Freshwater Shrimp: Can They Catch Ich?
Ichthyophthirus multifiliis, or what is more commonly referred to as ich, is a very small, white, freshwater parasite that attaches to fish. It is extremely common, and fish in aquariums can be especially vulnerable to it as if one fish gets ich, it can very quickly spread to all the others in the tank. Luckily, ich is a treatable parasite, but if you do not catch it fast enough or treat it properly, it can cause your fish to get really sick, and it can even turn fatal in a relatively short period of time. There are people who have lost entire tanks of fish to ich because they did not know how to identify or treat it.
Can Freshwater Shrimp catch ich? Shrimp will not become sick if there is ich in a freshwater system, but new shrimp can carry ich tomonts, eggs, into your fresh water system at home, thereby infecting your fish. It is important to examine your shrimp carefully to make sure they are not carrying ich on their exterior.
How Can You Tell if Your Shrimp Are Carrying Ich
As stated above, shrimp can not get sick because of ich or die because of ich, so if you have a tank that is entirely freshwater shrimp, you do not need to worry too much about it. However, often people have shrimp and fish in the same tank or aquarium, and that is when you can run into some problems. Ich tomonts, which is the proper term for ich eggs, can attach to any surface. It can attach to glass, pebbles in the aquarium, decorations in the tank, and new freshwater shrimp that you are bringing in. For this reason, you need to check everything that you bring in to your tank from another tank or from someplace else for ich.
How do you check your shrimp for ich? Well, since ich cannot survive off of shrimp, you are only looking for the eggs. Ich eggs are very small, white dots or bumps that tend to appear all over whatever surface they are attached to, though in the early stages, there may only be a couple, so make sure you look closely. It is also a good idea to ask whoever you got the shrimp from if they have had any problems with ich in the past, as that will help you assess their risk level. Keep in mind that some breeders may not be completely transparent about this.
If you find evidence of ich on your freshwater shrimp or have a concern that they are carrying eggs despite the fact that you cannot find any, it is a good idea to treat them before you put them in the tank with the rest of your fish because it will very quickly infect your whole tank and make your fish sick.
A lot of the chemicals that are used to treat ich in a fish tank can be dangerous to invertebrates like shrimp, so the safest method for treating your shrimp is to quarantine them after you get them. Sometimes, ich will complete its life cycle and die off without a host within seven days, but it can take up to seventy-two days. For this reason, after you get your shrimp, unless you are absolutely positive they do not have ich, it is a good idea to quarantine them in a separate tank for at least sixty full days before introducing them to the tank you will keep them in permanently.
What to Do If Your Shrimp Gives Your Fish Ich
So what happens if you do not catch it and your new shrimp bring ich into your tank? Well, in your tank, there are a few signs to look out for, first being the eggs. You can also look for other symptoms of ich such as spots on their skin that might be slightly raised, trying to scratch against objects in the tank, gasping at the top of the tank for air, and clamped fins. As soon as you notice that there is ich in the tank, you need to start treating them for ich.
If you do find that there is ich in your tank (it can take up to 24 hours to confirm the diagnosis), you can go to the store and buy Ich-X, which is an ich treatment that is safe for both fish and shrimp as well as other things like snails and plants that might be in your tank. You should follow the directions on the bottle to figure out how much you need to put in your tank to treat the ich. After you put it in the tank, wait twenty-four hours, change a third of the water, and retreat the tank. You should continue this pattern every twenty-four hours until you do not see any more signs of ich in your tank plus one extra day. This should completely rid your fish of ich, but depending on how bad the infection was, you may need to now treat your fish for other injuries and infections.
Remember that after an ich infection in your tank, you should not add any new fish for a while as if there is ich on your new fish, your current fish are at greater risk because their immune system will be weaker than usual which means the infection will probably be worse for them this time.
The good news is that your shrimp are completely safe from the harmful affects of fish. The bad news is, new shrimp have the potential of infecting your tank and the ich will hurt your fish. However, if you follow the above directions you and your fish should be perfectly fine because ich is very treatable if done early and done right. Just make sure to check your new shrimp, treat or quarantine them if necessary, and treat your tank as soon as you notice any signs of ich developing .