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Re: diatom filters & ich & weak fish

Mary Lindstrom asked :

> So, do diatom filters really kill ich parasites?  Anyone have any
> experience with this?

Diatom filters filter out the waterborne stage of Ich.  One of the
critter's three stages is on the fish (makes the white spots).  One
stage is on/in the substrate, and the third is free swimming.  It's the
free swimming stage that lets you catch them with a diatom filter.  The
cycle through all three stages takes several days, depending on
temperature -- faster at higher temps.  But there are ich organism at
each of the three stages at any given time, so you need to run the
filter long enough to for all the ich to go through a full cycle.

If every single organism, when it reaches the free swimming stage,
passes into the diatom filter before it can attach to a fish, then you
will filter out every organism.  Not likely, when you think about it. 
No filter has perfect water exchange.  But if you get most of the
organisms, and tank conditons are otherwise healthy, your fish can
"fight back" the infection -- reducing the number of organisms seems to
help.  An ultraviolet sterilizer, with the appropriate water flow
(check the instructions) kills the ich organism in the free-swimming
stage.  Again, there is the issue of how many attach to fish before
going the UV gets a chance to zap them.

An infection introduced into a healthy tank might die off without meds
or diatoms.

A poison like formalim, formaldehyde, or malachite green or a combo of
them, even at half doses, probably kills off an extremely high
percentage of organisms, usually enough that your fish, if otherwise
healthy, can "fight off" the rest.

If your tank isn't healthy, if your fish are weak and have low
resistance, bad slime coats, etc, an introduction of ich into a tank
can kill them off pretty quickly.

Scott H.

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