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Fish/Ich breakout - recovery



I have a 20 gallon tropical tank.  Using a Aqueon filter appropriate for the tank size.  Was keeping 2 Green Barbs, 1 Zebra Barb, 1 Dwarf Guarami, 1 Pleco Catfish and 1 Panda Cory.  Also, 2 Mystery Snails.  Left on vacation on a Friday, tank temp @ 79 - all seemed well (all fish but Guarami were fairly new within the month).  Came home on Sunday night to all Barbs and Cat dead.  Guarami died next day, began Kickich treatment and lost Panda three days later.  Pretty confident this was case of ich due to my online diagnosis re: appearance of fish.

Currently, on day #7 of Kickich treatment.  Snails still going strong.  No carbon in filter.  Temp 79.  

Should I continue Kickich treatment?  What kind of water change should I do?  Thinking ich eggs could be on snail shells...Should I move the snails or will the ich "eggs" eventually die?  Will this erradicate ich completely?  Husband thinks I should empty the tank, bleach it and start from scratch.

Can you help me know where to go from here?  When to add a new fish?  How long til ich is gone for good...and would that happen on it's own now that there are no "hosts"?


ANSWER: Hi Cindy,
 Hmm....  if it was ich, the fish would have been covered in little white dots, sort of like they were coated in icing sugar.  Ich usuually doesn't kill things so quickly so I am a little concerned that something else happened.  Basically ich has about a 7 day life cycle. For much of that it is in a hard "cyst" stage (the little white dots) and no medicine, despite what they say, can penetrate those. After a few days, they hatch, and that is when the ich is vulnerable to treatment. So, if you treat for 7 days, you should be covered.  

 If you want, you can do the bleach thing, just to be sure.  If you go that route, make sure to rinse the tank REALLY well afterwards to get rid of all traces of bleach. I then typically let the tank sit dry for 2 or 3 days before refilling it.  

-- Ron C.
   Cichlid Research Home Page <>

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QUESTION: Thank you for your help!  I really appreciate it since I'm new at this.  I think I'll skip the bleach treatment since I don't really want to re-cycle the tank again, if you think that's OK.

If this was some other kind of illness (although I did see white spots all over the Guarami, plus a "chewed away looking" area on his side - the cat and barbs were all fuzzy and white and seemed also to have holes eaten into their sides), would you agree that it would be OK to complete the ich treatment just in case and then to assume the tank will be ready for new fish?

You didn't address the snail question, so I'm assuming that whatever "cysts" could possibly be on their shells, would be dead by now since there have been no fish hosts in the tank for 2 weeks. yes?

Thank you!!

Hi Cindy,
  It was fine to complete the ich treatment, and anything on the snails should be gone.  I am concerned about the "chewed away looking" area... hmm...  that could have been one fish chewing on another but it is really hard to say from here unfortunately.   

-- Ron C.
  Cichlid Research Home Page <>


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Ron Coleman


I am an expert on cichlid fishes, particularly New World cichlids. My broader expertise includes the behavior, ecology and reproduction of fishes in general. (I am NOT an expert on Goldfish). Please do not use abbreviations, such as "my GT has a swollen eye" because I don't know what a "GT" is. The more clearly you can explain your question, the better chance I have of understanding what it is that you seek. I keep fishes both as a scientist and as a hobbyist and I currently maintain about 140 aquariums.


I am an Associate Professor at the California State University, Sacramento in the Department of Biological Sciences, and I run a website, called the Cichlid Research Home Page . I also write for many popular aquarist magazines, and I was editor of Cichlid News magazine for several years. I am a scientist and I spend my time teaching fish biology, ecology, behavior and evolution and doing research on the reproductive biology of fishes, particularly cichlids. I do research in the laboratory and in Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Mexico. My main interest is understanding the evolution of parental care in fishes. I am interested in encouraging greater public awareness, understanding and participation in science.

Cichlid News, Tropical Fish Hobbyist, Freshwater and Marine Aquarium, Science, Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology, Copeia, Canadian Journal of Zoology, Trends in Ecology and Evolution, AUK, Environmental Biology of Fishes

PhD (Toronto, 1993) MSc (Simon Fraser, 1986) BSc (British Columbia, 1983)

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