Humblefish

Experienced Reefer
This article expands upon the Ich eradication vs. Ich management thread I wrote. It takes other diseases - such as Velvet, Brook, Uronema, Flukes, Bacterial Infections - into consideration; and discusses the best strategies for preventing vs. managing all pathogens commonly found in a saltwater aquarium.

Disease eradication - Simply put, this means doing everything possible to keep diseases out of your display tank (DT). That can only be accomplished by utilizing a strict quarantine (QT) protocol as outlined here: How to Quarantine. It is very important to QT each & every fish, including your very first one, if you wish to avoid Ich, velvet and other diseases in your DT.

It is also important to QT all corals/inverts as discussed here: Coral/Invert Quarantine Time Frames

While unable to host ectoparasites the way fish do, corals/inverts are still able to “carry” fish diseases in one of two ways:
  • Free swimmers inadvertently attached if the coral/invert was taken from infected water.
  • Tomonts encysted to the animal, which can occur if the coral/invert was previously housed in an infected tank.
Why choose disease eradication?

Most fish pathogens are waterborne transmissible, meaning once an infected specimen has been introduced into your DT the disease will likely spread to all your other fish. Some fish may show symptoms and even succumb, others will be asymptomatic carriers. Ich and velvet trophonts drop off a fish, and become tomonts which encyst to rocks, sand, corals, glass, plastic and other hard surfaces. So, the parasites are now in your tank as much as they are on your fish. And the only way to get rid of them (in most cases) is to catch all the fish, quarantine/treat them, and go fallow in the DT: Fallow periods: Going Fishless

I personally chose disease eradication, because I got tired of “disease management” being a part of my aquarium husbandry. There’s enough to do in a reef aquarium on a daily basis without adding “battle fish parasites” to the list. :p

The cons of disease eradication are somewhat obvious. In addition to having to setup & maintain a QT (or multiples), not being able to add your newly purchased fish directly to the display tank (DT) is a major buzz kill. QT does zap some of the “thrill” out of the hobby.

What if I already have a disease (such as Ich or Velvet) in my tank?

There is no easy way of dealing with this (if you want to be completely rid of it.) You have to catch ALL of your fish, and QT/treat using a medication listed here which addresses the disease(s) you are trying to eliminate: Medications and Treatments.

This link outlines how to setup the quarantine tank: How to Quarantine.

The DT itself must be left fallow (fishless) for a predetermined amount of time: Fallow periods: Going Fishless. (In most cases 6 weeks - 76 days depending upon your tolerance for risk.) ** Note ** The two exceptions to the fallow periods are Trichodina & Uronema, which are “free living” parasites that do not require a fish host. They can subsist off bacteria, dead tissue and (mainly) detritus. So, going fallow will not eradicate these two pathogens. :eek:

Corals/inverts cannot host (the way fish can), so they can be left in the DT during the fallow period. (y) You must be wary of cross contamination during the fallow period, avoiding anything wet (including hands) when going from QT to DT (or vice versa). Aerosol transmission is another concern, so it’s best to house your QT at least 10 feet away from the DT. More info on that here: Aerosol transmission.
 

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