Love in the Time of Ich

Behold, the tank is still cycled! Ammonia and nitrite today both tested completely zero. Nitrate has come up ever-so-slightly to 5 ppm, and pH has swung down slightly to about 7.0-ish (I find it really hard to tell the difference between the blue/green shades in the 6.8-7.2 range). I was first clued in to the slight pH movement by the SeaChem pH Alert, which was nice.

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No water testing happened yesterday, as I worked in the midwife office all day and then had an induction going on all night. I really don’t mind the lack of sleep so much when I get to catch a baby at the end of it all (I might not say that to you while I’m impatiently waiting on a baby, but in retrospect I almost always feel that way).

My attempt to sleep this morning were foiled by a certain Azawakh seeing a cat in our neighbor’s yard and deciding it was absolutely imperative that she chase it down (this would not be so worrisome if she couldn’t clear the 4-foot chain link fence). When Hampton dragged her back in the house and wouldn’t let her outside again, she came and woke me up to see if I’d let her out. I wandered to the back door only to have Hampton explain what was going on, so I turned and went back to bed. Interestingly, Ellie stopped bothering me after that, like she understood she’d been found out and it was no use bugging me anymore.

Still, there was no going back to sleep, so I got up and went and cuddled with Jazz on the couch. It’s become a game to see how much we can get Jazz to groan. She’s particularly fond of getting her ears rubbed, and she’ll turn her head into your hand and occasionally groan. Often it’s a brief, soft groan, but sometimes you can elicit some seriously theatrical groans. This morning I was treated to the latter. She’ll probably take that back later today when we take them to the vet for their well-dog checks.

The day before yesterday we added some more fish to the tank. I was able to track down five female cherry barbs to fill out the school and make everyone a little more comfortable – and provide the initial single female with some relief from constantly being chased by the three males. Initially when I found the five girls at PetSmart, I was only going to take four of them home, as one had a kinked spine. When I pointed that out to a PetSmart employee, she explained she would give her to me for free if I would take her, since she couldn’t sell a deformed fish. She also reassured me she’d been there for several days, the kink was not a new development, and she ate and swam fine. So I got suckered into adopting a little deformed cherry barb girl. Unfortunately, that same little cherry barb girl also had an ich spot on her that I missed (or that wasn’t apparent) until I got her home; two days later it has become four spots. No one else has any symptoms, but of course I’ll be treating the whole tank.

In terms of ich treatment, when I first began fishkeeping ten years ago, the general consensus was to use medication like malachite green or methylene blue to combat ich. Three or so years into my fishkeeping, the consensus switched to using only heat and salt to combat ich. While I’m sure in my early days I at some point used medication, I don’t specifically remember; I do remember using heat and salt with good success, though, and being impressed that a more “natural” remedy was effective. So today I have begun the process of heating the tank up gradually to 86* fahrenheit and will acquire some aquarium salt later (not to be confused with marine salt, epsom salt, or table salt – it is a salt specifically designed for freshwater aquariums).

While the little deformed cherry barb may have brought in ich, she’s also put on a good show. She and one of the males have spent quite a bit of time in the ludwigia forest exhibiting spawning behavior. Whether they are actually spawning or not, who knows, but she seems more than happy to meander through the plants while the male wraps around her.

Here you can see the two of them near the ludwigia, and you can especially see her crooked spine. A friend at work helped me name her “Cera the Kinky Cherry Barb” as a result of her uniqueness. Cera is short for “cereza,” which is Spanish for “cherry.”

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I also acquired nine ghost shrimp, though presently I don’t have any good photos of them. At any given moment I’m lucky to be able to locate even one of them in the tank.

I do, however, have an excellent photo of the ivory mystery snail (with a baby snail riding on his back), who has been named Falcor:

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I’m not terribly excited about dealing with ich, but there are worse things that could happen. I didn’t see the sense in setting up a hospital/quarantine tank since this was all the initial batch of fish going in, and the purpose was to keep this tank cycled, but moving forward I will be setting up a 25-gallon nearby that every incoming fish will stop in for two weeks before getting moved to the 125g.

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