Ich is a common disease among freshwater fish tanks. It can be hard to see your fishy friends struggling with this ailment, but how does Ich occur?
If you have snails, you may be wondering if your aquarium snails can get Ich or carry the parasite. Fortunately, they can’t get Ich, but they can carry it.
Read on to find out how snails get infected with Ich and how it can be prevented.
What Is Ich?
Ich is a common disease that infects freshwater fish and is caused by a microscopic single parasite. Ich causes white spots on the skin and fins of fish.
Ich feeds on the fish, falls off the skin, and then replicates itself to produce new Ich parasites. The earlier it is caught, the better chance your fish will have to recover.
How Do Snails Carry Ich?
Due to Ich being a parasite, it can’t survive without a host. When Ich is done killing the host, it leaves the carrier’s body. The free-swimming Ich Trophonts then attach themselves to a substrate to reproduce. The aquarium snail then acts as the substrate.
The parasite will stay attached to the outer body of the snail for 2 to 18 hours. After 8 to 12 hours the free-swimming Trophonts will divide to create more Ich parasites. From there they attach themselves to the fish from the body of the snail.
The Ich Life Cycle
Ich grows in three separate stages to infect snails. The stages are:
The feeding stage occurs when the protozoan feeds on a nodule that forms on the snail’s skin. The snail carries it around and when it touches gravel or fish, the protozoan attaches to the fish’s body or substrate.
In this stage, the free-swimming Trophont falls from its fish host to divide and adhere to gravel, nets, and other aquarium surfaces.
After attaching to an object, the parasite becomes active and divides through the process of binary fission. It divides quickly and begins to attack fish and snails.
Conditions That Cause the Spread of Ich
The life cycle of the dangerous parasite starts when the conditions are optimal. Once the conditions are met, Ich begins to divide and completes the life cycle within eight days.
There are many reasons why snails carry Ich, including:
- Inappropriate water temperature or parameters
- Improper diet
- Dirty tank environment
- Contaminated water
Symptoms of Ich in Snails
Although Ich is microscopic, snails do show signs when carrying it. Common symptoms of a snail with Ich include:
- Loss of appetite
- Rapid breathing
- Abnormal hiding
- Rubbing against aquarium objects
- Hanging out near the water’s surface
Treatment For Ich
Ich is treated right before the replication stage because it can’t yet be released and is dormant. One of the easiest treatments can be to raise the temperature of the aquarium water by 25 to 30 degrees.
You can also follow the following treatment methods.
Treat Infected Fish
As soon as you notice the signature white spots on the fish, begin medication. Use the medication for a time frame of 10 to 14 days. It’s also best to turn off your carbon filter during treatment.
Be sure to carry out a 25 to 30 percent water change during treatment.
Aquarium salt is a simple way to treat Ich, however, it isn’t good for fish species. If you plan to add aquarium salt to your aquarium water, first quarantine healthy fish from infected fish.
Add one tablespoon of salt per 2 gallons of water in the aquarium for at least 10 days.
Using a quarantine tank is effective against Ich. Remove your sick fish and ensure that all objects are cleared and aren’t infected.
There are common chemicals to treat Ich that are safe for fish and snails including:
- Malachite green
- Methylene blue
- Sodium chloride
- Quinine hydrochloride
Things To Consider With Chemical Treatment
- When you use formalin, use it when fresh. Stored formalin can convert to paraformaldehyde which can be fatal to aquatic animals. The formalin should be a clear solution. An indication that paraformaldehyde has formed is white precipitates.
- When using malachite green be sure to follow the strength recommendations based on the species of fish in your tank.
- When using formalin or malachite green, its best to remove carbon
- When using these chemicals shut down your UV filter and remove your protein skimmer.
How To Prevent Snails from Infecting Your Tank
Getting Ich isn’t fun for your fish and can be scary for you too. No one wants a sick fish. If you’re looking to add some snails to your tank, you can take these steps to prevent Ich transmission.
Quarantine Your Snails
When adding snails to your tank it is best to give them some quarantine time first. If your new snails have ich this will prevent transmission to your fish. Ich can’t survive very long without the presence of fish to infect and complete the lifecycle.
The lifecycle of Ich takes around 7 to 24 days to complete and if you quarantine your snails for that amount of time, you can prevent transmitting ich into your aquarium.
Maintain a Higher Water Temperature
For Ich Trophonts to survive they have to attach to a host within 24 hours. If they don’t find a host and are living in a temperature between 75 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit, the parasite will die. Your snail can survive in temperatures near 80 degrees. After two days at this temperature, the parasite will die without finding a host.
Can Snails Survive Treatment for Ich?
While your fish may be able to handle the antibiotics, your snails may not. There are several medications out there that are safe for snails and fish. For example, the API Liquid Super Ick Cure is safe for snails and fish but should be used at half the normal dosage.
Do Aquarium Snails Carry Disease?
Aquarium snails do carry different diseases just like fish or shrimp.
Snails can carry the following diseases:
- Schistosomiasis: This is one of the deadliest diseases caused by parasites in freshwater snails. Illness is caused when the eggs of the parasite lodge into the tissues. This parasite can even cause sickness in humans.
- Clonorchis Sinensis: Clonorchis Sinensis is a Trematode that lives in the bile duct of mammals and humans. Freshwater snails act as the first host for the shedding phase where the disease replicates.
Can Shrimp Get Ich?
Freshwater shrimp can’t catch Ich but can carry Trophonts like snails and infect your fish the same way.
How To Tell if Your Shrimp Has Ich
While shrimp can’t be infected with Ich, you can still try to check your shrimp for eggs. The eggs are extremely small white dots that appear on the surface to which they are attached. Like snails, it is best to treat them before adding them to your tank.
Many chemicals used to treat Ich aren’t safe for shrimp so the best method to treat them before adding them to your tank is to keep them in a quarantine tank.
Ich is a common, serious aquatic disease in fish. While snails can’t get Ich, they often carry parasites like Ich. To avoid giving your fish Ich, isolate any new snails before adding them into your tank, and keep the proper water conditions and your tank clean.