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Old 03-09-2011, 11:03 AM   #1
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Is ich a death sentence? How does it progress?

I have a half-black angel fish that has clearly contracted ich. My question is about how the disease progresses, and what the prognosis is.

The fish initially showed 1 or 2 spots, about a week ago. They were gone a day later, and the fish never acted sick at all. Yesterday morning, I saw the fish scratching against a rock, and by last night, it was completely covered in gruesome-looking spots. This morning, the spots were all gone, and the fish looks fine. It's a little faded around the face, but otherwise very active and peaceful looking -- no clamped fins, ate very well, directly from my hand, etc.

Obviously, the cysts have all ruptured, and that's why no more spots. But, what does that mean? Is the disease on the decline at that point, or is it only in its early stages? The fish's behavior seems like a good sign, but I have no idea -- Is it? Can anyone share any experience with me about how deadly ich is -- Is the fish definitely gong to die, or do they sometimes weather the storm?

Thanks for any toughts that anyone can provide.

Ps: I have read a bunch of stuff about the disease's life cycle, as it pertains to how the parasite survives and propagates itself in the tank. I'm pretty clear about that now. My question is more specific -- How does ich progress in particular cases? That's what I need to know.
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Old 03-09-2011, 11:18 AM   #2
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It really depends on the individual specimen. I have never had sw ich (Knock on wood), but I have had it in fw tanks, and if treated properly, your fish will have a chance of survival. However, like I stated earlier, it really depends on the individual. I have used both methods of treatment (meds and heat), and I believe that heat will work better, as it works faster, so not as many fish seem to get infected. My cichlids got severely infected and I used meds on that tank. I lost 1 taiwan reef, but had 1 survive that actually had a worse visible outbreak. Key word is visible. Ich can and will infect the inside of mouths and gills and prevent feeding and breathing.

On your final note, you need to treat your tank, because ich can go into a dormant stage while waiting for a new host, then you will be fighting and worrying for your fish's life all over again.
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Old 03-09-2011, 11:45 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Quint View Post
Obviously, the cysts have all ruptured, and that's why no more spots. But, what does that mean? Is the disease on the decline at that point, or is it only in its early stages?
I don't have much experience with ich, but from what I understand, ich has a life cycle where they infected the fish, and you see the white dots, then they release their offspring into the water, I think it's in larval form, and the dots disappear. When they're ready the ich will re-infect your fish. Your tank is now more infected then before. I believe ich can swim freely for about 6 weeks before it has to re-infect a fish or it will die.

The heat treatment (maintaining 86F) does two things, it prevents the ich from infecting the fish, and shortens their free-swimming mode to around 2 weeks. So after two weeks of 86F the ich should be dead.

Warm water holds less oxygen, so if you go with the heat treatment, you want to consider adding an airstone for extra aeration.
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Old 03-09-2011, 12:10 PM   #4
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Thanks to both of you. A couple of things that you may want to consider, however:

redfisher: Marine ich is actually a completely different organism from freshwater ich. They just happen to present in the same way. Marine ich -- sadly -- is much more difficult to treat, particularly in a reef aquarium, for a whole bunch of different reasons.

Deep Seven: You definitely seem to understand how the disease propagates in the tank. That's also what my research indicates. Actually, there is research to suggest that the life cycle can continue to produce new organisms for as long as 6 months, which is why I'm really hoping that my angel fish will survive: If it dies, the only certain fix that I am aware of is to leave the tank empty for 6 months, while all of the ich dies off for certain, and then try to re-introduce some new livestock.

I can't use copper, because it's a reef and I have inverts.

redfisher and Deep Seven: Because Marine ich and freshwater ich are different organisms, they can't be treated in the same way. One thing that is not effective against Marine ich (although -- apparently -- it is effective against freshwater ich) is heat. Marine ich's life cycle is not significantly sped up or decreased by higher temperatures. If you're using heat to treat Marine ich and having success, you're getting lucky. Or anyway, that's what I have been readng, as I do my due diligence on this particular challenge. In my experience, the more informed sounding an better-sourced a resource looks, the more likely it seems to be that it will make this point. I'm not a marine biologist, and it's only my general impression, but I'm inclined to believe the "heat-won't-kill-it" community right now; just something to file away, for future consideration.
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Old 03-09-2011, 12:18 PM   #5
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I have had ich take down a tank and I've had luck against it. I've had pretty good luck using metronidazole.
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Old 03-09-2011, 12:21 PM   #6
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Cool, that's some info to be filed away as I have started a SW tank. Have you tried Kordon's Ich Attack? It is organic, and safe for reefs, inverts, and scaless fish.
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Old 03-09-2011, 12:45 PM   #7
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The general consensus seems to be that nothing really works for curing Marine Ich, although I confess that I haven't heard of metronidazole (unless it also has a commercial name?).

Once you have ich in your tank, it seems as if you have ich in your tank for the duration. Either your fish survive or they don't.

The only thing that reliably kills Marine ich is old age, and for that you need to wait until the longest possible duration of time has passed, before you can know for certain -- 6 months; or so They say.

How's that for a cheerful outlook at 10:30 on a Tuesday?
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Old 03-09-2011, 07:23 PM   #8
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Does anyone other than me use uv sterilizer other tan me.Tank with Tangs definitely need one.
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Old 03-09-2011, 07:32 PM   #9
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Sorry for bad English.
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Old 03-09-2011, 09:45 PM   #10
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Update: New spots this evening, but -- fins un-clamped -- my fish defies the plague. The middle finger for the ich, if he had one.

Swim, brave little fishy, swim.

Where there is life, there is hope.
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