Fish can suffer from various skin problems due to viruses, bacteria, protozoa or fungi. They can be a sign of more or less serious diseases.
Ick (Ichthyophthisis) is a contagious disease that manifests itself by white spots of about one millimeter in diameter. It is a protozoan that is involved but only in fresh water. Effective treatments are available in addition to increasing the water temperature.
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Can fish transmit ick to humans?
Don’t panic! Even if you dip your hands in the water of fish with ichthyophthisis, there is no chance for you to catch this disease. It is simple, the equivalent of this disease in humans does not exist, so it is naturally impossible to catch it.
How to detect white spot disease (ick) on fish?
Fishes show white spots of 0.5 to 1 mm first on the fins, on the whole body and then on the gills.
In this last case, the fish suffers from respiratory difficulties and can die quickly.
This parasite can cause important losses. Fish kept in good conditions are particularly resistant to ick and subsequently acquire immunity to re-infestation (i.e. they are protected against the parasite).
On the other hand, fish kept in poor conditions or weakened by injury or heavy parasitism are likely to succumb to the disease if not treated promptly (before too much gill damage has occurred).
How to treat ick on fish ?
Ick is only vulnerable at a certain stage of its development: when in its free form, out of the cyst that protected it, it looks for a host. If it fails to find one in the following days, it dies.
First, place your fish in a quarantine tank and leave the exhibition tank empty. The larvae of the protozoan, without a host, will die after three days.
In the quarantine tank, increase the temperature to that which is bearable for your fish. This will speed up the development of the parasite, so it will detach from the fish more quickly and fall to the bottom of the tank. After 12 hours, transfer the fish to a second quarantine tank. The parasites that have fallen to the bottom will not have had time to multiply and find a host.
Repeat the operation, cleaning and disinfecting the tanks between each transfer. The total disappearance of parasites can take several weeks depending on the water temperature.
You can also turn to anti-white spot medication. There are many brands and you can easily find them in pharmacies or pet shops. Be careful: not all fish can take them, especially those without scales. In this case, it is usually sufficient to divide the dose.
Whatever treatment you choose, prolong it for three days after the symptoms have completely disappeared to be sure that the disease does not reappear.
Providing good living conditions for your fish will always be the best way to prevent ick disease. Healthy, calm fish are more resistant to this parasite, so they often develop immunity and treatment is no longer necessary. Always remember to quarantine new arrivals, wash your aquarium and all your equipment regularly, monitor the temperature, …
How to prevent and avoid ick on your fish ?
The parasite is introduced into the aquarium either by purchased fish from infested ponds or by plants carrying cysts.
It is therefore necessary to respect a quarantine period of 4 days for the plants, in a tank without fish, so that the cysts mature, release the parasites and that the latter die. For newly acquired fish, a quarantine period of several weeks should be observed to see if the disease occurs and to be able to treat it if necessary.
It is possible to use preventive treatment products in the main tank if the disease occurs in some individuals: separate the sick individuals and treat them, and add to the tank product at the recommended preventive dose.
Finally, good and stable breeding conditions will, as always, result in healthy fish that are generally resistant to infection without treatment.