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The Loach Forum Archives (5)

Technical Q on ich treatment

Posted By: David Chapman <davfchap@hotmail.com>
Date: Monday, 31 March 2003, at 4:32 a.m.

I am a seasoned freshwater tropical fish curator, breeder, and sometimes, improviso veterinarian of some 30 years. I happened across your site via Google.com while reading through forums on recent treatment of Clown Loach ich. I got a real charge out of some of the studious humanitarian efforts shared in your forum.

I have various sized tanks in which I use distilled water, Melafix, a measured auto feeder, and phosphate-free regulators and buffers. I do not use salt because all my tanks are planted, except in the hospital tank. Each setup includes an Emperor 400 plus a Fluval 404 packed with Black Diamond, PhosGuard, and BioStars. I have never observed any measurable chloramines, nitrite, or ammonia. Phosphate levels are < 1% and nitrates < 10 ppm. GH and KH are in the moderate/ideal range. CO2 and O2 levels are within guidelines but vary widely with time of day/night, as expected in planted tanks. pH is very stable at 7.0 +/- .2, and shifts are always to alkaline. I use a clay substrate covered with Sahara sand, pea gravel, and back and white [uncoated] TopFin aquarium gravel for decoration. I research heavily, forums and manufacturer’s specifications of additives before treatment for water quality or medication of any kind. I maintain manuals and utilize available online calculators for all dosing. I allow moderate levels of various algae for color and texture but keep them in check by moving around the algae eaters [Flying Fox, SAE, and Hillstream Loach].

I have a 30 gal. freshwater with Lemon Tetras, Golden SAE, Rainbow Sharks, Banded Loaches, single Clown Loach and Paradise Gourami. I have an isolated single Clown Loach that was banging itself against the top of the 30 gal. tank, so I moved it to a 10 gal. planted tank [used for isolation of newly purchased fish] with 4 young Pristella Tetras, a young Rainbow Shark, and a young SAE. I rarely see the Clown Loach, as its territory is a rock cave surrounded by swords and ferns. Friday night she showed herself while I was feeding some treats of frozen algae and bloodworms to the occupants [a break from their flakes and pellet staples]. Saturday morning, I found her wedged between the feeder support and tank so that she could effortlessly poke her head out of the water to breathe. To my horror, she was covered from head to tail, top to bottom with ich. I quickly inspected all the occupants and discovered a very mild ich infestation of most of the other occupants. Clown Loaches are SO susceptible; they’re the first to really suffer. It’s a well-established tank and the only new addition was two java ferns that came out of another breeder’s community tank about 10 days ago. It was potted and I suspect I didn’t adequately clean the roots/soil that harbored spores. Java’s just do not tolerate bleach or salt to the point it is risky introducing them to a tank; it’s either that or potentially lose the plant. I always treat plants to kill snails but this tank was snail free.

I was up until 5 AM last night helping my loach make her way into a breeding net so that her trip to the surface is significantly reduced. She was swimming sideways [not unusual for loaches] and scrubbing against the leaves of the fern because the ich is driving her nuts. It’s 3AM now and I just checked her and fed her a few flakes. She is weak but holding on. I decided to boost the heat to 80oF and see if she gains any strength.

I treated the tank Saturday with Sodium Chlorite (NaCIO2) 3.35% pH=4.0, which is classified as a chlorite salt, however it is not a salt, it is a bleacher and microbial bactericide oxidizer. It is the form used in municipal [drinking] water treatment in some areas of the world, specifically Europe since the early 1900's. The reaction between ClO2¯ and natural organic matter (NOM) in raw water produces two other inorganic byproducts. These are ClO3¯ (chlorate ion) and Cl (chloride ion). THEREFORE, I want to neutralize the ClO3¯ and Cl ions but not CIO2¯. None of manufacturers of the Chlorite compounds have a clue if a chloramine water treatment compound would affect the medicinal properties of the remaining CIO2¯. However, any tank not using purified, deionized, RO, or distilled water would have required a chloramine conditioner prior to treatment with their product anyway. With a planted tank and fish waste, there is no doubt that these byproducts are present.

In addition, the pH shifted to from 7.0 to 6.8 and look like they will fall further to at least 6.4 by sometime Monday before Noon. I may have to adjust the pH very soon. Nitrates have increased from < 10 ppm to almost 30 ppm; not such a problem unless they continue to rise rapidly. This further supports NOM conversion to NO3, free N, and free Cl.

So, what am I worried about? All the appropriate filtration has been discontinued and I did a 25% water change just before I tre