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Is it ich?

    If it is ich, what should you do about it?  Should you medicate the fish?  Should you use salt?  How warm should the water be?  This article will discuss this problem.
    First you should make sure it is ich.  A lot of people think ich is a general term for any fish disease.  Ich is a specific parasite (or group of them).  If a fish has ich, it will look like a grain of salt on it.  There could be one spot, or several.
    What should you do to get rid of ich?  My theory is that you should never try to get rid of ich in your tank.  That would require a full sterilization of the tank and fish, meaning radiation/heat or bleach to kill all living organisms in the tank.  Why even bother if you are going to have to kill the fish.  I suspect, based on what I have read and experienced, that all tanks have ich living in them in some number.  They normally can't get a foot hold on a healthy fish, so they don't multiply very much.  When something happens to weaken a fish, the ich is finally able to get that foot hold.  The stress that weakens a fish can be related to the nitrogen cycle, moving a new fish into the tank, or being chased by another fish.
    So what can you do?  First you should remove the source of stress.  If there is an aggressive fish, separate that fish from the others.  If it is caused by water quality issues, get those under control through water changes.  If the fish has just been moved into the tank, there isn't much you can do for it other than make sure the other two sources of stress are taken care of.  I don't like ich medicine.  I have had limited success with them.  I suspect the reason is that I was using them to treat the symptom (ich) when I should have been treating the real problem (poor water quality).  On the other hand, I have had great success with water changes, turning the heat to 83-84F, and adding 1 teaspoon of salt for each 5 gallons.  The usefulness of salt is controversial, and I have had success with just water changes and turning up the heat.

Copyright 2004.