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QUOTE=Diana K;449044] Removing the fish to treat in a Q-tank does not rid the main tank of parasites, and the treated fish can just get re-infested when they are returned to the untreated tank. [/QUOTE]

Good advice and background from Diana K. However, I didn't have to treat the main tank. Why? The Ich swarmers will die if they don't find a fish host within 48-55 hr (at 81C) after being released from the white pimples.

Unlike other parasites, Ich doesn't form a cyst or spore that lasts for years.

I had a big infestation in 2004 (added a new fish without quarantining it first). Chemicals didn't work, so I used the Transfer Method which is basically moving fish into clean water and new tanks every 24 hr. After I got my fish "cleaned up", I added them back to the main tank. (The main tank had been kept at 81F for 5 days without any fish.) Fish were fine, and I've never had a problem since.

Ich is probably endemic to many tanks, but healthy fish have antibodies to the resident Ich and can easily take care of themselves. In contrast, fish that are weak, never exposed to this particular Ich, or chronically infected (e.g., mycobacteriosis) will keep coming down with it.

In Bart's situation, the store may have done a typical 2 week quarantine on the new fish. However, one resistant fish may have a little pimple on its gills that you can't see. A not uncommon scenario... Once in the new tank, the fish's pimple erupts and spews out 400- 1,000 swarmers. Swarmers land on the other fish, which don't have antibodies to this Ich and/or are vulnerable. Presto, you have an epidemic!

Until you can identify a chemical that can truly eradicate this scourge in your main tank, I still would use measures that reduce their exposure to swarmers. Helpful measures are: water changes, diatom filtration, UV sterilizing filters, salt, and just moving fish to a new tank with clean water. It may not eradicate the problem, but it will keep your fish strong enough to survive until you can find an effective chemical (none of the chemicals I used worked on my particular Ich strain).

In addition to all recommendations for quarantine, let me add one that I think would really help and that no one talks about. Call it the Sentinel Strategy. Add a few fish that you can afford to lose to the quarantine tank. These are disease Sentinels. If the new fish is carrying a disease, then the Sentinel Fish will quickly come down with the disease.

So many new fish that are carrying chronic diseases have developed some resistance (specific antibodies and immunity) to their pathogen. That's why they look great in the store, pass their quarantine, but they still bring disease into your tanks. The Sentinel Strategy is a good idea.
 

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A few answers:

2. To come back to the original post, is it possible that the soil absorbs some of the chemicals, making any treatment less effective? I'm not necessarily talking about DOC: I think I read in this forum that with time, the soil begins to adsorb nutriments from the water, so maybe that might be one factor to consider. I also read on another website that chemicals like formalin or green malachite could build up in the soil and later, be released (e.g., because of a bubble, or a plant that is moved): the web site was making a comparison with polluted lakes and rivers. Do you think it's true/significant enough?

*** Not sure. However, I don't think that these are major pollutants that would stick around. Not like mercury or PCBs. I suspect that they would be inactivated by either light (malachite dye) or reacting with proteins (formalin).

3. I wonder if some fish species or maybe just individuals might be harder to "cure".

***Some species are undoubtedly going to be more susceptible than others.

4. The LFS where I usually buy my fish quarantines their new arrivals for only one week... but one of the guy there proudly told me that if the fish looks strong, they put them in their tanks for sale the next morning. I was less impressed than he had expected. To be fair with them, they have a great variety of fish and most of their fish are healthy. It's just really bad that they advertise their quarantine procedure without following it (other shops in my area do not use quarantine at all). Anyway, I got rid of this problem by setting up a quarantine tank.

***Interesting. I wouldn't depend on stores to screen fish for you.

5. I read a lot on ich and found: A) a lot of stories based on experience, B) very few statements backed by scientific publications. I found one or two papers cited and most of the statements came from these two papers, which is not, IMHO, a good sign.

***I got all my information on Ich from Fish Diseases (T.F.H. Publications, 1987) by Dr. Gottfried Schubert. He suggested the Transfer Method (moving fish to a new tank every 12 hr) as one of the possible treatments. Not a scientific book, but the author seemed like he knew what he was talking about.

6. We are thinking about the transfer method right now and we are considering buying one or two smaller cheap tanks (we have too many fish for our small quarantine tank). One thing that bothers me is that even when I look at my infected blue ram four/five times a day for extended period (early morning, am, pm, evening, late evening), it seems the remaining white spot never goes away and only "moves" or changes its size (it increases for a while, than I see another small spot at almost the same place). I found one report of a ich that could reproduce under the skin/slime coat of fish and I'm afraid that could be the problem. The transfer method, or the other chemicals, would probably not work in that case :-

***Discouraging but interesting. Sorry for your disease problems.

***In 2004 I wrote a nice article on the Transfer Method for getting rid of Ich in my Rainbowfish. If you want a copy, contact me at [email protected].
 

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Works for relatively fast moving problems, but some people might get impatient at a long quarantine, and a disease or parasite with a long incubation period might not show up in the sentinel. For example, is a month long enough?
With the Sentinel Strategy, you shorten quarantine time. You may have to wait months for a new fish that is semi-resistant to come down with full-blow disease. But the Sentinel fish, not being resistant, will quickly come down with the disease.

The length of the quarantine time that will protect from all diseases is impossible to say. For a fast disease like Ich, you should see Ich on Sentinel fish within 1-2 weeks. For mycobacteriois, I'd wait at least 6 weeks. Even if the new fish has mycobacteriosis, if the Sentinel fish aren't showing any problems at 6 weeks, then you can be reasonably assured that the causative mycobacteria are not that virulent.

If you quarantine your new fish for with Sentinel Fish for 6 weeks, then you are reasonably assured that new fish won't cause problems in an established tank.

That said, my biggest problem with aquarium-keeping has been dealing with diseased fish. I am very, very careful now where I buy new fish. When I do buy any new fish, they will go into their own tank with a few Sentinel Fish. I've been burned too many times.
 

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Any suggestions on a course of treatment? I'm at a loss...
QUOTE]

I honestly can't help you. You could just let the disease play out. Remove and euthanize fish with problems. I frequently had trouble with purchased guppies.

This is why I have not purchased any new fish for 3.5 years. Fortunately, I enjoy breeding and raising babies.

I remember when (decades ago) you could go to an aquarium store and get healthy fish. The owner had bred the fish himself and was proud of his fish. Now, fish are shipped in from overseas and there's no accountability. If you want a chance for decent fish, I recommend Wet Thumb Aquatics. They seem to to know what they are doing and have been in business a long time. Otherwise, its just luck if you get undiseased fish.
 
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