Marine Ich Outbreak

The value of quarantining cannot be overstated, especially when a tank becomes compromised from an unknown source.

I am just devastated. Last week, after I posted the blog about our goby visiting the cleaner shrimp, I got to thinking. Why would he start accepting cleanings now? I took a really close look at the goby and saw what I feared: white spots. Then I scanned the rest of the fish and two more also had spots. Unfortunately, we’re fighting our first marine ich outbreak.

We have been guilty of the bad practice of not quarantining our fish before putting them in the tank. It’s sheer luck that we managed to go almost four years without ever dealing with this parasite. What’s strange, though, is we have not added a new fish to the tank in a long time (more than six months), and I am scratching my head over how this could have happened.
The fish are not doing well. Last night, we lost the goby. That was hard. Our royal gramma looks really bad off and is not eating. I don’t expect him to make it, although I am hoping. The tomato clown is eating and looks better that the gramma, but she’s obviously sick. Surprisingly, our coral beauty looks 100 percent healthy — she has no visible spots, and is active and eating well.

I know there are a variety of opinions out there about how best to treat ich. My husband and I have decided to treat the fish with a copper-based medication. However, we have lots of inverts (crabs, snails and shrimp) and since copper can kill them, the fish will have to be removed from the display tank and treated in a hospital tank.

Before this all happened, we didn’t have a hospital tank, so last night I bought a bare-bones 20-gallon glass aquarium, a hang-on-back filter, a heater and powerhead. We filled it with water from the display tank and added a small piece of rock to help jump-start the cycle. It will take a week or two for the cycle to complete, so I will be testing for ammonia and keeping an eye on things.

When the hospital tank is ready to support the fish, we will catch them (this won’t be an easy task) and move them to the hospital tank for treatment. We just have to hope that they can hang on until their new tank is ready. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

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