Aquatics Unlimited: Articles: Freshwater Dip
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Freshwater Dip

for the week of 5/20/99

Just as a bath in salty water can alleviate some freshwater diseases (see Salt As Medicine), a short-term dip in freshwater can address certain saltwater infections.

What it treats. Freshwater baths can help rid the skin and gills of saltwater fish of several common microscopic parasites, including "Ich" (Cryptocaryon), "Velvet" (Amyloodinium), Brooklynella, Uronema and Skin Flukes.. It has not been shown to be useful in treating bacterial, viral or fungus infections.

How it works. By osmosis, water naturally flows into the cells of these parasites, causing the cell membranes to rupture, killing the parasite.

What are the strengths? Unlike most other treatments, a freshwater dip actually kills parasites that are currently on the fish, rather than waiting for them to go through a whole reproduction cycle. Heavily infested fish that would probably perish before a copper treatment began working can sometimes be instantly relieved of a great number of parasites.

What are the limitations? If the fish are already in deep stress from being infected, the sudden change in salinity may put them over to the edge. Also, the treatment does not deal with parasites in the original aquarium, so treated fish can become infested again quickly when re-introduced.

How is it done? A bucket or other large, clean container is filled with dechlorinated water that is then adjusted to the approximate temperature and pH of the aquarium's water. An airstone and a piece of coral or other hiding place are also recommended. The affected fish are then carefully netted and placed in the treatment container for 5 to 10 minutes before being returned to their tank. If the fish appear to go into shock, they should be removed sooner. Repeat treatment every 24 hours for 3 to 5 days.


"Tip of the week" appeared regularly in 1999 and 2000.

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