How To Treat Ich? All You Need To Know

Let us learn about How to Treat Ich in Fishes. Ich is a result of an external parasite that creates many white spots on the skin and gills of your freshwater fish.

This is a frequent parasitic infection of freshwater fish and one of the few parasites visible to the human eye. However, additional non-parasitic causes of white spots on fish must be checked out before therapy can begin. Understanding the parasite’s life cycle is essential for effective treatment.

What is Ich?

The protozoan parasite Ichthyophthirius multifiliis causes “Ich” or “white spot illness.” Cryptocaryon irritans generate the saltwater version of Ich, often known as white spot illness. Both parasites have a complicated life cycle that makes treatment challenging.

How to treat ich

The enormous feeding stage may be seen with the naked eye as white patches on the fish’s body, although it is exceptionally resistant to therapy. And though the free-swimming theront stage is not visible, it is the only stage of the parasite’s lifecycle that is treatable.

Infestations may arise very quickly since it only takes one trophont to spawn after feeding on a fish, releasing 1,000 new infective organisms into a system.

What is freshwater Ich and what causes it?

The condition known as Ich or Ick in freshwater fish is caused by an external protozoan parasite called Ichthyophthirius multifiliis. This single-celled parasite produces cysts under the skin layer of the fish and feeds on the host’s flesh.

Ich cysts show as little white spots scattered around the fish’s body, fins, and tail. Each cyst is elevated and appears like a tiny white crystal of salt or sugar, with a diameter of up to 1 mm (0.04 inch).

As a result, Ich is also known colloquially as White Spot Disease. Poor water quality, temperature variations, relocation, and aggressive tank mates are all factors that contribute to parasite outbreaks in the home aquarium.

Signs of Ich in Freshwater Fish

  • The fish’s body has little white patches.
  • Fish flashing or scratching themselves with things in their surroundings
  • Bruising or scale loss as a result of flashing
  • drowsiness and increased respiratory effort
  • Unexpected death

White spot disease might be confused with other, less dangerous conditions. Fin ray fractures, or fractures to a fin’s cartilage, might seem similar but are not life-threatening.

Male goldfish breeding tubercles, which produce many white bumps on the operculum and pectoral fin, appear identical to white spot illness but are typical anatomical changes.

Causes of Ich

The inability to quarantine a new fish added to the aquarium is the most prevalent cause of Ich.

Because it only takes one infectious Ich parasite to reproduce and spread across an entire tank or pond.

image of fish with ich

Most fish will appear alright and not behave sick at all until the parasite’s life cycles are complete, which can take a few days to a few weeks depending on your water temperature. All new fish should be quarantined safely to avoid the spread of Ich to your primary tank.

Other possible reasons include:

  • Using infectious equipment between tanks that have not been adequately sanitized
  • Transferring diseased filter media or décor from one tank to another
  • Sharing contaminated water across systems

How does Ich get inside your aquarium?

All About “Ich”

The fishkeeping community is divided on a few issues. One of these arguments is how Ich gets into your aquarium in the first place.

Ich initially emerges in one of two ways.

  • As a result of its high contagiousness, Ich is easily spread from one fish tank to another. When you add a new fish, plant, or invertebrate to your aquarium, it may bring along an unwanted passenger.
  • Many people assume that Ich is present in every tank and that it only infects your fish when the conditions are just right.

Does My Fish Have Ich?

A fish with Ich seems to have tiny crystals on its body as if someone sprinkled salt on it. We usually see Ich on the fins first because there is less slime coat in those locations, and the parasite finds it simpler to target.

Loss of appetite, fast breathing, fish rubbing their bodies against surfaces, lethargy, and hiding behavior are all possible indications.

If your fish has Ich caused by an external parasite, you will notice five spots today and maybe 35 spots tomorrow. Some fish, however, develop “stress ich” or stress patches that cover the entire body (not just the fins).

If you have five spots today and five spots tomorrow with no growth, you may have stress ich, which does not always respond to the same treatment approach as shown below.

Clown loaches are susceptible to Ich, especially if the water temperature is not warm enough for them.

Can Ich Affect Humans?

Fortunately, no. If you contact the aquarium water, you will not become contaminated. However, make sure to properly wash your hands and forearms to avoid spreading the sickness to other tanks.

Also, do not share any equipment across fish tanks, such as siphons and nets. If you must reuse aquarium tools, disinfect them with boiling tap water and chlorine before drying them thoroughly.

What is the Best Ich Treatment?

There are several methods for treating Ich, ranging from gentle herbal remedies to very aggressive procedures, but after years of research, Aquarium Solutions Ich-X has become the drug of choice. It is highly efficient and safe to use on any fish (even scaleless fish), shrimp, snails, and live plants.

  1. Diagnose the illness and confirm that it is indeed Ich. Because stress ich and velvet seem so similar, it may be beneficial to wait 24 hours before confirming the diagnosis.
  2. Dose Ich-X according to the package directions (5 ml of medication per 10 gallons of aquarium water) and wait 24 hours. (Do not use half-strength dosage for delicate fish since it will not be powerful enough to kill Ich.) 
  3. Change one-third of the water in the aquarium and re-dose it with 5 ml of Ich-X per 10 gallons of water. Remember to administer enough medication to treat the aquarium’s complete water volume, not just the volume of water removed.
  4. Step 3 should be repeated every 24 hours until there are no symptoms of Ich.
  5. Step 3 should be repeated once more a day after you last saw Ich on your fish, just in case there are any cysts hidden in the ground. (The drug can only kill protozoa when they are free-swimming and not protected within a cyst.)
  6. Allow the medicine to dissolve in the water and gradually remove it over time as part of your normal water change regimen.
  7. After therapy, the fish’s body has many sores and tissue damage, making it a perfect setting for bacterial and fungal diseases. Therefore you may need to treat for secondary infections.

Ich-active X’s component is malachite green chloride, which has a striking blue color, thus avoiding handling the liquid at all costs. 

If you see no improvement after five days, the sickness has most likely been misdiagnosed, and your fish does not have Ich. Stop giving the fish Ich-X, gradually eliminate it according to your usual water change schedule, and reassess the diagnosis.

If Ich-X is not accessible, salt is another effective treatment option. It’s commonly used with cichlids (both African and South American) and goldfish; however, catfish and loach species are more sensitive to salinity fluctuations.

Is Ich Always Present in Aquariums?

This is a contentious issue among fish keepers, but regardless of the answer, the key is to operate your aquariums as though it is present continuously.

Because Ich is an opportunistic disease that emerges when fish are weak or stressed, attempt to figure out why your fish acquired it in the first place. Did you add additional fish to your aquarium without first quarantining them?

Was the fish tank poorly maintained, or did the factors such as pH and temperature vary quickly? You may easily avoid future outbreaks of Ich by maintaining excellent water quality and reducing sources of stress.

Fish, Carassius, Veiltail, Fins, Scales, Aquatic

Fortunately, Ich is one of the simplest diseases to treat, and most fish do not die quickly due to it (unless they already have a compromised immune system).

Always keep a bottle of Ich-X on hand in case of an emergency since you don’t want to be forced to go to the store late at night and use a random product that might kill your fish.

With the correct treatment and a little patience, your fish should be free of those bothersome white spots in no time.

What signs and symptoms identify the protozoan parasite Ich?

When aquarium fish are infected with Ich, they may exhibit behavioral changes before the emergence of the microscopic white nodules.

If the parasite has merely infiltrated the fish’s gills, it will be undetectable to the naked eye, but a diagnosis can still be determined based on behavioral changes.

In this situation, fish will exhibit behavioral signs one to two days after being introduced to the parasite.

That being said, the entire list of signs and symptoms of freshwater Ich includes :

  • a fish coated with tiny white spots that resemble grains of salt.
  • Scratching on surfaces and rough running.
  • Breathing and gill movement is both rapid.
  • Fins clapped.

How to prevent future Ich outbreaks?

Animal, Fish, Koi, Carp-Like, Swim, Water, Pond

Stress levels in fish should be kept to a minimum to avoid further outbreaks of Ich successfully. Freshwater fish’s immune systems are directly impacted by how harsh their environment is. A healthy fish can fend off foreign parasites on its own.

However, if stressors are introduced, the fish’s immune system weakens, making it prone to illnesses and parasites such as Ich. The following are frequent stressors that contribute to a compromised immune system in aquarium fish:

  • Prolonged exposure to nitrate levels in water exceeding ten ppm.
  • Temperature changes in the water, such as those that occur between day and night in the spring and fall.
  • Shipping directly from the merchant.
  • Ammonia and nitrite levels rise due to an incomplete nitrogen cycle.
  • Overcrowding of fish in the aquarium.
  • Aggressive tankmates’ fin-nipping and chasing.
  • There aren’t any hiding spots or decorations, such as natural plants or rock caverns.
  • Too much tapping on the aquarium’s glass.
  • Water with low oxygen levels.
  • An unhealthy diet.

Maintaining adequate water conditions and selecting tank mates properly can lead to a considerable increase in aquarium fish quality of life.

How To Treat Ich With Salt? 

A dip is the method of choice for treating external parasites.

  • Fill a clean bucket halfway with five to ten level Tablespoons of salt, then gently add one gallon of aquarium water while spinning the bucket to dissolve the salt.
  • This will result in a solution with a salinity of 1.5 to 3.0 percent. Place the fish in this bucket for 5 to 30 minutes when the salt has been completely dissolved.
  • Observe the fish throughout the plunge; if any symptoms of discomfort are noticed, quickly restore the fish to the original aquarium. To keep the water oxygenated during the dive, use an aquarium air pump with an air stone in it.

How To Treat Ich With Aquarium Salt?

Aquarium salt, in essence, destroys via dehydration. Water is sucked out of the bacterium, fungus, or parasite as osmosis strives to balance the aquarium salt concentration on each side of its membrane or skin by increasing the salinity of the aquarium water.

Because the fish has more bulk and stored water, these tiny microorganisms dry faster than the fish, and hence the pathogens die before their hosts. Some microbes, however, can resist increased salinity, which is why salt is not a 100% failsafe treatment.

How To Treat Fin Rot And Ich?

Several medications successfully treat fin rot, but the underlying cause must be treated to prevent the condition from recurring.

A water change and a thorough inspection of the aquarium’s needs should be included in the treatment. If you find food debris, vacuum the gravel and take precautions to minimize repeat overfeeding.

How To Treat Ich In Saltwater Tank?

Copper-based medicine is the most effective ich therapy in the Saltwater tank.

Rather than treating the main aquarium, place the ill fish in a quarantine or treatment tank with a bare bottom. This should be aerated and have similar water conditions as the main aquarium. 

How to treat Ich on a betta fish?

There are several approaches to treating Ich in your betta. And what you pick is mostly determined by the intensity of the Ich.

We would suggest performing the therapy in a quarantine tank rather than your main tank. You won’t have to adjust the specifications of your tank this way.

How Long To Treat Ich?

Fortunately, therapy is typically effective, but you should plan on treating the afflicted fish and water for a few days to a week. You’ll also need to treat the water because Ich comes in three varieties.

The parasitic trophont stage is visible on your fish in the form of a raised white cyst housing the Ich. After feeding on the host fish, the cyst falls off.

It becomes the reproductive tomont stage, falling to the bottom of the tank and splitting into many cells that finally burst and disseminate throughout the water column as the infectious theront stage.

The whole life cycle of Ich lasts roughly six months, from when you first notice it on your fish to when it becomes contagious again.

how to treat for ich?

For treatment to be effective, your ill fish should be examined by a veterinarian. Keep in mind that other things on fish might seem eerily identical to white spot illness and can necessitate different treatment.

Once the problem is apparent, treatment options are available through local aquatic veterinarians and fish stores. Monitoring and maintaining your water temperature is vital to guarantee that the parasite is entirely eradicated from your system.

Many over-the-counter treatments do not consider this and, if not utilized appropriately, can harm your fish as well as not wholly treat the Ich.

How to treat Ich with salt?

Aquarium salt or unionized salt can also be used to cure Ich. Because some freshwater fish species are sensitive to salt, it is critical to conduct a study before settling on this treatment strategy.

In addition to removing parasites, salt significantly reduces stress in freshwater aquariums by lowering ammonia and nitrite toxicity and can help strengthen freshwater fish immune systems.

A dosage of 1 tablespoon per 5 liters should be used for general Ich therapy. To prevent upsetting your fish, dissolve tiny amounts of salt in water and gradually add the solution to your aquarium over 24 hours until the complete dose is provided.

Keep a tight eye on the fish and stop if they exhibit indications of stress.

How to treat fin rot?

Several medications are successful in treating fin rot, but the underlying cause must be treated to prevent the condition from recurring.

A water change and a thorough inspection of the aquarium’s conditions should be included in the treatment. If you find food debris, vacuum the gravel and take precautions to minimize repeat overfeeding.

Start placing dates on your fish food since the vitamin content deteriorates fast when the food container is opened. Feeding your fish fresh, high-quality food in lesser amounts is significantly preferable to frequent, huge feedings of stale items.

You should make sure to examine the pH and temperature of the water to ensure that it is suitable for your fish species. Make that the water contains no chlorine, ammonia, or nitrite and that the nitrate level is less than 40 ppm (mg/L).

Antibiotics will typically treat the condition once the underlying cause has been addressed. It is advised to use a medicine that is efficient against gram-negative germs.

Consult with a fish veterinarian (there are several Certified Aquatic Veterinarians now) to receive the right medications for your fish.

A teaspoon of aquarium salt will improve livebearing fish but should be avoided in fish such as scaleless catfish, which are salt sensitive.

How to treat Ich without medication?

Chemical compounds may be excessively harsh for sick fish and, if not dosed correctly, can hurt them even more.

This is why most aquarists prefer to use more natural approaches and make minor adjustments to the habitat. It is critical to destroying the parasite when swimming since it is extremely difficult to remove while still inside its cyst linked to the fish’s slime coat.

Increasing the temperature of the water

If all the fishes in the tank can tolerate 86-89° F (30-32° C), gradually raise the temperature of the water by 1 degree every 1-2 hours.

The Ich cannot survive in such hot water and will die in approximately two weeks. If the fish can handle it, raise the temperature to 89° Fahrenheit for 3-4 days before returning to 86° Fahrenheit for another ten days.

Aeration should be increased.

Warmer water causes a drop in oxygen levels, which can lead to fish suffocation. Because the Ich already impairs the fish’s capacity to breathe, additional oxygen must be provided to the tank, which may be accomplished by lowering the water level.

More oxygen bubbles will form once the filtered water hits the surface; adding more air stones or employing bubble discs will also assist.

Putting salt in the water

Aquarium salt aids in the recovery of fish’s natural slime coat, increasing resistance to diseases. It also throws off the Ich development cycle. When combined with higher water temperatures, it can be a highly successful treatment for Ich infections.

Always use aquarium salt instead of table salt, as table salt includes iodine. Medication should not be used in conjunction with salt and heat, as this combination depletes the tank’s oxygen supply.

Use a little bit of salt in a small amount of water and replace the water frequently. If all of the fish have been cured and the therapy is complete, continue with water changes but stop adding salt.

Prevention is the best medicine, and keeping healthy fish by continually monitoring the water conditions lowers the possibility of the fish being unwell.

Also, before introducing freshly acquired or immature fish to your established aquarium, keep them in quarantine tanks.

How to Treat Ich in a pond?

To cure Ich in a pond, pond salt must be added to the water. You add salt to supply electrolytes that assist the fish in attaining their optimum color and vigor.

It also improves gill function, lowers stress, improves osmoregulation, and hastens disease recovery. After that, you’ll test your water to see how much pond salt you need to add.

It is not a great idea to relocate your fish until your pond has been consistently over 60 degrees for roughly 14 days. Do not attempt to clean the pond as this can stress the fish.

Spring food is recommended since it is a wheat germ-based product with a lower digestible protein for the fish at this time.

How to treat stress Ich?

The primary cause of ich outbreaks is stress. If your fish become stressed, whether from their surroundings, transportation, tank mates, or any other reasons, their immune system weakens, and they become vulnerable to an ich infection.

Even though shipping is stressful for the fish, they should not become sick if they are acclimatized to a low-stress habitat.

How long to treat with copper for Ich?

Copper-based medicine is the most effective ich therapy. Rather than treating the main aquarium, place the ill fish in a quarantine or treatment tank with a bare bottom.

This should be aerated and have similar water conditions as the main aquarium. Copper should ideally be used to treat Ich for 48 hours.

How to treat plants for Ich?

Always purchase fresh plants for your aquarium from plant-only tanks. This minimizes the likelihood of the plants harboring the ich parasite.

Nonetheless, it is preferable to cure the plant before bringing it to a fish tank to minimize infection. Inspect all surfaces of the new plant when you get it home to remove any hitchhiking bugs.

Rinse all sections of the plant thoroughly to remove any bugs from the surfaces. Take special care to thoroughly clean the roots and undersides of the leaves, where pests may lurk.

Strong disinfectants, like bleach and hydrogen peroxide, are used by experienced hobbyists to disinfect plants.

However, do not use them if you do not know how to use them properly. Your plants can benefit from a potassium permanganate soak. Place the plant in the dipping solution for 10 minutes. This should get rid of any ich parasites.

Before introducing the plant to the main tank, quarantine it for a few days. Without a host, free-swimming Ich cannot persist for long. As a result, quarantining the plants lowers the danger of ich transmission.

How to treat Ich on betta?

There are several approaches to treating Ich in your betta. And what the intensity of the Ich mainly determines your pick.

We would suggest performing the therapy in a quarantine tank rather than your main tank. You won’t have to adjust the specifications of your tank this way. If you don’t know how to set up a quarantine tank, check out these helpful instructions.

Taking Your Betta Out of Your Show Tank

Ich can only live if it has a host to feed on. If you want to get rid of Ich in your tank, you need to take away its only source of survival. All signs of Ich will die if you keep your tank fish free for a week.

Treatment with Salt and Heat

The second approach includes increasing the temperature of your aquarium and adding aquarium salt. The issue with Ich is that you can’t fight it if it’s on your betta. Only when it’s in the water can it be treated. So, to cure Ich in the water, use the following steps:

  • Begin gradually boosting the temperature of your tank.
  • We wouldn’t advocate a daily temperature increase of more than 1°F. It’s pretty unusual for individuals to elevate it by 2°F.
  • Continue to raise the temperature of your aquarium until it reaches 86°F.

The life cycle of Ich will accelerate at 86°F. That is, if the parasite does not find a host quickly, it will die.

While you’re raising the temperature of your tank, you should start adding salt. High salinity makes your aquarium uninhabitable to Ich. Furthermore, the aquarium salt will strengthen your betta’s slime coat (its natural protection against parasites like Ich).

  • Before refilling your tank, dissolve one teaspoon of aquarium salt in a tiny amount of aquarium water.
  • One teaspoon per gallon should be dissolved. However, if the salt you’re using has different directions, stick to them.
  • Every couple of days, you should make a 25% water change. Make sure that any salt lost is replaced.

After ten days, continue with routine water changes but cease adding salt. Repeat until your tank is no longer salty.

If you observe that only your betta has been ill, you should utilize a quarantine tank rather than your main tank. If you have more than one fish with Ich, use this procedure in your tank.

Medicating Your Betta

You could also medication your betta. If you intend to medicate your betta, utilize medicine with methylene blue or malachite green.


Ich is a frequent but complex condition in freshwater aquariums, and it’s far simpler to avoid than to treat. Unfortunately, many therapies induce additional stress, and not all fish survive an illness. By abiding by the advice mentioned above, you can minimize the mortality in your tank and prevent the problem from recurring!


How fast can Ich kill a fish?

This is a frequent parasitic infection of freshwater fish and one of the few parasites visible to the human eye. However, additional non-parasitic causes of white spots on fish must be checked out before therapy can begin.

Can a fish survive Ich?

Immunity can develop in fish that survive minor illnesses. There are presently no pharmaceuticals or chemicals that can kill Ich in the fish skin or gills; they can only kill Ich while it is in the water. Hence all existing treatments need a cyclical re-treatment schedule.

How do you treat ich fish naturally?

Saltwater fish have a lot of natural defenses against Ich, and if the fish are healthy and the outbreak is light enough, the fish may occasionally cure themselves, just as they would in nature. We can help them in specific ways by keeping excellent water quality and giving nutritious food.

About the author

I'm Gulshan, a passionate pet enthusiast. Dive into my world where I share tips, stories, and snapshots of my animal adventures. Here, pets are more than just animals; they're heartbeats that enrich our lives. Join our journey!