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Copper Sulfate for Ich

Copper sulfate is an effective and less expensive treatment for fish infected by Ichthyophthirius multifiliis.

Posted: November 2, 2010, 4 p.m. EST

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A USDA scientist says that copper sulfate is an effective treatment for fish infected by Ich, a protozoan parasite that is responsible for the white spots shown on these catfish. Photo by Cindy Ledbetter.

Copper sulfate is an effective and less expensive treatment for fish infected by Ichthyophthirius multifiliis, also known as “Ich,” as well as fish eggs with Saprolegnia, according to David Straus, an aquatic toxicologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS).

The USDA reported the finding last week and the research appears in the October issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

Ich, a protozoan parasite that appears as white spots on infected fish, is considered the most prevalent parasite worldwide in ornamental fish, baitfish and food fish, according to Straus, who works at the ARS Harry K. Dupree Stuttgart National Aquaculture Research Center in Stuttgart, Ark.

Saprolegnia is a fresh water fungus that kills eggs and invades wounds and lesions on juvenile and adult fish.

In addition to being effective and inexpensive for such treatments, copper sulfate is also safer for the handler, according to Straus. For example, formalin and hydrogen peroxide, both current approved treatments for fungus on eggs, have human safety concerns as well as required storage precautions, Straus noted.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved copper sulfate for therapeutic use in aquaculture. However, regulatory action has been deferred pending the outcome of Straus’ ongoing research, according to the USDA.

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Reader Comments

Bill    Beckley,, WV

12/12/2012 10:43:57 AM

Sounds great. Where can I buy this product?

Saundra    Laurel, MD

11/16/2012 9:47:35 PM

Sounds good. Cant wait to get more info.

Nora    Wichita, KS

10/31/2012 12:57:42 AM


Bill    Beckley,, WV

9/12/2012 11:37:09 AM

Whaddya know, the same safe compound I've used for years to keep my tomatoes safe from blight can be used to keep my fish safe from Ich. Couldn't I just keep my tanks at 81 or 82 degrees? Doing so is just a little cheaper, but I really do think the copper sulfate idea is a good one.

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