Ich in a heavily planted tank 55 Gallon Tank

Discussion in 'Freshwater Fish Disease' started by bassbonediva, Mar 24, 2012.

  1. bassbonediva

    bassbonedivaFishlore VIPMember

    Okay, so my 55gal has ich. :'(

    Now, I know that the normal treatment for ich is heat, salt and water changes. I have had success with this method before. I, however, have some...complications with this tank that I didn't have the previous times I've treated for ich.

    First off, this tank is heavily planted. One third of the tank has been taken over by a veritable jungle val forest. I also have sword plants (four, I think, at the moment), giant hairgrass, java fern and hygro augustafolia. There are very few clear areas of sand in this tank.

    Secondly, I have several species of catfish in this tank and, as far as I know, salt isn't good for the catfish. The stocking list is kind of a mish-mash of temperate and tropical. I have an adult male ryukin goldfish, an adult featherfin catfish, an adult male bristlenose pleco, a juvenile female bristlenose pleco, three albino cories (one adult male and two juveniles of undetermined sex), a yoyo loach, two or three kuhli loaches, five gold barbs, two black neons, two leopard danios and one oto.

    So far, my ryukin, featherfin and black neons are the only ones showing any sign of the ich. Everyone else appears normal, healthy and happy.

    The only changes to the tank were the addition of three black neons and three albino cories from Petsmart, who all appeared healthy when purchased. Of these, only two cories remain. They are still healthy. I've also lost the two white cloud mountain minnows I had and my male CT betta. I also replaced some of my filter media after giving some to my friend to jump-start her cycle, however it was less than one third of the total media in the filter (Cascade 1000 canister), so it shouldn't have made that much of a difference.

    I would note that there was no ich present (at least not that I saw) until after I added the six new fish from Petsmart (didn't quarantine...no quarantine tank...don't ask), which was AT LEAST a week, possibly two weeks, after the replacement of the filter media.

    So, on to my questions and concerns...

    1- Heat. I added a second 200W heater to the tank (first heater is actually 150W...probably going to switch them out) and cranked it up to 90F (will probably raise the tank temp to around 86F). So, I've got the heat aspect covered.

    2- Salt. Can I, or even should I, add salt to this tank, given the amount of plants and catfish housed in the tank?

    3- Water changes. This is the most difficult of the three. There are several problems with doing water changes on this tank. First, I have no source of hot water, so I have to heat each individual five gallon bucket of water that goes into my tanks. I have a 50W preset (78F) heater to do this with, so it generally takes about four hours to heat each bucket. This makes doing water changes a lengthy and frustrating chore (especially with working full time and having other obligations). Also, doing gravel vacs is bordering on impossible with the density of the val forest, plus the driftwood, rocks and decorations in the tank. No, I didn't design the 'scape of this tank with gravel vacs in mind because I rarely do them and when I do, they are purely cosmetic (I have PFS, so nothing gets "in the cracks") and I can stir up any undissolved solids and catch them in the water column. The last problem with water changes is my shoulder. I am having shoulder surgery on Thursday, so doing water changes is completely out of the question after that.

    So, any ideas?

    Here's a FTS of the tank, for reference on how heavily it is planted:
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2018
  2. spdrbob

    spdrbobValued MemberMember

    I've been through a terrible bout myself lately , I just want to post to offer my best that all ur fish do well whatever you decide is the best treatment. I tried a few of the most popular , yes heat and time, but it was to virent for my current stock..
  3. catsma_97504Fishlore LegendMember

    As you are unable to heat the water to maintain the 86F temperature, and as you are having surgery and will be unable to complete the heat treatment, I recommend purchasing a bottle of QuickCure.

    You do not have inverts that I am aware of, but you do have tetras. So, you'll want to dose it at half strength. The instructions on the bottle are very clear.

    Do not use salt as this can kill your plants as well as your catfish.

    Good luck riding your tank of the disease as well as with your surgery.

  4. OP

    bassbonedivaFishlore VIPMember

    QuickCure it is, then. I'll pick up a bottle tomorrow. Does Walmart sell it or just Petco/Petsmart (I ask because Walmart is right across the street from my work, while Petco and Petsmart are all the way across town, which is about a 10 mile drive).

    And no, no inverts, other than maybe an errant pond snail that hitch-hiked in on a plant...but I have no love for them anyway, so the death of a pond snail is not among my worries. :p

    I figured salt was a bad idea. I don't even have any because every tank I have is planted and/or usually has some sort of catfish in it.

    And thanks. I hope the QuickCure does it because my featherfin catfish, who is fast-approaching three-years-old, has started flashing. :(

  5. catsma_97504Fishlore LegendMember

    It has worked for me when caught early, so hopefully you'll have the same results! I would imagine that Walmart or PetSmart will carry this product. It is fairly cheap and common in my area.
  6. OP

    bassbonedivaFishlore VIPMember

    Which means it'll be nearly impossible to find in my area. ;) lol Just kidding.

    I'm honestly not sure how long the tank has had ich. I would say no more than a few days. Everyone was acting fine until a few days ago. It's not that I don't pay attention to the tank, but I was caught up in setting up my 20gL and the 55gal had been so stable that I just kind of "ignored" it (other than to turn the light on and off every day and feed). The only two fish that are acting differently are Alistair (the featherfin) and Indie (the ryukin).
  7. Shine

    ShineWell Known MemberMember

    A few thoughts:

    Personally I wouldn't be overly worried about the gravel vacs if the temp is "cranked to 90" Any larva that hatch will die anyway, so whether you vaccum the tank or not, really won't change the outcome. And from my experience salt isn't necessary for the 'heat treatment' to work.

    Heating the water - I'm kind of lazy myself when it comes to water changes, and waiting hours for the 5 gallon buckets to warm up with heaters doesn't suit me (can't use my tap water)... so my solution to that was to boil a liter or so in a kettle, pour it back in the bucket, and see if the temp was a close match. It's worked so far ;)

    As for water changes after surgery I'd take a leaf from Jaysee's book: he has suggested using a small pump to remove water from a tank... you could easily do that to fill the tank as well. Get the 5 gallon bucket, fill, and heat, then use the pump to move the water from the bucket to the tank.
  8. toosie

    toosieWell Known MemberMember

    Another option you could consider is Kordon Ich Attack. It's safe to use on scaleless fish and even though people do have luck treating scaleless fish with half dose of Quick Cure, because it contains Victoria Green (aka Malachite Green) it does have the potential of harming scaleless fish, adversely affecting the biological balance of the aquarium, and can stain silicone and ornaments so if you choose to use it, I recommend you do so with caution.

    Here's a little info on the Kordon Ich Attack in case you'd like to check it out.

  9. OP

    bassbonedivaFishlore VIPMember

    So, Shine, you think just the heat will work?

    I'm just worried about Alistair. He's flashing all over the driftwood and is just sitting directly in the output of the spray bar (which is NOT gentle). He's frantic and just plain miserable. He even jumped out of the water a little while ago (breeched the surface enough for me to hear him, but luckily the water level is down a couple of inches at the moment, so he couldn't make it out of the tank).

    As for water changes...honestly (and don't flame me for this 'cuz the tank has been completely healthy until this ich outbreak), I haven't done a water change on this tank since it started getting cold (about October?). I've just been topping it off as needed (which is more often than you'd think because it's open-topped).

    I was cruising the Petsmart website (seeing if they carry QuickCure) and saw the Kordon Ich Attack, toosie. My friend had JUST mentioned something about the Malachite Green in QuickCure causing tumors and not being good for scaleless fish and cautioned me not to use QuickCure.

    I might grab some Ich Attack instead.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 25, 2012
  10. Jaysee

    JayseeFishlore LegendMember

    I'm not flaming you, but you do understand that when water evaporates, everything else in the water is left behind? That's why simply topping off the tank is insufficient. It takes time for things to take a toll on the fish. They are in perfect health...until they're not.

    I have admitted to stretching out my water changes to once a month, and it took several months to notice a difference. I had gotten ich in my 75, which hasn't had any new fish added to it. I got the fish before I started treating new fish for ich while in quarantine. I started getting minor issues in more and more tanks. Anyways, I'm back to a more regular schedule.
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2012
  11. OP

    bassbonedivaFishlore VIPMember

    I understand that, Jaysee. However, I test my water every two weeks (what I've always done since I started keeping planted tanks) and have never had anything spike at all. Heck, my nitrates never get over 10ppm. :;dk

    Therein lies another difference...I have only lost two fish all winter (my two angels) and it was DEFINITELY not related to my not doing water changes (I lost them at the very beginning of the winter, less than two weeks after the last water change I did). The problems (namely the ich) did not arise until after I added new fish (which I hadn't added any new fish all winter until those six I added last week).
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2012
  12. toosie

    toosieWell Known MemberMember

    When I need to warm 5 gallons buckets for the aquarium, I place the buckets in the tub (I can fit 4 in the tub easily) and fill the tub with hot water, give the water a stir every so often and float a thermometer in one so I can tell when they reach my desired temp. My tanks are always kept at 82F - 84F but it generally takes about 1/2 hour to warm the buckets that much. Of course it will vary depending on how hot your hot water tank is set, how cold the water is initially (mine is usually about 60F) and how warm you need it for your tank, but it lets you prepare a fair amount of water all at once. Carrying the buckets will still be a problem for you after surgery, but it may make water changes a little less daunting.

    EDIT: As well as various toxins accumulating in the tank, water changes are important in order to replace minerals plants and fish use and require to remain healthy. When fish (like anything) start lacking electrolytes, they will get sick. Water changes do sooo much more than just remove ammonia, nitrites and nitrate.
  13. OP

    bassbonedivaFishlore VIPMember

    I have absolutely NO hot water...at all. The water coming out of the tap (actually it's the spigot/faucet outside) is about 50F. I keep my 55gal at about 78F, mainly because of the goldfish (I know he can stand higher temps, but 78F is a nice temp for everybody in there). My ONLY way of heating water to top off my tanks or do water changes is with the 50W tank heater I have extra.
  14. toosie

    toosieWell Known MemberMember

    Ugh. That brings back memories from when I was a kid and we had to warm our bath water on the stove. My parents had a type of heater they could put into the tub to heat the water too (the tub was one of those square galvanized laundry tubs), but generally mom heated it up on the stove. No, I'm not 90 something years old but we lived on a farm in north central Saskatchewan that didn't have running water, but we'd joke that we did because we'd run to the well to get it. I can sympathize with you on that one, but if you did take some water and warmed it on the stove, being careful not to boil it because that could remove too much oxygen, it may work for you as Shine suggested.
  15. Jaysee

    JayseeFishlore LegendMember

    There's more than just ammonia, nitrites and nitrates in the water...

    It's no surprise that the fish were fine all winter. Like I said, it takes time for it to take a toll.
  16. Shine

    ShineWell Known MemberMember

    I've treated fish twice now with heat and nothing more, and those fish and the tanks they were moved to afterward have been ich-free to this day (and that was a year and a half to 2 years now). No salt was used, and no meds either. I tried the meds the first time I encountered ich... and as far as I could tell, the only thing it did was dye the silicone blue-green

    The thing to remember with the heat treatment is that it speeds up the life-cycle of the parasite, so the fish often look worse before they are better. But because the heat kills the larvae as they hatch, the fish won't become re-infected. If you think of ich as a microscopic blood-sucking tick that burrows beneath the fish's scales.... you can understand why they look totally miserable.
  17. OP

    bassbonedivaFishlore VIPMember

    Well, my second heater is apparently bad. The water is still at 78-80F. I can't afford to get a new heater right now.

    My friend has a bottle of Kordon Ich Attack that she is letting me use. I dosed the tank tonight, so hopefully it will work.

    I lost one of the black neons this morning. I have at least one kuhli loach that is on its way out. My yoyo loach (who is literally irreplaceable, since nowhere around here carries them...Walmart had them as a fluke a couple of years ago which is where I got mine) was flashing really bad this morning and tonight I can't find him. Alistair (the featherfin) still looks absolutely miserable. I caught at least one of my gold barbs flashing a little while ago. Indie (my ryukin) isn't happy, but he doesn't appear nearly as miserable as Alistair. Oddly enough, my cories, oto and plecos are all happy as clams and not showing any spots at all.
  18. cameronpalteValued MemberMember

    My best recommendation would be to move the fish with ICH into another tank raise the water, cure them and then put them back in the regular one. Make sure you adjust the water to the same temperature at a regular period before putting it back in so they don't get shocked.
  19. ZombieKeeprWell Known MemberMember

    Sorry about your fish, Paige ... :( *hugs*

    cameronpalte, I personally would vote that moving them around like that is asking for trouble and more stress leading to more infection or worse infections coming in. Besides, she doesn't have another tank this big or enough space.
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2012
  20. Jaysee

    JayseeFishlore LegendMember

    welcome to the forum, both of you :)

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