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What are the odds of my loaches surviving ich?

Posted: Fri Nov 15, 2013 12:33 pm
by iona87

We have 4 clown loaches; 2 adult and 2 baby. The adults have been with us for about 18 months (we adopted them when the previous owner moved away) and alongside them are 5 gold barbs, a swordtail and 2 neon tetra. We introduced the 2 baby loaches into the tank a few weeks ago as we read that loaches are happier in bigger groups.

So to get to the point; one of the loaches has definitely come down with white spot disease and it looks pretty bad, it's all over. As to the others; the second adult tends to hide away under their log a lot of the day and I haven't been able to get a close up look at him. One of the babies looks to have a couple of spots on his tale and the other one zips about too fast for me to see. Basically though they have all been exhibiting what I believe is called 'flashing' (?) and they look like they are itchy so I'm pretty sure they're all infected.

There are a couple of reasons I can think of that might have caused it, either;
1) We introduced the babies without quarantining them first (we didn't know about doing this).
2) We recently put in a couple of plants to ensure they had a good oxygen supply but again, we didn't know about quarantine.
3) About a month ago we changed the gravel and replaced it with aquarium sand. While doing this we followed all the advice from the shop; we kept the fish, filter, heaters and ornaments in buckets of the old tank water to keep some of the bacteria and minimise the shock of changing their environment. Despite all our best efforts though we lost about 8 neon tetra and a cherry barb (which is why we now only have 2 tetra) but the others all survived and as yet don't appear to be infected.
4) The weather has changed quite quickly from a warm autumn to cold winter conditions.
5) A combination of all the above!

I'm terrified that we've really messed things up and our poor little fish are suffering the consequences. For treatment I've decided not to use medication yet (I heard it might either not be effective at this stage or worse still it could well kill the fish as it's loaded with toxins) So I have just been slowly turning up the temperature to 28 degrees C over the course of today.

Now I have three main questions:

A) I know that warmer temperatures mean less oxygen in the water, can I supplement this with some oxygen tablets? Is it possible to over oxygenate the water and cause the fish harm?

B) I don't want to let the disease lie dormant in the sand even if I manage to get rid of it on the fish. Is it at all possible to clean the sand?

C) What are the chances of the fish surviving this disease? I would be so so sad to lose these awesome little creatures.

Many thanks for any advice you can give me.

Best wishes

Re: What are the odds of my loaches surviving ich?

Posted: Fri Nov 15, 2013 8:17 pm
by DainBramage1991
Survival rates aren't really predictable, but usually treating the ich quickly will save the most fish. I had a horrendous battle with it at the beginning of the year and only lost a clown and a pleco.

You don't need to add oxygen tablets to keep the dissolved O2 level high enough for the fish. Additional aeration will be needed, but this can be achieved by aiming filter outflows in such a way that they disturb the water surface, and adding airstones. My fish lived at 30C for 6 weeks with no problems (aside from the ich, of course). I am unaware of how O2 tablets affect fish, so I won't recommend using them. Perhaps someone else on this forum has some knowledge on the subject.

Keep the temp up for at least 2-3 weeks after the last sign of ich, and it will be gone. Period. Ich does not have a dormant stage, and will not survive in the tank's gravel. At 29.5C, the ich cannot attach to the fish, and at 30C they lost the ability to breed and start to die off. If they go 48 hours without a host fish, they die. However, some fish can maintain a small population of ich without showing any outward symptoms, probably keeping the parasite in check with their immune systems. That is why it is vital to get the water up to 30-30.5C and keep it there for several weeks. That temperature is lethal to the ich but not to most tropical fish. Adding salt can also be helpful, but you need to be careful about doing this with loaches and true scaleless fish as they have a lower tolerance for it than other fish.

Good luck.

Re: What are the odds of my loaches surviving ich?

Posted: Sat Nov 16, 2013 8:47 am
by iona87
Hey, thanks for the reply :)

I turned the water up to 30 this morning so I guess now we'll just have to wait and see what happens. Fingers crossed!

Thanks again

All the best

Re: What are the odds of my loaches surviving ich?

Posted: Sat Nov 16, 2013 6:43 pm
by Diana
Ich does not have a dormant phase.

Babies swim in the water until they find a host. At tropical temperatures they must find a host within 24 hours or else they die.
They burrow under the fish's slime coat, or land in the gills and start to grow. At this point they are still too small to see, and you cannot see into the gills to know if the fish is infested.
Then they grow big enough for you to see them as white spots. They live on the fish for a while, then fall off to reproduce. They land on the substrate, rocks, plants, driftwood and ceramic merpeople. They divide into many cells and these cells are the babies. At tropical temperatures the adult may be off the fish for a day or two, but by then they are reproducing. They are not dormant.

keep on vacuuming the tank. You are removing the adult Ich that falls off to breed. If you are using any medicine (salt, Ich attack, Rid Ich...) then dose enough to make sure the replacement water still has the right dose.
Keep up the treatment for at least a week past the day you saw the last spot fall off the fish. This gives the Ich in the gills a chance to mature and fall off, too.

Quarantine all new fish for 30 day minimum. If you need to treat for anything, then start the 30 day count after the treatment has ended.

Re: What are the odds of my loaches surviving ich?

Posted: Sun Nov 17, 2013 2:00 pm
by iona87
Thanks Diana,

Will certainly keep up the heat treatment for a good while even after the spots have gone. Unfortunately today we lost one of the baby loaches, the others don't look at all well.

Thank again for the replies

Best wishes

Re: What are the odds of my loaches surviving ich?

Posted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 11:52 am
by iona87
The rest of the loaches passed away today :(

Re: What are the odds of my loaches surviving ich?

Posted: Mon Nov 18, 2013 12:14 pm
by DainBramage1991
I'm very sorry to hear that.

Please keep the treatment going (especially the heat) so that you can fully eradicate the ich.

Re: What are the odds of my loaches surviving ich?

Posted: Wed Nov 20, 2013 11:43 am
by iona87
Thank you.

It was so horrible seeing them like that, poor guys.

I certainly will keep the treatment up. We've got the barbs and swordtail left and they all look like they didn't catch it. Of course I don't want to risk them getting it though so I'll continue for at least another week, maybe even longer.

Best wishes