't change. I'm reluctant to just jump into medication as I don't want to risk harming my biological filtration and end up stressing the fish a bit more in the long run while my tank re-cycles. What I want to know, is if I'm doing anything right, or if I should do some things different. The ich just dropped off my fish almost all at once, so I'm hoping that I will be done with it. However, I would love some advice incase this happens again, or incase the outbreak isn't over yet. Thanks in advance! Krys. <hello Krys. Ick (whitespot) can be a problem. Personally, I don't recommend the salt method for treatment. You need quite a high salinity for it to be effective, and high temperature, and together these things can end up stressing the fish more than the medication would. So while it may be useful for some situations (e.g., clown loaches, which are intolerant of copper and formalin medications) for run of the mill community tropicals life is simpler to go use standard ick medications. I've found "eSHa exit" particularly good; it seems to work well against the "super-whitespot" doing the rounds here in the UK, and doesn't seem to harm catfish or puffers, both of which sometimes react badly to standard medications. Properly used, an aquarium treatment shouldn't harm the filter bacteria. This did sometimes happen back in the pre-history of the hobby (i.e., before the 1980s) but nowadays it isn't something to worry about. The main mistake people make is to leave carbon in the aquarium filter. The carbon removes the medication, so the fish stay sick. Anyway, as you realise medications and for that matter salt don't kill the parasites on the fish. Warming the tank is a way to speed up the life cycle so those adult parasites become life expired and fall off the host. Where the medication or salt comes into play is with the free-living larval parasites. Assuming your treatment worked, your fish should not be re-infected with another batch of white spots, i.e., adult parasites. So watch and wait, and see what happens. If they come back, skip the salt, and go use an Ick medication of your choice. Cheers, Neale>

Re: Ich infested tank. 8/28/07 Thank you very much for your reply. I've gone out and bought some Nox-ich. I've read a bit about it, but just have a couple of quick questions before I do a light treatment of my tank (likely a little less than half the regular dose). The instructions on the packaging are minimal, and some website searching is turning up little that's definitive. I've read that it can leech into almost anything in my tank. I currently have some fake plants, an ornament, lava rock, and driftwood. Should I take any of these out before treating my tank? If so, which? I've heard people recommend taking out ornaments and fake plants so that they don't get stained. I'm just wondering if the medication may leech into the wood or rock and potentially cause problems later. What would you recommend? If I take these things out, should I cover my tank with something so that the fish have somewhere to "hide"? With the plants gone (and the wood and rock if you recommend it) they won't have anywhere to hide, and I don't want to stress them too much. <Greetings. I'm not familiar with "Nox Ich". But it's a type of Malachite Green organic dye. So read Bob's page on these, here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/malachitefaqs.htm . I don't use these types of medication myself -- too much hassle, no real advantage. Hope this helps, Neale>

Treating Discus with Ich - 8/14/07 Hi Crew, <Hi Greg, Pufferpunk here> I apologise for the long email up front. <It's ok, we need to know what's going on & how you've been treating.> I am having a bit of a problem getting rid of White Spot (Ich) from my well planted low-tech 6x2x2 Discus & community aquarium. The tank has been up and running for seven months and was fully cycled after three months. From day 1 the temp was set at 30C (approx 86F) and I didn't have any problems at all with disease etc, but Ich must have been in the tank somewhere as when I recently lowered the temp down to 28C (approx 82F) to help the plants grow I suddenly had an outbreak of Ich that I am having problems getting rid of it. <That's your problem right there. Discus' immune systems are compromised at lower temps. Never mind the fact that ich dies off mush faster at higher temps (86-88 F).> So far I've had four 'attacks' against the Ich as follows: 1st Attack - I used 'Rapid Ich Remedy' which contained Formalin and Malachite Green, followed instructions as per the bottle (5mL per 20L = approx 150mL per dose) on days 1, 4 and 7 which cleared the Ich for about a week, then it came back. 2nd Attack - I again used 'Rapid Ich Remedy' following instructions as per the bottle (5mL per 20L = approx 150mL per dose) in terms of dose rate but I dosed on days 1, 4, 7, 10 and 13 which again cleared the Ich for about a week, then it came back. 3rd Attack - I used Waterlife's 'Protozin' (the double strength version) which I assume also contains Formalin and Malachite green as it looks & smells the same as the 'Rapid Ich Remedy' medication, followed instructions on the bottle (2.5mL per 75L = approx 25mL per dose) on days 1, 2, 3 and 6. This again cleared the Ich for about a week, then it came back yet again. 4th Attack (currently I'm on day 4 of this 'attack' & I'm getting desperate)... I'm again using Waterlife's 'Protozin' in combination with an Anti-Parasite medication for fish ponds (made by Interpet) which contains Formalin. I'm dosing as follows (don't freak out): A 13 day attack plan, where I'm dosing the Pond Anti-Parasite medication (25mL per 1,100L = approx 15mL per dose) on days 1,2,3,4,5,6 and 7 at 7:00AM and I'm also dosing Protozin (2.5mL per 75L = approx 25mLs per dose) on days 1,2,3,4,5,7,9,11 and 13 at 7:00PM i.e. each medication for the first 7 days is 12 hours apart. Note: I'm not performing any water changes during treatment but I usually change 20% of the water twice per week. Bad idea! Discus need 90% weekly water changes. During ich outbreaks, 80% every other day is necessary to remove the free-swimming parasite from the water column. It shouldn't be necessary to treat ich with any meds at all. High temps & 2tbsp salt/10gallong should be sufficient, along with large bi-daily water changes. Using all those different meds are just making the ich stronger & the discus weaker.> I figure the 4th attack will either kill the Ich, and/or kill (and probably permanently preserve) the fish with all that formaldehyde, or perhaps the Ich and the Fish will survive and I'll likely give up and accept that I am stuck with Ich for the rest of this tanks life. I guess I could get rid of all the plants and fish except the Discus and then raise the temp up to 31 or 32 degrees C (approx 89F), as I figure the Ich will not cause too many problems at this temp for Discus. However I really don't want to go back to running my tank above 30 degrees C (approx 86F) as the plants (mostly Amazon swords, Ambulia and Water Sprite) don't like the higher temps at all, as everything looks and grows much better at 28C. I really like having a planted Discus aquarium and since all the fish get along so well its a shame to have to give into this single celled monster! <I have a fully planted discus tank. I don't use any of the plants you have listed. All my plants are also low-light species. Right now, I have many species of Crypts, Anubias, Java fern & Crinum. See: http://www.aquariumplants.com/Warm_Water_Discus_Plants_s/20.htm Many plants require CO2 supplementation (which I don't use). In addition, I add Yamato Green weekly (www.yamatogreen.com) & poke Jobe's Spikes under their roots, every 6 months.> Now you may be wondering how everything has held up through these multiple attacks against the Ich? Well during all the treatments so far I have not noticed any effect whatsoever on my biological filtration (no measurable NH3 or NO2) but then again the plants may well be taking care of NH3, NO2 and NO3 as they are still growing just fine through all of this. <Anti-parasitic meds do not harm biological filtration.><<Mmm, I would NOT make this statement. Many compounds sold as such definitely WILL affect, stall nitrification... directly and/or indirectly. RMF>> Even all the fish (including the supposedly fragile Cardinal & Rummy Nose Tetras) don't even seem to notice that they are being medicated at all, which makes me wonder if the medications are being negated by the plants or perhaps by something else? Like I said my 4th attack is quite brutal and I'm likely to suffer losses but I'm prepared to do almost anything to get rid of this stubborn Ich once and for all. Maybe I need to increase the dose rate? Maybe I need to try NaCl and raise the temp? <Now you're thinking in the right direction!> I have an 80L quarantine tank that I use for all new fish but it is not big enough to move all the fish in there for separate treatment. The QT is usually set at 30C and all fish that go through it get nuked by Multi-Cure (basically Methylene Blue, Malachite Green and Formalin) and then I watch them for a minimum of two weeks (total of a 3 week stay in QT) before fish are transferred into the main 6x2x2 display tank. I've never lost any fish apart from the odd Cardinal or Rummy nose using this method but I find them rather delicate at the best of times when purchased from the LFS - they always look starved! In case you need to know the tank is setup as follows: 6x2x2 glass aquarium with approx 600L of water 1x Eheim 2228 canister filter 1x Aqua One 2450 canister filter (UV-C is off during treatment) 1x air stone running 24/7 Temp at 28C (approx 82-83F) pH = 7.4 Hard tap water (treated with a double dose of Prime during each WC) 10 healthy young Discus (see attached photos) 5 Black Neon Tetras 12 Cardinal Tetras 15 Rummy Nose Tetras 5 SAEs 3 BNs 2 Sterbai Cory Catfish 4 Kuhlii Loaches Well planted (actually the plants are growing really well even throughout the treatment - see attached photos taken 3 days ago for reference) <Sounds/looks like a lovely tank! Lighting?> Any suggestions on what I'm doing wrong or what I can do to win this battle would be appreciated... thanks Crew! <Try my suggestions above. The plants may not be strong enough at this point to handle the treatment but I think the fish are worth the risk. ~PP> Regards, Greg Simpson Perth, Western Australia

Re: Treating Discus with Ich (or Neons in this case)... actually Cardinals...  Poor Advice... 8/15/07 Thanks for your quick reply Pufferpunk! <Sure!> It's actually not the Discus that seem to be effected by the Ich, it's the Cardinals! <That's what I get for assuming...> After a few weeks it's like they are slowly being sprinkled with salt and they 'flick' against the stems of plants (classic Ich symptoms in my opinion). I guess the poor Cardinals are feeling poorly from the anti-parasite medications and thus cannot resist the Ich as much as the stronger fish. <Yes, I believe so many meds will actually weaken the fish's immune system.> What about Copper based treatments? I hear copper can be quite effective too. <Copper is very effective but extremely dangerous, especially on weakened fish or used incorrectly. You could try a saltwater dip on them but they are so tiny!><<RMF would NOT SW dip small S. American Characins>> I guess after round 4 of my 'attacks' I'll try the higher temp & salt combination as round 5. <I think this is your best bet. Don't forget to do huge water changes every other day, trying to clean the substrate (as best you can with the plants), to remove the free-swimming parasites.> If that fails Copper based meds might be round 6. I hope this does not turn out to be a 12 round fight! I've kept tropical fish for 24 years and have never had such an issue with disease as I have this time around. I've had Ich before in smaller/less planted tanks and usually after a basic Ich treatment it's resolved for good. I must have a bad/resistant strain of it!!!! <Add Melafix to heal the wounds from the parasite boring into the fish. Good luck, let me know how it goes. I'm sure there is tons of info on ich treatment at WWM. You can also read this: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/library/hospital/fwich/ ~PP><<This citation has NOTHING to do w/ FW ich treatment... RMF>> Regards, Greg


Ich and the scaleless barb   8/14/07 Dear WWM Crew, <<Dear Claire. Tom here this afternoon.>> Congratulations on your fantastic and informative site - it has been an invaluable resource as I set up my first tropical tank. <<Very glad to hear it, Claire.>> Unfortunately that tank has now come down with ich (due to an unquarantined new arrival - long story, and I've learned my lesson...) - I saw one or two spots on fins this evening. <<An Ich infestation is a pain in the backside to have to deal with but it's a far cry from other problems that might have occurred. Sorry you learned the hard way but all of us have learned something in this hobby the hard way so welcome to our club.>> I have Nox-ich to treat it with but would like some advice on dosage, due to the presence of a 'mutant' fish. The tank contains 6 female rosy barbs (rescued feeder fish), five tetras and a Bristlenose catfish (gradual stocking still in progress). One of the rosy barbs has no scales. <<Hello? Haven't heard of that one, Claire. Interesting'¦>> She is in all other respects a perfectly healthy (before the ich) and active fish. I assume the lack of scales means that I should treat the tank at a lower dosage level, but would like your input before I do. <<Not to send you back to the LFS unnecessarily, Claire, but neither your Tetras nor your Bristlenose Pleco are going to appreciate the Nox-Ich formula which contains sodium chloride (salt) and malachite green as its active ingredients. Even at half-dosages you'd really be putting yourself on 'aquarium watch' for signs of stress with your pets. Additionally, as I see below, you have a planted tank. Plants don't much care for salt, either. I don't want you wasting time here -- nor your money -- but Kordon's Rid-Ich may be the better choice of medications given the circumstances. It's a combination of malachite green and formalin but, in combination, at lesser concentrations than would be found with other medications using one, or the other, exclusively or nearly so. In combination with each other, these are very effective even when 'dosing down' (one-half the prescribed) because of scaleless fish.>> Tank stats: 150 litres, live plants pH 7.4 ammonia and nitrites nil nitrates 5 Thanks! Claire. <<Tank stats look quite good, Claire. Be sure to read the directions of any medication carefully and followed them to the letter. Best of luck. Tom>>

Platies with Ich -- 07/30/07 <Hi Mary, Twothless here.> > We have 5 small platy in our 10 gal BiOrb along with one small golden mystery snail. <Kind of cramped in there, but not too bad.> > I check that water quality regularly and all seems fine. <Could you define "Fine" for me? Actual test result numbers? When an aquarists says the levels were fine, it means that there is 0ppm ammonia, 0ppm nitrItes and nitrAtes below 40ppm. ANYTHING higher than these levels is considered detrimental to the health of your fish, and snail. Immediate action must then be effected to fix the problem before any health issues arise.> > We are experiencing an outbreak of (I assume) ick as I see white salt like specs on the tails. Often this is hard to see as they seem to be clamping their fins and tail closed. <Sounds like Ich to me. You can treat Ich on Platies with aquarium salt as per these instructions: Add 3/4 level teaspoon aquarium salt per gallon on day one. Add 3/4 level teaspoon per gallon on day two. Add 3/4 level teaspoon per gallon on day 3 and begin raising the heat (IF you have a heater. It's not absolutely required though) to the high 80's. Salt cannot evaporate nor can it be filtered out, so, you should monitor your additions closely so that you do not add too much or too little. So, if you remove 5 gallons during a water change, only add 2 1/2 level teaspoons PER gallon of water that is added back. Maintain this salinity for at least 5-7 days after the last time you saw ANY Ich spots whatsoever. Usually two weeks is enough time. After the treatment has run it's course, you can begin reducing the heat and aquarium salinity by performing water changes without salt and turning the heater down. Once the ich is gone, they're gone fore good and will not return unless you re-infect them with new plants or ANYTHING from an infected tank. Oh, and be sure to remove any "white rocks" that might be in the filter cartridges or filter media. This is called Zeolite and will dump its payload of ammonia if allowed to sit in salt water. If you don't see any, your golden!> > They are still eating well. <That's a good sign.> > I have a BiOrb "first aid cartridge" which includes a filter and meds but it does not say what the meds actually are and I don't want to kill my son's precious snail. What do I do? <Easy, remove the snail and keep it in another container until you finish the treatment I recommend. Add a little gravel from the aquarium to the bottom of the bowl and perform a large or total water change with temperature matched dechlorinated water every day. > (thank you) <You're very welcome. Good luck with the Platies and the Mystery Snail (Is it's name Gary?) -Twothless>

Help! White Spot and I go away on holiday in 2 days  7/29/07 Hi, << Lesley from Scotland here>> Was setting up a new tank last time we spoke about 3 months ago; <Hi Leslie, Paul here> Please could you help. I have 3 Botia or Clown loaches 2 of whom appear to have white spot they are however very lively, I am due to go on holiday on Mon 30th July for 2 weeks. I have raised the water temp from 82 to 85 Degrees can I take it any higher? There are 2 Angels, 1 male Kribensis and 3 Golden Gouramis also in the 220ltre tank, none of which appear to be affected. I know you have to remove the carbon when giving treatments, the instructions on the treatments bottle (Interpet White Spot plus) also say to remove the ammonia remover and then return after 7 days. I wont be here. I have a relative who can feed the fish and re dose the treatment but not deal with the filter, its an external one and just been cleaned before I go away so I really don't want it touched in my absence. Will it be alright to remove the ammonia remover before I go away or can I treat the tank with it in? Or should I add some aquarium salt along with the increased water temp till I get back and ask my relative to lower the temp after 10 days. I don't want to jeopardize the health of the fish and do nothing till I return. <In my opinion, "ammonia removing" substrates aren't needed in a well tended closed system. If ample surface area and correct flow rate are provided then the beneficial bacteria colonies on the biomedia do a perfectly fine job of oxidizing ammonia into nitrItes and so on. So, if your filtration unit/s are large enough to handle a 220 liter tank with your particular bioload/stocking density, then it would be perfectly fine for you to remove the ammonia remover (probably Zeolite) from the filter before you leave.> Your help is much appreciated Lesley <I DO hope this reply gets to you in time. Good luck with your fish and have a safe trip! -Paul>

Ich, frogs, snails and shrimp question - 7/23/07 Hello! I have searched all over for an answer to this question and I can't find one. So, I'm going to email this and hope someone answers it! We have one goldfish, one platy, one ghost shrimp, one snail and one (tiny) African Dwarf frog. The gold fish looks like it has a case of Ich... small white dots/bumps on it's fin. We took him out of the aquarium, and I want to treat it, however, I'm not sure if we should treat the tank with the frog, snail and shrimp in it? Should we take them out? Do they need to be treated? Help! Please? Thank you! Deanna <Hello Deanna. Snails are usually resistant to medications, but shrimps are not, and often frogs aren't either, so good save there. You will need to treat the whole aquarium for whitespot rather than just one fish. Actually, to be precise, the anti-Ick medications cannot kill the parasites on the fish which is why removing them to a quarantine tank is pointless. All they kill are the free-swimming parasites before they attack the fish, and even if you cure the fish in the quarantine tank, the next generation of parasites will still be in the aquarium waiting to re-infect your fish! That's why you need to treat the tank, not the fish, so you can break the life cycle of the Ick parasites. Every few days they flip from being on the fish to being free swimming as one generation dies and another is born. Or something like that, anyway! So, remove the shrimp and perhaps the frog too. Treat the tank. After a week, change 50% of the water, and install carbon in the filter. (I assume you know you MUST always remove carbon before treating an aquarium, because carbon removes medication just as it removes any other organic material.) After 24 hours do another 50% water change, and then return the shrimp and frog. The levels of copper, formalin, or whatever else are in the medication will now be too low to harm the shrimp or frog. Hope this helps, Neale>

Itch related question  7/13/07 Hi there, <Hi Hanson, Jorie here tonight> A day ago, I changed water for my "itch" tank... <I presume you mean ich, or Ichthyophthirius multifilius?> ...by using pump/drain hose, and yesterday I accidentally used those pump/ drain hose for water change of my "clean, good" tank. <Happens to the best of us - simple mistakes that we kick ourselves for later:-)> Is it possible/potential for my "clean" tank get infested? <Unfortunately, it's possible, so long as there was infested water from the ich tank on one or more of these parts...> If yes, how can I do prophylaxis for my "clean" tank? <Well, once ich is introduced to a tank it is virtually impossible to get rid of it, short of starting from scratch. Even then, there's a school of thought that ich is always present at some level in all tanks, but so long as the environmental conditions are good and the livestock healthy, the tank "residents" should have sufficient immune systems to remain healthy and unaffected. Additional water changes will be the best "medicine" for your tank right now. Also, if you've got a UV sterilizer, you may want to run it, but I certainly wouldn't advise running out and buying one. Do take a look at Bob Fenner's article here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm > Please let me know. <Hope I have!> Thanks in advance. <You are welcome.> Hanson <Jorie>

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 I'm, 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, you're 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, let's 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. It's 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 I'm offering is hypothetical in its nature but it's 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 don't 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, isn't 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 they've 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 that's 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. <<Can't 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 haven't seen the "Aquarium Sealant" feces in 2 days so far. He's back to his old self chasing other Discus around during feeding time! <<You're getting very good at this, Neil. I'm happy to hear about the fine results you've 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. Bob's always open to well-written, informative and pertinent material. Might be that you've got something he'd 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 <<It's 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 I've never kept saltwater tanks, Neil, but since the push to cycle without using live critters, particularly on the FW side of the hobby, didn't gain much impetus until about the mid-90's, I'm 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 isn't 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 didn't. You. I still don't recommend it for beginners but I'm 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. (I'm 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. You've already got the Loach covered and, I must say, I'm 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. I'd be interested in how the Seachem ParaGuard works for you. Products such as Kordon's 'Rid-Ich' and Mardel's 'Maracide' use malachite green and formalin together, which has proven very effective against Ick. (Just a little 'back-burner' info if the Seachem product doesn't do the job.) You already know the drill on removing any activated carbon from the filter -- if it's 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 there's 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. You'll 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, you'll find yourself rutting around in areas of the hobby that you've 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 it's 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. <<You're singing my song. I've a half dozen Albino Corys, gleefully swimming around in my community tank, that don't exist'¦for long'¦in 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. I've 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. I've 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 they're not farm-bred, by any means.>> Please pass along my compliments to Alesia and urge her to keep writing!<RMF will do so> <<I'll pass this along to Bob. Alesia has written articles for the 'Conscientious Aquarist' (Bob's 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 it's 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 isn't always possible with sick fish that don't have an appetite. You don't 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. <<I'd appreciate that, Neil. Manufacturer's 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 haven't 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>>

Ick treatment & a Baby Whale  6/23/07 Hello, Thank you kindly for your prognosis on the Dwarf Gourami. I'll keep them isolated and cross my fingers.... and not re-stock with Dwarf Gouramis. Another question: Today I noticed that one of the rainbow fish (Red Rainbow female) has 2 tiny white spots... sweet mother of science, I fear ick. She's a relatively new introduction to the tank (4 days) but was quarantined for 8 days prior to being introduced. If ick, I've previously had success with Mardel's Maracide Concentrate... but what about the Baby Whale who lives in the tank (I've had him for about 8 months now... a healthy happy 4 inch Mormyridae) can he withstand an ick treatment like Maracide. Many thanks, Michelle <Happy to help. It's a shame that Dwarf Gourami Disease is so common. Anyway, as for the Ick in your aquarium, be extremely careful when treating the tank. I am not personally familiar with this medication, but I'm a bit concerned that its web page says it "may be harmful to amphibians and some snails". Anyway, before using it, check that the carton said it was safe with invertebrates and stingrays. Anything safe with those should be safe with Mormyrids; if it doesn't say it is safe for those, then assume it is not. If your retailer doesn't know, then checking the web site (or telephoning) the manufacturer can help. The safest thing is move the Mormyrid to a quarantine tank, treat the main tank, use carbon and water changes to remove leftover medication, and then return the Mormyrid. With luck, your Mormyrid will not be infected. Since you've had the baby whale 8 months, he's obviously settled in and feeding -- so I wouldn't take any chances risking such a lovely animal. Cheers, Neale>

Plecos, hold the salt please -- 5/30/07 Hello, <<Hello, Julie. Tom with you.>> I have a question about adding salt to my freshwater tank. I have a 55 gallon tank. Currently, it contains black mollies, gold balloon belly mollies, zebra Danios and one 12 inch Pleco. <<Hmmm'¦okay. Mollies are typically categorized as 'brackish' water fish, Julie. Your Pleco has little, if any, tolerance for salt. Not ideal but let's see what we can do.>> My problem - the black mollies have ich and I am having trouble getting rid of it. I read that my tank needs salt and this will aid in getting rid of and keeping the ich out of my tank. <<Salt is one of the 'safest' ways to go, Julie, but not the only one. In this case, a 'treatment' level of salt for Ick will do your Pleco no good whatsoever. We need to look for an alternate course of action.>> I also read that my Pleco will not do well with too much salt in the water. <<True.>> Is there a certain amount of salt that I could add to my tank that might help my mollies but not hurt my Pleco? <<In this case, Julie, there isn't. Plecos can 'tolerate' no more than a dosage of one tablespoon of salt per five gallons of water and even that is 'iffy'. You'd likely need to up this to around two-three tablespoons per five gallons to effectively do battle with this parasite. Not an option, I'm afraid. You should consider Maracide here. Not quite as effective as other forms of treatment but 'scaleless' fish seem to do quite well with this treatment. 'Quick Cure' is a formulation of formalin and malachite green which is very effective, particularly when combined like this but, it does have 'safety' drawbacks as it's toxic to fish and plants if dosing isn't done properly or, if treated for a prolonged period. Treatments with this product can be very successful when half-dosed in 12-hour intervals, however. I'd go with the Maracide here, though. If this were a more serious outbreak, I'd direct you to go with the Quick Cure but I'd rather that you feel comfortable with this rather than put you on the spot. Also, remember to increase the temperature of the tank to 82-86 degrees F. over a period of several hours to speed up the life cycle of the Ick.>> Thanks, Julie <<You're welcome, Julie. Best of luck. Tom>>

Re: Icky Ich and honey Gourami prob.s (to Jeni please!). Treating Ich & a "Fat" Fish  5/10/07 Hi Jeni, It's Anna here again. Hopefully you remember my situation, my boyfriend put 2 Firemouth cichlids in my community tank. <How could I forget!> Well, as it turns out, their aggressive ways are the least of my problems. I have just noticed the dreaded white spots on around 3/4 of my fish (probably due to the unquarantined cichlids!!) <Yup, what did I say?  I hope he feels really bad...  That'll teach him.> It is very mild at the  moment and I'm thankful that I spend at least an hour every day CLOSELY examining every fish for problems. <That's great--and relaxing too.> It seems I have caught it before it has become a killer. I immediately changed 50% of the water, cranked the temp up a couple of degrees, with the intention of bringing it to a peak of 87*F over the course of the day, and then added 12 tbsps of sea salt that is free of anti-caking agents and iodine, diluted in some aquarium water and added gradually over 5 hrs. I do have Corys, and I know they do not tolerate salt well but they seem to be doing better than any of the others. I also added some Stress Coat to relieve the poor little things a bit. I will be changing 20% of the water every day and carefully monitoring the salt levels.  Do you think I am doing the right thing? <Bump that up to 80% every other day & be sure to clean the gravel well as you are doing it, to remove the free-swimming parasites.  Don't forget to replace the salt you remove.> I have read many horror stories regarding meds and would like to try the natural option first. <Me too.> I am really hoping the combination of salt and heat will kill the nasty little critters (Ich). <It should.  Watch for fish struggling to breathe & add an airstone if necessary.> I have also just ordered a 9w (all I can afford) UV sterilizer http://www.fishlore.com/uv_sterilizer.htm   (by Fish R Fun) from EBay, that will be delivered within the next couple of days. I have heard great things about them being used to combat Ich. It may be too late now but hopefully it will help prevent further outbreaks. Do you have any personal experience of using them? <Sorry, I don't.> I can't seem to find many people who have.  All the fish seem to be tolerating the salt so far but it's early days. Upon checking up on them a couple of hours ago, I saw one of the Firemouths with something hanging from its lips. Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be the tail of one of my beloved WG Neons (ARGH!!!). The other is now searching everywhere for its best mate and seems at a loss. Poor little critter, they were constantly side by side and sooo cute together. <Awww... so sad.  I hope the boyfriend really feels bad!> As you advised, I will be returning them to the store today (as soon as I can catch them with the net, as I'm sure you know, almost impossible!)   <Try luring them out with food.> Anyway, there is one last problem that's getting me quite worried. My female honey Gourami has been getting fatter for about the past month. She seems happy and has no prob.s with mobility. I am HOPING (as she's my fave fish) that this is due to her being laden with eggs and the male not having anywhere to build a bubble nest. Could that happen? Do they get fat with eggs? <Possibly> If not, I'm guessing she may have internal parasites or worse, the onset of dropsy. Should I wait or treat with parasite medicine? <Parasite meds need to be fed to the fish, by soaking their food in it.  It can't hurt to treat everyone.  Generally though, internal parasites leave fish skinny.  Also, they have white, stringy poop.> Anyway... Once again, sorry for the length! Thanks for your help last time and thanks in advance for any help with this! <I hope they get better soon & you don't loose any more fish due to your boyfriend's "gifts".  ~PP> Anna

Mistreating for Ich   4/27/07 I had a lionhead, a goldfish, a dragon and a shrimp.  This morning we woke up and the lionhead was dead. <What's a dragon? Obviously not the big fire-breathing reptile...> I noticed the goldfish was acting wild, swimming fast and bumping into the walls, then I noticed pimples on it's "cheeks". <Very odd. How big is the tank? What's the water quality? For goldfish, the aquarium should be 30-40 gallons upwards, and with ample filtration. White spots on goldfish can be a variety of things. Yes, there are normal breeding "pimples" on sexually mature males. But there are also things like Fish Pox that cause superficially similar conditions.> I've had fish die from ich in the past, so with the lionhead showing up dead then seeing the spots on the goldfish, I put an ich treatment in the tank. <Good. No fish should ever die from whitespot, it is so easy to cure. But treating early is important.> Well, now I think the pimples are the breeding spots.  So I just want to know what will happen if I treat the tank for ich but it isn't there? <It'll be fine. But when the course of medication is done (be sure and complete the course, don't stop halfway) do a nice big water change, 50% or more.> Thanks! <Cheers, Neale>

Re: Mistreating for Ich   4/27/07 Thanks for your fast response, Neale. <Greetings!> All is well in the tank this morning, but I'll certainly do as you suggested. <Good and good.> Oh, and here's the link to a good photo of a dragon, aka violet goby (I didn't know that or I'd have said it in the first email). <Aha! Gobioides sp. You are aware that this is a brackish water, substrate-sifting and filter-feeding animal that gets to about 50 cm/18" long? Too many of these fish are kept in freshwater, where they eventually sicken and die. Diet is a key thing with this fish, too. It eats tiny animals (worms/crustaceans) plus plankton as well as algae. Algae wafers of the type sold for catfish are appreciated and perhaps critical for good health. Contrary to myth (and appearance) they only eat feeder fish when on the point of starvation. The huge mouth is for straining water/mud, and the teeth for scraping algae from rocks.> Thanks again for your expertise! <No probs. Good luck! Neale>

Ick treatment for 100 gallon freshwater tank, plus cycling tips  <Jorie's go> 4/25/07  Hi, <Hello> I have a relatively new 100 gallon tank setup (about 6 weeks). <Did you cycle it? If not, please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm > Up to this weekend, we had 10 very small fish living peacefully in it. <Hopefully not all added at once - again, please refer to the cycling article.> We have 2 mollies, 2 tiger barbs, 2 albino rainbow sharks, 3 Bala sharks, and 1 glassfish. <Generally speaking, livebearers, including mollies, need to be kept in 3:1 female:male ratios, to avoid letting the male unduly harass the females. Here's a good livebearer article: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/poeciliids.htm Tiger barbs generally do best in groups. Also, be aware that these fish are very fin-nippy...do watch out for the mollies, especially if they have fancy, long fins. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/BarbsDaniosRasborasArt.htm See here for helpful article on Bala (and rainbow) sharks and their requirements: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/bala_sharks.htm Do be sure to fully understand the fish you have and each of their respective requirements prior to adding any new livestock!>   Most of these are less than 1-2 inches long.   <They will grow...> Unfortunately, the tigers were showing signs of ick so I pulled all the fishies out and put them in a clean empty 10 gallon tank I had. <That's pretty crowded for 10 fish - hopefully you are doing regular water changes, and there's a good filtration system on this QT...> I have the filter box running for water movement with no cartridge and no gravel. <You need to very carefully monitor ammonia, nitrite, and/or nitrate build-up. I understand why you aren't using a filter cartridge (for medication purposes) and no gravel (for easy vacuuming of the ich), but just watch out. You should be doing daily tests for toxins (Aquarium Pharmaceuticals makes a Freshwater Master Test kit that I really like)> I am using this as a hospital tank and using RidIch+ to treat them.  Each morning I am vacuuming the tank about 25%, adding fresh water with AquaSafe water conditioner, and 1 teaspoon of the RidIch.  I'm also leaving the light off as I read somewhere the light makes the medicine not as effective.  The fish seem to be doing better as most of the spots are gone from the tigers. <That's good, but do be aware that the ich parasite has a lifecycle, causing it to go through various stages, some of which aren't visible to the naked eye. Do read here for info. and various treatment options: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm   My question is what should I be doing to the 100 gallon tank?  I read several places that not having fish will cause the ick to die with no other actions needed. <This is true - it's called letting the tank run "fallow". You'll need to leave it fishless for at least 4 weeks, safer option is 6.> The temp of both tanks is right around 76 degrees. <Raising the temperature (gradually when fish are present, obviously) speeds up the parasite's lifecycle...> I do not have  heater for the large tank as the room temp will never get lower than this. <Never say never. You definitely need a heater, as it is extremely important to keep aquarium temperatures stable.  Here's some options; I prefer the submersible ones - http://www.drsfostersmith.com/Product/NavResults.cfm?N=2004&Np=1&Ntt=heater&Ntx=mode+matchallpartial&Ntk=All&Nty=1&pc=1 How long do I need to keep the large tank empty? <4-6 weeks at current temperature, less if temp. is increased.> I am also trying to complete the cycling on this tank so would like to repopulate before the load gets too low and I lose my good bacteria. <Ideally, you should have cycled the tank prior to adding fish. Indeed, now you can accomplish this buy adding a small bit of fish food, and allowing the ammonia, nitrite and nitrates to spike, then decrease, on their own.>   I'm still doing partial water changes on the large tank daily to reduce the nitrites and finally have them in an acceptable range. <By doing this, you are not allowing the cycle to complete. Without fish in the tank, you've got the luxury of allowing the toxins to build-up; do see above link for cycling info.> Thanks, Beth <You're welcome, Beth. Take this opportunity to allow your main tank to cycle.  Keep a close eye on water parameters in the hospital tank - you'll need to do daily 25% - 50% water changes, with such a heavy fish load. Do read the links I've provided, and consider investing in a helpful beginner's book by David E. Boruchowitz, called "A Simple Guide to Freshwater Aquariums" - it will help you better understand many of the aspects of this wonderful hobby. Regards, Jorie> Ick treatment for 100 gallon freshwater tank 4/25/07  <Chris' go> Hi, <Hello> I have a relatively new 100 gallon tank setup (about 6 weeks).  Up to this weekend, we had 10 very small fish living peacefully in it.  We have 2 mollies, 2 tiger barbs, 2 albino rainbow sharks, 3 Bala sharks, and 1 glassfish. <Not small for long, the Bala can reach 14 inches, the Rainbow around 5+.>  Most of these are less than 1-2 inches long.  Unfortunately, the tigers were showing signs of ick so I pulled all the fishes out and put them in a clean empty 10 gallon tank I had. I have the filter box running for water movement  with no cartridge and no gravel. <Ok>   I am using this as a hospital tank and using RidIch+ to treat them.  <I am not a fan of this medication, better off using a copper based treatment.>  Each morning I am vacuuming the tank about 25%, adding fresh water with AquaSafe water conditioner, and 1 teaspoon of the RidIch. <Ok> I'm also leaving the light off as I read somewhere the light makes the medicine not as effective.  <Its just plain nasty stuff, too toxic for my liking.>  The fish seem to be doing better as most of  the spots are gone from the tigers.  My question is what should I be doing to the 100 gallon tank? <Regular maintenance, maybe a little food to keep the bacteria going.>  I read several places that not having fish will cause the ick to die with no other actions needed. <Yep, leave it fallow 4 to 6 weeks.> The temp of both tanks is right around 76 degrees.  I do not have a heater for the large tank as the room temp will never get lower than this.  <Stability is key, how hot does it get?>  How long do I need to keep the large tank empty?  <4 to 6 weeks.>  I am also trying to complete the cycling on this tank so would like to repopulate before the load gets too low and I lose my good bacteria. <Unnecessary to put the fish through this, a little food every couple days does just as well.> I'm still doing partial water changes on the large tank daily to reduce the nitrites and finally have them in an acceptable range.  <If there is nothing alive in there let it be.> Thanks, Beth <Chris>

Re: Compatibility question ... now disease, FW  4/21/07 Hi Neale, <Hello Joe,> In regard to the ich problem I had, I used a product called Quick Cure. It claims to cure ich in 2 days. <This is likely true with regular whitespot/ick. But there is something going about called (in the UK at least) "super whitespot" that takes a couple of treatments to kill.> I followed the instructions (removed carbon, 1 drop per gallon each day, no need to elevate temperature) but I still lost 80% of my tank. <Very odd. As I understand it, ich kills fish by destroying the delicate tissues in the gills, making it impossible for the fish to breathe. Otherwise, it isn't especially dangerous in the short term. By that, I mean that it is one of those diseases that when you see it, you have time to cure it; this is different from, say, dropsy or Neon Tetra Disease, which are practically death-knells by the time you see the fish are sick.> My 5 year old Iridescent shark and 3 year old Tri-color shark were the first casualties. The next day all of my tiger barbs and rosy barbs were on their way out. <Did they all have ich? Is it possible it was something else, or perhaps a symptom of a background problem you haven't recognized yet? That's what I'd be wondering. There are some look-alike diseases, such as velvet and "guppy disease".> I've been playing around with fish tanks for about 15 years now. I try to be careful where I buy my fish. If I see any sick fish or small snails in any of the tanks I will not buy fish from that store. I have had 3 outbreaks of ich and each time it wiped out most of my tank. <Seems sensible enough given your experiences, but I've encountered ich many times and never knowingly lost fish to it.> I was thinking about trying something other that Formalin-Malachite Green treatment if I get the disease again. What do you think about using a Chelated Copper Sulfate based treatment? <Copper sulphate (as we call it here in England) is old school and can be effective, but some fishes respond poorly to copper-compounds generally. This has little or nothing to do with whether they have scales or not. Copper sulphate is effectively a form of chemotherapy, it is toxic to both fish and Protozoans, but the gamble is that the fish will put up with it for longer than the protozoan parasites. This isn't, unfortunately, always the case. The list of copper-intolerant fishes includes all kinds of things, but Mormyrids, freshwater moray eels, stingrays, pufferfish, and catfish have all been described as copper-intolerant at some time or another. Methylene blue, Malachite green, and Formalin in and of themselves do not contain copper, so should be safer with these fishes. Unfortunately, many proprietary brands mix copper with one or other of these organic compounds, so you do need to check with the manufacturer first. As a rule, anything quoted as "invertebrate safe" should be copper-free.> I do not have any snails, live plants or scaleless fish anymore. The product from Mardel claims that it doesn't stain anything in the tank, that sounds good to me. <Mardel Labs have a good reputation, so I'd certainly give it a shot.> If you have a reliable treatment I would appreciate any guidance. <Very old school, but potentially very effective, is giving fish saltwater baths. This isn't the same as adding salt to the aquarium, which is generally useless despite the hype, but dipping freshwater fish into containers of seawater. If done properly, it dehydrates the external parasites, killing them instantly. If repeated over several days alongside treating the water with your ich treatment, you provide relief for the fish as well as cure the problem in the tank. Often overlooked by aquarists is this: ick treatments kill the "baby" parasites in the water and gravel, they do nothing whatsoever to kill the "adult" parasites on the fish. The best case scenario is that you kill off the babies, and then after a few days the adult parasites basically die from old age. What you're hoping for is that by that time they haven't done enough harm to the fish to kill it. Hence the importance of treating at the very first sign of ick. Anyway, saltwater dips will kill the parasites on the fish, but if handled badly will also kill the fish itself. The art is dipping the fish for long enough to kill the parasite but not so long the fish is harmed. In the case of small species like tetras this might be only a couple of minutes, but with bigger fish or salt-tolerant species, you can dip for much longer, maybe 10-20 minutes at a time. Repeat daily until the fish is cured.> As I mentioned before, I have never had any luck when dealing with ich. <I have to admit to having had very good success with a product called 'eSHa EXIT' that I have personally found to be safe with my pufferfish and catfish, and very good at shifting whitespot other brands failed to exterminate. It's a Dutch product though, and may or may not be available in your area.> I'm going to look for some of the cichlids you mentioned below. I already have a 30gal community tank and I wanted to try something new with my 55gal. <West African cichlids are terribly overlooked superb animals. Lots of colour, plenty of interesting behaviour, from maternal families to paternal mouthbrooders. I heartily recommend Pelvivachromis taeniatus as being very peaceful, colourful, and easy to breed (if you want to). Check out: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/pelmatochromis.htm > If the substrate causes any problems or if I just feel like redecorating the tank in the future, I'm going to use silica sand. I never though about that until you mentioned it. Thanks for all of the suggestions, they were very helpful. <*Smooth-grade* silica sand is lovely with fish because they root about in it so happily, often digging right in. It's cool to watch Corydoras ploughing through the stuff like mini-earthmovers! Just be sure and avoid *sharp* sand, which is, as you'd imagine, sharp and not so nice for the fishes.> Thank you, Joe <No probs. Neale>

Catfish ich  4/8/07 Hello! <<Hi, Victor. Tom here.>> I have a somewhat urgent question, since I just added fish to a tank that already had a Pleco in it, but one of them had ich. <<Oops'¦>> Unfortunately one of the additions is an angel catfish (Synodontis angelicus) and I'm not sure what treatment to use so I do not harm him. Thank you for your time and best regards. <<Look into Kordon's Pond Rid-Ich+, Victor. It's a re-formulation of the original (excellent) product and can be both safe and effective when used to treat scaleless fish like your Synodontis. Obviously, you'll want to pay special note to any/all precautions and/or recommendations that the manufacturer makes in regard to treatment. As an aside, unless your tank is already heavily aerated, I would also look into providing for this in conjunction with the treatment. Best of luck.>> Victor Teran <<Tom>>

Methylene blue  - 03/02/07 Hi there <<Hello!>> I have a 4cm black moor in my 10g tank and 3 days after buying it, it developed white spot - I'm assuming it had this when I bought it and I just didn't notice. <<Perhaps.  What are your plans for tank upgrade?>> So I put some Methylene blue tonic in the tank to treat the whitespot, and the people at the pet shop (another one - I didn't trust the first lot after the sick fish) said to replace the airstone once the fish was well and the blueness would come out of the water. <<Methylene blue is not the proper medication to treat ick. There are much better treatments for this.  You biofilter is likely gone now as well from dosing the main tank.  I'd get on large water changes, adding Bio Spira and mature filter media from an established tank, and add some activated carbon to the filter to help remove the medication.>> I have an under gravel filter but not a carbon filter as such. The problem is that adding an air stone has made no difference, <<No, it wouldn't.>> And my healthy-looking moor is now swimming around in blueness. I've done two 50% water changes over the past 2 days in an attempt to clear the water but it's still very blue. I don't want to tip all the water out and start again because I don't want to kill or stress my fish, but I am quite keen to get rid of the blueness -any ideas? <<See above.  If you have nowhere to add carbon (a small HOT filter will do), keep up the water changes.  Please note that the Methylene Blue will permanently colour the silicone in the joints of your tank.>> Would tipping all the water out and starting again be that bad given that the Methylene blue probably killed my biofilter anyway? <<Usually does not. RMF>> <<I recommend large water changes, not total water changes.>> Rose <<Good Luck Rose! Lisa.>>

FW ich, lying, using WWM  2/12/07 Hello Jarrett here, am having some major issues concerning ich. Am <I'm> new to the aquarium trade and desperately seeking advice on treating ich. I have 2 55 gallon tanks one with 3 Columbian <Columbian> sharks  all about two inches. Tank is still freshwater but i am using some salt. Other tank has 2 tiger barbs, 1 dragon goby, 1 Bala shark, 1 pictus catfish, 1 angel, 4 platys, 2 dwarf frogs, 1 Sailfin Pleco, 2 black mystery snails, 4 fancy guppies, and a small convict cichlid who is going to a new tank next week. <Stop! Many of these animals don't "like" salts...> Both tanks nitrites, and ammonia is 0 and ph, nitrate an GH all check out too. <Values, not subjective evaluations...> Anyway Columbian sharks fell prey to ich about 9 days ago I've been treating them with "quick cure" . <A giant mistake... the ingredients (Formalin, Malachite Green) are toxic to much of the life listed... and you erroneously added this to the main system? Will kill your nitrifying bacteria... and be absorbed... not useful> I have raised the water temperature to 85 degrees and removed carbon from filter. <Good moves> Also have been performing regular water changes of 25%. It is now on day 7 of treatment and there not reacting at all. My other tank has just shown signs of ich as well and treating with Clout. <? Why?> This tank is on day three of treatments but also is showing no signs of letting up. I've read all the info on your site <Mmm, no... not on WWM.> and followed the directions for the meds to a T but nothing. This is getting depressing and i <I> don't know how much more of this i or the fish can take. Any advice would be much appreciated and also what is the best ich medicine out there.  Thanks for the time <Don't write, read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm and the linked files above... and re each of the organisms listed above's "System"... Bob Fenner>

Preventive ich treatment without a quarantine tank, FW I set up a 10 gallon aquarium in December.  About a week after adding 3 platies (1 male, 2 females) I had an outbreak of ich. <"Tis the season">   I treated it for 10 days with Jungle Ick Guard. <Mmm... not likely useful in a set-up system... interaction of active ingredients with substrates, filter biota...> The male died, but the 2 females have been looking great.  The aquarium hadn't finished cycling when I started treating for ich, <Trouble> so it's cycling now. <Subtended>   The ammonia has dropped to 0 and the nitrites are now dropping, so I think it's cycling well.  Once it finishes cycling I want to add 2-3 more platies.  I'm worried about another outbreak of ich when I add more fish.  I don't have a quarantine tank and can't afford one right now.  I've read in several places that you can do a preventive ich treatment when you add new fish.  But I've read other places that you shouldn't treat fish if you don't know they're sick. <Both philosophies, approaches exist...> I'm confused about what my best options are considering that I don't have a quarantine tank.  I would greatly appreciate any advice you have. Thanks! ~Jamie <Mmm, best to read re Ich, treatment... on WWM... avail yourself of other modality... and just do your best re picking out healthy (well-established, not new-arrivals) livestock... Really, developing trust through knowledge, interaction with your dealers. Bob Fenner> Can African Dwarf Frogs Get Ich?  1/29/07 <Hi Betty, Pufferpunk here> I'm a beginner with aquatic pets, so I need all the help I can get.  It all started when my little terrier got hit and killed by a car last March.   <Awww... that's so sad.  #1 cause of doggie death is getting run over.> That left me pet-less for the first time in 16 years.  So for my birthday last June, my co-worker gave me a male Betta (named Flash) which I keep in a 2 1/2 gallon aquarium with some gravel and a few live plants.  A few weeks later, I was in the pet store asking what I could put in the tank with Flash to keep him company and the store worker suggested the ADFs.  That sounded good to me, especially since I have a particular affection for reptiles and amphibians.   <Not really enough room for more animals in there.> So I bought a couple of tiny ADFs (named Slim and Chance, because that's what I thought the odds were of them staying alive under my care).  But when I put them in Flash's tank, he started nipping at them, so I quickly removed them and put them in their own tank. <Good> They now reside in a five-gallon aquarium with a Whisper filter, a few plants, a couple of "houses" and a smooth pebble substrate. <Perfect size for just the 2 frogs & nothing else.> But I couldn't leave well enough alone, so a few weeks ago, I purchased a couple of serpae tetras to try with Flash, with the same results, so I put them in with the frogs.   <Opps!> One of the tetras started bullying the other tetra, so I sent the bully back to the pet store.  Anyway, that's when I saw the neon tetras, and they looked so pretty, I ended up getting two of those and putting them in with the frogs and the serpae tetra.  As it ended up, I think one of the Neons was sick when I got him, so I removed the two tetras from the frog tank and put them in a bowl.  The next morning I had a dead neon but the other neon looked OK, so I went to a different store and bought a replacement neon.  Then the second neon started looking like it had ich (based on what I was able to learn about it from the Internet) so I put it in its own bowl and started treating it with Quick Cure.  I also took the serpae tetra and the latest neon and put them in a separate bowl.  Both the Neons ended up dying, which left the serpae tetra, who now looks like he's got ich too.  I've started treating him but I don't hold out much hope of curing him the way my luck is running.  I can handle losing the tetra but I'm really attached to Flash, Slim and Chance.  Flash appears to be doing fine, especially since I've stopped trying to find buddies for him and so far Slim and Chance look OK but I'm scared to death they'll get ich and die.   <They don't get ich but can be affected by ich meds.> They've been doing great for months, and I've discovered Slim is male and Chance is female, so that's kind of neat, although if they mate, I hope they eat their babies before they leave the egg stage.  I hope that doesn't make me sound cold; I just don't want more frogs.   <I don't blame you.  My girlfriend's did spawn & they eventually ate all the tadpoles.> So please let me know if Slim and Chance could get ich.  I do frequent water changes like I'm supposed to.  I don't know what else to do besides worry and pray that they make it. <Sounds like they'll do fine.  Just don't add anymore fish to that small tank, especially Neons.  They are a difficult fish to care for.  ~PP> Betty Williams

Re: Can African dwarf frogs get ich? Life of Ich  2/1/07 The 5 and 10 gallon aquariums sound good on paper but I'll have to find the space for the 10g.  Needless to say, this hobby is mushrooming into a big production but I do want the "kids" to be happy.   <LOL, I have 9 tanks running, totaling 454 gallons.  This hobby's addictive!> If I can't swing the 10-gallon, I may just get another 5g for the Betta.  In the meantime, I'm still nursing the remaining serpae tetra in a two-gallon "convalescent bowl."  Each day when I check on him, I think I'm going to find him belly-up but today he's just as perky as ever.  If he's willing to hang in there, he's welcome to stay.  He still has those white spots on his tail. <Be sure to do plenty of water changes on that.> How do you know when the ich is gone? <Ich has a 21-day lifecycle. I'd read up on the parasite/treatment at WWM.  ~PP>

Problems With My Ich Medication 1/29/07 Hi there, <Hi> I often use your site to answer any questions I have regarding goldfish care. <Good.>  I find there are lots of Q and A's about treating ich, but I haven't found any that specifically say how much medicine, how far apart the doses should be and how much and often the water changes should be during the treatment. <Follow the manufacturers instructions.> I have had goldfish get ich 3 times and every time I followed the instructions I have found on the back of the medicine bottle and/or your site as best as I can and most of the goldfish seem to end up dying as result of the medication. <Some medications are very toxic.>  After a couple days of very labored respiration.  I was hoping you could help me with treating ich outbreaks with our fancy goldfish in the future if I let you know what I have unsuccessfully done in the past and what I am doing with the current outbreak I am dealing with... <Will try.> We use a medicine called NOX-ICH in which the active ingredients read:  sodium chloride, malachite green - 1%. <Malachite Green is pretty nasty stuff, would not recommend using it or really keeping it in a household with children.  It's just that bad in my opinion.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/malachitegreen.htm >  On the back of the bottle it says to add one drop per gallon for 3 consecutive days.  We removed the filters and medicated as instructed and all my gold fish developed breathing problems and died.   The 2nd time I had a problem I added the 1 drop/gallon, removed the filters, waited 2 days, remedicated again and all the fish developed breathing problems so I did a 50% water change to reduce the amount of medicine but the fish still died. With the current outbreak in our 10 gallon quarantine tank that we have set up for 4 new goldfish we were hoping to add to our 60 gallon tank I removed all but the sponge filter, added the 1 drop per gallon, waited 2 days and did a 50% water change and remedicated.  The visible signs of ich are gone but of the 4 goldfish in the tank 2 are sluggish still but seem like they will be ok - still eating.  The other 2 goldfish I had  remove to a separate tank with no medicine and a lower water level so they could get to the surface easier to breath since they were having trouble breathing.  After 24 hours in the separate tanks they are not doing any better.  I have seen this behavior enough that I am pretty sure that these 2 fish aren't going to make it.  I would really like to find a way to treat the  ich in the future with out killing my fish. I would really appreciate a step by step guide to treating my next outbreak should there be one. Can I use this same medicine (NOX-ICH)? <Would probably switch to something else.>  How much and how often with the medication and how much and how often with the water changes?  Should I still feed the fish during treatment? <Sparingly> Should the fish be kept in the dark? <Not necessary.> Thanks so much for your time, Matt <Give this a read, would try salt or copper treatments over what you are currently using.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm > <Chris>

Ick question, FW large sys.   1/24/07     Before I begin I would like to thank whoever is nice enough to answer my question and apologize for giving you another ick question (even though I haven't seen one exactly like it before).   I have a 10 gal. hospital/quarantine tank, a 55 gal. that currently houses a batch of baby blue crawdads and a 240 gal. with about 10 medium cichlids (Dempseys, Firemouths, terrors, etc.) <Nice!>     I usually quarantine fish for 4 weeks before they go in the big tank, <Good> but because of a fish that got wounded over the weekend while I was away, I had to move a new Dempsey into the main tank after only about a week and an injured Firemouth into the hospital tank (stupid, I know).  My electric blue Dempsey and the new Dempsey (no one else) now have ick and I didn't want to move the injured fish again and I didn't want to move all the crawdads so I started treating the 240 gal. with a malachite green/formalin solution. <Yikes... I would have skipped the formalin component... and just gone the Malachite and elevated temperature route. Do be on the look-out for troubles with nitrification... or lack thereof> The meds don't seem to be working after a few days  and saving the Dempsey is top priority. <Very, too likely the "mulm" et al. biota in the large, established system is "sucking up" the medication... along with the Silastic (is it turning blue yet?)... and there are no practical test kits, assays to check for the levels of the active ingredients...>     I could move the crawdads and make the 55 a hospital tank, but it is anything but clean after gorging 70ish crawdads on beef heart and pellets. <I would not do this>   I really don't want to move the injured fish as I already feel bad for it.  Should I raise the temp. of the big tank (it's at 80 degrees right now), <Yes! To the mid- 80's F... this alone will likely "do it"...> add salt, treat with something else, etc.?  I've read about giving fish salt baths but never actually done it. <Not necessary or advised here... too much trouble to drain the tank to catch all....>     The electric blue is my favorite fish but also the least hardy fish I have and want to know the best way to treat him w/o causing him too much stress or subjecting him to bad conditions. I'm really sorry this was so long and I sincerely thank you in advance for any help. Sincerely, Alex Herzlin <The elevated temperature, along with careful daily monitoring for ammonia, nitrite is your best course of action here. Bob Fenner> Re: ick question, FW  2/1/07      Thanks so much for the help.  So its been a week and almost all the ick is gone (one, maybe two dots on the Dempsey's fins).   My problem is now the electric blue is showing major signs of stress (breathing heavy, very lethargic, and some frayed fins from breeding Firemouths) which have been going on for about two days.   its hard for me to measure the nitrites, ammonia, etc.  b/c the meds turn the water blue which would effect the test strips I use. I've put the charcoal back in the tank but kept the temp. in the mid 80's. <Good> foreseeing this problem that one or more of the fish may not like the decrease in water quality, I moved the crawdads from the 55 and have since been holding one fish in it just to maintain it.      My question is should I move the Dempsey to the clean 55 gallon and maybe add some MelaFix <Not a fan> or do you think this would just stress him more?   <I'd treat all fishes as you have been> Any advice from someone with more experience than me is always greatly appreciated and, as before, thanks so much in advance for any help. Sincerely, Alex <And you have read the files on WWM re ich... BobF>

Freshwater ick? Not likely  - 1/22/07 Hi folks, <Jennifer> First off, thanks for all of the great info you offer on your website! I've been an avid reader since I started the hobby a few months ago. I think I have an outbreak of ick in my 29 gallon freshwater tank. I haven't introduced anything new to my tank for about a month. <Yes... FW Ich can "rest" indefinitely...> The tank has been up for about 3 months. Right now I have 3 platies, 6 penguin tetras, 3 panda Corys, 2 spotted Corys, 3 dwarf Gouramis, 3 Oto catfish and a rainbow shark. I just noticed that one of the platies has a white, round, fuzzy growth under her bottom lip. It seems bigger than the pictures of ick that I have seen online so I'm not sure it is ick. <Mmm, no... likely a "secondary" bacterial infection, following some sort of physical trauma... a bump, jump into something> Maybe a fungus or something? The water parameters have been stable and pretty good (nitrates at 5, nitrites at 0, ammonia at 0) except for some unknown reason the pH started dropping in the past week. <Natural... can be, likely should be countered with just partial water changes (maybe weekly) with water that has some degree of alkaline reserve> The guy at my LFS told me that instead of purchasing a pH upper, I could just use pure baking soda to raise the pH and stabilize the alkalinity. <This is so> So I did that, and added some dissolved baking soda (about a teaspoonful as per the guy's recommendation) to the tank <Not directly... should be introduced, dissolved in new water during a change-out> which has helped the pH situation. That was this morning. The other change that I made recently was about a week ago I switched from the filter that came with my tank to a Penguin Bio-Wheel filter. Could that have been the cause of the pH drop? <Mmm, not likely... pH drops are mainly due to reductive/acidic (natural) activity...> Could that have stressed my fish too much and caused the outbreak? <A possibility, yes> I have some aquarium salt on hand so I was hoping that I could use that to treat as soon as possible as the stores are all closed by now. <Mmm, not much... the Corydoras and Tetras don't "care" for this> However, I've read that salt can be dangerous to some catfish and I was worried about my Corys and the Otos. I tried to read more about the salt treatment by clicking on the link in one of your FAQ's but the link wouldn't work for me and kept saying that the page had a fatal error. <Mmm, could you send along the specific URL/page...?> Is there another page you could recommend to read up on the salt treatment? <I would just read the FAQs on the one there. There is no article as yet as far as I recall> Will my cats be okay with the salt? <I wouldn't add more> If it isn't ick but rather is a fungus of some sort will the salt help or hurt it? <Should help> Should I raise the temperature in addition to the salt or is that going to be too much stress on the fish at once? <To the low 80's F. should be fine> Thanks so much for all of your help! Jen <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

ICK Question ATTN: Bob Fenner Hello Bob. Thanks for the advice. I have an update on my Ick problem. I did not add any medication yet. It has now been nine days since I raised my water's temperature to 88F (I have plenty of airstones) in an attempt to kill off the parasite by disrupting its reproductive cycle. I think I have been successful thus far. As expected the outbreak got worse while I was raising the temp from 76 to 88 as for two days the water was between 80 and 85 which Ick thrives in. However, once above 85, the symptoms began to decline...still some flashing but very few white spots.  After day six there were no more white spots so I did a 25% water change/gravel vacuum to help remove what was left of the parasite. This, I believe, may have stirred some of the dormant parasites back to life as now I am seeing some more typical Ick symptoms in my fish. Nonetheless, only one of my fish has developed white spots (and only one or two at that) and the rest are just occasionally flashing. One of my fish (a red velvet swordtail), however, has been hanging around the bottom with clamped fins and rapid breathing.  <Likely both temperature and disease related> He seems to be the most at risk for fatality at this point. My question to you is, should I add the Aquari-sol that you recommended? <Yes, I would add it> Or, should I stay the course, and see if the 88 degree temp will take care of the problem?   <In all likelihood the elevated temperature will not effect an actual cure... by itself> By the way my water parameters have all stayed stable during this process (which is one reason I am reluctant to use medication). Thanks again for the advice. -Brody <I share your concern... and sorry for the delayed response... am still out of the country. Bob Fenner> 

Loaches have ICK now   1/15/07 We've got the guppies in a hospital tank now.  My husband did a salt treatment (adding 2 T per gallon a day for 3 days, today being the last day) and they're already looking 95% better. However, I came home today with my loaches having ick. Great.  I read up on loaches disease FAQ and on Loaches.com and want to try the salt and elevated temp.  However, the hospital tank is currently being used.  Again, the tank is planted (they don't like salt) with Neons (they don't like salt, either, right?) <Correct> and guppies.  So am I resigned to buying another hospital tank? <Yes, does appear so> I know the ph has fluctuated over the past week, but I think it's my tap water. <Could "be" either or both> Hopefully that was the stress that's causing the fish to get sick.  We'll test the water again and do a water change even if everything is normal.  Can ADFs get ick?   <No... but do note that they are susceptible to poisoning from the medications employed to treat this protozoan parasite> As re: overfeeding, how do I feed the loaches a couple times a day and keep the guppies away from it?   <Sinking foods mostly> Thanks again, for the site and answering of questions.  If only everything I did in life had a website as extensive as yours with people as nice as you to volunteer their expertise. Celeste <I await this day... anxiously at times. Bob Fenner> And how long after the ick disappears do I need to QT the loaches? <Two weeks plus. Bob Fenner>

Re: Loaches have ICK now... reading    1/17/06 A few of the Neons and guppies in the large tank have 1-3 spots of ick on them. <Your system is infested> We want to pull everything out and monitor/treat them and let the tank sit empty for several days. <Longer>   I asked earlier if ADFs can get ick, which you replied that no, but they can't handle medicines used to treat ick. <Correct> Will the ick still be host less and die if we leave the ADFs in the main tank?   <Yes... they can stay... not be vectors, space hosts> Then we can treat everyone else as necessary.  Thanks, we appreciate your help and support. Celeste <Read on WWM re FW Ich... Bob Fenner>

Sick fish, FW Ich, formalin poisoning  1/9/07 Hi crew, I have recently had an outbreak of ick in my aquarium and have started to treat it with formalin and malachite green, <Yikes... easily toxic... to both your livestock and beneficial microbe populations that perform critically important biological filtration> as well as frequent water changes and addition of some salt to the water. It seems though that after having added the medication the fish seem to be "drowsy" as they appear to be sleeping most of the day. <Good observation... poisoning> Some just lie down at the bottom of the tank, behind rocks and leaves, but there are also some that seem to prop themselves up against an ornament in the tank and sort of stand on their heads. Is this normal? <For being poisoned, yes> And also, not long after the ick started they seem to now also have fin rot now. <Secondary...> I assume this is because they are stressed and weakened by the ick. <And/or whatever the root cause was/were, and the medication...> Should I be treating for both illnesses, or will the fin rot heal itself as they get better? <You should be using other means period... NOT formalin... and elevated temperature> I've checked the water quality and the only thing that is slightly high is the nitrate level but it is still below 20 (only at about 5 or 10). I read that generally just adding salt and keeping the water quality good is what will help them recover the most from fin rot. I'm really worried about losing all of my fish since one has died already. Thank you for your help. Erika <Please read here, and soon: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm and the linked files above; particularly on Ich and Formalin use. Bob Fenner>

Can you please help me cure my ich.     1/6/07 <<Hello, Chris. Tom with you this time.>> Can you please help me cure my ich.   <<Likely your fish have Ich, Chris. If you've got it, we're in trouble. :) >> I have a 10 gallon tank that we purchased the day before Christmas.  We have 1 Oranda, 1 calico fantail and 1 gold fantail.   <<The tank's too small for these fish, Chris. Aside from that, it's highly unlikely that your tank could have 'cycled' in this short period of time. In all probability, they're dealing with high levels of ammonia and/or nitrites. Potentially both. Not a good situation.>> The 2 fantail's came down with ich and the case seems pretty severe.  It is all over their bodies. As soon as I noticed the bumps I went out and got Quick Cure. I have been adding 10 drops once a day like the instructions say, but nothing appears to be getting better.  I have changed out 20% of the water yesterday which was day 3.  Today is day 4 and the instructions say to not use but 3 times.  What should I do? I have taken out the carbon filter and left it out.   <<Skip the Quick Cure for the time being and do a massive -- 90% - water change. If you have a heater, slowly raise the temperature up to 80 degrees. If you don't have a heater, get one. At the same time, purchase some aquarium salt. In conjunction with the water change, add aquarium salt to the new water, along with a good water conditioner. The final destination here is to have a ratio of three tablespoons of salt per gallon of aquarium water and a temperature of, at least, 80 degrees. The salt will kill the juvenile parasites and the elevated temperature will speed up the life-cycle of the Ich so that the salt can do its job. (Only works on the juvenile stage of the critters. The adults -- the ones on the fish and the ones encysted at the bottom of your tank - are immune to anything.)>>   The 2 fantails are only active when it is eating time now.  That is not usual for them.  1 of them appears to not like the light and hides out often'¦then came the ick so I think the light stressed the fish out and it spread.  I don't have a vacuum for the tank.  Should I get one? <<Absolutely. When you do the water changes, you'll need to vacuum the bottom of the tank heavily to try to get as many of the parasites before they break out and go searching for a host, i.e. your fish. Much to be learned, Chris. Wish I could offer you a 'silver bullet' here but you've gotten yourself, and your fish, into a bit of a pickle. You need to get this tank cycled and, not to impugn a Christmas present, upgraded to, at least, 30-40 gallons if you want to keep the Goldfish. Two tanks are better anyway, and we can help make sure the ten-gallon tank won't be wasted. As a final recommendation (as if you wanted one!) get yourself a water test kit and test your parameters religiously. You're 'flying blind' right now and can only guess at what's going on in the tank. Guessing ain't good. You need to know what the ammonia and nitrite levels are along with pH and nitrate levels. The first two are most critical as these will stress or even kill your fish. Hang in there, Chris. These things just got out of order. Otherwise, you'd only (casually) be looking for an upgrade to your current tank.>> Thank you,   Chris Dickert <<Please get back if you have further questions. In the meantime, I wish you success and good luck. Tom>>

Re: ich... How do I control the ammonia & nitrate levels?   1/7/07 <<Hello, Chris.>> How do I control the ammonia & nitrate levels? <<Let's do this first, Chris. The nitrogen cycle goes like this: ammonia -> nitrites -> nitrates. So, it's actually the ammonia and nitrites that you need, immediately, to be concerned about. Those are the serious toxins in the tank. The nitrates are the 'caboose' of the nitrogen cycle, so to speak, and will be handled with regular, small water changes after the tank cycles. Normal maintenance stuff. (That's down the road, though.)>> When I do the massive water overhaul what do I do with the fish?  Do I leave them in the 10%?  Will this shock the fish?  Should I take them out and clean the entire tank and start over?   <<All of this can be simplified to where you wondered why you were worried to begin with (beyond the 'obvious' problem, of course). Purchase a five-gallon bucket from your local hardware (Home Depot, Lowe's or even the LFS). Give it a good cleaning in hot water with a little bleach and rinse it thoroughly. Siphon five gallons of water out of the tank. (The fish will be fine for this very short time.) Add in the fresh, conditioned water and you've just cut the polluted solution to 50% of its original toxin level. Repeat. You've cut it to 25% of the original. Repeat. You've cut it to 12.5% of the original. One more time and you're at 6.25% of the original toxin level. In short, with four five-gallon changes, you've effectively performed a 93.75% water change. (Rigorously speaking, this isn't 100% accurate. It presupposes that the ammonia and nitrites remaining after each five-gallon water change instantly mix into 100% of the tank water. Real people terms? Close enough! ;) ) Now, assuming we're starting from scratch on the aquarium salt, If you dissolve in 4-6 tablespoons with the last five-gallon change (completely dissolved, by the way), you'll bring the cumulative salt level to 2-3 tablespoons per five gallons in the tank. Lots of labor but no 'rocket science' here.>> I took some water by the local wet pets and they said the ammonia was high but it was normal since it hasn't cycled thru.   <<Uh huh. Same as saying it's normal for all of your bones to be broken because you dove, head-first, into the Grand Canyon. Ammonia and nitrite poisoning kill fish in a painful and ugly way. Plain and simple. At the low end of the spectrum, this contributes to stress promoting infestations like Ich due to the lowering of the fish's immune system. Sound familiar? I'm not picking on you but the fact that the folks you spoke to didn't give you the same information that I just did 'bothers' me! On the lighter side, I guess it would put me out of work, eh? :) >> How do the ammonia levels get out of hand? <<In your case, they haven't gotten 'out of hand', Chris. Just part of the natural process of cycling an aquarium. The beneficial bacteria that feed on ammonia, and nitrites, just haven't had time to populate your tank adequately to keep the levels where they need to be, which is at zero. Can take some time, weeks, in fact, depending on how you go about it. Once things get squared away and, you've taken some time to do some research, this will all seem like a no-brainer. Trust me. In the meantime, keep me posted, if you will. Tom>>

Re: ich   1/7/07 <<Hello, Chris.>> Before I received this email back from you I completed the 90% overhaul of the tank.  I went out and purchased a vacuum along with a ph balancer, ammonia stripe test, a heater, and something called "cycle."   <<Chemically treating for a specific pH level is a crapshoot, Chris. It's generally considered best, by today's standards, to acclimate the fish to the pH of the water you have readily available. The thinking here is that keeping the pH stable is far better in the long run, whether it's 'optimal' or not, than to tinker and potentially send it swinging back and forth. Changes in pH are what endangers the fish far more than holding it steady above or below the ideal. As for the Cycle product, it's not going to do the deed for you. There's only one product of this type that I or, any of the rest of us here, would recommend for 'instantly' cycling a tank and that's BIO-Spira from Marineland. This product must be kept refrigerated as it contains live bacteria, Nitrosomonas bacteria to control ammonia and Nitrospira bacteria for the nitrites.>> I took 1 gallon out of the tank and put it in a 1 gallon bowl with the 2 fish. They are really looking weak.   <<Sorry to hear this but it doesn't come as a surprise given the circumstances.>> I added 2 tablespoons of salt to the tank (as the directions said to add 1 rounded tablespoon per 5 gallons) and I added 90% of a teaspoon of aqua safe (for the chlorine).   <<Okay. No real need to be too precise on the conditioner since you can't overdose the tank with it but, so far, so good.>> I went ahead and installed the heater and added a dose of cure all (for the ich) even though the fish are in the 1 gallon tank.   <<The medication and/or salt only works on the parasites in the juvenile stage, anyway, i.e. the ones that have burst out of the cysts at the bottom of the tank.>> I lost the Oranda yesterday.   <<Sorry, Chris.>> I tested the ammonia in the 1 gallon bowl and it is on the "danger"-worst mark.   <<Understandable.>> I tested the new water in the 10 gallon tank and it says "stress." <<An improvement, anyway.>> By the way, my wife won't let me get a bigger tank than 10 gallon.  She about freaked when I got it for Christmas. She was thinking a Betta in a bowl.   <<If we can't get this squared away'¦fast'¦she might just get her wish.>> One of the fantails appears to be sloshing the white stuff off her coat, but they are definitely looking like sloth's....hardly moving...just breathing. Should I introduce them back to the tank or hang it up. <<Into the 10-gallon ASAP! Do NOT dump the water from the bowl into the tank. Likely it has parasites in it that have dropped off the fish. The salt will assist their breathing though there's no way to tell, from my end, what kind of damage the ammonia may have done to the gills. It will also help in the healing of the wounds on the fish where the parasites were buried in their flesh. Whatever kind of 'math' you have to do to keep the salt levels, at least, where they are now, along with the Ich medication, you're going to have to perform additional water changes, the way I suggested in my last e-mail, to get the ammonia levels down to as low a level as humanly possible. Three a day if that's what it takes. (If the salt levels go high, this won't be a problem as you probably noted from our last correspondence.) As long as those fish are alive, 'hanging it up' is not an option. Tom>> Re: ich   1/8/07 <<Hi, Chris.>> Thank you, Tom, for all the feedback you have given me.   <<Not a problem at all.>> Unfortunately the 3 fish have now passed.  It's very sad to see that happen.   <<Agreed. No life is 'disposable'.>> I emptied the tank out and washed off the rocks and every item in the tank with hot water. <<Sounds good.>> I put everything back together and am now in the 24-hour break-in period.   <<'Break-in' period for what, Chris?>> I am not going to introduce any fish until tomorrow.   <<No, Chris, you're not going to introduce any fish tomorrow! That tank is, effectively, brand new. It needs to cycle! The fact that it didn't is what killed your Goldfish. We're going to do this right this time.>> I was thinking about a couple of tetras.  What do you think?   <<I think that you and I have to talk about how to properly cycle an aquarium so that 'any' fish you introduce don't die. I want you in the hobby for a very long time and the fastest way to leave it is to keep losing fish unnecessarily.>> I want to break the tank in the right way this time without any fish that might stress like the gold fish. <<Good start, Chris, and it means cycling the tank 'without' fish. When you put your next 'guys' in there, it'll be ready and safe for them.>> My little boy keeps asking about Nemo and it is wearing me out. <<Understood. You can't imagine what I put up with around my house!>> I have to get it right this time.   <<You're going to.>> Do you suggest that I get that cycle stuff that you have to refrigerate?   <<If you're speaking of the BIO-Spira, absolutely. Get a small filter, if you don't have one already (an AquaClear Mini would do well), and add the BIO-Spira according to the directions. Do this in the morning, and, by the afternoon, you can add your Tetras. A few Corydoras (itsy-bitsy Catfish, for lack of a better way to put it) will also do very well in your 10-gallon tank. No salt, though. Catfish (scaleless fish) don't tolerate salt well.>> Any other advice?   <<Yes. Add your fish sparingly. Once your tank is established, the beneficial bacteria reach a type of equilibrium with the ammonia and nitrites produced. Too many fish at one time (you don't have that much room, anyway) will upset the balance resulting in what's known as a 'spike'. (Back, potentially, to the Goldfish situation.) Take your time! This is for the long-haul. Beyond that, teach your little guy the right way to care for fish. So very much to learn, Chris, and very rewarding.>> Thanks for all the help. <<You know where to find me, Chris. My best to you. Tom>>

Re: ich  1/9/07 <<Hi, Chris.>> Would you recommend putting the Bio-Spira in before I add any fish?   <<Yes, but the irony (if you want to call it that) is that you'll need to add fish almost immediately, within 24 hours of adding the bacteria and preferably within about 12 hours. The fish will continue to feed the bacteria with ammonia or else you'll get die-off of most, if not all, of an expensive dose of BIO-Spira.>> Can the tank cycle without fish? <<Oh, heavens, yes! Any source of ammonia will help to seed/feed the bio-colonies. Many folks use raw seafood, for example. Shrimp are probably the most popular of these sources. Regular old fish food will also do the trick. If you'd like to take this to a higher level, you can add pure ammonia -- not the typical household cleaner variety. Should be able to find the pure stuff at a hardware store. (For our purposes, the cheaper the ammonia is, i.e. no special additives to drive the price up, the better. If it isn't 100% pure ammonia, don't get it. Might also go by pure ammonium hydroxide, for what it's worth.) You'll want to spend some money on a decent test kit, though. The progress of the cycling is rapidly increased using the pure ammonia method and if you don't test the water regularly it's like trying to lose 10 pounds of weight without ever weighing yourself to see when you accomplished your goal. On a parting note, if you count yourself as a patient guy, this is a much cheaper way to go than the BIO-Spira (sorry Marineland). Still pretty quick, however. Be talking. Tom (P.S. Chris, if you would, toss my name in at the beginning of posts you want directed specifically to me. Makes the mail easier to direct on our end. Thanks.>> Re: ich  1/9/07 <<Hey, Chris.>> Thanks Tom.   <<No problem.>> I was told that you had to let the tank sit for 24 hours before bringing any fish into the environment.   <<By folks who haven't stayed on top of their game, Chris. 'Old school'. We've learned to cycle without taking/endangering life in the process.>> I will look for the Bio-Spira before I even consider bringing home some tetras.  I already added aquarium salt figuring that if there was any leftover Ich in the rocks that it would hopefully kill the left over.   <<If the juveniles don't find a host in a short time, they'll die, Chris. I like the addition of the salt, anyway. A little 'payback', if you will. :)>> I will wait until you give me the go ahead for the new fish.  Where can I find some Bio-Spira?   <<Any good fish store should carry the product. I wouldn't bother with the 'chain stores'. BIO-Spira is pricey (sorry) and I know, for a fact, that my local PetSmart, for example, doesn't carry it. My regular LFS does, however'¦which is why it's my regular LFS, among other reasons. You could buy it online if all else fails.>> Will it by in the local wet-pets fish store? <<Could be, Chris. Give them a quick phone call.>> I have checked the pH a couple of times and it is in the safe area right now.   <<Good.>> I would like to eventually get back to a couple of goldfish because my son takes to them, but for now and the next while (months) or however long it takes to do this right I will go with whatever you recommend. <<I don't like to seem like I missed something since we last spoke but did we lose the Fantails, Chris? (I suspect, sadly, that we did. If so, I'm very sorry.) Okay. The bottom line is that we have to get the tank cycled. Plain and simple. Best to get a test kit to keep an eye on this yourself. Easy way to go about this? When you start to detect nitrates, things are moving in the right direction. It means that the bacteria are doing their job. Get the ammonia and nitrites to zero, nitrates <20 and we're 'golden'. (Eventually, the nitrates may hit zero as well but that will come with time. No need to wait that long.) The nitrates are going to be the key for you. When those are detectable, it means that both sets of bacteria are working in your tank. From there, you can slowly add your new fish. Now, wasn't that easy? :) Best of luck, my friend. I'll be here if the need arises. Tom>> Molly Crossbreeds and susceptibility to white spot    1/5/07 Hello from the middle of the UK <And hello from Chicagoland, Illinois, USA!> Firstly, your site really is a fantastic resource, many thanks for the hard work you must all put into it. <On behalf of the WWM Crew, thanks for the kind words.> I have found different websites have slightly varying opinions on the finer points of keeping tropical fish... <...there really are lots of views out there.  Of course, there are some concrete basics that cannot/should not be varied, but many things are debatable...lots of differences of opinion, even amongst crew members at times...> ...your site deals with this so well as the answers in the faq's come from different people as do the questions, it's very informative, thanks again. <Glad you find it useful! I am always looking things up on the site - it's how I've learned much of what I know about the hobby.> Having prostrated myself at your feet and declared myself "not worthy" :-)..... <Well, you don't have to go that far!! lol...> I have a 150 gal tank with 2 female Bettas, 1 Plec, 1 Algae eater (long thin light orange sucky fish, not sure what to call it really)... <another type of Pleco, perhaps? Any pictures for identification?> ...7 tetras of varying types, 1 Lyre tail molly and 12 fish that came out of the Molly, I think they may be crossed with a Guppy we have in our other tank... <crossbreeding between livebearers can, and does, indeed happen> ...(we moved her and some of the offspring, she is getting quite big and the kids were taking over the tank). <Yup, livebearers can/will do that! I'm amazed they haven't taken over the planet with their reproduction rate...> Water is at 28.3 deg C +/- .2... <This is the high-side of OK for most tropical fish, but good for the Bettas...> ...ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate around 40ppm... <MUST reduce the nitrate levels...20 ppm is as high as they should be.> (most of the time) ph 7.8 constant. Filter is an Atman 882, it's an in tank filter, housing a heater, 2 compartments holding bags of different filter medium and a pump, in that order as the water flows through. I do a 10% water change/clean every week and add a little stress coat type treatment (Nutrafin AquaPlus) each time to the fresh water to remove the chlorine and help the fish, I normally age the new water for 24 hrs before doing the change and add a little AquaPlus (20ml) to the tank. <Your water change schedule generally sounds OK, but since those nitrates are so high, I would recommend doing a 10% change 2 times per week, until the levels fall under control.  They really are too high and are likely stressing the fish, causing them to be more susceptible to disease.> The water from my tap is quite high in nitrate (around 40ppm) so 1 of the bags in the filter contains "Nitrate Sponge" to help keep the nitrate at an acceptable level. <Well, there's the problem, then...if you keep doing water changes with this water, the nitrate levels likely won't drop.  I'd recommend looking into a RO/DI unit, or at the very least, a DI product such as this one: http://www.aquatichouse.com/WaterPurifiers/tapwaterfilter.asp The RO/DI unit will cost you more, but will save you money in the long run, as the filters don't have to be replaced nearly as frequently as the Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Tap Water Filter product.  I don't know if they'll ship to the UK, but I am a big fan of www.airwaterice.com for RO/DI units. I'm not familiar with the "nitrate sponge" product you refer to, but it clearly isn't working.  I really suggest a water filtration system.  Everything else you describe seems great.> Questions: Can a Molly cross breed with a Guppy? <Yes.> The offspring certainly look like that is the case though there was also a male Swordtail in the other tank when she gave birth (She has also had normal Molly babies before and after this bunch arrived). <From my understanding, all livebearers are capable of cross-breeding. Might want to consider just housing a single sex, if you want to keep all these different species.> A quick aside here, she also gave birth to a Platy! <Without a platy parent?!> And we don't have any, well we do now! <OK- I'm confused a little about that one...> Why are these cross breeds so susceptible to whitespot (The pure Molly is fine as are the rest of the fish)? <I am by no means a geneticist, but my general understanding is that too much genetic variation causes all sorts of problems, including a weakened immune system.> If the nitrate level climbs above 50ppm they start breaking out with it,... <Nitrates really need to be between 0 and 20 ppm...> ...which is fine when I spend a lot of time watching them as I see the first spots and drop in some of the stress coat stuff and check the nitrate levels straight away and the whitespot goes in a day or 2. HOWEVER, if it's Christmas and I don't pay enough attention, they get in a hell of a mess in a very short time and it's out with the blue stuff (Waterlife Protozin) to fix them. <Do read here for some helpful information on treating ich.  Keep in mind that the ich parasite goes through various life-stages, and truly the only way to get rid of it is to run the affected tank fallow for at least a month... http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm > Probably worth mentioning the fish in question are now at least 4 months old, maybe more.> Any ideas? The best I can come up with is that it's a genetic failing, but I wanted to check it's not something I am doing wrong, I'm not sure they like it! <It is likely a genetic weakening, and these fish will likely always be more susceptible to disease than their "purebred" parents.  The one thing you can do is to lower your nitrate levels - that's about the only problem I can see.> Many thanks again John <You're welcome. Get rid of those nitrates and you're fish you all likely be more healthy.  Best of luck, Jorie Tank Crashed After Ich Treatment   12/21/06 Hello. I hope you can help me. I have a 55 gallon aquarium that recently came down with ich. Originally, it contained mollies, platies, guppies, Neons, other assorted tetras, and one Pleco that is about 12" long. Since we had the tetras, we were told we had to use a chemical known as Rid-Ich Plus to treat the tank because they could not handle anything stronger. After 8 days of treatments with this, they all died along with a good majority of the tank. We switched to Quick Cure. It was at this point that our levels in the water sky rocketed. Our nitrites actually were at toxic levels. We took a sample to an aquarium shop and they told us they had no idea how anything was alive in the tank. :( While treating with the Quick Cure, we were doing 50% water changes daily to attempt to fix the water levels. Which brings me to the new tragedy in a very long road for this poor guy. We have tested his levels daily and they are fine. He has developed a film over his eyes. I am told this was a protective layer his body created during the ich cycle which has scarred him for life and he will never see again. (It reminds me of cataracts.) I have also been told that this could be a bacteria infection. He has blood under one of the capsules. I am guessing it is from him hitting his head when he would try to jump from the tank and hit his face on the hood of the tank. He also has red spots right above his dorsal fins that almost look raw. As if he needs anything further... he has white spots on him that would make me think he had ich, but the remaining 2 mollies in the tank do not show any signs of it and with everything else he is displaying... I am not sure that it is not fungus. Can you please tell me what is wrong with him and what is the best thing to do for him? Also, with the holiday we will be out of town for two days so I am not sure how that would affect any treatments that we would need to administer. This tank is a month and a half old. It was originally set up as a pond, but we started the cycle over again when we changed the gravel. I thought you may need that information as well. I appreciate any help you can give me. Have a wonderful holiday! Mikaelah < The prolonged treatments affected the biological filtration and created deadly ammonia and nitrite spikes. Most of the fish were killed off directly with the fish that are left have been stressed by the treatments and the spikes. Unfortunately the Pleco has come down with a bacterial infection too. Let start by getting the tank stabilized. Do a 50% water change , vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. It would be best to place the Pleco in a separate 20 gallon hospital tank. Either way then, make sure the water temp is up to 83 F. Increase the aeration. Add a tablespoon of rock salt or aquarium salt per 5 gallons of water. The mollies will love this and it will make the Pleco develop a protective slime to fight the ich. Treat the tank with Nitrofurazone as per the directions on the package and the Rid-ich II. The next day do a 50% water change and treat again. Do not feed the sick fish. They will not eat and the food will rot and cause the spikes you had before. Do this for three days. If you are leaving then on the last day just do a water change. When you get back check on the fish. If everyone is alive and the infection has cleared up then add some high quality carbon for the filter to remove any left over medication. When the tank is cleared of any medication you can add Bio-Spira from Marineland and you tank will be cycled very soon. Then you can start to feed your fish again. New fish need to be quarantined before placing them in the main tank or this will happen all over again.-Chuck>

Ich and No Fish 12/11/06 Recently all 7 of our goldfish (2 of which were 2 years old) died.  I later had someone say that they probably had Ich.  Unfortunately, we didn't know about Ich until it was too late.  My question is:  It has been 2 days since the fish were taken out of the tank and I am putting it into storage, can we save/reuse the filter, heater, and fake decorations that  were in the tank??  <Sure with proper cleaning.>   Also, is there a special cleaner to scrub the aquarium with before we reuse it??   <A mild bleach solution should do followed by a thorough rinsing.> Thank you, Theresa M. <Chris> Betta with ich; Betta placement in community tank  12/2/06 Hi Crew, <Hello and welcome back!> Once again I find myself returning to your comprehensive website - I have been reading through articles and FAQs, but am a little confused due to contradicting answers etc. <Can happen.  Fish care, illness, etc. is not an exact science, but rather an "art" in the sense that some things can be accomplished differently...> Yesterday I bought an extremely sick Betta from a pretty bad pet store. I know, not meant to buy sick fish - but he was cowering under a plant, and is absolutely covered with ich, and I thought that he would die for sure if left there, since the store was not treating and not even aware that their fish were sick! (There were even goldfish literally piled into a corner and resting on top of one another - very unnatural). <You did a good thing, trying to save this poor Betta! At least now he's got a fighting chance...> I have placed the Betta in a (previously cycled, though I suppose the medication will kill this)... <Yes, generally medication kills a cycle> ...10 gal heated, filtered quarantine tank with a teaspoon of salt per 5 gals and ich medication - formaldehyde and malachite green. <*Very harsh* medications - do keep a close eye on your Betta to make sure he isn't suffering ill effects.> Even fed him some mosquito larvae from our pond, which he ate, and although he is absolutely covered in ich he is fairly active. <Live food can transmit all sorts of parasites, diseases to fish; better to invest in frozen (and purified) bloodworms, or mysis shrimp, or even a quality pellet such as the ones made by Hikari or Spectrum New Life.> Does all sound right so far? <See above.> Before purchasing this Betta I was planning on setting up a new Walstad style 20 gal planted tank. Before buying the Betta I was thinking of having a school of 6 Corydoras, possibly 2 Otocinclus, some fairy shrimp (I think these are native to Australia and grow to an inch long - not sure as I have been unable to find much information on them) and a few male and female guppies, which I wished to breed as I have never done this before. I was thinking of starting with 2 males and 6 females and going from there. Would it be possible to keep the Betta with this combination? I have read in your articles that Bettas are not compatible with guppies, but then in FAQs it was stated that pairing them with fancy guppies would be okay. Also, I was told on another forum that if I kept the Betta with this combination he would eat the baby shrimp and guppies and in effect be population control. What do you think? Am I courting disaster? If so with the guppies, would the Betta be okay with the other fish I mentioned? <Honestly, in keeping Bettas in community tanks, so much depends on the Betta's individual personality.  Some are more aggressive, and may eat the shrimp and/or fry, and some are quite timid, and could be picked on by the sometimes aggressive male livebearers.  I personally choose to keep Bettas individually in 2-3 gal. heated and filtered tanks - provided with adequate decorations and plants, they seem to enjoy they little "fiefdoms".  Another consideration which has led me to the decision to keep Bettas singly is their love of warm tropical waters - 82 degrees F is ideal - and that's on the high-end of acceptable for many other tropical fish (and simply not OK for some species).  All the livestock you mention above should be able to tolerate water that warm, but again, it is on the high-end of the spectrum.  Were it me, I'd invest in a 3 gal. Eclipse for the Betta, and build my community aquarium without him.  You can certainly try what you are proposing, but I cannot promise success... With regard to the Betta and ich, do monitor him closely for signs of medicine toxicity.  So long as he's eating and swimming, and you've said he is, then I wouldn't be concerned and would continue the course of medication according to the directions.  The salt should also help. Be prepared to do a complete water change if the fish starts suffering.  There are several non-medicinal alternatives for treating ich, one of which includes raising the temperature slowly (a degree a day)...this will speed up the lifecycle of the parasite (ich), and when used in conjunction with water changes, can effectively eliminate the problem. Thank you for all your great information and help, Emma <Good luck with your Betta, and kudos to you for helping him! Jorie> Goldfish with Ich - Treating w/ Heat and Salt - 10/18/06 Hi, Jorie. <Hello again, Pam - sorry for the delay in replying...> Okay... Here we go again. <OK!> 1. Began 75% H2O changes daily as per your instructions. <Wonderful.> 2. Medicated each day for 2 days w/no filter. <As per the medication's instructions?> 3. Every third day, I put the filter back into the pump for 1 day, changed water and allowed to filter for 24 hours before medicating again. <Again, hopefully you are following the instructions of the medication.  I do not know right off the top of my head what the dosages/times are, but I can tell you that if you are placing the carbon back in to remove meds, you should be doing a substantial water change at the same time...> 4. Finally was able to obtain liquid testing kit and have found ammonia levels to be WAY too high. <Ammonia needs to be at ZERO.> Fish is now gasping at surface for air. Did a 100% water change, rinsed gravel/the 1 plant in tank and rinsed/wiped inside of tank. Refilled fresh H2O, tested 0 ppm ammonia. Replaced ichy fantail. Still gasping for air at surface. <Some medications can remove oxygen from the water - try adding an airstone or two.> 5. Up to this point, the ich seems to be getting worse. More pustules have formed on tail fins, but no ulcers or slime on body. No discoloration of scales, fins, gills or eyes. However, she keeps trying to scratch on substrate and her appetite is diminishing. <I would honestly try adding going w/o medication and adding salt/heat - see here: http://www.pondsandpumps.co.uk/artichparasite.htm . Also, look at the previous link I sent you. 6. The calico fantail which had no signs of ich has been in the main tank since your last email, and seems to be doing extremely well. Still no signs of ich. <That's great.> 7. Ichy fish seems to be continually going down hill in this small tank. Should I just bite the bullet, put her in the main tank and treat for ich in a more comfortable environment? <I wouldn't recommend it.> I am now prepared to treat with heat/salinity so both fish wouldn't have to be exposed to the quick cure which doesn't seem to be doing anything anyway. <Why can't you do heat/salt in the QT/hospital tank? So long as you do daily H20 changes (do make sure the new water has the same pH and temp. as the old...if not, this could also be adding to the fish's trauma...> Honestly, once you introduce the parasite into the main tank it will *always* be there...I know you want to do what's best for all the fish, but I do believe keeping them separate is the way to go.>   Any info you could provide would be wonderful. Really worried about this fish. <Am sorry, and understand how worried you are.  Was literally sick over my last sick fish.  I know the 1 gal. is small, but if I recall correctly, so is the goldfish now.  Increase oxygenation (add an airstone or two), get the rest of the medication out if you haven't already, and see the two articles re: salinity and heat as an ich treatment.  Continue w/ daily water changes - ammonia and nitrite must remain at ZERO.  Nitrate can go up to 20 ppm, but lower is better.  Also, don't overfeed - excess food in the tank will further pollute the tank.> Thanks a bunch, <Good luck- Jorie> Pam B.

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