Help! the ich won't go away and my sword is spitting out her food!

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goldengill

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After a 3 week quarantine and a close inspection, I put my new swordtail in the main tank (40gallon) and boom, the next day she had full blown ich. Bummer! So I start the treatment with Rid Ich (we've had good luk with it in the past). All my water parameters were good. I took out the filter, did my 25% water changes daily, put 2 teaspoons a day in, according to the directions, and it looks like after about 4 days, it was starting to really clear up. One night I was too tired to do the water change but I did put the medicine in. The next day, full blown ich again!

So, it's been about 7 days, and I haven't missed a water change, and it looks like it's going away, but now my older swordtail is spitting out her food, looking stressed and lethargic and the new swordtail was picking on her a lot. It was so bad I had to move the older one out into the quarantine tank which I really didn't want to do because I have 3 neons in there that were all good, but waiting for the ich to clear up in the big tank.

I checked the water (using Aquarium Pharmaceuticals freshwater master test kit) and I'm shocked to see an ammonia reading of .5, while the ph is 7.2 and the nitrite is 0. We have a 6" pleco, a 2" ghost cat fish, the 1-1/2" and 2-1/2" swordtails and 6 1-1/2 " assorted tetras. I've read that you should have at least a gallon of water for every inch of fish so it seems that I'm safe with the load. I just read more on ich and I am slowly raising the water temp but I have to check to see what everyone's top temp of comfort is. Current temp is 80F. We immediately did another 2/3 water change to get the ammonia out.

Did a 25% water change for 7 days cause it to start a new cycle? Or did we do something that killed the good bacteria and it’s cycling again? This is a very well established tank and we try to be very careful when we introduce new fish. Why is my swordtail spitting out her food? Is it stress? Ammonia? All of the above? And why was the other one picking on her so much? I’ve never seen that before with swordtails.

Sorry about the long post, I’m just anxious and confused.
Thanks for your help.

Goldengill
 

sgould

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Re: HELP! The ich won't go away and my swordtail is spitting her food out!

First, I have not yet had to deal with ich, so wait for confirmation from more experienced hands. I think you want to raise your temp to about 82-83, gradually of course. If you have carbon in your filter, you need to remove it (just the carbon) while you are using the ich medication as the carbon will absorb it and make it ineffective. The water changes by themselves should not have caused a cycle. Not sure if maybe the chemical treatment might kill the bacteria in your filter and cause a cycle? I am sure someone better qualified can speak to that.
 

COBettaCouple

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Re: HELP! The ich won't go away and my swordtail is spitting her food out!

I could be wrong, but the rid-ich might have taken your tank out of being cycled. Raising the temp is the best course and sometimes can even clear ich without meds in about 2 weeks. Even with meds, it could take that long, particularly if the water was below 82. If you can increase the flow of air to the tanks airstone(s) that will help compensate for the lower oxygen in the water when you raise the temp.

If you're tank is no longer cycled, it might not hurt to condition your water with Prime or NovAqua+ to lower the ammonia while trying to clear the ich out and once you get the meds cleared and the ich is gone, you can work on cycling again but the fish need less stress. Wait for more experienced tank owners to weigh in on if your tank is still cycled or not.

The pleco puts out more than his fair share of waste (I think each inch of them needs about 1.5 gallon - can anyone confirm/deny this?) and full size, i understand they need a 55 gallon.

I see you took your filter out. Can your filter be in but just have the carbon out?

Does your swordtail spit her food out but eventually eat it or does she not eat it period? If she eats it, then she's just breaking it up by spitting it out. Swordtails can pick on each other at times and sadly sick fish often get picked on.
 

Isabella

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Re: HELP! The ich won't go away and my swordtail is spitting her food out!

Sgould and FLBettaCoiple are absolutely right. I also think the medication could have caused the mini-cycle, rather then the water changes. When I had baby angelfish, I changed 50% of water in their tank every day for 2 months - and I never had any mini cycles. So I don't believe the water changes cause mini-cycles. And yes, when you're medicating your tank - as Sgould said - you need to remove activated carbon/charcoal from the filter, as it will remove the medication from the water (unless the a.c./charcoal is more than 2 weeks old - after about 2 weeks it becomes useless). As for the temperature, as FLBettaCouple has mentioned, it's best to have it around 82F when fish are sick.

I understand that you're frustrated because you quarantined the new fish for the appropriate amount of time before adding it to the main tank. The fish was healthy in the Q tank and got sick the next day in the main tank. Both tanks were cycled, had good water, and were not overstocked. So what could have caused the fish to get sick? There is one possibility. Even healthy fish can get sick easily if the water parameters are very different in 2 tanks and if the fish is not acclimatized before being transferred to the 2nd tank. I know you had 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite in both tanks, but do you know the nitrate and pH readings in both tanks during the time at which you transferred the fish? A sudden change in pH and nitrate content can make a fish sick. If pH and nitrate of the main tank were very different from the pH and nitrate of the Q tank, this could have easily caused the fish to get sick. Also, no acclimatization could have caused the disease as well. Similarly, the temperature should be the same too when you transfer fish. These are just some thoughts. Maybe you did acclimatize and maybe the water in both tanks was exactly the same, in which case I really don't know why the fish has gotten sick so suddenly after it was doing well for 3 weeks in the Q tank.

I have read that for Ich, only increased temperature and aquarium salt can be enough to help. But, I have no experience with treating Ich personally, so you may want to do whatever you believe is best for your fish. I personally don't like the idea of medicating a tank as I would be afraid that the chemical would kill the bacteria, and therefore cause another cycle, that - in turn - would make my fish even sicker. But, on the other hand, some diseases are so bad that they probably cannot be eradicated without some medication. It's a difficult decision to make, you know.

I know only one thing: keeping your water clean (i.e. regular water changes), keeping your pH relatively stable, not overcrowding, quarantining new fish and then acclimatizing healthy new fish properly, and choosing only the fish that are compatible with each other ... all should ensure that you'll virtually never get sick fish. Well, at least theoretically. Sometimes fish will get sick, no matter how clean the tank. BUT what I am saying is that keeping these general guidelines in mind will most likely keep your fish healthy, happy, and alive for a long time.

As always, in cases of any fish disease, frequent water changes and increased temperature are best. Good luck to you.

P.S. The fish could have stopped eating as a result of exhaustion from the medication, or as a result of the disease. Oftentimes, fish will stop eating even before the disease shows up, which is a sign that this may be an onset of some disease.
 
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goldengill

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Re: HELP! The ich won't go away and my swordtail is spitting her food out!

Thanks all.

Well when this all started I left the filter in but removed the carbon filter. I've raised the temp to 80F but I don't know if tetras can handle 82F. I've read that the top temp for them is 80F. I’m planning on going up to 82F but is it OK to take it up by 2 degrees for the tetras? If so, what do I look for if they're getting stressed? I did another 3/4 water change tonight and vacuumed the gravel really well to try and remove some of the little ich buggers before they hatch again. I added an ammonia filter as I wasn't sure if more chemicals would be good. I've stopped the Rid-Ich in hopes that the temp idea works. I added another air bubbler, so it's getting an ample supply of O2. It gave me an excuse to buy one of those super quiet ones for my basement workspace and my other 20 gallon tank which is where I took the pump from.

I know the pleco needs a larger home however I'm not too sure I want my lfs to have it because I'm not too impressed with their store or the larger chain stores and the advice I've been given. Any suggestions on how to move him to a good home?

Finally Isabella, I hate to admit it but even though the water temps were the same, I didn’t read the perimeters of both tanks first. Ahh the plight of the newbie, it didn’t even occur to me to check or acclimate. I was so excited to add a new friend for my big girl I guess I got a bit carried away. Nothing like loosing common sense in a moment of excitement! My husband is usually the fish keeper but I jumped the gun and moved the fish without even thinking. He’s leaving it up to me to make it all right as he’s managed to keep the larger tank disease free and in perfect health for well over a year and he’s not too pleased that I messed it up. He's giving some advice but this is all a bit new for him too. The last time we had ich was over 5 years ago and the medication worked really well.

Thank you Sgould, FlBettakeeper and Isabella for your help. I’ll keep you posted. And anyone else out there in FishLore land who may have answers to the above questions I’d sure appreciate your advice.

Goldengill
 

COBettaCouple

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Re: HELP! The ich won't go away and my swordtail is spitting her food out!

I don't know a lot about tetras, but i'd guess watching them for changes in their swimming like going from moving around a lot to just sitting there could be a sign of too much stress.

The pleco could go into a pond or lake if you have a friend with one that would be good.

I wish you the best of luck in treating the ich & getting it knocked out so you can have your healthy fish back.
 
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goldengill

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Re: HELP! The ich won't go away and my swordtail is spitting her food out!

Well I had a bit of a disaster today. Last night I did another water change, got the temp up to 82F and put the ammonia filter in. Unfortunately, I put the filter in, in a way that allowed the water to back up and slowly seep out of the back of the tank. I didn’t realize it until this morning (over 12 hours later) when I went into may basement and found a huge puddle of water on the floor and lots still dripping for the floor above! This meant that I had to remove enough water and gravel so I could get the tank off of the wood cabinet it was on and move it to sop up the water and put a fan on to dry out the already well soaked oak floor. So after all the stress of this the week on the fish, they had even more!

The tetras seem to be swimming faster and following each other around much more than they had been. Is this a sign of stress? Everyone is still eating though. I had a friend helping me today and I was telling her about the ich lifecycle and raising heat. While I was downstairs cleaning p the water, she thought it would be helpful to wash the gravel we had removed. She used the water conditioner thinking that would keep the good bacteria in but also washed it with scalding hot water to help kill the ich spores. Did she entirely ruin any chance of keeping the good bacteria? I know I was already in a state of re- cycling the tank, but has this just made it worse? Good thing my husband is out of town. He wasn’t too pleased about the events of the day with his tank. I feel like Lucy Recardo (I Love Lucy) and all the one disaster leading to another episodes!

I live in the Seattle, WA area and outside pond water can get mighty cold. How low of a temp can plecos live comfortably? My neighbor has a small coy pond. Do you think he could live in that?

And now to top it all off, when I was feeding my downstairs basement fish I noticed that the guppies were scratching (?) their faces on the décor. I know I read somewhere it was a sign of something but I don’t remember where or what it means. Does anyone know? That tank is a 20 long with 4 platys, 2 fully grown and 3 jr guppies and a small clown pleco. The water parameters are ammonia-0, ph-7.6 and nitrite-0.

Thanks everyone!
:-\
 

COBettaCouple

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Re: HELP! The ich won't go away and my swordtail is spitting her food out!

whoa, what a day!

I could be wrong, not having tetras myself, but i think their faster swimming is a good sign.. like they have more energy and are feeling better. The gravel that was cleaned was cleaned of any good bacteria too - that was not all of the gravel though, right? The gravel that wasn't cleaned should still have bacteria in it and hopefully that will multiply into the cleaned gravel. It may push the cycle progress back some, but i'm not sure. Water testing will tell you that.

Pleco's are listed with a temp of 73-82, so that pond sounds pretty cold for him. Maybe some members who've kept plecos in ponds know better though.

The guppies sound like they have velvet. https://www.fishlore.com/Disease.htm (bottom of the page) I believe the way to check is to turn the lights off & shine a flashlight on them and see if you see gold specks on them. Part of the treatment is low to no light also.
 
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goldengill

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Re: HELP! The ich won't go away and my swordtail is spitting her food out!

Thanks FlBettaCouple!

My floor is slowly drying and all the fish seem to be stable. I didn't take out all the gravel but there's not much in there now, maybe 2-3 cups. I guess I'll have to start from scratch to cycle again. The ammonia filter is now placed properly. I still have a slight reading but it's not as high as it was before I placed it. I'll be doing another water change tonight.

I read the links you posted regarding the "flashing" behavior of my guppies. The sites were full of good info. I'm raising the temp in the 20 gallon. I've heard that plecos don't like salt and I already went through a salt scare with that tank a few weeks ago. I'm going to my lfs to get the reccomended meds. I do have one tiny guppy fry in there swimming happily in a breeding box. Will the meds be too strong for him? It sounds like velvet is very contagious so I worry that he's been exposed and needs treatment too. I used the flashlight but they don't look any different. Perhaps I'm seeing the very early stages. It's clearly not ich. I've covered the take to keep it dark. It does get a lot of ambiant light with about an hour of filtered sun through the bushes on that side of my house. I'll be sure to shade the tank to prevent any direct or filterd sun.

Thanks for all your support.
 

COBettaCouple

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Re: HELP! The ich won't go away and my swordtail is spitting her food out!

Hmm.. you might post a thread in the diseases forum describing the guppies and the guppy fry. It might not be velvet if they don't look different under a flashlight, so it would be good to get some opinions from the long-time fish keepers to be sure my thought that it was velvet is right. If the fry has caught the stuff he might need treated but at a lower dose in a little hospital tank. What meds are you going to pick up?
 
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goldengill

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Re: HELP! The ich won't go away and my swordtail is spitting her food out!

I had posted the origanal thread of this topic in the disease forum with no reply from anyone. I'll try again re: the current guppy issue. I have read though that flashing can come before the "velvet" can be seen. I plan on getting the Aquarisol that was reccomended on one of the links you posted. I'm still not sure about plecos and salt. Gonna do a search on that too.

Thanks! 
 

COBettaCouple

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Re: HELP! The ich won't go away and my swordtail is spitting her food out!

The recommendation at is "OTC medication for parasites.".. i think Jungle Labs makes one, but I think a lot of people use coppersafe for it.
 

Gargoyle

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I had to fight for about a month to get my sword on the mend... I thought it was ich but turned out to be some sort of fungus issue. Anyway I hope you get that part figured out.

As far as the sword spitting out food I have a couple that do that from time to time. I think it may be normal for some of them to do that. I also think you are doing way to many water changes.. I mean your taking out all the meds before they can do anything it seems.

So there are my couple pennies.. ;D I hope it helps some..
 

Butterfly

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As for spitting out the food, some times that particular piece of food is too big and they spit it out, break it up and then eat it.
I have never used that type of ICH meds before so I can't say if it's helping or not, but I do know... if you raise your water temp up to 82-84F, do daily or every other day 25% water changes and continue this for 14 days the ICH will go away.
Did I understand you to say you took the filter out ? If so the filter needs to go back into the tank. The fish need the filtration and aereation. This could also be the reason for the ammonia spike.
The one inch of fish per gallon of water doesn't always work the way it's suppose to. The mass of a fish determines how much waste it produces and that has to be considered also. Your 6" pleco produces much more waster that 6-1 inch neons do. does that make sense? Also the inch per gallon is to figure adult sizes so for adult sizes. Hope that helps
Carol
 
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