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White Spot and Hydrogen Peroxide

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White Spot and Hydrogen Peroxide

Postby Onsan » Fri 19 Mar, 2010 3:34 pm

Okay, i'm putting this out here because in my experience, based on published academic research, Peroxide works very well at treating common protozoan parasites, it is safe, easy to use and very effective, providing near instant relief for afflicted fish, and i believe that a correct and informed article on Hydrogen Peroxide and its applications are worthy of a place in Reefpedia.

To provide a thread for a discussion on the use of Hydrogen Peroxide in treating C.irritans

Hydrogen Peroxide is an oxidising agent that can be used to effectively control parasitic protozoan infections in fish. Used under a suitable treatment plan it will break the life cycle of protozoans such as C.irritans, Amyloodinium ocellatum, and Brooklynella infections.
Applied in a three day regime for 28+ days, aimed at attacking the trophonts – the parasitic attached stage – the treatment breaks the lifecycle by preventing the maturation of the trophonts and their ability to reproduce by killing them during the attached parasitic stage. Without any live mature Trophonts producing cysts – egg stage – the life cycle is broken and the disease defeated.

Although Hydrogen Peroxide appears fish safe for many species, dosages for all species may not be same. The effective dosage rates appear to be linked to the mucus layer of the fish, fish with thicker mucus layers are more resistant to the effects of the peroxide and also provide greater protection to the protozoans beneath. Fish species with thinner mucus layers, such as African Cichlids, show that dose rates that are effective in disinfection and not high in mortalities may be 20ppm or below.
Although Hydrogen Peroxide is effective in disinfecting the fish, experiments on dosage rates of 20, 25, 50, 75, 100, 150, and 300ppm and treatment times from 10 – 60 mins on a number of species show a varied level of tolerance by fish to the treatment. For this reason low initial dosage rates and constant monitoring during treatment is essential.

SUGGESTED initial dosages offered are;
25ppm for 30mins for suspected low tolerance fish – cichlids, possibly blue tangs
50ppm for 30mins for moderately tolerant fish – clownfish
75ppm for 30mins for higher tolerance fish – possibly catfish and barramundi

Caution – fish should never be left unattended during treatment.

Monitoring of fish behaviour is critical during treatment, if the fish appears extremely distressed the water should be diluted or the treatment terminated early. The fish should then be retreated at a lower dosage and the procedure repeated in 3 days. Note that some discomfort should be expected as the fish is in a strange environment which is stressful in itself.

Due to the unstable and dissociating nature of Hydrogen Peroxide the water should not be mixed or aerated during the treatment period. Strong mixing or aeration will reduce the levels of peroxide in the water.

It is critical that any use of Hydrogen Peroxide in controlling protozoan infections take in to account the organisms’ life cycle, peroxide is not shown to be effective on killing the tomont stages – cysts- of some protozoans. It is important that the dosages be applied in 3 day cycles for a minimum of 28 days, ideally longer, to ensure any tomonts have hatched and become vulnerable to the treatment. It is also ideal to conduct the treatment in a Hospital tank itself as the peroxide will kill any free swimming theronts, however HT individual systems/setups need to be considered. Hydrogen Peroxide will kill bacteria and algae, any biological filtration systems need to be removed so as not to kill off the beneficial bacteria supporting the system.

Hypothetical Treatment Case:

Bob has a DT tank which he has added a new fish, a blue tang, which later shows signs of whitespot. Bob has a hospital tank setup using uninfected water, he removes the tang along with his other fish and places them in a large glass bowl/tank for treatment with Peroxide. Bob errs on the side of caution and applies a dosage of 50ppm to the un-aerated bowl, he monitors the fish constantly for 30mins whilst the treatment is applied. At the end of the treatment Bob removes the fish and places them into the HT. Bob has now treated all the fish and placed them in the HT, the peroxide should have killed all the attached parasites, but as Bob has an infected tank he decides to leave the DT fish less for a min 28 day, during this time he continues treating the fish in the HT with peroxide every 3 days, thinking it is better to be safe than sorry and ensure that all of the parasites have been killed. After leaving the DT fallow and treating the fish for a minimum of 4 weeks, Bob returns the fish to the DT, vowing to make sure he uses a Quarantine Tank in the future.

Important things to know about Hydrogen Peroxide.

Toxicity increases with temperature, treatments should be conducted at a stable temperature of 25C.
Although peroxide dissociates to water and oxygen leaving no harmful residual chemicals, toxins and organics may be produced as a result of die-offs from creatures such as flatworms, only treat in clean environments to avoid this possibility.
Peroxide kills bacteria, for this reason it is NOT reef safe.
If you decide to treat a QT or HT directly with peroxide, removing any biological filtration during treatment is essential.
Application is easy and safe for humans, there are no carcinogenic effects and concentrations used are diluted from common household grade 3% peroxide available from supermarkets and chemists.
Quarantine tanks are the most effect way of ensuring tanks remain disease free, not using one is foolish. If for any reason a QT can’t be employed, there may be some benefit in using peroxide as a disinfectant treatment prior to adding the fish to the tank, however this is gambling with dosages as there is too little information available about effective dosage rates for individual species to offer any reliable guarantees.
Using Hydrogen peroxide in QT’s as a means of disinfecting new additions which may be suspected of carrying parasites during their quarantine period could be employed to offer greater likelihood of a disease free DT.

I’m not saying people should rush out and buy a heap of peroxide and throw your fish into it without due consideration, it is still early days in the use of this chemical, lower initial dosages and diligent monitoring need to be employed to limit the risk of mortalities until individual tolerances can be established. However, an informed and correctly applied treatment regime can be utilised to effectively combat commonly encountered protozoan infections like Marine Ich, White Spot and Brooklynella.

This is by no means complete, i've tried to keep to it as succinct as possible and there are areas i haven't discussed, the information provided above has been sourced and interpreted from a number of published papers some of which are noted below, and applied in a number of cases on my own DT and breeding tanks.

Links for further reading;
http://www.ctsa.org/upload/project/2004 ... 630581.pdf
http://icecapinc.com/informationcenter/ ... nt-options
http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fa157
http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/jour ... 1&SRETRY=0
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Re: White Spot and Hydrogen Peroxide

Postby Noodles1 » Fri 19 Mar, 2010 4:59 pm

After reading the above, it seems to indicate to me that if I buy a new fish, stick it in H2O2 for 30-60mins at the right dosage (straight out of the bag), that should be sufficent to kill the parasites on the fish. One could then add the fish to a clean QT without the fear of White spot re appearing and simply observe for other issues. Obviously there are other acclimation issues, temperature, water quality etc.

Is this correct?
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Re: White Spot and Hydrogen Peroxide

Postby Onsan » Fri 19 Mar, 2010 6:37 pm

yes. to an extent.

i do this religiously, but i repeat it during quarantine. problems with this is that the correct dosages for individual species are not known, for peroxide to work effectively dosages need to be a balance between being strong enough to erode enough of the mucus layer in order to expose the parasite to the treatment and not too strong as to burn the fish. that's why i'd advocate repeat treatments.
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Re: White Spot and Hydrogen Peroxide

Postby brandon429 » Thu 24 Sep, 2015 11:13 am

I kicked up this thread 5 yrs on due to excellent writing by Onsan and statements that by and large turned out to be accurate after five years and 1000 tanks adjusted with peroxide, and thats only across a few threads we can link.


When these posits were written in 2010 there was not 1000 instances to reflect on, really nice work for sure.

I want to link a delicate sps tank we are wrapping up for an example


http://reef2reef.com/threads/sick-of-gh ... 043/page-3


As with any predictive phase in science, confounds may develop or outcomes predicted may vary, and the effect on systemic bacteria mentioned above was the part that changed across tanks, there is not any discernible effect on tank bacteria using any dose, any overdose, and thats a bold statement to make.

I feel its the insulator qualities afforded by the fact nitrifers don't occur singly on mature substrates but as a competing set of colonies mixed in with different slimes, films, heterotrophs et al

In a test tube purely isolated via cells and then dosed? Sure it might lyse a bacteria


But we have shown demonstrably and quite repeatably that in the tank setting even gross overdoses will not cause even a mini cycle, I feel thats a contribution to formality that anecdotes guided have amassed.


Sure hope y'all are ok with old thread kick ups this was the best predictive writing Ive seen regarding peroxide in the reef aquarium and we had some things to add.

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Re: White Spot and Hydrogen Peroxide

Postby chromus » Thu 24 Sep, 2015 11:53 am

No harm in adding to the thread with good updates :thumbsup:
Did you search RTAW Reefpedia B4 asking your question?

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Re: White Spot and Hydrogen Peroxide

Postby brandon429 » Thu 24 Sep, 2015 4:22 pm

Thank you!


I had looked for a long time for formal references on peroxide and biosystems and he linked them above quite a while ago, what an early peroxide pioneer

You could tell he was treading lightly
I think back then, systemic use of it was rightfully challenged and set a high bar for use so people didnt go dumping all manner of crazies into the tank. Still, I can believe peroxide over using Bayer insect killer as a full on sps dip. Above all strange treatments, that bug spray doesn't kill sps is beyond me completely.

To expand upon in tank use of peroxide, my entire reef including stenopus shrimp is adapted to 35% undiluted highly reactive peroxide. I habituated with slow ramp up over 100 runs just like this, brief duration spot trials, burning various things in the tank and peroxide causes direct pedal laceration reproduction in corallimorphs mushrooms. Use it to split those $200 candy mushroom corals, make a ton of money
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Fk8R3clElQ
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Re: White Spot and Hydrogen Peroxide

Postby CT_Reefer » Thu 24 Sep, 2015 5:08 pm

I have seen casual references to peroxide use but have not really taken any interest as it seemed a bit 'out-there' but Onsan's post is well written and I'm going to look into it. Thanks for bumping
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