White Spots on African Cichlids – How to Treat Ich?

If you’re noticing white spots on the body of your fish, then it’s most probably ich/ick. It is a very common fish disease that is caused by a protozoan parasite, called Ichthyophthirius multifillis.

This parasite has a complex life cycle where it lives freely for some time, and then spends some time as a parasite on another living being.

This parasite will attach to your fish’s body, and it will attack its skin. This will form white spots on their bodies, which is why the disease is also often called the white spot disease.

The problem with ich is that it’s a very invasive parasite, as it will reproduce quickly once it falls off the fish’s body, which will only cause more problems for your fish.

The key here is to act quickly, as soon as you spot ich in your tank. The parasite might appear as small, white spots on the body of the fish, but you might also notice other symptoms, such as heavy breathing, loss of appetite, among others.

In this article, we’ll talk about African cichlids and ich, and how you should treat this problem. We’ll also tell you what you should do to avoid ich in the future.

What is Ich or the White Spot Disease?

Ich, or white spot disease, is a common disease in fish, and also in African cichlids. It’s called by a common parasite, also called ich, which spreads rapidly if it’s given the chance to do so. First, it attaches onto the fish’s body and it will collect resources from the fish.

Once it does that, it will fall off the fish, and it will start spreading quickly. The more time you give the parasite, the more it will spread, which can potentially seriously harm your fish and even kill it if you don’t treat ich.

It’s a very annoying problem to have, but also quite a common one. There is evidence that ich might be present constantly in your tank, although it’s far more likely to attack your fish when it is stressed or ill.

And because of that, you need to always make sure you treat your tank as if there’s a danger of ich in the tank.

This means good filtration and constant cleaning of the water and of your tank. But once it grows, it’s very hard to stop, and it requires invasive methods, although some owners have had success with less invasive methods.

How to Treat Ich in African Cichlids?

For treating ich, you’ll inevitably need some chemicals to help you get the job done – filtration enough won’t be alone to remove ich.

I recommend the following solution:

I’ve personally had a lot of success with this solution, because it’s a very powerful parasite control chemical that will help you remove all parasites from the tank, including ich. To use this chemical, you’ll need to dose it into the tank properly. This includes measuring how much of the chemical needs to be placed into the tank, which is written on the bottle itself.

  • This particular chemical demand that you place 250 milliliters of Seachem Paraguard into 500 gallons of water. So you can calculate how much of it you need to place into the water if you have, say, a 50-gallon tank. In this case, it will be 25ml of Seachem.
  • Then, wait for 24 hours for the solution to work its magic. It should kill of parasites in the tank while also keeping your fish safe.
  • Then, after 24 hours, you will want change 1/3 of the water you have in the tank. After the change, place the chemical into the water again.
  • Repeat this process every 24 hours until you see that ich is completely gone from the tank. And until you see just a few ich in the tank, you should continue with the procedure.
  • Once you’ve noticed that ich is gone, then you can place one more dose into the tank, and then proceed with normal water changes.
  • Be careful for secondary infections on your fish. Make sure the water is completely clean, because their body will be full of bruises because of the infection.

Can African Cichlids Die from Ich?

Yes, they can die because of ich, so you should treat it as soon as possible.

The sooner you treat it, the more chance your fish will have for survival. Because ich spreads so fast, you’ll need to do everything you can to remove it as fast as possible. And at early stages, it will be easier to remove ich, as there will not be as much of it.

So you might need to do fewer cycles of the water, which is easier to do, obviously. If you don’t treat ich quickly, your fish might die because of it.

How to Prevent Ich in Your Fish Tank?

Prevention is key when it comes to ich, although it might be hard to do so at times. The best way to prevent ich is to keep your water as clean as possible at all times.

Make sure the filtration is strong so that ich won’t have the chance to develop. Perform regular water cycles, too, which will improve the condition of your water.

Secondly, make sure your fish are not stressed. You’ll need to reduce stress because ich will attack fish that are stressed or ill.

So you can reduce stress by making sure there are no aggressors for the fish in the tank, and that the fish do not feel uncomfortable in any way.


Ich is an invasive parasite that might be present in your fish tank. It’s visible as small white spots on your fish’s body, which is sometimes similar to grains of salt.

You need to treat it as soon as possible in order to protect your fish – if not, they might die because of ich. Hopefully, you are now able to spot ich and treat it effectively.

avatar Noah
I’m Noah, chief editor at VIVO Pets and the proud owner of a playful, energetic husky (Max). I’ve been a volunteer at Rex Animal Rescue for over 2 years. I love learning and writing about different animals that can be kept as pets. read more...

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