Now that we understand the life cycle of freshwater ich, many of our treatment recommendations make more sense. Because the life cycle is temperature-dependent and the ich can only be killed in the tomite stage, we will want to raise the tank temperature to 78-80°F over 48 hours to speed the cycle of tomite formation and release. Theoretically, if the cycle takes four days to complete at this temperature, then the treatment should be complete in 4 days. On the other hand, if the temperature is much colder, for example at 60°F, the treatment would need to last for several weeks or longer.
Since we understand that we cannot kill ich while it is on the fish, we know that moving a fish to a quarantine tank to treat will not solve the problem in the main tank. The time to use a quarantine tank is before a new fish is introduced into a display tank. If a fish in a tank has ich, you must assume that the entire tank is now contaminated with ich and must be treated.
Another way to get ich out of a tank is to remove all of the fish. Since we know that the tomites can only survive for 48 hours without attaching to a fish, if we remove all of the fish and then raise the temperature to 80°, the existing ich in the tank should be dead after 2 days. To be safe, wait 4 days before returning the fish to the tank. But remember, you will need to treat the tank that the fish are moved to, otherwise, fish entering that tank could become infected.
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