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FAQs on Parasitic Reef Tanks 1

Related Articles: Marine Parasitic Disease, Quarantine, Quarantine of Marine Fishes

Related FAQs: Parasitic Reef Tanks 2, Marine Parasitic Disease, Parasitic Marine Tanks, Cryptocaryoniasis, Marine Ich, Marine Velvet Disease, Biological Cleaners, Treating Parasitic Disease, Using Hyposalinity to Treat Parasitic Disease,

Invertebrates are not by themselves, carriers of fish parasites.

Ich in a Reef Dear Mr. Fenner (and crew), <Steven pro here this evening.> I've got a 180 reef with 15 fish and plenty of hard, sps, and soft corals. We had a 2 hour power outage over w/e and my blue eyed and mimic tang both came down with ich as of last night. How do you recommend treating in the tank as there is no way I can catch them with the 200lbs of live rock and corals positioned everywhere? Do you know of anything that works that is reef safe? Thanks for your anticipated response. -Doug <Take a look at Terry Siegel's article in Marine Fish and Reef 2002 Annual. He successfully used cleaner shrimp, Tetra Medicated Food for Parasites, water changes, diatomaceous earth filtration, and increased photoperiods. Also, he discusses the use of garlic in foods. I would much prefer these approaches versus some alleged "reef safe" product. Good luck, Steven Pro>

Re: Ich in Reef Hi Bob Remember this one? Probably not seeing how you must get so many but thought I'd just let you know that the plan seems to have worked. The spots disappeared after a few days and none of the fish have shown any signs of ich for a month now. Either the cleaner shrimp got 'em or the Gramma shook it himself after getting over the shock of his new surroundings. Presumably, I am in the clear now as long as I don't let the water quality slide? <Yes my friend. Congratulations> Thanks again to the Reefmeister! Simon Sleigh, Manchester UK <Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Weathering the Storm...Fish Disease Bob,<Actually, Bob is out of town and Anthony Calfo and I were asked to fill in.> Hope all is well. My tank is still in fallow stage (I assume by reading reply you know what my situation is). Going on a month. Salinity 1.017 and temp 84 Deg. Quarantine fish doing great. Let me tell you what I have actually done since 12/24 and you can be critical if warranted. I ran copper for the first three weeks, fish cleared up but were sluggish and not eating very well. After 3 weeks and 2 freshwater dips, removed copper, with water changes and carbon. The difference no copper makes. The fish follow me around tank and would probably nip at my finger if I let them. My reason for removing copper was two fold. One, I think copper is a necessary evil. The less the better. Second, I knew that the fish were going to be quarantined another month at least (Your input) and would have time to observe them and make sure they are rid of parasites. I really don't think I could be doing all this without healthy fish. My point is what you consistently preach, finding healthy specimens and then quarantine is undeniable. You wouldn't have to read all this if I had bought your book and found your website before my first introduction of fish. Back to situation. The eel that you suggested I remove did not happen. I removed every piece of live rock to catch him and could not find where he was hiding. He was actually out of water probably 15 min, put rock back in tank and assumed he had perished. About three days later, there he was, waiting for me to feed him. My question, how does this effect things. Has my month of going fallow been a waste (I didn't understand what you meant in last e-mail by "space-vector". Sorry, but I took it that he was going to be a problem with hermit crabs etc. He has never had or seen any sign of parasite on him, so I was hoping he would not act as a host for parasites. He is the one thing that lets the kids stay involved will I go through this down time. One last thing, since I removed copper from quarantine tank (do you think I should put it back in Q tank?) <If the it refers to copper back in your quarantine, my answer is no. You said yourself the fish are "doing great".> my Q tank does not have Ammonia problems, and in fact, it was if the tank immediately cycled (it had been up and running for about one month), hence that fact I don't have any major problem with longer fallow time if you suggest. Finally, I don't want to take up your whole weekend, is there any way to know how parasite free main tank is after fallow time? <Eels are notoriously tough and generally disease resistant. Keep a close eye on him and examine him as best you can. If he is parasite free for a three full weeks, with you watching him closely, he is probably OK and so is the tank.> Thank you for all your help I wouldn't bother you if I didn't really want to care responsibly for livestock. My kids and I are big divers and have great respect for the fish. David

Ich in Reef Dear Bob Great website! I hope my boss doesn't catch me on it instead of working but I may have a (possibly minor) problem, with ich on a Royal Gramma added to my reef tank 3 or 4 days ago and I do not want to lose the plot on this by dithering. You guessed it - I didn't quarantine although in this case my QT tank had a crack in it so I didn't want to risk it. I have rectified that today with a new 18 gallon tank! <Yikes (am up to my quotient on these today!)> I may labour this one slightly but I have never kept a marine tank before, let alone a reef and although I research as much I can, there is no substitute for experience - yours in this case! <Wish I could do "the Vulcan mind meld" with all willing, desirous here> There were only about 5 or 6 spots on him last night and he is behaving normally for a Gramma, eating etc. The main tank is an 80 gallon (more like 60, net) Berlin system with a 20 gallon sump, about 5 months old with about 100 lbs of live rock (mixed Fiji, aragocrete and Florida aquacultured) and 80 lbs live (very!) sand. I adopted your lit sump/refugium recommendation (great tip, BTW!) and run the sump with GAC and a Polyfilter in a separate compartment at all times. Combined circulation from all powerheads, returns etc is about 20 times per hour (through the sump alone is only about 3 times). Stock presently comprises: Several zoanthid and palythoa colonies Clavularia - Green Star polyp 1 x gorgonian (Plexauria spp?) 1 x Lobophytum - Finger Coral Several Cladacora - Tube Coral colonies Eusmilia fastigata - Carribean Star Coral 3 x Spiny Oysters 6 x Turkey Wing Clams 1 x Tridacna crocea Many species of red macroalgae, sponges and caulerpa peltata 3 x Scarlet Cleaner Shrimp 3 x Blood Shrimp 1 x Banded Coral Shrimp 1 x Red Fromia star 1 x blue Linckia star About 30 Blue-legged Hermits 5 x Scarlet Reef Hermits About 20 Turbo and Astrea snails (hermits don't bother with them) The only fish apart from the Gramma are a Clark's Clownfish and a Banggai Cardinal All in all, it's run without a hitch until now - parameters are: ammonia - nil / nitrite - nil / nitrate - nil / phosphate - <0.05 ppm / alk - 10.3 dKH / Calcium 420 ppm and it has been like that for about 2 months. I only ever add SeaChem Reef Builder, Reef Complete and Kent Tech-I once a week. All water is DI - I change 5-10% bi-weekly. <Sounds like a great system> The Gramma showed no signs of ich in the shop and he's not being bullied so I can only assume it was a carrier and the stress of the move has kicked it over the edge. Having read through your articles and FAQ's, this is what I propose to do and I would like your views/blessing: <Okay> 1. Wait. None of the other fish show any symptoms and both are healthy generally. There are only about 5 or 6 spots showing mainly on the Gramma's fins. Hopefully, he and the Cleaner Shrimp will discover each other and sort this out between them! If not, or if any other fish come down with this: <This is what I would do thus far> 2. Give all fish a freshwater bath then: <If #1 doesn't prove out to your satisfaction...> 3. Move all fish to the QT. I'll set this up tonight in readiness. Doing a 25% water change on the main tank will give me 75% system water in the QT and 25% fresh mix thereby making the water virtually identical in both. The QT is run only on a sponge filter - this is presently over the strainer of one of the powerheads in the main tank where it has now been for about 4 days -  <Good technique> I would have preferred it to mature longer before using it but do you think it will be OK as a bio-filter in the QT (all the fish are quite small - less than 2 inches)?  <Yes... at least for a while... should the treatment chemicals bump off the nitrifiers you will have to do... something countervailing... water changes, add other microbes...> The QT has low lighting, an air curtain and a Rio 400 for circulation with just some black PVC piping for cover. Treat with Cuprazin. Leave main tank fallow for at least a month. <Yikes (am fresh out now)... yes> I have read the material on hyposalinity/temp treatment. You seem to suggest that this is OK for both the QT and the main tank but I am very nervous about this in the main tank. I have nowhere to relocate any corals or inverts. Therefore, my final questions are: a. In the QT, do you suggest using this hypo/temp treatment instead of Cuprazin, in conjunction with it or should I just go straight for the chemicals?! <I suggest actually "none" as the first line of consideration... then the hyposalinity/thermal elevation route, lastly adding biocides> b. If you think the hypo/temp treatment in the main tank will be OK, once I have brought the salinity down to 1.017 and temp up to 83F (are these OK?), <Very likely so... these are moderate changes/levels... that if all was otherwise "okay" should be no problem... let your observation of your livestock be the "grand arbiter" here... your shrimps will be (again very likely) the first and foremost "canary in a cave" bioassays> how long should I keep it that way? <The duration of the fallow period> Would you suggest I adopt this procedure immediately in conjunction with step 1 or wait? <Wait> c. what stock in the main tank would be most threatened by this method of treatment?  <In your case, the crustaceans> Bear in mind that the live rock (particularly the aquacultured) is brimming with stuff and more spectacular even that the corals and fish put together! Both this and the live sand cannot be acquired here in the UK - I had to import it specially so I absolutely do not want to lose it - I'd rather get rid of the fish altogether and run it as an invert/coral tank. <... as stated... hopefully the Gramma will resolve on/of its own accord, hopefully a "balance" is/will be struck with pathogens disfavored over fish hosts here, hopefully your sleep won't be impugned for this minor intransigence (cut out sheep, start the evenings off thinking about dips/baths, quarantine...)> Your advice would be much appreciated and, yes, I will never put a fish in the main tank again before I've QT'd or at least dipped it! Simon Sleigh, Manchester, UK <I'll bet... And I'll never wager on Bath over Swansea again! Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Ich in Reef Tank Dear Bob, I've enjoyed your book and website immensely and have followed your advice religiously. My brother has e-mailed you from Las Vegas and he recently invited you to have sushi with us in Newport Beach on the weekend of the arrival of my 180 gal. reef tank. By the way, it will now be 11/9 not 11/2 if you would like to join us for a sushi treat on us. Let us know. <Will do so> Anyway, here's my problem. I've had a 60 gal. fish only running successfully for about 8 months so I decided to start a 10 gal. reef/fish tank to understand the chemistry, requirements, etc. before going to a bigger system. <Ten gallon systems are hard to maintain steadily as you well now know> It's been going for about 4-5 months. I have vho lighting, a fan, live rock, live sand, button polyps, alveopora, mushroom anemones, candy coral, bubble tip anemone(which asexually reproduced in my tank last month--so now I have two),  <Neat> cleaner shrimp, snails and a few hermit crabs. Also have hang on Penguin filter and Remora Skimmer. I have 3 fish: 1"Chevron Tang, !-2" Golden Wrasse and a2-3" Orbit Wrasse. <Wow, this is a lot of life in a small volume> On Tuesday I noticed Ich on the Chevron so I removed fish and placed them in hospital tank and medicated with Copper. Doing 2-3 gal. changes every other day and they're all doing fine. Have begun dropping spg and increasing temp. in main tank(how high should I go with corals? <Mid eighties F> I've read to never allow temp. to exceed 82 as this kills good bacteria.). My original plan was to cycle my new 180 Gal. reef tank and then add the corals and fish from the 10 gal. I now have some concerns about this. <As you should> After medicatiing with copper for 10 days (this is all I should expose them to, right?) <Fourteen days maximum is my general rule of thumb> I will leave them in the hospital tank for another 20 days, while doing partial water changes every other day. By this time my 180 will probably not have cycled so I probably not be able to put them there. Should I put them back in my little 10 gal. at that time and would you put the existing corals in the 10 gal. into the 180 when it cycles?  <Mmm, if you consider them pretty much done with the ich, I would place them in the 180, and leave the ten go fish-less (and not move anything, water, wet nets or hands, corals...) from there to any other system for another month or so.> Thanks for your anticipated response. Doug <Be seeing you. Bob Fenner>

ich I ordered a hippo tang and yellow tang off of the internet that came with what I am pretty sure is ich. I started them on a copper treatment right after I got them, working up to the desired amount in two weeks. <Working up to? Hopefully you mean "maintaining a therapeutic dose all during" the two week period> They stopped scratching before I even had the right amount of copper in the tank. They have had the right amount of copper in the tank for about a week now, and have started scratching like crazy again. I can't see any spots on them, although there could be. <The scratching may not be related to the ich... tangs do scratch quite a bit naturally> I am not using carbon or a protein skimmer. <I hope not... the carbon would remove the copper, and depending on what formulation it is, the skimmer will do the same faster or slower> I don't know what to do, and they are acting sick. I would appreciate any suggestions. Also, thank you in advance. <Please read through the ich, treatment sections, and parasitic tanks on our site starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/parasitf.htm I would avail myself of the environmental manipulation mentioned, biological cleaners... after having the fishes treated at recommended dose for another week. Bob Fenner>

Another Ich Problem Hello, I have a 55 gallon reef that is well stocked with soft corals, hard corals(both lps and sps), clams, 3 types of algae, 2 damsels, 2 seahorses, and an Achiles Tang. <Yikes... this is a lot... and too disparate types of life for this size system.> Unfortunatly, the tang came down with a severe case of ich in the last week. My tank is stuffed with live rock and corals so, a complete tear down is almost out of the question. Do you know any way to catch the tang to switch him to quarentine? <Two nets, patience. Leave the nets in place, check on the tank, the Achilles occasionally.> He is about 5in and always hides when I try to net him, even if I am feeding at the same time. When I went to my LFS the only suggestion they had was to "shock him out". They offered this as an alterative to tearing down the reef. Is it possible to use electricity to stun and net him or will I just hurt or kill him? <Hmm, this is a "new one"... There are electrical fishing techniques employed in fisheries work in freshwater. I would NOT try this in a home marine system. Very likely you'll harm all the life, possibly the components, maybe yourself in the process... I would likely try cleaner organisms immediately. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/clnrfaqs.htm> Would this treatment hurt other members in the tank? I can't use the lowered salinity or raised temp for fear I will kill my acroporas,clams, xenia, and seahorses. Any help you can offer I would greatly appreciate. Travis <Your system is parasitized, not just the Tang at this point. Please read: http://wetwebmedia.com/reefparasittksfaqs.htm I would take this opportunity/challenge time to reflect on your entire set-up, and purpose in maintaining a reef system. You need to develop and adhere to an "acclimation protocol" to prevent these disasters, and likely to either get another tank, and/or at least a larger one to keep the amounts and kinds of life you have... Think strongly on this. Bob Fenner>

Re: lunare wrasse and panther grouper/ich Mr. Fenner, Thanks again for your help. i did a 20% water change and added oxygen. the wrasse looks better already. unfortunately, the mineatus grouper has eaten all of the tail off of the panther grouper. looks like he might not make it. <Please don't give up hope... this species, Chromileptis altivelis I've seen recover, regenerate from horrendous injury. And did just write an article/page on the Miniatus on reading your input: http://wetwebmedia.com/c_miniata.htm> I have another question for you...is there any way to treat marine ich in a reef tank? i have a few condylactis anemones and a blue linckia star (i know, not your favorite species.) my powder blue tang seems to have a mild case of ich, and my quarantine tank is currently out of service (lacking a filter...oops) any suggestions? <A few. Please start reading here: http://wetwebmedia.com/reefparasittksfaqs.htm Bob Fenner> thanks, tracy

Ich Reef, natural/acquired immunity Mr. Fenner, I have emailed you before about and ICK problem I have in my tank. HEre is my situation, I have noticed that some species fall victim to ICK very quickly (TANGS) , while others are  <more> immune to the ICK. Currently I have one maroone clown, 4 chromies, and mandarin, firefish, cardinal, and a cleaner shrimp in a 65 gallon tank. I am interested in two other fish, a flame angel and a goby which will sift my sand. Are the flame angels susceptible to ick like tangs, or are they more immune to it. <More immune... Let's say Tangs rate an "eight" overall on a scale of 1 to 10 of "ich susceptibility" as a family (some Tangs are much more susceptible)... Centropyge loricula rates about a "five" year in/year out from all localities (some are better than others...)> Golden head sleeper gobies , are they a hardy fish. I had one before and it mysteriously died. <So so... generally are too beat, starved, stressed by the time folks get them into their tanks they don't make it... In a well-established system with plenty of interstitial fauna to eat... an initially healthy specimen should do fine... this is a small tank for one though> If there is a better option for some one to sift my sand what would it be. Thanks for all your help. <Please read starting here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marsiftfaqs.htm Bob Fenner>

Re: Ich Reef, natural/acquired immunity Out of curiousity, what species are more susceptible to ICK like you state, and of the tang species which are the most susceptible. <Hmm, for instance, Acanthurus leucosternon and A. achilles on the high end... Please read the coverage on the family on our site: http://wetwebmedia.com/tangs,.htm Study my friend. Asking direct questions on the Net will not help you near as quickly or well. Bob Fenner>

RE: Ick.... treatment in a reef The hyposelenity seems to be the popular one... <Thought this singer was killed> Did you see any corals in the list that will die at 1.017 Your recommended max drop :) <Eventually, yes> Ya I do read fast.... and enjoy your site and use Google too much.... Even after talking with you :) <Hmm> But when I share with you as I am doing I don't feel soo alone. It is like a support system :) <We do support each other> My wife wonders where you get the time to answer all these emails.... I am guess you type as faster if not faster than me too :) <Yes my friend> I read your reaction well though on the last email eh :) <<Ah, good>> <Hmm, are you trying to raise my blood pressure?> ** Quick side step to avoid the slap on the back of the head from RF ** hehe <Yes, oh see below> did you write your comment before you read my emotion? <Yes my friend> Hope it made you laugh.... during my painful moment :) <You have a good attitude/outlook... will get you far and more enjoyably on all paths. Bob Fenner>

RE: Ick.... treatment in a reef Sorry about this addon.... I doubt I can catch the Naso Tang.... with 173 lbs of LR he can hide too easily... I have green Figi bubbles, Open Green Brain, Colt Poly, Anemone (LOng purple tip), Polyps, Some other type of bubbles, mushrooms, a clam, Giant feather duster, etc..... So now what can I do to treat Naso?.... the lowering SG and higher temp trick? The tank was doing soo well too.... Purple corraline even forming on ALL the powerheads and the back and sides of the tank..... Your discouraged follower.... Rob <Guess where I'm going to refer you to. There's a Google Search Engine there... Bob Fenner>

RE: Ick.... OK read most of the links and have a question..... <Wow, you're a quick reader!> Is it worth/safe dipping the Naso tang who has been in the tank 6 days? <Not now, no> Since he is the only one showing Ich I would like to only dip him..... How long should I dip him if it is safe? The method I had used up until the purchase of the Naso for dipping.... Which I did not do this time since it is a lot of work and did not have any ich until now.... <Hmm, are you trying to raise my blood pressure?> ** Quick side step to avoid the slap on the back of the head from RF ** hehe I make a solution in a big bowl that is like my main tank but with no salt.... I put reef builder to get the PH up a bit and make the temp as close as possible... I then put the fish in until it looks too stressed or 10 minutes has passed.... Was that doing the trick.... or was I just lucky not to get ich to this point? <Probably was helping a great deal (to do the dips)> I have 3 cleaner shrimp which have grown to be giant and one Coral banded(does he clean?) <Yes, can... Boxer Shrimps do both types of nutrition.> should I add more shrimps to help out? that is when they are available at the LFS. They never had Neon gobies.... <There are other cleaners, other sources.> DARN!!!! Wife just called and said the purple tang is getting white specs now too.... I won't tell you how much I spent on this tank but I can tell you this... I don't want it to have to be torn down.... <I understand, believe me> I read on your site that a Naso died when quaranteened in a small tank. <Yes, very stressful for such an "open-water" genus/species> My hospital tank which only has a hitch hicker crab in it is only 17 gallons. Will that freak Naso out? <Maybe... but what are you going to do about treating all the fishes, the system?> Should I forget the dip and medicate him in this tank? <Read through the www.WetWebMedia.com site till you understand...> I read about medications on your site before. Any recommendations for a Naso... SHE is 4+ inches long (5 max) This is spoiling my day.... <Think of how your fishes feel> I should not have dogged that wack in the head :( Rob <You need those sensibilities to cogitate... figure out your course of action here. Bob Fenner, who doesn't strike people.>

RE: Ick.... treatment in a reef Since it is a Reef Tank you say take out the non fish residents if I need to treat the main tank... would that include the substrate (which is live) and the LR? <Hmm. Either this material must be treated... or better left fallow (w/o fish hosts...) please read where you were referred to... and beyond, to the FAQs on "parasitic tanks", "reefs"... Bob Fenner>

RE: Ick.... treatment in a reef. plz tell me your are online... (Naso loss) Hey Bob... This is the Naso story again.... I found Naso just sitting in the main tank this morning... He (actually she) looked terrible. TONS of white spots and now what looked like black scratches... ie maybe battle scares from the ich... i dunno.... <I do... not good> He was easy to catch... I put him in a 9 - 10 minute dip that I hap prepared last night incase today he was worst.. he was.... so he survived the dip... and is now in the hospital tank.... I did a no no to try and save him.... I was practically given a cleaner wrasse.... I am sorry but I REALLY want to give Naso every chance.... the wasse is/was doomed... so maybe he can save Naso before it is too late... <Maybe> Naso I doing that heavy breathing for the past hour in th hospital. My question is... HELP!!! Do I go buy drugs for him or put him back in the main tank... <No sense trying to move this speciment. Do try to keep up aeration, keep the lighting off on its tank...> I have pics before and after but each is almost 2 Mb. Hotmail only accepts 2 mb... Got another email? Can I call you... or call me? <No reason to send pix... I unfortunately know too well what they'll show. And no substantive reason to chat vocally... Do you have a plan formulating to treat your system? Bob Fenner> Tanks.... Robert

Indestructible ich Hi Bob, I've read a bunch of your work on the website and think your style is second to none....so I ask you this question.... <Okay> My friend (really not me this time) had a recent problem with Saltwater Ich(sp?). <Correct and too common...> He had(sadly in past tense) a Naso and Kole Tang, cleaner wrasse, a Firefish (some sort of Gobi I guess <Actually a Dartfish, family Microdesmidae... gobioid...) a small blue Damsel and a huge, 10 year old, black Damsel....Oh yea, and a cleaner shrimp. He noticed a moderate breakout of Ich one day after work. Having Live Rock in his takk, copper was out of the question so he opted for Greenex, per my suggestion as I have had decent luck with it. I also told him to kiss the cleaner shrimp good by due to the Greenex. <Yikes... and possibly everything else> We raiesd his water temp from 78 to 82 as I have been told this hinders the parasite from binding with the fish.....Again, I suggeted this from past successful experience.....Hope fully I lead him the right way....anyway, I wanted to give you the backgroud in his situation. <Elevating temperature is a good idea in general... expedites the parasites metabolism, giving medications a harder "punch"...> Right now all he has left for fish are the two Damesels...all the others kicked it. The one large Black damsel is quickly on his way out and the smaller one has just a few Ich'y spots. Now that he's about out of fish he contemplating re-starting the tank. His question is: Will the Ich live in the tank without fish for an extended period of time where he would have to worry about future outbreaks if he introduced new fish after a week or two? <Please read over the "Parasitic Tanks", "Parasitic Reefs" FAQs here... the tank should be left w/o fish hosts for at least a month with the temperature raised to about 85 F, and the spg lowered to at least 1.017> Will it live in or on the critters within the Live Rock? <In the mulm in the bottom...> PS. I've had a recurring case on a Hippo Tang for a few months now, it comes and goes without ever getting out of control. <Yes, an entrenched population> Any wisdom you can share about the above will be appreciated greatly. <Pretty much already posted on the www.WetWebMedia.com site under the pages mentioned.> Thanks for doing what you do. Take Care, Dave P. <Good luck my friend. Bob Fenner>

Ich <Cheryl. I'm really sorry to hear, but not too surprised, that the ich  is entrenched in your main system as well, since that is where the Tang was when you first noticed it, right?> I'm the one with the tang in the 5 gal. tank. I got two cleaner shrimp for my main tank like you suggested today..and after I put them in and was watching them, I noticed that my small clown had come down with ick..do I leave him in for the cleaner shrimp...or put him in with the tang?  <Just leave him for a day or so and see if the shrimp will do their job.> Can cleaner shrimp get ick..or do they keep themselves clean? <Ich does not infect invertebrates, the shrimp are immune. Now we just hope the clown 'discovers' the shrimp soon enough. I have entrenched ich in my 60g system, and the two lysmata in there keep it completely under control. A speck or two may appear now and then, but the fish all go to the shrimp for a cleaning. Keep us informed! -Lorenzo>

Re: Ich <Oh Cheryl, Cheryl...> My tank is the 37 gal. one , where I now have my tang in a 5 gal. hospital tank... Since my clown got ick...someone asked about my alkalinity.. The test kit that I got was just ph, nitrate, nitrite, and ammonia. My ph has always read 8.2- 8.4 <Your alkalinity is almost certainly fine. Alkalinity is basically a way of measuring the water's resistance to becoming acidic (pH going down). If your pH is consistently 8.0 or higher, your alkalinity is probably fine, and certainly has no effect whatsoever on the presence of the ich.> I didn't know about checking for alkalinity. This other fish guy also told me about treating my RO water with minerals.?/or something?. I was first told to use RO water and then add sea balance once a week to the tank I have been doing this.. is it important to add something to your RO water before you add it when doing a water change?  <A lot of the life in your system is dependent on minerals that can be removing during reverse-osmosis. Some aquarists that use RO rely on their salt mixes to provide these during water changes, some prefer to add a liquid potion of one sort or another. In general, go easy on the potions - keep things basic. I don't use RO at all, but the water here in Michigan is pretty decent, aside from the tons of chlorine.> He was talking about letting it sit for 24 hrs. and then just skimming off the top water...? I almost get a headache from all the different stuff I'm told to do.. <I believe you. That's a bunch of snake oil. Here's the water routine at our house. Water for weekly water changes comes out of a 20 gallon tank with a small power filter with activated carbon. Replacement water is run STRAIGHT FROM THE TAP, fairly hot, into a bucket with the salt in it. We mix it a bit with a ladle, then pour it into the 20 gallon holding tank, where it will sit for a week before the next water change. For fresh-water top-off (done daily or every other day, depending on evaporation), I usually just run water from the tap at about room temperature, into a 1/2 gallon pitcher. Then I squirt some AmQuel into it to handle the chlorine/chloramine. After about 5 minutes, I pour that directly into the fish tank. You don't need a 20 gallon tank unless you do a LOT of water changes. A clean 5 gallon bucket is just fine. Do let water 'sit' for at least 24 hours, if you just mixed the salt in.> ON a another note, I'm getting ready to order a skimmer. I don't know if you know about the different brands..but the ones I could afford are 1)seaclone protein skimmer (built in pump, for up to 100gal. not adjustable except air <Don't get that one. RedSea's other products are fine. That one stinks.> 2)Prizm Skimmer (up to 90 gal.) <I have one of these on a 35 gallon - it's barely adequate, wouldn't work under greater bio-load, but it's fine on my 35.> 3) Bak-Pak 2 (up to 60 gal. with biological filter <Good stuff.> 4) Bak-Pak 2R(for reef tank where biological filter is not desired, up to 60 gal.) <Best bet. But, have you priced out a Remora by AquaC? I think they're similarly priced to the BakPak. I have a Remora on my 60, it's GREAT.> I have live sand and rock and something growing on my rocks (some sort of coral?). <If it's purple or pink, mostly a hard coating, sometimes 'flaky', it's coralline algae. Good, pretty, desirable. :-) Cheers, Lorenzo>

RE: white spot again Bob, We've been raising temp. lowering salinity and have 2 cleaner shrimp. This is the second white spot/dark spot outbreak and this time it is worse and has spread to damsels from the tang this time. The cleaners aren't visiting the damsels. I fear we need to consider other alternatives. Sorry to sound like a broken record. 1.Dark Spot: This is the second time we've found dark spots on our tang. He's very thin even though he eats alot and the salinity/temp isn't kicking it. I FINALLY found what it was on http://www.wetwebmedia.com/parasiti.htm . I enjoyed your "dips/baths" section on your site and in your book. I cite you and Tullock below. You recommend against the picric acid in favor of a fresh water dip?  <Yes> Perhaps Methylene Blue? How many treatments?  <Yes, and as few "as it takes"> In your book you suggest that a dip should last 2-10 minutes. That's a huge range--any guidelines? Should we just dip until the fish looks bad if the medicine does not specify? <Best to "keep an eye" on the livestock all during dip procedure... the full ten minutes is recommended if the specimens don't appear to be suffering too greatly. Bob Fenner> ********************* Fenner: "Turbellarians, a group in the flatworm Phylum Platyhelminthes are mostly "free-living" non-parasitic species. One notable exception is Paravortex, the causative agent of "black spot disease", notably of yellow tangs. This is easily eliminated via freshwater dipping, though other authors suggest formalin baths and organophosphate remedies.Turbellarians, a group in the flatworm Phylum Platyhelminthes are mostly "free-living" non-parasitic species. One notable exception is Paravortex, the causative agent of "black spot disease", notably of yellow tangs. This is easily eliminated via freshwater dipping, though other authors suggest formalin baths and organophosphate remedies." Tullock (1997)p.256 "Black Spot disease of tangs"... [an] "external worm parasite...a flatworm that burrows under the fish's skin making it appear as if the fish has been dusted with black pepper...". He recommends treatment with a dip in seawater with "picric acid". *********************** 2.Copper behavior: Good suggestion asking the dealer to check the copper kit. So can I infer that you suggest that a response to therapeutic dose of copper should be no different from a normal acclimation response? <About so, yes> I noticed you've published on the subject (Fenner, Bob 1992. Copper poisoning. FAMA 3/92). By the way, checked the nitrites the next day. It was on the way up. The fish was more sensitive than the kit. <Yes> 3.Game plan: Other than giving up, here are the strategies I found at your FAQ's. The parasite is in the system forever unless I do the following: Put the fish in the hospital tank with copper for 2 weeks (can 5 damsels and a naso tang survive in a 29 gallon tank with an Emperor 280 filter?).  <Should be okay... even for the Naso if it is not too debilitated> Keep fish out of main tank for 1-2 months. Before I take the tang out of the main tank, I'm trying to find something other than flakes that he'll eat (tried Nori, lettuce, Chinese cabbage, several varieties of kombu--left in tank for 1 week). If I delay long enough, maybe this too shall pass...It's hard to live from one outbreak to the next. It takes the joy out of the hobby. <Indeed... out of life. Bob Fenner> Thanks again, Allyson

Ich, Icky Tanks, Catalina Gobies... Hi There, I have been reading and reading about ICH and still have a couple of questions. I have a 58 gallon marine tank with live rock, cleaner shrimp, snails, crabs. I had 4 fish: Catalina Goby (deceased), Flame Angel, Fire Fish, & a Scooter Blenny. <You're read about the Catalina Goby... among other places on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com, and know it's a cool/cold water species...> I have only had my tank since December 2000 and have been very careful with the set up and care. I have been following all of the 'rules' and allowed the tank to cycle for a good 2 months before introducing fish, etc... All was going very well until I added the catalina goby into the tank. <Oh oh> First mistake... I had not yet purchased a 'hospital' tank. Second mistake...trusted what lfs 'expert' was telling me. <A discerning intelligent mind is essential... listen to all, decide for yourself> When I purchased the catalina I noticed some white spots on it and the lfs owner said the fish had just been a little stressed because another fish had been chasing it and not to worry - just fine to add to my aquarium... WRONG! From everything I have read, I believe the catalina had ICH. The white spots went away after about a week so I thought all was fine... then the white spots came back about 2 weeks later and they were much worse. The other fish were all fine so I wasn't sure what to do. Spoke with lfs owner and was told not to worry... <Yes, the ich just "cycled" off the one fish, reproduced in your tank... cycled back to trophont/feeding stages on your other fishes> Well, I began doing more reading and learned how ich does 'go away' while it is going into phase II and then how it comes back... This is exactly what happened. <Oh, yes> Anyway, I ran out and purchased a hospital tank and set it up. Catalina died that same day and I noticed my Flame Angel covered in small white spots. Took out Flame, Fire fish, and Scooter and put in hospital tank with CopperSafe. They are all eating well and I do believe Flame is looking much better (it has only been a week in the hospital tank). My question is...what do I do now? How long will it take for the ICH to die in the hospital tank? When I do my water change in the hospital tank do I continue to medicate and for how long? I want to make sure all the ICH is killed... I have raised the temp in the main aquarium and lowered the salt as I have read. I will do a complete water change before putting the fish back into the main aquarium. I have also read it will take 2 months for my main aquarium to be safe again for my fish. Is there a way I will know for sure it is safe? <Please do read through the "FAQs" sections on "Treating Marine Parasitic Disease" on the WWM site... the above covered there> Oh, also I have just noticed in the past week when I very first turn on the lights in my main aquarium... there are these little bugs in the tank that quickly go into hiding when the lights go on. Are these supposed to be in there? I did not have them until just this past week... I have read about some sort of little white bugs that you need to have in your tank before you can have a mandarin as that is what they eat... Could these just be those bugs or could this have something to do with the ICH?? <Nothing to do with the ich... "life" of no harm...> I have learned a valuable lesson the hard way. I thought I was being so careful and patient. :0( Well, I now have a hospital tank and will be sure to keep all new fish in that tank for 2-4 weeks no matter what the lfs owner says! <Yes> Thanks for all of your help. I sure hope my little fish make it they are just beautiful. Many Thanks, Christine <I am with you my friend. Bob Fenner>

Reef-Safe Ick Treatments Hello again ! OK, I am guilty, I admit it. I have a quarantine tank, but don't use it and guess what.....My 300 gallon reef tank has an outbreak of Ich. <Yikes... I wish we had a dollar for each of these incidents... could travel continuously on the cash flow...> I have tried to run my tank naturally, as you suggested to me earlier, specifically to combat the Red Slime algae beast. I HATE to use any chemicals, but I heard of some new "miracle cures" for ich that claim to be effective and reef-safe. They are called Rally, Ecolibrium, and Kick-Ich all without copper or any chemicals that injure inverts (so they claim). <I know of these products, claims> It seems to me I have two choices: 1. Use one of these chemicals 2. Remove all of my fish for 3 -4 weeks and treat them all with copper-sulfate. <There are other alternatives that I would try> The first choice is easier since I only have a 10 gallon quarantine tank. <Hmm> Can you recommend any of these reef-safe medications ? <No... none are safe and effective... sometimes do work... other times...> Also, I heard that soaking fish food in liquid garlic can help them fight off Ick. <There are folks who have stated that this is so... IMO/E, not consistently.> Please help...I promise to use my quarantine tank from now on.... A humble reefer, Chuck Spyropulos <Hopefully not to be further humbled... I would do the environmental manipulation, vitamin addition, use of biological cleaners actions detailed in various FAQs sections on "Marine Parasitic Disease..." on our website: www.WetWebMedia.com and do them NOW. Bob Fenner>

Re: Reef-Safe Ick Treatments Hi Bob, By environmental manipulation do you mean reducing the spg to 1.017 and increasing temp to 84 degrees ? Is this safe for corals and inverts (especially heteractis magnifica and haddoni anemones) ? <Yes... and detailed in various places on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com> I went out and got more cleaner shrimp...I now have 8 lysmata ambonesis and 8 or so lysmata werdamani. Also have one lysmata debelius. Is this enough cleaner action ? <Yes... a bunch.> thanks again cts <You're welcome my friend. Bob Fenner>

white spot in a reef tank Hello Robert- <Hi there> We have spotted white spot on two of our tangs- a scopas tang and a blue-eyed tang. The scopas is new and we made the big mistake of not quarantining him.  <Arghhh... woulda/coulda/shoulda... I bet> We have a 120 gallon tank with bio filter, and approximately 110 pounds of live rock, two large ocellaris clowns, two small maroon clowns, two large cardinalfish and their brand new baby and a yellow tang. We know we should get them out and move them into our hospital tank (30 gal), however, we are unable to catch them! Are there any other ways to treat this in a reef tank?  <Yes... a few approaches to try and quick... Do look over the various "Marine Parasitic Disease" and "Treatment" sections and FAQ files on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com for more, but I would try adding a vitamin mix to the water and the fishes foods (like Selcon), AND adding a couple of types of purposeful cleaners (Lysmata Shrimp, Gobiosoma gobies likely...) and NOW... as in don't hesitate... > We also have four beautiful anemones we don't want to hurt and many shrimp, crabs and snails. Also, if we move ALL the fish out, we are afraid of hurting the new baby cardinalfish- he is only two weeks old. Can cleaner shrimp help? Is there any other ways to deal with this? <A few more things can be tried before actual removal of the fishes or alternatively all other life... read and act... Bob Fenner> Erin in Issaquah, WA

A big tank with a big Ich problem Bob, Please contact me, I've been fighting ich for 1 year now. I've tried everything I know. They problem has taken over my tank. I have ich to a degree that it is killiing my fish by the hour. I dont think I've missed anything on this setup. Well I guess thats not true. Any help would be appreciated. E Rood <Yeeikes... are you sure this is "ich"? You've tried environmental manipulation, cleaners? You well know the routine... taking the fish host life out... treating them elsewhere... likely with copper-based medication, test kit... Not much more that I can say generally or specifically that isn't posted on the topic on www.WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner>

Help!! (Marine Parasitic Disease) Hello Mr Fenner: I have a real dilemma. I have a 40 gallon reef tank that has been running for two years. Recently I purchased a black cap basslet, but I put him straight in my tank. About four days later I noticed a couple of white marks on the basslet not really dots, but almost slimy oval shaped things. The next day He was dead . In my tank I had a pygmy lion, Bicolor blenny, a yellow coris Wrasse, Catalina Goby ,and Yellow Head Jawfish. Well yesterday my Jawfish died and He had puffy eyes. The main problem is that the Catalina Goby is infested by this and He is impossible to catch. What to do?????? What is this disease????? So far the Wrasse, Lion, and Blenny seem unaffected. I know I've should have dipped the fish , but I guess you learn by your mistakes. Thanks for your response. <Ummm, could be a common reef scourge like Cryptocaryon... irrespective of what it looks like... the worm group and crustacean diseases of fishes... but they don't "cross over" to the groups of fishes you list in any (to me) known pattern... What to do at this point? I would take the tank apart (remove the rock, other material) and about half the water... move the fishes to a separate system, treat with environmental manipulation and copper as covered on www.WetWebMedia.com and fill the main/display tank back up with tapwater... yes, just fresh... and return the fishes after a month (if they survive) to the system... with slowly increased spg, and lowered temperature... and added cleaner organisms... develop and adhere to a strict quarantine/acclimation protocol. Bob Fenner>

Oh No! Parasite City! Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda Bob, I appreciate your help and really enjoyed your book. <Me too> I got a pretty serious problem. I have a 125gal. with a 30 gal sump. I've got what appears as an infestation of Amyloodinium or some parasitic desease. It has wiped my entire fish population with the exception of a pink and blue goby. I now have a better knowledge of the need for a quarantine tank and it's use. However, my problem is where and how to proceed from here. Tha tank has several soft and hard corals, sea mats, feather dusters, shrimp, brittle stars, dozens of snails, and 130 pounds of live rock. I have a 30 gal quarantine tank ready to go but cannot hold everything. <Yikesville...> My questions is should I remove as much of the life as possible and treat the tank aggressively with copper sulfate?  <This is one approach... either letting the tank go fallow (w/o fish hosts... with lowered spg., elevated temperature... or...> Can I leave the live rock in, surely much will die there as well? <Yes... in time> Do I need to fully breakdown the tank start with new sand and/or rock?  <Not necessarily... more below> Will the corals act as carriers to the parasite and just reintroduce the parasite when the tank is cleaned?  <No, but the daughter cells/generation that is resting in/on the substrate can> Can I briefly dip the corals in Hydroplex to eliminate this threat? Will the tank be allowed to "go fallow" with the absence of fish life only? Can snails, shrimp, sea stars, corals hard and soft be carriers of the parasite? <Their hard non-living surfaces yes> Sorry to lay all this on you. I have gained a lot of respect for you in reading your book and consistantly reading your website. I am at a loss and don't want to give up this great yet expensive hobby yet. I have a couple other smaller tanks that are doing very well. I'm afraid to transfer any the the life from the big tank over. Could you help me please? <Yes, and be careful to not inadvertantly transfer the problem to your other systems... keep all nets, wet-gear (like hands) separated...> Thank you very much in advance. Dan Hutchings <Do please read over the ich, velvet, copper use, marine parasite and associated FAQs files on the WWM site (www.wetwebmedia.com) in the Marine Index, and set about a plan for eradicating this pest from your system... I have gone over this scenario a few times before/there... and pledge to develop and strictly adhere to a policy of dips/baths and quarantine for all new fish livestock... Bob Fenner>

a modest proposal (re treating parasites) Hi Robert, Thank you for your message. I am disappointed by it's content, but resigned! :-) This won't be as easy as I had hoped. I am forwarding you a message (below) from a local enthusiast who keeps a hospital tank cycled FYI. <How handy!> I have some follow-up questions relating to your message. You seem to say that I should dose my main tank with copper. I was under the impression that this was a major no-no, and that carbon or no carbon it would kill my crabs snails and starfish as well as poison my tank long-term. Perhaps I misunderstood you? <Life is indeed a series of compromises... and unfortunately your tank now "has the ich"... Coppering a main/display system IS generally to be avoided, but not at ALL costs... Would you rather that your fish be cured elsewhere only to be reinfected on their return? Such are the insidious natures of these problems... and believe me, I've spent decades traveling about the tropics "helping" collectors, transshippers, wholesalers to develop protocols for excluding these (simple protozoan) parasite problems from the supply chain... The last few years have seen a "cycling" or loss of these practices... to the chagrin of hobbyists and loss (of course) of business and trust in the trade> I will unplug the UGF the second the protein skimmer is installed. Is it safe to do so in advance? I do have a powerhead rated for 90G in there stirring things up, so I am not that concerned about circulation. However, I have (in the last 20 minutes or so) hatched a backup plan to use the canister as a quick-cycle hospital setup. <Better to have these events overlap a week or so... leave the UG filter going for a few days while the skimmer is coming on line> The starfish is this one (I found it on your site) http://www.wetwebmedia.com/EchinodermPIX/Asteroids/Archaster.jpg <A worthy animal> My plan right now is: 1) take the fish out of the main tank, and get them into a safe hospital tank. Perhaps I can do this with my eheim canister in a brand new tank filled with 50%+ water from my main tank if Kevin declines (has my canister enough bacteria to keep the cycle?) <Only experience will tell... If it's been on a cycled tank for a couple of weeks plus probably> I will dose that tank with a copper medicine for marine ich, and keep the fish in there until the main tank is safe. 2) reduce spg in the main tank (while the starfish, live rock, snails, and crabs are still in there) to 1.017, and increase temperature to 82. This will severely stress and maybe kill some of those animals, but will also sicken and quicken the lifecycle of the ich. <Likely not to kill the animals... as you'll see, they're tough, and tolerant to such changes... but yes to the lowered pathogenicity> If I start (2) on day 1, I should be able to return the tank to normal chemistry and put the fish back in on day... (?) 30? Sooner would be better, obviously. <This is cutting the time frame to absolute minimum (as in two months would be much better), but yes, a good plan> Thanks again for you help, Paul Hi Kevin, <You're welcome. Bob Fenner.>

Thanks questions, and a tip (disease, parasitic, marine f') Hi Robert, I'm writing to thank you and to let you know how my battle with marine ich worked out. As you know, a local enthusiast agreed to act as Dr. during my time away at Christmas. The hippo tang was in poor shape by the time I got him to Kevin's, and I had wanted to euthanize him the day before but hadn't as I had arranged to see Kevin and wanted a second opinion. Unfortunately, he agreed with me, and he is dead. The cherub angel, on the other hand, went into Kevin's quarantine. There were no spots at the time, and Kevin said he would monitor the fish for spots and treat with copper only if necessary. He did see some and treated with a quarter dose. (I don't know how effective copper is at that dosage - any input?) <This is a threshold value situation... anything less than a therapeutic dose is more harmful than beneficial> The tank has been fish-fallowing since December 17th. I am taking the cherub angel back from Kevin on Sunday, and I won't put him back into the main tank until January 14th (4 weeks). Do you think it's possible to place him in any earlier than that? I want to play it safe. <No, wait a good month, or two... with the aforementioned/covered environmental manipulation.> I have recently added a fire cleaner shrimp, a red hermit, and a few tiny blue hermit crabs. They are very fun to watch. I know you don't like them very much, but I don't understand exactly why or what you prefer. Would you care to elaborate? <Hmm, don't like these crustaceans? I do indeed like them... Starting to sound like Geisel/Seuss here...> I am thinking of adding either a royal gramma or a blackcap gramma to the tank (input welcome).  <Great aquarium species> I would like to see interesting behaviour, and I wonder if it would be possible to add a fish and make a mated pair with either the cherub angel or the gramma. Is it as easy as adding a juvenile of the species?  <Sort of... having a large enough system, a few to choose amongst themselves... time going by...> Is it difficult to identify a juvenile?  <Smallish members of the species... an inch or two.> Is three fish of this type too much for a 33G tank? <Yes... need about three times that size> Perhaps you think I would have more fun by adding a third, different fish; if so which one? (I am trying to loosely stick with deeper TWA as a theme.) <Perhaps a Gobiosoma goby or other gobioid, blennioid fish... or an Opistognathid/Jawfish?...> Thanks in advance, and the tip I promised: FYI, there are notes to your editor still inline in this page: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/grammas.htm <Ah, thank you for this... am slowly, ever so excruciatingly getting to "old" files (it is, just me...). Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner> Warm regards and happy new year, Paul

Re: reef aquarium and ick Dear Bob, Thanks so much for making yourself available to answer questions for us out  here that are in love with marine life and try to duplicate it. I have  enjoyed reading your answers to the many questions that are sent your way.  I hope that you will be able to give me some information on how to fix  this reoccurring ick problem that I have. <Hope to/so> I presently have three tanks. The first one is a 29 gal. Eclipse, the  second a 12gal. Eclipse, and a 10 gal. hospital tank. I have had the larger tank set up for the past six months. The problem is  with my 29gal tank. I keep getting ick no matter what I do. The first  time was after I added fish after the cycling was completed. Started with  just some damsels and then added a tang. Of course I did not go through  the quarantine process and had to treat the whole tank. <Argghhh. Coulda, woulda, shoulda... We can start a club...> I did not lose all  of my live rock. Everything seemed to be going well until I added curlicue  anemone and then ick came back. I used a product called Green X (not sure  of spelling, through product out) and had a strange thing happen. The  first time that I put the product in the tank everything (fish) seemed  okay. But upon the second treatment the product appeared to have "burned"  all of the fish. The damsels were washed out of color and seemed to be  stressed. I believed I even lost one fish. Figured that I must have done  something wrong. The fish recovered and things appeared to be back to  normal. Still hadn't learned my lesson and added a tang to my tank with  out quarantining him. Nothing happened at first but within two and a half  months he developed ick. Green X was still recommended to me to use where  as I had live rocks and invertebrates. (anemone and hermit crabs). The  first dose everyone was okay. I made sure that I paid close attention to  the directions and skipped the second day and dosed the third day per  instructions. I lost all of my fish, including the tang, who was my  favorite. The anemones and hermit crabs all survived. Wasn't sure about  the anemones for a while. Again they all had signs of being "burnt". No  one that I mentioned this to believes me. But I know that I followed  instructions and for this to have happened twice is more than a  coincidence. Needless to say I went out and bought the 12 gal intending to  use it as a hospital tank. I did use it at first but then decided to go  with a 10 gal down in the basement and use my 12 gal. for clown fish and  anemones. Have had good luck so far with the 12 gal. No problems with ick  or anything. <Greenex... a combination of formalin and malachite... responsible for killing more livestock than you can imagine... Neither safe, nor effective... Glad to find you didn't quit the hobby... You're free to relate this back to whoever endorsed its use and they are certainly welcome to contact me re.> I now have in my 29 gal. a strawberry basslet, a royal gramma, a yellow  tail damsel, pygmy angle, and a blenny. They were purchased in two groups  each group being quarantine for three weeks in a hospital tank with copper.  The only fish that seemed to have a reoccurring problem was the basslet  whom seemed to have this white coating on him. I treated him in the  hospital tank with Metaflex in conjunction with the copper and he appeared  to be fine when I put him in the main tank. That was three weeks ago. For  a period of 4-5 weeks with the exception of two cleaner shrimp, the  curlicue anemones and hermit crabs there has been nothing in the tank.  After the first week of the introduction of fish to the tank the basslet  showed signs of ick again. Also the blenny started darting and scratching.  I bought the product MarinOomed by Tetra. It seemed to help somewhat but  I could tell that the ick was not completely gone. Followed instructions,  ran a carbon filter for 24 hours, and than re-dosed. The basslet seemed a  lot better. The problem arises after the medication seems to wear off.  Now into my third week and the blenny, basslet, and gramma all have  definite ick. I am starting to lose patience. I have now removed the  anemones and cleaner shrimp to my 12 gal. I have just added CopperSafe to  the tank. The concern that I have after reading your response to other  inquires is that I could find no listing on the box, bottle, or  instructions as to the ingredients of CopperSafe. Is it a "free copper" or  "ionic copper"? <The active ingredient in all copper-based medications is both "free" and "ionic"... that is, it is free cupric ion, Cu++... the test kits and other appurtenant issues such as stability in water are the only real issues.> I know that you don't want to use "chelated copper" as it  is not good for the tank nor does it get rid of parasites. I also know  that I might lose my live rock but I have tried the quarantine method and  figured that the ick has to be in my main tank. I am hoping to at least  control the ick in the main tank. Have decided to go with only fish in the  tank. If the live rock all die, than I will either have to replace or go  strictly with artificial rock. Can you help or advise what I am doing  wrong? Thanks again, Kathy >> <Where to start here? I know: Your system has the ich/cryptocaryon, not your fishes... and there are a few approaches to rendering the ich feeding stages (tomites) less pathogenic... Please do read over the materials stored on our site concerning this: Home Page and consider doing the lowered specific gravity, elevated temperature, letting the system "go fallow" (i.e. without host fishes) for a good month (or two) as your best shot at weakening the parasites... Also, read over the "Three Sets of Factors that Determine... section on the site... You are on the path of understanding and controlling (though not eradicating entirely) your ich situation. Don't give up. Bob Fenner>

RE: reef aquarium and ick Dear Bob, Thank-you so much for replying back to me. I have been bombarded with  information and all of it at time seem so confusing and contradicting that  it is so hard to know where to turn to get reliable info. <Par for the course in our interest... and life itself, as you'll find. The need/utility for a discriminating mind, eye and ear is requisite> Since I last wrote you I have removed most of my life rock with the  exception of a few pieces that I left in the tank to provide hiding place  for the fish. It was a lot easier to do that than to remove the fish. I  gave the live rock a fresh water dip and then placed them in my ten gallon  hospital tank (the tank has been running clean for the past four weeks with  no meds.) until it is safe to put back into my main tank. I have raised  the temp. in my main tank to 82-83 degrees and lowed the specific gravity  to 1.018 - 1.017 and have dosed with CopperSafe. I am using the DRY-TAB  copper test kit that measures free and chelated copper. At what range  should the copper be reading in? I have it around the 2.0ppm range is that  too high, low?  <About right... do measure and adjust daily> Also how long should I run the copper for?  <Two weeks> All the fish  seem to be doing okay (eating, swimming). Though they still show some signs  of the "Ick". How do you feel about Melafix?  <Not safe or dependable... a shame, as the folks who own, run Aq. Pharm. are friends, and otherwise have reputable wares> Is it okay to use with the copper treatment? <Don't know... but wouldn't use period.> Should I be concerned that the "ick" is on my live rock?  <Marginally... w/o hosts will lose infectiousness in about a month... can be/should be dipped, left in very low spg (as in 1.010 density) for a week or two...> ( the rock that I transferred ) What I don't understand, is if the parasite  can live in the sand and stay dormant for a period of time, why wouldn't it  be able to live in or on the rock?)  <Resting stages... of Cryptocaryon (among other parasites) are resistant, can "wait"... makes sense as an "unfolding" strategy, eh?> If I treat the main tank with the  copper for the next few weeks will I get rid of the ick? <Likely yes... generally, new outbreaks originate from "outside" sources after the regimen you are attempting... be diligent in your livestock selection, consequent dipping, quarantine procedures> Is there any such  thing as really having a tank that is "ick" free? <For marine systems, yes. Excluded... it doesn't come in "from the air"... but only on infested fishes... Different of freshwater, Ichthyophthiriasis....> And as for letting the main tank "go fallow" do I remove the fish once the  copper treatment is over and leave them in the hospital tank for the next  few months? <A month should be sufficient. Then very likely can be returned... with some cleaners...> I know that these questions are redundant to you and I can only tell you  how thankful I am that you have taken the time to answer the many questions  that come your way. I have down loaded quite a bit of info from your site  and have learned a lot from the questions and answers. I hope that with a  better understanding of the "ick parasite" that I might be better able to  control it in the future. Once again, my heartfelt thanks for helping me  out, Kathy >> <You are most certainly welcome. Glad to be of assistance. Bob Fenner>

Ich My curent reef tank is doing well except for the introduction of fish.  Almost every new fish I put in the system either succumb to ich or suddenly disappear. The big ones such as tangs, angels, and butterflies got ich whereas the small damsels and chromises vanish within 24 hours even though they appear healthy the day before. All parameters check out perfectly and the inverts (corals, anemones, and shrimp) are prospering. I had a hippo tang that contracted ich 4 months ago. Could this still be in the water and if so, how do I get rid of it? >> Wow... well, there is/are some mischief maker(s) in your system... likely a Mantis Shrimp (order Stomatopoda), that you want to get rid of... by baiting it out near night time/lights out with some meaty chunk of food near the front corner... ready with a flashlight and net... or better, by conditioning the rogue fish eater with the same sort of meaty food (once again right after turning off the lights), then placing the same bait in a "live mouse trap" (aka Mantis Shrimp trap...)... get rid of this critter before buying any more small fishes/food for it. The entrenched ich problem... yes, it is IN YOUR SYSTEM... a few ways to approach this... If it were me, I'd take all the fishes out, treat them in a separate system... and freshwater dip (pH adjusted) on the way there and on the way back (in a month or two...)... The main tank, I'd dump out, fill with straight freshwater... for a day or two, refill then with lower the specific gravity (1.010) for a week, then raise it back to normal... raise the temperature to 84F. in an attempt to speed up, get rid of the ich parasites in various life stages in your system (Lower it back down before returning fish livestock)... and before returning your fish livestock... place some biological Cleaners to help ward off any residuals... give comfort to your fish livestock.  Yes, this process is going to whip your live rock organisms... not totally though, and Yes, get rid of that Mantis Shrimp (or giant worm, Pistol Shrimps...) in addition to the work on ridding the ich... And, of course, henceforth, dip, quarantine all incoming fish livestock... to exclude these external parasite problems getting into your system in the first place. Bob Fenner, who encourages you to read to your satisfaction, the pieces on "dips/baths", "quarantine", "acclimation techniques", "cryptocaryoniasis/ich", "shrimp", "treatment systems"... posted on the URL: www.wetwebmedia.com 

Bob- Bought some new fish and a soft coral - didn't quarantine and about a week  later ta-da; ich infestation! One of the new fish was a lawnmower blenny and  he didn;t show any signs of ich. Lost 3 other fish and one is still in the  hospital. my questions are: 1. Can soft coral carry ich? 2. Can a lawnmower blenny carry ich and not show it? 3. The lawnmower blenny is still in the main tank; can he still be a host? 4. Can a UV sterilizer solve this problem (and any others before they occur)? Thanks Bob (and Flying Fish) for this service!!! >> Yikes... woulda, coulda, shoulda... next time dips and quarantine.... 1. Not likely. 2. Yes, of a certainty. 3. See 2. 4. No, the UV can help... improve water quality, zap some of the free-swimming seeking stage of the ich parasites... but not the feeding ones on the fish, or the resting ones in the substrate... You might want to read the disease pieces stored at www.wetwebmedia.com for some more complete guidance... as in what you can do at this point to eradicate the "other" stages that are now in your system. Bob Fenner

Hello, all of my fish have died. Some have died from ich alone, and others from what looked like black ich (turbellarian worms). Nitrates, Nitrites, and Ammonia have all been zero for a while now. I was wondering what should I do to start over. I do have some live rock. And how long does it take the worms and ich to dye off in the tank?  >> Yikes, sorry to hear of your losses... If it were me, I'd do the following: dump the water out of the system and rinse the gravel, live rock thoroughly. Next I would refill the system with water of lower specific gravity (about 1.010 which won't kill all the organisms in your live rock but will hasten the demise of the ich)... and leave the system without fish livestock (you can place invertebrates, algae) for two months... and going forward, do get use effective acclimation and quarantine procedures... You can get my "formulas" for these in articles posted at www.wetwebmedia.com Bob Fenner

Ich Dear Bob: I have an ich problem that will not go away. I have a 90gal. tank with a  wet-dryfilter, a protein skimmer,an eheim canister filter and a uv light. I  have about 70 lbs. of live rock and a small amount of gravel. I have lowered  the specific gravity to 1.17 and also raised the temp. to 85. I have vacumed  the gravel as you suggested and after two 50% water changes two weeks in a  row the ich persists, no worse, no better. On the second week I added  coppersafe as directed and still no change. Can you help me I'm at a loss? I  love your column and would be lost without the q&a. Thanks, LC >> You added Coppersafe to your tank with the live rock? Please tell me no... and please do start making provisions to move your fish livestock to another "hospital" system... or move your live rock and non-fish livestock... to treat them in a setting that will allow the copper to stay at therapeutic levels (Do you have a copper test kit? You'd be amazed, will be amazed at how quickly your medication has disappeared... If I could move time backward, I would have suggested that in addition to the lowered spg. and elevated temperature you try some biological cleaners before resorting to copper treatment... Plan on keeping the fishes out of the main/resistant ich infested system for a good two months. Bob Fenner

I have two tanks which has had a recent bloom of ich.  One is a reef tank and the other is all fish. To the all fish tank, I am going to lower sp gravity to 1.017 and the temp up 83F. First question is how long should I have this running in this manner? Secondly, could I ever attempt to do something like this in a reef? (I have stony corals, anemones, mushrooms, zooanthids and a few soft corals.) In the process of doing this I was planning on transferring the fish from the reef (1 maroon clown, 1 cleaner wrasse, 1 six-line wrasse, 1 algae blenny) to the all fish tank so they could become ich-free as well. How long should I leave the fish from the reef in the all fish tank? My logic is that if there are no hosts for the ich parasites, shouldn't they die soon enough? Also, just to make certain, the ich would have no effects to the shrimp, and echinoderms would they? Thank you for your help!!! < Well, first things first... It is likely that manipulating the temp. and spg. alone will not effect a cure of an existing ich problem... You should either try biological cleaners in addition, or skip right ahead to a copper treatment.... Next item: most types of the animals you mention will weather the manipulation stated... most corals, zoanthids, etc. will adapt to a spg of 1.017 and 83 F. water for a few weeks.... They won't like it... and it's nothing I would do as a "cure"... itself... Ich is best prevented by dip/bath and quarantine procedures.... Lastly, and this is probably the part you're REALLY going to dislike, the ich parasite itself can remain "dormant" in encysted stages for a few months.... so, once your fishes are Ich free, you still will have to keep conditions ideal, use biological cleaners, wait a good long time... and be fortunate. Bob Fenner>

Recurring Salt-Water Ick Problem Dear Mr. Fenner, I have a sixty gallons tank with 50 lbs. of live rocks, wet dry  filter, protein skimmer and a 25 W UV sterilizer. I keep the water temp at  constant 80 degrees with a 250W Visi-Therm heater. In addition, I have a  cleaner wrasse and three cleaner shrimps in the tank. I don't know why my  tank have ick problem over and over again. I used 0.5 ppm copper solution in  the tank. But, it is only effective for few weeks. I thought the UV unit  should take care of the problem. Well, I even have more problems now since I  added some corals to my tank. That means I cannot use copper again. Please  help out and give me a long term solution to keep the ick reappearing in my  tank. I just don't know how the most pet shops keep their reef tank  ick-free. Help ! Help ! Help ! >> Where to start? At the beginning? No, you're already in the middle (en medea res) of things... You can/should remove all the fishes to another system... that lacks calcareous material (so it won't interfere with the treatment) and use a sequestered copper product like Cupramine... and a test kit... to rid the fishes of the problem there... and then leave them there for... at least two months (this sometimes takes even longer)... to give the ich organisms time to "lose infectiousness" in your main system before returning them.... And henceforth, dip/bath and quarantine all new fish livestock. The UV will not, cannot cure ich. Bob Fenner

Treating Ick In A Reef Tank

Is there a safe proven method and/or medication for treating salt water ick  in a reef tank without having to remove either the fish or the inverts? I  recently had an outbreak in my 60 gal reef tank. The tank houses a number of  soft and hard corals with numerous invertebrates, i.e., starfish, cleaner  shrimps, giant clam and a sea cucumber. I've been trying Coral Vital, but it  doesn't seem to be working. I also have a live sand bed with approx. 70 lb.  of live rock. Catching my fish would almost be impossible without completely  taking the tank apart.  Help, Mike Flowers < IMO, no, there is not a single "med." that works in a stocked reef tank that is safe AND effective.... The manufacturers' claims for some products are fallacious... and I do wish there was some simple, inexpensive, and FAST way to get them to retract them... Maybe we're doing that here! Barring optimizing the captive environment, biological cleaners, the best means for preventing/treating such ectoparasitic problems is procuring initially clean, healthy livestock, and dip/bath and quarantine measures...  Should you want my details of the latter protocols, they are archived in articles at www.wetwebmedia.com At this point... you should do as you list... take the system apart to the point of being able to capture the fishes... and leave the main tank "fallow" for a couple of months. Sincerely, Bob Fenner>

I am running a 47 gallon bowfront tank using a HOT Magnum and Emperor 280 filter and two 90 watt power compacts. The tank is mainly marine. I do have a couple of leathers and a small mushroom colony on about 40 lbs of live rock and no substrate. Over the last month I have had an excessive die-off of the fish in this tank; mainly angels with a porcupine puffer. A couple of days ago I saw that it was actually Velvet that was killing my fish, and I moved the two remaining fish into a quarantine tank and began treating them with cupramine (?) and low salinity. How can I get rid of the velvet from the tank so that when the fish have completed their quarantine I can re-introduce them into the tank without the chance of reinfection? Thank you for all of your help, James Teel < Good descriptions, complete information... much appreciated. The Velvet (a dinoflagellate, Amyloodinium) can be persistent in an established marine system, even with acceptable hostfishes removed. If it were me, I'd wait a good month (or two) after your fishes are apparently cured to return them to the main tank. Ahead of them I'd place two Gobiosoma gobies... as bioassay organisms and facultative cleaners for your returned fish livestock. Next time... let's say it all together now! Quarantine all new specimens... Bob Fenner>

Question: Well, it appears that a Blue Tang (newly introduced) has acquired ICH (no a dip was not used and yes I have learned my lesson for the next introduction of fish). The setup of my tank almost requires a complete tear down to remotely remove him and I am aware that copper is a "NO-NO" for my eventual reef desires. Is it possible to utilize Malachite Green or some other chemical without harmful damage? Currently, to my knowledge or what I can see naturally growing on my live rock, I have no corals or clams but do wish to add them in the future (at least coral). Since there are no corals/clams is my tank actually considered fish/invertebrate tank with live rock.

Also, could you please elaborate on what you mean by light/dark cycles regarding main tank and sump. Do you mean that when the main lights are "on" the sumps lights are "off" and vice-versa?

Bob's Answer: Franco, Arghhh, I share your frustration. The real answer is no to treat the system with any chemical agent that would be efficacious w/o severely mal- affecting the other livestock. If it is something that just looks like "ich" that has not shown up on your other fishes, I would not necessarily jump to a conclusion and start dismantling....

Even if it is Cryptocaryon or some other infectious agent that produces spots, it may self-cure (yes) given your optimized system, high water quality and initial good health of the other fish-life. If it were my tank, I'd add a couple of facultative cleaners, probably gobies of the genus Gobiosoma... there are a couple of species that are now consistently tank bred and reared (my fave G. oceanops), and/or shrimp of the genus Lysmata... do so and see if they can tilt the scales in your and your fishes advantage.

Question: I have a 90 gallon aquarium with about 50 lbs of live rock, snails and crabs, Kole Tang, Blue Tang and a maroon clown. Both Tangs have gotten Ich. I removed them and placed them in a hospital tank and treating with copper. The maroon seems to be doing fine. How long do I have to wait before I can put the Tangs back in the tank? Will the Ich in the big tank go away without treatment as I do not want to kill what is growing on the rocks or kill the snails and crabs?

Bob's Answer: I would wait a good month before "trying" to return the two tangs. Most likely your "ich" problem will cure itself by then (loss of numbers, degree of infectiousness of Cryptocarion.) and you probably will not suffer further GIVEN the dedicated use of your quarantine system (with or w/o a dipping bath protocol in addnition) in future.

The protozoan most likely came in on one or both tangs, and opportunistically evidenced itself on weakened/just transported fishes and small confines of the tank. Even in "older" set-ups (yours at 2 yrs.) these parasites cannot "rest" forever without losing most virulence. Good luck.

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