Terrible Advice Tuesdays: A Reef Safe Cure For Ich

Terrible Advice Tuesdays: A reef tank can be cured of ich by using hyposalinity.

The rest of the story: Hyposalinity (specific gravity of 1.009) in a reef tank…hmmm…try that and let me know what your invertebrates think of it! While fish can tolerate hyposalinity, invertebrates (shrimp, snails, corals, etc) won’t. They’ll die every time.

If you are going to treat a fish with ich using hyposalinity, then you have to do it in a hospital/quarantine tank. As far as treating your reef tank for ich, the best advice I can give you is to remove all the fish, treat the fish, and leave the tank fallow (no fish in it) for at least 60 days.

Thanks Kevin P. for passing this one onto me.

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Comments for this article (27)

  • Oliver Weitzel says:

    I have had great success with Kick-ich. Followed the full two week treatment procedure. No issues with inverts or fish in a 72 gal.bowfront with a 30 gal. sump. I do think it makes sense to move the sick fish to a smaller tank if possible, that way you can use less of the product. But that may also add to stressing the fish out.

  • Peter says:

    Hi Mark!
    Really like your channel!
    I have read a lot recently about Marine ich and watched the rather tragic recent LA Fish guys epiosodes where pretty much all of the fish died.
    Using Hyper salinity would appear to be one of the most effective treatments, assuming of course that the fish are isolated from the inverts!
    I do feel that it might be useful if you could do a video on the effective Ich treatments that actually work, and from what I have read, hypersalinity seems to be one of the most effective…I would love to see a report from you on the topic.
    There is a very interesting comment on hypersalinity treatment that someone left in the comments area of LA Fish guys first of three episodes.
    Jim failed to get to grips with the situation in time and unfortunatley lost most of his customers stock.
    What do you think he should have done differently? As he had a fish only setup, would you have considered Hypersalinity and if not, what would you have done?

    I am about to setup my fourth reef tank in January and it will be the biggest I have done to date and as I want to keep tangs, I am really not sure what anti-ich measures to put in place as it does seem to be a fast and devastating problem.

    So all and any advice appreciated!

    Regards, Peter.

  • Andrew says:

    I second Kick-ich. Worked for me as well when my Powder blue showed signs of ich. Follow the 2 week procedure shutting down all skimmers and reactors (I left my biopellets going) – worked great all inverts corals showed little reaction to the treatment

  • Lorna Secunda says:

    Peter i di belueve you meant to say HYPO not HYPER as they have totally opposite meanings and could prove ugly if mistaken. I recently read an article in tank transfer method that looks much less stressful abd complete trearment is over 12 days. An interesting method.

  • peter says:

    Oops – you are totally correct, thanks for spotting that!
    What was the method?
    I will also have a read up on Kick-ich :O)

  • Peter…Kick-Ich is a snake oil treatment. It hasn’t never been scientifically proven to cure the disease. Properly used copper in a QT is my recommended treatment. I discuss ich and the proven treatment methods in my quarantine guide which is about to go on sale during my holiday sale.

  • John says:

    Kick ich didn’t work for me. It’s not strong enough
    Only one way to get rid of ich in a reef tank.
    First pray you can get fish out. QT everything before entering DT. But once ich have to put all fish in QT and let tank fallow for 4-6 weeks.
    Only way to get rid of it is to tank all possible hosts out of DT.

  • peter says:

    Thanks Mark and others, comments greatly appreciated.
    Just a thought, as my coral will be easier to catch than my fish (:O) could I put the coral in the quarantine tank and treat the display tank?
    Would my live rock survive hypo-salinity or copper treatments?

  • Patrick says:

    Hey Mark!
    I was just curious about your thoughts on the new line of ich treatments from New Life Spectrum? I think they were introduced at MACNA this past year & they just came out in September or October, I think. They’re called “Ick Shield” & they’ve got a pellet formula that fish eat to treat ich or well as a bath formula to treat the fish if they aren’t eating. From what I’ve read, some people have tried the pellets & the fish started out eating fine but, a few days later, they started to spit the food out after eating it.
    I feel like New Life Spectrum is one of the better brands out there & I’ve read several things/watched videos that make this sound promising but I’d like to know you’re thoughts.

  • Andrew says:

    LOL!!!! kick-ich is a joke. it has been proven over and over and over again. the only treatments that work are copper, hypo (the hardest/worst of the them), tank transfer, and i think chloroquine phosphate. anyone who thinks kick-ich will do anything is kidding themselves.

  • Jeff says:

    DO NOT USE COPPER even if you remove all the corals and inverts. It will bind with the rock and sand and no corals or inverts will ever live in it again.

  • Jeff….that’s actually a myth. I disproved it in my quarantine guide.

  • Chris says:

    After many issues with ich, I found you and learned to qt my fish. I even started to qt my inverts and even corals. I had never thought to qt chaeto until recently when I lost all fish that had gone through extensive qt period after picking up ich this way. If it goes in the tank, it gets qt first!

  • Scott B says:

    This is from a very informative souce. was able to do some research on the 3 Ruby Reef products we were texting about – Kick Ich, Rally and Hydroplex. My measuring stick is always to compare the active ingredient(s) found in a product, against what has been proven to treat/eradicate which diseases. Anyway, below are my findings:

    [b][u]Kick Ich (Active ingredient: 5-Nitroimidazoles)[/u][/b]

    Nitroimidazole has been around forever and is used to make metronidazole. Metro has been proven to eradicate internal parasites (i.e. intestinal worms), and possibly even Brooklynella & Uronema marinum. There is also some evidence that it is capable of providing temporary relief for ich and marine velvet disease by clearing a fish’s gills of trophonts. But it is just not strong enough to completely eradicate external parasites, including both trophonts found under the skin or free swimmers looking to infect. Metro is generally considered reef safe though, and is probably a good disease management tool. It just won’t [b][i]completely[/i][/b] eradicate ich or velvet, and does nothing for gill flukes.

    [b][u]Rally (Active ingredients: acriflavine, aminoacridine, formalin)[/u][/b]

    Formalin is a well established treatment for Brooklynella (i.e. clownfish disease), and is effective at clearing a fish’s gills of most external protozoa (ex. ich, velvet). But again, it’s just not strong enough to zap the trophonts found under the skin or the free swimmers. Formalin/formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, so take care by using rubber gloves when handling this product. I certainly would never use formalin in a DT (for your own safety).

    Acriflavine is actually something I’ve been researching lately, and seems to have a broad effective range against both parasitic and bacterial diseases. I’m pretty confident it treats both Brook & Uronema marinum – and there are studies found on Google Scholar to back that up. However, it seems less promising as a “knockout punch” for ich & velvet. Although, I’ve found some evidence that it may help “control” both of these.

    Aminoacridine does have some anti-bacterial properties, but IMO is inferior to other products on the market such as Furan-2 & Kanaplex.

    [b][u]Hydroplex (Active ingredients: Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Methylparben, octyl dodecanol, polysorbate-20, polyvinal pyrolidone, potassium phosphate, potassium sorbate, propylparaben)[/u][/b]

    None of these do anything useful. The best comparison I can make is it’s the same as “herbal remedies” found in a lot of aquarium fish disease medications.

    In short, while these products are probably useful to treat bacterial infections, Brook, Uronema and possible even manage the symptoms of ich & velvet… none will likely actually eradicate ich, velvet or flukes. Like copper, chloroquine and prazi (for flukes) can.[/quote]

  • David says:

    Shortly after I had gotten a Yellow Tang & Firefish (a few years ago) I saw they had a few white spots and the Firefish was constantly glancing against the sand bed.
    MY LFS suggested I try Metronidazole. I put some on the food for a few days. Symptoms went away and I stopped using Metronidazole (I had heard that continue used of Metronidazole could adversely affect the kidneys) and continued to use a product called Herbtana, for about a week.
    Both fish are still with me & quite healthy. There were no adverse affects to any invertebrates and corals in the tank.
    I can’t say for sure if either fish had Ich, but it’s possible it was at an early stage and either or both treatments were effective.

  • Bobby says:

    Ive had great success with kick ick in my 200 gallon reef. Quarantine wasnt an option and catching all the fish would have been nearly impossible without tearing down all the aquascaping. I increased the frequency of garlic extract in their food and added vitamins as well as using kick ick. As expected, i did unfortunately lose a hippo tang and copper band butterfly. If i had been more observant, i may have been able to quarantine those two and treat with copper.

    I avoid possible contamination now at all costs because even just treating that volume of water for two or three weeks with kick ick can get pricey. Ive leaned on old wives tales for treatment before and it has worked well for me.
    I have never thought of hypo or hyper salinity as an option. The closest ive come in despirate situations was doing a freshwater dip on really infected fish. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
    I agree though, that if quarantine is possible, copper is a win 100% of the time.

  • Tommy says:

    Most people treat ich like Doctors treat people. They tend to only treat the symptoms. Like Mark said most all the “reef safe” treatments are snake oil. The only true way to cure it is to remove the affected fish and or all the fish treat them with copper in a hospital tank and let the ich run its cycle in the tank. When the parasite has nothing to host on they will die off. This is the only method I trust. I don’t want to just treat what is visible on the fish I want to kill the problem all together.
    Thanks for all the great advice Mark once I caved in and started to follow your guide my tanks have taken off.

  • mason says:

    How about not putting fish in small tanks that are known for contributing ich to your tank? And buying from a reputable LFS. No Tangs in my tanks no ich. I have done the quarantine thing, let the tank fallow and have still lost fish to ich. I stopped putting tangs in my tanks 6 years ago and viola…no more ich. Anything advertised to get rid of ich is snake oil. Buy from a LFS that quarantines, and buys from a reputable supplier. Additionally know what you are putting in your tank. Dont buy something that you have not researched, a yellow tang does not belong in your 100 gallon tank.

  • david t says:

    I’ve had great success with using Aqua master TRI-SULFA TABLETS to kick ick in my 900 litre or 237.75 gallon reef tank. Quarantine wasn’t an option and catching all the fish would have been nearly impossible without tearing down all the aqua scaping. I increased the dose rate of the tri-sulfa tablets to use 1 tablet per 40 litres of aquarium water in cases of severe infestation at the rate of one tablet per 20 litres of aquarium water repeat treatment in 3 days if necessary and do a water change as wall and repeat tablets un till gone to kick ick. As expected, I did unfortunately lose same fish. If I had been more observant, i may have been able to quarantine those fish and treat them the tank is ok now corals are looking good with no affect from the tri-sulfa tablets and all fish look clean as well now too. I think the ick came from a coral I had put in the tank it was the only new thing that had gone in the tank I had found out that the shop I got the coral from had put same fish with ick in there coral tanks instead of putting them back into a QT TANK .

    I avoid possible contamination now by dipping all my corals before I put them in the tank now at all costs because even just treating that volume of water for weeks with tri-sulfa tablets to bet ick can get pricey.
    I agree though, that if quarantine is possible, copper is a win

  • John says:

    21 days.

    NLS Ick Shield Powder.

    Goodbye ich.

    The ultimate ich eradicator – – New Life Spectrum’s “Ick Shield Powder” ! It is Chloroquin-Phosphate in ‘packaged’ form with a dosing spoon (0.6 grams -> 20 gallons). It came out in 2014 I believe. Had to import it from US (I’m living in Malaysia).

    For years I’ve tried Copper / Hypo / TTM – – Ich somehow survived in QT, almost all fishes continued to flash. Resistant strain of ich may not be just a myth. Copper to me was the worst; fishes like Butterflyfish and Angelfish fared badly. Hypo – – to me controlling water parameters was the toughest. TTM – – stressful to the fish (especially “drama queen” Tangs).

    With Ick Shield Powder – – you simply setup a QT tank, cycled of course.. buy new fishes -> acclimate them to the QT and then immediately add Ick Shield Powder. 21 days and ich is gone. It kills tomite/trophont stages I believe – – brilliant! Fishes eat just as well. Not sure how Ick Shield Pellets; perhaps the ‘spitting out’ issue after a few days can be prevented by using Garlic / Selcon / Vitachem? I can’t say.

    I tried Quinine Sulphate (Crypto-Pro) with poor results, and the half-life of QS is much worse than the super stable CP.

    After years of battling ich, NLS has found the solution. Congrats.

  • Mark says:

    Hi Mark

    If the tank has ich and affected fish have been removed to be treated is it ok to leave a non affected fish within the system? It’s been 2 months and there is no sign on this particular fish? Will the ich still die off having a immuned fish in the tank? Thanks

  • Mark..all fish have to be removed and treated. Any fish left behind can still be a host even if it is immune as there is documented cases of fish carrying the disease yet never showing any signs of the disease.

  • Jason says:

    Mark, I have ick in my 120 fish only. I was told to drop the salinity in stages to 1.009. I do not have inverts only fish and live rock. Won’t this recycle my tank when the live rock bacteria is killed ? With FOWLR will this matter much ? I have a skimmer that handles 180 heavy load do skimmer and sump might help but wants sure.

  • Patrick Roelle says:

    I’m a novice with a saltwater 265 combination fish, coral, and invertebrates tank that developed a classic case of ICH. A couple of the fish had cloudy eyes, one, a coral beauty’s eyes were popping out of its head. I used a combination of Fish MOX 500 milligram capsules in a filter sock with Kick-ICH and Melafix. The Coral Beauty’s eyes cleared and the itch was gone after three days.

    I followed directions for 7 days, but failed to follow through for the two week dosing recommended by KICK-ICH .

    I lost a couple of snails that fell off the glass and became prey for a couple of Wrasse in the tank, but the shrimp, invertebrates, and coral did not show any adverse signs. The anemones did turn inside out when I dosed with the Melafix but survived the process. On day eight I made a 25% water change, plugged in the skimmer and the UV light and added charcoal to the filter bag. The foam was gone and the tank was crystal clear by day 13. On day 14, I made another water change.

    You can’t fix stupid, just have to deal with the results. MY Fault, I should have completed the recommended 15 day cycle Kick-Itch recommends. On day 16 ICH started to reoccur. I noticed light spots on two large blue hippos eyes andd their eyes were becoming cloudy one of the large yellow tangs was scrapping the sand. .

    I started the process over, but this time settled on the KICK-ICH – Bally combination instead of using Melafix . A few snails fell off the glass but the Anemones did not seem to mind the Bally.

    Lesson learned. Nobody to blame but myself if I fail to follow directions. .

  • Babak says:

    I had added 3 new fish recently, and I didn’t QT them as I’ve been lucky so far. This past week I had serious temperature swings, went from 79 F to 72 F in 4 hrs. Terrible. Last night I noticed a ich spot on the tail of my six line wrasse. I am devastated!!! Ripping up the tank and setting up a QT is very difficult. The six line is a new fish I got 3+ weeks ago. So, I picked up some KICK-ICH. But I am afraid to use it. I read the results of what it can do. My LFS says just to leave the fish to deal with it, remove the stress factor. That’s done. No more temp swings. I put in the necessary measures. But I want to know if it os going to be safe for my reef. It’s difficult to set up the QT (more difficult to remove the fish). But I can do it if it is the only option available. Your thoughts?

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