All You Need to Know About Aquarium Ich and How to Prevent It

Aquarium maintenance is always a must to ensure that your fishes habitat is healthy and beautiful. However, unexpected diseases may occur any time that we might fail to notice. When this happens, it’s always a best thing to quarantine fishes in a separate aquarium to avoid spreading the disease in the long run. But unfortunately, this may be impossible. You should accept the possibility that your fishes will catch a disease such as ich. Ich is one of the most common disease your fish will encounter inside the aqua life. In this article, we’re going to tackle what the disease is all about, how to prevent it and also the best ways to cure it.

What is Ich?

  • Ich is a very common disease that affects underwater life. Both freshwater and marine species are victims of the disease. However, invertebrates seems to be immune from it. Ich is not just your ordinary disease, it’s deadly and one of the reasons of death happening inside the aquarium.

So How Do We Identify Ich?

  • Ich are tiny white spots that appear in a fishes’ gills or even throughout their entire body. These white spots are about 0.5 to 1.5mm in size. When your fish have been caught by the disease, you’ll find them continuously scratching on rocks or any hard surfaces inside the aquarium. This is one of the early warning signs if your fish has the disease. And it doesn’t end there, your fish might experience lethargy, rapid breathing, and will generally look unwell. It’s better to quarantine your fish immediately if you spotted these early signs. Placing them in a separate aquarium can lower the risk of the disease to spread to other fishes.

What Causes Ich?

  • Colds in humans are almost the same with Ich on fishes. As humans, we experience stress, tiredness, and run down feelings which makes us vulnerable to diseases. This happens because your immune system is starting to dilute. The same happens to fish. Fishes that are introduced into a new aquarium can experience stress. Thus, making their immune system weak which makes them vulnerable to diseases too such as Ich. However, strong and healthy fishes are less likely to catch the disease. Because of this, it’s important to take good care of your fishes to prevent them from catching the disease.

What Are the Effective Ways to Cure Ich?

  1. Prevention

  • The saying “Prevention is better than cure” never gets old. Preventing Ich is one of the most effective way to avoid it from spreading across the aquarium. So how can we prevent ich? This can be done by a number of ways such as:
  • Using a quarantine tank – Having a quarantine tank is important so that you can store fish separately before putting them on your display tank. Store-bought fish often carry disease that we might never know. Even healthy looking ones can bring parasites and protozoans. Keep new fish quarantined for at least 2 weeks and ensure that everything is safe before putting them on your display tank.
  • Quarantine plants – Just like fishes, plants can also carry diseases into your aquarium. Before putting them on display, quarantine them for at least 3-4 days to keep your aquarium and its inhabitants safe.
  • Minimizing transport – This can reduce your fishes’ stress when introducing them in a new aquarium. Keep in mind that ich will happen because of stress.
  • Purchasing new fish – Always be mindful on purchasing new fish. Choose the ones that are in a healthy tank rather than the ones stored on a tank full of dead and diseased fish. If you spot a fish that are showing signs of iching, it’s better to avoid them and find another one.
  • Don’t overstock – Having plenty of fish is nice, but overstocking them is definitely a no go. Make sure that your fishes has room to breathe and keep their population at a reasonable number.
  • Change the water regularly – Keeping nitrates at a low level can reduce your fishes’ stress.
  • Buy plants from tanks without fish – If you’re planning on putting plants on your aquarium, select the ones that are from plant-only display tanks. There’ll be no signs of Ich when there’s no fish to be found. So choosing plants from a no-fish aquarium ensures you that these plants are healthy.
  1. Raise The Aquarium’s Temperature Level

  • Ich can’t survive in an aquarium with a high temperature. The disease’s metabolism speeds up along with the aquarium’s temperature. It’s highly recommended to increase the temperature to at least 86 degrees from its current state. However, increasing it to 90 and beyond is not advisable since some tropical fishes can’t live longer than 86 degrees. So it’s better to check and ensure your fishes can survive before raising your tank’s temperature level.
  • Also, increasing the temperature no more than 2 degrees every 12 hours is recommended. When you’re satisfied with your selected temperature, keep it at this level for at least 2 weeks. After this time period, slowly reduce the temperature back to its normal state.
  • So what are the advantages and disadvantages of increasing the temperature? Here are some of them:


  • Ich don’t last long in high temperatures, making them far more easier to remove from the aquarium.
  • Although some fishes may be affected by high temperature, a majority of them won’t be affected. Make sure to gradually increase the temperature from time to time.
  • Can be easily done without removing your fishes.
  • Efficient and wallet-freiendly.


  • Unhealthy fish inside your aquarium might experience stress when heating the temperature.
  • Raising temperature levels won’t kill Ich instantly, but can only speed up their life cycle. In order to remove ich completely from the aquarium, it’s better to take out the carrier of the disease and raise the temperature up to 96 degrees for at least 2 days.
  • It requires constant monitoring both on your aquarium and fish. For some, this may be impossible.
  1. Using Commercial Medications

  • When hope is lost, this is the time to cling on medication. But before that, there are 3 things to remember before using such medications.
  • Never medicate your display tank – Always remember to transfer all your fish to a quarantine tank before medicating. The chemicals from the medication will stay for an ample amount of time in the aquarium. That’s why it’s essential to use a quarantine tank since some medications are dangerous to plants and anaerobic bacteria. Not just plants, it’s also dangerous to invertebrates since some medications contain copper which is deadly for them. Take time to read up online instructions how to properly medicate your aquarium.
  • Be mindful of the medication’s instructions – Don’t just randomly put stuff on your aquarium. To ensure that everything will go well, always take time to read the instructions and use a calculator to work out the required dosage. Never overdose your aquarium as it may harm the fishes. Do hourly intervals on spreading the dosage to see if there are any negative effects during lower concentrations.
  • Remove carbon and other chemical absorbers away from the filter – Carbon and other filter devices will absorb the chemicals from the medications, making them useless. Before anything else, be sure to remove all kinds of chemical filtration on your tank before adding the medicines.
  • Now that we’re done with the 3 things to keep in mind before adding medication to your aquarium, it’s time to know what kind of medication is recommended for curing ich.
  • Garlic Guard – This is essential for fish that’s having trouble consuming their food or the ones who don’t experience hunger. The smell of garlic acts as a natural diet enhancer that should help them eat whatever disease they might have.
  • Kordon Rid Ich – This is the most popular ich exclusive medication due to its “two powerful medications” that are base from formalin. This results to the medicine being powerful and deadly at the same time. Using such strong medication should be handled with care to ensure your fishes are safe.
  • ParaGuard – This one contains aldehyde, making it less toxic compared to other medications. However, ParaGuard is not exclusively made to cure ich. Medications such as these are made for different purposes which makes them the perfect all-in-one disease fighter.

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