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Old 04-03-2012, 09:05 AM   #1
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Treating ich in a new tank with juvenile fish

I recently stocked my tank, a 75 gallon, with six juvenile angels (about quarter sized), three small loaches (two inches at the most), one raphael catfish, and two blue rams. I stocked in two phases, and after losing one angel initially (I saw no outward signs of illness or stress, but I know they are very fragile when they are that small), I added two more loaches and two more angels. That's a total of seven angels and five loaches.

I noticed this morning that one of the angels, one of the most recent additions, has a minor case of ich. Since I don't have a hospital or quarantine tank, I had to add the fish immediately and I believe the fish came with the disease. It isn't likely that the parasite has progressed to its second stage yet, but I am concerned about stressing both this fish and the rest of the tank, but obviously I need to treat this. Right now, it is the only fish with symptoms and it is not acting as though it's got any problems. I do not want to use medication because I don't want to disrupt the chemistry of a just-cycled tank. Also, Maracide for a 75 gallon tank can be a bit on the expensive side for three doses. I'd also prefer to wait two weeks or so to change the water - again, to minimize disruption to the tank's chemistry. The bio-load with fish this small is pretty small, and the tank's readings are fine (0, 0, 5-10, and 7.0).

I bumped the temperature up to about 86.5-87.0, and I added a little bit of salt. At that rate I think it should clear up the affected fish within a week's time (provided they can handle the stress) and within another week or so the parasite should be dead (being unable to survive in those conditions). Does this sound like a suitable plan? I have been very fortunate in the past treating ich with both heat and medications, even pretty severe cases on scaleless fish. I do not have any concerns about the fish being able to handle the heat (in my experience, the angels actually prefer that temperature, while the others don't seem to care one way or the other).
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Old 04-03-2012, 09:09 AM   #2
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That's a lot of fish to add at once to a tank. Could be that's what stressed the fish out enough to get ich, if it didn't, in fact, come sick from the lfs.

Your method sounds fine, good luck!
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Old 04-03-2012, 09:18 AM   #3
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That's a lot of fish to add at once to a tank. Could be that's what stressed the fish out enough to get ich, if it didn't, in fact, come sick from the lfs.

Your method sounds fine, good luck!
I was under the impression that after a fishless cycle, you are supposed to stock fully to support the established bacteria colony. In my younger (and not so bright) days, I had stocked a 35 gallon aquarium similarly without any sort of cycle and I actually only lost maybe one fish. This tank should have an established colony, and I thought that if I did not stock fully that most of the colony would effectively starve without a source of ammonia and nitrite.

The last angelfish only came last night and the rest of the fish were healthy (outside of the one I lost, who had no outward signs of any illness), so I suspected that to have ich this quickly the fish had to come with it. I know loaches are notorious for bringing ich with them, being wild-caught and all, but I have never seen it progress this quickly to other fish. I don't think it would be likely to have the spots appear within twelve hours unless the fish already had it.
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Old 04-03-2012, 09:39 AM   #4
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You should actually stock a few fish (or one small school) at a time. This allows the beneficial bacteria time to adjust to this particular bioload. Then, after a week or so, you can add the next few fish or school, and so on.

As your stocking level grows, so does the bacteria colony. Many people will go into mini-cycles or crash their cycle completely by stocking too much too soon. You're lucky it went smoothly for you.
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Old 04-03-2012, 10:07 AM   #5
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You should actually stock a few fish (or one small school) at a time. This allows the beneficial bacteria time to adjust to this particular bioload. Then, after a week or so, you can add the next few fish or school, and so on.

As your stocking level grows, so does the bacteria colony. Many people will go into mini-cycles or crash their cycle completely by stocking too much too soon. You're lucky it went smoothly for you.
Thanks for this information. This was my first time doing fishless cycling so it was (and still is) a learning experience. I read and read and read about it, but until you actually do it, it's hard to estimate it.

My understanding was that when you do a fishless cycle and start with ammonia levels of 4 PPM or higher, you are actually establishing a pretty significant bacterial colony. In the ideal case, you would want to stock such that your bacterial colony can handle as much ammonia and nitrite as your fish will actually produce (or more). If your colony is established but too small, then you will have mini-cycles as the bacteria reproduce and expand to handle the greater bio-load. If your colony is too large, then some bacteria will simply starve and die off. This is ideal because it does not alter the levels of ammonia or nitrite in the tank - better to have dead bacteria than spikes in ammonia or nitrite. So my understanding was that while the bacteria colony does indeed have to adjust to the bio-load of your tank, it is better for it to adjust down rather than up.

I don't think there's a way to really identify how much bio-load your tank can handle, but I do know that my completely amateur method of fish-in cycling with no preparation never produced an ammonia odor like fishless cycling does. Thus I would guess that the bacterial colony is more than sufficient to support a fully stocked tank. I could be completely wrong. That was just the way I understood it.
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Old 04-03-2012, 12:27 PM   #6
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I thought the point of a fishless cycle was 1 not harm any fish, 2 be able to put a large amount of fish in all at once. I mean you built up this massive bacteria colony and if you don't put enough fish in they'll just die off and go to waste. Not saying you're wrong Lynda, that's just the impression I got from all the guides I read on it.
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Old 04-04-2012, 09:33 PM   #7
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I'm now at about 36 hours since bumping up the temp and adding the salt. So far, all of the fish seem to be doing just fine. The loaches and the rams are active, and the angels are doing well. The catfish I have only seen once, but he seemed fine also (he's since reburied himself in the driftwood).

The only stressed fish is the angelfish that has the visible ich. He (or she) is the smallest, but seems like quite a fighter. It doesn't seem to be too bad on the body, but there is definitely some on the gills since they are flared out. I know that's common. I'll be very happy if this little guy makes it. He is eating and the disease shouldn't be progressing any more, so let's hope for the best.

Also, for what it's worth, my readings are still 0 on both ammonia and nitrite. The fishless cycle seemed to work quite well.
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Old 04-06-2012, 02:08 PM   #8
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Three days in now and the fish still seem to be in good shape. The ich does not seem to have spread from the one affected fish. Also, the ich looks like it's about gone from him, so now I can start the timer on the two weeks before dropping the temp. I'll probably err on the side of caution since all of the fish seem to be doing fine in the heat. I'm not out of the woods yet, but this is certainly good progress.
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