Can You See Ich In The Water? [What Experts Say]

Ich is one of the deadliest diseases aquarium fishes face. It’s stubborn and strong enough to kill your fish if left untreated.

But how to know whether the fish is infected if you can’t see it? So, people ask-

Can you see ich in the water?

Ich is visible when it affects the fish’s skin. Not immediately, but after 2-3 days, you’ll see white spots all over their skin.

These white spots are the size of a salt grain. After these parasites leave the host body to the water, they start floating. At this point, they’ll be visible in the tank water.

Those were the surface points of the mentioned issue. To know more about it, keep reading till the end because we’ve discussed the issue in detail here.

Let’s begin!

What Is Ich?

Ich in water is an ectoparasite that usually lives outside the host’s body. The name of this parasite is Protozoan. 

Like other parasites, it sticks to the host’s body and harms it. These parasites are usually found among wild freshwater fishes. 

However, when it lives inside an aquarium, it’s far deadlier. Because aquariums are cramped, and it’s easy to spread in such a small place. 

These parasites cause ich in fish skin. If not taken proper actions, a fish die from it.

How To Identify Ich?

Identifying ich at an early stage isn’t easy. Most of the time, when a fish gets infected with ich, it goes unnoticed. People notice it when all the fish in the aquarium gets affected by it.

At the early stage of ich infection, you’ll see many little white spots on fish skin.

At first, they appear very small, so it’s hard to notice them. Each of these tiny white spots is the Protozoan parasite. 

In this stage, they feed on the host body while waiting for reproduction. Due to how it looks, this disease is called the white spot disease of fish. 

This disease is similar to the disease called blackspot that occurs in clownfish. But instead of black, it’s white. 

Once a single fish gets infected by ich, it spreads to other fishes too.

So, the aquarium owner needs to look out for the fish. The disease stays in the host body for 5-7 days. 

During this period, you’d see some changes in the fish. These said symptoms are-

  • Rapid breathing of fishes
  • Lack of appetite 
  • Rubbing their body on aquarium glass or decorations
  • Feeling lethargic
  • Swimming in upside-down rotation
  • Avoiding swimming with other fishes

These changes in the fish’s behavior don’t occur as soon as they get affected. Some of these are just effects of fish in stress.

Once a week passes after the infection, ich leaves the host body. Then it lands on the water’s surface. At this stage, it might become visible as it floats on the water. 

Dangers Of Ich

There’s no doubt about the fact that ich is a deadly parasite for fish. If left untreated, it’ll kill your fish for sure. 

Ich mostly attacks stressed-out fishes because they are most likely to have a weak immune system. 

Thus, when ich attacks them, they become more vulnerable to it. Ich can cause serious damage to their body.

If it attacks near the gill, it damages the respiratory system.

Thus, your fish might end up suffocating from breathing problems. It can even lead to secondary fungal infection on fish skin. 

So, if you’re wondering how long fish can survive with ich, it isn’t long. You should start the treatment soon if you want these poor creatures to live.

How to Treat Fish Ich?

Treating ich at the first stage is easier. You just have to take the affected fish out and quarantine it. 

Move the affected fish to a separate hospital tank.

This way, you don’t have to use excessive chemicals in your aquarium because quarantine tanks are smaller than aquarium size. 

Now, raise the temperature of the water by 30°C (86° F). You can use salt for the treatment too. But be careful, as not all fishes are like mollies that live in saltwater.

This method of treatment is best when ich is in the first stage. If the ich gets out of the water, apply the chemical-based treatment. 

Ich comes out of the fish’s body after a week and grows. This is the most vulnerable time for both fish and parasites.

Take out the fish from the aquarium and quarantine them. Now, apply anti-ich chemicals in your fish tank. 

Read the manufacturer’s manual for the instructions. The amount that should be applied in the water should be mentioned there. 

Please avoid the main tank from getting contaminated. So, always try to start the treatment as soon as you identify it. 

Also, upgrading your cube led light should be a great way to prevent this issue.


Question: Can chlorine be used for ich treatment?

Answer: Yes, you can use chlorine for ich treatment. However, chlorine doesn’t only kill ich but also kills beneficial bacteria.

That’s why using chlorine is not the best method to treat ich.

Question: Can fish fight inches on their own?

Answer: Only fish with a strong immune system can. They mostly fight the ich parasite in the first stage.

So you wouldn’t see white spots become visible on their skin.

Question: Are UV sterilizers effective in killing ich?

Answer: UV sterilizer controls the spread of bacteria or any other microorganism. So, it may kill the present ich in water. But it can’t prevent the ich living inside a fish body.


Hopefully, you’ve gotten your answer regarding you can see ich in the water. Always try to keep the aquarium water clean. 

And always try to keep all of your fish stress-free. That’s the best remedy to fight off ich infection.