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Welcome to our page. I have been keeping marine and fresh water aquariums for over 20 years off and on. We try to provide lots of up to date articles on maintaining an aquarium. We also have many awesome links on the right side bar to all things both Fresh Water and Salt Water Aquarium related. Things like Medicines, diagnosis charts, Fish Identification Databases, DIY Projects, Just to name a few. Quick Links to our tank Journals there as well.

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Few words on Ich (Ichthyophthirius in fresh water, and Cryptocaryon, Brooklynella, Trichodina in marine)

Few words on Ich (Ichthyophthirius in fresh water, and Cryptocaryon, Brooklynella, Trichodina in marine)


Once again I can not stress the importance of having a Quarantine/Hospital tank.  As you read through pathogens and their treatments keep in mind a good quarantine program can save many hours of treatment and medications. Ich is no exception to this rule.

Ick (Ichthyophthirius in fresh water, and Cryptocaryon, Brooklynella, Trichodina in marine), is a microscopic parasite with a four stage life cycle. There are a number of species of Ich . Each species varies to some extent in its maturation periods and behavior.  Each species can also vary in its vulnerability to certain methods of treatment and medications.  There is considerable controversy on the subject.  Most problems with permanently eliminating this parasite come from not understanding its life cycle.  During the short time that the Ich is in the free swimming stage is the only time that it can be eliminated by treatments. What is most common in tropical aquarium keeping is to have about eighteen to twenty four hours for when the trophonts are in the free-swimming stage, and about one to two days for temperate or cold water outdoor ponds.  At the typical temperatures a tropical aquarium is kept at the entire life-cycle takes about seven to ten days to complete

1) = "Adult" - The trophozoites in the host's skin, What you actually see are the fishes response to the parasite in the form of cysts which contain the parasite  where it's protected from medication. Constantly rotating inside this pustule, the parasite swells to 50 times its original size, eventually large enough to appear to the naked eye, grayish-white, round or oval shaped, about the size of a grain of salt. In a few days or sometimes a lot longer, depending on temperature, It sheds its cilia, grows a thickened gelatinous outer shell,allows itself be shed into the fishes "Slime Coat" and simply drops away to eventually settle on tank decorations or substrate.
2) = Trophont leaving the host.
3) = "Reproductive1" -The mature trophont with hundreds of maturing tomites.
4)  = "Reproductive2" - The releasing of tomites that penetrate the skin of the host fish.
1) = The cycle continues all over again.

The most common cures available on the market contain the following as active ingredients:

Methylene blue,
Malachite green,
Formalin and Malachite Green mix
Copper sulfate mix. - Least desirable as it can kill invertebrates and some species of fish

Herbal/Natural Remadies:

Table Salt(Iodine free) - this will not effect pH so it is the one I personally prefer
Marine Salt
Napthoquinones - Naphthoquinones are compounds present in several families of higher plants such as Henna. Currently the only aquatic product employing this organic compound is Kordon Herbal Ich-Attack.

Usnea Lichen, usnic acid (Usnea barbata) - common to the temperate forests of the Pacific Northwest of the USA.



Either Iodine free table salt or Aquarium salt
A standard cup or plastic cup
Set the aquarium heat at 86 degrees F and keep it there for seven to ten days after the spots have disappeared. It should be safe to return the tank to the normal temperature after that.

Step 1:
Turn the heat in your aquarium up to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the temperature needed to stop the ich from reproducing. Once you do this, you will be ready to treat the ich that has already infected your fish.

Step 2:
Take any live plants in your aquarium out of the tank before you begin to use the salt. The plants may not survive the salt treatment.

Step 3:
Turn your aerator up a little. The higher heat setting will reduce the oxygen level in the water. You need your fish to be able to breathe properly if they are going to stay healthy.

Step 4:
Find out how many gallons of water are in your aquarium. You will need 1 tsp. of aquarium salt for each gallon of water. That means if you have a 10-gallon aquarium, you will need 10 tsp. of salt.

Step 5:
Use a cup to remove some water from the aquarium. Add the salt you measured out in step four to the cup of aquarium water. Mix until the salt has dissolved.

Step 6:
Add the salt water slowly to your tank over the next two hours until you have poured all of it into the tank.

Step 7:
Repeat these steps each day until you see the white spots have disappeared from your fish. This should only take a few days.

Step 8:
Change at least 25 percent of the water in the aquarium daily for at least a week after you have stopped the salt treatments. This will get rid of the salt that was used so your aquarium can be brought back to normal.

Formalin: Used against protozoan and metazoan parasites.

To prevent any misunderstandings, formaldehyde is a colourless, highly toxic gas. Formalin is a 37 - 40% aqueous solution of formaldehyde (which equals 100% formalin). It should not be used if a white precipitate of paraformaldehyde forms in the container.

Paraformaldehyde is extremely toxic to fish. Keep formalin away from light. Be extremely careful when handling.

Bath: 0.15 to 0.25 mls per litre for up to 60 minutes.; Can be used on consecutive days for a  maximum of three treatments. Can irritate gills so it should not be used where gill disease is suspected. Aerate at all times. In most cases the lower dose should be used although the high dose may be required against Epistylis

Prolonged immersion: 0.015 to 0.025 mls per litre. Repeat every 3 - 4 days and do a partial water change between treatments. Maximum of three consecutive treatments. Aerate at all times. Do not use where gill disease is suspected.

Malachite green: Used against Saprolegnia (fungus), water moulds and protozoan parasites.

A zinc-free grade must be used. This is usually mixed as a stock solution that will then keep indefinitely. The exact mixture of the stock solution varies depending on preference. The main point is that whatever concentration is used it should be easy to calculated many mgs of malachite there are per ml of solution. A popular stock solution uses 20 grams malachite per litre of distilled water. This gives 20 mg malachite per ml of stock solution. Using this stock solution.

Bath: 1-2 mg malachite per litre water for 30 - 60 minutes. Higher dose only for large fish, such as koi, in hard water.  This equates with 1 ml stock solution per 20 - 40 litres of water. Can be repeated every other day for a maximum of four treatments.

Prolonged immersion:0.1- 0.25 mg malachite per litre: Repeat every three days for a maximum of three treatments. This equates to 1ml of stock solution per 80 - 200 litres. Again the higher dose should only be used with large fish, such as koi, in hard water.

Topical treatment: The stock solution can be applied directly to a wound, particularly when fungus is present. Keep away from the fish’s eyes and gills.

Malachite and formalin mixture (Leteux-Meyer mixture) Used against protozoan and metazoan parasites.

There are several variations. Two commonly used mixtures are:

Strong mixture: 3.68 grams of malachite green dissolved in one litre of formalin: This is used at 0.025 mls per litre of pond water for 60 minutes bath. This stronger dose can also be used for stubborn parasites on koi in alkaline water as a prolonged immersion. This dosage equates to 0.025 ml/litre formalin and 0.1 mg. /litre of malachite green.

Weaker mixture: 3.3 grams malachite green dissolved in one litre of formalin: This is used at a rate of 0.015 mls per litre of pond water as a prolonged immersion for general pond use. This equates to 0.015 mls/litre formalin and 0.05 mg/litre malachite green

Usnea Lichen
Boil one small sprig (about an adult thumb size) in 6 oz. of water and add this to every 10-20 gallons of water every day until cure is effective +2 days. Make sure to remove the Usnea sprig from the “brewed Usnea tea”, otherwise this will allow the tea/medication to spoil. Refrigeration is recommended after brewing of any unused Usnea brew.
1 tablespoon per 6 oz. of this preparation can also be used for a 1 quart bath as an alternative.

ALL these ich remedies, are toxins! So you don't use this unless you see ick. And they ALL kill ONLY the free swimming stage. Nothing kills the eggs or the ones on fish.
So it may take a week or two tops, for all the cysts to open and drop eggs, the eggs hatch, then ick is killed.

And be warned, some fish are less tolorant of these cures. Especially the dyes. Your shark may be one of them. So either find the copper sulfate cure, one called aquarasol was good if you can find that.
Or you can still use the ones with dye, but at a third of a dose. Raise the temp. (Speeds up the ick life cycle.) And be patient. It still works even at low doses.

However, where the parasite leaves, will leave a very small wound. This can be a path way to infection. Keeping your tank clean is important. Keep running your filters, keep doing water changes. (right before your daily dose is good.) 

Useful conversions:

ppm = mg/litre -  i.e. 5 ppm = 5 mg / litre

mg / litre x 3.785 = mg / gall (US) -  i.e 5 mg / litre = 18.9 mg / gall (US)

mg/ litre x 4.546 = mg / gall (UK) -  i.e 5 mg / litre = 22.7 mg / gall (UK)

To convert imperial gallons to US gallons multiply by 1.2

Other useful figures:

1 ounce = 28.35 grams

1% solution =

10 ml per litre

10 gram per litre

38 gram per gall (US)

45 gram per gall (UK)


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