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White spot is a common and stubborn fish disease caused by a parasite called ich, something most fish keepers will have to deal with sooner or later.
What starts as little specks on one fish can quickly spread through the tank in a couple of weeks, and cause havoc for an extended minute.
Regrettably, the misinformation in the hobby (or lack thereof) do little to help the situation.
But one thing that most fish keepers can agree on is that there is no magic-ward treatment that’ll work without other intervention, including temperature regulation, using aquarium salt, and sometimes even adding garlic in your fish’s diet.
It’s also agreeable that a fish may recover from ich without treatment.
In this case, ‘treatment’ meaning the use of ich medicines such as Ich X and Melafix, and other chemicals.
But to achieve this, you must continually tweak the condition of your aquarium (as stated in the paragraph before), and improve your fish’s diet to help them fight the disease.
Fish can also develop resistance to the parasite after the initial exposure, though many more do not acquire complete protection and will continue to harbor small numbers of ich, which poses a constant threat of another outbreak.
To combat subsequent infection, eliminate any stressors in your fish tank as stressed fish are more susceptible to infections.
It’s also important to note that there are no known medicines that kill ich while on a fish’s body, most remedies only work when the ich leaves the host, and rest in the water column.
As such, a cyclic remedy schedule is encouraged.
Please read on for more insight on remedies and treatment of ich in aquarium fish.
How Long Can Fish Live With Ich
I do not think there is one right answer to this question because different fish tanks have varying environments, some of which promote ich development more than others.
Also, how speedily you intervene once you notice white spots on your fish, plus how potent the remedies you apply are, is what determines how long it will take your fish to heal or succumb.
Following the life cycle of ich, and being able to target the parasites while they are most vulnerable will also help to defeat the ensuing disease on time.
Generally, each ich parasite grows on a fish in varying sizes, some of which you can see with you naked eyes and others that you can’t. Those you can see will manifest as white dots mostly on one fish during the first wave, then present on more fish on subsequent cycles…
…but some hobbyist argue that the white spots are not the parasites but the damage caused on a fish’s skin as the boring-pest feed.
Either way, the parasites stay on a fish body for 5-6 days, then drop into the water, where they multiply exponentially and start looking for a fish to attack for the next 2 to 3 days.
It is during this period (when free-swimming) the parasites are most vulnerable.
So, assuming you do not want to use chemicals in your tank, increase the water temperature, add salt, and do regular water changes within this period to eliminate the parasite.
The remedies need to be applied continuously for 5 to 10 days, to ensure you get the parasites at least once while most vulnerable.
Please note that with subsequent rounds of ich infections the number of parasites continues to increase, and each wave becomes deadly than the first.
As such, aim to nip ich in the bud, catch the diseases during the first or second wave before you fish are severely infected and their immunity compromised.
Ich stays on a fish body for 5 to 6 days before it drops into the water. Healthy fish can sustain several waves of infection with remedies and treatment. However, if left unresolved and with compromised immunity or if stressed, your fish might start dying within a week and two of a severe infection.
How Long Does Ich Last After Treatment
The complete lifecycle of ich lasts about three weeks, so if you catch it during the first wave and treat it, your fish should be healed within a month or so.
However, do not believe that just because the white spots have disappeared that your fish is well, the specks can be removed by scraping or by cleaners without affecting the parasite below.
For that reason, keep treating your fish a while longer, after the spots have disappeared. Also, remember to maintain the water in excellent condition and feed your fish a healthy diet.
Making sure your fish is not stressed also goes a long way to keeping ich at bay.
Can Fish Ich Spread to Humans
Ornamental fish are an ideal alternative for people with pet allergies more so to dogs and cats. However, fishes also carry germs and allergens some which might potentially affect human beings.
That said, although fish can cause ailment that can make people sick, including ich, illness due to aquariums are rare.
By giving routine care to your fish and tank, as well as following some simple health tips, you are less likely to get sick from touching, feeding, or owning aquarium fish. see reference
Happy Fish Keeping.