The Ultimate Saltwater Ich (Crypt) Info Post

Discussion in 'Diseases' started by lotzofish, Jun 19, 2009.

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  1. lotzofish

    lotzofish Fire Worm

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    Hello all, first I would like to apologize for any spelling issues that arise from my posts.. My keyboard is literally falling apart and I am having problems getting all of the keystrokes to show up.. Now on with the show...;D

    I have noticed that there is always at least one active post regarding crypt, and I am going to try to give you all some info that may help you to save your fish.

    A little bit of background... Crypt is essentially the saltwater version of ich (which is a freshwater problem). It is called "crypt" due to its scientific name: Cryptocaryon irritans. Much like freshwater "ich" is called such due to its scientific name: Ichthyophthirius multifiliis. Please note that this posting does not apply to freshwater ich, and I only mentioned it above for clarification between the two ailments.

    Crypt is a ciliated protozoan... Which means it is a single-celled parasite that can move freely. Crypt has three very distinct life-phases, and of those three phases, there is only one phase in which we can kill it. The first phase is when the single-celled parasites live on the fish; in this phase the parasite is safe from outside factors (such as medication, hyposalinity, etc). Involuntarily, the fish's own body, skin, and slime coat protect the burrowing parasite; it is at this point that you can see the "salt spots". Please note that the salt spots are a skin reaction to the burrowing parasite, and is not the parasite itsself. However, there are times when the fish can be infected and the parasite is happily munching away in the fish's gills, and cannot be seen. This is why it is important to pay attention to your fish's respiration. Elevated respiration for long durations may indicate problems in the near future. The first phase can last up to around three days, and USUALLY SEEMS TO GO AWAY... Many aquarists are misled to believe that after the first phase has completed that their fish are all better, but this couldn't be much farther from the truth. Actually, the "clearing-up" is the beginning of the second phase.

    During the second phase, the individual crpyt cells fall off of the fish into the substrate, rockwork, etc and begin to multiply. During the second phase, the crypt "cocoons"- encysts itsself, and it remains safe from outside factors (medication, hypo [to an extent], etc). During this phase the crypt mulitplies hundreds or more times until the "cocoon" breaks open. There are a few factors that determine when the cocoon hatches, ie: temperature, light cycles, natural timing, salinity, etc; when they hatch they have gone from one, single cell, to hundreds (or thousands). This phase can take up to 30 days from the time that it fell off of the fish. This is why it tends to recur within a few weeks, and is also why it is so hard to tell if it has been completely terminated.

    And this begins the third phase... The "free-swimming phase". As you can now see, there are oodles of the evil little fella's swimming around your tank... UNPROTECTED!!!! And the duration of the "free-swimming phase" is the only time the parasite can be killed. I will get to cures in a minute. ;D The positive side is that these "free-swimmers" can only live a day or two. MAX... Without a host (fish), that is. Now we start the entire cycle over again.. And, as you can see, it doesn't take too many cycles to overpower even some of the healthiest fish.

    Now you're probably sitting there, asking yourself; "What the HECK?! How did this happen to me?!?!?!?!?!" The truth is: something went wrong.. Here a a few common examples: Unquaratined livestock (INCLUDING INVERTS!!), recent stressors to the fish, water quality issues, and the list goes on and on.... I mention inverts above because many people think that just because the invert (snail, crab, anemone, etc) doesn't fall prey to crypt, then they can't introduce it into the system... However, this logic is faulty because these inverts bring with them their own water from wherever they came from... And if this water that they were in had crypt, then it is possible that you have it too...

    Now, for the fun stuff.... Cures..
    There are many "cures" for crypt, and some have been found to be effective, while others have not.. Seeing as how crpyt is like an invert, anything that says "reef-safe" is usually not recommended (because it won't harm inverts). Ususally, it is ineffective, and will only cost you heartache and more money.

    *NOTE: Treatements should only be administered in a hostpital tank; when one fish has crypt, THEY ALL HAVE IT... Some may not show it, and some may seem fine, but they have become hosts for it. When a tank has had crypt, and nothing was done to treat it, usually the tank is in a constant battle with it (visibly or not). Many times our systems will live in a delicate equilibrium with crypt, but as soon as even one stressor occurs, the crypt can take over the system again. Also, adding new fish into a tank that is hanging in this "balance" many times ends with the new arrival contracting crypt and infecting the entire tank. If treatment is performed, make sure is lasts for at least one month, and to eradicate a DT the tank must be left empty (of fish) for at least 6 week to allow the crypt to die off.

    COPPER (my favorite method), hyposalinity, formalin, malachite green, and there are others that I am forgetting at the moment.
    If you have questions on how to use a particualar medication, please let me know, and I will post some info for you. Notice that I did not include better water quality and/or nutrition in the list of "cures". This was intentional because these methods can help to fish to fight off future infections, but they don't eradicate crypt. They just let the fish live in the delicate "balance" that I mention above.

    I hope you find this info useful, and good luck to you! The picture is of crypt on my hepatus after my son nearly nuked my tank.... Kids... :)
     

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    Last edited: Jun 19, 2009
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  3. lotzofish

    lotzofish Fire Worm

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    Also, please don't subject a "cleaner wrasse or goby" to crypt unnecessarily... Please use a "cleaner shrimp" because inverts don't get crypt.. I feel that it is not ethical to introduce a fish into an infected system because usually these fish will get sick too (to some degree)..
     
  4. rphman

    rphman Astrea Snail

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    paraguard? success?

    can you use in display tank...my local fish store says that they do...

    wade
     
  5. mikejrice

    mikejrice 3reef Affiliate

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    Awesome post I vote this gets stickyd so we can all find it easily. Makes me sad to see another person who says there is no reef safe cure because my tank hangs in the balance as you put it and I have also noticed if I add any fish they come down with it and do not make it. Seems I need to buy another tank bite the bullet and treat this right.
     
  6. lotzofish

    lotzofish Fire Worm

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    I'm not famaliar with paragaurd.. Do you happen to know the ingredients?

    Unfortunately it is true.. :( I know that tearing a tank down is HORRIBLE... However, I just think about my fish and review my options. I literally love my fish, and I belive that they deserve the best care that I can provide. The "balance" that I discuss above is also why we see our fish "just come down with it" from time to time.. The fact that they get crypt at all means that something is amiss.. If you need any advice about your treatments, please ask. It is generally understood that the higher the temp in the tank, the higher the metabolic rate of all inhabitants.. Essentially, if you bump your tank temp up without any fish in it, it will help to clear the crypt out even faster.. However, I would never go less than a month for treatment, and the DT fallow (without fish) time..
     
  7. asking4trouble

    asking4trouble Spanish Shawl Nudibranch

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    Thanks for the summary mate, its really just crystallized the bottom line for me...

    If u have crypt in the tank, the only way to eradicate it completely is to QT the fish for 4-6 weeks treating them with medication and leaving the DT free of fish - bottom line.
    All new introductions have to be quarantined to prevent introducing the crypt again - bottom line.
    All other methods including garlic are nothing more than a band aid. If you want your fish crypt free you will need to medicate and QT - bottom line.

    No ifs, No buts, no other options. Its a weight lifted from my shoulders. No more reading never ending pages and pages and pages on this topic for me, im closing the book on crypt. Thank you very much! :)

    The bottom line is actually a relief for me. Its just what i have to do. I dont need to waste anymore time looking for quick fixes and garlic potions. Even though ive been avoiding QT at all costs its actually a relief having a bottom line. Thank you again :)
     
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  9. lotzofish

    lotzofish Fire Worm

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    No problem. :) I'm glad to have helped. I've done SOOOO much reading (over the last several years) on the subject that I thought it would be important to share it with all of you. I know there are those that disagree with me, but many of them just don't know (or don't want to admit) the truth. There seems to me to be many misconceptions and confusion, and my goal was to help clear some of the water- hehehe pun intended. ;D
    Good luck to you, and I hope your tank prospers.
     
  10. lotzofish

    lotzofish Fire Worm

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    I see that somebody disagrees with this post, and gave it a 1 rating....

    here is some more reading that you can do that will support what I am telling you.

    IchArtMar
     
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  11. gutierrezre

    gutierrezre Flamingo Tongue

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    I have a question. Is it possible to have multiple instances of crypt within the same tank under different phases at the same time? Meaning...If I find out I have crypt and I take all of my fish which could be lets say 5 of em and put them in a QT for treatment for 6 weeks could it be possible that some of the fish are in phase 1 of crypt and some are in phase 3 at the same time? And if so would it be possible for crypt to then create an uncurable loop effect which would result in needing 5 seperate tanks to cure each fish individually? .....or is it simply that even if there were multple instances they would all eventually reach phase 3 and be eradicated by the treatment program.
     
  12. lotzofish

    lotzofish Fire Worm

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    You are correct with your second statement, and yes you can have crypt in varying stages. Eventually, all parasites will end-up being free-swimmers, and will die when being treated correctly. I always prefer to treat for 45 days vs the recommended 30 days (if using copper, that is; most meds and advice recommend treatment for 30 days). I seem to have had great success with a slightly longer treatment time; I do realize that this is a little more stress for the fish, but I believe that it is less stressful in the long run to be free of crypt. :)