Treating Marine Ich and Brooklynella with Hyposalinity

Blue tangs with marine ich

I have tried many methods to treat marine ich and/or brooklynella with varying levels of success.  I have tried chemical products such as Kick Ich, copper based medicines and malachite green based medicines. 

I have tried freshwater dips, malachite green dips, garlic and even cleaner shrimp.  The only tried and true method I have found thus far is to use a quarantine tank combined with hyposalinity. The following information will show you how to successfully treat marine ich and brooklynella.


Ten steps to successfully treat marine ich and brooklynella with hyposalinity


Step one: set up a quarantine tank. This can be a very simple setup such as a ten gallon tank with a hang on back filter and an airstone.
Step two: Fill the quarantine tank halfway with water from the infected display (or another display tank if you have more than one)
Step three: Add RO/DI freshwater to the quarantine tank to bring the specific gravity to 1.010-1.013.  Note: This range is critical and a quality refractometer is preferred over a hydrometer to get an exact reading.  Below 1.010 will be dangerous to the health of the fish and over 1.013 will be far less effective.

Step four: Add chunks of PVC pipe and fittings to the tank to give the fish cover from one another.  This will help reduce stress.
Step five: Test pH of the quarantine tank and the display tank.  There should be less than a 0.2 difference in pH between the display tank and quarantine tank. 
Step six: Check the temperature in the display tank and in the quarantine tank.  There should be less than a 1 degree difference between the two.
Step seven: Add ALL of the fish from the display to the quarantine tank.  You should monitor closely to ensure the fish are not overly stressed.  If the fish appear to be doing very poorly then check salinity, pH and temperature.
Step eight: Now it is time to wait… Monitor the fish over the next two weeks.  Make sure the salinity stays in the proper range and do water changes if nitrates, nitrites or ammonia get high.  Watch for signs of secondary bacterial infection.  If you notice signs of a secondary bacterial infection, treat the quarantine tank with a broad spectrum antibiotic.
Step nine: If the fish have been symptom free for at least a week, you can slowly start increasing the salinity each day.  This can be accomplished by performing 20% water changes with newly mixed marine water with a specific gravity of 1.024.  Salinity should not increase more than .003 per day.
Step ten: Once salinity is raised to that of the display tank, continue to monitor the fish until the main display tank has been fish free for six weeks.  If the main tank has not been fish free for six weeks, the cured fish will likely become reinfected.

I have used this method and have never lost a fish.  Any other method I have used has resulted in some loss of life. 


Can I combine other methods of treatment with hyposalinity?

I have heard of some success with freshwater dips being used in conjunction with hyposalinity but I have never had to use them for successful treatment.  The same goes for malachite green dips.  I often will use food with garlic in it in conjunction with hyposalinity but I have had success both with it and without it.


Can I move the fish out of the quarantine tank earlier if I have an uninfected display tank available?

Yes, I have moved the fish out of quarantine after 2 weeks of no symptoms.  Please make sure that you have properly adjusted the salinity over a period of a week or more to ensure the fish do not encounter salinity shock.


What is the best method to keep my display tank ich free in the future?

Now that you have a quarantine tank set up, make sure to quarantine all new fish and corals.  Failure to do so will eventually lead to a reinfection of the main display tank.