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How To Treat Ich

Updated on October 15, 2009
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  • Most importantly, you need to keep an eye on the water quality. Ich generally pops up in new aquariums where the water quality is not the best as yet. If you are new to the hobby your tank may not be properly cycled, or you may be feeding too much, resulting in poor water quality. Do lots of water changes over the period of treatment. These help remove tomonts and tomites from the water entirely, keep the water clean, and lower stress on the fish.
  • Adding aquarium salt is known to be quite helpful in the treatment of ich. In fact, some people swear by using heat and salt alone.
  • If you are having a very hard time removing ich, wrapping the tank in a blanket so that there is complete darkness may also help kill the ich off. This is very much a last resort however, and should not be necessary for most people.

The first thing you need to do when you see itch is raise the temperature of your tank. This speeds up the life cycle of the parasite, and makes it easier to treat. If you left your tank at it's usual temperature, it could take over a week for the parasite to cycle and become susceptible to the medication, all the while your fish suffers from the parasite feeding on it. When you increase the temperature, you speed up that life cycle.

Temperatures should be around 82 degrees Fahrenheit or between 30 -33 degrees Celsius. Raise the temperature slowly so as not to shock your already stressed fish.

Once you have raised the temperature, the feeding parasite should begin to drop off your fish within three days. At the same time as you raise the temperature, dose your tank with the directed amounts of ich medication. There are many ich medications out there and most of them are effective. If you have sensitive fish such as loaches, catfish, or very small fish, a half dose may be more appropriate.

Monitor your fish for signs of a negative reaction, and if you see them behaving as if stressed, do a 50% water change immediately.

Read this for signs of stressed fish.

A common effect of the medication and increased temperature is a lower level of oxygen in the water, so this is a good time to add an airstone to the tank. If you see your fish starting to swim higher in the tank, or gulping from the surface, you need to address the oxygenation issue immediately.

Ich treatments generally take a week to complete. Many experienced fish keepers advise keeping the temp at the higher rate for another week, just to make sure that there is no infestation left. When you are sure that you have killed all the ich in your tank, slowly return the temperature to normal.


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