The typical White Spot post

  • #1
HI all.

I'm not a newbie, we've owned tanks for about 7 years.

We currently have a very large tank... I'm not sure how many litres, but for those of you in Australia, you will be familiar with the Aqua One 980 tank... put it this way, it can happily hold about 55 medium size fish at a time.

Several years ago, when we had a slightly smaller tank, we had a White Spot (Ich) outbreak which devastated our tank. At about the two week mark, just when things were looking better, we woke up one day and the situation had grown much worse. Then we lost about 80% of our stock. We were doing regular water changes and medicating with the usual cures.

This disease is supposed to get better, but it got worse, even with 3-day water changes, increase in temp, and malachite green medications.

What finally seemed to kill it was medicating for another 5 days with a malachite green preparation with formaldehyde also, and then moving them to our newly prepared 980 tank complete with brand new water.

Flash forward to present day... we purchased a few fish about 2 weeks ago, and one was a female betta. I have learned bettas are notorious for carrying this disease, and I wish now I'd been smart enough to quarrantine this fish before popping it in our main tank.

However, we've been disease-free for the past 2 years, since that last outbreak.

Well, the betta had a couple white spots in the AM when we went out. for the day. I wasn't sure they were white spot, they looke dull and perhaps something else. However, when we got home later that day, our hatchet had about 5 or 6 white spots, and it was pretty clear what was going on.

Since the tank was cleary on its way to infestation anyway, we decided we'd better use the treatment that worked the last time: Malachite Green and Formaldehyde, so without hesitation we put some in.

Of course, we turned the temp up to 30 degrees celsius and proceeded to do about 50 - 60% water changes every 3 days when medicating to try and eradicate the potential baby parasites.

A week into treatment, a few other fish (naturally the weaker ones...loaches, tetras, etc.) had a few spots on them, but it wasn't a full, bad looking breakout.

At day 12, we did the 5th water change and medication. This is the max you are instructed to do if you follow the instructions... although having said that, we weren't following instructions, as we weren't half-dosing for the sake of the loaches and tetras... we had learned the last time around that this doesn't work... better they die of poisoning than slowly of white spot.

Anyway, the spots weren't totally gone and new fish were getting some spots still at day 12. After consultation with aquariums and to go a bit easy on the loaches and tetras at this point, we switched to un-iodised table salt as treatment.

This seemed to bother the loaches and tetras more than the proper medication, and we are now, at 15 days, in full infestation mode, with half the fish in the tank looking like they've been rolled in salt.

This is exactly what happened the last time we had this problem 2 years ago, and I don't want to have to go out and get a new and BIGGER tank again, to solve the problem!

So some advice is welcome.

I realize in hindsight that there are things I will do differently next time this happens, including the following:

--Immediate water change on discovering the white spot followed by treatment and temp rise... we didn't change the water prior to the first medication.

--Quarrantine visibly sick fish to a hospital tank. We didn't move the few fish that were infested to a different set of water, which I think we should have done.

However, since it's too late, I'm trying to figure how to solve the present problem.

Someone has suggested trying Tri-Sulfa, but my understanding of that medication is not that it can eradicate parasites, just that it helps bacterial infections resulting from them.

I'm toying with the idea of moving the visibly affected fish (which are about half our tank now, unfortunately... ALL the loaches (about 6) and all the tetras (also 6)... but our hospital tank is VERY small, and I'm afraid it will stress them out and kill them in their weakened condition. However, it will probably save the other half of the fish, by removing those from the body of water.....

I'm also thinking that I should be treating them with another course of malachite green / formaldehyde. I hate to do it, because I know it weakens the fish, destroys the bio-atmosphere, and is generally bad for them... but they look like they're going to die anyway... although to date the only one we've lost is the original carrier, the betta.

Does anyone out there have any other suggestions for medications and treatments that might work and work quickly?

We are going on vacation for 10 days in 2 weeks time, so we may be screwed anyway, because the bio-atmosphere is now all screwed up from the medication.

Oh, also note that we have put extra bubblers in for more oxygen, and do not have any charcoal in our tank.

  • #2
welcome to fishlore!!!!!!! Just turning up your temp to 82-84 for two weeks will kill ich...regular water changes of at least 40% a day are needed as there's less oxygen in warmer water...goodluck!
Miss Fish
  • #3
Same problem

HI Tequilatamm,

We are also having a whitespot outbreak, strangely enough straight after pruchasing a betta, which has since died. One thing you haven't done is to turn the light out. We were told temp up for 7 days, medication (I am half dosing due to tetras and loaches) but turn the light off for the full 7 days. Water changes and medication every 3 days, feed as usual.

I was told the whole episode would be over after 7 days. We only have 10 fish left (We lost 30 because it took so long to work out the problem)

Reading your post it seems I might not be doing enough, but I will let you know if we still have the problem after the treatment.

We don't have a second tank (I am almost about to buy one) but I would move out the tetras and loaches, and half dose them, full dose the other tank. Make sure to add some melafix to relax the fish.

The only help I can give is turn the light out - which was the advice of our local aquarium.

I hope you fix this situation, and if you have any other advice please post it so I can save my last ten battlers. (I have posted under "White fluffly spots on my fish HELP!!!)

Thank you,
Miss Fish
  • Thread Starter
  • #4
HI Shawnie.

Thanks for your advice, but the first thing we did was turn the temp up to 30 celsius, which is about 85 degrees. It's been at that since we first spotted the Ich, plus we've been medicating.

At the 15 day mark, they look MUCH worse than they did in the first 12 days, so clearly just turning up the temp and doing water changes will not work in this case.

I'm also at a loss as to how we could possibly manage to re-cycle a 52-fish tank fishless at the end of all this, since the other two tanks we have only can hold about 10 fish each, and one is already full. I'm afraid it's not a possibility for us. Best we can hope for is to borrow bio matter from the other two tanks to get it going again. On the up-side, it's a pretty large body of water we're dealing with here, and we'll likely lose some of these fish before this is over, so re-cycling it probably won't be as harrowing as eradicating the white spot.

Any thoughts on how to eradicate the Ich perhaps using medications, as your first two suggestions have already been tried and have failed. Two weeks into it, doing all the "right things" they look worse than they have the whole time previous.
  • #5
MOST of the time, you won't need meds if its ich....some fish don't tolerate the meds and its more harmful than help...

HI Shawnie.

Thanks for your advice, but the first thing we did was turn the temp up to 30 celsius, which is about 85 degrees. It's been at that since we first spotted the Ich, plus we've been medicating.

At the 15 day mark, they look MUCH worse than they did in the first 12 days, so clearly just turning up the temp and doing water changes will not work in this case.

I'm also at a loss as to how we could possibly manage to re-cycle a 52-fish tank fishless at the end of all this, since the other two tanks we have only can hold about 10 fish each, and one is already full. I'm afraid it's not a possibility for us. Best we can hope for is to borrow bio matter from the other two tanks to get it going again. On the up-side, it's a pretty large body of water we're dealing with here, and we'll likely lose some of these fish before this is over, so re-cycling it probably won't be as harrowing as eradicating the white spot.

Any thoughts on how to eradicate the Ich perhaps using medications, as your first two suggestions have already been tried and have failed. Two weeks into it, doing all the "right things" they look worse than they have the whole time previous.

Sorry all this is happeneing again..can you get pics ? if the temp is that high, and your sure your thermometer isn't wrong, the ich should have died off by now...
  • Thread Starter
  • #6
HI Miss Fish.

Sorry, forgot to mention that. OF COURSE we turned the light out. Malachite Green is photosensitive and will just disappear within hours if you don't. The lights have been out for 15 days now, except for very brief 10 minute feeding times.

I've never seen White Spot quite like this before. It's CLEARLY white spot, not something else, but the fish are not getting lethargic, and still have appetites.

I fear, now that the outbreak has become so much worse, all this will change and they will start dying off soon.....

Tell me... are you in Australia also? I've talked to 3 aquarium shops now who all said they've had recent outbreaks of white spot. Apparently going into winter is one of the problems... falling outside temps affect tank water to some extent. And I think the poor water quality bettas are transported in, due to the perception that they're so hardy, is one of the reasons they tend to be big carriers of the parasite.

HI again Shawnie.

I will try to get some pics, but I'm at work now, so it'll be > 12 hours before I can.

My mother-in-law is a biochemist, and got us two calibrated thermometers that are guaranteed accurate to within .001 or something ridiculous like that. They both read 30 celsius. I'm POSITIVE the water is at that temp.

In addition, we always heat the two buckets we keep fresh water in for water changes, and use Sera Aquatan (which should protect the fish skin further) in the water before changes, so that we are always putting in consistent temp water during changes.

This is the frustrating thing... it isn't the first time this has happened, and we've done all of the suggested things from the get-go, and still, it gets worse! (Well, except for isolating the visibly sick fish to a smaller tank, and that will be the FIRST thing I try the next time... although I think now it's a little too late for that).

I know a lot of people claim salt is the thing, but our experience with salt both times we've had big outbreaks now, is that it REALLY stresses the fish, and that makes them weaker and the parasites more able to infest. In fact, we used to put an occasional spoonful of table salt into the tank every once in awhile as it is supposed to be beneficial generally, and when we quit doing that, we had a 2 year streak of healthy fish, only just interrupted by introducing this one betta.

I'm very tempted to remove all the fish from that tank and let it rest for 3 days. We could actually put them all in one of the water change buckets... large, plastic boxes like you get at the dollar store. I seem to recall that removing the fish so that the baby parasites have nothing to latch on to guarantees that the water will be parasite-free when you return the fish to it. I suppose one could also up the temp even further if doing that, to make the parasites cycle faster. I'm tempted....

I want this thing gone now!

Hmmm... if we did move the fish to a bucket for 3 days, I'd like to give them things to hide under, but I've read that the plants as well as the substrate can contain parasites, so I'm assumming we should leave them in the main tank... perhaps a few plastic things will suffice.

What do you think about a mass move to completely clean water for 3 days and then back again?
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
And Miss Fish, that's the really funny thing too... that we haven't yet lost any of our fish.

During the last outbreak they started dying en masse.

I'm wondering if we don't have some sort of super-strain parasite here in Australia!

I'll let you know if I come up with anything else. I'm seriously considering moving all of the fish in our big tank (and that's a lot.... 52 to be exact) into the large plastic boxes we use to do water changes, for 3 days, and then move them back into the tank after the water rests for 3 days. Lack of any fish to latch onto should break the cycle... in THEORY.

But then IN THEORY, 15 days of 3-day malachite/formaldehyde treatments should've eradicated the problem, but didn't!
  • #8
I'm not sure stressing them with a move would be good..the problem is already on them ....I'm wondering if this is velvet disease or something other than ich ...hmmmm someone will be along I'm sure to try to help more and getting pics is a great help...praying everyone makes it till you get home
Miss Fish
  • #9
Yes in Melbourne Australia. We go to The Aquarium factory.

Maybe the fish have built up some immunity, or the disease has mutated inot a new strain.

I have only been keeping fish for 2 months so no advice I have is going to help anyone... but moving sounds good and I definitely would move my fish out of there is I could. The healthy ones are only going to be attacked if they stay.

I agree about the salt and stress. Stress seems to be the worst factor in disease, once they are stressed all **** breaks loose, which makes moving a problem too. I had a thought the other day, about classical music maybe able to help relax them? Dont' want to waste your time, but I would be playing them soothing music if all my CDs hadn't been stolen last week along with my car.

Shawnie has a good point it might be something else. We had a live fish scraped and the cells put under a microscope to make sure. But you can only use a fish that looks like it might be about to die.
  • #10
I know you folks don't always have the same medications available that we have.

I agree with Shawnie, our advice here on fishlore is usually always to use the temperature treatment first. Some recommend using Ick attack, I have used Maracide by Mardel with good results. This medication can not be used with any other, because it has

"Multi-layered micro spheres that attach to the fish and break down one layer at a time releasing the medication in a controlled regulated manner. A filming agent, Chitosan, which has a molecular structure similar to the natural mucous coat of a fish, seals the treatment in contact with the tissue surface, helps prevent re-infection during treatment."

As quickly as you got to treatment, I am very surprised it has spread, except like Shwanie said further stress in the tank. 28 should be high enough to kill ick without causing fish that can't take high temps to be stressed. Keep us posted..Good Luck
  • Thread Starter
  • #11
Yes, well, Miss Fish, if you've only been keeping fish 2 months, then it's true that your water condition might not yet be well-built-up enough not to be a stressor for the fish and causing the white spot.

Likewise, the destruction of our bio-system with the medicine could be stressing our fish more and causing this late breakout.

As Shawnie very rightly points out too, a move of the fish can be a big stressor... this is the main reason I haven't tried this approach. I've found more often than not that when you move a sick fish, it dies quicker than just treating it in-situ.

In hindsight, if I had moved the two sick fish in the beginning, treated them aggressively in the small tank and used only salt in the large tank, that probably would've been the best approach... eh, coulda shoulda woulda....

Shawnie, I'm reasonably confident this is Ich. It looks and acts like Ich, not like something else. I've seen pictures of velvet, although never experienced it firsthand, and it doesn't look like velvet.

It started with sharp, white spots on the top and tail fins mainly, and has now shifted to looking like the top of the fish has been rolled in very small grains of salt.

The fish are flashing as if they're uncomfortable, as fish do that have ich, and some of the loaches are breathing fast, which could mean it's affected their gills as well... or it could mean the loaches are too hot in the temp we've got them at.

Oddly, the flying foxes, sucking cat and corys don't look affected at all, and neither did the torpedoes until we quit the malachite treatments. Now two of the three look salty.

Just as an extra indicator, there are a few of the 20% of fish who made it through the big breakout 2 years ago in this tank. They show no signs of the disease and no signs of stress. I suspect they are now immune... proving a suspicion many have about this parasite.

Anyway, I'll go talk to my favourite fish shop girl today and get her advice. She wanted me to use a treatment with malachite green and acri-something before, but I insisted on formaldehyde, as that was the ONLY thing that did any good the last time.

Miss fish and I are suspcious that we have uber-parasites here in Australia, quite resistent to treatment!

Who knows?
  • Thread Starter
  • #12
HI guys.

Thanks for all your help on this.

Susitna-flower and Shawnie, after talking to the two people at the aquarium that I trust and seem the most knowledgeable, they agree with you guys that the Ich should resolve in two weeks simply by turning the heat up, and that it's unusual that it has suddenly gotten worse.

The consensus seems to be that increased fish stress is the most likely cause, and my aquarium people think that the water quality has probably degraded to the point of causing this stress.

My husband and I are sticklers for testing water quality, and so it's unusual that in all the stress from the ick, we have neglected to do this.. I think we both had in the back of our minds that when you're changing water every 3 days, and vaccuuming the substrate to boot, and lots of it, it's pretty darn unlikely that you could possibly have an ammonia spike....

However, we have a strange thing happen normally when we do water changes... our tap water, which we heat and treat with Sera Aquatan before changing, although it is VERY high in pH coming out of the tap, abut 8.0 to 9.0 in fact, when we place it in with the existing water on a change, seems to cause a severe drop in pH on a good day... bringing it from 7.0 to about 6.0 abruptly. That has never made sense to me, but it happens.

We use kH+ to combat this normally (has always stabilised things way better than putting in a pH plus treatment)... but since they have been sick we haven't really been paying much attention to the pH... I don't know why... perhaps we're in denial!

Usually the Corys tell us when the pH is low, by looking very stressed, and they've been actually unusually calm through all this, and don't have spots. I can usually rely on them to be a good indicator without even testing the water, and they haven't indicated. But perhaps we should be checking this, considering how much water we've been swapping out.

Also, we use Seachem purigen pillows in the filter normally to keep down the... which is it.. nitrates? I think? Or Nitrites, whichever it is, and we took those out when beginning malachite treatment.

So you might say we've pretty much stuffed our water quality and then paid no attention to it.

My aquarium people think that when we do test water quality we will find that pH or kH is off and that nitrates or nitrites have risen to unacceptable levels.

I have purchased some ammonia-lock to use, and the aquarium people said we should use that in conjunction with Seachem Prime, to improve water quality rapidly. We already use Sera Nitrivec to replace and enhance good bacteria, and have been using that, but my understanding is that Ammonia-lock is more like zeolite in that it can absorb and lock out the ammonia, whereas Nitrivec is a slower and more permanent process. I will also put the Seachem Purigen back in to the filter to try and help things where nitrates/nitrites are concerned.

The aquarium people said that if the nitrates/trites (sorry, can't remember which without looking at our water guide with the tester kit!) are off, then continue to change water at 20-25% every few days.

They said we could continue to medicate longer with malachite/formaldehyde, but if the water quality is off it's probably not necessary, as when the stress goes, the fish will get better and not be susceptible to the parasites anyway.

It's the afternoon here and my husband works from home. I'm going to try to persuade him to take a break and test the water parameters... we have a huge Sera kit with ALL the possible tests you could think of in it, so it's quite easy to do.

But basically, they agreed with you guys.. if it gets worse at day 15, it's probably due to stress, not just over infestation of the parasite.

I'll report back after we test out the water quality.

And thanks again for letting me rant and trying to provide solutions. It's good to have some consensus. Let's just hope the consensus proves correct!
  • Thread Starter
  • #13
HI all.

Well, tonight we ran a complete panel on our water quality. In a way I'm sad to say everything came back swimmingly perfect (excuse the pun). So much so, it's almost in better condition than when the fish aren't sick.

I guess deep down I knew that and that's why we hadn't been testing the water. Really, how could it be anything but perfect when changing about 60% of it every 3 days?

So despite several people telling me that it's impossible for white spot to live in a 30 degree celsius tank for more than 2 weeks regardless of medicine, it seems we do still have an infestation.

On the off-chance that it could be something else that looks VERY similar to white spot, I've done another big water change and dosed them with Tri-Sulfa. If nothing else, assuming they recover without further proper white spot remedies, this will treat any resulting bacterials... and if it should happen to be something fungal or otherwise, it should catch that too.

I'll write in another 3 days after the treatment has set in.
  • #14
It's possible that it's velvet or maybe even an odd fungus. Is there any way to post pics to aid in figuring out the problem?
  • Thread Starter
  • #15
OK, I was reluctant to post photos because I don't have a camera with a fast enough shutter speed to capture anything but blur, but here's what I could get.

I don't think these photos represent it properly though. It has a blueish colour in the photos, which I'm sure you'll all diagnose as velvet... but that's just the camera. In real life, it's bright white and looks like salt.

It's more well-represented in the Cardinal Tetra shot than the torpedo barb shots.

We're on day 16 now, and it's getting worse and worse.

  • #16
I still say that stress is the most likely problem....not from water conditions but from how high you have the temperature.

Your T. barbs max temperature is 26....if you would cool the tank to 28, it would be less of a problem for them, and still in the range that will kill ick.

They seem to be sensitive fish....I have them, and have had them go into shock at a water change, so you have to be super careful not to do too much at a time, don't add chemicals too fast, or do any sudden changes in your tank....
  • Thread Starter
  • #17
Well... I hear what you're saying, but we generally keep the tank at about 28 degrees normally, because we find that the instance of disease is less frequent at this higher temp.

So the Torpedo Barbs are only out by 2 degrees from usual, and none of the fish have ever had a problem with that temp... in fact, our bristlenoses have been trying to breed, and up until this breakout the tank was very harmonious and happy for a good 2 years.

Not to mention we have extra bubblers in there and have dropped the water level to let the natural bubbling from the fall of water from the filter increase a bit, so the temp increase has been combatted by adding more oxygen too.

In fact our torpedos are some of our hardier fish. We have one that got stabbed by a (supposedly peaceful) freshwater prawn awhile back, and is partially paralyzed at the tail! We clued in that the prawns were cold-blooded killers when we woke up one morning to find one of them on top of some driftwood with a tetra carcass in his claws! When he saw us, I swear he dropped it and looked guilty! It was straight back to the fish shop for those two!

So we have 3 torpedo barbs in the tank. The largest one is about 3 years old and made it through what I like to call "The Great White Spot Devistation of 2006". The middle one got stabbed by the prawn, and despite being partially paralyzed and a bit deformed, does fine.

The torpedo barbs have actually only just started showing the white spot. It was mainly our loaches and Tetras before this.

It's now mainly bristlenoses, flying foxes, rasboras and corys that don't look sick now. Everyone else is in pretty bad shape.

I'm just at a complete loss as to what to do. I'd like to quit changing water every 3 days, because that's a possible stressor... just the act of doing it. But if it IS still a big white spot infestation, and I don't change the water, theoretically it should get worse.

I don't want to medicate them with anything either, but I'm worried about not doing so. We've put in the tri-sulfa, and I think I'm going to leave it at that.

Nobody has died yet... but I'm very worried I'm going to wake up one morning and 50% will be gone, just like that. This breakout is almost identical to what happened to us in 2006, when we lost 80% of our tank. Some of our fish, like the KubotaI Loaches are worth $80 each. I really don't want to lose them.

Back then people kept telling us the parasites should be gone within 2 weeks from changing the temp, but that most definitely wasn't the case.

I honestly suspect we've got slightly different parasites here in Australia than in the rest of the world, and they're more robust.

Nonetheless, I felt they were looking a bit better last night when I got home. They are still hungry and seemed active enough. They're just uncomfortable and flashing a lot, but not lethargic.

So I think I'm down to the last straw which is just keeping the lights out and doing nothing, and hoping they fight it off themselves, with a little peace and rest.

I don't think I'm willing to lower the temp yet though.
  • #18
It reminds me of columnaris. Does it look fuzzy or have very thin 'hairs'? Or is it slick-looking and flat to the body?
The triple-sulfa would be a good treatment for it, IF it's columnaris.
  • Thread Starter
  • #19
Thanks for that last advice on columnaris.

I still think it looks exactly like White Spot, but on the off-chance it's something else, we are now treating them with the Tri-Sulfa.

We initially put in marginally less (like a 2/3 dose for the size of the tank) than the recommended dose, because of the loaches and tetras in the tank, but after talking to my aquarium person yesterday, she told me she's had successs even treating white spot with Tri-Sulfa, by hitting the fish with a very high dose... nearly double what we initially put.

So her recommendation was that we add the extra to make up to the higher dose, and then leave them alone for 3 days to see what happens. I know that Tri-Sulfa addresses columnaris as well as several other things, and will also fight bacterial infection, so it was a logical choice. Now I'm just crossing my fingers.

Overnight we finally started losing fish, and of course, it was the tetras that went first. There are only 2 out of 6 left now, but that was to be expected. I assume the others will drop off also in the next 24 hours.

Two of the 3 torpedos look pretty bad, but no worse than they have for the past 48 hours. They are also still eating and reasonably active, so fingers crossed that they just get better.

All the loaches in our tank (clown, kubotai, dwarf) are looking very uncomfortable, but are doing the logical thing and periodically swimming through the bubbler to address their discomfort. They look annoyed, but not like they're necessarily going to die.

My best friend, who has one of our old tanks and has had a lot of trouble with white spot advised me cover the tank completely with a towel to make it very dark in there during treatment. She does this and discontinues food for the duration of the treatment, and she says this seems to reduce stress.

Indeed, our tank is in a hallway area, where we walk past occasionally, and at this point that might be enough to really stress them and make things worse.

And finally, I checked the pH again this morning, Guess what? It had shot up to about 8.2! YIKES! Our water in Sydney is normally rather high pH, like 8 or 9, however when we combine new water with the tank water, the pH generally drops unacceptably low, rather than spiking high, so this was a real surprise.

The corys tell us when the pH is too low by looking really stressed, and they haven't been, so I wasn't checking it too often. However, clearly they don't get stressed when it goes UP... but the other fish probably do.

I suspect we've had a sporadic kH problem in the tank for probably a week, and this problem has been contributing to the stress. I tested this the other day, but I suspect it spikes for just maybe 24 hours after new water is added and then drops back down to an acceptable level (which is probably worse for the fish than if it stayed constant at any pH)!

Anyway, we dosed with ph down and kH Plus at the same time to try and stabilise back to 7.0, and we're checking it every hour or so. Really worried about getting that bouncing effect on the pH and really stressing the fish, but for now, all we can do is track it closely and try to sort it.

Fingers crossed the rest of the fish are hardy enough to endure.
  • #20
ill be prayin to the fish gods for you ....hope it all works out well!!!!!!!!!

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