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Oh no Ich! Please help!


Lindsay Penrose
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Mistakes were made...I might be a terrible fish keeper.

I keep my aquarium in my office, it is 10 Gallons.  Planted with various small crypts, a couple of red flam swords and wendlov java fern. Water parameters by CoOp test strips are pictured below but the readings are Nitrate 25, Nitrate 0, GH 300, KH 120, pH 8.0, Chlorine 0, Ammonia 0.  I have 5 or 6 otocinclus (they're my favorite fish), 3 platys, a few amano and bloody mary shrimp, a nerite snail, 3 fresh water limpets, and pond snails.  Right now the aquarium is unheated because my old heater shorted and killed most of my bloody mary shrimp, I hadn't replaced it because my office isn't cooled at night or on weekends and summer in Texas is warm even when it's a cool summer like we are having.

I have been restocking my aquarium after most of my fish were given away just before covid hit.  I added 5 otos from my fish store 2 weeks ago today.  Then a friend gave me the 3 platys from his tank early last week.  I'm horrible because I didn't quarantine either groups because there weren't really any fish in the aquarium other than 2 otos that I had kept pre-covid.  I've never had ich before so I'm sure came from either the fish store or my friend's aquarium.  Shame on me for not doing quarantine meds, lesson learned.  When I left my office on Thursday of last week everything was fine, I was out of town and returned to my office today.  When I got to my office one of my otos had died leaving 5 or 6 (a couple of them hide so never sure how many there are) and all my other fish had white spots on them.  I have looked on the forum and online and I think it's ich.  

I know that the best treatments for ich are heat, salt and ich-X.  I treated my aquarium with ich-X today.  I am getting a temporary heater that is preset to 78F in the morning, that is the best I could do locally, but one that is adjustable will arrive on Friday from those people with the smile on their logo (emergency had to get it here really quick, otherwise I would have ordered it from the CoOp).  As soon as the adjustable heater arrives I will up the temp to 80F.  I already run 2 small sponge filters but I went ahead and added another air stone to make sure there's plenty of oxygen in the water. 

But I still have some questions:

1. I read that the treatment is to dose ich-X everyday after a 1/3 water change.  What should I do over the weekend?  I won't have access to my office for 2 days so I won't be able to do water changes and dose the ich-X?  

2. I know that aquarium salt is helpful, I have some that I bought a long time ago from the CoOp, but I read that otos might be sensitive to it.  Does anyone have experience in using salt with otos? How much can I use with otos?  If salt is the best thing I am not afraid to sacrifice my plants. 

3.  I think my fish are pretty eaten up with the ich parasites, should I treat them with antibiotics too to prevent secondary infections or should I wait it out and see how they do? 

4. Is 80F going to be safe for my fish? Should I go warmer than that? I know that 86F will kill the ich parasite but I don't want to hurt any of my inhabitants other than the ich. 

5. Bonus question:  I know aquarium salt is bad for plants, will it kill hair algae? 

Thank you for reading my long winded tail of woe.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  I feel like I failed my fish and I'm afraid I'm going to fail them again because I can't do the treatment as recommended.

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What I would do is the daily ick x treatments at the weekend put a single dose of of ick x in and leave it over the weekend do water change on Monday and redose I would all so add a small amount of aquarium salt 1 table spoon for 5 gallons am not sure about salt killing hair algae maybe someone else can chip in 

Edited by Colu
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What I would do is raise the water temp to somewhere between 81 and 83 degrees and keep it there permanently, ich can not survive temps above 80 degrees and most parasites don't either. All of my tanks are set for somewhere in this temp range and I save a great deal of money on fish meds, I haven't used any fish med in a very long time though I do have them.

About two months ago I bought six Neon tetras' to put in a 10 gallon tank with six other Neon's. After acclimating them and releasing them, I noticed that one had ich so I got one packet each of three API meds and set them on the table with the tank thinking that if that one fish died overnight or still had ich, I'd medicate the tank the following morning.

I got up, checked the tank, all twelve fish were still alive and the ich on the one had disappeared, I looked at the digital thermometer's readout that read 82.4. Those three packets of meds are still sitting there as I type this.  

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@Gator That's good to know about the temperature.  I have been nervous about setting mine too high because my office is not air conditioned outside of business hours and I worry about the water getting too hot, my office has been 90F on weekends in the summer.  But it sounds like you've had really good luck keeping your aquariums warm so I will give that a try.  Thank you for sharing your experience with me, I really appreciate it!

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On 7/21/2021 at 10:16 PM, Gator said:

What I would do is raise the water temp to somewhere between 81 and 83 degrees and keep it there permanently, ich can not survive temps above 80 degrees and most parasites don't either. All of my tanks are set for somewhere in this temp range and I save a great deal of money on fish meds, I haven't used any fish med in a very long time though I do have them.

About two months ago I bought six Neon tetras' to put in a 10 gallon tank with six other Neon's. After acclimating them and releasing them, I noticed that one had ich so I got one packet each of three API meds and set them on the table with the tank thinking that if that one fish died overnight or still had ich, I'd medicate the tank the following morning.

I got up, checked the tank, all twelve fish were still alive and the ich on the one had disappeared, I looked at the digital thermometer's readout that read 82.4. Those three packets of meds are still sitting there as I type this.  

its a wounder you don't find yourself fighting Columanaris from time to time

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Miss Dr. Chaos;

I went back to read your original post in case there was something I missed.

Maybe you made a mistake, but I don't think so. You're actually a smarter fish keeper than you're giving yourself credit for. You asked questions, and the schools I grew up going to stressed the importance of asking questions if you don't understand something, the only stupid question is the one you didn't ask.

I haven't used salt in any of my tanks since the '60's, I never will again, salt is not good for plants and doesn't really do that much for fish. Yeah, I know some people swear by salt, but I don't know why people are so willing to put themselves through so much of a hassle to use it. You have to remove all of the plants, dose the tank, then have to change water, add the plants, and then maybe have to do it all over again in a few days. Too much work, but my fish and plants are doing well without the hassle anyway.

In the photo's, your Platies definitely have ich, and a bad case of it at that. Ich lives in the gravel so bottom dwellers such as Loaches and Cories are most susceptible for ich, but Mollie's, Platies, Swordtails, and Guppies also feed off the bottom.

If you want to dose over the weekend without worry, go to your LFS and buy three meds made by API, "Fungus Cure," "General Cure," and "E. M. Erythromycin." These are made so that each packet is pre-measured to dose a 10 G tank, you can add one packet of each before you go home on Friday, spend a carefree weekend, come back on Monday, and everything should be good.

From the fish farms in FL to your LFS is a very stressful time for fish so they are more than likely to be diseased when you buy them.

First, they're gathered up and way too many are put in bags for shipment. Second, they're loaded onto airplanes at the Tampa airport and shipped to various distribution centers around the country where they are crowded into tanks waiting for shipment to various pet shops. Third, they're crowded into bags again to be trucked to different fish stores in any given area, ours here are trucked, with many stops along the way and several more stops after delivery to here, from some place in N.C. Fourth, they're crowded into fish tanks at the fish store that may not have been cleaned in quite some time so the fish may have all manner of diseases.

When I was younger, all fish stores quarantined their new arrivals for at least a week and some still do, but not all. I guess fish stores discovered that they would make more money selling people more fish to replace those that died and fish medicine to those of us that wasn't afraid of fish meds if they didn't quarantine the fish. If the fish dies within seven days after I buy it, I take it back to get a replacement, free of charge.

It's the same with plants. The fish stores know that there are snails and snail eggs on the plants they sell and they know how to kill them off before they put them up for sale, but they'll say it's OK because snails eat algae. What they don't tell you is that snails carry parasites so you'll buy more fish meds to treat your tank for parasites, but as long as the snails are there, the parasites are there. If you want something to eat a lot of algae, get tadpoles, algae is the only thing they eat.  

I've rambled on for too long and I'm sure you're at work right now.

Sincerely

Gator

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@Gator,

Thank you for taking the time to read through my post again and for the thorough answer to it.  I was just about to do the water change for the ich-X and was going to add some aquarium salt. I am really nervous to add salt because I read that scale-less fish like otos have a problem with it.  While I don't mind losing my plants if I can avoid it I'd just as soon because my plants are just really getting established again.  I think I'm going to hold off on the salt and see how things look tomorrow.

Thank you also for the boost of confidence about my skill as a fish keeping question asker 👩‍⚕️.  I hate it when my fish get sick and this case is worse because I was gone so didn't catch it quickly. Hopefully everyone will heal up now that they're getting the right care.  

I added a heater but it is preset to 78, which I thought was better than nothing, a better heater that is adjustable will arrive tomorrow so I can raise the temperature to 80ish over the weekend. Plus I will have an emergency backup heater now.  

I examined my fish drawer and I have API General Cure and Fritz Maracyn which is Erythromycin.  I will try to get some fungus cure or something similar in the morning, unfortunately while I live in a pretty good sized city it's kind of out by itself so sometimes it's hard to get things.  We will see if I can find any.  I have a message in to my LFS to see if maybe they have something, the big box pet store with the ball logo doesn't.  I will add what meds I can after doing the water change and adding more ich-X tomorrow. I hope you're right that things will improve over the weekend.  My fish are already starting to look better but the platys especially look rough. I hope they recover. 

Thanks again for your help!

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Miss Dr. Chaos;

I just noticed the photo you include under your name, a rail yard with a grain silo in the background, pretty cool.

Don't expect to get the right temp with the adjustable heater right away, go with the preset heater until you can start the adjustable heater next week. Start with the same temp as the preset heater has for your tank and work upwards a degree or two from there over the course of days until you reach the desired temp.

In the world of fishkeeping, we were all newbies at one time or another, we learned from experience and by asking questions.

Ich is a fungus so Fungus Cure will take care of ich and the right temp will keep ich away.

I started with six Oto's and now I have 18, but yeah, they're scale-less fish and probably wouldn't tolerate salt.

You're doing great and you have some great ideas.

Thanks for the compliment.

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Secret time.  Not too long ago I too did not quarantine some new Ottos and they ended up bringing Ich into one of my tanks.  It happens...not the sign of a terrible fish keeper,  just someone that maybe was a little overly trusting of their LFS's hygiene practices.

You're on the exact right path with using Ich-X...It alone should be an effective treatment. The most important thing is that you follow the directions for dosing and duration of treatment *exactly*.  Ich has a lifecycle where it spends most of its life protected by a shell (those white spots you see on your fish) that protects it from medication.  You need to have your treatment consistently in the water for when the parasites emerge from said shell to look for a new host- which will continue to happen for 14 to 21 days as individual "eggs" hatch.  Picture below illustrates the lifecycle...the "burst of the tomant" is the only stage where the medication will be effective.  Ich-x contains compounds that will help your fish generate slime coat and work as mild topical antiseptics to help stave off secondary infection.  Keep treating consistently per the bottle directions, don't stop early, and you should beat Ich.

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Edited by NanoNano
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@Gator,

Thanks for the compliment on the picture, I took it in a city in Texas and really like it. 

I am pleased to report that after 2 days of treatment with ich-X that my otos are looking much better, only a few ich spots on them.  My platys are also looking better, one is still as a lot but the other two seem to be doing better.  I'm still nervous about having to skip a couple of days for the weekend but will stay the course. 

Thank you for your advice and kind words.  I will report back how everything looks on Monday. 

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@NanoNano,

Thank you for sharing the life cycle diagram for ich.  That is very helpful for understanding what I'm up against.  

Unfortunately, I am not able to dose exactly as the bottle says because my aquarium is in my office and I do not have access to my office over the weekends right now.  So I have no real choice other than to dose on Friday as directed and then again on Monday when I come back to the office. I imagine this will mean my battle will be longer but I will get ahead of it. 

Because my fish are all pretty new to the aquarium I am thinking I am going to implement the CoOp quarantine trio.  They eye of one of my platys looks weird so I think he may need a bit of extra help (see photo).  

Hopefully everyone will recover, in spite of the gaps in treatment. 

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@Ben P.Thank you for the great information about temperature on the fish I have.  I'm cranking the heat slowly cause the aquarium was unheated until yesterday.  When I get back to the office on Monday the heat is going up!

@GatorI thought it looked like fungus too.  I went ahead and did the CoOp trio because a different fish has worse ich and appears to have some significant damage to it's tail fin so going all in on the meds. 

I hope you both have a great weekend!

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Posted (edited)

Monday Report - Oh no Ich Saga

I am thrilled to report that all the fish looked better when I got back into my office this morning.  The fish that had it the worst (the dark black and orange platy) was significantly improved as were the other fish.  I am sad to report that my oto colony is down to 4, I lost one that appeared to get stuck eating some hair algae last week, and lost another over the weekend, he was stuck to the lid of the aquarium, a freak accident.  I'm sad to have lost them. 

Over the weekend I treated with ich-x, maracyn and general cure and it seems to have really helped everything.  This morning I did a 30% water change and redosed ich-x and maracyn.  I plan to continue to dose for a few more days because I can't tell if the white flecks on one otos fins.  I also want to give the dark platy a chance to recover from the fin rot which took most of her tailfin. 

I am hopeful that I'm on the right track.  Thank you everyone who commented and gave advice. I really appreciate it.

PS: I'm sorry for the quality of the photos, I had just done my water change and put in the meds, so the water has a tint from the ich-x and the white stuff is maracyn dissolving in the water. 

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Edited by Miss Dr. Chaos
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Miss Dr. Chaos;

WOW! Those Oto's look great.

Go to Wally World and pick up a bag of Pleco Wafer's. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, drop one wafer into your tank before you leave work, the next day look at your Oto's and be amazed at how fat they are. There may be some of the wafer remaining the next morning and that's OK, they'll finish it off that night. Before long you may be rewarded with seeing Oto eggs or baby Oto's in your tank, but I think the Platy will eat the eggs and the fry.

As for your Platy, don't worry about the way he looks now. It takes time for you to heal from a paper cut, it's going to take time for his fin and tail to heal. Keep the temp at about 85 degrees and all will be well.

Sincerely 

Gator

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