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Ich and Epistylis Disease in Fish: Differences and Treatment

by Rahim Mohamed 06 Jun 2024


Ich and Epistylis are two common diseases that affect fish. While they share some similarities, they are caused by different organisms and require different treatment approaches. This article explores the differences between ich and Epistylis disease and provides guidance on how to cure them effectively.

Ich Disease

  • Cause: Ich is caused by a microscopic parasite called Ichthyophthirius multifiliis.
  • Symptoms:
    • White spots (1-2 mm in size) on the body, fins, and gills
    • Flashing against objects
    • Increased mucus production
  • Treatment:
    • Raise water temperature to 82-86°F (28-30°C) for 10-14 days.
    • Use over-the-counter ich medications containing malachite green or formalin.
    • Perform partial water changes to remove parasites and their cysts.

Epistylis Disease

  • Cause: Epistylis is caused by a stalked ciliated protozoan called Epistylis.
  • Symptoms:
    • White or grayish tufts or "patches" on the body, fins, and gills
    • Lethargy
    • Loss of appetite
  • Treatment:
    • Lower water temperature to 70-75°F (21-24°C).
    • Use over-the-counter Epistylis medications containing acriflavine or copper sulfate.
    • Maintain good water quality and oxygen levels.

Differences Between Ich and Epistylis

  • Organism: Ich is caused by a parasite, while Epistylis is caused by a protozoan.
  • Appearance: Ich appears as white spots, while Epistylis appears as tufts or patches.
  • Treatment: Ich requires higher water temperatures, while Epistylis requires lower water temperatures.


  • Quarantine new fish before adding them to an established tank.
  • Maintain good water quality and hygiene practices.
  • Feed fish a healthy and balanced diet.
  • Avoid overcrowding the tank.


Ich and Epistylis disease are common ailments in fish. By understanding the differences between them and following appropriate treatment protocols, fish owners can effectively cure these diseases and maintain the health of their aquatic pets. It is important to consult with a veterinarian or experienced aquarist if the disease persists or if the fish show severe symptoms.

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