Treating External and Internal Parasites

How to treat ick, finrot, and other external parasites.

by fballguy

External Parasites:

External parasites are any type of disease that effect the skin/scales of the fish. These parasites include, but are not limited to ick, fungus, finrot, columnaris, and velvet.

There are several ways to treat external parasites. Any place that carries fish probably carries several different kinds of parasite medications. These medications are fairly simple to use, all you have to do is follow the directions on the bottle. These medications are effective, but many will stain the color of the water, and even the silicone that holds the tank together. This can be rather unsightly. Many of these medications are also harmful to scaleless fish such as catfish and puffers.

A safer and cheaper alternative to off-the-shelf medications is to treat with salt and heat. Any type of of salt will do the job. Simply turn up the heater to heat the water to 85 degrees. Heat to 80 degrees for coldwater fish such as goldfish. This heat will speed up the life cycle of many external parasites. Then add 1 tbs salt for every gallon of water. Many people reccommend up to 5 tbs salt per gallon, but I have found 1 tbs to be plenty effective. Once all visual symptoms have cleared up, keep treating for another 5-7 days, just to make sure the fish has been totally cured. Then lower the heat back to normal, and do a few small water changes over the next few days to remove the salt from the water.

For bacterial external parasites the heat and salt method will not work. Instead you will have to buy an off-the-shelf antibiotic. There are several different kinds. I have not needed to use any personally, so I will only reccommend that you talk to the employees at your local fish store to find the proper antibiotic.


Internal Parasites:

Internal Parasites are any type of parasite that infects the inside of the fish. Symptoms of internal parasites include thin, emaciated bodies, white stringy feces, and in the later stages the fish will stop eating. There are many medications that you add to the water and they claim to work, but this is not true. Its a matter of common sense, how would adding chemicals to the water effect the inside of the fish? So look for medications that are supposed to be injested. Some medications are sold as food, some are liquids or gels that you add to the food. Be sure to follow the directions very carefully.

The only known home remedy is to feed the sick fish a small piece of garlic every day until cured.


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