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View Full Version : My betta has Ich... sigh.



cathy_n
07-24-2008, 02:21 PM
I have a few questions for any people who have successfully battled Ich in bettas. But first, let me tell you what I have done.

I noticed yesterday that my beloved betta has tiny little white specks scattered rather randomly over his body. Maybe ten of them. So, not a huge outbreak, and he's still eating, but I'd like to cure him before he gets too sick to recover. I believe the Ich came in on some pre-soaked driftwood I got from my local pet store. The owner is so picky about the health of his fish (he hand selects each one and carefully quarantines them) that I never even considered his tanks would have a speck of disease in them.

My betta lives in a 2.5 gallon tank with:
a) live plants
b) a snail

Therefore, I moved him over to a small hospital bowl for treatment.

I've placed the bowl in the warmest part of the house, where it will stay around 74F. As much as I love this fish, I really cannot afford a whole second aquarium setup to cure a single outbreak of Ich. I will be doing daily water changes until he is back in his tank. I could add warm water at that time, but that's about it.

I am aware of the heat + salt method of curing Ich, but the "heat" part is not something I can do right now.

I also know the lifecycle of the Ich parasite, so I know that I can't kill the parasite until it's free-swimming and looking for a host.

So now the questions:
a) Snails can't get Ich, can they? I want any parasites in the main tank to die over the next week because they can't find a host.
b) Is there a cheap way I can keep a 1/2 gallon bowl a little warmer without roasting my fish?
c) How much salt? He's already in water that has 1/2 teaspoon salt per gallon. If I increase the salt to 1 tsp per gallon, will that kill the Ich when it drops off and reproduces? How much salt is enough?
d) Which medication puts the least stress on the fish? Formalin/malachite green/copper sulfate/some combination?

Thank you in advance for any help! :19:

cathy_n
07-25-2008, 03:02 AM
Okay so, I answered some of my own questions for now.

a) Snails can't get Ich. So the snail will get the 2.5 gallon tank all to himself while I treat the betta in a separate bowl.
b) I could try putting an incandescent lamp next to it. It's already in the warmest place in the house (a place where hot air accumulates) and at a steady 74F.
c) I'm slowly transitioning him to 1 tsp salt per gallon of water.
d) I got a bottle of Quick Cure, which is malachite green and formalin. I bought it because it has dosing per gallon instead of forcing me to divide up a ten gallon dose.

The poor boy is showing more spots, which means the parasites are growing. I hope they drop off soon and start succumbing to the Quick Cure. I gave him a 50% water change today and sucked all the glurp off the bottom of his bowl with a turkey baster. He's in a darkish corner so the sun doesn't destroy the malachite green.

I will continue to give him 50% water changes along with doses of Quick Cure every three days for twelve days (4 treatments). The dosing instructions on the bottle assume you can cure Ich in two days. Not a chance!

As http://fins.actwin.com/articles/disease/ick2.php says:

Disregard The Instructions On The Bottle!!!!! Use the dose written on the bottle, but treat like this: Treat every 3 to 4 days for 4 treatments, changing 50% of the water before every treatment. Do not treat once or twice, like the directions will tell you! You need to treat over 12 to 16 days in order to get all the little guys when they are vulnerable. (See life cycle diagram for explanation)

I hope this works!

Mvjnz
07-25-2008, 04:45 AM
When my betta had ich I used the heat treatment, no salt, and it worked very well.

Seeing as you can't do that I'd go for the medication you get at pet stores. I wouldn't bother with the salt. It's not gonna kill the parasite, but it might reduce the stress on your betta. For salt to kill the parasite you'd need a very high concetration in a small container and give your betta a 30 minute 'bath' in that container, before moving him back to water with no salt. The reason he could only stay in it for 30 mins is because the salt concentration would have to be so high that he can't live in it.

kaoticice
07-25-2008, 10:53 AM
Okay so, I answered some of my own questions for now.

a) Snails can't get Ich. So the snail will get the 2.5 gallon tank all to himself while I treat the betta in a separate bowl.
b) I could try putting an incandescent lamp next to it. It's already in the warmest place in the house (a place where hot air accumulates) and at a steady 74F.
c) I'm slowly transitioning him to 1 tsp salt per gallon of water.
d) I got a bottle of Quick Cure, which is malachite green and formalin. I bought it because it has dosing per gallon instead of forcing me to divide up a ten gallon dose.

The poor boy is showing more spots, which means the parasites are growing. I hope they drop off soon and start succumbing to the Quick Cure. I gave him a 50% water change today and sucked all the glurp off the bottom of his bowl with a turkey baster. He's in a darkish corner so the sun doesn't destroy the malachite green.

I will continue to give him 50% water changes along with doses of Quick Cure every three days for twelve days (4 treatments). The dosing instructions on the bottle assume you can cure Ich in two days. Not a chance!

As http://fins.actwin.com/articles/disease/ick2.php says:


I hope this works!

Yup keep it away from the light and don't forget to aerate the water. You pretty much nailed everything else.

Gemstone
07-25-2008, 11:00 AM
apart from the heat treatment which u indicated u could not do...can;'t fault anything...

cathy_n
07-25-2008, 05:37 PM
Thank you both for your input. Let's hope my betta has a speedy (well, two week long) recovery!

cathy_n
07-29-2008, 02:24 PM
Update: My betta broke out in a great number of spots, say 50 or so. Many have since dropped off.

He is still in his hospital bowl, soaking in Quick Cure and 1 tsp/gal aquarium salt. I suck all the glurp off the bottom during his 50% water changes, and it's rather surprising to see how much junk a single fish can produce when they are in a bowl with no gravel and being fed sparingly. A lot of it is transparent, which makes me wonder if his slime coat is shedding more quickly than normal in an attempt to get rid of the parasite.

He still has a few visible spots, so his quarantine continues...

kaoticice
07-30-2008, 07:54 AM
I'd really never observed it in detail. But it could be possible theory about the shedding scales.

cathy_n
08-01-2008, 06:42 PM
Update: I haven't been able to see any spots on him for a few days now. He will have one more treatment and then spend an extra few days in quarantine.

I wound up changing my method of treatment, so I'll post it here in case any other members need to treat a single betta for Ich.

I used QuickCure, which is a mixture of formalin and malachite green. I know everyone gets very excited about how awesome heat + salt is, but I did not have the equipment to properly do such a treatment. I chose to use medication.

QuickCure claims to treat Ich in two days, but this is not really true. Also, their dosing instructions are not very good. I chose to ignore them.

Setup:
I moved the betta into a hospital bowl which holds about 1/4 gallon of water. I filled it with water from his original tank to start. No substrate to harbor Ich cysts. No heater, so I kept him in a warm, relatively dark location at a steady 74F. No direct sunlight (this will prematurely destroy the malachite green).

Dosing:
I mixed up a gallon jug of water to use for his treatment. I added the regular water conditioner, then I added 1 tsp of aquarium salt and 2 drops of Quick Cure.

Why? The dosing instructions on the label say 1 drop per gallon, but those instructions assume you will be doing a 50% water change with plain water and then adding more QuickCure to an aquarium that already contains 50% of the previous treatment. If you plot that math curve out, the final dosage over time approaches 2 drops per gallon because you take 50% of the treated water out and then add another full dose every time you treat.

Say you start at 1 drop per gallon. Take out 1/2 gallon of the water. Add 1/2 gallon of plain water. Now add 1 drop per gallon. The gallon now contains 1.5 drops. Do that again the next day. The gallon now contains 1.75 drops. And so on.

As you can guess, this starts to get to be a pain in the rear when you're trying to add a quarter of a drop of a highly-staining (and potentially carcinogenic) medication to a 1/4 gallon bowl. Instead, I treated a full gallon jug of water with 2 drops and used that water to perform 50% water changes. This had the benefit of slowly increasing the amount of QuickCure and salt in his little bowl.

Days 1-10:
Every other day, starting on the second day, I sucked 50% of the water out of the bowl with a turkey baster. This is important, because you want to remove all the organic debris at the bottom (hence no substrate). I then replaced the removed water with water from my treated gallon jug. Five treatments = 10 days. At 74F, I think this should be enough treatment time, especially since most of the cysts dropped off on day 6. When all the cysts dropped off the fish, there was a lot of organic junk in the bottom of the bowl. I can only assume that all that debris was a mixture of cysts, poop, and slime coat.

The bottom of the bowl stays much cleaner now that he has no more visible cysts.

Days 11-14:
After that, my plan is to mix up a gallon of plain, low-salt water and do 50% water changes on his bowl every day for four days. This will gradually reduce the medication left in the water and the salinity of the water back to his regular tank levels. If he doesn't show any more spots after day 14, I will put him back in his tank. His tank has been sitting empty all this time at 80F in order to make sure all the Ich in it dies for lack of a host.

Now repeat after me: quarantine your driftwood if you bought it pre-soaked from a pet store. I don't care if you're excited to see it in your tank. Don't be an idiot like me. That is all. :ssad:

GouramiGal
08-01-2008, 09:46 PM
Wow Cathy, that's very detailed. Nice work, and thanks! :19:

nwnittany
08-01-2008, 10:08 PM
Cathy,

Very informative post...:19:

LosC
08-02-2008, 06:53 AM
The hospital bowl was a bad idea, stressed him out even more. Also, frequent large water changes in a bowl will stress him out more. IF you don't see spots on him it's cuz the eggs hatched and they've become free swimmers, continue treatment. You should have treated the tank with heat, 83F worked for me, killed off all the ich over a period of 2 weeks without any meds or salt.

I wouldn't recommend using a bowl as a hospital, its a small cold place for him and the temp is almost never stable.

After he gets through this consider getting him a 5g where he will be more comfortable.

cathy_n
08-02-2008, 05:43 PM
Every other day, starting on the second day, I sucked 50% of the water out of the bowl with a turkey baster.

I just wanted to add: If you use a piece of equipment that is shared between aquariums like a turkey baster or a fish net, rinse it well in tap water and let it dry out thoroughly between each use. Drying out should kill the Ich parasite.

Also... thank you to everyone who helped me figure out how to treat my fish and thank you especially for the kind words about my writeup. :fish:

cathy_n
08-02-2008, 06:25 PM
The hospital bowl was a bad idea, stressed him out even more. Also, frequent large water changes in a bowl will stress him out more. IF you don't see spots on him it's cuz the eggs hatched and they've become free swimmers, continue treatment. You should have treated the tank with heat, 83F worked for me, killed off all the ich over a period of 2 weeks without any meds or salt.



Respect other peoples way of doing things. This is fish keeping and there is always more than one "right" way to do things. Do not argue and try to make it seem like yours is the only "Right" way. Acknowledge that other methods that have been posted works as well when your post your way. If you think someone give erroneous advice, say so politely and then say why.

I quoted the rules above because I feel as if you are saying I did everything wrong and should have done it your way instead. I did everything I could using the limited means at my disposal. I did a lot of research about Ich lifecycles at specific temperatures. I did a lot of research about various Ich treatments. I did research on how best to keep a betta in a small container for a short period. Fish stores do it all the time, after all. I tested the water and monitored the temperature and observed my fish for signs of stress. His coloration is bright, he is active, and his water quality is high.

Throwing more money and equipment at the problem was not an option for me. Please try to consider what each individual already knows and has available to them when you offer advice, especially when you are criticising.

Thank you.

cathy_n
08-03-2008, 01:56 AM
Setup:
I moved the betta into a hospital bowl which holds about 1/4 gallon of water. I filled it with water from his original tank to start. No substrate to harbor Ich cysts. No heater, so I kept him in a warm, relatively dark location at a steady 74F. No direct sunlight (this will prematurely destroy the malachite green).

I also wanted to mention that, if I had it to do over again, I'd use a bigger bowl, at least a gallon. While I tested the water daily and fed sparingly, it had the potential to become a very toxic situation for my fish. For those without testing kits (the average betta owner), a bigger hospital bowl could be the difference between life and death for the poor betta. The local craft stores often have clearance sales on glass bowls and vases that would be considerably cheaper than the pet store's options ($5 versus $20).



Days 1-10:
Every other day, starting on the second day, I sucked 50% of the water out of the bowl with a turkey baster. This is important, because you want to remove all the organic debris at the bottom (hence no substrate). I then replaced the removed water with water from my treated gallon jug.

Another poster said I should not do this because 50% water changes are stressful for the fish. Recommendations on this vary. There are dozens of QuickCure tutorials on the web detailing steps that worked for particular people. Some people treat their tanks, some use a hospital tank, some use a hospital bowl. Some people dose every day, some dose every other day, some dose every few days. The number of fish involved, the types of fish involved, and the temperature of the water all influence the course of treatment. Some fish can't handle a full dose of QuickCure. Fish at 74F will have a slightly longer Ich lifecycle than fish at 80F. Etc.

Since my betta was in a small bowl and being treated over a longer duration than recommended, I chose to worry more about lethal ammonia buildup and less about transient water-change stress. If he had been in a bigger bowl, I probably would have chosen to do 25-30% water changes between each treatment instead of 50%. I always made sure the new water was the same temperature as the water in the bowl to avoid as much stress as possible.

It seems like even writing a simple post about how I am treating my betta for Ich isn't immune to the need for revision and further explanation. Perhaps when all this is finished I will write it all up in one place.

Thanks for getting this far!

LosC
08-03-2008, 03:46 AM
Personally, nothing should be kept in a bowl. Also, I'd never go by what LFS's do or say because they are there for the profit not the quality of life of the fish.

GouramiGal
08-03-2008, 04:05 AM
Cathy, you should definitely continue to post and also make 1 final document. I know I have read your posts with great interest. I'm sure I will use it as a guide when I run into trouble!