Aquarium Ich Prevention; GH, KH, pH, more
Aquarium Ich; Treatment, Identification, Prevention
As in many parasite caused fish diseases the fish may need to be stressed due to changes in environment, poor water conditions, and/or stress from other fish to be susceptible to the parasite.
This is not to say a perfectly healthy fish cannot get ich, only that often a foothold in a stressed fish is the starting point.
Also, the Ich parasites must be present in the aquatic environment, as Ich/Ick is NOT air borne.
It is not unusual for an aquarium population to have a low level of Ich/Ichthyophthirius Multifilis infestation present but not be showing any signs of the disease. Then, once a new fish is placed into the system or a weak/stressed fish becomes the start point for an ich infestation gets a foot hold in the aquarium.
Fish can sometimes carry the parasite and not actually be diseased. These carriers can shed the parasite into a new aquarium into which it is placed. If the fish in the new aquarium have never been exposed to the parasite, and they become stressed, they can then develop the disease.
Put another way, with healthy fish, they can usually produce enough mucous to prevent the ich tomites from getting started on the fish, but once these tomites get a foot hold on a stressed fish, even the healthy fish get overwhelmed.
What is so often missed is that the health of an aquatic environment can play a major role in susceptibility of fish to the ich parasites. High ammonia and nitrites severely stress a fish. Also long term nitrates above 40-50 ppm in freshwater or 30 ppm in saltwater can weaken the immune system in fish.
Calcium and positive calcium ions (Cations) constantly available in the water column is also often forgotten as an essential to fish health (including soft water fish such as Discus). Without calcium, fish cannot carry out many osmotic functions and are more susceptible to disease, including ich infestations.
In fact, research has found much quicker response to treatment when adequate calcium is present in freshwater aquariums.
AQUARIUM CHEMISTRY; Including the importance of Calcium
A healthy, cycled aquarium with 0 ammonia/nitrites and low nitrates, with a steady temperature and a GH above 100 ppm WITH CONSTANT positive mineral ion replenishment is less likely to develop ich, or when it does, a healthy aquarium will have a less serious and more easily treatable infestation.
High DOC (dissolved organic compounds) can allow for a more serious infestation and hinder treatment by creating a less stable environment as to KH, pH, and poor Redox Balance, so a clean aquarium with low DOCs as well as good circulation is essential. It is also worthy of note that these DOC can absorb many medications rendering these treatments less effective.
Further Reference about Redox:
Aquarium Redox Balance
Before you begin any treatment, make sure your water parameters are correct, otherwise this may just worsen the situation and make treatments ineffective and/or poisonous.
Here are some water parameters to check and what they should be:
- Ammonia- 0
- Nitrites- 0
- KH- 80 ppm or higher (depending on fish, marine much higher)
- GH – 100 ppm or often MUCH higher (again depending upon fish kept) for important mineral ions (electrolytes) along with CONSTANT mineral cation replenishment necessary during times of stress, especially an ich infestation.
It cannot be emphasize more how important this constant mineral ion (Cation) replenishment for Ich prevention and treatment is!!
Controlled tests by C. Strohmeyer, primarily with goldfish in the 1990s showed a 15-20% lower incidence of Ich when constant mineral Cations were supplied
Product Resource for Mineral Cation Maintenance:
Proprietary Wonder Shells ONLY available at AAP
If you are having problems with ammonia, Prime is an excellent product for de-toxification of ammonia and nitrites. Prime only changes the electron number in ammonia (NH4 to NH3) making ammonia less toxic, but ammonia will still show in ammonia tests (except with the SeaChem Ammonia Alert).
*Prime Water Conditioner
*Ammonia Alert, ONLY measures Toxic NH3
A preventative fish bath (or quarantine if possible) is generally a good idea for new fish arrivals, even if the fish are from a known good source.
With this bath for freshwater fish, I generally recommend salt (sodium chloride) at one teaspoon per gallon, Methylene Blue at or double the recommended in tank dose recommended by the manufacturer, and with ParaGuard by AAP or Metronidazole for. This bath should be for 30 minutes using the water the new fish arrived in along with a slow introduction of new tank water.
Fish Baths/Dips for parasite/disease prevention
Use of a Medicated Wonder Shell is also advised when new fish are added for 10-14 days. If shrimp or other invertebrates are present, the Marine Medicated Wonder Shells which do not have copper can be used (however these are not as effective too).
Reading of the article below is highly recommended:
“Aquarium Disease Prevention”
Following ALL steps in this article, even improved lighting can affect fish disease resistance!
In fact just as in human research shows persons kept in poorly lit rooms can suffer from more health issues that persons of otherwise similar persons exposed to more sunlight or high PUR/PAR artificial light so it is with fish as well.
With the many aquarium LED fixtures flooding the market, some of the better ones such as the GroBeam & AquaBar can produce highly accurate PUR light spectrums that can naturally help boost fish' immunity.
However, be wary of the low end LEDs such as the Fluval and Finnex which have poor PUR/PAR spectrums along with warranties that are less than 1/5 those of the better products.
*Economy Planted Aquarium LED; Fluval Aqualife & TMC AquaBar
*Aquarium LED Warranties; Reef or Planted
*AquaRay Ultra Premium Aquarium LED Lights; Including GroBeam
*TMC AquaBar LED Complete Light Strips
Interesting Reading for Reef Keepers:
*AquaRay Aquarium LED; Reef Central