Ich is a parasite that lives on wild-caught fish. Usually the fish have a slime coat that protects them. But if they get stressed, they shed their slime coat, then the ich burrows in. When one fish gets it, the parasite will breed, the eggs will drop off, then the larvae will swim about and look for a host. Eventually all the fish will get it.
When we realized what was happening with the two tangs we had gotten (tangs are notorious for developing ich), we followed the advice given by the experts at the store, but nothing worked. One by one, the fish died off. Spike was the last to go, being the hardiest of the fish that we had. He hung on, suffering, for several days before he succumbed. He died on April 12.
Spike, Rebo, Zootie...farewell. You were our favorites.
The tank has had nothing but invertebrates since then. Just starfish, shrimp, snails, and feather dusters. The shrimp have been entertaining at times, which is nice. With no fish to clean, they eagerly jump on our hands.
We decided to wait the full 10 weeks of the ich life cycle before reintroducing fish to the tank. Some people wait as little as 4 weeks, but since we're not very experienced, we're going the full 10 weeks. Meanwhile, the wait is allowing us to build up a good population of pods for the Mandarin Dragonet that we'll be getting to replace the one we lost (below).
The good news is, we're getting close to the date when we can put fish back in the tank...Father's Day! We've been stopping in at the store regularly and being introduced to some new varieties that are good, hardy species for beginners. We've decided to stay away from tangs from now on!
So now we're excited about starting up again. And we've taken the best precaution against ich...we've set up a quarantine tank (QT). It's just a little 10-gallon used to house newly purchased fish for observation before putting them in the main tank. It will also be used to house fish that develop any illness in the main tank. Not only will that keep the illness from spreading, it will allow us to treat only the sick fish and not the whole tank. Some treatments are lethal for invertebrates, so quarantine is necessary.
We'll definitely be getting another Foxface and naming him Spike II. We'll also be getting clownfish, but we've seen many different varieties at the store and aren't sure which to get. We like them all!
Most importantly, we'll be sticking with species known to be hardy and ich-resistant. No more tangs! (Except...well...the store just got in all these really little blue hippo tangs [Dory from "Finding Nemo"] and they are SO CUTE! Picture the below only 2 inches long.)
No! Stop it! No tangs!