What is Ick?

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What is Ick?
Ick is a disease involving aquarium fish that is secondary to parasites called “Ichthyophthirius”. This condition affects both freshwater and saltwater fishes. “Ick” is also known as “Ich” and presents as white dots on the fish’s skin or scales. Because of the white dots on the fish, some people refer to Ick as the “white spot disease”.

The “Ick” parasite is said to be present in the aquariums of pet stores and spreads to other fishes when they are bought and brought to different homes. As with common parasites, the most susceptible fish are those that are weak and stressed. When the fish’s immune system is not in perfect shape then it will have greater chances of getting the infection from the Ick parasite. Stress on the fish is the main reason for a weakened immune system and so many pet owners and aquarium caretakers take into consideration proper fish-handling.

The Ick parasite is known to infect the fish host and stick with it until maturity. Later on, it will split with its infected host and form into a cyst to reproduce more parasites. These cysts are said to be visible on the floor of the fish tank. After some time, this particular cyst will burst and spread more parasites to infect other fishes in the tank.

Treatment for Ick is geared for prevention rather than curing the existing infection on the fish and the whole tank. Once the parasite is on the fish and the tank, Ick is considered non-curable. Medications usually contain copper sulfate or copper salts. These medications are directed towards treating the whole fish tank and not the fish themselves. Part of the instructions involves fish-transfer to other containers when treating tanks for Ick infection. It is also best advice to strictly follow the directions on the medicine label as dosage and frequency may vary depending on the type of water used and tank size.

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