Every aquarium owner will have to deal with ich at some point or the other. This disease is caused by a protozoan, and it affects freshwater and marine fish. Ich causes small white blisters on the fins and bodies of fish. It can even kill the fish if it is left untreated. Fortunately, we can stop ich from taking over a tank by disinfecting potential sources and clearing out existing parasites in the tank. For this, we should look at the other inmates in a tank. So, can aquarium plants carry ich?
Yes, aquarium plants can carry ich. They usually carry ich on their leaves, roots, and other surfaces. Aquarium plants can catch ich from contaminated water and then transfer it to existing fish in the tank. They can also introduce ich into a new fish tank when they are transplanted in the tank.
Although ich is a widespread and common problem affecting freshwater fish, you cannot take it lightly. Unless you take suitable steps to combat its spread, it can wipe out the entire fish population in a tank. To understand how to effectively control this problem, let us look at this disease in closer detail.
What Is Ich?
Ich is very common in freshwater and marine environments.
The parasite causing ich is a ciliated protozoan Ichthyophthirius multifiliis.
It reproduces very quickly and survives in almost any condition. Ich does not need a host to transmit the disease.
The trouble with the ich parasite is that it can survive on inanimate surfaces like glass and rocks.
So, it is almost impossible to eliminate completely.
Some experts suggest that ich exists in all aquatic habitats. Fish are in contact with the parasite at least once in their lifetime.
However, their immune systems can usually fight off the parasite or overcome the disease before it becomes too serious.
So, ich becomes a serious problem only when the immune system of a fish is compromised and unable to fight the parasite.
Unfortunately, fish in aquarium settings have lower immunity levels than those in the wild.
Since they are grown in captivity, they do not have the same exposure to infection-causing parasites.
Additionally, aquarium fish face greater stress, which makes them more vulnerable to diseases.
Another factor is that a fish tank is a closed environment in which infections like ich can spread rapidly and cause significant damage.
The tell-tale sign of an ich infection is the presence of white spots or blisters in the skin and fins.
It can spread over the body or clump together in one area.
However, ich can also produce other symptoms in a fish. Look out for the following symptoms to catch ich on time:
- Ich infects the fins and causes the fish to clamp it or press it against the body.
- Since ich affects the respiratory tract, the fish can have difficulty breathing. It may swim close to the filter to get more oxygen.
- Appetite changes are common in infected fish.
- Personality changes may also appear. Your fish may become quieter or more aggressive than normal.
Recommended Further Reading:
- Is It Cruel To Keep Fish In A Tank, Bowl, Or Pond? [Ethical Setup]
- Do Aquarium Fish Sleep? [How, How Long, And Where They Sleep]
- Is Aquarium Glass Tempered? [Why, How, And Benefits]
- Why Does An Aquarium Have Blue Light? [Does It Benefit The Fish?]
How To Prevent Ich From Taking Over An Aquarium?
We already saw that the ich protozoa are hardy and resilient.
Since it is easily transmitted through water, ich is very contagious.
Ich grows and matures in the body of the fish, causing significant damage during the process.
Once the parasite reaches maturity, it leaves the body of the fish and finds a spot in the tank where it produces thousands of offspring.
The new ich will float around in the water, looking for a host to attach.
It can survive in water for forty-eight hours, which is plenty of time to find a fish.
The vicious cycle continues, and all the fish in the aquarium are in danger.
Once ich appears in a tank, you must assume that all the surfaces and inhabitants have been contaminated.
So, getting rid of it can be tiresome.
Diligent fish owners will be able to spot the infection before it spreads.
In this case, it is easier to tackle ich by quarantining the infected fish and disinfecting the tank.
But even before that, you can prevent the possibility of ich to a great extent by controlling anything added to an existing tank.
The chances of ich appearing in the tank are high if you have introduced any new inmates like plants, snails, shrimp, or even other fish.
It can also come through gravel, soil, or rock added to a tank.
To reduce the possibility of it happening, quarantine any new plant, fish, or invertebrate for ten to fourteen days before adding it to the tank.
You should also make sure that you buy them from reliable and hygienic places.
How To Treat Plants With Ich?
When you buy new plants for your aquarium, always buy them from plant-only tanks.
This reduces the chances of the plants carrying the ich parasite.
Nevertheless, it is better to treat the plant before introducing it to a fish tank to avoid any risk of infection.
When you bring the new plant home, inspect all its surfaces to get rid of any hitchhiker pests.
Thoroughly rinse all parts of the plant to wash away any pests from the surfaces.
Take care to clean the roots and undersides of the leaves thoroughly where pests may lurk.
Experienced hobbyists use strong disinfectants like bleach and hydrogen peroxide for disinfecting plants.
However, avoid using them if you do not know how to handle them correctly.
You can use a potassium permanganate dip for your plants.
Put the plant in the dip for ten minutes. This should dislodge any ich parasites.
Keep the plant in quarantine for a few days before introducing it to the main tank.
Freely swimming ich cannot survive for too long without a host.
So, quarantining the plants reduces the risk of ich transmission.
Related Further Reading:
- Do Aquarium Plants Need Light? (5 Plants That Survive In Low Light)
- Why Do Aquarium Plants Die? [9 Main Reasons]
- How To Stop Aquarium Plants From Dying? (11 Different Ways)
- Do Aquarium Plants Need Soil? [5 Plants That Don’t Need Soil]
How To Treat Ich In A Tank?
Despite your best efforts, if ich appears in your aquarium, you should promptly take measures to eliminate it.
Here are the different things to do to get rid of ich.
1. Increase the tank temperature.
Freely floating ich parasites are killed by heat. However, you cannot raise the temperature of the tank without affecting the fish.
So, move all the fish from the tank and then increase the water temperature to 80°F.
Without a host to attach, the freely swimming parasites will die in three to four days.
2. Treat the infected fish.
By increasing the temperature, you can kill the ich which is present in the water or attached to surfaces.
However, it will not kill the parasites on the fish.
You will need medications that do not harm the fish. Some medications can produce adverse effects in certain species.
So, you should pay attention to this factor when choosing medicine.
Commonly used medicines include copper, aldehyde-based formulas, and herbal extracts like garlic juice.
Interesting Further Reading:
- Will Aquarium Salt raise pH? (Why Not And How To Adjust pH?)
- Is Aquarium Salt Safe For Shrimp? [Ghost, Amano, Cherry, Etc.]
- Do Aquarium Plants Need CO2? (Yes And No, Here’s Why…)
- 4 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Feed Fish While Treating for Ich
3. Use aquarium salt.
Aquarium salt is an effective remedy for ich that is not so serious.
When you add aquarium salt to an infected aquarium, it will kill many freely floating parasites by the process of osmosis.
This gives your fish a better chance of recovery.
Another benefit of aquarium salt is that it encourages the fish to recover their natural slime coat.
The mucous covering improves their resistance to infections and enhances their overall health.