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IchX causing a pH swing appears to be stressing out RCS - any advice?


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Hi all,

I've been a consumer of Aquarium Co-Op content for a couple years now but I am new to fishkeeping.

I have a 7 gal Nano-tank heavily planted, soil substrate with a gravel cap. With this tank I tried following the Walstad tank method. No CO2, no filtration, no fertilizers. (I was heavily inspired by Foo the Flowerhorn if anyone is familiar).

My tank is 49 days old now.
I have 2 adult RCS and 18-20 adolescent RCS that were hatched in the tank. I also have a bunch of pond snails in the tank.
I test the tank every 1-3 days for PH, Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate and occasionally test KH and GH all with API test kits. I use RODI water so my KH and GH are somewhat low... but I've been seeing a few adolescent shrimp molts what seems like every day.
I recently added 6 Chili Rasboras which I used single dose of the Aquarium Co-op recommended quarantine med-trio on for a week before adding.

After 4-5 days I noticed some white spots on some of the Chilis which I believe could be Ich, so I decided to start actively treating the tank with IchX (since I read RCS can carry the parasite I decided to treat the whole tank). I added the Ziss airstone from the Aquarium Co-op store to increase oxygen in the water as recommended.

I noticed shortly after medication, the shrimp started swimming around a lot (stressed?) Particularly the adult RCS don't normally move around a lot but they were zooming around the tank along with many of the younger shrimp. (Circling around the tank border)
I tested the water and it's a PH of 7.4-7.6 when my tank is normally around 6.8-7.0!
Everything else fell within normal levels from previous tests (All parameters posted below)

I feel like the IchX caused a PH swing and is stressing out the RCS. It's been a few hours and they seem to be a bit calmer... but if I am treating IchX everyday for a little bit with recommended water changes I am worried the stress could be bad for the RCS. Can I add Catappa Leaf/water to keep the pH closer to its regular levels? I  just got a wondershell which I ordered... will using that help keep my KH buffer and GH up to healthy levels or increase the PH even more?

Water Parameters:
   Temperature = 78-79 degrees F
   PH = Normally 6.8-7.0 (7.4-7.6 after IchX)
   KH = 4 drops (~60-70 ppm?)
   GH = 3 drops (50 ppm)
   Ammonia = 0 ppm
   Nitrite = 0 ppm
   Nitrate = 0 ppm


Edited by Rrakka
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I haven't heard of anyone experiencing a pH swing due to Ich-X, including myself. Are you sure that a pH swing didn't occur prior to treatment? A pH swing can weaken your fish's immune systems and make them more susceptible to contracting Ich in the first place.

Edited by colo3000
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Thanks for your reply colo3000 - much appreciated. I have never heard of this being a thing either... maybe its because I have a very small tank and I'm using RODI water with low KH?
I last tested PH the previous day (after a 10-15% water change) and it looked like a 6.8 or 7.0. I also saw a single white spot on a chili but did not begin treatment until today because I couldn't confirm. When I saw more white spots today I decided to start treatment.

I do have a hard time distinguishing the color so there are some previous measurements that looked close to 7.2 (usually before I do a water change so I figured minerals were slowly leaching from the substrate) but measuring after treatment of IchX today, the PH is clearly blue (high measurement of low-end PH test) or dull orange (low measurement on the high-end PH test). I realize the medication is a bit blue but I waited a couple hours after treatment so the water was pretty much clear again when I measured.

It's possible there could have been a swing between yesterday and today but seems unlikely...

I also noticed in previous weeks that the pH of my medicated hospital tank would be on the higher end (about 7.5) when I was quarantining them despite using the same water... and there was no rocky substrate in the hospital tank to suggest the water was taking on any minerals.. I acclimated the Chilis over 2 hours using drip method but a couple were very stressed out when I transferred them so I thought that might be why they got Ich. I also noticed one of them quickly flashing against the driftwood/plants a couple days ago -- so while I only see enough 3-4 white spots on a couple chilis right now, I wanted to treat early to prevent major outbreak or any injuries from further flashing.

It's been a little over 4 hours now and the shrimp have calmed down significantly. The 2 adults went to their usual hiding spots and the adolescents are calmly foraging.

I will try adding a Catappa leaf to help slowly lower the pH again (besides the tannins would be beneficial and probably appreciated by the Chilis). When I water change/medicate tomorrow I will test again (before & after) and post observations.

Edited by Rrakka
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I’d probably treat the chilis in your hospital tank instead of the shrimp tank. My personal experience with Neocaridina shrimp is that in newer tanks they don’t do as well with lots of water changes. Once the colony gets more established and the tank gets a bit older they seem to be more hardy. Not everyone has that experience, but since you only have two adults I’d try and give them the best chance possible. 

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Thank you for your replies Cory & Patrick_G.

Yes, I'm using an Ziss airstone with an airpump advertising 2.6 PSI. Although normally my tank does not receive this much aeration so actually the agitation of the water might have removed CO2 from the tank... but would it have changed the PH that quickly?

At this point I've already cleaned up my hospital tank setup (guess I jumped the gun there..). The tank or sponge filter would not have any BB so I'd be worried about stressing out the Chilis again and having them in an uncycled tank. 

While the tank is somewhat young I believe it's pretty well established as it has had weeks of new plant growth. If the aeration possibly caused the PH swing then perhaps it won't swing again with additional doses of IchX.

I've attached image of the tank I took after adding the Catappa. Airstone in the back right. Tried to get a close up of the chilis but my camera won't focus (ugh). All the shrimp seemed to have returned to their normal, peaceful demeanor.


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I decided to try another dose today after a 30% water change. The Ich-X did not increase the pH again and it dropped a bit with the water change. It must have been the sudden increase in aeration stressed the shrimp a bit or caused pH increase.
Shrimp are fine. Fish seem really happy now too. I could not see the white spots today so I'm thinking the cysts fell off and the Ich-X will take care of them.
As recommended I plan to treat 1 more day as long as I don't see any white spots.

Thank you everyone that replied. Different insights were helpful and I learned a lot in this process.

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