Treating White Spot

sthn75 Moderator Posts: 3,487
edited September 2010 in Emergency Room

This is the most common parasitic infection. It occurs in fish species and can be recognised by the typical spots or dots. (look like salt grains)
This infection may cause mass morality in the warm water of a tropical aquarium.
The parasite hides under the skin and is covered with a film of skin (mucus), which protects it from medications in the water.
In the inital (or young) stage, the white spot cannot be seen with the naked eye, but later, when it has grown to 0.2 - 1.0 mm, it can clearly be recognised.
A large numberof parasites may be present in the gills even though none or only a few spots are visible on the skin.
In warm, trpoical aquariums, the development cycle last 3 - 7 day; in cold aquariums or ponds, it may be 2 or 3 days long.
In the adult stage of whitespot the juveniles are born and will spread out in search of new hosts.
The disease can only be combated in this phase where juveniles (up to 1,000 per spot) swim freely in the water.

At the onset of the infection the fish exibit only a few non-specific symptoms; there is some scraping, clamping of the fins and rapid breathing.
In advanced infections, with many spots covering the body and fins, the fish will have severe respiratory difficulties, they hang at the surface or lie on the bottom, lie or hang in groups with other congeners as if they are cold.
The skin (and the gills) produce a stringy slime and the fins fray.
Secondry bacterial infection, with fin rot and/or red patches can also occur.
A large number of (juvenile and adult) spots, will combine into clusters and the infection then resembles velvet disease.
The spots may be difficult to identify on light colourd fish or may be dis-colouring depending on the skin colour.


Occasionaly, the spots occur exclusively in the gills and are (virtually) absent on the skin, so they cannot be identified as a whitespot infection.

Whitespot is HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS to other fish or aquariums or ponds.
Some fish are especially prone to whitespot e.g. Botia, Pimelodelle, Pangasius, Gagata, Eutropiellus and Salmonids/Tetras
Fish the have recovered from whitespot will have to build up a resistance to this infection.
This explains why certain species are not affected by whitespot in a community aquarium.


Introduction of whitespot can be prevented by temporarily quarentining new fish for 7 days. New plants can also introduce the parasite and therefore should be rinsed thoughly before putting in tank.
Stress is another major cause and must be avoided.


Is successful in the inital stage but may come to late if the infection has reached advance stage.
Allowence should be made for secondary bacterial infections for which an anti-bacterial medication is required.
Treatment will only kill the juveniles, free-swimming stages of the whitespot and not the whitespot under the skin.
In a trpoical aquarium, the parasite has a life cycle of 3 to 7 daysand treatment must be continued for 7 days.
As a rule, the entire aquarium (water, plants, decoration, filter etc) is treated.
In case of serious infections, it isrecommended to repeat the treatment after 14 days.
The most commonly used and effective medications are Malachite Green.
Remember to always half dose with the following fish: Botia, Pimelodelle, Pangasius, Gagata, Eutropiellus and Salmonids/Tetras.
Another treatment method consists of removing all the fish from the aquariumand leaving the aquarium empty for 7 days, thereby causing the juveniles to die as they can no longer find a host.
In a pond same action as above can be taken, with more frquent dosing. Repeat the treatment at regular intervals especialy with cold ponds below 15c, The lower the temperature the longer the life cycle of the spot.

****EDIT**** 29th Sept 2009

Just over a year ago in May 2008, I done some research on Whitespot to try to work out what beliefs were fact and which one's were simply myths.

This was what I was able to find out...

Fact... Ichthyophthirius multifiliis is the parasite that causes ich
Fact... Single-celled Ich is a ciliate
Fact... Ich has three life-stages - TROPHOZOITE, CYST & TOMITE
Fact... the trophont (or trophozoite) stage is where it lives & feeds on the fish (and is usally visable to our eyes as white spots)
Fact... The Cyst stage lives on the bottom of the aquarium (or on plants ornaments driftwood ect & is invisible to our nake eye), and releases hundreds or thousands of tomites per cyst
Fact... Only the Tomite stage is susceptible to medication
Fact... The life cycle takes 12-16 days to complete, depending on the temperature, and the tomite stage lasts for only three days
Fact... Not every one of the Ich Parasites will be at the same life stage during the life cycle

Now these following statements have been claimed as FACTS but are not 100% proven fact (but i'd agree with them)

"released tomonts swim for 2 to 6 hours before settling on a substrate"
"During this brief swimming stage the parasite may be susceptible to medication"
"The tomites'/theronts' metabolism is also temperature-dependent, but they must find a host within a very few days or perish"
"The gelatinous thin-walled cyst can't survive being completely dried out" (hence the need to completely air-dry nets and other items used in tanks)
"At 29.44C (85F) they will not attach onto a fish"
"At 30C (86F) will not reproduce"
"At 32C (89.5F) the parasite will die"

During the research I also found a good article which is worth a read (even if it is rather lengthy). <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href=""></a><!-- m -->


  • sthn75
    sthn75 Moderator Posts: 3,487
    I have successfully used Aquarium Science Multi Purpose Remedy to cure whitespot. I had no success with a 3 day white spot treatment however. But others may have had different experiences.

    For the benefit of others... please add your experiences for treating white spot & name the products that you have used successfully or even unsuccessfully.
  • Stuart Elflett
    Stuart Elflett Member Posts: 392
    Aristopet 3 day treatment has worked fine for me - it's worth noting, that while it's a 'quick acting' remedy, I think the 'three' day refers to the treatment needing doing over three days, for the course of a week... it's not a treat one day, the next, the next, everythings fine - you treat on days 1, 3 and 5, from memory...

    Protozin works a treat, and doesn't knock the filter around as much as Aristopet... I have used both, including the Aristopet at half dosage for neons...
  • Avalon_Princess
    Avalon_Princess Member Posts: 35
    My favorite way to treat whitespot is to move the fish to a separate tub, no filter and turn the heat up in their tank to 34 degrees, Then add a heater to the fish in the tub, and an air pump and raise the salt to 0.3% over 48 hours, to get 0.3% you dose 3 teaspoons of aquarium salt to 4 litres. Then change the fish water frequently replacing the salt, keep the heat at about 28, after a week no more whitespot.
  • Stuart Elflett
    Stuart Elflett Member Posts: 392
    Just out of interest though, how would that treatment go with a hillstream loach/neon tetra/cory or bristlenose??
  • Avalon_Princess
    Avalon_Princess Member Posts: 35
    I don't have most of those fish, but for the scaleless fish, they go to their own tub with a half dose of salt, works just as well...
  • harwood83
    harwood83 Member Posts: 50
    the fish i had got white spot and i put them in a different tank with malekite green and stuck the temp up to 28 and left them for 5 days and they were cured none died and havnt got it since
  • Mooo
    Mooo Moderator Posts: 7,653
    My big tank has had it a few times now.
    The first time I dosed with a cheap Multicure as per the instructions & upped the temp to 30...Results...All clear in a week and no deaths

    The second I used Aquarium Science 3 day white spot treatment & upped the temp tp 30.. Results ...all clear in a week & No deaths

    The last time, Happening now ...Nearly over it tho...I have upped the temp to 30 & added Protozin..This is a great product. It is stronger than most , So delicate and scaleless fish, you would use at half strength.
    Lost one of my fav fish...He had scales lost from scratching off the ich, the fish got a secondary infection on the wound.
    Still treating the tank with protozin into to the second week of treatment...Just in case...
    photo mooo_avat.gif "I'm a Doug Addict" photo cow2heartkisses.gif
  • brendonrook
    brendonrook Member Posts: 86
    I have had great success in treating White Spot with Aquasonic Ichonex. I have had a degree of success with formalin malachite and methylene blue mixtures ( FMB ) as well as other non-copper based products such as straight malachite green.

    You need to watch out for the products which contain copper as these are the treatments that will effect scaleless fishes the most (it can also effect fish such as Silver Dollars and Scats). Most of these copper based treatments can be used successfully at a half dose rate on these types of fishes.

    You can potentially kill the protozoan which cause White Spot (Ichthyophthirius multifilis) with a strong dose of Ultraviolet light (however, to completely kill of the disease you will need a UV with an output of about 120,000 micro Siemens/cm2 [120,000umS/cm2]).

    I will put a post up soon on the effectiveness of UV sterilisers and the rated micro Siemens/cm2 (umS/cm2) you will need to kill the most common diseases.
  • Brengun
    Brengun Moderator Posts: 1,985
    You can explain Siemans etc with UV but when it comes down to it, this is about all the information we get online, to select and decide whats best for our tanks to prevent ich etc. No Sieman mentioned, but I get just as bamboozled with the Watts and max waterflow. Aquariums up to 750ltrs, does that include everything below that amount?

    De Bary Aqua-UV Sterilizer AN-15E
    Lamp rating 18 Watt
    Suggested Max. waterflow rate for 99% effectiveness - 2000lph.
    Recommended useful lamp life - 12000 hours
    Average intensity loss after 5000 hours - 10%
    For aquariums up to 750 litres
    Inlets & outlet - 19/27mm 25/34mm
    Dimensions - 89 x 498mm
  • brendonrook
    brendonrook Member Posts: 86
    When sizing a UV there are several factors that go into making the right choice.

    Firstly you will need to determine the flow rate you have in your tank. You will then need to choose a UV that has a higher max. flow rate than the flow in your tank, as this makes the UV more effective.
    Secondly most UV sizes are determined on a "clear water" rating. This means all the figures on the box/website/label etc are for perfectly clear applications, and if the water flowing through the UV is not clear this will mean the bulb will not have the same effectiveness as in clear water.

    To answer your question about the difference between micro Siemens and wattage. Micro Siemens is the actual light wave length the UV bulb puts out, where as the wattage is how much power the lamp uses to function.

    The aquarium size is the maximum volume at a pre-determined flow rate the UV can function effectively at. So in your case Brengun your UV is capable of handling a max flow rate of 2,000LPH, with that flow rate being calculated off a 750 litre aquarium. The flow conversion being 2.6 times the volume per hour. If you have a say a 500 litre aquarium you could potentially turn the water over 4 times per hour. Most UV's will also have a minimum flow rate, which should be the bare minimum being put through the UV, as this will indicate the water level inside the UV would be starting to drop, and not completely covering the bulb which makes the bulb wear out quicker or simply crack and fail. As long as you a pumping more water through the UV then this you can potentially put this sized UV on a 200 litre tank.

    I hope this answers a few of your questions on UV's


  • Brengun
    Brengun Moderator Posts: 1,985
    Thanks for the explanation Brendanrook, I think I understand it a bit better now.
    Because I want to put them on pleco tanks which have quite high water turn over (cause plecs poop a lot), I think thats why the big 15w one was recommended to me.
    Someone else gave me a tip which was good. Make sure the UV is connected to the outflow canister tube so its getting nice clean water through, not the inflow tube. These UV things are not cheap to buy. I hope they come with good setting up directions or I might be posting more questions when they arrive. <!-- s:) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- s:) -->
  • Mooo
    Mooo Moderator Posts: 7,653
    I just have to add.. <!-- s:laugh3: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/PMSL.gif" alt=":laugh3:" title="laugh3" /><!-- s:laugh3: -->
    I haven't had a bout of the dreaded White Spot since I added my UV steriliser..340L tank with a 9Watt unit.
    <!-- s:dance3: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/dance.gif" alt=":dance3:" title="dance3" /><!-- s:dance3: --> Could not be happier with it.. <!-- s:dance6: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/Boogiedancing.gif" alt=":dance6:" title="dance6" /><!-- s:dance6: -->
    photo mooo_avat.gif "I'm a Doug Addict" photo cow2heartkisses.gif
  • kelly
    kelly Member Posts: 60
    dammit i was just at the pet shop and noticed the white spots on the columbian tetras on getting home!

    cranking the temperature and playing the waiting game is my plan
  • Mooo
    Mooo Moderator Posts: 7,653
    Doh..That is shocking..lfs's annoy me no end <!-- s:aaargh: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_aaargh.gif" alt=":aaargh:" title="Aaargh" /><!-- s:aaargh: --> they should have noticed they had it. :scratch : & treated the tank & stuck a not for sale sticker on the tank....I guess it is buyer beware.. Cos the only thing the lfs are interested in is their <!-- s:moneyeyes: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_moneyeyes.gif" alt=":moneyeyes:" title="money eyes" /><!-- s:moneyeyes: -->
    Sorry you got ripped off...They might make it tho, I hope they don't infect your other fish..treat it with a mulit cure, or something stronger if'n you have it, ie Protozin...& good job cranking up the temp. 28>29 should be it degree by degree too..just to be kinder to them, upping it too fast might stress em out to much...
    photo mooo_avat.gif "I'm a Doug Addict" photo cow2heartkisses.gif
  • stu51
    stu51 Member Posts: 187
    i just treated my 6ft for an ick outbreak
    the great advice i got!
    i gradually upped the temp to 30 (my fish handled the high summer temps fine so i knew it wouldnt bother them)
    added salt and aquamaster rapid whitespot remedy
    my poor baby salmon cat was covered in them but after a day and a half not one spot on him!
    everyone fine except one cichlid whos death alerted me to this
    will now be buying a new canister with the uv built in
  • Mooo
    Mooo Moderator Posts: 7,653
    Sorry for your loss, but so pleased you got onto it fast and averted any more deaths..
    You will be stoked you got a canister with a UV steriliser...
    photo mooo_avat.gif "I'm a Doug Addict" photo cow2heartkisses.gif
  • Bren MacFish
    Bren MacFish Member Posts: 19
    3 weeks keeping the tank at 30C worked for me in a Natural Planted Tank too. I didn't want to dose the tank altho I did add a little salt to help with wound healing in their gills.
  • Waldi
    Waldi Member Posts: 4
    I am a total newby and need some help. I have suspected ich in ONE only red cap goldfish in a pond with 8 other fish. None are new, neither are there any new plants in the pond. It is the dead of winter (Melbourne) and the pond is sitting at 10 degrees celsius. The affected fish is still eating well, but keeping to himself. He is the runt of the group.
    I also have schubunkins and waikin in the pond, 3000 litres, none are more than 6-8 months old.
    Heating the pond is impossible. Identifying the source of infection is difficult. Can someone give some advice on the best course of action?
  • Waldi
    Waldi Member Posts: 4
    I am a total newby, with suspected white spot in a 7 month old red cap, in a pond of 3000 litres and all other fish apparently healthy. None are new nor are the plants. Water temp is 10 degrees (Melbourne). Subject is eating well, but keeping to himself, only coming out for a short time each day.
    What can I do, given raising the temp is out of the question?
  • Neptune
    Neptune Member Posts: 356
    If you live in Melb or in the outer suburbs there is a very good chance it came via your water supply I know it does in my area.

    Have a look at this or contact the GAB

    The Goldfish and Aquariums Board (GAB)

    Goldfish and Aquarium Board Articles
    Treating Ich with Salt
    By Mango Fish
    Ich (Ichthyophthirius multifiliis), commonly known as white spot disease, is a protozoan parasite with a complex lifecycle. Ich can be seen as is white cysts that look like grains of salt sprinkled on the fish's body and fins. These cysts (trophonts) drop off the fish and release 200 to 1000 tomites (the free swimming stage of ich) into the water. The free swimming tomites, invisible to the naked eye, will then seek a live host. When tomites attach to a host, they mature into trophozoites and bury themselves into and under the skin of the fish and become trophonts (white cysts) and the cycle starts again. Understanding the life cycle of inch is beneficial because it is only during the free swimming stage that you can kill this parasite, so even if the spots are gone you will still have treat for several days to make sure that all the swimmers are gone. Also, we can reduce the amount of ich present by vacuuming the bottom of the tank/gravel bed since this should remove many of the mature trophonts just released from the host. The ich life cycle will be faster at higher temperatures so to speed up the development of the trophonts it is recommended to keep the temperature in the upper 70s.
    Symptoms: Infested fish display the typical signs of irritation (clamped fins, fin twitching, and flashing--swimming quickly against objects in the tank) and may look like they have been sprinkled with salt. In the early stages of infestation, you might only see a few trophonts (white spots). Be sure that what you're seeing is ich because male goldfish get breeding stars on their gill covers and on the leading ray of their pectoral fins which may be mistaken for ich. If the fish is heavily infested, it is likely to sit on the bottom of the tank and wait for the end to come. With Koi you may need to scrape and scope the fish to properly identify the parasite because they are less likely to show the spots characteristic of ich. Ich can be avoided with a proper quarantine protocol.
    Here are some other pictures of what It looks like:
    • <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href=""></a><!-- m -->
    • Microscopic picture of ich
    Treatment: Salt (sodium chloride or NaCl) is a much gentler medication than Ich medications commonly sold in pet stores. Some commercial parasite medications can push a sick fish over the edge. Salt will not harm your filter bacteria, it’s cheap and will not harm humans coming into contact with it; however, not all fish tolerate salt. We recommend it only for cold water fish like Goldfish and Koi. Tropical fish are best treated with a malachite/formalin combination like Rid Ich or Quick Cure. Salt may also kill some plants, so you will need to remove any live plants into another container and disinfect them (Potassium Permanganate works well for disinfecting plants). The salt must be fully dissolved in tank water before adding it to the tank. Most any salt will work fine. Rock salt or pickling salt work great and are cheap. Avoid using salt that contains yellow prussiate of soda
    It is very easy to treat Ich with salt. You’ll need a concentration of 0.3% salt (3 teaspoons per gallon) to eradicate the Ich. To reach 0.3% salt you would add 1 teaspoon of salt per gallon of water to your tank 3 times, each 12 hours apart. Pre Dissolve the salt in tank water and then add slowly to a high water flow area.
    It is important to keep track of the salt going into your tank because salt does not evaporate and is not removed with activated carbon. It is removed only with water changes. To keep the salt at the desired level, when you do a partial water change, you must salt the new water to the same concentration as the tank water. For example, if you remove 10 gallons of water you will need to add 30 teaspoons of salt to the change water to keep the tank at 0.3%.
    While treating Ich, you will need to vacuum the entire bottom of the tank each day to remove any cysts that have fallen off. This will reduce the amount of tomites swimming in the tank and will help to clear the Ich faster. Heating the tank to 78-80*F will speed up the Ich life cycle and boost the fish’s immune system response. At that temperature Ich has a life cycle of 3-5 days. Typically, your fish will look like it is getting better then another wave of spots will appear. Each cycle is usually worse than the one before. But if you keep up the water changes and salt ich will clear within a week. Maintain salt at 0.3% for 7 days after the last cyst drops off the fish. This will ensure that the Ich is indeed gone. If your tank temperature is lower, the life cycle can extend into weeks so you will need to adjust your temperature or your treatment regime accordingly.
    Be sure to keep your water quality excellent during this time. Ich will stress your fish so you need to ensure optimum water quality. As trophonts leave the host, they leave behind small exit wounds. That coupled with the stress suffered by the fish can give bacteria and fungi an unfair advantage, so it is important to watch out for any signs of secondary infection shortly after a bad case of ich. Here are some links that may help:
    • Betty's article on water quality
    • REC's article on Quarantine
    • Doc Johnson's articles on Ich and on Salt

    <!-- s:king: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_king.gif" alt=":king:" title="king" /><!-- s:king: --> Neptune
  • Waldi
    Waldi Member Posts: 4
    Dear Neptune
    You have given me a wealth of info to study and I thank you. One thing I do know is that the town water supply is not responsible. We have never put town water into the pond, only water from our own tank. (I am in Kilsyth, just at the foot of Mt Dandenong).
    I was hoping the salt treatment would be the go and intend to quarantine the fish in a tank this weekend before the next stage of the infection gets going. Then at least I can study him morely closely and keep the water warmer by putting it in the house.
  • Mooo
    Mooo Moderator Posts: 7,653
    Great Advice there Keith, Thanks for that. <!-- s:dance3: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/dance.gif" alt=":dance3:" title="dance3" /><!-- s:dance3: -->
    photo mooo_avat.gif "I'm a Doug Addict" photo cow2heartkisses.gif
  • Waldi
    Waldi Member Posts: 4
    Well, the latest update is that it cannot be white spot - the "spots" are too large, almost freckle size marks on his skin and head.
    For 3 days I have been waiting for them to emerge, so I can catch him, to no avail. Ended up having to get hubby in 10 dgree water to remove their hiding spaces and force them all out yesterday.
    Now the "freckles" have reduced but not gone and the fish is as lively as ever. The <!-- s:fish: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_fish.gif" alt=":fish:" title="fish" /><!-- s:fish: --> lumps on his skin also reduced. None of his mates are affected. Being so cold, none of them is eating much and practically gone into hibernation.
    New hospital tank now sitting empty, waiting for its first patient.
  • Mooo
    Mooo Moderator Posts: 7,653
    Good News he is on the mend, what ever it was will stay a mystery I guess, You will be glad you got a spare tank, they are always handy ...
    photo mooo_avat.gif "I'm a Doug Addict" photo cow2heartkisses.gif
  • Tiger74
    Tiger74 Member Posts: 6
    Hi everyone, reading these posts makes me feel cautious to avoid white spot wherever possible. I read a suggestion that a canister filter with a 'UV Steriliser' will greatly reduce the risk. I have an eheim 2215 in a tropical tank. How much are these sterilisers worth?

    I was initially advised by the pet shop to occasionally add a teaspoon of salt to the water. Is this to avoid white spot too and if so what should the actual dosage be?

    I am aware I should thoroughly wash all weeds ect before putting them in the tank. Is there any thing further I can do to protect my precious fish?
  • animal_expert01
    animal_expert01 Member Posts: 380
    If your tank does get an outbreak of white spot you should crank up the heater a few degrees higher ( unless you have sensitive fish like discus ). And you should put in between one and two table spoons of special aquarium salt ( you get it from the pet shop, don't use normal table salt).If only one fish fish has white spot then you should move it to a sped are tank and do the same thing above ( except maybe a little less salt assuming it's a smaller tank).
  • Frayk
    Frayk Member Posts: 1,009
    edited December 2015
    Your trying to revive old posts again m8, usually laughed at and ridiculed on this forum { believe me} Last post on ICH was SEPT 2010!
  • animal_expert01
    animal_expert01 Member Posts: 380
    Holly crap this is old ( sorry I didn't see the date )
  • Frayk
    Frayk Member Posts: 1,009
    easy to do, no stress