White Spot ( Ich or Ick )

When you are at your aquarium store sometimes there are white spots on the fishes that they sell.

This is the most common disease that the tropical fishes carry which is also very easy to cure if it is diagnosed at an early stage.

Most of the time this white spot or ick is acquired by contamination of betta fish tank mates.

Be sure to check the tank mates to ensure that there are no white spots before purchasing it.

When you are adding any form of fish either a betta fish or any other fish be sure to acclimate.

Here is an informative article for you to understand fish acclimation.

Ick White Spot Causes

The white spot is a very common type of disease which is caused a by protozoan parasite.

It latches into the betta fish body, fins, and gills.

When you see it there are white spots on the fish, then it represents a small parasite per spot, this is very damaging to the fish.

If you see this in one of the fish then for sure everyone will be infected.

Normally when the betta fish is living in a cramped fish tank and poor water parameters, this will be most likely to contract this disease.

The whole betta fish tank needs to be treated for white spot ick.

You always have to have regular water changes and correct temperature so that this ailment would have contracted in the first place.

Ick White Spot Symptoms

The most obvious way to see if you betta fish has Ick white spots is very observing the betta fish when you are feeding him or her.

If there some white spot like tiny granules of salt or sugar attached to the body, fins or gills then they represent a parasite per white spot.

If there are too many of them then the betta fish had been suffering from the parasite and usually, the fins are clamped on the side and have difficulty in breathing.

You would have noticed too that the betta fish is constantly rubbing its body on the decors, plants, and objects inside the fish tank. The betta fish is trying to rub its body in an effort to dislodge the parasite that is attached to its body.

In some cases when you just ignore the case then the betta fish would lose its interest to eat.

If you leave it untreated there will be too many parasites feeding on the fish and there will also be a secondary fungal infection because of the wounds.

Ick White Spot Treatment

If you see that the betta fish has increasingly contracted a lot of white spots then you have to act fast or it will lead to rapid health deterioration.

If the betta fish is in a community tank then you have to presume that everyone inside the tank is also contaminated and need to be cured.

The parasite reproduces rapidly and has a life cycle of 7 days.

So we will be discussing the stages of the protozoa parasite.

Ick has three life stages, which is important for you to understand in helping how to eliminate this problem.

First Stage

When you the white spots on the body of the betta fish then this parasite is already fully grown trophont.

This trophont is buried under the mucous membrane of the betta fish and it is immune from any form of medication.

When you see the white spots to be a little bigger which is very visible then this had been feeding already for a few days which has swelled from its original size.

The parasite normally feeds for a few days and will turn into a cyst.

The cyst will eventually drop off from the fish as a tomont.

You will have noticed that the fish suddenly doesn’t seem to have the white spots on this stage.

Second Stage

The tomont will be swimming and it needs to attach to anything such as plant, decor, substrate, or glass.

When the tomont is swimming for several hours the medication will be very effective and if it is present in your fish tank then it can eliminate the parasite.

In case if the medicine did not work the tomont that is attached to the plant, decor, substrate or glass will begin the reproduction stage.

It will encyst and will be dividing. It this stage the parasite will be immune to any form of medicine or chemicals.

After a few days, hundreds of new organisms will be hatched from the cyst.

They will again be swimming and look for a host to feed.

Third Stage

At this stage wherein they are looking for a host is called thermonts or swarmers. Their job now is to find a new host or else they will die.

Sometimes it would be better to remove the betta fish and tank mates into another fish tank and just leave the infected fish tank for about two weeks without any fish or host.

Without any host to latch on then the thermonts or swarmers will eventually be eliminated from the tank.

With this in mind, the best solution is just to change 100% water on the tank to make sure that it is clean and sanitized.

But if you have treated it with medicine while the thermonts are looking for a host then this scenario will also work since they are vulnerable.

In case if you forgot to put the proper medicine in the tank and when the parasite latches again to a host and borrows deep then it will be immune to any form of medicine.

Problem is that every cycle of the parasite increases dramatically if it is left untreated. They will be hundreds more from the initial onset of infection.

The reproduction is exponential.

Treatment Protocol

The first stage where the parasite is called trophont on the fish which is buried under the mucous membrane of the fish cannot be eradicated since it is protected underneath the fish.

There are successful procedures that the trophont can be destroyed with salt baths.

There are also some tomonts ( stage 2 parasite ) which are latched usually at the bottom of the aquarium which is mixed up with the gravel.

The only way to kill the tomonts is to remove all the gravel and clean it by tap water and let it dry in direct sunlight.

Here are the methods of treatment.

Method 1

Medicine method. There is a lot of available medicine and the main ones are methylene blue, malachite green, formaldehyde.

There is specific medicine that is for Itch like Ickaway. There are so many of them but you have to look for the one that specifies ick or white spot disease.

Before registering any form of medicine. You have to run off your filter because the medicine will be useless with the activated carbon absorbing the medicine instead.

If you have an ultraviolet light, you have to turn it off too because it will render the effect of the medicine useless.

Method 2

Heating Method. This is the best method for your betta fish. Because they have a special organ which I have mentioned before called the Labyrinth which can enable them to breathe air on the surface.

If you use the heating method and if the fish is not equipped with Labyrinth organ, the fish will undergo tremendous stress and might not be able to survive.

The heating method is done by increasing the temperature of the water to 32 degrees Celsius or 89.6 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature has to be maintained for around 4 to 5 days to make sure that it will destroy the parasite.

If you apply heat the life cycle of the parasite will speed up.

In case if the betta fish is inside a community fish tank then adding an air pump or aerator will be beneficial so that the fish will not undergo stress and the chances of survival will be better.

As I have mentioned that the betta splendens natural habitat is tropical climate and naturally with a heat of 32 degrees Celsius is no problem. It just that you have also make sure the other fish tank mates occupants will not be affected by the high heat by using an air pump aerator.

Method 3

Aquarium Salt. For sure the salt will eliminate the parasite.

White spot has different strains and not all parasites are the same. Some are easy to eliminate and some require more salt concentration.

A lot of aquarists are successful is just using the 3 grams per liter but to absolutely certain that everything is destroyed then the 5 grams per liter is the best suited.

Here is a conversion format to help you in figuring out how many grams of salt to put.

Aquarium Fish Tank       
US GallonsLitersMeasurement LxDxHgrams of salt ( 5 grams per liter )
2.59.513 x 6 x 847.5
5.520.817 x 9 x 11104
10 (leader )37.920 x 11 x 13189.5
10 ( long )37.924 x 9 x 13189.5

This method again will kill some of your betta fish tank mates especially the livebearers’ species like guppies, mollies, platies, and swordtails.

This will also kill the live plant inside your betta fish tank.

To be on the safe side try only 3 grams per liter for seven days and hope that the white spot is gone and try to change the water every day about 25% for about 7 days until the water returns to its former parameters.

White Spot Ich Medicine Recommendation

White Spot Preventive Maintenance

Make sure to have regular 25% water changes to ensure that the water parameters are good.

When you buy plants and betta tank mates be sure that they are 100% free from the white spot.

Normally this parasite is present at very low levels and doesn’t cause any noticeable signs of a widespread invasion.

The fish caught in the wild habitat always carry s this white spot disease, it is just that the parasite doesn’t kill it hosts so that the cycle will repeat itself. If there are no fish in the wild then there will be no parasite.

In the wild, the parasite lives off the fish but doesn’t kill it so that it may survive many many cycles.

But in an aquarium ecosystem, the white spot normally gets out a hand and will eventually kill everything in the fish tank.

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