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Old 03-12-2004, 02:53 AM   #1
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An Ich thread, for the sake of discussing Ich

As a biologist, I started researching Ich because I strongly believe it is present in just about all fish tanks. Am I the only one that feels this way? Please feel free to debate this, giving reasons in your response.

Anyway, why am I even thinking of Ich? I am prone to sinus infections, so it maybe it’s the “non-drowsy” meds talking 8O , but I know the bacteria in my sinuses do not change, just how my body reacts to them. First off, I would like to thank my fiancé for passing on his cold to me and weakening my immune system, just enough that I now have sinusitis . Secondly, with all the talk of Ich on this board, I started thinking that Ich acts like the bacteria we all carry with us. Most often, we are fine, but when there’s an imbalance, the bacteria in our bodies can cause many problems . (For the record, I am not a disease specialist.)

Ichthyophthirius multifiliis (freshwater Ich) needs a host to live. That is well documented in the literature, including the article written by Ruth Francis-Floyd and Peggy Reed (UF/IFAS http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/FA006 ) that states, “Ichthyophthirius multifiliis is a ciliated protozoan which causes ‘Ich’ or ‘white spot disease.’ This organism is an obligate parasite which means that it cannot survive unless live fish are present”. However, it has been my experience that a stressed fish in a tank can come down with Ich when no new fish have been added (this includes no new decorations, and no new plants—real or fake).

After reading numerous articles on-line, I have come to the conclusion that fish can tolerate a certain amount of Ich in there environments. Once the fish become stressed, then they are prone to Ich. The article by Jilly Florio ( http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art3529.asp ) points out that “fish can develop partial immunity to low levels of pathogens,” but when the fish’s immune system is weakened, disease will occur. Additionally, in a Q and A concerning fish disease by Elaine Thompson ( http://faq.thekrib.com/disease-fw.html ), the following was stated:
Quote:
Stress weakens fishes' immune systems, leading to increased susceptibility to disease. Actually, diseases and pathogens are almost always present in tanks, but a healthy fish's immune system will prevent them from being a problem.
I know the introduction of new fish is a large cause of Ich outbreaks and after reading an article written by Robert Fenner ( http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm ), I can see why many people believe new fish are the culprits.
Quote:
Ich is almost always present in freshwater systems and is parasitic on most if not all freshwater fishes. All that it takes to become pathogenic (actively infectious, disease-causing) is a strong strain of ich (e.g. an import from a newly added specimen), a not-so healthy, poorly-resistant host and/or a poor environment for the fishes. Re the last: Note that all diseases are to degrees environmentally linked. If the fishes are initially in good health, put into a suitable, stable home, the chance of outbreak is small.
Finally, I reread the Ich article by Allivymar and the articles listed in the bibliography. This further supported my belief that Ich is present when fish are healthy. I visited Peter’s Aquarium (http://www.caloriesperhour.com/fish/index.html ) and found the site very useful—also got great tips on Diet and Weight Loss (really ). From Peter's Ich Notes for Freshwater Tropical Aquariums ( http://www.caloriesperhour.com/fish/...h.html#dormant ), I found information on Ich latency.
Quote:
When not caused by contamination, the reported cases of dormant Ich are actually cases of latent Ich. They occur when a fish carrying Ich appears to be outwardly healthy because its immune system is able to repress a full-blown outbreak of the disease, though not ward it off completely. It is believed that a fish may develop this temporary "immunity" after surviving an Ich infestation. The parasite will be feeding and growing, but at a greatly subdued rate.
Then, should the fish become stressed and its immune system weakened while the parasite is still viable, the parasite is given the opportunity to increase its activity and threaten a full-blown outbreak.
Ich can be considered an opportunistic infection because it is not be able to readily infect a fish unless the fish has a weakened immune system. This is why it will infect one fish more than another, and some not at all. At least not until the infestation becomes overwhelming.
I hope someone finds this helpful. (Next time I’ll try putting my energies and time into a fish profile.)

BTW—does anyone know of a good relief for sinusitis? Even though this is my fourth infection since July, I can never remember what works best and my doctor’s appointment isn’t until Tuesday
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Old 03-12-2004, 05:22 PM   #2
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Interesting thread and useful links, Menagerie.

Perhaps Ichthyophthirius multifiliis is similar to Staphylococcus aureus (staph).
Staph is a common bacterium that lives on our skin in low numbers. In most healthy people, it does not cause a problem, but it can cause a nasty infection if it enters the body through an open sore or cut. Hospitals are especially wary of staph since it is potentially life-threatening to immunocompromised patients. There is also an alarming increase in the number of antibiotic-resistant staph strains.

Likewise, perhaps ich is present on the skin and gills of most aquarium fish and becomes a problem only when the fish's immune system is weakened by stress, poor water quality, or bad nutrition.
Perhaps the all-too-common occurrance of ich on newly acquired fish is merely coincidential to the stress they must suffer being netted and transported.

If that is the case, however, why do some seemingly healthy fish get ich after the introduction of a newcomer while other 'old' fish do not? This happened to me once - I had healthy schools of black phantom tetras and zebra danios in my tank for weeks - no health probs at all. Shortly after I introduced a school of serpae tetras, the phantoms and the serpaes, but not the danios got ich. Since the phantoms got ich, they had to have been stressed/weakened. But if there is ich always present in the tank, then why didn't they come down with the disease sooner? This suggests that ich is not normally present in healthy fish populations, right?

Well....not necessarily. It's still possible that my zebras and phantoms were harboring a small case of ich that remained asymptomatic so long as they remained otherwise healthy. The serpaes simply may have been carrying a virulent strain that overpowered the phantom's defenses. And the danios may have already been exposed to a similar strain and therefore possessed immunity.

So, I agree that aquarium fish, like humans, live in and breathe a medium that is swarming with opportunistic viruses, bacteria, and parasites. The difference between health and disease can be attributed to the balance between host defense and pathogen virulence.

BTW, I too suffer from winter sinusitus brought on by the oppressive dryness of my apartment.
My method of relief is fast and simple. Using a 3/16 inch carbide masonry bit and a power drill, I bore a hole just below my eye socket....no, just kidding! Actually, I have been running a meticulously clean humidifier 24/7 all winter long. This has really helped, though there have been times when I did seriously consider using. the drill. You may also want to look into nasal irrigation and lavage. It seems disgusting and I haven't tried it, but I have some medical doctor friends who swear by it for treating sinusitus.
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Old 03-12-2004, 06:11 PM   #3
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QTOFFER--the link from wet web media talked about introducing new comers with a strong strain of ich and the seemingly healthy fish in the established tank come down with it.
Also thanks for the advice--I'm off to buy a drill before my head explodes . OH! I mean a humidifier. It's funny, I grew up on LI and we always had a dehumidifier going, so the thought of humidifying the air is strange. (Although I should—Calgary is D-R-Y!)
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You may also want to look into nasal irrigation and lavage.
YUCK—I had surgery to help my sinuses 4 years ago . What I REALLY need is a sinus transplant! Thanks again .
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Old 03-12-2004, 07:49 PM   #4
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IMHO, ich is not always prevelent; it requires previous exposure. It may not explode into a full blown case unless a fish's immune system is reduced for any reason. When a tank is successfully treated, ich no longer exists unless its reintroduced. Similar to sinus infections; without bacteria floating around to reinfect those sinuses, we all wouldn't have repeated infections without exposure. Heh, is why a meticulously clean humidifier is necessary, otherwise bacteria make themselves at home, and you're off with a whale in those lil sinus spaces again.
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Old 03-12-2004, 11:41 PM   #5
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I am with Alli on the ich - once it is treated you are done, until you get that new fish and introduce it. Many people can attest to that happening. I do think that healthy fish do not fall ill with it unless some stressor is present, which can be tankmate stress or water quality stress.

As far as the sinusitis goes, dryness will definitely make it hard for the cillia (tiny hairs that move healthy mucous over the membranes and "lavage" them naturally) to function, and the sensitive mucous membranes will swell, closing off the sinus cavities and creating a swamp effect. Frequent use of saline nasal sprays, hot showers and a humidifier in the winter months may help, but if you have allergies, the humidifier in the house can encourage mold growth, which is a major allergen for many people.

If you have frequent sinus infections even after an endoscopic sinus surgery procedure (assuming that is what you had) then you might want to look into food and/or airborne allergens being the cause.
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Old 03-12-2004, 11:58 PM   #6
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As for ich, I have never had it in any of my tanks, and have never had anybody I know ever have an infection of it, so in a way, I have a hard time beleiveing that all fish have it present in their systems.

BTW, my mom had the nasal surgery. Basically where they go and stick this big thing up your nose to widen it up and stuff...I think. She had some problem with it being deformed or something. She suffers from a stuffy nose 365 days a year and can't get by without nasal spray every day. So much for the surgery, it was a waste of money and time! My personal advice. Get a humidifier! I don't know what I would do without one!
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Old 03-13-2004, 12:10 AM   #7
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Totally off topic, but did you (and your mom) know nasal sprays are addictive Devilish? LOL Not like some drugs (not in a fun until you realise you have nothing left way I mean), but if overused it can become sorta necessary to use em?

Specifically, nasal tissues often have a rebound effect when nasal sprays are used. They work for a little while, and when they wear off the nasal tissues tends to swell up. Most folks then use more...and so on and so on until they wind up using them regularly to get any relief. How do I know? My mom was "addicted" to em.
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Old 03-13-2004, 09:47 AM   #8
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Now they have prescription nose sprays that are steroid based and anti-inflammatory (Nasacort, Flonase), and keep the inflamed tissues calmed down without having the rebound effect that you get wtih Afrin type sprays. Definitely avoid those, like Alli said!

Back to ich, I think if you have never had it and don't know anyone who has it you are definitely fortunate. At some point, though, you will likely run into it, so it is good to understand how it works and how to keep it at bay. I might venture to say it is the most common FW fishy illness.
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Old 03-13-2004, 10:09 AM   #9
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A very interesting discussion. I've noticed that ich seems to be more prevelant in certain species, and some species have a much tougher time recovering from it. That's why QTOFFERs' tetras showed symptoms, but the danios did not.

I agree that it is the most common FW disease, but I don't think the parasite is always with the fish. No argument that stress will induce the onset if it is present. But a fish that suffers from any disease is in stress. If the parasite is always present, why won't a fish develop the ich symtoms if it's suffering with gill flukes for example?
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Old 03-13-2004, 11:30 AM   #10
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There seemed to be 2 schools of thought on ich:
1. ich is everwhere & impossible to irradicate, you just keep the fish healthy so they won't show signs of it.
2. ich lives on fish & if you get rid of it from the enviroment, it is gone forever.

I tend to go for number 2. The problem is geting rid of it completely from a tank. Now there are reports of some ich strains that stays in the fish for the entire live cycle, protected from all the ich treatments. In that case, I guess it might truely be impossible to irradicate.


BTW tankgirl, you do get rebound from steroid sprays ... just not as quickely compared with the "decongestants" Your body kinda get accustomed to the steroids & you require higher dose/concentration. This just happened over weeks instead of hours. I used to have prob with allegies etc. but it seemed to have burned out as I am getting older (or maybe it is the new central humidifier I put in?)

Also, with all the interest in sinus problems, maybe we should startup sinusadvice.com!
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