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Hi Everyone-

I know that ich topic has been covered fairly well here, but can someone speak more directly about salt and strawberries? I have about 15 strawberry plants that are producing nice little berries and don't want to lose them all! My goldfish are displaying telltale signs and slowly dying off. I've had the temp up to around 82 degrees for three days now and vacuumed the gravel.

Do I let the remaining fish die off and use fertilizer to keep my plants alive for awhile while cycling out the ich? If you salt to less than 3ppm, say maybe 1ppm would that get rid of the problem and spare my plants? Since I'm not going to eat the fish, is there any medication that will heal the fish and spare my plants and not make them harmful for consumption?

I have a 55 gallon system with with one 23 gallon media bed and one 23 gallon raft setup. Thanks in advance!

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The recommended salt treatment for ich is to add salt to 6 ppm and raise the water temperature. The sudden increase in salt is a power punch and the higher temp causes the ich organisms to go through their life cycle quicker. But... strawberries don't like more than 3 ppm. Can you come up with a way to separate them temporarily from the system while you deal with the fish?

Many folks keep their systems at 1ppm as a tonic for the fish. I'm doubting it will help your situation much, but you can try.

If it was my system, I would back up and do a fishless cycle, consciously seeking to eliminate the water conditions that lead to the ich. Ich is always in the water and only becomes a problem when the water quality deteriorates.

Actually, Rebecca, Ich is a parasite and NOT always in the water.  If you let the fish and the ich die off and run the system fishless for a month or so while keeping the temperature high you might be able to kill off the ich without having to salt and kill the strawberries.  If you want to keep the fish alive and kill the ich, I fear you will have to kill the strawberries.

Okay. I'd been told ich was always in the water. I guess a more correct statement would have been that a lot of fish carry the ich organism.

"What causes Ich?
Ich is considered the common cold of fish. Just like germs that make humans
sick, parasites are always present to attack fish. In a healthy situation a fish’s
normal immune system will protect it against these attacks.
When your fish becomes “stressed’ its immune system breaks down and the ich
parasite is able to make your fish sick. Just about every fish has been exposed
to the parasite at one time or another and may be a carrier. There are 3 common
causes of ”stress” for your fish:
1) General water quality, ammonia in particular. High ammonia level is the #1
cause of “stress”, ich and death.
2) Temperature drop of more than 3º as in transporting the fish. Keeping fish too
cold (below 75°) will increase the chances of ich.
3) Fighting between fish, especially new fish and old fish will increase the
chances of ich."

Rebecca TC is correct, but you are not far off in your comments.  Ich has a complex life history, which includes time on and off the fish.  Fish do no carry ich around, unless you see it.  Stress does lead to many things, just not in this case.  Ich exposure does.


A salt bath might work for you.  Make a solution in another container and dip them in for a few minutes.

Another option is to disconnect the plant loop and hit the tank hard while just manually water your plants for a day or two. 

Thanks everyone! I went with your option Matthew. I disconnected the pump from my beds and salted last night. Fish seem more active and ate this morning, still have the spots though. I had a heater go bad recently so perhaps the temp change is what did it. Prior to this, my tank cycled and levels seemed stable.

Great idea, Matthew, to simply disconnect the plant loop, and save both fish and strawberries. I would add a bucket of seasoned media to the salted loop just to maintain biofilter during treatment. I also want to add that the salt dosage should have been in ppt, not ppm.  Big difference. Recommended doses online range from 1-6 ppt, and many sites use ppt and ppm interchangeably. They shouldn't by a factor of 10!  I salt at 5 ppt for Ich, and so far everything else that has threatened, with great results. You need 2 lbs of salt to get 50 gallons of water to 5 ppt. For comparison, sea water is 35 ppt. 

matthew ferrell said:

Rebecca TC is correct, but you are not far off in your comments.  Ich has a complex life history, which includes time on and off the fish.  Fish do no carry ich around, unless you see it.  Stress does lead to many things, just not in this case.  Ich exposure does.


A salt bath might work for you.  Make a solution in another container and dip them in for a few minutes.

Another option is to disconnect the plant loop and hit the tank hard while just manually water your plants for a day or two. 

Stop feeding.  Since your biofilter is offline your nitrogen situation is unstable.

Depending on your water source then yes ich can come on as a result of a temp drop.  I am unsure of the dormancy length of the eggs.  A life cycle diagram is just a google click away.

Would cranking up  the heat a bit while salting help? (By speeding up the Ich's life cycle)?

Yes, keeping the temp high forever helps too.

There are other fish diseases that are ubiquitous (as in almost always in the water but they only strike when the fish are stressed.)  Most of these diseases are kinda like the "common cold" except that most of them are bacterial.  Things like Columnaris disease which is the main one I've experienced with my fish will strike after doing something to stress or hurt the fish (too much swinging around in the tank with a net) or when water quality suffers or overfeeding incidents occur.

Ich is the primary issue that makes me recommend quarantine of new fish before putting them in with the general population.

I'm loving this thread; so much information. But I'm still confused about how things get introduced to a tank. Bacteria (and fungus?) can come via the air, right? But I'm thinking parasites would have to come attached to a fish or in the transport water. So.... the quarantine would need to be in 6 ppt (thanx Jon for that catch) water or proceeded by (an even stronger?) dip?

TC- lets not forget areomonas, which is found on all continents.  And ubiquitous is my favorite word. 

So to add on to TC.  Commonly stress is the precursor.  However the temperature of the system will likely dictate the nasty's that will infiltrate the fish at the time of stress.  Ichthyophthirius multifiliis and Columnaris prefer two distinct temps, once you are past those you are usually in the clear for the specific pathogens.

As your question for fungus, again there are times of the year it is way worse than others.  In trout, breeding season seems to be the time that it rears its nasty little head.  I have been fighting it since January.  FYI it hates hydrogen peroxide. 

Dips can be stronger than prolonged immersion.

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