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What Can Cause White Spot?

Date Published - 10th April 2014 - Published by - iQuatics Ltd

A sighting of the dreaded White Spot on any precious stock causes many a hobbyist’s heart to sink; this common parasitical disease is however very treatable and if caught early, your fish won’t suffer any ill effects from it.

Looking at White Spot closer is interesting; the technical name for it is Ichthyophthirius Multifiliis and an infestation can cause visible discomfort in fish which indulge in rubbing and flipping when the first grain-like white spots appear. From just a few spots, the disease progresses until the entire fish is covered in them and they often join up creating larger patches of white. It is of course best to get a handle on White Spot early on and deal with it so that it does not become a real problem.
Even better than treating the symptoms is to avoid infestation altogether! But how? To learn this, we must look at what causes White Spot in the first place. To do this, it’s a good idea to first understand how White Spot behaves and develops.
The first stage of the development of White Spot is not visible to the naked eye…it’s only once the spots appear that most people are aware of the infestation and by then, it’s vital that the infestation is stopped in it’s tracks. The visible spots are known as trophonts and this is a small organism in its own right which by this point has burrowed beneath the fish’s mucus coating. By the time it is first noticed, it has already spend a number of days feeding on the fish and growing larger…the spot or trophont then drops off the fish and is now called a tomont.
The tomont will now “swim” about the tank until it becomes attached to a plant or other solid form where it will lie for a few days and eventually multiply. Whilst it is in the swimming stage it is very treatable with chemicals but once it has multiplied it is pretty much immune. The little products of the multiplication are known as thermonts and they will search for a new host or die off; again, they are very treatable at this stage but once burrowed in, they are not so easy to get rid of!
Once the infestation cycle begins, it can be difficult to get a handle on it…and fish may die if the progress is allowed to continue. The way to reduce the risk of infestation of White Spot is to exercise extreme care when purchasing new stock which may otherwise be contaminated….choose healthy, bright fish and always keep them in quarantine before you introduce them to your aquarium!  Another good tip is to purchase new plants from plant-only tanks! Do not buy plants which have been residing with fish as they could be carrying unwelcome guests.
White Spot comes from contaminated stock and plants so always choose with care and if you do see the signs of White Spot treat it immediately and thoroughly with a good over-the-counter medication. Some hobbyists recommend increasing the temperature of your tank as a way of speeding up the life cycle of the organisms responsible for the infestation and while this certainly works, it can be difficult to manage well as some stock will not take kindly to a sudden temperature change…it can often be better to take it slowly and carefully.
You have just read another great aquarium blog post by iQuatics. If you would like us to blog about a specific subject or if you have your own aquarium blog content which you would like published on our website, please get in touch. Together we can help grow the iQuatics aquarium blog into a vast resource full of combined industry knowledge.

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