You bring in a beautiful looking fish from the pet shop and introduce it to the other fishes in the tank. It looks beautiful and healthy as well. But the next morning you are shocked to see that your prized possession has white spots on her tail fin. Later in the day you also find out that the other inhabitants of the aquarium are also showing the same symptoms.
Well, do not be worried. What you are dealing with is the common fish disease called Ick (Ich) or white spot. The Latin name for Ick is Ichthyophithirius multifiliis. It is one of the most common aquarium fish diseases that people generally deal with. It actually is a parasitic protozoan. If one pays proper attention to the fishes, these symptoms can generally be detected in the early stages, before it takes a deadly shape.
The most common symptom of Ich is the occurrence of white spots on the fish. Some red streaks can also sometimes appear along with these white spots. It might look like salt has been sprinkled all over the fish's body. Ick causes itch and often you can see the fishes that have this disease, flicking their bodies against the rocks or gravel present in the aquarium. Ick can also attack the gills of the fish, resulting in some heavy breathing; though this might be difficult to diagnose.
Getting Rid of Ich
1. Quality of water: The water in the aquarium should be of very high quality. Regular water change is of utmost importance. If you keep large predators, then the water must be changed bimonthly as these big fishes can produce a whole lot of concentrated waste.
2. Feeding: Always remember not to overfeed the fishes in the aquarium. The fish food should be such that it can be consumed by the fish in a couple of minutes. This is a trial and error method where you need to experiment with the amount of food you feed. When you see the fish begin to take in the food and spit it out, they have had enough. If, however, you feed them extra, the excess food will remain in the tank causing stress, foul water and diseases.
3. Vegetation: An aquarium must contain enough vegetation and hiding places for the fishes. This might sound funny, but when a new fish is introduced into the tank, it will be nervous for quite a while in that tank. It will need the vegetation and the hiding places to blend into the new environment. Some fishes also prefer seclusion of a cave or the security of a plant. Always remember, a happy fish is a healthy fish.
4. Compatibility: This is not only true for humans but for fishes as well. If you don't have much knowledge about a particular fish, research work can help a great deal. If you introduce an aggressive fish in a rather peaceful tank or if you add an active fish in a subdued tank, it can cause problems which can lower the immunity levels of a fish.
5. Quarantine: Keep a small, separate aquarium to quarantine your new fish or to treat the ones which are sick. Allow about two week's time for the new fish to be in the smaller aquarium during which you can look for any signs or symptoms of Ick or any other disease. This will make sure that the fishes are healthy. This can also cut down on your expenses when it comes to treating the sick fish.
6. If everything fails: If all the above steps fail to get rid of the Ick, then there are several medications available in the market that can treat Ich quite easily. In most cases, adding a few drops of the medication straight into the aquarium water can easily kill the Ick that might be present.