Common Name: Saltwater Ich, Marine Ich, White spot disease
Scientific Name: Cryptocaryon irritans
Cryptocaryon irritans parasites many marine fish, causing marine white spot disease or marine Ich. It is one of the most common causes of disease in marine aquariums. The disease is introduces by adding inhabitants to the aquarium and caries within the water from the fish store or seller. As the aquarium is a closed system, the disease can reproduce very fast and and infect many if not all the fish in the aquarium. Ich is not difficult to identify because of the characteristic white spots seen on the host fish. The white spots are 0.5-2.0 mm in size and have a tendency to appear first on the pectoral fins. As a result, infected fish may swim with folded or clamped fins. As the disease progresses, the spots will become more wide spread and the eyes of the infected fish may become cloudy. A secondary fungal infection may also appear on the skin. If the infection is concentrated in the gills or is in the early stages, the fish may show irritation, respiratory distress, and lethargy without having any visual spots. Some fish like the Tang are very susceptible to Ich. See below for the life cycle, prevention and treatment of Ich.
Life Cycle of Ich
Free Swimming stage– The Ich parasite swims around your tank looking for a host. If it can’t find a fish within 6-12 hours, the parasite dies of starvation.
Attachment – It finds a fish and attaches to the skin or gills. It stays put and feeds off the fishes body fluids for 4 days.
Encystment – The parasite drops off the fish. The cyst floats around the aquarium for up to 18 hours looking for a place to settle down.
Reproduction – The cyst begins to reproduce (by cell division) splitting about 9 times which produces roughly 500 baby parasites within the cyst. This can take up to 28 days.
Free Swimming stage – Same as the first one, The beginning of it. When the cyst breaks open, all the parasites start swimming around looking for a host.
And the cycle starts over again……
Common Opinion: BAD
The treatment is fairly straightforward provided the cause of the stress is corrected. By far, the most popular and effective treatment is copper, there are many commercial product that treat Ich, if used at the correct dose.It is important to note that copper is very toxic to invertebrates and some coral and can never be used in reef aquariums or aquariums with invertebrates. To ensure proper treatment, move the infected fish to an empty bare bottom tank that is isolated from the rest of the system. Other methods that are sometimes used to control Ich are high wattage Ultra Violet sterilizers and/or diatom filters to sterilize and/or remove the free floating Ich in the water column.
prevention is the best form of medicine, this can be more correct with dealing with Ich. All new fish should be placed in a quarantine tank for at least 2-3 weeks to make sure they are eating, free of disease, and are able to recuperate in a stress-free environment. This allows for proper treatment of any sick fish before they are introduced to the main aquarium. Quarantine tanks must be clean, appropriately sized with efficient filtration, and have proper water parameters. Provide adequate hiding places to further decrease fish stress, PVC pipes joints are most commonly used to provide the solution for hiding places. Stress reduction is shown to help greatly in the treatment of fish disease