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Hardware components of my two primary tanks and some of the fish I keep
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Quarantine (my opinion)

Posted 03/09/2011 at 09:40 PM by snorvich
Updated 03/18/2014 at 09:39 AM by snorvich

Q: Should I quarantine all fish?

A: Yes. Four weeks is a good window for observation of disease and parasites. All newly acquired fish will benefit from 4 weeks of time by themselves in the quarantine tank to recover from shipping/handling stress and to acclimate to your feeding regime.

Q: What about corals, inverts, algae, and live rock?

A: Whle I feel that the risk is very low unless they are coming from an infected tank, you can set up a separate QT for them. That tank must never see copper or any medications that may be harmful to corals and inverts. It doesn't need to be large, doesn't necessarily need a skimmer, but will need adequate light and water movement. 4 weeks of observation should help spot any unwanted hitch hikers and pests and to provide a fallow period for cryptocaryon irritans and oodinium. But while it is possible a cyst could find it's way in on one of these nonfish specimens or the rock it's attached to, the normal chain of custody for these specimens makes the chances of infection very very slim . Unless they came from an infected tank and went right into your tank the likelihood of infecting a tank with cryptocaryon irritans when adding an invertebrate or rock are remote. The parasites usually leave the fish at night and settle on surfaces adjacent to where the fish sleeps The cyst usually remain viable for about 28 days. The longest recorded viability is 72 days in cold water. So by the time a wild specimen gets to your tank continued viability of any cyst that have settled there is likely long over. Brushing off surfaces with a tooth brush may be useful if you are concerned. In contrast, adding unquarantined fish carries a high risk.

Q. How big of a Quarantine Tank (QT) do I need?
A. Ideally large enough to permanently meet the needs of the largest fish you can expect to acquire. Realistically, as close to that size as you have room for.

Q: What filtration do I need for my QT?

A: The more the better. A skimmer is beneficial for oxygenating the water and in some cases can be run with medication in the water. A HOB filter adds more surface for bacteria to colonize as well as a place to run filter pads and carbon. A ball of chaetomorpha is a good idea provided there is light available. There's no substitute for live rock but keep in mind that copper as well as other medications will contaminate the rock permanently (never use it with inverts); I prefer to have live rock in my quarantine tank but obviously cannot do so for a hospital tank. Bottom line; use water changes to maintain water quality regardless of the filtration methods in place. I believe that a quarantine tank and hospital tank for treatment should be different tanks.

Q: How often should I change the water?
A: As often as necessary to maintain excellent water quality. Spend $5 and get an ammonia alert indicator so you're not caught off guard by an ammonia spike.

Q: How many fish can I keep in my QT?
A: There is no magic number but I prefer one fish by itself unless the fish come as a group such as a shoal of Apogon parvulus. Do your homework to understand which fish are compatible with each other, make sure there are enough hiding spaces for all fish to shelter in, and don't overload your filtration. Stress from fish interaction is highly undesirable during a quarantine period.

Q: How long should the quarantine process last?
A: Four weeks for observation is ample as it exceeds the life cycle of most parasites. If treatment beyond that is required it will depend on the treatment; usually 2-8 weeks. Technically speaking a QT would strictly be used for observation and rest period whereas a "Hospital Tank" would be used for treatment. As such the QT would more closely resemble an established tank, while the hospital tank would be very sterile with no surface that a parasite can attach to.

Q: Should I proceed with any treatments even if I don't see signs of disease?
A: Prophylactic treatment is a personal decision; I treat only if I see a problem. The primary reason for this is that hypo or copper is effective for ich but is not effective for other parasites such as oodinium. (I usually treat with Praziquantel (Prazipro) regardless of whether or not I see signs of parasites)

Q: How soon should I begin treatment?

A: Have the fish eating before starting treatment if possible. If there are signs of disease or parasites you may need to start treatment right away. Otherwise I wait until disease evidences itself before treating.

Q: How far in advance should I have the QT cycled an ready?
A: I keep an established QT constantly available. If a hospital tank has to be set up on short notice to treat a sick fish, use water from an established display tank.

Q: What equipment do I need to setup a QT?

* Tank
* Heater
* Powerhead(s)
* Thermometer
* Ammonia Alert Indicator and/or Nitrate & Nitrite test kits
* PVC pipe segments or other hiding places for fish
* Live Rock (QT only not hospital)
* Light (optional for fish-only)
* Skimmer (optional)
* HOB Filter (optional)

Q: What are some medications I should have on hand?

* Copper, ideally cupramine - for ich and other external parasites
* Chloroquine phosphate for treatment of velvet
* Praziquantel - for flukes and worms
* nitrofurazone - for open wounds or sores
* Metronidazole - for intestinal and other protozoa
* Formalin - for brook and other external parasites
* Erythromycin and Minocycline - for bacterial prevention/treatment
* Food enhancers such as Selcon, Vitality, and Eco Garlic
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