Some facts on Ich
Ich is one of those afflictions that everyone is going to get if they are in the hobby for any length of time. Unfortunately is is also one of the most misunderstood illnesses and discussions on the the subject of properly treating it is typically filled with myth and misinformation. Marine Ich is a Parasite that typically lives a 28 day life cycle. Because the parasite usually have to build up numbers in a tank before you notice you have a problem. It is possible for an infected fish to take as long as two months to show signs of infection in your tank, As a result innocent fish are often blamed for bringing the parasite into a tank just because they where the latest additions. To make matters worse It has been shown that fish that recover from a light infection will actually have an immunity to the parasite for up to six months.
This means that next fish you put in your tank will get sick and you will think it must have gotten ill at the store when in fact the Ich outbreak you had 4 months ago is really to blame. This long period of time in the parasites life cycle coupled with the temporary immunity that fish tend to get makes actually determining the source of an outbreak very difficult and in some cases impossible. This is also the basis for the common myth that Ich is always in your tank just waiting for a newly acquired stressed out fish to infest. All the while the parasite is just attacking the only poor fish in the tank that doesn't have a temporary immunity to the parasite. Give it a couple months and your whole tank will be infected again and most times it is blamed on some water quality issue.
The best way to treat Ich is of course to not get it the the first place. All new additions should be kept in Quarantine for at least 30 days. I know we have all heard the message to Quarantine and we all know that we should, but most of us don't do it. I'll admit that it is tempting to get new fish in your beautiful display tank, and you are sure that he will be much happier in a nice big tank than in your small Quarantine tank anyways. Besides You really don't have any place to put a Quarantine tank and it seems like such a waste to buy the stuff for another tank that hardly gets used. While I can't argue much for the "I just want to see him the display tank" idea as I admit I feel the same myself. I can give you some information that may make the others seem like not as good a reason not to Quarantine your new additions.
He will be much happier in a nice big tank than in your small Quarantine tank - While this might seem to be the case actually being hauled out the pet store tank thrown in a bag hauled home and acclimated for a half hour or so if very stressfully on your new friend. To them toss him in a tank filled with other fish that may proceed to harass your new addition at this point will actually just make things worse. Putting him in a nice cozy tank all by his lonesome with some PVC to hide in is actually much easier on the fish. Very few fish when first placed in a new tank will do nothing more than head straight for the first hole in the rocks and hide for the next couple days anyway. This also gives you a chance to make sure he is eating well and is fully recovered from his trip home and shows no signs of
pathogens before he goes in your main tank where treating him may be impossible.
I really don't have any place to put a Quarantine tank - While space may be an issue most people don't need anything much larger than a typically off the shelf 20 gal tank for Quarantine purposes. When the tank is not in use it can easily be stored In a basement or closet until you do need it. Many people say that a Quarantine tank should be setup all the time. There really is no need and trying to keep one up that is housing nothing will very quickly turn you against having one at all. The only thing that you need to keep going is a small corner sponge filter that can ju