Important: Tank Transfer Method is most effective when water temperature and salinity are kept within this range…
Temp: 24C/76F – 28C/82F
Salinity: 27ppt / 1.020 SG – 35ppt / 1.026 SG
Tank Transfer Method
What It Treats – Marine Ich (Cryptocaryon irritans) only.
How To Treat – Tank transfer (TTM) is my favorite method for clearing a fish of Marine Ich, but the prevalence (and similarities) of Marine Velvet Disease can make TTM a risky gamble nowadays. To properly execute TTM you need two tanks (or buckets), with dedicated equipment for each tank (not to be shared between the two). I personally use 2 of the 10 gallon tanks to do TTM, each with its own heater, thermometer, air stone, airline tubing and PVC elbows for hiding places. This is how TTM is implemented:
Day 1 – Fish is placed in initial QT.
Day 4 – Roughly 72 hours later transfer the fish to new tank. The time of day you do the transfer is unimportant, but never exceed 72 hours from the last transfer. The temperature and SG of the new tank should match the old one perfectly, so you can just catch & release (no acclimation). Transfer as little water as possible with the fish.
Day 7 – Repeat.
Day 10 – Repeat.
Day 13 – Repeat and done (fish should now be ich free).
After transferring, immediately sanitize the “old tank” and all equipment using bleach or vinegar. Rinse well. Let air dry thoroughly before next use. The air drying is the sterilization process when using vinegar, or detoxification process when using bleach.
Simply put, this process works because you are literally outrunning the parasite’s known life cycle. If a fish is infected with ich, trophonts will leave the fish at some point during the TTM process, and the encysted stage doesn’t have enough time to release theronts (i.e. free swimmers that re-infect the fish) before the fish exits the tank. Ammonia isn’t much of a concern with TTM, because every 3 days the fish is placed in a new tank with new water; or you always have the option of using ammonia reducers, such as Amquel
, in conjunction with TTM since there is no risk of negative interaction because no medications are present. However, you do have the option of dosing Praziquantel
(if you need to deworm) at the tail end
of transfers 2 & 4 (or 1 & 3). The fish only needs 24 hours of exposure time to Praziquantel
, so dose 24 hours before you are set to make the next transfer. A second round of Praziquantel
is required 5-7 days after the first, but again dose the medication 24 hours before you are set to transfer the fish out. Just remember if you do this that you can’t use any ammonia reducers while Prazi is present in the water.
One of the cons to tank transfer is the amount/cost of saltwater needed to do it. For example, using my 2-10 gallons I go through 50 gallons of saltwater before the TTM process is complete. However, a thrifty hobbyist can use water stored from a recent display tank water change to implement TTM. Obviously, this only works if you are 100% confident that your display tank is disease-free and don’t siphon anything off the bottom. The other problem with TTM is netting the fish every 3 days. That concern can be somewhat alleviated by using a plastic colander in lieu of a net to catch the fish (square ones work better than round ones):
Chemical free solution to Marine Ich, highly effective when performed properly, can be combined with deworming via Praziquantel
Cons/Side Effects – Cost (if using all new saltwater), time/effort expended, probably somewhat stressful on the fish being caught every 3 days, does not treat other diseases such as Marine Velvet Disease, Brooklynella, Uronema, etc.