How to cure white spot disease in fish - complete guide!

Do you have fish and have you noticed that they have white spots? One of the most common problems in fish tanks is that common diseases appear. If we do not know how to treat them, they easily spoil the entire aquarium and cause our animals to become sick until they die. Therefore, if you are concerned about their well-being and want to find solutions and ways to prevent these situations, you should inform yourself to the maximum and seek advice and help from professionals.

One of the most frequent conditions in fish tanks is the well-known ichthyopyriasis or Ich and, for this reason, we want to help you by explaining how to cure white spot disease in fish, a more common way of calling this condition. In addition to the best treatment, we will tell you what it is, the most common causes, the signs that will alert you to its presence and ways to prevent this condition.

What is white spot disease

One of the most common diseases in fish is ictioftiriasis which is produced by a microorganism, specifically a ciliated protozoan, called Ichthyophthirius multifiliis, which is why this condition is also known as Ich. This protozoan can be found in the skin of healthy animals but, due to diverse problems that alter its state of health, this microorganism reactivates and reproduces at high speed causing a parasitization not only of the affected fish but of the entire tank.

But, to be able to make a treatment for Ich's disease that is effective, we must know how this works. This protozoon adheres to the skin of the fish, remains in a dormant state until it can reproduce and the body of the animals reacts forming a mucous layer (the whitish spots) when trying to isolate it, making it difficult for its cycle, which is also affected by the fact that water is usually too cold for reproduction. In fact, depending on the temperature the cycle can last from 4 days if it is warm enough to several weeks if it is too cold.

Thus, when the animal that has been parasitized has a lowering of defenses or other problems then the protozoan reactivates and resumes its life cycle, reproducing quickly. Therefore, when a tank is affected quickly we will see that all the animals in it will get sick.

Knowing this, we can now know that trying to treat our sick fish when the parasite is attached to its skin and encapsulated or covered by the mucosa that the fish produces is not going to serve to get rid of the Ichthyophthirius multifiliis, since it will be "protected". Therefore, we must wait for it to detach from the skin of the fish to be able to act better and eliminate it completely.

Causes of white spot in fish

It is also important that we inform ourselves about why the white spot comes out in the fish to know what we should correct or avoid whenever we can:

  • Low defenses
  • Bad nutrition
  • Stress
  • Excess of animals in the aquarium
  • Poor water quality
  • A new fish in the fish tank
  • Lack of oxygen
  • Excess of nitrites

Discover in this other article how to change fish from one aquarium to another to avoid health problems related to a new environment or the entry of a new fish into the tank.

Symptoms of white spot

You should also know what are the signs that can alert us that our animals suffer from this condition. Thus, among the main symptoms of Ich in fish we find the following outstanding:

  • White spots
  • Nervousness
  • Swim faster
  • They rub against objects
  • Respiratory difficulties
  • Loss of appetite

Therefore, we will see small whitish spots that will be mostly around the gills of our animals, we will see that increases their stress and scratch against plants, accessories and even gravel to relieve itching. When the last symptoms appear, such as breathing problems and lack of appetite, if we do not act soon, the fish may die soon.

Now that you know this health problem better, in the following lines you will find how to cure the white spot in fish .

Thermotherapy to eliminate the white point

As we have previously commented to make the treatment for ictioftiriasis in our pets we must first make the parasite detach from its skin. Thus, the only way to do this is to increase the temperature of the aquarium so that the cycle accelerates and the protozoon is released in hours.

To do thermotherapy and increase the temperature of the fish tank without harming our animals, we must do it slowly. You have to get to raise the temperature to 27-30ºC, depending on the species we have, but you have to do it by climbing 1 degree every 2 hours to avoid that the animals in the aquarium seriously affect them. Also, at the same time that we raise the degrees we have to increase the oxygen, since when the heat rises oxygen decreases and this we must balance so that the fish can continue to breathe normally. You also have to remove the carbon from the filter and turn off the UV filters that we have, as well as avoid direct contact with the natural light that the aquarium can receive.

Thus, once we reach a maximum of 30 degrees we will see that in about 24 hours the whitish spots are no longer in the skin of the animals, they can be in the water floating or in the aquarium's land. To finish, we will have to continue maintaining these conditions for 3 or 4 days until the cycle of the microorganism has been completed, dies and has not been able to reproduce successfully due to the excess of degrees.

In this way, we will have gotten rid of this parasite and will only return to lower the temperature in the same way we raise it and, when this is again the normal in the tank, change a good part of the water by always adding it to the same temperature as the aquarium, never directly cold.

Salt to fight the white point

It is also very common to use sea ​​salt for aquariums as a home remedy for the white spot in fish, but only this type of salt should be used, never an iodized salt or another salt for culinary use; You can find it in stores specialized in animal care or online. This product has a negative effect on the protozoan, since we can only see the white spot in freshwater fish since in salt it can not reproduce and, in addition, the salt causes the animals to produce a mucous layer that will serve them as temporary protection against this microorganism.

But, whether they are cold or tropical water, we must be careful with the doses of salt that we provide so as not to damage them. This treatment is only advised if you do not have animals that are especially sensitive to this salt, so first learn about its effects on your species by talking to an expert in aquarium

The important thing in this technique is to start first with a smaller amount to progressively increase it and make some water changes. Thus, the generally recommended doses are the following:

  1. Add between 1 and 3 teaspoons of salt for every 19 or 20 liters of water.
  2. Add 1 teaspoon of salt for every 3 or 4 liters of water.

According to the specifications of the salt that you have acquired, the species of animals and plants that you have and what the specialist of the store tells you, you should opt for some amounts or others.

How to use sea salt for the white point

  1. Make the thermotherapy so that the Ichthyophthirius multifiliis detaches itself from the skin.
  2. It is important that you maintain a constant temperature of about 30ºC between 1 and 2 weeks.
  3. Change 25% of the water every 2 days; it is better that the one that you add is of quality and is already at the temperature that we need to cure this affection. Also, it is vital that you keep the oxygen high all the time and that you always add the salt after a water change and not just before.
  4. When they pass around 10 days you will see that there are hardly any signs of the condition.
  5. But it is crucial for the total elimination of the parasite that you continue with this process between 3 and 5 days after it seems that it has already disappeared.
  6. After this time, the temperature drops until it reaches the usual temperature in your tank. Do it progressively at the same pace as when you uploaded it.
  7. Make a final change of 25% of the water for one of quality and set in the normal temperature of your aquarium.

Medication for the white spot in fish

With medicinal treatment happens as with salt, it is essential to first apply the thermotherapy, once the protozoan has been released, add the medication. Then we can start the treatment with specific drugs for this condition keeping the lights off, the filter without carbon, oxygen at maximum and the temperature stable at 30ºC.

The most common Ich medication is malachite green, but it is also common to use formalin, methylene blue, mercurochrome, sulfate or quinine hydrochloride, although there are more products which are usually applied for a week. The most important thing is that, at the time of deciding, you ask advice from an aquarian expert, for example the animal shop you usually go to or the breeder you buy the animals from.

Also, you will have to use the dose indicated in the product you purchase and remember that the amount of water in your tank will never be the entire capacity of this one. For example, if you have an aquarium of 200 liters it is likely that the amount of water it contains will normally be about 150 or 100 liters.

How to prevent the white point

The best way to avoid problems for our pets is to prevent situations that can lead to the onset of a disease. Here we give you a series of tips to prevent the Ich in your aquarium:

  • Extreme precautions when we go to introduce new specimens in our aquarium, especially if they come from a store since these are a place of passage for these and tend to circulate many, being very difficult to always keep the diseases at bay. It is better to acquire them from an aquarium specialist that has breeding and sale permission due to having less quantity and better control.
  • Make a quarantine of the new specimens before introducing them into our aquarium. To do it you must have a separate tank with a temperature of about 25ºC and have the new specimens in it for at least 2 weeks before passing them to the aquarium that will be the final one.
  • Avoid adding in your tank plants, accessories and decorative objects that have given you used or that you had in another before. To use them you must disinfect them very well before.
  • Take care of the quality of the water you use, do not make sudden changes in pH, ammonia levels or temperature.
  • Use only good quality food and do not use a generic one. Whether it is feed, dry food, frozen or if they are vitamins, better use the specific products for the type of fish that live in your tank.

Now that you know all the details to recognize, cure and even prevent the parasite that produces ictioftiriasis in your aquarium may, especially if you have other problems in your tank, you want to know what we tell you in this other article of about What are the fish in my aquarium dying?