White spot disease (also commonly known as Ick disease) is a protozoan disease caused by the single-celled parasite that only stays with the host for a small portion of its life. This parasite is able to swim and will attach itself to the host and penetrate the outer layer of the fish, in which the immune system produces a white spot where the parasite lies. This disease may sound difficult to cope with, however there are many ways to prevent and completely treat this parasitic disease.
The main cause for white spot disease is a drop in the water temperature, this can be from various situations such as a failure in the canister or HOB filter you have or putting cold water in the tank by accident. It can also be caused by a dramatic change in their environment that causes their stress levels to rise, this can include adding a large amount of fish into the tank, poor transport and acclimatization.
The early stages of white spot disease can be easily missed due to them having only one or two unnoticeable spots, when the disease develops it can cause:
- Visible white spots all over the body, some fish may only develop a small amount
- Gasping to breathe at the surface
- Severe scratching on rocks, gravel and any sharp objects in the tank
Prevention and Treatment:
The main form of prevention starts with good general care and maintenance, not providing your fish the appropriate food, space and water temperature will cause several issues to arise, not just white spot disease. Monitoring your tank by doing temperature checks will allow you to identify any changes in the water and act immediately – a drop in the water temperature will encourage the parasite to flourish. Check and moniter the water temperature by using a good aquarium thermometer.
If your fish if suffering with white spot disease, understandably you will be looking for ways to treat it, here’s 3 simple ways to ensure the treatment of white spot disease:
- Raising the water temperature – This can be done in several ways depending on how your aquarium works, it could be through using a heated light, adding warmer water when doing a water change, or simply raising the temperature on the aquarium heater if it is accessible. As these parasites thrive in cooler waters, raising the temperature will immediately help to kill them, and as their life cycle is only 4 days, after 4 days of increasing the temperature, the infestation should be pretty much cleared.
- Removing your fish from the tank – Even though this might seem like a drastic measure, placing your fish into a temporary tank will cause the swimming parasites to die after 48 hours, as this is how long they live without being attached to a fish. This is a great way to ensure the existing parasites are gone and you can proceed to change out the water until all are removed. During this time, your fish living in the temporary tank (with raised water temperatures) will be on their way to getting rid of the existing parasites that are already attached to them.
- Remedial treatments – Along with the previous two suggestions, parasitic treatments can be put into the water to attack the disease, here are some affordable and effective treatments for white spot disease:
API Super Ick Cure
The API Super Ick Cure is made specifically for White Spot Disease and is known to treat the fish quickly without any side effects, this medication kills the parasite within 24 hours of using it and is to be used in freshwater and saltwater aquariums.
This product is not suitable for reef aquariums.
Kordan Malachite Green
This white spot disease treatment tackles both external parasites and fungal infections, so this treatment can be used to treat a number of health issues including parasites, mouth fungus and fin rot.
Tetra White Spot Disease Ick Guard
The Tetra Ick Guard are small tab forms that are so effective there is no need for raising the water temperature in the aquarium, however this can still be done as a preventative measure. This treatment is also made specifically for treating White Spot Disease and is known to have positive results.Tetra Ick Guard