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Hi everyone,

My channel catfish don't seem to be eating and when I look at them from above some of them are swimming and doing this thing where they start to turn a little bit over so that their white stomachs show, but then turn back over where their backs face up. They will go up to the pellets and touch them with their snouts and then go back down. I closed the lid and they still won't eat it. Also some of the channel cats have white spots on them--I don't know if this species normally has variations with spots or if this is something more serious like a disease (ich comes to mind). If it is ich, are there any natural/organic treatments for it?


I slowly removed heat from my tank over the course of 1.5-2 weeks. It was mid-seventies last week and this week it is at 67--it now feels cold to touch. Ammonia is at 0, pH is at 7.6 (slowly up .2-.4 points from a few days ago from added potassium bicarb) and Nitrate is ~30ppm. All of these stats seem to be in range. I don't know if I'm just being paranoid (as is the case with me!) but they do seem to be acting a little strange.

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Ok it seems to definitely be ich. Great, just my luck! Any advice? I've heard raising the temp will help and adding salt is out of the question bc of the plants (as is adding formalin/malachite green).

some more info please.

How big are the fish?

How many fish?

How long have you had them?

What size is the tank?

What about nitrite level?

What are the salt levels like?

My Experience, Channel Catfish tend to be scardy cats, some times you have to walk away and leave them alone before they eat.

What do the white spots look like?  Are they dots?  Or are they kinda patches? 

The patches can be columnaris disease though it can show up in other ways too.  Columnaris tends to be everywhere in the water and making sure not to over feed and keeping your water quality high and the fish un-stressed seems to be the best way to avoid that killing fish.  I've had fish die of it but I've also had fish with only minimal white patches survive.  It tends to show up after too much handling of the fish (stressing them out and having a net in the tank too much can also scrape their skin which makes them more prone to the infection.)  Or in tanks where too much uneaten feed collects (especially after temperature changes, last winter I killed a whole tank full by leaving the automatic feeder running when I went out of town and the weather got cold but the feeder didn't know that and just kept feeding.  Or when the weather starts warming up again and the fish start eating more, be very careful not to over feed then since it seems water below 80 F may have more columnaris in it.  I have seen this effect and will be more careful as water warms in the spring in the future.)

If the problem is spots it may be ich and you can treat that by changing you salt level up to 3-4 ppt (but you can't got higher than that long term with catfish since they can't take salt over 5 ppt.)  and warm the water back up since the life cycle of ich is shorter in warmer water.

Fish are 6 inches. There are 15 of them. I've had them for about 2.5 weeks. The tank is 100 gal. Nitrites are 0. Overall hardness is low. The white spots are dots; it seems to be very similar to the google image results for "ich."

What's interesting is that I was very cautious with transferring them from the container to my tank, making sure not to add the water from the buyer's pond. I also noticed that some of the fish were doing the "rolling around" move then, too. This move is also a symptom of ich: "If you notice fishes "flashing" and scraping against rocks as if their gills were being bitten, you have a strong presumption that some external parasite is at work. Labored breathing, loss of appetite, and listless hiding are all signs of more advanced malaise that should be danger signals that something is going wrong for that fish. Don't wait for the matured cysts to show on the fishes' fins and body." From


I think I am going to turn the temp up to 86+ and go buy Kordon's 100% Organic Ich treatment. Let you all know how it works... 

I don't know anything about this "ICH" treatment, in general using any sort of aquarium medication in an aquaponics system is a bad idea if you intend to eat the plants or the fish, SO, do some careful reading about what this "organic ich treatment" is before you assume that organic means safe to eat, there are 100% organic pesticides and poisons out there.  Also, some aquarium treatments can also do in your bio-filter which could mean having to completely cycle up the system again so do your research.  Salt can work as a treatment for ich and still be safe to eat the plants and fish.

And if that ich treatment is safe for food fish and plants and the bio-filter, please let us know because it will be valued info.

Good Luck

Before I added it, I noticed one fish on the side of my tank completely vertical just treading with its stomach against the side of the tank about midway water-level. It didn't look like it was struggling to get air or anything acutely catastrophic, but it's definitely acting strange (maybe trying to rub its body against the tank-side?). I felt bad for these fish so I wanted to add something quickly, and I knew my local pet store sold this organic ich treatment so I bought it and gave it to them without being 100% certain of its safety for humans.

I talked to a representative from Kordon, which is the company that manufactures 100% Organic Prevent and Attack Ich. She said that the products are all natural but aren't studied for their safety on fish and plants intended for human consumption so the label says "Not for fishes intended for human consumption." I think this is more of a legal precaution in case someone used it on fish and got sick eating the fish, they would then have this inconspicuous disclaimer to fall back on. On their website they give a good amount of information on the product and state: "Kordon Prevent-Ich contains 5% active ingredients consisting of five natural organic herbals, based on their containing patented naphthoquinones. Totally free of chemicals (such as formalin and malachite) and all heavy metals, including zinc and copper.  Does not affect pH of the water, or its oxygen content."

So without added synthetic chemicals and heavy metals plus 100% organic ingredients, I'd say its generally regarded as safe. I hate assuming safety so I sent them an email just making sure that the disclaimer on the label was a precaution and not something based on an ingredient that is proven harmful to humans. I'll keep you all up to date.


You might see if you can get an MSDS sheet on the stuff.  Is it safe for your bio-filter?

As to the fish on the side of the tank, I don't think that is anything really to worry about as I've had several "wall hangers" that just seem to like to claim that territory for themselves.  Of course that has always been in my liner or black tanks so putting their light belly against the wall probably seems as safe as against the bottom to help them "blend in".  I've also had catfish that loved to hide in the folds of the liner while they are small enough.

Found 2 dead fish about an hour ago. Tested the water: 0 ammonia, .25 nitrite, 30 ppm nitrate, pH 7.4-7.8 (the low pH test reads 7.6+ and the high pH test reads 7.4+). Yesterday's stats were 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 30 nitrate and pH 7.4-7.6. Not a big change and I'm sure the .25 increase in nitrite is from some waste being converted from ammonia to nitrate or some excess ammonia from the deteriorating dead fish; either way I don't think the .25 ppm nitrite is responsible for their deaths. What I think caused their deaths was too rapid of an increase in the temperature. I originally bought a water heater meant for an 80 gallon tank and its max heat is 88, and when I used it on my 100 gal tank originally the temp would only get up to the high 70's. So I bought a smaller 200watt heater to provide more heat. I used both heaters to increase the heat yesterday and the temp got up to mid 70's yesterday, which I thought was too fast too soon so I turned them both down a little. I checked it today and it was up to 88. The temp needed to effective in treating ich is 86, but again the temp increased too quickly. It went from 67 to 88 in a little over a day. I don't know what to do now or if there will be more deaths. I took out the smaller 200w heater and put the larger heater setting between 78 and 88. The top of the tank is open. I am hoping this will cool the tank down a bit without doing it too quickly. Any advice? What is the maximum change in temperature that can be safely made over one day (2 degrees, 5 degrees, 10 degrees?).

Also, the organic ich is safe for biofilter--it says it on the label.

Now I probably would have just left the temp alone since now you are cooling it back off which is just going to be another change and if it cools too fast or further than you expect it will just stress the fish even more.

There is a chance the fish deaths were because of the parasite or the fast temperature shift or both put together but shifting it back down too fast isn't going to protect the other fish.

Patience, it is tricky to learn sometimes but there are times where you should react quickly to correct an error but there are other times where a knee jerk reactions to correct an error can just compound it (temperature and pH adjustments would be where one should avoid the drastic reactions.)

Over a day a 20 degree change is extreme.  I have seen in my smaller systems 300 gallon fish tanks with lots of media beds the temperature can swing almost 10 degrees during extreme seasons between day and night, I might prefer if the swing was less but I've had both bluegill and catfish survive that.  So if trying to raise the temperature in a tank for treatment, perhaps raising the temperature about 8 degrees a day until you reach the target seems safe enough.  However, the accidental raising it too fast, I might have dialed the heaters back just a bit to make sure they didn't raise it more but I don't think dropping it back down 10 degrees is gonna help the fish any.  Once it's up to the target it would be better to just leave it there and let the ones who survive get used to it.

I have only two catfish in a 400 gal tank, along with bluegill.  One catfish has one white patch and he looks otherwise healthy - this is a recent development.  I'm reasonably sure they aren't being overfed and water quality is definitely good. 

I have culled fish with the white patches and we cleaned and ate them.

I think 300 gallons is a good minimum size for a fish tank, especially for channel catfish, and they grow really well in a 600 gallon tank.

Perhaps he managed to poke or scrape his paw with the barbs or bones of the catfish as he ate and now has a raw patch.  I've never heard of columnaris affecting mammals either.  However, there are some warm water bacteria that can cause some pretty nasty skin infections if you have broken or injured skin and put your had into an aquarium (be sure that if you get an infection that you can't quickly diagnose and treat that you let the doctors know your contact with fish systems.)  I don't know how likely it is that those could get from a fish out of water to a dog's paw but perhaps taking him to the vet and letting them know your dog ate some fish you meant to bury if the raw patch doesn't clear up quickly.

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