Yeah, clownfish can be real “ich magnets,” but it sounds like you have a good idea of how to handle the problem. Hyposalinity can be effective in eradicating Cryptocaryon irritans (marine ick) but should be maintained for at least six weeks in order to eradicate all stages of the parasite, as indicated below:
“Marine Ich (Cryptocaryon Irritans) is a ciliated protozoan that is an obligate ectoparasites which means that it is an external parasite that needs the fish host to complete its life cycle. Cryptocaryon irritans has a four-stage life cycle, including the parasitic stage (theronts), which produces the appearance of white spots all over the fish (3 to 5 days). These are small when they first attach, but once mature, they drop off the fish where they encyst and begin to reproduce. This is called the tomont or reproductive stage. The tomonts divide for a number of days (3 to 28 days) after which the cyst ruptures, releasing the tomites. Tomites may differentiate into theronts, which actively seek out a host to reinfect (within 24 to 48 hours). Affected fish develop white spots on their skin, gills, fins, and eyes. In seahorses, the skin is usually not affected. Symptoms are similar to Velvet. Treatments include copper and a quarantine tank, and hyposalinity. Six weeks of hyposalinity is thought to eradicate the organism from the display tank. Freshwater dips have not proven to be effective. Researchers have also found the use of cleaner wrasse (Labroides dimidiatus) not to be effective against the disease.
White spots on the skin (~ .5 mm);
(Martin Belli, M.D., et al., Working Notes: a Guide to the Diseases of Seahorses, pp. 61-62)
Yes, a 29-gallon biocube can safely house 2-4 seahorses when the biological filtration has been fully established and has had a chance to mature.
I have a ton of information on how to prepare your new biocube so that it will make an ideal habitat for seahorses, Barbara, but the material is far too expensive to post on a discussion board like this. Please contact me off list at the following e-mail address, and they will be happy to help you optimize your biocube for seahorses:
For future reference, aside from hyposalinity, the most effective, readily available medication I have found for eradicating Cryptocaryon irritans is CopperSafe by Mardel, Barbara. It’s a chelated form of copper sulfate that is much easier and safer to use than other medications containing copper and a single dose will normally clear a tank of Cryptocaryon irritans. It’s inexpensive and readily available at most local fish stores. CopperSafe can be used together with metronidazole and most bony fish tolerate it very well, including seahorses. I have found to be safe to use with crustaceans, but some snails are sensitive to CopperSafe, as are starfish and cnidarians (e.g., anemones, live corals, jellyfish, etc.).
You would need to remove activated carbon and any other chemical filtration from the aquarium, but I’m sure you’ve already done that to administer the other antiparasitics you tried (metronidazole and praziquantel) anyway, and CopperSafe is compatible with protein skimmers and ultraviolet sterilization, so you can keep the rest of your filtration system intact.
Here are the instructions for using the CopperSafe properly, CopperSafe:
* Stabilized copper effectively treats external parasites – Ich, velvet, flukes, and more
* Maintains a therapeutic level of copper safe for fish but effective against parasites
* Anti-parasitic treatment for aquarium fish – one dose treats for one month
Safely treat external parasites such as Ich, flukes, anchor worms, and velvet/protozoan diseases in saltwater and freshwater aquariums. CopperSafe, a unique stabilized form of chelated copper, is designed to maintain a therapeutic level of copper that is safe for fish but effective against parasites. Convenient Acu-measure bottle lets you quickly, easily, accurately measure the correct dosage – with no mess. One dose lasts for one month. 4 oz doses 100 gallons. For freshwater or saltwater fish-only aquariums.
Directions for Use:
Use 5 ml for 4 gallons of water. Loosen measuring chamber cap and squeeze bottle to fill to desired level. One application treats water for one month. DO NOT overdose.
Active Ingredients: Chelated Copper Sulfate.
Precautions: CopperSafe may be harmful to plants and some snails. If possible, remove plants and invertebrates without an exoskeleton from the aquarium. Otherwise, treat fish in a separate quarantine tank. Keep out of reach of children. For aquarium use only.
CopperSafe is intended for the exclusive use with ornamental fish and/or ornamental organisms and is not intended for use with humans or fish for human consumption.
Benefit: CopperSafe is a chelated copper compound that is used for the treatment of infections of Ick, Flukes (Gyrodactylus), Anchor Worms, Velvet/Protozoan diseases and other external parasites.
CopperSafe, when used as directed, maintains a total copper level of 1.5 ppm to 2.0 ppm in the water. CopperSafe remains active for over one month in the aquarium. Levels of 0.3 ppm free copper are recommended in the literature for therapeutic use, but with Coppersafe, the levels of free copper will be measured at 1.5 ppm to 2.0 ppm. This level of copper can be used in the treatment of fish due to Coppersafe’s unique chelating agent. The chelating agent binds with the copper making it nontoxic to fish but effective against parasites. CopperSafe does not discolor the water and will not interfere with the biological filter
Use: CopperSafe should be used when a diagnosis of the fish’s illness indicates the presence of Ick, Flukes (Gyrodactylus), Anchor Worms, Velvet/ Protozoan Diseases and other external freshwater parasites.
NOTE: CopperSafe may cause an adverse reaction with some sensitive invertebrates. Invertebrates without an exoskeleton such as jellyfish and anemones should be removed before treatment. CopperSafe may be harmful to plants, amphibians, and snails.
A chelated or total copper test kit is required to measure CopperSafe. Coppersafe may cause inaccurate free copper readings when using certain test kits. All readings should be based on the total copper or chelated copper results and not the free copper results.
Coppersafe is safe to use with UV Sterilizers, Protein Skimmers, Wet/Dry and Diatomaceous earth filters. After treatment, Coppersafe can be removed from the aquarium by water changes, fresh activated carbon or other chemical filtration resins/pads.
Okay, Barbara, that’s the rundown on CopperSafe, which may be your best bet for resolving this problem.
Good luck! Don’t forget to contact me offlist for more information.
Pete Giwojna, Ocean Rider Tech Support