Help with Ich on Lace Catfish - Ich-X not working


Well, I'm back posting on this forum, which means I really need help and at a bit of a loss. This community has always been very helpful and I always appreciate the collective years of knowledge/experience.

So, I'm battling a case of Ich in my tank for the 2nd time ever (and of course, it came from a fish I bought at Petco). I don't know why I keep doing it and why I skip quarantining (especially after the 1st occurrence). I have a Lace Catfish (about 5inch in size) and his spots continue to double and it seems the medication is not working, and I don't understand why.

Here is the situation:

In this tank, I have 2 blood parrots (6in and 4in) and a lace catfish (6in). All living very happy and eating like they are vacuum cleaners. The tank has been established for 7 months. I track parameters (Ammonia/Nitrite always at 0, Nitrate around 20-40 before water changes).

  • Dec 10th (Friday): I bought a flowerhorn (2inch) from Petco. He did not have any visible signs, he looked amazing and it was an impulse buy. I've always wanted one but never saw one in the pet store and he had the coolest color pattern. I know I should have quarantined him, but I didn't. I did net him from the bag and put him in a separate water bucket to essentially rinse him and to limit the amount of water taken from the petco bag into my tank.
  • Dec 12th (Sunday): 2 days later, I noticed 4 small white spots. The oh no feeling sunk in. I had a brand new bottle of Ich-x on hand, due to the last experience. I immediately started the treatment that day.
  • Dec 13th: I continue with treatment everyday (24hrs) with a 30% water change and another dose of Ich-x. The number of dots increased by a few.
  • Dec 14th: I continue treatment, the number of dots seemed less
  • Dec 15th: In the morning, I notice that the Lace Catfish has dozens of white spots all over his body and fins. For some reason they look smaller on him compared to what I have seen before. I assume it's because he's scaleless and the size of the ich differs on this surface type. The amount on the flowerhorn appears to be going down, less than a few spots here and there. I continue treatment
  • Dec 16th: Lace Catfish appears to have even more (few dozen), not looking good. Flowerhorn appears to only have 1 or 2 left on his body (new location though).
  • Dec 17th: Lace Catfish appears to be around the same or more spots, not improving. Continuing treatment.
  • Dec 18th: The flowerhorn appears to now have a 3 or 4 spots. Lace catfish seems to have the same or worse (entire body is covered).
I have no idea what the heck is going on. I have been doing water changes every 24hrs, I have been treating with Ich-X which worked flawlessly the last time (and everyone else appears to have great success with it). What I really don't understand is that I started treatment immediately, once I saw the 4 spots on the Flowerhorn. My understanding of Ich is that the medication will kill it during the reproduction cycle. So how the heck is it growing exponentially worse in my tank when I started treated and there were only 4 spots on the one fish. This part doesn't make any sense to me.

I'm hoping someone can help me. I don't want to lose my Lace Catfish, he is such a cool dude and so playful with the two blood parrots, he's like their adopted oversized son. ;)

Any other suggestions? I have a fixed water heater in the tank so I ordered an adjustable one on amazon a few days ago. It arrives today. I'm going to throw it in there and get the temp up to around 86. I had used a salt bath on the two fish that had Ich the 1st time, but I read that you shouldn't add salt to the tank with a Lace catfish because it's scaleless, is this correct?

Any advice/suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you all!

86 ssinit

Ok I didn’t read the whole thread. I stopped at the flowerhorn. Great fish! But no matter what they need to be by themselves!!

Ok for ich. Longest used method! Raise temp to 86 add a tablespoon of salt to every 10g of tank water. Change water daily while vacuuming the substrate. Takes about 14 days. Next buy a uv steralizer raise the temp to 86 and vacume. Should be gone in 3-6 days. Leave uv steralizer running and replace bulb every 8 months.


Thank you for the quick post! And yes, re: the flowerhorn. I agree, this is a temp home for him while he is a little guy. As he gets bigger, once we doesn’t play well with the others, we’ll move him to his own tank. I like to think each fish has a personality and that different environments could have an impact on how they get along. But we are prepared for that day.

I recalled that I used the salt method with the Lace Catfish being in the tank. When he was a little guy (1inch) and he did fine, he never even got the ich during that first occurrence. I just added salt to the tank now. I did a bit more than you recommended. From my notes from the first occurrence, I actually did 1 tablespoon per 3 gallons and they handled it well. I decided to try it at 1 tablespoon per 5 gallons for now and I’m observing. I have an air stone with sponge in this tank as well, to keep oxygen levels high.

re: the UV sterilizer, this is the first time I’m hearing this but I just looked them up, it seems like a good thing to have. Do you recommend always having one of these in the tank to prevent diseases from occurring?

do you have a recommendation on one? I found this on Amazon:

thanks again for the help!


Okay, I don't know if the salt was a good idea given that the Lace Catfish is a scaleless fish. He was in the tank when I did this treatment before (when he was an juvenile), but this time around he is the one that is infected with Ich and perhaps he's not as strong in the given situation. This morning I found him very lethargic and his skin color was NOT good at all. He is usually a very dark black with leopard print pattern. He was covered with very small white spots, but this morning is body color was a pale grey. He looks like he's on death's doorstep, but he was swimming around.

I decided to setup a separate 10 gallon tank with fresh water (no salt). I moved over the sponge filter from the main tank to have some good bacteria in this freshly stood up tank. I got the adjustable heater now, so I have put that in and it's currently at 86F.

I dosed the tank with a new bottle of Ich-x. I'm wondering if the other bottle I had was defective or perhaps it was stored in a warehouse above or below the recommended / safe temperature. I don't know, but I decided to crack open a new bottle and dose this separate tank. And move the Lace Catfish and Flowerhorn into it. The two blood parrots in the main tank appear fine and I haven't seen any ich on them. They previously had it, so I'm sure they have a tolerance to it. So I will keep them in the main tank with the salt level at 1 tablespoon per 5 gallons and treating with Ich-x. I just did a water change on that tank and redosed Ich-x. I will let that sit for a few days to make sure I don't see any white spots on the blood parrots, so I can know there is no Ich still alive in the main tank.

I don't know what else to do here, except hope that the Lace Catfish starts to show signs of recovery. I'm hoping that its pale grey body color is from yesterday's change (where I added the salt). Now that he is in a salt free tank, I hope to see his color return tomorrow. But this darn ich doesn't seem to be getting any less. And I really don't understand what the heck is going on. Given that all that was in the tank at the start of this was 4 little specs on the flowerhorn. I immediately treated the tank with Ich-x and I have been doing 40% water changes everyday and redosing with the correct amount of Ich-x. This is the part I just can't understand. The Lace Catfish didn't have anything on him, only the Flowerhorn (4 white spots) and then 3 days into treating the tank, I wake up and see the Lace Catfish with a few dozen spots all over his body. It literally makes no sense to me.

I hope I don't lose this guy, but I don't know what else to do at this stage. Ever since I moved him to the new salt free tank, he's been swimming around back and forth, exploring the tank, checking everything out, swimming through the bubbles of the sponge filter, etc. He seems really healthy other than his awful body color and white spots EVERYWHERE. Is this some strain that Ich-x just can't kill. Another thing, as being new to the hobby. What's the deal with Ich, it seems ever present, and it seems to kill easily and these guys can't even fight it off on their own. It's like as if a common cold was a death sentence. I really don't get it. And if that's the case, stores like Petco or any store shouldn't be circulating water throughout multiple tanks.
Wanted to share photos in case someone thinks this is something else. Poor guy, looks so bad. I found a photo from a month ago when he scratched himself on the side of one of the lava rocks. That's his normal color. The first 2 photos are him prior to the Ich infection. The last 3 are taken today while he is battling this Ich.


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86 ssinit

Yes being scaleless I was keeping the salt low. The heat and vacuuming should clear up. The uv steralizer worked for me and yes it’s on all the time. That one on Amazon I would not recommend. Uv light shouldn’t be seen it can damage your eyes. Use the green killing machine. Also ive had luck with rid ich plus by kordon.


Thanks! Ah, that makes sense now (the 1tbsp / 10 gallons). And yeah, after I posted that link I did a bit more research about the UV sterilizer and realized you can't just have that light in the tank. hah!

Is this the green killing machine you were referring to?

I will try the rid ich plus, but I'm wondering if this is something other than Ich. Any thoughts on that?

The reason is, I started dosing immediately once I saw a few specs on the Flowerhorn. And the odd thing is, after a few days of dosing, the following morning I saw the Lace catfish covered from head to tail with dozens of the white specs. This to me sounds very strange, as I would assume 1.) that Ich wouldn't have been able to reproduce given the tank was being dosed and 2.) it was very sudden. I always thought you should see 4 spots and then the next day 8 and the following day 16 or more. This was just an explosion on the Lace Catfish. Could it be something else?

86 ssinit

No this is the one I use on 50g and less. Above that I use the 24w one,pets,56&sr=1-9
Well ich starts in the substrate. The lace lives on the substrate plus it’s scaleless. So it’s a great target for ich. This is why the first thing to do is change 50% of the water while vacuuming the substrate. This gets rid of all the eggs. The heat and salt kills all the swimming ich that comes from the eggs. The uv also kill these swimmers. The uv works the quickest.


Have you got your diagnosis right? I seem to remember Ich looking somewhat neater than what I see in your photo. Larger, more regular sized grains of salt and bright white. Although I don't have experience of them, there are other similar diseases like Velvet so I would be inclined to double-check in this case. The treatment could be the same however.

Ich-X, Kordon Rid-ich Plus have malachite green and formalin and you won't get a better Ich medication than these.

I have used King British WS3 to successfully treat Ich. It is the most economical medication (great for large tanks) and has malachite green and acriflavine. It does not have formalin so is also better for my Clown Loaches.

These medications are stable and I have proved they are still effective after many years on the shelf (though they recently have started to display a use-by date).

It is unlikely that you will see a faulty bottle, in my opinion.

86 ssinit

That catfish is just covered with it. Velvet is patchy like the slime coat showing. Looks like a bad case of ich. But the catfish still looks good.


It's definitely Velvet. I also thought early on I had it misdiagnosed, but I have never had a run in with Velvet and nobody commented that it was that. However, I wish I had known earlier, as I would have known having the light on for about 8 hrs was actually making it worse. But I knew it may have been something other than Ich, as it just exploded overnight (not typical for Ich) and it was so small and patchy. Now that it's about day 5, it looks very bad and actually started to show as a yellow like gold-dust.

I'm a bit of a wreck right now, as my big guy the lace catfish looks very bad. The skin on his head is so damaged from it it's starting to peel off. What annoys me the most is I don't understand how it's progressed this bad. I started treatment the moment I saw a few specs on the flowerhorn (which looked like ick, and still do) and I have been doing daily 30% water changes and dosing of Ich-X, which clearly states that it's effective on Velvet. I really don't get it and I think I'm going to lose my cat fish. I have separated them from the two blood parrots in the main tank, but seeing how contagious Velvet is and that it seems like the plague, I'm worried about the blood parrots. They don't show any signs yet, but are not as active and not eating their typical amount.

I have now ordered 3 different types of cooper based medicine to attack velvet, depending on which one arrives faster (supposed to come tomorrow), I will change out the water to get rid of Ich-X and start treatment with a different formula.

I thought it could have been a defective bottle of Ich-X (maybe it was not stored properly), but I bought another bottle and started that 2 days ago and still not seeing any noticeable improvement.

I am now covering the tanks with clothes to block out all light, I have temp at 86, and I have dosed salt again to get the amount around 1 teaspoon of salt per gallon. I don't want what else to do, but just hope and try using a different medication.

And thanks RedShark1! Yes, this definitely appears to be velvet not Ich. Re: the defective bottle, I don't really understand or have an explanation of how it has gotten so out of control given I started treating the tank, even before the Cat fish had any symptoms. And this new fish that was added to the tank which brought it, was only in the tank 2 days before I noticed something up on him and started treating the entire tank. So it's a bit bizarre how it would have taken root so quickly and well given the chemicals were being added straight away. I just don't get it.


Well, sadly our lace catfish succumb to Velvet. This is the nastiest thing I have ever seen. I can understand what it's called the tank crasher.
It also took our favorite and fish family pet, our big blood parrot. That was quite difficult for us. We only have the younger blood parrot left.
After almost 3 weeks and trying just about everything, we have gone back to the basics. He was looking quite bad today after we put him in a hospital tank with coppersafe, the ammonia spiked for some reason. I guess because the sponge filter we moved into it was not seeded with enough beneficial bacteria. He hasn't eaten for more than 5 or 6 days, so I decided to just start out and give him a med free environment.
We setup a new hospital tank (10G) and put in fresh water and dosed it with 1 teaspoon of salt per gallon. Then I thought to do a saltwater dip. I put him in a 1 gallon bucket of water with 30 teaspoons of water to get it to the right level. He handled it like a champ. He was in the dip for about 15 minutes. I read 5 minutes to 30 minutes until they lay on their side. He never once laid on his side, but i thought 15 minutes was good enough.

I put him back in the hospital tank and he swam around the bottom of it for a while and after about 5 minutes he started swimming like his normal self. To my surprise, I tried to feed him blood worms that I had soaked in garlic guard (i had been doing this previously, but he didn't have any interest to eat). This time he did, he ate quite a bit. I continued to stir it up so that it was moving and he went for it. This gave me a good smile.

I'm hoping this tough little guy can kick this deadly disease. Meanwhile, I have dosed the main tank (nothing in it now), with coppersafe. Got it up to around 2ppm and I have put a towel over it to black it out. I'm hoping after 7 days, any of this darn parasite will be nuked.

He is looking the best he has for the past few weeks. This is the first time I've done the salt water dip. He has white stuff in his gills, same that my big blood parrot had, but much less and it even seems after the dip, he has less. If he looks great tomorrow. I'm wondering if it would be a good idea to do another dip for 15 minutes. Is this okay? Can I do a dip everyday for 15 minutes until he returns to his normal self and this parasite is completely gone?

I assume it's stressful, but if its killing the parasite, I guess that would outweigh the stress? as he will feel better? THoughts?

This is the last guy standing in my tank. Now that I have the experience with velvet, I think I know what to do. But man was it awful.
After almost 3 weeks, I tried ich-x for a week, it did absolutely nothing (even though it says it can treat velvet). And this was before anyone even had velvet symptoms, so I call nonsense on that claim.
After a week or so, I did two large water changes and then switched up things to Paraguard, even did a dip of that, they seemed better after the dip, but nothing improved overall. Paraguard also seemed useless. Which then made me think, perhaps I misdiagonsed, and maybe it was internal. That was wrong.
It's definitely velvet because another small fish I got also developed and died recently and within days. This stuff is nasty. So it seems these medications are completely bogus with their claims. I'm finding that just high heat and salt is all you need. And if this guy comes back from death's doorstep because of it, I don't think I will ever mess with the meds again, they were completely useless and a waste of money.

I do think I will invest in a UV sterilizer though. Do you a specific model that you can recommend?


I would recommend Green Machine 9W and 24W UV sterilisers.

I would not recommend Sunsun or Aquael UV sterilisers.

There may be much better UV sterilisers around since I experimented with them.

86 ssinit

I’d also recommend the green machine’s. Good uv steralizer. Like all uv you need to change the bulb after 8 months.


Thank you both! Just to make sure, you guys are referring to this one, correct?

AA AQUARIUM Green Killing Machine Internal UV System, 9-watt -

Btw, my survivor, the 3-4" blood parrot seems to be doing a lot better after I did a salt water dip on him yesterday. He ate after the dip and he ate a bit today. He still seems like he struggles to eat the food (not his typical behavior when eating), so I'm sure he is still healing.

For those that have done the salt water dips on freshwater fish to kill off the parasites, how often can I safely do the dips? My understanding is that such a high concentration of salt flushed through his gills and body is what helps to kill this Velvet parasite. With the blood parrots, they never really showed it on their bodies, but there gills started showing white (with strands of white and what could have been mucus). Since the dip seemed to be the only thing that has gotten him back on track for recovery, I wanted to do it again to help him kill any new parasite that has taken root, etc.

He's going back into the same hospital tank that has the velvet in it, so I was thinking to do a 10-15 minute each day or every other day until I'm sure it's gone. Is this too much? I haven't been able to find anything that talks about how frequent these fresh water fish can handle such a dip as part of a treatment plan.

The main tank currently has no fish in it, and I have it dosed with coppersafe at around 2ppm and kept in the dark (blanket over the tank). I want to have that run its course for a week. And then I was thinking to put my blood parrot in another heavy salt dip one last time and return him to the main tank. This way I can ensure non of the velvet parasite makes it way into the main tank after it has been cleared of Velvet. Or is there a better way to approach this?

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