White Spot in the Marine Aquarium

If you are reading this the changes are you have white spot and have come to Google for answers.

Our aquarium was made live in 2009 and all fish purchased were from a variety of local fish shops such as MG Marines in Dudley, Angel Aquatics in Selly Oak, A&D Aquatic in Oldbury and TMC directly. We had never had an out break which was concerning and for over 4 years had not seen any white spot. But to add to this we also had not added any new fish so all the fish in the aquarium were settled and happy.

The shark we had was now knocking over corals and starting to show signs of aggressive behavior so it was decided to sell him. Catching the shark was the first time a net had gone in the water for well over 5 or 6 years and this stressed the fish out. The shark was caught quickly and moved safely to a new home where he was a display fish at Tees Reef in Moseley Birmingham.

To get to the point within 7 days after catching the shark the first signs of white spot hit and this killed 4 common clowns quickly over 48 hours. At this point most of the fish started to have some form of white spot and the Powder Blue and Lipstick Tang looked ill. Then the Purple tang followed and even the huge Dussumieri Tang which is over 1 foot in length and 1.5 inch’s in width was covered in white spot.

Over the space of 14 days everything was dying and this was horrible and upsetting, these fish were years old and large all with unique personality and strong fish.

The aquarium runs two large UV sterilisers, Ozone and water quality was as always perfect. No new fish had been added so confusion as to how the tank got white spot in the first place was the one big question.

What to do when you have white spot in the marine aquarium is something that the hobbyist will seek advice from many and in our years of experience there is no true fix and most of the medicines do not work. The truth is that it all survival will depend on the fishes immune system.

The one thing that is meant to help is feeding garlic soaked food so this was started straight away.

From our research once ich is in an aquarium it will always be living in the aquarium and the only reason you do not see signs of this for years is that the fish are strong enough to cope with the immune system fighting off the ich.

It is said that the only way to get rid of white spot is to take all the fish out of the aquarium for around 8 weeks as a minimum to starve the ich. This is not possible in nearly all situations so people tend to have hospital aquarium for treating ill fish and this simply will not work because if you have a fish that has ich and you take it out to treat it and then after treatment you put it back into the main aquarium, the ich is still in the main system so this will result in problems again.

In our white spot outbreak we lost 80% of the fish which was devastating and this included an adult lipstick tang which we had grown from 1 inch to 12 inch’s in size and a 10 inch purple tang. A large copperband butterfly which was around 7 inch’s in size.

This was horrible as a marine hobbyist with a love for fish to be collecting dead fish from the aquarium in a daily basis.

We was treating the fish with medicine after 5 days and this could have been done quicker maybe, however we do not see the point of adding medicine and turning off the skimmer for example and then allowing the tank water quality to change.

We started over feeding to help the fish get more than enough food and was one of the main things that helped we believe. As long as the fish are eating they have a chance of survival, all the fish that didn’t eat died and the fish that continued to eat when we started over feeding survived.

What is White Spot (Ich)

White spot or Ich is a protozoan disease. The scientific name for the disease is ichthyophthiriasis and the causative agent is Ichthyophthirius multifiliis. White spot is brought on by stress involved with aquarium species.

White Spot Life Cycle

The life cycle of white spot or ich officially known as Ichthyophthirius is complicated. Understanding the life cycle is an important part of the treatment of white spot ich.

White spot ich protozoan attaches to the side of the fish and then begins to feed on the skin and tissue causing irritation which will  result in the fish flicking against rocks and sand. As this stage of the life cycle it is nearly impossible to treat because the parasite is now inside the fish’s body and this encapsulation under the skin means that the medications cannot penetrate through the fish skin to reach the white spot ich parasite.

This stage of the white spot life cycle is known as trophozoite. The trophozoite will mature and is then known as a “trophont.” At this stage it will break the fish’s skin and then fall to the bottom of the aquarium.

This is now the horrible part as it begins to divide into hundreds of new tomites and this means from one white spot ich parasite you are now going to be housing hundreds. This stage is temperature dependent with higher temperatures making fastest replications.

At temperatures of around 78-80°F the replication will be completed in about 8 hours. At lower temperatures, the replication takes longer making the treatment time for eradication much longer so this means lowering the temperature can help kill off the white spot ich if the right chemical is being used.

Once the replication is complete, the trophont bursts and then releases newly formed tomites into the aquarium. The tomites swim around the aquarium in search for a fish to attach itself to. If it doesnt find a fish it will die within 48 hours. Once attached to a fish the cycle starts again. Depending on the water temperature of the aquarium the whole cycle can take from 4 days to 10 days.

White Spot (Ich) Advice

One of the problem that helps white spot (ich) to thrive is stress and often changing the lighting cycle so that the lighting is on less which helps carm the fish down.

Lower the temperature which slows down the white spot cycle and will aid in treatment effectiveness.

Keep feeding as the fish need to be strong and over feeding with food soaked in Garlic will help.


This entry was posted on Friday, March 13th, 2015 at 8:29 am and is filed under White Spot. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.