Whitespot: Know your enemy

Discussion in 'Quarantine Tanks, sick fish, QT corals' started by RiaanP, 27 Jul 2012.

  1. RiaanP

    RiaanP Moderator

    Joined:
    11 Aug 2008
    Posts:
    23,142
    Likes Received:
    1,228
    Location:
    Centurion
    Whitespot prevention and treatment.

    This is a collection of all my knowledge around Whitespot (WS).

    Let us start with the parasite. It is important to know its life cycle and understanding that could help you to find the curing method that best fits into your situation.
    [​IMG]

    Looking at the life cycle:


    1. First the Trophonts stage that last between 3 to 7 days. WS is on the fish, actually embedded under the scales protected by the fish slime layer.
    2. Matured Trophonts then drop off and sink to the bottom. The maximum time for this period is around 18 hours.
    3. The WS then encyst, cementing themselves to the substrate, rock or any other hard surface, including shells. This Tomonts stage last between 3 days up to 28 days, mostly influenced by the water temperature.
    4. Next stage is the Tomites stage, quickly followed by the Theronts stage. The Theronts stage is the infectious stage, where the WS seeks out a host. Theronts stage last between 24 hours up to a maximum of 48 hours.
    Important part here is to focus on the period for each stage. Curing and prevention is all about the right moment. Just some comments on each stage:

    1. Normally the first time we notice that something is wrong, is when we notice the tiny little white specks on the fish, which almost looks like sand. That stage is about the halfway point in the parasitic stage when the WS has grown and becomes too big to hide under the scales, basically lifting it up and becoming visible. Although the timeframe is 3 to 7 days, its peak is at 4 to 5 days. Luckily for us, all the Trophonts on one fish leave the host within a timeframe of 16 to 18 hours. For us it will look like the fish is completely healthy the next day, which it is. But our system is now infected.
    2. Moving on to the next stage in WS life cycle. This period is so short and happens a few hours after sunrise. Meaning the WS will fall off where the fish sleeps and the WS will encyst, very close by on the substrate and or rocks. This also implies that when the WS hatch, it will be very easy for the Theronts to find a host, sleeping right there with them on the reef. The matured WS can move around on the substrate between 2 to 8 hours before cementing itself to the substrate.
    3. Tomonts stage is the reproduction stage. The Tomonts form between 200 and 1000 Tomites depending on the WS strain. Thus, a single matured WS is enough to infect more fish than most home reefers have. The time frame for this stage can be anything from 3 to 72 days, but 72 days are extreme and only for strains of WS in colder water. For tropical setups, a timeframe of 3 to 28 days are normal. Increasing the tank temperature will speed up this stage. Mostly Tomites hatch after 4 to 8 days.
    4. Tomites becoming Theronts is the free swimming stage where the WS must find a host within 12 to 48 hours or else it dies. The Theronts have a very low success rate in the open ocean to find a host. But WS got another trick up its sleeve; they hatch a few hours prior to sunrise, thereby maximizing their chances of success even more. And they hatch in great numbers, ensuring that at least a few of them do find a host. In our closed systems it is just a lot easier to find a host and that is why all the fish can be infected at once. The longer they take to find a host the lower the infection effectiveness (they lose their potency).
    Treating WS in the different stages:

    1. During the Trophonts stage, there is no medicine, neither any treatment, where you can successfully treat against WS itself. For any medicine to be effective, it will have to penetrate the protective slime layer on the fish. Your chances of rather killing the fish are greater than being able to get under that slime layer. There is nothing other than isolating the fish that you can do at this stage to fight WS itself. You can only help the fish to fight the outbreak. Referring to Immune boosters, garlic treatments, not stressing the fish and hypo salinity
    2. The time period during which the mature Trophonts drop off is a very short period. No point in trying to focus on this stage.
    3. Tomonts is the only stage where you can actually target WS as a parasite. Hypo salinity does not suppress immune functions and helps the fish in spending less energy. Supposedly the fish spends energy by constantly drinking water to help with excreting excess salts to be able to maintain a proper osmotic balance. However, their kidneys do not flush properly, as they pee less. And in the long term that is also negative. Main advantage of hypo salinity is that the Tomonts are destroyed by hypo saline conditions, thus preventing re-infections. However hypo salinity does not target the free swimming Theronts.
    4. Theronts, the free swimming infectious stage, is treatable by copper and other chemicals. Although the dosage must be perfect to be effective. Note the time period of Theronts, it is a very short period. A couple of hours to be able to fight the WS before they find a host. And the hatching normally happens before sunrise, while you are still sleeping. And they can hatch any day, also not all together on the same day. There is no way that you can predict exactly which morning they will hatch.
    Treatment options.

    1. Copper: Copper is a highly effective medication against WS when dosed and maintained in the proper concentration. However it has a narrow range of effectiveness and levels must be monitored at least daily. At too low a dosage, it is ineffective. At too high a dosage, it could kill all your fish. Copper is also known to be immunosuppressive, resulting that the fish becomes more susceptible to secondary infections. Invertebrates are extremely sensitive to copper and cannot be housed in a tank undergoing this treatment. So no hermits, shrimps, copepods or micro bristle stars. Lastly, copper cannot be used in the presence of any calcareous media. Live rock, sand, crushed coral, and dead coral skeletons will all adsorb copper, rendering it useless a treatment. Best is to use a dedicated second tank as quarantine hospital. Copper only targets the free swimming infectious Theronts stage. They hatch at night and it is such a small window of opportunity where this treatment can be successful. My personal opinion is that it is a waste of time.
    2. Formalin and Malachite: You can use formalin, but with no test kits available, there is no way to ensure that you have the right dosage. But there are more risks involved with this, for me inhaling the gas and for the fish, that I cannot recommend this option at all.
    3. Copper and Formalin: Only under extreme infestation circumstances. Only use this option as a last resort. Either the fish might survive or it will die anyway due to the WS or due to this treatment. Again, it’s not an option
    4. Hypo salinity: Everybody’s favourite. The LFS runs their holding tanks at a lower salinity, not only for disease control but also because it is cheaper on the salt. Hypo will not kill the WS if it is at the wrong level, it should be at 1.009-1.010 specific gravity. The tanks at the LFS are normally higher than that. Again inverts and certain inmates cannot undergo hypo treatment. Your corals would surely all die. Again a secondary hospital tank is the only option. You cannot risk killing everything living inside your live rock, sending the tank into another cycle. Now the fish must survive with increase ammonia levels as well. And get a proper refractometer. Last drawback is raising the salinity back to what it should be, cannot do it fast. This treatment must last for at least the maximum period of the Tomonts stage. That is 28 days. To ensure no extra stress on the fish, it implies a holding facility big enough to house the fish or all your fish for at least a month. If there is another outbreak, then this period gets extended again by another 28 days from the last day there was any signs of WS on the fish. Having fish in hypo for an extended period of time is not good either. As mentioned earlier their kidneys can fail and there is speculation that prolonged hypo causes HLLE.
    5. Daily Water Changes:Fish are put into a quarantine holding tank and then every day for two weeks the tank is completely cleaned and a 50% water change is performed. That is a lot of water, especially on bigger holding tanks. You need to match temperature and salinity. This method helps to remove the Tomites, Tomonts, and Theronts from the tank and lessens the chance of reinfection. The fish should remain in quarantine for an additional month to ensure the treatment has worked and to allow them time to gain strength. The holding system is run at hypo salinity.
    6. Transfer Method: The problem with Daily Water Changes is that if you miss one or two Tomonts, you run the risk of reinfection. The Tomonts glue themselves to any hard surface, and you need to clean that surface every day. Why not just remove that surface as you do the water change? Just move the fish with 50% old water to a new holding tank. But you need another set of heaters, pumps, airline tubing and air stone. There is nothing else that can be moved from one tank to another. Again the holding system is run at hypo salinity.
    7. Freshwater Dips: Freshwater dips are highly effective against a variety of pests, like flukes. But the WS sits under the scales of the fish. It is still a very useful method to treat all new fish for other parasites. But not effective for WS.
    8. Raising Water Temperature: Raising the tank temperature is often advocated as a solution for WS. For freshwater WS raising the temperature to 30 degrees Celsius works. But Marine WS optimal temperature is 30 degrees Celsius. So raising it and you are actually helping it. If you do remove all the fish from the display into a holding tank, keep the holding tank temperature at 25C while raising the display tank to 28C. Do not go for 30C as it could be detrimental to other inverts. So you slow down the cycle for the WS in the holding tank while speeding it up in the display. That could ensure that your display is WS free after 30 days.
    9. UV Sterilization: These units kill basically anything that gets pumped through them. But again there are so many variables that affect the performance, like wattage, flow rate, age of globe, tank size etc… Also it can only kill the mature Trophonts as they fell off and the free swimming Theronts, only if they get pumped into this unit.
    10. Ozone: The use of ozone is very much the same as UV. You kill everything that enters the reaction chamber. Advantage of ozone is that all the factors influencing UV are not applicable. It will even help with water clarity issues. But be careful not to overdo ozone. You need to run it with controllers if you want to use ozone for disease control
    11. Biological controls: the use of cleaner shrimps and cleaner wrasses. Just note that the cleaner wrasse is also a fish that can become infected with WS. And they do not target WS as a food item. Shrimps could help. But take into account how deep the Trophonts imbed in the fish and it is very unlikely that cleaners are of any real benefit.
    12. Antimalaria Drugs: Quinine, Hydrochloride and Chloroquine Diphosphate are commonly available medicines, but used more for Marine Velvet. They can help with the infection but hyposalinity or water changes are better.
    13. Nitroimidazoles: Another reef safe drug. If you can get it.
    14. Medicated Foods: Containing the active ingredient Metronidazole, also known as Flagyl. This option is useful when you cannot remove the infected fish. But you need to get the fish to eat and be sure that it does get enough in. Better to rather remove the fish
    15. Garlic: Not sure if garlic actually works, but it does have some proven anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic, and antiviral properties. I do not know of any real studies made, to be able to justify the effectiveness of garlic.
    16. Doepas, Miracle Drops etc…Ja Ja. Whatever. :)
    Immunity or Partial Immunity: It seems that fish that did survive WS outbreaks can build up a temporary immunity against WS. Most likely the same as humans, who got the flu, get over it and the rest of the household gets it. We do not get re-infected until the next winter. Then out comes the tissue box again. The advantage is that the WS in the display would die out, as the cycle gets broken. Although the argument against this statement is that some fish could have a very low non-visible outbreak that completes another cycle. Only later on when some other stress induced factor comes around, then an outbreak occurs again.

    My Own Conclusions:
    First, all new fish must be quarantined. Why risk several thousand bucks worth of fish, a lot of love and time spend on your system? Rather make sure that all new inmates are healthy.

    Take note, WS Tomonts can encyst on any hard surface, including shells and exoskeletons. So it is a good practice to quarantine all new snails, hermits and shrimps as well. Soft bodied creatures like sea stars are OK.

    Of the above treatments I use a modified bucket transfer method but not at hypo salinity. As the Tomonts encyst on any hard surface, I rather remove the hard environment from the fish. I found it so much easier than trying to clean the tank and all equipment.

    I move the fish every second day to another clean holding tank. Each holding tank got its own set of equipment. I first move 50% water, ensuring that I do not siphon the bottom. For added peace of mind I siphon it via a 5 micron filter. The matured Trophonts size is 200 to 250 micron and Tomites are 25 to 60 micron. Moving the fish is also another stress induced factor. To minimize that I rather use plastic bags or a really small glass box to catch the fish under water, lift it up and place it in the other tank. Never expose the fish to air. Nets can damage fish eyes and other delicate parts and the fish can see the nets as you try to catch them. Chasing sick fish to exhaustion is not what we want. Then fill up slowly with 50% new water with same salinity and temperature. I repeat this for 10 days and then move the new fish to a holding tank for 30 days.

    If it is a new fish, I would use my current display tank water to refill the bucket. Basically, I do a small water change every second day and use the “throwaway” water for my quarantine bucket.

    I found the almost transparent buckets to be better. The fish can almost see you coming up to the bucket and do not get that big shock when they see your face suddenly looming over them. Buckets are easier to clean and safer to handle than glass tanks. And cover your bucket, no point in getting the fish healthy, just to pick up a dried out fish.

    More information on my bucket method available here: Bucket Method Quarantine - Marine Aquariums of South Africa


    Acknowledgements:
    I extracted a lot of information from the following links
    http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2003-08/sp/index.php
    http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2003-10/sp/feature/index.php
    http://www.advancedaquarist.com/issu...2003/mini1.htm
    http://www.advancedaquarist.com/issu...2003/mini2.htm
    http://www.advancedaquarist.com/issu...2004/mini3.htm
    http://www.advancedaquarist.com/issu...2004/mini4.htm
    http://www.advancedaquarist.com/issu...2004/mini5.htm
     
    Last edited: 29 Apr 2016
    Jacelise, oliver and Shepherd1 like this.
  2. AdS Guest




    to hide all adverts.
  3. Lord_Blackadder

    Lord_Blackadder

    Joined:
    10 Apr 2012
    Posts:
    1,642
    Likes Received:
    131
    Location:
    Durban
    Thanks for the article. I do think that you're greatly underestimating the effectiveness of copper (particularly Cupramine) though. Silica sand doesn't absorb it, and you can use PVC pipes for hiding spots. As long as you have nothing that's taking it out of solution in the tank, it'll stay at the same concentration.
     
  4. RiaanP

    RiaanP Thread Starter Moderator

    Joined:
    11 Aug 2008
    Posts:
    23,142
    Likes Received:
    1,228
    Location:
    Centurion
    yes, understand.
    But my logic says that we should stay as far away from the Theronts stage. The stage we have free swimming parasites searching for hosts. Once it is embedded on the fish, it is very hard to treat. So if we can prevent the cysts from hatching at all, that will be the best option. Only way to destroy the cyst is by either hypo or the bucket transfer method. Prevention is better than cure.
     
  5. Lord_Blackadder

    Lord_Blackadder

    Joined:
    10 Apr 2012
    Posts:
    1,642
    Likes Received:
    131
    Location:
    Durban
    No medication or hypo actually destroys the cysts. Copper and hypo kill the theronts as they emerge from the cysts. They don't have a chance to reinfect fish because they're instantly killed. The treatment period is to ensure that all of the trophonts have dropped off the fish and that all the cysts have hatched. If you put an infected fish into copper, it's not instantly going to get rid of the parasites already on it, but it's not going to get any more infected either and will steadily improve as the trophonts drop off.

    Transfer method stops fish being reinfected by removing the cysts from the equation.
     
  6. dallasg

    dallasg Moderator MASA Contributor

    Joined:
    14 Dec 2008
    Posts:
    16,769
    Likes Received:
    582
    Location:
    Sandton
    nice, i am in trials using QUALAQUIN (quinine sulfate), cant say more yet
     
  7. cclarity

    cclarity

    Joined:
    6 Jun 2011
    Posts:
    199
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Northwold, RSA
    Very interesting read, thank-you.
     
  8. vatso

    vatso

    Joined:
    3 Dec 2007
    Posts:
    1,733
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    JHB
    Very racist thread if you ask me!!!!
     
  9. Lord_Blackadder

    Lord_Blackadder

    Joined:
    10 Apr 2012
    Posts:
    1,642
    Likes Received:
    131
    Location:
    Durban
    The quinine meds apparently work quite well, but I think they kill macroalgae?
     
    Last edited: 27 Jul 2012
  10. dallasg

    dallasg Moderator MASA Contributor

    Joined:
    14 Dec 2008
    Posts:
    16,769
    Likes Received:
    582
    Location:
    Sandton
    so far i am testing in my tanks, looking good, but still testing and doing RnD, my first venture into this stuff
     
  11. RS250

    RS250

    Joined:
    30 Apr 2012
    Posts:
    204
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    JHB
    @ Riaan: where do you get the 5micron filter material from?
     
  12. RiaanP

    RiaanP Thread Starter Moderator

    Joined:
    11 Aug 2008
    Posts:
    23,142
    Likes Received:
    1,228
    Location:
    Centurion
    same thing that is in your RO unit. Just a 5micron filter.

    Got one chamber, like that from RO unit, but the connections are a lot bigger. Not that small little threaded points. Bigger thread joints makes it easier to siphon the water. Smaller could work, but slower.
     
  13. Leon1975

    Leon1975

    Joined:
    11 Jan 2012
    Posts:
    49
    Likes Received:
    0
    Rowan

    Easy for you to say do this and do that and I apreasiate that but how on earh do you catch a fish in a 2000liter tank with full off live rock and corals
     
  14. vatso

    vatso

    Joined:
    3 Dec 2007
    Posts:
    1,733
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    JHB
    Well if you watch blood sport you use your hands.....

    otherwise karate kid they use chop sticks..... well okay that was fly catching but big sticks could work....


     
  15. RS250

    RS250

    Joined:
    30 Apr 2012
    Posts:
    204
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    JHB

    I'm thinking along the lines of getting some 5 micron filter media for my canister filter for the interim as I don't have a quarantine setup yet

    Where would I be able to get?
     
  16. mornewil

    mornewil Morne

    Joined:
    23 Jun 2011
    Posts:
    1,846
    Likes Received:
    155
    Location:
    Retreat, Cape Town
    Classic :lol:
     
  17. mornewil

    mornewil Morne

    Joined:
    23 Jun 2011
    Posts:
    1,846
    Likes Received:
    155
    Location:
    Retreat, Cape Town
    Great thread @RiaanP:thumbup:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 26 Nov 2015
  18. RiaanP

    RiaanP Thread Starter Moderator

    Joined:
    11 Aug 2008
    Posts:
    23,142
    Likes Received:
    1,228
    Location:
    Centurion
    When David Saxby was out here for the Aquarium Expo, somebody did pose that question to him. His reply was that with the exception of one wrasse (if I remember correctly) he was always able to catch any fish in his big system without breaking it down.

    Last time I had to remove fish I used 2 glass panels. And divided the tank basically on one side, about 40%. Had to move one rock to be able to do that. Panels was upright, and I just move the back one forward and chased the fish I wanted to catch to the smaller section. With the fish I wanted on the small side, I slide the panel backwards, basically blocking them completely. I then needed to remove only a few rocks instead of the complete tank to be able to catch them. The fish do not see the glass panels that clearly in the water.


    Any watershop. Just ask to see there brochure. The filter is about R100. The canister is more, cannot remember
     
    Last edited: 27 Jul 2012
  19. Eight

    Eight

    Joined:
    20 Oct 2011
    Posts:
    117
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Pretoria
    Great thread.
     
  20. RS250

    RS250

    Joined:
    30 Apr 2012
    Posts:
    204
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    JHB
    Thanks
     
  21. RiaanP

    RiaanP Thread Starter Moderator

    Joined:
    11 Aug 2008
    Posts:
    23,142
    Likes Received:
    1,228
    Location:
    Centurion
    Just a bump.
    A lot of new guys entered this hobby.
     
    Midnight Reefer likes this.
Recent Posts

Loading...
Similar Threads - Whitespot enemy Forum Date
Regal tang whitespots Quarantine Tanks, sick fish, QT corals 9 Jul 2016
Whitespot scapegoat Quarantine Tanks, sick fish, QT corals 20 Mar 2015
Whitespot - new sailfin and cleaner shrimp Quarantine Tanks, sick fish, QT corals 3 Mar 2015
So... I got Whitespot Quarantine Tanks, sick fish, QT corals 20 Oct 2014
Regal Tang Whitespot General Discussions and Advice 26 Aug 2014
Urgent help needed Whitespot Treatment Urgent Help Needed 17 Jul 2012
Please please help! Whitespot Nightmare :( New Members 27 Jun 2012