Terrible Advice Tuesdays: If you don’t use sand in your saltwater tank, your fish will never get ich.
The rest of the story: There’s a bit of grey area on this one. Part of ich’s life cycle takes place off the fish. In this phase, ich is known as a “tomont” and spends its time reproducing while attached to a solid surface like sand. However, it can attach to any solid surface including rocks or even the sides of your tank.
Therefore, not keeping sand in your tank will reduce the areas ich tomonts can attach. No sand = less surface area = less places for tomonts to attach. However, relying on the absence of sand to prevent ich is a terrible idea as there are still plenty of great places for ich tomonts to attach and to prepare for the next stage in their life cycle. Take for example all the live rock in your tank. There is a lot more surface area on live rock than there is on the top layer of sand.
Also, as discussed in my quarantine guide, ich tomites hatch at night. Most saltwater fish sleep in one place which means when the tomites hatch, your fish is in close proximity and probably holding still. Can you say “infection”?
Bottom line: Run sand if you like it and QT all incoming fish for at least 30 days to help prevent the spread of diseases like ich.
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