View Full Version : Ich Outbreak!
01-14-2012, 11:41 PM
Alright. This is my first experience with my fishes contracting Ich. I'm about to recheck my water parameters but I thought I'd send this out to solicit any suggestions in the meantime. The following are the facts I can provide at this time:
Tank Size: 75 Gallons
Non-Fish Items: Live rock and live sand
Filter: Canister - Fluval 406
Tank Designation: Used for QT. Main tank is 265 which is not the issue right now.
Fishes: Naso Blonde, Powder Brown, Fowleri Tang, Decorate Rabbitfish and Cleaner Wrasse
They get along fine. Not outward aggressive behavior towards each other. I put them in at the same time. They've been in QT for about one week before I started noticing the symptoms. They have been and still are eating well. I alternate between flakes and Nori. I douse the flakes in garlic solution and add Metro. Been doing that since the first day. I started first noticing black blotches on the Naso blonde. The face showed what seemed like black dots but the body itself showed black dull dots or blotches. After 2 to 3 days, I gave him a bath in tap water (temp and pH equalized). He could only tolerate 6 minutes of that before I had to put him back. I did not notice any difference. That was two days ago. Today, it seems like it's spreading a bit more. Worse, I noticed on black spot near the eye on the Decorated Rabbitfish. Additionally, I noticed black blotches on my Powder Brown and I think also my Fowleri. I picked up Focus. Was told to mix in 5 scoops of Focus with one scoop of Metro with the food overnight.
I have done a 50% water change about a week ago. Am plannning on doing another 50% water change tonight or tomorrow morning.
Any suggestions... Am I on the right track?
01-14-2012, 11:43 PM
If they're in QT, why not medicate with copper?
01-14-2012, 11:45 PM
If that is the optimal solution, then I am perfectly comfortable doing that. However, how does the live rock and live sand I currently have the in the play into this suggestion/strategy?
Edit: Plus, I don't have copper. I take that back. I do have a bottle of some type of solution someone gave me a while back (left over) since he relocated. I am not sure what it is but he told me it's for ich and hope that I don't have to ever use it.
01-14-2012, 11:48 PM
It will be just fine if it will always be in the QT. You don't want copper (including rock/sand that has been exposed) to go in your DT, ever... assuming it's a reef. It's toxic to invertebrates (which is why it kills ich), but fine in a fish only system.
01-14-2012, 11:58 PM
I just remembered. I have two hammerhead frags. I can certainly move them out. Is it safe though. I do have another 30 gallon QT tank with other fishes in there. Is it safe to transfer the hammerheads there? Or should I transfer them to the main tank if there is no risk to passing on the ICH virus?
Just so I'm clear...I can use copper in the QT tank even if it has live rock and live sand, right? I was worried that all the good bacteria would because the volume of bacteria which normally would have countered any rise in ammonia levels may be insufficient. Or I shouldn't be concerned from that angle since copper won't kill those type of bacteria?
01-15-2012, 7:33 AM
bacteria should be fine....formalin is good, too.
01-15-2012, 8:32 AM
Shafiq - if you do anymore fresh water dips use RO water, not tap. I dont believe its neccessary to do dips since they are in your QT. You can treat the QT with copper but wont be able to put any corals in that QT anymore unless you change out the rock and sand and clean the rock really well.
They are probably a little stressed out, thats alot of tangs in a 75. If you end up not using copper I would bump up the temp a few degrees, I normally rest on 82. Keep up with the metro and focus and feed several times a day and change water often. You should be ok.
As long as the fish are still eating they can fight it off, its when they stop eating I would move to more evasive treatment.
Blotches doesn't indicate ich. Post a photo.
Blotches on tangs, esp. Naso, could be something as simple as stress spots. And given you've got 3 tangs and a rabbitfish all new acquisitions, it's quite likely that what you have are a bunch of stressed-out fish.
I recommended against the cleaner wrasse... chances are that won't last too long but that will be unrelated to whatever might be going on with the tangs. There was an article posted here not too long ago about how cleaner wrasse collection for the aquarium trade (where they usually die in short order anyway...) is having a significant negative effect on wild reefs... but I digress...
What you are describing does NOT sound like ich to me, so before you do anything else, please post photos of the symptoms. There's no use subjecting sensitive fish to a harsh copper treatment if that's not what's going on.
Edit: Gary picked up on what I missed. NEVER NEVER use untreated tap water to do a dip. Chlorine and Chloramines are damaging and potentially deadly for your fish.
This is why I don't support keeping cleaner wrasses. We had this conversation over the phone - here's the article I was speaking about in regards to that.
01-15-2012, 9:46 AM
WOW!!! Great pickup Jenn. This is why having an experience LFS owner like "Jenn" on this Forum is valuable.
She's one of the most knowledgeable people in this hobby. Any advice she gives should be taken seriously. I know, she's helped me many times in the past.
01-15-2012, 10:06 AM
I'm more inclined with your theory particularly when it didn't seem like dipping did not seem to make any difference. But to your point, I did treat the water before dipping the Naso. I was recommended to use tap water INSTEAD of RODI because RODI water is typically void of elements which can sustain life.
I have taken some pictures but I'm not a professional cameraman. I just have a professional camera :-). Anyways, the pictures are a bit blurry but you can make out the blotches. I'm not sure how to upload pictures on this forum but I think the following link will work.
01-15-2012, 10:44 AM
I've done countless numbers of FW dips over the last 11+ years. ALWAYS used RO/DI. Water being devoid of minerals isn't going to kill a fish in 10 minutes, it's not "living" in it, it's just passing through. I suppose dechlorinated tap water isn't going to hurt much but I wouldn't use it if RO is readily available.
I looked at the pictures, I can't tell much from them except the tang's belly looks a bit pinched.
If it's ich, it will look like salt grains stuck on the fish. If it's "blotches" it's either stress spots which look more like pigment changes and can come and go in an instant.
If it's black, raised "dots" then it's what is often referred to as, "black ich" which isn't ich at all, it's Turbellarian worms, but I'm not even leaning towards that as a diagnosis yet as I don't have enough information.
Regardless of what you may or may not have going on, if you're going to use your quarantine tank to treat diseases, I don't recommend the use of sand, and even live rock should be sparing. Given that you're using a canister filter, make sure you have powerheads or something in place to agitate the water for gas exchange. Canisters don't help to oxygenate the water as they are closed.
Freshwater dips *are* useful for external parasites, in particular, flukes or Trematodes - but I don't think that's what you have going on here. Usually those present as cloudy eyes, but they may also be present in the mouth and gills and in extreme infestations, on the body between scales.
If you can get a clearer picture of what you're seeing, that would help. Even a video might be more helpful, since it won't blur.
01-15-2012, 11:05 AM
Okay, I went back and took a closer look after turning on the lights and I now defnitely notice what looks like to be similar to white salt grains. So, let me have you validate my next steps:
1. Remove the two hammer head corals I have in there. My question is do I move them straight to the main tank or will I be transferring the ICH parasite?
2. Ideally take out some of the live rock, right?
3. I'll leave the live sand in there since that might release additional waste, gases, etc into the water, correct?
4. Do a water change, right? How much?
5. Start adding copper, right?
6. How much time do they have before it's too late? Is it like hours or days?
01-15-2012, 11:16 AM
I don't know of any pathogen that can transmit between fish and corals. If you want to be extra careful, dip the corals in a bath made with Seachem Reef Dip or Two Little Fishies Revive or similar (per package directions). That's a good practice anyway, before placing corals in your display, but I don't believe there's a risk of transmitting ich to the main tank.
At this point you probably don't want to mess with your biological filtration, so you should probably make do with the quarantine as it is for now - but you might want to rethink some stuff after these fish have been moved out, and before you add a new batch.
Personally if anything should go, I'd remove the sand. When ich reproduces, its eggs drop into the substrate. With a bare bottom you can vacuum debris off the substrate and potentially manually remove the eggs before they hatch again.
If you've got a sand bed that's at risk of releasing "gases", you've got bigger problems... how much sand do you have in there?
If your parameters are fine, I don't see any need for a water change, that will just add more stress.
Copper... hmmm, not my weapon of choice for tangs, some don't tolerate it very well. IF you choose to go that route, make sure you're testing for levels. Some is good, too much is toxic.
If it were me, I'd go with Hikari Ich-X. It's a formalin based medication, and it addresses not only ich, but other infestations such as Brooklynella and Oodinium. Since you aren't 100% sure what you have, that might be a better choice. If you start treating with copper and figure out later that it's something else, you won't be able to add other medications without the risk of interaction. If you're using Ich-X, make sure NOT to use sulfate-based dechlorinators like Prime - use Hikari Ultimate, or stick with RO.
How much time depends on what they really have. Typically parasites don't kill the fish, a secondary bacterial infection does, that invades the body through bite sites.
No matter what medication you decide to use, remove any carbon filtration and turn off any UV. I know turning off UV sounds counter-intuitive, but UV will break down the medicine.
Just how many spots are you seeing? Can you count them, or are the fish "coated" with them?
If it's just a few spots, I'd leave well enough alone, keep your hands out of the tank and just stick with the Metronidazole and Focus (you can do a 1:1 ratio with the Focus, BTW - I know the label says 1:5 but per the folks at Seachem, 1:1 is fine).
Is the cleaner wrasse attempting to clean the fish and are they allowing it?
The more you tinker, the more stress you add, and the more it wears down the fishes' immune systems.
I'd really avoid any knee-jerk reactions right yet - figure out exactly what you're dealing with, and proceed with common sense and caution.
01-15-2012, 11:25 AM
1. Keep the live rock so as not to impact biological filtration and undue stress
2. Keep the sand to minimize gas release and undue stress.
3. They are not blanketed with salt grains (ICH). So, I guess I'll settle for Metronidazole anf Focus for right now OR go with Hikari Ich-X.
The fowleri is the only which seems to accept cleaning by the wrasse. The others have always shunned any attempt to be cleaned by the wrasse.
Although I notice grains on the body itself, but it is more apparent on the fins (i think that's what they're called....the ones towards on each side of their body they flap back and forth to propel movement).
01-15-2012, 11:28 AM
The ones on the fins in particular, are they more like salt grains or more like cotton?
And how deep is the sand in your QT?
01-15-2012, 11:44 AM
I believe the ones on the fin (at least for the most part) seem to resemble cotton unlike the ones on the body which are very distinct (salt grains).
On the 75, I recall throwing in either 2 or 3 20lb bags of caribsea bags.
01-15-2012, 11:51 AM
So the sand bed is shallow? Say 3/4" to 1" deep? There should be no danger of "gases" unless you've been dreadfully overfeeding forever and never vacuumed it. Do vacuum it when you do a water change, if you aren't already.
The "cottony" bits on the fins are likely Lymphocystis. Also presents because of stress. Sometimes it appears smooth and pimple-like, and usually on fins or around the mouth. It's viral, like warts, and it's harmless. I wouldn't fool with it, it will go away on its own. The only time I'd intervene with that is if it's on the mouth and interferes with a fish's ability to eat (very rare that this happens). In fact, picking it off can cause a wound that opens the door to infection, so it's best left alone.
It sounds to me like your fish are very stressed out. All of this is likely a result of that stress. If the actual ich is minor - a few spots, keep them well fed, keep the garlic, Focus and Met going, turn out the lights on the tank (move those frags), to reduce the stress, keep your hands out of the tank as much as possible, and wait. If you aren't medicating the water proper, keep UV on if you've got it.
The catch-22 will be that there is ich in your QT system so there's no guarantee that some of it won't transfer to the main display at some point. But then again, I also believe that's a risk that every system carries. There's been a lot of discussion/argument about how to be completely ich-free by breaking the life cycle and such, but I've seen people follow protocols to the letter and beyond, and it still turns up again.
01-15-2012, 12:02 PM
This has been an extreamly educational thread for me. I have not had to deal with it (knock on wood) but reading this thread has helped me to understand much better. :-)
Although it has been illuded too, it hasn't been said outright. Once all fish are fine and moved to the display tank, toss the sand out from the QT. Don't try to reuse it anywhere. Especially if you medicate.
01-15-2012, 12:05 PM
Sandbed is about 1" thick.
01-15-2012, 12:10 PM
It shouldn't be an issue to remove it, but I'd wait until AFTER you're done with this batch of fish. The purpose of a quarantine is to prevent or treat problems, and the sand may enable more proliferation of the eggs when the ich reproduces. Bare bottom is easy to vacuum all the debris out of and possibly unhatched parasites.
01-15-2012, 12:19 PM
Definitely makes sense. But if the fishes ARE stressed out, isn't the medication a temporary remedy? Once they get over this, won't they still be stressed out until I determine the underlying cause for their stress? Or is it merely because they're in a small tank?
01-15-2012, 12:32 PM
Some medications stress the fish further. Copper, for example. There's a fine line between a therapeutic dose, and a harmful one (hence the need to test for levels). It's kind of like chemotherapy - it's toxic to the patient too - the trick is to dose enough to kill the parasite (or the cancer)... but not strong enough to kill the patient.
Same goes for formalin - it's toxic stuff. Many meds are toxic to a point. So the least stressful treatment is the way to go.
It's not prozac. :lol: