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Other methods of heating a tank? Sick fish...

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After 3 long days of work and generally not seeing or doing anything with my tank, today I found that the majority of my cardinal tetras have ich. Surprisingly, the other fish in the aquarium appear to not have any signs. I immediately moved all of the cardinals into a 5gallon quarantine with an established biological filter and heater. I've raised the temperature of the main tank with the other fish up (it has plants and I don't want to use meds in it).

However, typically smaller heaters (meant for <10g) don't have a temperature control. They maintain water temperature at about 75-78F. I have added medications to the quarantine tank but I also wish to raise the temperature to make the water warmer to kill off the parasites quicker. I'd prefer to not go out and buy an expensive temperature-control heater that will likely be too big anyway for a 5gallon.

What other ways could I try to warm the water temperature to maybe 85F without having to buy yet another heater? I was thinking I could put a space heater near the tank, but I would have to be careful not to have it too close...
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Without some type of control, you will be in dangerous territory before getting the temp high enough to ich but not kill fish. I have had to run as high a 90 at times.
But then, given the limits you've set, I might suggest lights. Heat from the bottom is better but a light put near the water will give lots of heat. Some things to increase the heat are wrapping the tank with blankets, etc. as if you were trying to keep warm. But, be warned, a small tank can overheat very quickly if not watched!
Warm water can always be added but do it carefully. Warm water holds less O2 so you may be walking a fine line. I add a bubbler when I do a high heat situation. Keeping the water clean and changed can be critical.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the reply. Very good suggestions. I'll try a lamp over top that can hopefully heat the water, as well as the blankets. I'd prefer to not directly put warm water in as I think this will screw up the fish in terms of acclimation. I'd prefer a method that will heat the water 1-2 degrees over the course of several hours, not minutes.

I will for sure add an airstone though, that's an excellent suggestion. Hopefully this will also provide plenty of oxygenation to ensure overall healthiness.

The fish themselves look normal. I gave them a small amount of frozen blood worms shortly after moving them that was supplemented with vitamins (trying to ensure they're overall healthy and have every everything they need to not get sicker). They all ate well and they are actively swimming; not lethargic. They're presenting with the typical white flecks on their fins and body, but I also noticed some have torn fins, which I don't believe were there before. Don't know if that's related (could just be nips).

The medication I used is Jungle Ich medication, the liquid form. I used a bit less because they are small fish and I don't want them dying from the meds. If there's any suggestions for more effective medications then I'm all ears. This is just what was on hand.
 

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Torn of missing fins may also be an early warning on other things to come. Ich is a parasite and does make tiny little wounds. Those wounds are really easy to get infected so be watching and aware. What we sometimes see is we get the ich cured but at the same time, while the fish are struggling with one problem they come up with another which takes totally different treatment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
You do not need medications for ich, heat and salt will suffice. Some even forego the salt part.
Treat the whole tank (main) for ich. You don't want to reinfect the fish. It a really good chance the parasite is everywhere.
I have plants in my 29g tank so I cannot use aquarium salt in the main tank. But I will give this a try in my quarantine. Maybe in conjunction with ich meds it'll help. My problem is I cannot turn up the heat in my quarantine. I've already turned the heat up in my main tank to help the other fish and kill off any possible ick (slowly turning it up to 86F). But I don't want to use anything in my main tank that will kill the plants, such as salt or medications. This is why I have moved the fish with obvious ick into quarantine. If they don't improve from salt or medications I'll try moving them back into the heated tank and see how that works.

I will also be doing 25% water changes every 2-3 days on both these tanks to ensure my water quality is good.

Bump:
Torn of missing fins may also be an early warning on other things to come. Ich is a parasite and does make tiny little wounds. Those wounds are really easy to get infected so be watching and aware. What we sometimes see is we get the ich cured but at the same time, while the fish are struggling with one problem they come up with another which takes totally different treatment.
This makes total sense. That's partially why I thought to ensure they have really good quality water and good quality food with lots of nutrients; to give them the best possible chance to fight off the ick. If you have any other suggestions to keep them healthy while fighting this off let me know! I know that they're pretty small fish, but many of them have been with me since I first got into this hobby and deep down I'd be kind of sad if they died from this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
A really simple solution is put your fish back into your aquarium. That's why I suggested treating the whole tank. You have a heater for that.


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I may end up just doing that. I've never had to deal with this before so my immediate thought was just quarantine and medicate! Thanks for the advice. Would 86F be warm enough?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Update:

So I kept my tetras in qurantine for 3 days, treating them with the ich medication. Ultimately I think this was a good thing because I've noticed my main-tank heater can't seem to get the water higher than 84F. So it hasn't been warm enough to kill off the ich. I finally ended up just going to get a new heater that will heat it sufficiently. The water is now at 86F, and I've put the tetras back in the main tank. All of the white spots on the tetras seem to be gone, but I'm noticing a couple on the fins of one Molly. So it's good that I have the temperature under control.

I've also thrown all my equipment (buckets, siphons, nets, etc.) into my bath tub with hot water and a small bit of hydrogen peroxide to hopefully kill of the rest. It will get thoroughly rinsed before being used again.

Lastly, in case it has spread to my 5gallon betta tank (no plants in this one), I've decided to try treating via the salt method. No signs of ich at this point but better to be safe.

Thanks for everyones great advice. Hoping this will all be over with after a couple weeks of heat.
 

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Done the reading on the three stages to the ich life? If not, it is worth some study just as a way to better understand some of the reasons on treating ich. The one you see is a hard shell and hard to kill, it drops off and lays on the bottom making it a good thing to siphon to remove as many of those before they "hatch" and return to free swimming and looking for your fish as a host. this is when they are more prone to being killed.
So if you quit when you don't see them, there are likely to be some hanging out unseen. Stop too soon and you find you get to do it all over again which is not good for you nor fish.
Also be alert that ich is a parasite and can make small wounds which can be like any wound and be a start to infection so be alert for anything that is a secondary problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Keep the heat up for a week or so after the last spots disappear. Do not make the mistake of stopping treatment before ich is eradicated from your tank.
For sure! I want to get rid of this stuff for good. Thanks!

Done the reading on the three stages to the ich life? If not, it is worth some study just as a way to better understand some of the reasons on treating ich. The one you see is a hard shell and hard to kill, it drops off and lays on the bottom making it a good thing to siphon to remove as many of those before they "hatch" and return to free swimming and looking for your fish as a host. this is when they are more prone to being killed.
So if you quit when you don't see them, there are likely to be some hanging out unseen. Stop too soon and you find you get to do it all over again which is not good for you nor fish.
Also be alert that ich is a parasite and can make small wounds which can be like any wound and be a start to infection so be alert for anything that is a secondary problem.
Yes, as soon as I noticed the spots I ensured to read up on it, and how treatment has to continue even after the spots have disappeared. Otherwise they will continue to get re-infected. Thank you!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
So after 2 days of a higher temp I've had 3 tetras die :( Those that died certainly looked the most sick. I think that they were just more susceptible to stress and other problems as many of you said. I think that they just got stressed following the temperature increase even after acclimating them... Very unfortunate, but a learning experience I suppose
 

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Yes, a learning experience for sure. But then as a guy that has had his fair share of learning, I still get caught at times. So don't feel it is necessarily something you've done wrong.
I'm still fighting the last chapter of a learning experience. I could not finds the fish I wanted locally for a price I was willing to pay so I ordered fish. I had been breeding and not ordering new fish so I must have forgotten some parts of that deal.
The fish arrived in less than great condition but looked okay for shipped fish who are always bleached out and scared/stressed. But the guys stayed that way and after a couple weeks in a tank by themselves, ich showed in a very few spots but then five of the six fish were not eating or acting normal. The ich was cleared easier than expected but they continued to show up dead until now I have run through three different bacterial meds and only have two fish left. One eating and looking good as always but the other acts strange and eats very poorly. I now have more invested in wasted medicine than the fish cost! I thought I knew better ---but then I really wanted these fish!
They are now in a 75 where they will live or die on their own as I'm done with that game!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Yes, a learning experience for sure. But then as a guy that has had his fair share of learning, I still get caught at times. So don't feel it is necessarily something you've done wrong.
I'm still fighting the last chapter of a learning experience. I could not finds the fish I wanted locally for a price I was willing to pay so I ordered fish. I had been breeding and not ordering new fish so I must have forgotten some parts of that deal.
The fish arrived in less than great condition but looked okay for shipped fish who are always bleached out and scared/stressed. But the guys stayed that way and after a couple weeks in a tank by themselves, ich showed in a very few spots but then five of the six fish were not eating or acting normal. The ich was cleared easier than expected but they continued to show up dead until now I have run through three different bacterial meds and only have two fish left. One eating and looking good as always but the other acts strange and eats very poorly. I now have more invested in wasted medicine than the fish cost! I thought I knew better ---but then I really wanted these fish!
They are now in a 75 where they will live or die on their own as I'm done with that game!!
I'm constantly learning from this hobby. It's certainly hard at times though when you try to do everything right and ultimately end up with dead fish anyway. Just goes to show how sensitive they can be sometimes. The tetras have always been my favourite fish and some of them I've had for nearly 2 years. That being said, it was likely the older ones who died from the changing conditions of my tank and couldn't cope. This certainly makes it clear why quarantining fish before adding them to an aquarium is so important
 
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