Can Cory Catfish Get Ich? {What Should I Do?}

Have you noticed white spots that look like someone dropped salt on your cory catfish?

Can scaleless fish cory catfish even get Ich? In this article, we’ll discuss if cory catfish can get Ich and what to do about it.

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Can Cory Catfish Get Ich?

Cory catfish are less susceptible to catching Ich because they are scaleless. If your cory catfish has Ich, most medications and salt treatments will be harmful. Raising the water temperature to speed up the life cycle of Ich is the best remedy for cory catfish.

Why Don’t Cory Catfish Get Ich?

It is uncommon for armored catfish without scales to catch the Ichthyophthirius parasitic protozoan (Ich) compared to other fish in your tank. This is good news, but if they reside in a tank with these parasites who are running the course of their life cycle alongside your cory catfish, you will have to treat the tank and speed up the process to kill off Ich before it harms the health of your cories.

The problem lies in the treatments that most people commonly use for getting rid of Ich. Salt and chemical medications are not recommended for cory catfish who are extremely sensitive to them. Using half doses or foregoing these popular methods in lieu of raising the water temperature seems to be the best approach.

How Do I Know If My Cory Catfish Has Ich?

You are looking for white patches that are like tiny speckles of salt on your cory catfish. Look closely around the gills to make sure their breathing is not affected by these parasites who like to attach themselves in this common location.

Look for the following symptoms:

  • difficulty breathing
  • lethargic or sluggish behavior
  • hovering under or near the filter return
  • loss of appetite
  • clamped fins 
  • rubbing up against plants or decorations

What Causes Ich On Cory Catfish?

The most common reason for this parasite running rampant in your tank is that it wasn’t cycled properly or the water quality is stressing out your cory catfish. Sometimes these fish arrive with Ich burrowed deep in their gills without anyone noticing it. They can show up with it already and infect the rest your fish in your tank.

The causes of stress that weaken their immune system to become more susceptible to Ich are the following:

  • transport issues
  • prior infestation
  • aggression
  • poor water quality
  • infected substrate

Ich can arrive in the bag water without us noticing it. Aggressive environments in their prior tank or new tank will stress your cory catfish and leave them open to infections.

Cory catfish spend most of their time at the bottom of your tank. If the bottom of the tank is infested with these parasites that are more common in other fish, your cory catfish will be affected due to their constant proximity to the substrate.

How Do I Treat Ich On Cory Catfish?

Invertebrates or fish without scales are more sensitive to common medications and salt treatments. The increase in heat will speed up the process of maturing the Ich parasites quickly to kill them off faster.

Cory catfish are also sensitive to high heat so the increase must be done gradually and stay below 90°F. The highest recommended water temperature for cory catfish is 80°F, but at this point, it’s time to push those boundaries to get rid of Ich sooner than later before it gets worse.

Increase the temperature up to 84-88°F gradually, but pay close attention to your cory catfish. If they are constantly gasping for air, you may have to remove them and place them in a quarantine tank while you treat the rest of your fish with scales in the original tank that is infested with Ich.

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Will Warm Water Kill My Cory Catfish?

Cory catfish enjoy water temperature between 72°F-80°F. Recommending warmer water above this mark is essential to getting rid of Ich in your tank. The problem will lie in the lack of dissolved oxygen in the tank causing your cory catfish to run out of air. They will come up to surface more often at this point to get some fresh air.

An airstone is recommended to aerate and oxygenate your tank. The heat and any medications you choose to use will decrease oxygen levels. Circulating the air is crucial in this time to make sure your cory catfish do not suffocate or become further stressed.

Should I Medicate My Cory Catfish Who Have Ich?

It’s best to use half doses of medications if you don’t notice any improvement in your tank after slightly raising the heat level in your tank. Make sure the bottle of medication indicates that half doses can be applied to scaleless fish or consult with a professional at the point of purchase.

Kordon Ich Attack is less harsher than many other medications and many cory catfish keepers have said that is has worked to get rid of Ich in their tanks faster than raising the water temperature. It’s important to carefully observe for increased stress in our cory catfish.

Please try to complete the full course of medication if you have already started. Stopping early or changing the form of medication once you’ve already started is not recommended.

Should I Use Salt In My Cory Catfish Tank?

This is a hot topic debate. Some people would never put salt in a tank with freshwater fish without scales like cory catfish. Others believe that small does of salt at one teaspoon per 5 gallons will get rid of any pathogens in the tank without harming their cory catfish.

Usually it’s one teaspoon per gallon for hardier fish with scales, but reduce this amount to 1/5 dosage if you want to try the salt treatment to get rid of Ich.


We hope your cory catfish recovers soon and the state of your tank returns to its pristine conditions for your aquarium’s ecosystem to thrive once again. 

Brian Arial

Brian Arial has kept fish for leisure and worked with fish stores for most of his life. He enjoys writing and caring for aquariums and ponds.