Tag Archives: Ich

ICH!!! Why the aquarium hobby is dying! LISTEN PetCo and Petsmart!

9 Mar

All hobbies peak and then ebb in popularity. The aquarium hobby was most popular in the 1970’s. There were a number of tropical fish stores in our town. Now, only three. A PetCo, a Petsmart, and one family -owned store.

I propose two main reasons for the decline of fish-keeping as a hobby.

The main reason is the same one that kids don’t ride bikes, play “Army” or go explore the local creek.

Computers. Simple as that. Computers, cell-phones that do everything, gigantic TV’s with fantastic game systems. Here’s a picture of my son playing a basketball game on our new TV:

No competition I'm afraid.

No competition I’m afraid.

The second reason is ICH! The disease, the little white spots all over your fish. The parasite.

Most stores do not quarantine their fish before sale. Most stores do not have employees who can quickly recognize sick fish. Many stores keep these sick fish in tanks that are inter-connected with the healthy fish.

You just can’t win. I have bought Ich-infested fish 3 times in the past 18 months. A single Angelfish purchased at Petsmart infected all the Angelfish I had at the time. A group of four Tiger Barbs purchased at PetCo caused a mass die-off in my most populated community tank. I had quarantined them for two weeks.

Healthy Red Swordtails.

Healthy Red Swordtails.

Most recently, I bought 4 Black Phantom Tetras at Petsmart. I put them in a 10-gallon tank with some Corydoras and Red Swordtails. The tetras quickly became covered in Ich. After treatment all four were dead. The fish I owned all survived.

Red Swords with Photo-shopped Ich.

Red Swords with Photo-shopped Ich.

So, imagine a new fish owner. He or she is all excited about this new hobby. Buys a brand-new tank, socks a few hundred dollars into filters and food and water-testing supplies. Eventually spends another 50 dollars on fish.

The odds are some of those fish are diseased, and the most likely culprit is Ich. The fishkeeper buys medication, most of the fish die anyway, the enthusiasm is gone, and the tank goes in the garage or up for sale on Craigslist.

I just can’t believe that, in 2013, the fish we buy can’t be entirely rid of Ich. I’m telling you, Petsmart and PetCo, you might be making money selling a few replacement fish and the medication to cure Ich, but you are ruining potential life-long hobbyists by the THOUSANDS. Figure it out!

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ICH is a 4-letter word

18 Dec

Ich, the parasite. Evidenced by little white spots that spread like mad. Feared by aquarists of all abilities. You can go for years and years and never see Ich. Then, buy one fish and a nightmare begins.

I thought about re-living my errors and stupidity regarding Ich, but let’s just say I have made errors and been very stupid.

A healthy Marble Angel. It never occurred to me to take photos of my fish when they had Ich!

Let me get right to the two major suggestions to prevent Ich from ruining our fishkeeping fun.

Number one:  Set up a quarantine tank. Keep new fish in the tank for a month. Simple, yes, but most casual aquarium keepers can’t do this. You may have only one tank.

Number two: You see Ich. What to do?

I am not going to pour in Malachite Green and Formalin or Methylene Blue or Rid-Ich or Nox-Ich or whatever they call it. I am going to raise the temperature of my tank to at least 86 F degrees. I will go as high as 90 degrees but no higher. Importantly, I will crank up the aeration to the infected tank. (If you are using outside power filters drop the water level an inch or two until the water is splashing in, this will help oxygenate it.)

I am going to leave it there, and some fish will suffer and some may die but the Ich will definitely die.

I will leave the temperature high for 10 days . This will kill Ich at all stages of it’s life cycle.

Other things I can do are to make some water changes to improve water quality. Make sure you have the new water heated up close to the 86F of the tank.

In some cases, I would add aquarium salt to the tank. If my infected fish are Platies or Cichlids I would not hesitate to add salt. Start with a teaspoon per 5 gallons of water. Wait a few hours and add another teaspoon per 5 gallons.  If there are Neons and other sensitive or expensive fish be cautious about the salt. Be prepared to make a 25% water change if you see that it stresses the fish too much.

If you have live plants in the tank they may begin to fall apart at high temperatures. If they do, take them out, throw them away. Don’t put them in another tank. The Ich can go along for the ride. Same with nets and anything else you put into the tank.

Honestly, good luck to you and your fish if they get Ich. Fight it, don’t give up. You might lose some fish but you will rebuild. Don’t quit keeping fish! The rewards are too great.