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Unusual situation with clown loaches and ick

Posted By: TasDevil
Date: Monday, 9 April 2001, at 9:09 p.m.

Hi there, I've been a lurker for quite a while - yet whenever I had a question to post, if I looked hard enough I usually found the answer. But now I'm in a very tricky situation.
I'd seen some clown loaches earlier last week and thought they looked really healthy. I went back yesterday and watched them for at least 15 minutes and couldn't see a sick one amoung them so I decided to buy two of them (I have two already). I even looked at them when I was handed the bag and didn't notice anything. It wasn't until I got them home and was floating the bag that I noticed three little white spots on one of them. They were really small (had to literally but my face to the bag to see them), but I'm pretty sure it's ick.
I couldn't add them to my tank. I have 2 other clown loaches, 2 yoyos and other sensitive fish in that tank and I definitely do not want to have to medicate the whole tank. Unfortunately most of my other smaller tanks have fish in them, the only spare I have is a 2.5 gallon which leaks a little, and I don't have a spare heater. So what I've been doing is keeping them in the bag (which holds about 1 gallon) with lots of water changes and have it floating in my heated tank. The bag is open though to allow oxygen in.
I've handled ick before, in the traditional medicated way, but now desperate times calls for inventive measures. As far as my knowledge of ick goes, I've read that the parasite attaches to the fish and then drops off, multiplies, and attacks other fish. So what I did was add my aquarium water slowly to the loach bag until the water chemistry was equalized, then carefully netted them out and placed them in another bag (I always knew I kept those old aquarium bags for a reason!) filled with the same aquarium water and made sure none of the water from the original bag got in the new bag - and certainly none in my main aquarium! My reasoning is that once the parasite drops off, it takes a little while before it infects again and if I take that fish out of the water and place it in water with no ick, it shouldn't be able to be infected again. After the last parasite drops off, there should be no more ick on the fish and with frequently moving the fish, it should then be completely free of ick. Is this reasoning correct or am I WAY off base here? I know it's a long shot, but does this method have any chance? Certainly the water changes would help at least. I've also been adding salt to the bags of water to help fight off the ick. I've done this water/bag change four times since I got them yesterday evening and the ick doesn't seem to be getting worse, although I'm not sure if it's getting better (the spots are so hard to see!).
The loaches themselves, apart from the spots, seem perfectly healthy. They're swimming around the bag, I haven't seen them itching at all, and they don't seem too put out by the bag changes. Last night they even ate a bit of shrimp pellet. By the way, they are only two inches long if that and the tank/bag temperature is about 81F.
Can anyone give me any more advice, or at least say if my method of treating would work at all (I don't want to use medication if I can help it). And if the spots do completely go away, how long until it is safe to add them to my main aquarium? Can the loach have ick physically on them and you not be able to see it at all?
Thanks for any help or advice.

 

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