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  1. Marine Ich (Cryptocaryon irritans) What You Need To Know: * Mild fish parasite which is often managed by using a UV Sterilizer, Ozone, Diatom Filter, Oxydator, herbal remedies, enhanced nutrition, etc. etc. * Can be treated in a quarantine tank using Hyposalinity, Chloroquine, Copper or Tank Transfer Method. * The fallow (fishless) period for starving ich out of a Display Tank is 76 days. * Primary symptom is salt or sugar-like “sprinkles” on the body & fins (see photos below): Understanding Marine Ich Unlike most other diseases, Marine Ich (Cryptocaryon irritans) has been well studied and documented due to its prevalence and threat to the aquaculture industry. The life cycle of this parasite is well understood, and treatment options have been thoroughly tested. The purpose of this article is to give the hobbyist a basic understanding of ich, its life cycle and treatment options. Lastly, observations, claims and common myths will also be discussed. Terminology – The following terms are used to describe the various stages of ich’s life cycle: * Trophont: The “feeding stage” of the parasite that attaches itself to the fish, commonly associated with salt or sugar-like “sprinkles” on the body or fins. These sprinkles are not the actual parasite, as all stages of ich are invisible to the naked eye. Each white dot is actually caused by excess mucous which forms around the area where a trophont latches onto the fish. This is the fish’s immune response to the parasite. With ich, the trophont burrows in under the epithelium (outer skin layer), is oval shaped, and ranges in size from 48 x 27 to 452 x 360 micrometers. A fish carrying trophonts doesn’t always have visible symptoms, as the gills are easier to penetrate, and those trophonts will be out of sight. Trophonts in the gills cause excess fluid to build up, making it more difficult for the fish to breathe. * Protomont: The stage where the parasite drops off the fish, before becoming a tomont. Protomonts crawl around looking for surfaces to encyst upon. * Tomont: The “encysted stage” which adheres to rocks, shells, substrate – and even possibly corals/inverts. Tomonts produce “daughter” tomites, which are then released into the water column as theronts. * Theront: The “free swimming” stage which seeks out fish to infect/feed upon. Theronts are the only stage eradicated by chemical treatments (e.g. copper) and hyposalinity. It is also possible to cross contaminate with theronts by sharing water between tanks or via aerosol transmission. Once a theront finds a fish host and attaches, it becomes a trophont and the life cycle begins anew. (This can continue almost indefinitely until the theront life stage gets interrupted by copper, hyposalinity, etc.) Life Cycle – Marine Ich is most often introduced into an aquarium by a fish infected with trophonts. However, cross contamination via theronts or from tomonts brought in on a coral/invert are other possibilities. Assuming we are dealing with a fish carrying trophonts, this is how the life cycle plays out: Credit: Charles Raabe 1. A trophont will typically spend 3-7 days feeding on a fish, before dropping off to become a protomont. 2. The protomont crawls around for 2-18 hours, looking for a surface to encyst upon. Once it finds this, it sticks to the surface, and begins the encysting process. The parasite is now called a tomont. 3. It takes about 8-12 hours for the cyst to harden around the tomont. After this, the tomont goes into “reproductive mode” producing numerous daughter tomites. These tomites are then released into the water column as theronts. How long it takes for theronts to be released varies greatly, depending upon water temperature, which strain of ich you are dealing with, etc. The average time is 2 weeks, with 35 days usually being the maximum (see table below). However in at least one study (Colorni and Burgess 1997), it took 72 days for all the theronts to be released from a group of tomonts. 4. The now “free swimming” theronts seek out fish to feed on, thereby becoming trophonts, and the cycle starts all over again. A given strain will die out after 100 generations or so. Given the average life cycle of ich is 2 weeks, this could take almost 4 years (on average). As you may have noticed, the timing for each stage to “move forward” to the next varies considerably. Therefore, ich is rarely in sync. For example, it is not unusual for a fish to be battling trophonts, while simultaneously theronts are swimming around looking for a host to feed on. This is especially true if your tank is plagued by more than one strain of ich. It’s this “perfect storm” that sometimes allows ich to overwhelm an immune system and the fish dies. Treating Marine Ich Marine Ich (Cryptocaryon irritans) is best described as salt or sugar-like “sprinkles” on the body or fins. Sometimes however, the parasite can harbor inside the gills – out of sight. Behavioral symptoms such as flashing, scratching, twitching and heavy breathing are other indicators of ich. Most hobbyists will encounter ich at some point in one of two settings: 1) A newly acquired fish in a quarantine tank (QT) – proceed to “Treatment options” below. 2) Fish in the display tank (DT) – There is no easy way of dealing with this. Even in fish only systems, it can be problematic trying to treat in the DT. Copper (and other medications) can be absorbed by rock/substrate, and doing hyposalinity risks possibly wiping out your bio-filter. You have to catch ALL of your fish, and quarantine/treat using one of the treatment options mentioned below. The DT itself should be left fallow (fishless) for 76 days to starve out any remaining parasites. Continue to periodically feed your corals/inverts; a pinch of flake food every 2-3 days will help maintain bacteria levels in the DT. Remember there is no “reef safe” ich treatment that will actually eradicate all of the parasites! Tea tree oil from India or garlic extract or any other herbal/natural “medication” is designed to only help fish manage their symptoms. Treatment options: Copper, Chloroquine phosphate, tank transfer method, or hyposalinity. Best administered in a quarantine environment. All treatments are listed here with links to more info: Observations, claims and common myths Ich is unavoidable; it exists in every tank. FALSE. Ich doesn’t just appear out of nowhere. It is a ciliate protozoa that is either brought in on an infected fish or from water, rock, coral, etc. that was taken from an ich-infested environment. You can see ich on a fish. SOMETIMES. Seeing white salt or sugar-like “sprinkles” means the parasite has successfully penetrated the fish’s mucous coat. However, harboring in the gills offers the path of least resistance, and oftentimes that is where the parasite is most frequently found (out of sight). All spots are ich. FALSE. Ich is often misdiagnosed. A white spot on a fish can be Lymphocystis (a harmless virus), or something more serious like Brooklynella, Uronema or the beginnings of a bacterial infection. If a fish is completely covered in sprinkles, then this could mean Marine Velvet Disease (Amyloodinium) – a potential tank killer. Certain fish (e.g. tangs) are ‘ich magnets’. TRUE. Tangs (especially Acanthurus) have a thin mucous coating protecting their skin, making them more vulnerable to parasites. Conversely, fish such as wrasses, clownfish and dragonets have a thick mucous layer which affords them greater protection. Cleaner wrasses/shrimp eat ich. FALSE. Ich trophonts get under the epithelium (outer skin layer), which is out of reach for them. What you are seeing them pick at is dead skin tissue. It is possible for cleaner shrimp to eat velvet, flukes, Lymphocystis – any pathogen which remains on the surface of the skin. Ich goes away on its own. MOSTLY FALSE. So long as fish are present, ich continues its life cycle for almost 4 years (on average). If another fish is introduced with ich, the new strain restarts the 4 year clock. The only way to eradicate ich from your tank is to go fallow for 76 days, treat all your fish and quarantine all livestock moving forward! There are ‘reef safe’ medications that kill ich. FALSE. While these remedies may help fish deal with their symptoms, none can eradicate the parasite from your aquarium. The day someone does finally develop an effective “reef safe” treatment, we are all going to hear about it, and the inventor will become a millionaire. You can beat ich by running a UV, feeding heavy, garlic, etc. SOMETIMES. People who practice “ich management” have mixed results. Typically, experienced hobbyists fare better than newbies. However, random “mysterious” fish deaths and not-so-healthy looking fish is often the price of “ich management”. Certain fish are immune to ich. SOMEWHAT TRUE. There is both disease resistance and immunity to consider. The longer a fish is exposed to a particular pathogen, the more familiar the immune system becomes with it and how to fight it. This is a calculated risk however, as one can only hope the immune system “muscles up” before the parasite/worm outright kills the fish. It is thought that these fish develop histone-like proteins in their mucus and skin that kill trophonts. However, these fish are still carriers (so they can infect other fish), but they themselves may not show symptoms for up to 6 months or possibly longer. There is also “disease masking”: Any fish coming from a tank dosed with a non-therapeutic level of copper may not show symptoms of ich for up to 1 month after being removed from it. Ich can survive almost indefinitely without seeing any body spots or just a spot or two, because it often resides in the gills. TRUE. All fish have ich. FALSE. In the wild, the infection rate is about 30%. However, most wild fish can survive minor outbreaks since there’s about a gazillion gallons of water diluting those parasites from the fish. In our relatively small aquariums, fish are often overwhelmed by a much higher concentration of parasites. Once a fish has ich, he will always have it. FALSE. A fish can be “cleansed” of ich (or any other disease) by using a suitable treatment in a quarantine environment. If ich can’t always be detected, why bother to quarantine? In the confines of a small quarantine tank, symptoms of ich will almost always manifest themselves. Even if you don’t see white dots, behavioral symptoms such as scratching, flashing, head twitching and heavy breathing should be present. Prophylactic treatment is a wise course of action even if ich is just suspected. More info regarding Marine Ich can be found in the links below: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fa164 http://atj.net.au/marineaquaria/marineich.html
  2. Tank Transfer Method What It Treats – Marine Ich (Cryptocaryon irritans) only. How To Treat – Tank transfer (TTM) is my favorite method for clearing a fish of Marine Ich, but the prevalence (and similarities) of Marine Velvet Disease can make TTM a risky gamble nowadays. To properly execute TTM you need two tanks (or buckets), with dedicated equipment for each tank (not to be shared between the two). I personally use 2 of the 10 gallon tanks to do TTM, each with its own heater, thermometer, air stone, airline tubing and PVC elbows for hiding places. This is how TTM is implemented: Day 1 – Fish is placed in initial QT. Day 4 – Roughly 72 hours later transfer the fish to new tank. The time of day you do the transfer is unimportant, but never exceed 72 hours from the last transfer. The temperature and SG of the new tank should match the old one perfectly, so you can just catch & release (no acclimation). Transfer as little water as possible with the fish. Day 7 – Repeat. Day 10 – Repeat. Day 13 – Repeat and done (fish should now be ich free). After transferring, immediately sanitize the “old tank” and all equipment using bleach or vinegar. Rinse well. Let air dry thoroughly before next use. The air drying is the sterilization process when using vinegar, or detoxification process when using bleach. Simply put, this process works because you are literally outrunning the parasite’s known life cycle. If a fish is infected with ich, trophonts will leave the fish at some point during the TTM process, and the encysted stage doesn’t have enough time to release theronts (i.e. free swimmers that re-infect the fish) before the fish exits the tank. Ammonia isn’t much of a concern with TTM, because every 3 days the fish is placed in a new tank with new water; or you always have the option of using ammonia reducers, such as Amquel or Prime, in conjunction with TTM since there is no risk of negative interaction because no medications are present. However, you do have the option of dosing Praziquantel (if you need to deworm) at the tail end of transfers 2 & 4 (or 1 & 3). The fish only needs 24 hours of exposure time to Praziquantel, so dose 24 hours before you are set to make the next transfer. A second round of Praziquantel is required 5-7 days after the first, but again dose the medication 24 hours before you are set to transfer the fish out. Just remember if you do this that you can’t use any ammonia reducers while Prazi is present in the water. One of the cons to tank transfer is the amount/cost of saltwater needed to do it. For example, using my 2-10 gallons I go through 50 gallons of saltwater before the TTM process is complete. However, a thrifty hobbyist can use water stored from a recent display tank water change to implement TTM. Obviously, this only works if you are 100% confident that your display tank is disease-free and don’t siphon anything off the bottom. The other problem with TTM is netting the fish every 3 days. That concern can be somewhat alleviated by using a plastic colander in lieu of a net to catch the fish (square ones work better than round ones): Pros – Chemical free solution to Marine Ich, highly effective when performed properly, can be combined with deworming via Praziquantel. Cons/Side Effects – Cost (if using all new saltwater), time/effort expended, probably somewhat stressful on the fish being caught every 3 days, does not treat other diseases such as Marine Velvet Disease, Brooklynella, Uronema, etc. More detailed information on Tank Transfer Method: http://www.tanktransfermethod.com/node/1 Return to Medications Index:
  3. Freshwater Dip What It Treats – Provides temporary relief for a wide range of diseases: 1) Marine Velvet Disease (Amyloodinium ocellatum) 2) Brooklynella hostilis 3) Uronema marinum 4) Flukes (Monogeneans) 5) Black Ich (Turbellarians) Can be used to confirm the presence of Flukes (see video below). How To Treat – Fill a bucket with RODI water, and use a heater to match the temperature to the water the fish is coming from. Aerate the water heavily for at least 30 minutes prior to doing the dip, then discontinue aeration while performing the dip. Fish aren’t overly pH sensitive for short durations like this, but you can squirt a little saltwater into the dip just before the fish goes in to help bring it up. Place the fish in the freshwater (FW) dip and observe closely. It is not unusual for them to freak out a little at first. Also, tangs are notorious for “playing dead” during a FW dip. The important thing is to watch their gills; they should be breathing heavily at all times. If breathing slows, it’s time to exit the dip! (You can chase the fish a little with your hand to be sure he’s alright.) Dip the fish for no longer than 5 minutes. Multiple dips may be done, but it’s important to give your fish 24-48 hours to recuperate in-between dips. For flukes, use a dark (preferably black) bucket so you can see if tiny white sesame seed looking things fall off the fish (especially out of the gills) at around the 3-4 minute mark. The worms will settle to the bottom, so you can use a flashlight to look for them there as well. Pros – Provides temporary relief for a wide range of diseases in a chemical free environment. Can “buy you more time” until a proper treatment can be done. Cons/Side Effects – Not a permanent “fix” for any disease, as FW dips are not usually effective enough to eradicate all of the parasites/worms afflicting the fish. (So, followup treatment in a quarantine tank is a wise course of action.) Some fish can have an adverse reaction to a FW dip by appearing unable to maintain their equilibrium once returned to the aquarium. If this happens, hold the fish upright (using latex, nitrile or rubber gloves), and gently glide him through the water (to get saltwater flowing through the gills again). It is also a good idea to place the fish in an acclimation box until he appears “normal”. Video by Meredith Presley Dead flukes in a freshwater dip: Return to Medications Index:
  4. Humblefish

    Coral Beauty a mess

    I agree. Erythromycin is an excellent antibiotic to use for an eye infection.
  5. Humblefish

    Ich but without the symptoms

    Acanthurus Tangs often have the most difficult time with ich, as their mucous coats are naturally reduced in composition. As a general rule, fish with thick slime coats are fairly ich resistant whereas the opposite is true for species with thin slime coats. Water volume also comes into play, as large tanks dilute the concentration of free swimming parasites. Also, it's important to be sure you are in fact dealing with ich. Velvet can look very similar in the early going, but is a much more virulent pathogen.
  6. Humblefish

    Coral Beauty a mess

    Looks like a secondary infection is setting in, but a parasite or worm may be the root cause. Are any of the other fish showing symptoms??
  7. Humblefish

    Ich but without the symptoms

    What other fish do you have with the goby? Most gobies are hardy enough to "manage" ich without treatment, but one of his tankmates may fall into a different category.
  8. Metronidazole (Flagyl) What It Treats – Internal parasites (flagellates), Brooklynella, Uronema marinum. How To Treat – Metro can be found as a stand-alone drug (e.g. Seachem MetroPlex, Hikari Metro+) or incorporated into a multi-purpose medication (e.g. API General Cure). When using 100% metronidazole powder, I dose 500 mg for every 20-40 gallons (80-160 liters). I typically start on the low end (500 mg per 40 gals), and then ramp it up to 500 mg per 20 gals by the 3rd or 4th dose. For brook & uronema, dose directly into a quarantine tank every 48 hours for 10-14 days. For intestinal worms, it is best to soak metro in the fish’s food. Use Seachem Focus to bind it to the food, and feed daily for up to 3 weeks or until symptoms (white stringy poop) disappear. My formula for food soaking metro (and prazi) can be found below: Using a shot glass: 1 scoop (~ 1/8 teaspoon) of medication 1 scoop Seachem Focus (this makes it reef safe) 1 tbsp food (preferably pellets or frozen food) A pinch of Epsom salt to help expel dead worms/parasites A few drops of saltwater or fish vitamins Stir until a medicated food slurry has been achieved Feed after soaking for 30 mins Refrigerate or freeze any leftovers for future use Whether or not metro is “reef safe” is a topic for debate. The general consensus is that while soaking it in fish food IS “reef safe,” dosing it directly into the water column IS NOT and should only be done in quarantine. Pros – Can be soaked in fish food, making it reef safe. However, Seachem Focus needs to be used to prevent the medication from leaching out. Also, it is a good idea to run carbon just in a case. Cons/Side Effects – Certain fish seem to have a negative reaction/side effects to metronidazole; however this is rare. Return to Medications Index:
  9. Sorry for your loss. ☹️ Female clowns can be brutal sometimes.
  10. @empresto The photo shows what flukes look like in freshwater after they have dropped off the fish. I wouldn't panic and assume disease just yet. It seems more likely that the female killed him at this point. However, many diseases can remain latent and fish can be asymptomatic until something changes which stresses their immune system.
  11. Brooklynella (and velvet) can kill clownfish pretty quickly, but both should be showing symptoms if that were the case. If he dies, drop the body in freshwater (tap is fine) to check for flukes:
  12. It’s pretty unusual for the female clownfish to fan the male with her tail. How close are they in size? Me thInks they might be fighting.
  13. Praziquantel (dewormer) What It Treats – Flukes (Monogeneans), Black Ich (Turbellarians), and intestinal worms. How To Treat – There are a few aquarium products which contain praziquantel: Prazipro, API General Cure and Thomas Labs Fish Tapes. Follow the dosing instructions for whatever product you are using. If using straight powder praziquantel powder, dose @ 2.5 mg/L (or 9.5 mg/gal). Powder praziquantel is not easily water soluable and it often helps to mix your dose in a small amount of ethyl alcohol or even common vodka before dosing your tank. With prazi dose once, wait about a week, do a 20-25% water change and then repeat dosage. (Or use this treatment calendar to determine when is the best time to add the second dose.) The reason for the second dose is to eradicate the “next generation” of worms before they can lay eggs of their own. Because while Prazi does kill worms, it doesn’t eliminate any eggs they might leave behind. If you are treating a known prazi sensitive species (e.g. wrasse), you can run carbon or perform a water change 24 hours after dosing in order to limit exposure time. While praziquantel does remain active in the water column for up to 72 hours, only 24 hours are needed for it to eradicate external worms. Don’t forget to still do the second round though! Prazipro is generally considered reef safe, although it may kill any tube worms/feathers dusters you have. It may also eradicate bristle worms. If you have mass quantities of these, the resulting die-off can lead to an ammonia spike. After treatment is done, activated carbon may be used to remove any residuals (if you need to use a different medication next). This is important because the Oxybispropanol (solubilizing agent) Prazipro contains will sometimes cause a bacterial bloom (cloudy water) when mixed with other meds. If using a protein skimmer post-treatment, be advised that it will “over skim” for at least a week or so. API General Cure contains both praziquantel and metronidazole, and is an effective substitute for using Prazipro. (Just don’t follow the 48 hour repeat dosage instructions; Redose 5-7 days later instead.) But where General Cure really shines is when soaked in food to treat both intestinal worms and internal parasites (flagellates). Both maladies share one classic symptom: White stringy feces. You can also food soak Thomas Labs Fish Tapes or just straight praziquantel powder; but be aware that prazi only treats intestinal worms. (You would need to food soak metronidazole for internal flagellates.) I recommend feeding the medicated food daily for 2-3 weeks, or until symptoms are no longer present. My formula for food soaking prazi (and metro) can be found below: Using a shot glass: 1 scoop (~ 1/8 teaspoon) of medication 1 scoop Seachem Focus (this makes it reef safe) 1 tbsp food (preferably pellets or frozen food) A pinch of Epsom salt to help expel dead worms/parasites A few drops of saltwater or fish vitamins Stir until a medicated food slurry has been achieved Feed after soaking for 30 mins Refrigerate or freeze any leftovers for future use Pros – Reef safe, effective dewormer that is relatively gentle on most fish. Cons/Side Effects – Mild appetite suppression, moderate oxygen depletion, wrasses are sensitive to overdosing. Prazi resistant worms (both external and internal) do exist, so sometimes an alternative treatment must be used instead. This includes hyposalinity or formalin (to treat external worms), and food soaking Fenbendazole to deal with prazi resistant intestinal worms. Return to Medications Index:
  14. Humblefish

    Maroon Clown

    If its not spreading to the body that's a good sign.
  15. Methylene Blue What It Treats – Healing agent which treats ammonia burn, abrasions, cuts. Mild antiparasitic/antibacterial properties. Will possibly detoxify a fish that has been exposed to cyanide poisoning. Probably one of the best “first response” treatments for a sick fish. How To Treat – Comes in both liquid and powder form, sometimes mixed in with another medication (e.g. Nitrofuracin Green Powder). So, follow the directions on the label. Generally used in a 30 minute bath at double dose, but you can also dose it directly into a quarantine tank. Aerate heavily. Dosing instructions for using 2.303% Methylene Blue solution: 1) 30 min bath (preferred): 1 teaspoon (5 ml) per 5 gallons. 2) In a quarantine tank: 1 teaspoon (5 ml) per 10 gallons every other day for 10 days with water changes before each treatment. Pros – Highly effective “first response” treatment with minimal risk to fish. Cons/Side Effects – Methylene Blue can destroy nitrifying bacteria (i.e. your QT biofilter), and will stain plastic, silicone, clothing, your skin, etc. More info on Methylene Blue: http://www.americanaquariumproducts.com/AquariumMedication3.html#methylene_blue Return to Medications Index: