Ick is a common disease affecting aquarium fish. It affects both fresh water and marine fish. Ick is also referred to as ‘Ich’ or more often ‘white spot disease’. The scientific name for Ick is ‘Ichthyophthiriasis’. It is a protozoan disease that causes a lot of discomfort in fish. The reality is that Ick causes more fish deaths than any other fish disease. It is therefore important for individuals who keep aquarium fish to try and prevent the disease from spreading among the fish.
The Ich causes irritation in fish since the protozoa penetrate the body through the cysts and immediately starts feeding on the skin and tissue. One will therefore be able to notice the symptoms portrayed by the fish such as lethargy and bottom sitting or rubbing against the sides and bottom of the tank. The most common symptom is the presence of white spots on the body and gills of the fish. Ich causes respiratory problems in fish and this eventually leads to the death of the fish.
Ick is a widespread disease in fish and therefore the fish have been able to develop immunity against this disease. Ick is however commonly caused by stress in fish. Stress in fish can be caused by many factors such as drastic changes in water temperature, change in water quality and bad diets. Another major cause of stress in fish is the shipping and handling process that fish go through before ending up in an owner’s tank at home.
The treatment of fish with Ick is however complicated since it is almost impossible to kill the Ick when it has penetrated through the cysts of the fish. The treatment available cannot penetrate through the fish and therefore treatment has to be undertaken through a different process.
One such treatment is raising the temperature of the water to about 800 F and using treatments such as formalin and malachite green. Raising the temperature quickens the rate of development of the protozoa in the water into tormites and this is the best stage to kill the protozoa.
Another method is to remove the fish and then raise the temperature of the tank to about 800 for about two days. This will quicken the replication of the protozoa into tormites. Once the tormites are mature they will lack fish to infect and they can only survive for a short period before they die. It is advisable not to introduce the fish back into the tank for an extra few days to ensure that all the Ick is dead.
Some preventive measures available are:
a) Purchasing healthy fish.
b) Maintaining good water quality at all times by regularly changing the water.
c) Purchasing fish direct from the source so as to avoid shipping and handling.
d) Placing new fish in a quarantine tank for a few weeks before introducing them to ones tank.
With these few preventive measures one can avoid infection of fish with Ick.