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Old 03-26-2014, 09:26 PM   #1
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Helpful link to people dealing with this persistent ich strain

Hi guys, it has come to my, and many others attention that there is a strain of ich that is surfacing that is not reacting to heat and salt, and is taking out fish quickly. I have a link to a forum I posted on a separate forum site where we all tried to diagnose and cure whatever this is. If anyone is interested:

Help with controlling crazy Ich problem

There is one lady, Agent13, who found an experimental treatment that she has shared on the last pages of the thread, but she does not recommend anyone to try it unless death is already the option that is left.

Any questions you can send me a private message.

Good luck,
Natty

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Old 03-27-2014, 03:08 AM   #2
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Why is the ich discussion 'experimental' for fish on 'their death bed' so to speak? There honestly is nothing experimental based on the information posted other than a lack of knowledge on behalf of various parties. Misinformation is not helpful to anyone seeking advice on dealing with a very common fish health issue.

In respect to this thread, one person never successfully completed a full treatment of anything and seemed to be all over the place with fish. One person posted a common practice used by specific breeders of changing a fish completely from one sterile tank to another sterile tank daily (this does work but this is not for most people). Another mentioned using 'reptile meds' unaware that the ingredients metro and fenben are common fish meds. By her description, she was dealing with a bacterial issue based on multiplication of symptoms with heat that was likely further complicated with water quality issues and/or parasites. 10 or 15% wcs have little effect on water quality.

In respect to the 'reptile meds', metro functions as a gram positive antibiotic, effective against some internal bug issues/protozoa and has also been proven to be effective against some ich strains. Fenben is a common dewormer that is used in fish, canines, felines and various other 'pets'.

All of this said, ich can be successfully treated the majority of the time with heat and/or salt, a hefty water change schedule and time. Lack of patience is where most issues arise as ich will not be cured in one day or three days or one week, even with the use of meds.

There are some strains resistant to both heat and salt that require medication but this is definitely the exception rather than the norm. Quinine sulfate is the only medication that is known to be effective against the most resistant strains but it should not be considered unless absolutely necessary. It is also difficult to find.

Hopefully, this information will be helpful for those reading the linked thread so aspects of it are not taken out of context or misconstrued.
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Old 03-27-2014, 10:52 AM   #3
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I must admit I've never managed to get rid of it in a week. Probably really two plus just waiting to be sure after.

One thing I do think is that getting the temp up is stressful plus the ich cycle has sped up. Totally agree the heat method works, I've been wondering lately if any way to make less stressful on the fish. Just pondering.
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Old 03-27-2014, 12:54 PM   #4
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Why is the ich discussion 'experimental' for fish on 'their death bed' so to speak?
The reptile medication that Agent13 used, to her knowledge, had not been used to treat ich, and she was at her wits end with the ich so she tried it, knowing that she wasn't familiar with it ad it might kill her sick fish.

And yes, there was a completed treatment of the ich but it was unsuccessful. I am nanners on that thread. I had used heat for 2.5 weeks, and salt/heat for an additional 2ish with 0 improvement. The ich seemed to attach more and just not drop off, contrary to what heat does to the life cycle. I also completed several large water changes with no improvement.

It my own wits end, I got an ich treatment which killed off the last of my 3 guppies, which all died within 1 day.
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Old 03-28-2014, 09:50 AM   #5
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Just a thought as interesting but could you have had any cold spots in your tank or temp gauge slightly out? It does seem odd.

Last time I treated I had the heater quite a few degrees over and it took ages to heat up.
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Old 03-28-2014, 11:43 AM   #6
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I mean thats a possibility, but i dont know how likely. My heater is so fast at heating up its almost a problem haha, and with the way I have the filter output and the thermometer im pretty sure i dont have cold spots, but anything is possible.
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Old 03-28-2014, 11:55 AM   #7
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Sounds fair enough, just a thought. So in the end did it go or was that where the meds were the last straw for them so to speak.
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Old 03-28-2014, 12:45 PM   #8
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It didn't go, so yes, in the end, meds were the way for the rest of the people, unfortunately i was too late.
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Old 03-28-2014, 01:15 PM   #9
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We used to always go by the rule that ICH was a symptom of a problem and not the problem itself.
Generally, when a fish comes down with ICH, it's due to a rapid change of something within "the system". Temperature fluctuations, rapid change in water chemistry, rapid acclimation, are 3 of the biggest reasons fish come down with the infestation. Healthy fish, can usually withstand an outbreak while unhealthy fish most often don't. The best med is to figure out why the fish got sick in the first place and fix that before treating the fish to better the chances of the fish's survival. Continually using salt and heat will eventually create other problems so we need to be mindful of that as well.

In today's hobby, many are subject to only being able to deal with the stores that have centralized systems. The drawback to this is that just because the fish you are looking at appears healthy, that sick fish in the other section shares the same water so in essence is as if it were in the same tank as the healthy one. This is why quarantining all fish is a must these days. Prevention is the best way so that diseases don't take hold in a main display tank.

Keeping all this in mind will certainly help prevent needing to medicate the fish with a last resort, death bed, experimental option.
Lastly, whether a med is directed towards being used on a fish, reptile, mammal, etc, they are all derivatives from human medications. Be mindful of the dosages as what is good to use for one type of animal may be too strong or too weak for another.

Hope this helps
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Old 03-29-2014, 01:54 AM   #10
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Hi, could you expand on that? - I would regard ich (in most cases arising due to a new fish from a store) as pretty much the problem. Once cured, I don't expect it to come back.

Unless are you thinking it may live in the gills?

Kind of confused why water quality, etc is relevant for ich outbreaks. Slime coat weakened by ammonia , etc? Fungal and bacteria and in general, yes makes sense. Thanks in advance.
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Old 03-29-2014, 12:21 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Delapool View Post
Hi, could you expand on that? - I would regard ich (in most cases arising due to a new fish from a store) as pretty much the problem. Once cured, I don't expect it to come back.

Unless are you thinking it may live in the gills?

Kind of confused why water quality, etc is relevant for ich outbreaks. Slime coat weakened by ammonia , etc? Fungal and bacteria and in general, yes makes sense. Thanks in advance.
Simply put, healthy fish don't succumb to ICH infestations. In order to have a healthy fish, the fish needs to not be under stress. In order for the fish to not be stressed in a tank, it must have a clean and proper ( for the specie) stable environment, be amongst tankmates that are compatible and have a healthy well rounded diet.
Massive water changes can quickly change the PH level, TDS levels and/ or temperatures large enough to put the fish under tremendous stress if not even kill the fish. Rapid acclamations can change the osmotic pressures enough to kill the fish or be under terrible stress if it survives the changes. Constant harassment by tankmates will increase a fish's stress hormones making them susceptible to infestation. Excessive nutrients in the water (Nitrates) will eventually lead to a toxicity level that can and usually does kill fish but stresses them as it reaches this level making outbreaks of diseases (not just Ich) possible if not probable. These pretty much are all environmental issues that all have to do with the water. So when we said that Ich was a symptom, it usually meant that something within the system was not right making the fish stressed and causing the fish to be susceptible to the outbreak. Fix that problem and the parasite loses the host as it gains back it's strength to fight off the parasite.

Then there's the life cycle of the parasite issue. Just because it is off the fish does not mean it's out of the tank. Here is a breakdown for the life cycle of one of the common ICH parasites ( You'll notice it does mention that it can and does attack the gills):
The ich protozoa goes though the following life stages:[1]
  • Feeding stage : The ich trophozoite (a protozoan in active stage of life) feeds in a nodule formed in the skin or gill epithelium.[1]
  • After it feeds within the skin or gills, the trophozoite falls off and enters an encapsulated dividing stage (tomont). The tomont adheres to plants, nets, gravel or other ornamental objects in the aquarium.[1]
  • The tomont divides up to 10 times by binary fission, producing infective theronts, thus dividing rapidly and attacking the fish.[1]
This life cycle is highly dependent on water temperature, and the entire life cycle takes from approximately 7 days at 25 įC (77 įF) to 8 weeks at 6 įC (43 įF).


In my beginnings as a fish enthusiast, we didn't always quarantine new fish so we would acclimate to the main tank then treat as needed. When diseases started to become more prevalent, we started QTing fish. However, again in the beginning, the thought was "Okay, I acclimated the fish into the QT tank, Held it in the QT tank, so I can just move the fish from the QT tank into the main tank without a second acclimation because the waters were the same in both tanks." Well I can tell you that I personally have had fish come down with an ICH breakout after 6 weeks in a QT setup because I didn't re-acclamate into the display tank. That's because I stressed the fish between the move. The parasite most likely was already in the display tank only dormant due to the health of the stock. IT DOES happen.

So while it may be a case of the parasite coming into the system via a new fish, it may also be in the system from an old fish. Introducing a new fish to a new tank will definitely put the fish under some stress. Your job is to reduce the stress as much as possible to prevent any sickness from taking over.

Hope this better explains what I meant
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Old 03-29-2014, 08:00 PM   #12
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Many thanks for the explanation. Also thanks for the QT note which is interesting as it seems to imply ich is not always aggressive but can be a slow spreading parasite? Which is interesting given its life cycle, speed of life cycle and crowded nature of a tank.

By which I mean one of the great mysteries I've always wondered is why ich is never seen at the lfs, it's always at home. Second that ich can only occur on certain fish types within a tank.

I must confess I have had otherwise healthy fish catch ich.

Last lot was introduced possibly when I got plants (in water) or cardinal tetras several weeks before that. The rasboras in the tank caught it. I would swear they were healthy. The catfish (one which is unhealthy), also a batch of platys (that are like canaries in a coal mine), loaches, mollies (even same ones that caught it two years prior) and barbs did not catch it or it was not visible. The cardinal tetras looked fine, then ich, recovered with no losses and look fine again. What I find interesting in that is that I can understand the fish slime coat beating it off but am unaware of any defences in the gills.
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Old 03-29-2014, 10:32 PM   #13
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Many thanks for the explanation. Also thanks for the QT note which is interesting as it seems to imply ich is not always aggressive but can be a slow spreading parasite? Which is interesting given its life cycle, speed of life cycle and crowded nature of a tank.

By which I mean one of the great mysteries I've always wondered is why ich is never seen at the lfs, it's always at home. Second that ich can only occur on certain fish types within a tank.

I must confess I have had otherwise healthy fish catch ich.

Last lot was introduced possibly when I got plants (in water) or cardinal tetras several weeks before that. The rasboras in the tank caught it. I would swear they were healthy. The catfish (one which is unhealthy), also a batch of platys (that are like canaries in a coal mine), loaches, mollies (even same ones that caught it two years prior) and barbs did not catch it or it was not visible. The cardinal tetras looked fine, then ich, recovered with no losses and look fine again. What I find interesting in that is that I can understand the fish slime coat beating it off but am unaware of any defences in the gills.
Based on my experiences and education, the fish you thought were healthy, ( The rasboras in your example) may have been 90% healthy but not healthy enough to fight off the parasite. Which brings up the question, "What was happening in the tank that those fish weren't 100% healthy?" The comment you made about "the crowded nature of the tank" may have a lot to do with why the tank and the fish weren't 100% healthy. Back in the day, crowding a fish tank was the biggest NO NO you could do with the exception of Mbuna African Cichlids. The cichlids were done this way to prevent harassment and dominance in the tank which in turn made the inhabitants less likely to be picked on thereby being less under stress. It's been the only example of successful overcrowding I have ever read about or experienced. You just don't see overcrowding in nature until the dry season has made the available water supply so low that the fish have no choice but to congregate in it and most of the time, these fish either die off or get eaten by predators. The lucky ones that do survive, suffer until they can rid themselves of the parasites.
There's another process that may come into play here as well. In an open system, a parasite can attach to a fish, get it's nutrition then leave the fish as it swims off into the sunset. After the appropriate amount of time goes by and the new theronts now need a new "victim", they attach to another fish, do their business then fall off. Both of these times, 1 or a few parasites have attacked a fish and then fallen off leaving that fish to gain back it's strength or meet it's maker. In every school of fish there is always a weaker member and most likely, they are the ones that get infected. In a closed system, the same fish gets attacked over and over which is more likely to bring an earlier demise to the fish because it's not left with any period to recover. This is why infestations can be massive and deadly in such a short period of time.

Okay, now for some secrets from an insider
The reason you don;t see ICH in a pet shop is that they would be crazy to keep sick fish in the public's eye. Have you ever seen a fish store's "Hospital Ward"? If you haven't, it just means the store is good at hiding it. Sick fish come in from wholesalers, fish get sick at the store and some fish are carriers not yet infected. The store's job is to not let those fish go out to a customer. But we just discussed how the second stage of the ICH parasite is off the fish. So what's to say a tank of fish has come in and they get ICH. The store does the right thing and takes those fish out of the tank and moves them to the rear of the store to medicate them and they put new fish in the tank after changing the water. Does this mean no Tomont is left in the tank? Not unless the tank was sterilized. Just cleaned does not equal sterilized. So then a customer buys a "healthy" fish from that tank where they get some of the water. Bingo, the new fish is now infected and you may not see it OR it is not visible to you. End result, new breakout.
Certain fish are more likely to get ICH than others. That's because they are more stressed than others. Pictus cats are the worst I've seen. They get ICH at the drop of a hat. I mean, I love that fish but I never had them in my home aquariums for just that reason.

As I recently posted in another thread, in today's hobby, it's insane ( IMO, to be politically correct ) to not QT any new arrival prior to putting them into your display tank. No matter what fish it is. In a centralized system, as most of the big box stores have turned to, the only time you can consider a fish close to 100% healthy is if every other fish in that system is not sick or there has never been a sick fish in the system. Yeah right, like that can happen! 1 fish in that system can infect every fish in that system. So the need to QT is paramount to preventing diseases in your main display tanks. Same goes for plants. As you've read, the Tormonts attach to the plants, so they can be carriers. Snails are also well documented carriers of parasites. So NOTHING is really a safe bet to not QT.

I hope this helps
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Old 03-30-2014, 01:28 AM   #14
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Most interesting Lately I've been considering the chronic nature of some diseases or water conditions causing disease.

I should note this is a general question / pondering as well but then how does one pick that missing 10%? Nitrates test? TDS test? Redox test (never done last two). At this level it seems observations must be the fish are not only eating and schooling well but something extra. Fish stress?

More specifically in my case the tank is fully stocked but way over stocked compared to nature as you mention. So I would think ich should infest the entire tank - the last two times it hasn't done that.

My experience has been a particular fish type will get infected. So not one or two but the entire school. This to me made sense as a school hangs together. Having said that probably only had ich a handful of times, largely in the 1990's - so experience is limited with it.

Why that school then? Well I have been thinking that maybe some fish are just not quite suited to the water. Cardinal and neon tetras here are usually purchased with a sucking of teeth by both the lfs and myself and I usually get a few extra free. That's at 3 different lfs which also says I have too much time on my hands.

So in a way I could understand them catching something - small, not adjusted to home tank, water conditions not quite right (despite being perhaps tank bred over east).

The rasboras are also small. I wonder if that is the problem as well. They are almost 2 years in tank though. Also they seem to stress a lot. The mollies and barbs will dart around but mostly hang at the front of the tank and beg for food. The rasbora's seem to dart more - maybe natural, maybe stress? Could that be the missing 10%?

So in the case above where ich has dragged on longer than thought possible. Just assuming that it was longer than normal for this discussion. In general could this indicate an underlying problem in a tank? Hope that makes sense.
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Old 03-30-2014, 12:45 PM   #15
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Most interesting Lately I've been considering the chronic nature of some diseases or water conditions causing disease.

I should note this is a general question / pondering as well but then how does one pick that missing 10%? Nitrates test? TDS test? Redox test (never done last two). At this level it seems observations must be the fish are not only eating and schooling well but something extra. Fish stress?

More specifically in my case the tank is fully stocked but way over stocked compared to nature as you mention. So I would think ich should infest the entire tank - the last two times it hasn't done that.

My experience has been a particular fish type will get infected. So not one or two but the entire school. This to me made sense as a school hangs together. Having said that probably only had ich a handful of times, largely in the 1990's - so experience is limited with it.

Why that school then? Well I have been thinking that maybe some fish are just not quite suited to the water. Cardinal and neon tetras here are usually purchased with a sucking of teeth by both the lfs and myself and I usually get a few extra free. That's at 3 different lfs which also says I have too much time on my hands.

So in a way I could understand them catching something - small, not adjusted to home tank, water conditions not quite right (despite being perhaps tank bred over east).

The rasboras are also small. I wonder if that is the problem as well. They are almost 2 years in tank though. Also they seem to stress a lot. The mollies and barbs will dart around but mostly hang at the front of the tank and beg for food. The rasbora's seem to dart more - maybe natural, maybe stress? Could that be the missing 10%?

So in the case above where ich has dragged on longer than thought possible. Just assuming that it was longer than normal for this discussion. In general could this indicate an underlying problem in a tank? Hope that makes sense.
For me, if your water parameters are correct and you do routine maintenance, the fish load would probably be the problem. I would suggest you separate out some fish by species ( I'd move the ones getting sick the most) into another tank by themselves and see how they do from there. In every society, there will be a hierarchy and from the species you mentioned, the Barbs then Mollies are at the top. The Tets and Rasboras are at the bottom. By separating these species from each other, the stress level on the bottom should be lessened. Don;t forget, even in a same species school, there will be a hierarchy as well so you just need to keep your eyes on them for harassment.
Stop overcrowding and you stop having disease problems in your established tanks.

Hope this helps
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Old 03-30-2014, 08:24 PM   #16
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Hmmm, interesting. I think fish stress is a good point, whatever form it may take.
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