Can Plecos Get Ich? A Brief Guide for Diagnosis and Treatment

Plecos are quite susceptible to ich infection. The protozoan parasite will multiply and spread across the fish’s body, causing white spot colonies of Ich to appear all over its body. Luckily, there are different treatments and medications for the condition.

If you want to find out more about Plecos infection and what to do if your plecos have them, keep on reading this brief guide!

Can Plecos Get Ich?

Despite being quite hardy, Plecos are not invincible, and they’re still susceptible to some diseases, such as Ich.

Ich is the common name of “Ichthyophthirius multifiliis”. This one is a ciliate protozoan parasite that is known for attacking a wide range of freshwater fish species, especially tropical ones.

As a result, all species of Plecos, including the Common Pleco (Suckermouth Catfish), are susceptible to ich infection.

When the highly contagious Ich protozoa find their way to a fish tank, they’ll quickly multiply and spread into the susceptible fish causing noticeable damage to the fish’s scales and skin underneath.

This is because the newly multiplied parasites will attach themselves to the fish in order to feed on their skin and scales.

Ich is a problematic infection because of its tricky life cycle that needs around 12 to 14 days to complete. This means that infected fish may take up to 2 weeks before displaying symptoms.

Bushymouth Pleco

What Causes Ich Infection?

Since Ich is quite contagious, all susceptible fish species like Plecos will display symptoms of infection if they find their way into the tank, especially if the conditions of the aquarium allow it.

As a general rule, recent changes are usually the culprit behind the Plecos infection. Here are some factors that can cause it to appear on your fish:

  • Bringing new fish into the tank that was infected or a carrier of ich parasite
  • Adding some contaminated fish food to the tank
  • Stressed Plecos and poor tank conditions in presence of the parasite
  • Improper tank cycling and using dirty water

What Are the Symptoms of Ich Infection on a Pleco?

When Ich infects a pleco, the fish will display a variety of symptoms that will help you identify the condition.

The most common and obvious symptom of ich infection is the white spots and freckles that will spread across the entire body of the fish.

These bumpy white spots are actually colonies of the protozoan parasite attached to the fish to feed off their scales and skin.

The number of white spots will increase depending on the severity of the infection and the level of stress of the fish.

These spots cause huge discomfort to the fish, which is why infected plecos will often rub their bodies against random objects in the tank trying to get rid of the parasites.

The fish might also look unusually lethargic and refuse to eat most of the time due to bloating and discomfort.

As soon as you’ve confirmed the diagnosis of ich infection, you should try to treat your fish immediately!

Can Ich Infection Kill Plecos?

Since Plecos are pretty hardy fish, they can withstand ich infection, even without treatment. However, ich is also a resilient infection and can prove fatal to Plecos.

For that reason, it’s always important that you never rely on your fish’s hardiness and follow up your diagnosis with immediate treatment to increase your fish’s chances of survival!

How to Treat Plecos from Ich Infection

Now that you know everything about ich infection in Plecos and how to identify it, all that’s left is to treat your fish and ensure that the infection doesn’t come back. Here’s what you need to do to help your sick Plecos:

1. Isolate the Plecos in a Quarantine Tank

Start by removing your fish from the original tank in order to reduce the amount of ich parasite around them.

2. Apply Ich Treatments to Your Plecos

There are several medications that you can apply to your Plecos in the quarantine tank, such as:

Ich Medication

The market has plenty of options when it comes to ich medication, such as API Liquid Super Ick Cure.

Use the treatment as instructed on the label, but since plecos don’t have scales, it’s usually safer to use half of the dose recommended on the bottle.

Table Salt

Salt is an affordable and safe alternative to ich medications, all the while being quite effective in treating your plecos.

Ideally, you’ll need to add 1 to 1.5 tablespoons of salt for every gallon in the quarantine container.

Make sure that you stir and dissolve the salt before adding the fish to the tank, and keep your fish there for around 2 weeks to ensure that the entire life cycle of ich is eradicated.


Heat is also effective in killing the Ich, as they can’t withstand a temperature of 86 to 88 degrees F, so make sure that you also keep the tank temperature at that level throughout the treatment.

3. Disinfect the Original Tank

Now that your fish is being isolated and treated from the ich, it’s important that you disinfect the original tank to prevent the conditions from coming back.

One of the best ways to disinfect your tank is by getting rid of the water in it and pouring bleach solution in it, which is usually 1 part of bleach for every 8 to 10 parts of water.

Wash the tank several times with clean water to remove the bleach before filling up the tank again. Lastly, monitor the Plecos for any symptoms for a few more days before returning them to the tank

Wrap Up

This marks the end of today’s guide with everything you need to know about ich infection in Plecos.

As you can see, Plecos do get ich infections, but luckily, they’re also curable and your fish are likely to survive them.

While providing treatment for your Plecos, remember that they don’t have scales, so you’ll need to adjust the dose of medications and salt used.