When to switch to ich management

Brew12

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Discussions on ich management vs taking a tank fallow happen all of the time on R2R. This is typically followed by a discussion on what changes the fish keeper will make in order to manage ich. And honestly? I don't understand this mindset.

So when is the best time to start practicing ich management? It's before you put your first fish in your display. Waiting until you see an issue is waiting until it is too late. If your stocking plan, feeding plan, or filtration plan would need to change if you had ich in your system are you really doing the best for your fish? Don't we have an ethical responsibility to keep our fish in the best condition we can?

I don't feel we should do anything different if we prophylactically QT, observationally QT, or do not QT at all. It is HARD to keep every possible pathogen out of our systems. Why not try to set our fish up for success so that even if crypto sneaks its way into our systems, we would never know?

And along these lines, if you are running an ich managed system and you see a fish showing signs of an outbreak, please pull it and treat it. Sick fish should be treated! Don't use this as an excuse to never use medications on fish. It doesn't mean that you have to take the tank fallow. It does mean that fishes immune system needs help to overcome the disease. While you are treating it you can try to figure out where things went wrong. Do you have an aggression issue? Is the tank a proper size for the fish? Is all your equipment working properly? Are you meeting the fishes dietary needs?

As a fish keeping community I think we have a lot of room to improve. A large part of this is helping people new to the hobby learn what fish are appropriate for their tank size and the overall stocking plan. Let's leave advanced stocking plans like putting 3 different Acanthurus tangs together in a 180g with very experienced reefkeepers. Let's stop trying to get away with the cheapest foods we can find. And most importantly, let's stop acting like we are in two completely different camps. We should be learning from each other, not arguing with each other.
 

MnFish1

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Discussions on ich management vs taking a tank fallow happen all of the time on R2R. This is typically followed by a discussion on what changes the fish keeper will make in order to manage ich. And honestly? I don't understand this mindset.

So when is the best time to start practicing ich management? It's before you put your first fish in your display. Waiting until you see an issue is waiting until it is too late. If your stocking plan, feeding plan, or filtration plan would need to change if you had ich in your system are you really doing the best for your fish? Don't we have an ethical responsibility to keep our fish in the best condition we can?

I don't feel we should do anything different if we prophylactically QT, observationally QT, or do not QT at all. It is HARD to keep every possible pathogen out of our systems. Why not try to set our fish up for success so that even if crypto sneaks its way into our systems, we would never know?

And along these lines, if you are running an ich managed system and you see a fish showing signs of an outbreak, please pull it and treat it. Sick fish should be treated! Don't use this as an excuse to never use medications on fish. It doesn't mean that you have to take the tank fallow. It does mean that fishes immune system needs help to overcome the disease. While you are treating it you can try to figure out where things went wrong. Do you have an aggression issue? Is the tank a proper size for the fish? Is all your equipment working properly? Are you meeting the fishes dietary needs?

As a fish keeping community I think we have a lot of room to improve. A large part of this is helping people new to the hobby learn what fish are appropriate for their tank size and the overall stocking plan. Let's leave advanced stocking plans like putting 3 different Acanthurus tangs together in a 180g with very experienced reefkeepers. Let's stop trying to get away with the cheapest foods we can find. And most importantly, let's stop acting like we are in two completely different camps. We should be learning from each other, not arguing with each other.
This is a well-reasoned approach and makes sense. The 'discussions/arguments' comes in when the words 'ich management' are used. Why? IMHO, because there is no firm protocol/definition for what 'ich management' means - and Because many of the people who claim they use 'ich management' state categorically their fish never get sick. Thus, there will never be a sick fish to treat? Which also leads to the situation where a fish has 3 spots on their tail in the morning - and is covered by nightfall. In reality, (by definition) - when a fish gets 'sick' the person is not practicing 'ich management' (or at least not correctly). Note - I'm also not wanting to debate what anyone should 'do' or not do.

But - I'm curious - why are we focusing on 'ich management' - when velvet and other pathogens are present.
 
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Brew12

Brew12

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This is a well-reasoned approach and makes sense. The 'discussions/arguments' comes in when the words 'ich management' are used. Why? IMHO, because there is no firm protocol/definition for what 'ich management' means - and Because many of the people who claim they use 'ich management' state categorically their fish never get sick. Thus, there will never be a sick fish to treat? Which also leads to the situation where a fish has 3 spots on their tail in the morning - and is covered by nightfall. In reality, (by definition) - when a fish gets 'sick' the person is not practicing 'ich management' (or at least not correctly). Note - I'm also not wanting to debate what anyone should 'do' or not do.

But - I'm curious - why are we focusing on 'ich management' - when velvet and other pathogens are present.
There isn't a good definition of QT either. One of the main reasons I like what Jay recommends is that it avoids the use of antibiotics. Some people would say you should always prophylactically use antibiotics. Not to mention observation only, tank transfer, modified tank transfer, tank transfer with prazi.... There isn't a good definition for either QT or ich management since there are so many ways to do both.

As for the name ich management, I think that is just a matter of convenience. It is going to be helpful for any pathogen, not just crypto. I prefer to think of it an immunity based system but ich management is pretty well entrenched.

I know I have added fish from systems that had both ich and velvet without treating them with copper. Could I make the claim my fish never get sick? Sure. I haven't seen a sign of ich in over 3 years and never have seen velvet. I haven't lost a single fish since 2019 (currently have 18). If I had a fish start showing signs of either I would absolutely try to pull and treat it. I keep a bottle of Coppersafe and a Hanna copper checker in case the need ever comes up. I know it is always a possibility I will need to use it some day. Just like fallow periods don't always work and we don't always catch everything regardless of which QT method we follow.
 

MnFish1

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There isn't a good definition of QT either. One of the main reasons I like what Jay recommends is that it avoids the use of antibiotics. Some people would say you should always prophylactically use antibiotics. Not to mention observation only, tank transfer, modified tank transfer, tank transfer with prazi.... There isn't a good definition for either QT or ich management since there are so many ways to do both.

As for the name ich management, I think that is just a matter of convenience. It is going to be helpful for any pathogen, not just crypto. I prefer to think of it an immunity based system but ich management is pretty well entrenched.

I know I have added fish from systems that had both ich and velvet without treating them with copper. Could I make the claim my fish never get sick? Sure. I haven't seen a sign of ich in over 3 years and never have seen velvet. I haven't lost a single fish since 2019 (currently have 18). If I had a fish start showing signs of either I would absolutely try to pull and treat it. I keep a bottle of Coppersafe and a Hanna copper checker in case the need ever comes up. I know it is always a possibility I will need to use it some day. Just like fallow periods don't always work and we don't always catch everything regardless of which QT method we follow.
The lack of definition of 'QT', 'cycled', etc - is one (some would say of many) pet peeves. Unless we know what we're talking about - its hard to make sure we're discussing the same thing.

One thing thats very interesting is the aquabiomics assays - that can find the DNA for parasites/bacteria in the tank. I for one would be interested to see if some of the tanks that claim to use 'ich management' - actually have ich in their tanks. My strong suspicion (as a microbiologist) - is that the CI in many of these tanks has died off - as compared to 'being managed' - as has been suggested in many articles. Though - its clear - I had a fish - that every so often would get spots on a koran angel that would come and go - until my tank crashed during a 24 hour power failure. Due to a little anger - I left the tank sitting there for 5 months - with a couple corals, etc - since then have never seen a spot.
 

Eusvolk93

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Discussions on ich management vs taking a tank fallow happen all of the time on R2R. This is typically followed by a discussion on what changes the fish keeper will make in order to manage ich. And honestly? I don't understand this mindset.

So when is the best time to start practicing ich management? It's before you put your first fish in your display. Waiting until you see an issue is waiting until it is too late. If your stocking plan, feeding plan, or filtration plan would need to change if you had ich in your system are you really doing the best for your fish? Don't we have an ethical responsibility to keep our fish in the best condition we can?

I don't feel we should do anything different if we prophylactically QT, observationally QT, or do not QT at all. It is HARD to keep every possible pathogen out of our systems. Why not try to set our fish up for success so that even if crypto sneaks its way into our systems, we would never know?

And along these lines, if you are running an ich managed system and you see a fish showing signs of an outbreak, please pull it and treat it. Sick fish should be treated! Don't use this as an excuse to never use medications on fish. It doesn't mean that you have to take the tank fallow. It does mean that fishes immune system needs help to overcome the disease. While you are treating it you can try to figure out where things went wrong. Do you have an aggression issue? Is the tank a proper size for the fish? Is all your equipment working properly? Are you meeting the fishes dietary needs?

As a fish keeping community I think we have a lot of room to improve. A large part of this is helping people new to the hobby learn what fish are appropriate for their tank size and the overall stocking plan. Let's leave advanced stocking plans like putting 3 different Acanthurus tangs together in a 180g with very experienced reefkeepers. Let's stop trying to get away with the cheapest foods we can find. And most importantly, let's stop acting like we are in two completely different camps. We should be learning from each other, not arguing with each other.
Unfortunately no one in the industry educates new hobbyists on these matters. My LFS never said a word to me about quarantine processes when building and stocking my 90 gallon tank. I only learned about it after my 12th fish finally got an illness.
 
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MrTPlush

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Unfortunately no one in the industry educates new hobbyists on these matters. My LFS never said a word to me about quarantine processes when building and stocking my 90 gallon tank. I only learned about it after my 12th fish finally got an illness.
Unfortunately QT isn’t a fun topic. No one starting wants to think about putting their first fish in a glass box with PVC. Instead of selling you stuff you will go home second guessing even starting a tank.

I got lucky and one of my two not QT’d clowns bit the dust quickly. Went and bought all my QT supplies the next day and put the remaining one in a QT tank. It sucked watching my 125gal tank empty for weeks, but it sure feels great watching two healthy clowns swim around happily now. I can’t imagine learning the hard way with my entire 125gal tank full of fish.

I have considered doing what the OP proposes once my stocking gets high or I put in an “ich magnet”. I did a 6 week 81+ degree fallow. Now one can say that is no assurance of complete eradication. I’d say that is true, but even the popular 76(?) day fallow is no safe bet to 100%. From my understanding their is some ich strain that could survive nearly 100 days. It’s all a gamble. One microscopic misstep can ruin it all.
 

Eusvolk93

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Unfortunately QT isn’t a fun topic. No one starting wants to think about putting their first fish in a glass box with PVC. Instead of selling you stuff you will go home second guessing even starting a tank.

I got lucky and one of my two not QT’d clowns bit the dust quickly. Went and bought all my QT supplies the next day and put the remaining one in a QT tank. It sucked watching my 125gal tank empty for weeks, but it sure feels great watching two healthy clowns swim around happily now. I can’t imagine learning the hard way with my entire 125gal tank full of fish.

I have considered doing what the OP proposes once my stocking gets high or I put in an “ich magnet”. I did a 6 week 81+ degree fallow. Now one can say that is no assurance of complete eradication. I’d say that is true, but even the popular 76(?) day fallow is no safe bet to 100%. From my understanding their is some ich strain that could survive nearly 100 days. It’s all a gamble. One microscopic misstep can ruin it all.
I doubt your clowns had ich. It was likely velvet if they died quickly. Clowns are rather resistant to ich due to their thick slime coats. Ich also is a slow death I believe. Velvet would likely be a total loss to tank inhabitants too.

My issue with going fallow is that I have a 90 gallon tank with 12 fish... In order for me to safely go fallow I would need at least another 90 gallon tank so that my 12 fish wouldn't succumb to the ammonia/nitrite poisonings during the 76 days. So... I am just going to manage the ich and luckily my favorite fish are wrasses so mainly stick to them.

In about 9 months I'll be upgrading to a 200 gallon tank that will be a main display in my home. Once I purchase this tank, I will treat all fish for copper in the new tank and keep equipment basic until copper treatment is completed and I have a chance to put fish into large bins while I clean the 200 gallon tank of copper. During all this leave my 90 gallon tank fallow (stuff it with live rock) and after 76 days I'll add corals, live rock, sand, etc., to my main tank. I will end up keeping the 90 gallon tank so that I can quarantine any live rock, corals, inverts, or future fish I may wish to add. The new 200 gallon tank will not receive anything but water changes without being QT'd first. This seems like the only plan I can come up with that will work. I considered getting 4 large tubs (15 gallon each) and doing QT/Fallow this way, but catching all the fish + stressing them + wrasses dont do well with copper, has me saying management till then.
 

sfin52

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I view ich management like I view me. I don't want to get sick. I try to keep my self healthy but if I do get sick I go to the doctor. I get meds why shouldn't I treat my fish the same way.
 

MrTPlush

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I doubt your clowns had ich. It was likely velvet if they died quickly. Clowns are rather resistant to ich due to their thick slime coats. Ich also is a slow death I believe. Velvet would likely be a total loss to tank inhabitants too.

The clown definitely had ich...did it have have other issues, quite possibly. It took about 4-5 days for it to die. It certainly didn't look like velvet (looked like classic ich) and the other fish that was with it was totally fine. The other fish never showed any symptoms and it was probably 3 weeks before that one ever went through copper. I think the one clown just wasn't as hardy and may have had other issues suppressing it immune system.

I have been to that store after the fact and noticed multiple tanks with fish that look to have ich.
 

Rcpilot

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IMO ich eradication starts in a quarantine tank. You eradicate the parasite in QT and don't ever let it into your main tank. Pretty simple. People are just too lazy to have a QT tank and learn how to use it so they come up with "theories" and use buzz words like "management" to gloss over the fact that they're just too lazy to be bothered. IMO that's animal abuse.

Would you let your dog live it's life with intestinal worms? How about mange? Just "manage" it, right? The dog will be fine. No need for expensive medication or extra effort of driving it to the vet. Just manage it. Soak the dogs food in garlic... yeah that will help.
 
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