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 Possible Ich (Ick)

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Passionweed
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PostSubject: Possible Ich (Ick)   Fri Jan 30, 2015 2:08 pm

Hello Fish Friends,

  OK...I may possibly be facing my first fish illness.  I'm reading a dozen different ways to treat Ich (Ick).  Would
love to hear some of you opinions.

  My tanks is new (almost 6 weeks old) 5.5 gallon fluval tank with 5 very active guppies.  The tank has cycled.  My pH is
7.2, Ammonia 0. Nitrite 0, Nitrate .05-.10.  I'm doing 1 gallon water changes about every three days.  I also have a small
10 watt heater in the tank and that keeps the water temp at exactly 78*.  I also put a small amount of aquarium salt in
the water as PetSmart told me this would be beneficial to the guppies (1 Tbsp. for 5 gallons).  There are no live plants in this tank.  

  The guppies are VERY active and eating well.  This aquarium is on my desk and I see these fish all day long.  Yesterday I
noticed 1 fish was occasionally 'scratching' himself on one of the rock decorations in the tank, I didn't think anything of it at
the time.  Today all 5 guppies are doing this intermittently.  There are NO signs of white salt like specks on the fish...but I am
wondering if this might be the beginning of Ich?  One week ago I added 2 guppies from LFS to the tank.

   I don't want to be a 'fish tank hypocondriate'....but I also don't want to be caught off guard in the event this turns into
something more.  I keep reading that these medications can/will kill your biological filtration (which I have worked so hard
for these past 6 weeks)...I sure hate to wipe it out now and have to start over...plus, what in the world would I do with the
guppies in the meantime?  A dilemma Sad

    I also am reading about the high temperature treatment which I really like the idea of.  I would have to go buy another heater which would allow me to control the temperature (that's no problem).  

    Any thoughts from your vast knowledge would be SO appreciated Smile

Many Thanks,
Dave
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PostSubject: Re: Possible Ich (Ick)   Fri Jan 30, 2015 7:48 pm

Hello, Passionweed, and welcome to our discussion board. Very Happy  

My first thought is that you have the wrong stocking for a 5.5 gallon tank.  A tank that small can be a very fine planted tank project, with invertebrates like freshwater shrimps, or one or two colorful Nerite snails.  If you really want fish, then perhaps a few micro-Rasboras (there are several to choose from in the hobby) would be a good choice.  

Small tetras would not work as the footprint of the tank won't allow them the swimming room they need, and guppies - in my experience - do not work longterm, either, because they are chubby fish whose bioload soon becomes too much for the small amount of water.  One guppy, with the frequent one gallon pwc's that you are doing, might be all right.  

From what you describe, it's difficult to say if Ich is present in the tank or not.  Let's say it is.  If so, then you won't necessarily see the white sprinkling of dots yet, as those would be cysts encasing the new batch of parasites, yet to be released.  In the water already, you may have free-swimming parasites, which you would not see without magnification.  These may be what is irritating your fish, but it's all conjecture at this point.  

I'm not sure why you're adding the salt to the water.  Did the pet store say why they suggest it?  It may or may not help with osmoregulation of sick fish, but you are not sure your fish are sick yet, anyway.  In sufficient amounts, salt may help kill freshwater parasites, who cannot live in salt water, but you aren't sure you have any parasites to kill yet.  In any case, if salt were needed, you'd only use it for a short while, until the crisis was over.  

For now, I'd wait and see what happens before doing any salt treatment.  What you can do is siphon your substrate often to remove any cysts which may be present in the gravel/sand, whatever you are using.  The small pwc's that you are already doing are good, keep doing them but add the siphon/gravel cleaning to your routine. Raise the temp to 80 over the course of a day and leave it there for a couple of days.

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PostSubject: Re: Possible Ich (Ick)   Fri Jan 30, 2015 9:35 pm

Thank you, Deb, for giving me these tips.

The LFS told me before this (possible) ich incident that guppies prefer a bit of salt in their water, that was the reasoning for adding the salt, it had nothing to do with their being ill.  I've read on many different tropical fish websites MANY different ways of dealing with ich, including raising the salt level and temperature (to as high as 89*) in order to kill the parasites.  I thought this seemed the most 'natural' was of dealing with this and less chance of disturbing my biological filter.

At any rate....there are no white sugar specks showing as of now, but those poor fish are definitley stressed now and all are rubbing against the rocks and against the gravel on the bottom of the tank.  I think it's only a matter of time before something manifest.

I went out this evening and purchased an aquarium vac to clean the gravel like you suggested, I will do this this evening.  

Thank's so much...I'll post tomorrow and fill you in on how things are going Smile

Dave
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PostSubject: Re: Possible Ich (Ick)   Sat Jan 31, 2015 8:25 am

It's morning and all the fish have made it fine through the night.  There is no sign of any white spots this morning but the fish continue to flash, scratching against the gravel and tank rocks.  I fed them very lightly this morning and they ate every speck.  They are also very active (I think a good sign)...

I have put in a heater that I can control and have set the tank temp to 80*.  I'm thinking I should raise it a degree or two every six hours???  I read that 86* to 89* is a temperature that will kill ich parasites.... but then, I'm NOT sure this is what this is.  I also added a small air stone to help oxygenate the water as I've also read that higher water temps depletes oxygen...  

I'll continue 25% water changes every day.  I will not add any salt as I do these water changes. I checked the water parameters this morning and everything is perfect. pH 7.2, ammonia 0 ppm, nitrite 0 ppm, nitrate .05 ppm.

We'll see what the next 24 hours brings.

Many Thanks Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Possible Ich (Ick)   Sun Feb 01, 2015 11:46 am

The scratching behavior does sound like a skin/gill parasite, maybe ich or maybe other protozoans or flukes (many possibilities). Salt is fine long-term for guppies, many other livebearers, and some cichlids. For soft-water fish like S.Amer tetras, rams, etc I's use salt for disease treatment but not for long-term maintenence. Flubendazole often works against a variety of different protozoan and worm parasites, including ich and velvet, and doesnt seem to depress the nitrifying bacteria. If your ammonia/nitrite/nitraye are staying at reasonable levels, i dont think 5 guppies in 5 gallons is too crowded (in terms of waste load), but I agree with Deb that they are active fish and a longer tank with more swimming space would be better.
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PostSubject: Re: Possible Ich (Ick)   Sun Feb 01, 2015 12:07 pm

Thank's Gerald,

  This is day #3 and the gup's are still scratching away...  I still see no signs of ich.  The fish are active, and bright colored and good appetite...all food was consumed this morning within a minute or two.  

   I hear conflicting opinions on the salt.  Kind of confusing as I'm new to the hobby.  I am doing 25% water changes and keeping the tank at about 80*.  

   One thing changed this morning...the water parameters.  pH is 7.2, ammonia is showing a tiny bit of green (API Master Kit), less than .25 ppm (I could be looking at it wrong as in different light it looks different).  Nitrite is 0 and now the Nitrate is 0???  Maybe the 25% water changes over the past few days have depleted the nitrates?  I am doing the test right (I know about shaking that bottle vigorously)...I did it three x's and still shows 0 nitrates.  

    This is only a 5.5 gallon tank and I had planned on this being my quarantine tank when I set up a bigger tank.  I have plans for a 75 gallon for my living room.  I wanted to do this test run on a small tank first to understand all that is involved in keeping tropical fish before I move to a large tank.

     I will continue to do the 25% water changes.  If within 2 more days the fish are still scratching then I feel I will make a move to try some sort of parasite medication.  I'm looking at the Victoria Green w/ Acriflavine as it says it covers several different parasites and that it does not disrupt the biological filter.  I'll wait and see how things go over the next couple of days.  

      I feel bad for these fish...that has got to be irritating to itch like that.  I'd do most anything to relieve/cure this if I only knew exactly what to do.....frustrating!

Many Thanks,
Dave
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PostSubject: Re: Possible Ich (Ick)   Mon Feb 02, 2015 10:42 am

Hey, Dave.  How are things today?  
I agree with Gerald in that all that scratching and flashing definitely means something is irritating the fish.  If you do not see the actual parasite for yourself - i.e., the white dots of Ich, a gill fluke hanging out of the gill cover, etc. - then I would go ahead and do the following:
1. Raise the temperature of your tank to 86dF over the course of a day and a half.  
2. Add one teaspoon of aquarium salt (not table salt), dissolved first in some warm dechlorinated water, to each one gallon of replacement water, when you do partial water changes (pwc's).  

This will be a safe and effective treatment for some aquarium parasites.  Even if it does not solve your problem, it will not hurt anything and you will have at least tried it.  Keep the temp elevated (you can even go a bit higher) for a few days and see how it goes.

Also, cut back on your feeding a bit during this time.  An ammonia level reading of any kind is a bad sign.  It might be due to overfeeding, which all of us do, so please cut back your food by one third.  Aquarium fish need much less food than we think they do.  The higher temps and extra O2 from the airstone are increasing their activity and appetites, but in fact they do not need more food.  

@Gerald wrote:
... I agree with Deb that they are active fish and a longer tank with more swimming space would be better.
*lol* Actually, I didn't say this.  It's the tetras, danios, and barb-types that need the long stretch of space.  In fact, I think the shape and footprint of the 5 gallon is fine for guppies, because of their swimming style.  They are up and down and all over the tank, picking on ornaments and gravel, so a small square is just as interesting to them as a long tank.  What I objected to with 5 guppies in 5 gallons is the small amount of water for that amount of fishload, but - as said - if you do your pwc's "assiduously" (*lol*) it might be fine.
Very Happy

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PostSubject: Re: Possible Ich (Ick)   Mon Feb 02, 2015 12:32 pm

oops ... looks like i mixed up the message with the fish ... sorry Deb

Salt: Kosher salt or pickling salt is fine too; doesn't have to say "aquarium" on the package.
And for that matter, the small amount of potassium iodide in iodized table salt is perfectly healthy for guppies and most other fish too. It's the anti-caking agents like prussuiate that are questionable in terms of health risk to fish.

"a gill fluke hanging out of the gill cover"  -- really Deb? I have never seen this.  Have you?


Last edited by gerald on Mon Feb 02, 2015 12:48 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Possible Ich (Ick)   Mon Feb 02, 2015 12:43 pm

@gerald wrote:
oops ... looks like i mixed up the message with the fish ... sorry Deb
*lol*

Quote :
Salt: Kosher salt or pickling salt is fine too; doesn't have to say "aquarium" on the package.
I know, but did you know that even Kosher salt now has an anti-caking agent added?  This is why I would rather stick to the "aquarium" salt - it is free of other ingredients.  

Quote :
"a gill fluke hanging out of the gill cover"  -- really Deb? I have never seen this.  Have you?
No, never.  Except in pictures.  But I wanted to give Dave an image to work with, and that was the best I could come up with.  It was your mention of gill parasites that did it. *lol*  

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PostSubject: Re: Possible Ich (Ick)   Mon Feb 02, 2015 2:07 pm

Hi Deb & Gerald,

   Thank's for checking in on me.  I do believe there is an improvement, not nearly as much scratching as there was yesterday.  I am upping the water temp by 2 degrees every 4 hours until I can get it to 86* and then hold it there and see how the fish react.  I will continue 25% water change and also begin to incorporate the salt (slowly) back in with those water changes.  I have a small container of aquarium salt so that is no prob.

    Water parameters are nearly perfect, pH 7.2, ammonia is clearly 0 today, nitrite 0, and I'm just barely showing any nitrates.  I think the nitrates fell to nearly zero because of the daily 25% water changes.  

     Through all of this, the fish have remained brightly colored and very active and are eating well.  Other than the flashing there has been no other symptoms of distress.  No ick spots have ever developed and I have watched the gills carefully...they are totally normal looking, no red, no slim, nothing out of the ordinary that I can see.

One other thing...I have put in an air stone to help oxygenate the water during this period of higher water temps.

      I'll let you know how the next couple of days go Smile

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Dave
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PostSubject: Re: Possible Ich (Ick)   Mon Feb 02, 2015 2:51 pm

Yes heat & salt would definitely be a good way to start, for any skin/gill parasite problems. And dont skimp too much on feeding with small fish like guppies. Good nutrition is crucial to immune system function. Just make sure they quickly eat whatever you feed them so there's no leftovers to rot and add to the ammonia load.

The gill fluke pictures I have seen they are tiny and embedded between the gill filaments - you need a microscope or at least a high-power hand lens to see them; certainly not long enough to be hanging out from the gill cover. Could you be thinking of anchor worms? (which are actually copepods, not worms).
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PostSubject: Re: Possible Ich (Ick)   Mon Feb 02, 2015 3:04 pm

Gerald....one thing about these guppies....they never lack for an appetite.  I really watch the amount of food I give them but I do believe they would eat 24/7 if I kept putting it in the tank Smile  When I come into my office in the morning they are always waiting in the exact corner of the tank where they know I put in the food!  Smart fish Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Possible Ich (Ick)   Mon Feb 02, 2015 4:16 pm

I am going to follow my usual pattern and offer some completely different advice. Take it or leave it and fellow members feel free to chime in.

#1 - There is such a thing as too many water changes and fooling around with parameters too much. I have been the most successful with a maximum water change routine of 50% once a week. Although once the tank is estabilshed, I do once every 3 weeks at about 60%. I have found that the crap that is in the tap water combined with the chemicals we use to treat the tap irritate the fish more than not.

#2 - You tank doesnt seem cycled. If you are showing any ammonia and zero nitrate, then I am skeptical that the tanke is cycled. The more water changes your do at this point, the longer your tank cycle will take.

#3 - I would not suspect ich until I saw the white spots on the fins. I think raising the temperature and adding salt to the tank may be causing more issues for a mis-diagnosis and stressing the fish. The temperature of the water doesnt not kill ich....it actually speeds up the life cycle. The salt kills the ich at one point in the life cycle process. So when you add the salt and raise the temp, the ich will go through multiple life cycles in about a week and the salt will hopefully kill it off more quickly.

My advice....relax and observe. If you dont have nitrates then your tank is not cycled, and I would wait until that process is complete before I bother with anything else. Sometimes the fish you buy from the LFS come with problems that are outside of your power to fix. Let things run their course and let time and patience be your guide. Once you pass about 2 -3 weeks after buying fish from the store and have a fully cycled tank, then I would look into taking action. You can save yourself a lot of time, money and frustration like this.

my opinion for what its worth.

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PostSubject: Re: Possible Ich (Ick)   Mon Feb 02, 2015 4:49 pm

Thank You, DDavis,  I appreciate your input.

The tank (I'm pretty sure) is cycled.  I had the 5 week period and the upswing in ammonia then nitrites and then nitrates...it leveled off finally with 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites and 5 to 10 ppm nitrates and I was doing one 20% water change a week (this is a very small tank).  Everything was consistent for a short period until this 'scratching' stuff starting happening.  

When I started doing the 25% water changes every day is when the nitrates fell.  I'm still seeing a trace of nitrates, and the ammonia and nitrite are 0.  I'm at the foot of the Blue Ridge and my well water is pretty awesome.  I really don't have to do anything much to it.  I do put in the water conditioner, but I don't have to worry about chlorine/chloramines.  The well water goes through no filters or softeners... pretty much drink it from the ground (deep well, 400+ feet).  It tests perfectly from the tap with a pH of 6.8, no ammonia, nitrites or nitrates.  

It's been nearly a week now since the flashing started and I have to do something.  My first course of action is a non-medicated approach using higher temperature and salt.  We'll see how that goes.

I understand the perils of getting overly excited about a situation and then start dumping every remedy and cure into the tank...before long I'd have a poisonous concoction for sure!  I'll move slowly and hopefully find the 'right' thing to do.

On an up-note...guppies are doing better today.  I have the temp up to 84* now with 86* as my target temp by tomorrow.  I'll begin the addition of salt this evening when I do the pwc.  

At this point I really don't think it's ich as (with the temps in my tank) would have expected to have seen the white sugar spots by now...but something is certainly making these gup's irritated.  

OK...will update tomorrow or the next day and tell y'all how it's going Smile

I REALLY appreciate everyone's posts...makes me feel like I'm not facing this alone Smile

Dave
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PostSubject: Re: Possible Ich (Ick)   Mon Feb 02, 2015 7:15 pm

Oooh if I had your house and perfect well at the foot of the Blue Ridge i'd do a darter tank.
http://web1.cnre.vt.edu/efish/families/percidae.html
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PostSubject: Re: Possible Ich (Ick)   Tue Feb 03, 2015 10:32 am

What is your substrate and decor and are you on city water or well water? could there be some heavy metals in your water?
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PostSubject: Re: Possible Ich (Ick)   Tue Feb 03, 2015 12:22 pm

Hi Beave,

   I have 1 1/2 inch of pea-size natural colored stone as substrate and a couple of medium size artificial plants and a few rocks...nothing fancy.

   I'm on the other side of Orange Co. from Fred.  I'm close to the Blue Ridge and have a well, my water quality is good so far as I can tell.  6.8 pH, and all the regular water test show 0 for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate (from the tap).  I have just ordered the GH/KH test kit so I will test my water for those readings when the kit comes.  I have no idea what minerals may be in this water.  My tank parameters this morning were 7.2 pH, 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 5 nitrate.

   This morning things are about the same.  Some flashing but not as bad as it was five days ago.  I have my water temp up to 85* and the fish seem absolutely fine with this.  I've also added a dose of salt to the tank.  All are active and eating well.  I'm beginning to wonder if they just have a nervous twitch about them Smile <just kidding...I know something is up with this scratching  scratch

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PostSubject: Re: Possible Ich (Ick)   Tue Feb 03, 2015 12:29 pm

It is my presumption that well water at the foot of the mountains would be very hard water. That being said, guppies thrive in hard water, so that should be a good thing. Additionally, if you do not have chlorine in your water, then I would also speculate that it may be more suceptable to parasites and bacteria that could irritate the fish.

There are certianly more mysteries than answers in this hobby Smile

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PostSubject: Re: Possible Ich (Ick)   Tue Feb 03, 2015 12:55 pm

I'm happy to hear some of the flashing has reduced. The water changes, heat and salt seem to be working for you. Water changes always seem to help. One thing about this hobby is that there is not any perfect method of doing things. I agree, there are many mysteries in this hobby and I have to add, advances too. It's a personal experience even from tank to tank... Neutral

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PostSubject: Re: Possible Ich (Ick)   Tue Feb 03, 2015 1:41 pm

Seems no matter how long you been in the hobby there is always more to learn. with the rocks you have in you guppy tank did you get them from a LFS or from a creek or river or any other place other than pet store? sometimes those rocks will have heavy metals in them. look for any rusty looking spots on your rocks, there is also a way to test for metals in rocks for aquariums but I'm not sure what that is but google will tell.
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PostSubject: Re: Possible Ich (Ick)   Tue Feb 03, 2015 1:43 pm

I'm a cheap bastard I get all my rocks and driftwood from the river
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PostSubject: Re: Possible Ich (Ick)   Tue Feb 03, 2015 1:55 pm

They came from the LFS, they are actually fake rocks made from resin.  I was tempted to get some rocks from the local streams as there are some beautiful smooth round rocks, all different colors in the creeks, but I thought as soon as I did I'd carry something into the tank.

I've never seen the darters here, but I have seen the small trout that live in pools in the mountain streams.  They are very colorful and about 4 inches long.  I've only seen these in the mountains in Nelson County.  I don't think many creeks/streams are clean enough to support a lot of the more sensitive native wildlife that use to flourish here.
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PostSubject: Re: Possible Ich (Ick)   Tue Feb 03, 2015 2:00 pm

Be careful Beave what you pull out of the Rappahannock!  I've seen the local-yokels on summer days hanging out at the river...God only knows what might be in that water lol!
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PostSubject: Re: Possible Ich (Ick)   Tue Feb 03, 2015 2:37 pm

I have a super long process of soaking driftwood and cleaning rocks and I do find some great rocks that have metals in them so they go to the backyard under the deck. I did see a monster koi in there last summer hanging out with some monster carp. floating on the upper Rapp is like floating on a giant aquarium. clear water and fish everywhere you look.
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PostSubject: Re: Possible Ich (Ick)   Wed Feb 04, 2015 12:37 pm

Good Morning Friends,

  I'm posting this with cautious optimism.  As of this afternoon there has been absolutely no flashing at all!!!!!  Tank temp shot up a little higher overnight then I wanted (it was 88* this morning) but the fish handled that fine.  I have now lowered it down to 84*.  Salt was added slowly.  I'm going to keep the temp at 84* for another two to three days and continue the 25% water changes.  

   I'm still not sure what parasite I'm dealing with, so I don't know if the beast has dropped from the fish and is still looming in the tank or just what.  My best hopes is the heat/salt treatments have speed up the life cycle and with continued higher temps/salt that it will kill whatever this is.

    Water parameters continue to be fine, fish are very active and eating very well.  Hopefully this ordeal is on it's way out Smile

Dave
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PostSubject: Re: Possible Ich (Ick)   

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Possible Ich (Ick)

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Central Virginia Aquarium Support :: Care and Reproduction :: Hospital-