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Probably one of the most common molly fish diseases is the white spots, also known as ich or ick. The white spots are caused by the ciliate protozoan Ichthyophthirius multifiliis parasite.

You can treat Ich (white spot) diseases very effectively with the Seachem ParaGuard medication.

This medication is available on Amazon and can used to treat other diseases such as velvet, fin rot and flukes too.

Ich is very easy to detect, because white spots appear on the body, fins and gills of the mollies. Ich can quickly take over the whole fish population and can easily be transferred to other aquariums just with a few drops of water or with a fish net.

white-spots-molly-fish

The good news is that the white spots disease in molly fish is very easy to treat, in early stage.

In this article, I will teach you how to detect ich at the very beginning and how to treat it correctly.

Life Cycle of Ich

Just like any other organism, ich also has a life cycle. The life cycle of this ectoparasite highly depends on water temperature. Ich can live about 7 days in 77 °F (25 °C) and up to 8 weeks in 41 °F (5 °C) water temperature.

How Ich Reproduces?

Mollies can tolerate a wide range of temperatures between 72-82 °F (22-28°C).

In this water temperature ich will reproduce very fast. As mentioned above, at 77 °F ich will live and feed for about one week on the fish’s skin, gills or fins. After that, the ich (trophont) will fall off and will incubate for a few days.

The incubation period of ich is about 3-4 days, but sometimes it can take up to one week.

The incubated ich (tomont) will produce thousands of theronts, which will be released in the water column after incubation. These theronts will attach again to the fish and the reproduction cycle starts over.

How to Detect Ich in Your Molly Fish Tank?

On mollies, especially black mollies, ich is very easy to detect. The white spots are very obvious on the fish.

However, on silver mollies or lighter colored molly fish, ich is not as conspicuous. Beside the white spots, there are other signs and symptoms that are specific to ich diseases.

Here are the most common symptoms of molly fish infested with ich:

  • Molly fish will lose appetite or refuse eating at all
  • Often they will breathe heavily, gasping at the surface or staying at the bottom of the tank
  • Hiding in corners or between plants is also very common for mollies infested with ich
  • Mollies infested with ich will rub their body to aquarium decoration, rocks and plants
  • In advanced infestation stages, molly fish will swim upside down (at this point the fish can’t be saved)

Can Ich Kill Molly Fish?

Yes, ich can kill molly fish.

Though, ich can be treated easily if it is detected at an early stage. If you don’t get rid of ich in one-two weeks, the infestation can be so sever, that it can kill an entire molly fish population.

How to Treat White Spots on Mollies?

As mentioned before, ich can be treated very easily. There are many medications that will cure ich. I like to use Seachem ParaGuard medication from Amazon. This medication can cure white spots, velvet, find rot and flukes diseases too.

It is always a good idea to have medications on hand, so you can act as fast as possible, when it comes do any type of diseases in your molly fish.

When using medication in your aquarium, you should always remove activated carbon media. Activated carbon will neutralize most chemicals, so it will most likely neutralize the medicine too.

Beside medication, you can also use sea salt to treat ich. This is how I treat ich in my molly fish tanks:

  1. Slowly raise the water temperature to 82 °F (28 °C)
  2. Add an airstone to oxygenate the water
  3. Add 1 teaspoon of salt per gallon of water
  4. Leave it like that for one week
  5. After one week, do a 50% water change and vacuum the gravel
  6. Observer the fish for another week, to make sure the ich is gone for good

If necessary, repeat the process for another week.

Ich hate salt and the will die even from a small amount of salt. Molly fish on other hand like slightly salted water, because in the wild they live in brackish water.

Salt does not kill the incubated ich, this is why you have to wait about one week or more in order to ensure all hatchet ich will get from the salt.

The high water temperature will speed up the life cycle of ich and will shorten the incubation period too.

Though, you should note, that in water temperature above 82 °F (28 °C) the level of oxygen decreases significantly. This is why you need to use an aristone to provide a good oxygen exchange, so your mollies will not get suffocated.

Treating fish individually is not a good idea in case of ich infestation. If one molly fish got white spots, most likely all of them will get it. So in case of white spots, you need to treat the entire tank.

How to Prevent Ich in Your Aquarium?

Ich will not appear in your aquarium just like that. Usually, ich gets into fish tanks with new fish or plants.

The best way to prevent ich infestation is to setup a quarantine or hospital tank. In this tank, you will treat all your new fish and plants that you buy for about 1-3 weeks.

The hospital tank should not be running all the time, just when you prepare to buy new fish.

Use separate equipment for the quarantine tank to prevent eventual infestation to the other tank(s).

Conclusion

I hope, this quick guide has helped you understand how ich infestation works. It is always better to prevent diseases, instead trying to cure them.

In case of white spots, you need to act fast and don’t let this nasty diseases take of your beautiful mollies.

If you have any question regarding ich in molly fish, please leave a comment below. I will try to help as quickly as possible.

Written by Fabian

Hey, I'm Fabian, chief editor at Aquarium Nexus. I really enjoy the aquarium hobby and love sharing my experience with others. If you have any questions feel free to contact me or leave a comment below.

Discussion

  1. Shannen Reply

    Hello, I have a Black Molly that I believe has Ich. I happen to have the infected Molly in a tank with two Goldfish and a Placo. Since I don’t have immediate access to medication, I was wondering if I can use any type of salt to treat the tank or if I can even use salt to treat a tank with Goldfish and a Placo in it.

    • avatar
      Fabian Reply

      Hi Shannen! You can use salt to treat ich, but please avoid any iodized salt! Also increase water temperature, because this way you will shorten the lifespan of ich. Though, please be careful, because goldfish do not like water temperature above 74° F (24° C).

  2. Dorothy and Matthew Legg Reply

    Just observed that there is 2 white spots with a a pale yellow centre approx 2-3 mm one on each side of its body.. still eats and swims well..any advice appreciated.. Drothy & Matthew Legg..

    • avatar
      Fabian Reply

      Does these white spots look like ick? 2-3 mm spots are too large to be ick. It might be some sort of fungus. Usually medication that treat ick, will treat fungus and some bacterial infection as well. But please don’t dose medication until you are not 100% sure what disease it is. Can you take a photo of your fish and send it via the contact form?

  3. Amanda Reply

    My molly fish has developed a bunch of white spots on it’s right side I believe to be ick I have had my molly fish an 2 others an an algae eater for over 7 months

    • avatar
      Fabian Reply

      Ich does not get into your aquarium unless you bring it in with a new fish or plants. Did you add any new fish or plant in the last 1-2 weeks? If yes, it is most likely ich. You can use sea salt, aquarium salt or Seachem Paraguard medication (Amazon link).

  4. Kristen Reply

    Hey, so I have about 30 molly fry (they’re about a month old) in a 5 gallon tank. I just noticed white sores on two of them last night—one looks flaky white around the mouth and the other has a kind of flaky white spot above its eye… I was pretty sure it was ick when I saw it last night (and with the limited research I’ve done this morning).
    After reading this, I’m pretty sure it’s what killed off all 4 of my last fish about 2 months ago (I bleached and deep cleaned this tank and all its contents before setting it up for the fry). I have an automatically set thermostat in the tank though, and I’m nervous about the babies being too sensitive to any treatment or changes to pH…
    Treatment plan after what I’ve read today was to remove the filter pads but keep my filter running, add a half dose of “Super Ick Cure” that my roommate uses, and wait 48 hours before dosing that again, then vacuuming the gravel, changing 25% of the water, and re-adding the filter pads after another 48 hours….
    I guess I just want a second opinion/feedback that this will be helpful and not harmful for my babies!

    • avatar
      Fabian Reply

      If you are dosing any medication you should not remove the filter pads, but the activated carbon. If you remove the filter pads or biological filtration, you will cause even more harm. Because there will be no beneficial bacteria to take care of produced ammonia. The activated carbon need to be removed, because this will filter out the medication. If you don’t have any activated carbon in the filter, than you should not touch the filter at all.

      Whether it is ich or some fungus you can use the same medication. I had really good results with the Seachem ParaGuard medication.
      The treatment for fungus is a little bit different than for ich, but the medication I mentioned can cure both.

  5. Jael Reply

    Hello I think that 2 of my fish have the disease, but I have a beutiful angel fish with them. That is contagious for other fish? Can I used salt? Is a 30 gallons aquarium

    • avatar
      Fabian Reply

      Ich is contagious and should be treated as soon as possible. Sooner or later your angelfish will also get ich if you don’t treat your tank.
      You can use salt to treat ich, but not just any type of salt. You need to use aquarium salt to get rid of ich. Above in the article I’ve described the steps for treating white spots on fish with salt.

  6. Marissa Reply

    We have two silver Molly and I noticed this morning one of them looks sick. It definitely looks like ich. The top fin looks beat up 🙁 we also have 4 platy and 3 Cory catfish. If I put in the medication as you described, will the other fish be ok? Thank you!

    • avatar
      Fabian Reply

      Loaches are sensitive to ich medication, because they don’t have scales, but all other fish will be fine. You need to treat the tank as soon as possible, because your other fish will get ich sooner or later. So don’t worry about your other fish, just use the medication as suggested by the manufacturer.

  7. Sini Reply

    Hi
    I have 1 metre tank and my molly fishes have white spots in their tail so if I am using aquarium salt how much should I put or would general aid medicine will work well and if so how much should I put pls help me

    • avatar
      Fabian Reply

      Each medicine has the usage dosage on its label. I can’t really tell you how to dose a medicine for white spots, because they are different.
      If you use salt, make sure you are using marine salt and not table salt, which contains iodine (this is dangerous for fish). You can add one teaspoon of marine salt to each gallon of water. The whole process is described above in the article.

      • Terry Reply

        My black Molly has white spots. They are getting bigger and seem to be affecting it’s eye now. I have been treating the tank for 10 days now according to the directions on the med I bought. It says 10 days could be longer if needed. It’s been 10 days and I don’t see any improvement. It actually seems to be getting worse. My Molly is eating and swimming. What should I do?

        • avatar
          Fabian Reply

          What medication are you using? Usually the right medication will always help with ich. If you don’t have the right medication, try the one teaspoon of salt / gallon method; this work most of the time. Don’t use iodized salt!!! Use marine or aquarium salt only.

  8. Mazhar Reply

    Help my black molly fish.. Male black molly have spots from almost 2 weeks

  9. Sue Reply

    My black Molly is getting more and more white spots to where he almost looks like my Dalmatian Molly. I’ve treated the tank with medication for two cycles (3 days in a row, break, 3 more days in a row). No other fish in the tank have white spots. The black Molly is not appearing sick. I know Dalmatians can turn black. Is it possible the black Molly is changing his color to look Dalmatian?

    • avatar
      Fabian Reply

      I doubt that a black molly will change into dalmatian molly overtime. I’ve never seen something like this. Also, you can easily tell if your fish have ich or is changing its color. Ich are tiny white spots on the skin of the fish and they look like they don’t belong there. If a fish is changing color, usually the pigmentation of their skin is changing and it appears in larger spots. So which version is happening with your fish?

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