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Old 11-02-2012, 12:59 PM   #1
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HELP! Ich infestation. DESPERATE FOR ADVICE

Hello, I am new to this forum, but have been a fish hobbiest for many years. I have a 40 gal tank that I have been battling an ich infestation for 2 1/2 weeks now with no results. I first tried heat and salt (been sitting at 86-88 for a week now) and nothing. I then tried API's super ich cure (with malachite green) with no luck. After that, I tried Maracide and still my fish are covered with white specks.

I broke down yesterday and went to my local fish store and the guy who 'helped' me had no input or advice that was helpful in the least. He said to buy metronidazole and put it in the water. I am a vet tech and am somewhat guarded about this drug's ability to fight off external protozoan infection in fish, but I am desperate for anything. Should I add this medication to the water or try to feed it directly to my community fish? I vaccuum the gravel I can access easily daily. I have lava rock built up on the sides for my rams to hide in and cannot easily disturb it. Should I take the tank ornaments and rocks out all together and just have a flat gravel bottom to vaccuum?

I have:
-three baby rasboras
-four flamingo glo light danios
-six german blue rams
-four small golden wonder killifish
-No plants or inverts

The pH is sitting at 7.2. Nitrites are slightly high according to my test strip as are nitrates. Ammonia is fine. I have had the activated carbon out of my tank for a week and half and want to put it back, but don't want to take out the medicine I have in it.

No deaths yet, but one of my most beautiful male rams looks like he has rolled in salt this am and I almost cried. ANY ADVICE PLEASE?! I have NEVER had an ich problem like this.
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Old 11-02-2012, 01:19 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum. Is there any way you can get the heat higher? Some strains of ich are resistant to 86, and the temperature needs to be raised even higher to be effective. I would raise the temp to about 90. I would just keep using heat and salt, with the salt at a concentration of 1 tablespoon per 5 gallons of water. I really hope that they get better!

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Old 11-02-2012, 02:37 PM   #3
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It can take 2-3 weeks for the ich to go away & it gets really bad before getting better. Are you doing regular water changes with a good vacuuming.
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Old 11-02-2012, 02:39 PM   #4
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Hi! Welcome to AA!!! There has been issue more recently very resistant strains of ich. You can trying increasing the temps even further as Bud suggested in the interim and see if this helps. You can also try increasing the salinity to .3% (11.4grams/g) if all of your fish can tolerate this. My suggestion would be to give quinine sulfate a try if these methids do not work. I dont have personal experience using it but it seems to be a safe option when everything else has failed. Finding it the hardest part. National Fish Pharmecuticals is the only place I know of that sells this for aquatic use. Keep us posted!
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Old 11-02-2012, 02:51 PM   #5
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You should try to get the temp up a bit higher at 86.7f ich. Cannot attach to a new host, either that or lay eggs. Then around 87.5 they can't do the other one. At the really high 88 ich will die off. The best way to deal with ich is to understand its life cycle. They hatch from the substrate swim up and attach to a host. If they cannot find a host within so many days the parasite will die.

If possible remove the fish to a qt tank, then the ich in your main tank will just die off.

After attaching to a host they will eat away and take the nutrients that it needs. Not much you can do here really, especially since parasite will go into the gills.

They then dettach and go lay a bunch of eggs. Gravel vac a lot.
If you google life cycle of ich you should get a way better description of the life cycle.

(sorry for jumping around)
But if you can remove the fish that would be amazing and help a lot. Then you just have to worry about treating the fish. You can use an anti parasite to kill it just make sure you follow the dosage exactly otherwise you will be unsuccessful and the ich will get stronger from it.

If you can't remove the fish I would try and get the temperature higher and a bit more stable for your fish. If you need to go buy another heater it will make it easier on the heaters and you. You can keep with the salt but how much are you adding and how often are you doing your water changes? When you do a water change it will help suck out the free swimming ich and the gravel vac helps remove the eggs. But make sure you put the same amount of salt back in for the water you took out. Otherwise the salt is pointless to use...
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Old 11-02-2012, 06:31 PM   #6
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@bud29: I was under the impression that 86 degree is the lowest it should be treated, but that is just from trolling the internet so I could be wrong. I went ahead and dug out my extra tank heater (an adjustable aqueon brand) and stuck in the opposite corner. The tank temp tends to fluctuate at night since I live in an area where it has started to get cold at night.

@HobGob: Thanks for the reassurance. I don't have a big enough QT for all my fish. If I could, I would definately move all of them just to save $$ on all the meds I have bought! At this point, it is costing a small fortune to treat the 40 gal tank per bottle instructions. I am (slowly) raising the temp to a STEADY 88 degrees. I am just very concerned about that high a temperature and the health of my fish. With the water changes, I usually take out 5 gal of water and replace 1tsp when I put the filtered reverse osmosis water in to replace the icky stuff.

Do you think I should take out the tank ornaments from the tank? I can't vaccuum every square inch of gravel because of all the rock piles and fake plants...

Also, is it safe to use malachite green with the salt? I have been doing this (plus the heat) but I am afraid that I may be doing more harm than good stressing the fish so much.

@jlk Yeah I have been reading about resistant strains on other forums too. It is very disheartening. If the meds I am using prove useless, should I use activated carbon to take them out before using the other med you mentioned?

@shellieca: Up to 3 weeks?! Holy cow... I have had ich before and it was only a week max. Thanks for the encourgement though. Gives me hope for the terrible outbreak on my big blue ram.
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Old 11-02-2012, 06:42 PM   #7
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At higher temps the water can't hold oxygen as easily so you should throw in an extra airtime for added insurance. If you want you can just get it to 87. Did you check it out on google? I might be a tad bit off on my numbers but I would get it to 87 for sure.
Have you got snow yet? It was for a bit here today but it all melted
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Old 11-02-2012, 06:47 PM   #8
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Agreed with increasing temp to 88 ... Even 90 in all honesty. At those tems ou'll want to run an airstone for increased aeration. PWC's and Gravel vacs. As for the meds, PWC's will help remove those, carbon would also help.
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Old 11-02-2012, 08:57 PM   #9
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@HobGob: Well I live in SoCal, so no snow for me. I lived in Oregon for a while and I do miss snowy winters. I live right by the beach, so it gets freezing at night during fall and winter. I have an airstone in right now and I also went and bought an aeration pump. It goes at like 160 gal/hr and I think it may be a little overkill for my little 40 gal tank... Google says everything from 85-90 degrees. It is at 87.something right now. Going to shoot for maybe 89 by tomorrow. The good news is everyone is still eating. Bad news: my badly infested ram seems to have fin rot. So new question. If I quarantine him can I treat with ich meds AND tetracycline for the fin rot?

@jcolon: I am afraid at 90 degrees I'd cook my fish... is that temp safe for the danios? I know they do best in cooler water. How long do you think I should hold my temps that high?
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Old 11-02-2012, 09:24 PM   #10
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My tank was above 90 all summer. You should be concerned a bit. More for when you start lowering the temps. I had old tank syndrome to boot and the tank was under constant rehab for 2 straight months. Lost 3 fish between 1 and 3 years old.

In the past, raising the temps always has worked for me. I also dose the tank with malachite green. I don;t remove the filters. And them let nature takes it's course. I have never lost a fish to ich.

The best thing you can do is catch it when you see the 1st spot or two. Catching early will make the cure a little easier. My temps are down to 76 as I am putting off getting a new heater(see below). I am constantly on the look out for ich. I won't be adding any fish and that should help.

Raise the temperature to above 86 for 3 weeks. This should get rid of the spots. You should also keep the temperature above 86 for another 2 weeks to kill off the spores or whatever they are called. Malachite green seems to help too, but I suspect this stuff raises the NO3 base on one accidental test.

Good Luck. Things should get better soon.
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Old 11-02-2012, 09:58 PM   #11
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Dont combine the ich meds with tetra- you may wind up with catastrophic results, especially in a fish thats already in a weakened state. You honestly need to choose a course of treatment and stick with it. If the meds you have tried are not effective, then stop using them rather than increasing resistance of the ich you are dealing with. If higher temps are not effective or you are concerned about cooking your fish, then its time for either considering salt (.3%) with moderate heat or the quinine sulfate that I mentioned earlier. You can use salt safely with antibiotics for treating the ram (if he can tolerate salt- I dont have experience with them to be able to safely advise this). If you need help with using salt properly, just ask!
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Old 11-03-2012, 02:10 PM   #12
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@jlk: Well, I took my danios and rasboras out and put them in my QT this morning before the daily gravel vac and water change. They are not showing any outwards signs of the disease and I figured that they would be happier not in that tank anymore. That said, I also ordered some of the quinine sulfate you recommended. I think you are 100% right with the increased resistance thing. Hopefully it will be in next week. Still no deaths, but I am going to put the carbon back in to take out what remains of the other meds. One tsp of salt per 5 gal correct? (going to try salt again while waiting for the quinine sulfate to come in).
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Old 11-03-2012, 02:44 PM   #13
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Sounds good! Keep us posted on how everything goes. Ok, salt is the only thing I use to treat ich but I also keep fancy goldfish so I dont have experience with treating your type of fish using salt. Hopefully, someone that does will chime in here with more specific suggestions.

Using salt to treat ich, you want a .3% salinity (11.4grams per gallon). The salt needs to be predissolved in conditioned water to make a salt solution and added gradually over 48hrs. Only add back the salt you remove with water changes. My suggestion would be to aim for a .1% salinity (or 1 level tsp per g) until/unless someone can advise otherwise. If you want to do just 1tsp/5g, thats fine too because this really is a very small amount of salt- it really will have no effect positive or negative on your situation. The QS is safe to use with salt, too. Good luck!
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