Ichthyophthirius multifilis

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Ichthyophthirius multifilis

Post  Admin on Tue Feb 10, 2009 7:13 pm

Please note that Ichthyophthirius multifilis does not affect crayfish. Crayfish can, however, carry the parasites (the cysts of the parasites) and infect or reinfect any fish that may be housed with them. This section is how to handle that scenario.

Also Known As: Ich, White Spot


General/Background information: Ichthyophthirius multifilis is basically a skin infection. It's caused by parasites that burrow into the skin of the fish to feed on blood and dead epithelial cells. The irritation caused by the parasites results in the swelling and production of the white cysts (the white spots) on the fish's skin.

When the parasites are done feeding and are engorged they turn into a trophozoite (the stage of asexual reproduction), and burrows out of the fish. It will sink to the bottom of the tank and secrete a jelly-like substance that forms into a protective membrane. Inside the membrane, the parasite will divide into hundreds of baby parasites (tomites). During this time, instead of being on the bottom of your tank these trophozoites may be on plants or on the exoskeletons of things like crayfish, shrimp, etc.


Signs of the disease: Little white spots on the body of the fish or redness and/or bloody streaks when it's in the advanced stages. The fish will scratch themselves against rocks, plants and gravel and will eventually become lethargic.


Prophylactic treatment: Quarantine any new fish for at least two weeks before introducing them into a tank with preexisting animals. Treat any plants before adding them to the tank with medication or a salt bath. Be fastidious in caring for your tank and keeping it clean. Keep your fish healthy with a nutritionally balanced diet and stress-free (as much as possible) environment.

Additionally, methylene blue or malachite green may be given to any new fish while in quarantine in an attempt to reduce chances of infection.


Treatment: There are two courses of action for treating this disease, use of medication or use of salt. For the first, follow these instructions:

Raise the tank temperature slowly, several degrees.
Add the appropriate dosage (see individual boxes/bottles for directions) to your tank for 10-14 days
Discontinue carbon filtration during treatment
Keep in mind, if you have scaleless fish, you'll need to reduce the amount of medication

Additionally, you will need to keep medicating for the entire two weeks to ensure that all the parasites are killed. Any parasites in the fish currently will not be killed by the medication, you must wait for them to leave the fish or be in the free swimming stage after birth. Thus, why it is important to continue with the treatment for the whole two weeks.


For the second, follow these instructions:

Add 1 TBSP (tablespoon) of salt per 5 gallons.
Raise the tank temperature slowly, several degrees.
Keep these conditions for 10-14, 14 days recommended.
After the 14 days, lower the temperature back to normal and do a partial water change. Continue with your normal water changes and tank maintenance to slowly phase out the salt in the water.

Please note, for those who have been told to add salt to their tanks for no reason, this treatment may not work. Adding salt to your tank for no reason and for prolonged periods of time does nothing except give any bacteria or parasites the time to acclimate and become immune to these treatments. If you have done this, you will need to use actual medication to rid yourself of the Ich.

And for those who may have invertebrates in the tank, like crayfish, be sure to always check the label of the medications you are buying. Anything that contains copper or other heavy metals can easily kill off your crayfish (and any other invertebrate in the tank). Often, it is wisest to just remove any invertebrate while you are treating the fish in the tank and proceed to treat the invertebrates separately (for crayfish, use a salt bath every couple of days until the 14 day window is finished).


Cure: Following the steps above, you should be rid of the parasites within 10-14 days.


Sources:
http://freshaquarium.about.com/cs/disease/p/ich.htm
http://www.monsterfishkeepers.com/forums/showthread.php?t=213453

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