Ich refers to a common disease that affects all types of marine aquarium fish and freshwater fish. It’s caused by protozoan Ichthyopthirius.
If you have a pet fish, you will encounter this disease at some point. Although ich is very easy to treat, it is the most common cause of fish deaths. Treating the disease is one thing, it’s another to administering the right medicine. If the drugs are not administered properly, it could cause serious health problems to other tank inhabitants.
Symptoms of Ich
The telltale signs of an ich include white spots all over the gills and body. If left untreated, the fish will start aggravating the white spots. It will rub itself on any surface or scratch the sides of the tank to ease the discomfort. Eventually, the disease will lead to respiratory distress, loss of appetite, severe agitation and then death.
The life cycle of protozoan Ichthyopthirius is dependent on the temperature. The microbes have to be killed during the tomite stage. During the tomite stage, the microbes cannot attach themselves to other fish. Otherwise, the microbes will start infecting the fish. The first step is to treat the tank. Start by gradually raising the tank temperature to 82 degrees Fahrenheit in a 48-hour duration. This will delay the proliferation of the microbes.
Meanwhile, put the infected fish in a quarantine tank. This way, the disease won’t spread to other tank inhabitants. If you don’t have a quarantine tank, start cleaning the tank thoroughly. Add water conditioner to the water before bringing all the fish back in.
Now to treat the fish, you have to administer the drug. This is meant to kill all the remaining ich in the water. Your vet will recommend an anti-parasitic drug to kill the microbes. Go for drugs with malachite green or methylene blue as the active ingredient. Always check the label to be on the safe side. These ingredients are effective in killing Ichthyopthirius.
To administer the drug, check the instruction. Pay close attention on the measurements or dosage. You can use a syringe or a medicine dropper to add a measured amount of the drug straight to the water. The ich won’t die from the drug right away, especially if it’s still attached to the fish. What you want is to gradually treat the water with the medicine to eliminate the microbes.
We recommend adding the medication at least once per week. You can go and use the drug for several days after a week just to make sure all the microbes are dead. If you are treating a fish with white spots, do so in an isolated area. Although the drug won’t harm some fish, it’s toxic to catfish and frogs.
Also, if the treated tank has a carbon filter, remove the carbon filter first before treating the fish. The medication could be trapped in the filter and harm other tank inhabitants.
To prevent ich from coming back, prepare your own water testing kit. Always keep the water clean by changing every three to four days. Finally, treat the water with aquarium salt. Aquarium salt will kill any pests or microbes that affect aquarium fishes.