Can Fish Survive Ich Without Treatment?

Have you noticed that one of your fish has ich? If so, you may be wondering if this is a disease that will go away on its own or whether it needs treatment. In this article, not only will you find out if ich needs to be treated or not, but you’ll also learn the best treatment methods, what happens if it’s left untreated, and how to prevent it from happening again.

So keep reading to find out everything you need to know!o

Betta Fish Care Guide
Betta Fish Care Guide

So, Can Fish Survive Ich Without Treatment?

If left untreated, ich is guaranteed to end up killing your fish. And because it’s so contagious, it’s also extremely likely that ich will end up spreading to the other fish in the tank as well. However, it’s possible to treat ich with natural remedies, so if you don’t have medicine at hand, all is not lost.

How Long Can Fish Survive Ich With No Treatment?

Once ich has taken hold of your fish, if it’s left untreated, it will often kill fish within 5-7 days. On top of this, the longer it’s left untreated, the more it will breed and spread in the tank, so it will begin infecting other fish a lot more rapidly as well!

How To Treat Fish For Ich Without Medicine

If you don’t have any medicine for treatment, there are a couple of things you can do to give your fish the best chance of survival! And fortunately with ich, when caught early enough, it’s likely that your fish will make a full recovery!

The two main ways to treat ich in fish are with heat and aquarium salt (or a combination of both).

aquatic plant tank made with dragon stone arrangement on soil substrate with plant (Hemianthus callitrichoides cuba) and dwarf rasbora fish.

Heat Treatment For Ich

If you plan on using heat treatment, then you’ll need to take your time and research whether your fish can tolerate the higher temperatures before trying. If all is clear, then the following should be done:

  • Move the fish suffering with ich to a quarantine tank to make sure that no other fish or plants are affected by the treatment.
  • Once you’ve moved your fish to the quarantine tank, slowly begin to raise the temperature of the tank until it’s at 85°F. Remember, the temperature raise should be done over a few days, not hours, to ensure your fish doesn’t suffer from temperature shock. As a rule, it shouldn’t be raised by more than 1°F a day.
  • You should also add an airstone or bubbler to the quarantine tank as well. As the heat in the tank rises, the amount of oxygen in the tank will lower, but an airstone will mitigate this.
  • If you plan on using this method, make sure that the treatment doesn’t last for more than 10 days.

Salt Method For Treating Ich

As well as the heat method, you can also use aquarium salt (on its own or in combination with heat). If you want to use the salt method, then you should do the following:

  • First of all, if you plan on using the salt method to treat a fish with ich, make sure the fish will be able to tolerate it. Some fish, such as scaleless fish, are unable to tolerate salt at all because there’s no protective barrier. So if you’re going to use the salt method, check that the fish can handle it first.
  • Now you know your fish can handle the salt method, once again, you should move them to a quarantine tank so no other fish or plants are affected.
  • Once you’ve done this, put some water from your tank into a separate container and add aquarium salt. You should be adding 1 tablespoon of aquarium salt per 5 gallons of water in the tank.
  • When the aquarium salt has dissolved, pour the water back into your tank gradually over the day.
  • Now all you have to do is monitor your fish and ensure things aren’t getting worse.
  • Lastly, only add more salt when you’re performing a water change. And when you’ve performed the water change, only add salt for the water that’s being replaced. Not the whole tank!
  • You can use aquarium salt as a treatment for up to 10 days.

Lastly, remember to only use aquarium salt. Other forms of salt can be dangerous to fish can could end up killing your fish.

How Long Does Ich Stay After Treatment?

The lifecycle of ich is typically 3 weeks; however, the temperature of the tank will affect this. In tanks with a higher temperature, the life cycle will be reduced dramatically. Whereas in tanks with a cooler temperature, the lifecycle will last longer.

And remember, even if the white spots on your fish are gone, there could still be ich in the tank, so make sure to continue treatment.

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How To Prevent Ich In Bettas

Preventing ich isn’t difficult. In fact, it’s just a part of good aquarium keeping. When you learn how to prevent ich, you’ll also learn to prevent a whole range of diseases.

  • You should always place any new fish in a quarantine tank first. This way, you’re going to be able to monitor them, and if you notice an illness, you can treat them accordingly. Setting up a quarantine tank isn’t hard, and if you don’t know how then go here.
  • On the subject of buying new fish, you should NEVER buy a fish that doesn’t look healthy, and I’d also recommend avoiding any fish that are in the same tank as a dead or diseased fish. These are clear indicators that there is something wrong with a fish or the water.
  • If your fish is with other fish and you notice they have ich, move that fish to a quarantine tank. Ich needs weaker fish to infect, so if you take away the only fish they can infect, eventually, the parasite will die out.
  • To keep your fish as stress-free as possible, make sure that the water parameters are always what they should be and not fluctuating. (If you’re not sure what the best water conditions are, then check out this article.)
  • On the subject of water quality, make sure you’re not overstocking your tank. As a rule of thumb, you should only have 1 inch of fish per 1 gallon of water. However, to be on the safe side, I normally have a couple of fish less than the max. This way, your tank is going to be able to cope with the high bio load, and it will get dissipated effectively.
  • Make sure you’re feeding your fish a varied diet to keep them healthy as well.
  • Try not to order your fish online. Fish don’t travel well, and the more they travel, the more stressed they get. Instead of ordering fish online, you should buy them from your nearest aquatic center or pet shop.

Can Fish Ich Spread To Humans?

Fortunately, fish ich can’t spread to humans; however, you should still make sure you’re not putting your hands in the tank when possible. Not only could it result in your spreading bacteria in the tank, but you may also spread bacteria from the tank around your home as well!


As you can see, if ich is left completely untreated, it will end up killing your fish. However, it is still possible to treat ich without medication. You will just need to use heat and aquarium salt.

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