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How to deal with ich in a planted aquarium?

4745 Views 18 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  Falstaf
This isnt really a plant topic but I figured somebody might make use of it. I was told I didnt need a heater for my ten gallon at the LFS when I was setting it up. All my fish got ich and I was then told it was because I dont have a heater. Temp fluctuations throughout the day and night is most likely the reason. I ran out and got a heater and some rid-ich but I have already lost 6 of 10 fish. The plants are doing great though. Does anyone know if rid-ich will harm the plants?
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Hi Kevin,

Here's some information:

"Plants can carry parasitic ciliates or dinoflagellates, if coming from a contaminated environment. For example, Oodinium (velvet), which rapidly spread. To distinguish Ich from Velvet, without a microscope, is often very difficult, and in my opinion it would be better to think in terms of both.

Most if not all medications work killing the free-swimming forms of the parasite, while the forms encysted in the skin and gills escape their effects. That's why long periods of treatment are recommended: you have to slowly break the parasite's life cycle at the free-swimming stage.
This is in my direct experience seldom effective: I got consistently a good temporary relief with formalin+malachite green (multiple doses over about two weeks), but relapses invariable occurred in a few weeks. I also had only one permanent success out of three bare tanks treated with copper (even monitoring for therapeutic levels). So, the most effective remedy is a temperature treatment: Ich is less heat resistant than Velvet, and you can try first with a 10-day cycle at about 87-88 deg. F (adequate for Ich), and resort to a 5-day treatment at 93 deg. F (necessary for Oodinium) in case the problem persists. Heat kills all life forms of the two parasites, including those incysted, and it is therefore more likely to provide long-lasting results. Be aware that, although most plants will take it with no problems (excluding some cold water species and possibly sensitive Crypts, and the like) some fishes will not tolerate it, especially if already weakened by the disease. Good aeration should help, but it does not guarantee 100% tolerability. Unfortunately the alternative is to have many fishes killed anyway by the epidemics.

The survivors will develop immunity and become more resistant, but any new addition to the tank may then become at high risk of infection. Therefore Ich or velvet should be aggressively eliminated, in my opinion. You may try to remove shrimps to a separate tank for the period of increased temperature, if you think they will not take it. I have no idea whether or not they are at risk of being infected: if they do not carry the disease you can re-introduce them after the original conditions are restored. "

"I've used malachite green many times in the past. I've never lost any shrimp or snails due to the medicine. Use half of the prescribed dosage on the bottle, which should be someting like 1 drop/ 2 gallons. I use it initially, then again after two days. After a couple more days, a 30-50% water change will clean things up. The formalin/malachite green breaks down in the presence of light, so it's pretty much gone on it's on in a few days. I've never had it stain anything but my fingers. Don't put it directly on the sealant and you shouldn't have a problem. The ich may linger for several days, but it should disappear."

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Thanks for the info! I lost all my cherry barbs and tiger barbs, but my one red/blue tetra and the pleco are still alive and doing well. After I got a heater and raised the temp and treated with what you mentioned the ich dissapeared in two days. The water got really cloudy but has cleared up this morning. I am fixing to go do another water change. How long should I wait before I add more fish? A week? Two? The two snails that are in my tank (i dont have a clue what they are) are still alive. Thanks again!

I would wait a couple of weeks before adding fish. Let the tank settle down a bit.
Sounds good. The water is finally clear now but I want to make sure its safe before adding any more fish.

Thanks again
ICK ..planted tank

I had an ick outbreak in my planted tank ... after using Aquarisol (which I was told would not harm plant) ..WRONG!! Some of the plants have started to turn brown and some leafs curled .. I am not sure if they will survive now?? But anyway... after spending quite a bit of time, I finilly removed all of the fish from the tank, and did two 50% water changes.
I know that ick will die off if they don't find a fish host .. SO my question for you guys is how long I should wait before I can put the (surviving) fish back in the tank??
If you raise the temp to 86F it will speed up the life cycle of the ick to 3-4 days so they say. I would wait at least a week at that temp, longer for lower temps.
Sir_BlackhOle said:
If you raise the temp to 86F it will speed up the life cycle of the ick to 3-4 days so they say. I would wait at least a week at that temp, longer for lower temps.
I did raise it to 82F .. I was afraid to go any higher because of the plants, I am hoping some of them will survive the Aquarisol ick medication.
I also am getting an algae out break ... Some brown fluffy lookin stuff on the plants .. I am guessing it is some kind of diatom, because of the injured plants are not using as many nutriants now??
I would post a question in the algae forum to find out what to do about that, and wait at least a week, maybe two before adding your fish back to the tank. Water changes are always a good thing too.
I went fish shopping today and bought a rubber lip pleco. Since ich was out of my life for a long time, I've grown use to not look at the fish CLOSELY for ich. I took the rubber lip and put it in my tank and found out that it had some white dots on it....and i said....


What are my options? Remove the pleco?

But I'm thinking, I only have that pleco, 5 amanos and 4 malaysian rainbows. They should be able to tolerate it and wait it out right? Not too sure. I'll be watching that tank closely and hopefully the white spots will go away.

I've never seen ich spots so small than the one I saw today.
If you can I would remove the pleco and put him in a seperate tank and treat that tank. If not you could raise the temp in your tank to 86 degrees and hope for the best. What size tank is it? Is it heavily planted? Even if the spots go away you still could be in trouble untill the life cycle of the ich is completed. Raising the temp will speed the cycle up though.
Ich will still be in the old tank. It's always in the water no matter what. If you take all the fish out of the tank and let the tank sit there for a week or maybe more, the Ich won't be able to find a host [the fish] and die off. has gotten a lot worse on the pleco but my angels are resisting it greatly. However, I need to treat this, so I'm going to raise my levels to 85. Today i'll get it to 82 maybe. 85 tomorrow. Wish me luck guys.
The main reason to quarantine a fish is so you can treat it and not have to treat fish that arent sick. In my experience with ich if you add a fish with ick to a healthy tank, they usually dont get it.
Quarantining is, of course, the best way to prevent disease outbreaks in a tank. I will do that with my fish, even though they come from an LFS that does an amazing job with fish health... they have two full-time vets and a QT hallway where all new arrivals live for a week before being moved out onto the floor. The reason my fishies stay in a bare tank for a while isn't necessarily disease, but instead, I want them to get comfortable with me and learn to eat the stuff I provide. It works well and is worth having the extra 15 gallon setup for that purpose.

I wanted to mention Ich Attack as another medicine to treat a planted tank. Rid Ich is one of the best ones out there, but there are a few plants that just can't handle it; when I first started with planted tanks, I used it and killed off all the rosette plants during the week-long treatment. Ich Attack is a different story, though, because it's herbal... as long as the infection isn't too advanced and there are only a couple spots on each fish, an elevated temp of 82-84 and a week of Ich Attack works really well. The plants and inverts aren't affected in the least; it doesn't require the water change between treatments, either (although it's good to do one to pick up the dying parasites off the bottom of the tank and in the water)

Aquarisol has copper in it, which isn't too plant friendly and will kill inverts, if I remember correctly. Not the best stuff in the world to use, so if you can find Rid Ich or Ich Attack, try that instead. Another med to use (in QT, it'll ruin plants) is quinine, but that stuff is pretty harsh and from what I've seen, is more of a last resort.

Litesky, give the ich attack a try... it's good stuff, really gentle (a friend used some on his seahorses and it didn't affect his LR or copepod population while kicking a fungal infection) Along with the raised temp, you might be able to help your pleco even more.
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temp is slowly getting to 85

my amanos look really shakey with the temp that high and the fish are def getting a lot more active. I will inject some sort of medicine tomorrow.

I took the fish that were infected out (just the pleco) and it's still alive recovering I think. But will know for sure a month down the line.
Do any of your other fish show signs of infection? How many days has it been since you removed the pleco?
I think I had some Ich on one of my Bala Sharks, but now I'm not so sure. Anyway, I had dosed for three days 1 tablespoon per 5 gallons. I mixed it up real well so it all dissolved in water and then slowly added it to the tank over the course of several hours. The next couple days I dosed that, I just dumped it all in at one time, because I was impatient. Screw it, just dump it in, dissolved of course. Then I stopped dosing and left it there for about 2 weeks. I did do a water change in between, but I just dosed the salt again. Best to get a hydrometer so you know exactly when your salinity reaches acceptable levels to kill the Ich but not to "hurt" anything else more than necessary.

It didn't hurt my catfish (Ottos, Plecos, Banjo), and my Cryptocorne Ciliata was pretty much unphased. I'm not sure if this was from the salt or not, because I was keeping close attention, but I did notice some stems, the upper part, of my Rotala Indica turning brown. They're fine now, after I did a big water change and remove a lot of the salt in the water. They didn't die or anything. The fish weren't adversely affected either. My Bala Sharks even got rid of all that white mucous, I call them boogers, around their nose. I think it was the salt that did the trick.

I'm not going to use meds unless I absolutely have to. People have had success with plants using Rid-Ich and Aquarisol, but I don't trust it, plus I don't want to discolor my water and or stain the silicone and whatnot. Most meds have malachite green or formalin in then, and I don't want to be dosing poisons in my tank. I've heard about bad long-term effects of fish introduced to those meds. I saw a link on Cichlid-Forum to an article on salt. Read it, it's pretty good.
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IME Always when adding a new fish to the tank and weekly as prevention i dose the tank with Melafix, it's all natural and will not hurt either the plants or fish (even if overdose).

For new additions i treat for 3 days, and i've never had an ick outbreak since. Once every week with water change.
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