What are white spots on fish?
Ich in fish is probably the most common of all fish diseases. And with most problems in life, prevention is always easier than the cure.
Fish Ich (ichthyophthiriasis) – pronounced ick – is a type of parasite that attaches to a fish’s body, feeds for a while, and then falls off. It lands on the bottom of the tank and reproduces thousands of offspring which continue the vicious process over and over.
How do you know when a fish has ich? Fish with ich exhibit small white spots on their bodies. In the beginning stages you’ll notice a few scattered white spots that resemble grains of salt. As the condition worsens, the ick will cover the entire fish, eventually leading to respiratory problems (among others) and death.
Many experts believe that ich is present in all aquariums, but only attack weakened or stressed fish. Healthy fish have a strong immune system and are able to resist ich. Stressed fish have a weakened immune system and are therefore susceptible to the ich organisms that are already present in the tank.
Fish can get stressed and weakened in a variety of ways. Those that have been transported from their breeding tanks to the pet store, and then scooped up and quickly transported to another home are dealing with a good bit of stress. And fish in a home aquarium can get stressed when they’re subjected to temperature fluctuations, changing water conditions (ph, ammonia level, etc.) and the introduction of new fish to their tank.
Preventing a fish from catching ich is dependent on your eliminating stress in their lives. In your home aquarium, try to avoid drastic temperature fluctuations and changing water conditions. Also, make sure you perform regular partial water changes and provide good filtration.
When shopping for fish in a pet store, examine all the fish in a particular tank closely. If you see even one fish with white spots, then move on – the whole tank is probably infected. The other fish may just not be showing the white spots of ich yet. Another thing to do is talk to the manager of the pet store and find out when they get their fish shipments in. Try to avoid buying your fish on the day of, or the day after delivery day. You want to give them a few days to recover from the stress of delivery and introduction to the pet store tank, before subjecting them to the stress of adding them to your tank.
And it’s always good to have a quarantine tank set up for any new fish you buy. You can keep them in there for a week or two and see if they develop any diseases. If they don’t, then you can feel pretty safe adding them to your community tank.
You’ll find quite a few brands of ich treatment medications available in most pet stores. Many of these medicines contain Malachite Green, which is a proven remedy for ich. It usually comes in liquid or tablet form which you add to the tank on a regular basis for a period of about two weeks. Follow the instructions carefully. In many cases you’ll use the half the dosage for scaleless fish such as catfish or tetras. And these medicines work faster and are more effective at higher temperatures.