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How to Treat White Spot

Distressing for fish and fishkeeper alike, having a disease of any kind plague your fish tank is certainly an upsetting event. With potentially disastrous risks ranging anywhere from heightened stress levels, unease and irritation, all the way to death in the most severe cases, the appearance of white spot fish disease in particular is a cause for immediate attention.

In this blog, we’ll be introducing you to white spot fish disease, going over the causes and symptoms of the illness and providing advice on the best treatment for white spot and how to administer it. So, if you’re concerned that your fishy friends might be suffering from white spot disease, discover how to beat it back and return your tank to full health below.

What is white spot disease in fish?

Also known as ‘ich’ disease, which takes its name from the Ichthyophthirius parasite that causes the aquatic illness, white spot is one of the most commonly occuring fish illnesses in freshwater fish. An inconvenience for fishkeepers, and a trial of discomfort for fish, ich disease is by no means the worst illness to befall a fish tank - but it should always be treated swiftly in order to minimise the damage.

It's important to remember when dealing with an influx of ich disease that, while it is a common fish illness and can be treated relatively easily, the suffering caused by any level of infection can be severe - a nightmare for any dedicated fishkeeper. Additionally, white spot disease is potentially fatal if left untreated, so acting quickly to save the lives of your fish is crucial.

What causes white spot in fish?

As we’ve already mentioned, white spot disease is known to be caused by the external ‘Ichthyophthirius Multifiliis’ parasite, however it’s not quite as simple as that. This parasite is actually naturally occurring in freshwater aquariums, and the natural immune system of the fish should be enough to prevent any widespread or severe outbreaks. It is only when the fish’s natural immune system is weakened that they become susceptible to a white spot outbreak, which can be caused by a number of factors.

The most common cause of white spot disease taking hold of a tank is through heightened stress levels of the tank inhabitants. Fish, like humans, have a lowered immune system when undergoing stress, so you should always be on the lookout for potential stress triggers in your aquarium, such as poor water quality or the introduction of a new fish into an established aquarium.

If given the opportunity to latch onto and feed upon your fish, the Ich parasite will undoubtedly do so. This is when visible symptoms of the disease will begin to appear. Identifying these symptoms, diagnosing your fish correctly and treating them accordingly with white spot fish treatment is the best way to stamp down on the illness as soon as it occurs.

What are the symptoms of white spot in fish?

If you’re worried that your aquarium might be suffering from an outbreak of ich disease, the easiest way to determine this is by looking for symptoms of white spot. To help you diagnose your fish, we’ve put together an easy list of all the symptoms of white spot in fish below, including the most common white spots on fish as well as some more hard-to-spot symptoms.

White spots on fish: The appearance of white spots on fish is the easiest identifier that your fish are suffering from ich disease. These spots, which resemble small white specks of sand, can appear anywhere on your fish including their tail, body and fins. Sometimes, these specks can be clustered together in patches and can even appear around and inside the fish’s gills.

Scratching and fish flashing: White spot fish disease can be incredibly irritating and itchy for fish so it’s not uncommon to see infected fish using objects in the tank to try and scratch themselves.

Scale damage: A side effect of the scratching, seeing scale damage and general bruising is a cause for concern as these tears can leave your fish open to further infection and illness.

Lethargy and clamped fins: Signs of an advanced case of ich fish disease, a lessening in activity and extreme lethargy is a side effect of increased stress levels and poor health.

Can fish recover from white spot?

Yes, while ich disease is potentially fatal, if caught early and treated effectively, your fish are capable of making a full recovery. This will take some effort on your part, as the treatment requires multiple doses and careful treatment (which we’ll get into next) but it's vital that, when those white spots first begin to appear, you act immediately. There is still hope, and you don’t need to give up on your fishy friends.

Fortunately, once your aquarium inhabitants have made a full recovery, there are plenty of steps you can take to ensure your fish stay fighting fit. Not only will this boost their general mood, but it will also reduce their risk of infection from a wide range of fish illnesses, including ich disease. Take a look at some preventative measures you can start taking below:

  • To avoid causing fish stress through poor quality water, invest in a strong and well-maintained filter. This will keep your fish’s stress levels low, and immune system high, leaving them with all the tools they need to fight off common fish diseases.
  • There are a number of environmental factors that can increase fish stress levels, such as loud noises, sudden light changes and glass vibrations, so do what you can to minimise these. We recommend supervising young children when they’re around the tank so they don’t tap on the glass and investing in a lighting system that changes intensity gradually, such as the Juwel HeliaLux SmartControl.
  • Maintaining regular checks on your water quality, either through automatic testers such as the Seneye USB Home V2 or manual water test kits, and altering your water chemistry when necessary is a great way of ensuring that your tank’s environment is comfortable for its inhabitants.

What is the best treatment for white spot?

As with any illness, early diagnosis and treatment is key to stopping white spot fish disease from wreaking havoc on your aquarium. Fortunately, as white spot is one of the most commonly suffered diseases among fish, we have developed fast and effective methods of treatment to limit the damage.

White spot fish treatment has been developed carefully to target the Ichthyophthirius Multifiliis parasite at the weakest stages of its lifecycle. This is during the two ‘swimming’ phases of the parasite life cycle, the first of which occurs when it is looking for a host to latch onto and the second occurs after the mature parasite has finished feeding on the fish and bursts from the skin. It is during these stages that the parasite is most vulnerable to fish ich treatment, so medicating at these points is important.

To ensure you medicate at the right time, follow our simple step-by-step instructions on how to treat white spot below:

  1. Remove carbon from your filter while medicating your tank. This should remain removed throughout the ich treatment process, but can be replaced seven days after the last treatment is given.
  2. Use your anti white spot fish treatment. At Aquacadabra, we have a number of proven treatments to choose from, including Esha EXIT Anti White Spot Treatment, Interpet Anti White Spot and Bermuda White Spot Treatment (which is best for larger freshwater environments such as ponds). Most fish ich treatments require multiple doses, so check the instructions of your chosen medication to find out how much, and how often you should be treating your fish.
  3. If you’re worried about the happiness and stress levels of your freshwater fish during the treatment process, try adding a dose of first aid salt to the water. This should have the dual effect of de-stressing your fish and stabilising the conditions of the water.

Once the course of fish ich treatment is complete, we recommend leaving your fish to rest and recover in peace. This means no re-decorating, no excessive cleaning and no new fish. It's also important to keep a lookout for signs of ich fish disease returning, such as a return of symptoms. Once you know you and your fishy friends are in the clear, you can restart your regular caring activities, making sure to follow our advice to ensure a happy, stress-free environment for your fish.

Find white spot fish treatment at Aquacadabra

If you think your freshwater aquarium is suffering from an outbreak of ich fish disease, don’t panic. Seeing your fish in such a distressed state can be upsetting, but treatment is inexpensive and effective and, as long as you act quickly, it doesn’t have to be a disaster.

Browse the collection of white spot fish treatments available online at Aquacadabra and follow the simple steps above to swifty eradicate infection from your fish tank. If you have any questions or are worried about medicating your fish yourself, contact our friendly experts here at Aquacadabra. We have plenty of expertise dealing with fish diseases such as ich disease, and are always on hand to share our knowledge with fellow fishkeepers.