Quarantine Basics

wayne

Elite Fish
Oct 22, 2002
4,077
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#1
Lots of people drop out of marine fish keeping very quickly, and one of the chief reasons is they kill a lot of fish very quickly, or they get it going, keep everything alive for a few months and just as they get attached everything dies AGAIN! Typically a few good reasons account for most of these failures.
1. Bad setup - less of a problem than it was in the bad old days.
2.Bad selection - if you like buying clown tangs, moorish idols and dendronepthya you are either very confident or very stupid. These, and many others do not have good success rates for caual aquarists. Be an informed consumer
3. Disease - there are many diseases that you can bring into your home aquarium. Some, indeed most are easy to deal with, and some are not. However one common fact is that you do not want to be caught trying to treat a disease in a tank full of inverts and liverock as most of your more effective cures such as copper, hyposalinity, formalin and antibiotics are at the best going to impact your filter for a few days, and frankly most will lay waste to your inverts in pretty short order. The effects may be obvious (copper being an example) or less obvious, but any cure strong enough to do anytihng to a tough parasitic disease such as ich or velvet is not going to be absolutely harmless to everything else. Don't kid yourself - reef safe cures have no consistent track record of success.

SO what can you do. Easy, quarantine everything, especially fish. Maybe if you have a lot of pricey inverts you treasure you might want to QT everything, or maybe you think a flatworm infestation is a minor problem too. Keeping everything in QT for 6 weeks will reveal almost all problems be it disease or hitchhiking parasitic pestilence. Also 6 weeks in a nice quiet clean space by itself is a good rest/break for a tired fish from the lfs

So what's in a QT tank - is it difficult? Actually no it's easy, and very cheap. Here's how I do it...
1. Tank - I use a tank 75 cms * 35 * 35 cms or for americans 30 * 14 * 14 inches. I use this size because a) I had it lying around, and b) it's about 20 US gallons, so 1/2 full it's 10 gallons.
2. Filter - I have a Fluval 4 internal filter shifting around 150 gallons an hour. I have all the biomedia in - I wants lots of filt in this tank, I don't care about nitrate buildup because I do a good few water changes, but I don't ever want to see traces of ammonia.
3. 150 watt heater - reliable Aqua Stabil, does good job.
4. Perspex sheet on top with a 36 watt PC fixture sitting on it - decent lighting, but not excessive.

In the tank I have a whole load of pieces of plastic pipe of varying diameters, and sometimes a plastic plant or two.

And that's it - it sits on a piece of polystyrene in my basement, and is very simple. Normally the tank has about 15 gals of water in it, but the lengh means mucho swimming room. Also if I need to hypo I can take out 5 gals of water and fill it up with fresh very quickly to make the salinity nice and low. Also I like this tank size as it's big enough to hold fish that are 4 or 5 inches long for the 6 weeks without it looking really cramped.


I like to do two water changes on this tank - I make up a bucket of water, take out some tank water and put the new water in. That's about a 2 1/2 gallon change I tihnk. I do 2 1/2 gallons as that's how big the bucket is. I would do more, but two of these a weeks seems to work pretty well.

And that all works for me. If I'm going to have new fish die on me, they can do it here. And fish unfortunately do die, but doing the above means far, far less fish die than might be the case. You only have to have one full wipeout from ich or velvet to realise this.

Here's an important note - I am very, very keen on dwarf angels and other browsing species like my Kole tang. Whan that did it's time I put in some big pieces of trash live rock for it/them to browse on. I think this is a good idea BUT you have to remember if you decide to medicate this HAS to come out else it can mess with the copper readings.

People get twitchy QT's ing corals. Frankly it's unnecessary - with cheap PC's you can get enough light for most corals to survive a few weeks in QT - they do not require reef standard lighting all the time to survive, especially as with good clean water inthe QT you may well be reducing other stressors. Keeping the water challow will work to your advantage here. My QT setup is barely different to my old fragging setup
 

Last edited:
Jul 29, 2005
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Sunny Cali & Rainy England
#2
Thankyou Wayne. As usual, a great post that will no doubt become a sticky and one that I am very interested in. A couple of questions if I may:

What do you do with the quarantine tank once the fish/invert it is housing is promoted to the main display? Also what do you do to the QT if the fish dies?

Could an Emporer 400 with established biowheels provide adequate filtration for a QT?

Lastly, how on earth do you find the patience to wait a 6 full weeks before you add your hot new addition to your display. Is a full 6 weeks absolutely necassary? :eek:
 

wayne

Elite Fish
Oct 22, 2002
4,077
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#3
Good Q's - to quote....

What do you do with the quarantine tank once the fish/invert it is housing is promoted to the main display?<<100% water change, bit of a clean up>> Also what do you do to the QT if the fish dies?<<Depends why it died. If it was due to diesease, strip and clean, possibly bleach everything>>

Could an Emporer 400 with established biowheels provide adequate filtration for a QT? <<Oh yeah, for sure. All you're dealing with really is the ammonia. If you do the water changes that's plenty>>

Lastly, how on earth do you find the patience to wait a 6 full weeks before you add your hot new addition to your display. Is a full 6 weeks absolutely necassary <<The first time it seems a long ime, but now I don't think twice. In all honesty I don't actually buy that many fish, and I probably won't buy any now till approx August unless I see something special. I like 6 weeks, 4 is a little short to be 99% safe with ich, but 4 is much, much better than 2, which I think is simply too short for fish. I know people who do 8. After a while you kind of forget it's a QT and it becomes just a pre display spare tank>>
 

wayne

Elite Fish
Oct 22, 2002
4,077
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#5
You don't need to recycle. You're just changing the water, and having a clean up. You're still preserving filter media and bacteria on solid surfaces within the tank. Take it from me, there are enough bacteria in a big Fluval internal filter to keep ammonia at bay.
If a disease has been present and treated for, and the tank bleached afterwards you need to precycle the tank. But remember I usually keep some cheapo live rock in there so there's my 'bacteria in a bag'.
 

Jul 29, 2005
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Sunny Cali & Rainy England
#10
Any new fish or invert introduced to your system poses the same threat whether it is going into a 5 gallon tank or a 500 gallon tank. In fact smaller tanks are probably even more at risk due to the smaller volume which'll cause a higher concentration of anything introduced.

If you are just starting a tank, it makes sense that you need not quarentine because there is nothing to be threatened in the tank in the first place.
 

Jul 29, 2005
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Sunny Cali & Rainy England
#12
For all the reasons Wayne clearly stated above, a QT can be nothing but highly recommended.

I personally will be setting one up before I make any more purchases. I would be gutted if I lost my blue faced angel due to anything a QT could've prevented - though it would be like me to have to learn the hard way.

As for size, either a 10 or 20 gallon. I'm sure a 20 would be better all around, apart from the extra space it'll occupy in my 2 bedroom apartment. My home has turned into enough of a jungle as it is, what with my aquarium that dominates the lounge, my wifes bearded dragon, a bengal and 2 other domestic cats.
 

wayne

Elite Fish
Oct 22, 2002
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#13
'I would be gutted if I lost my blue faced angel due to anything a QT could've prevented ' - that is EXACTLY the point.
How big it is totally down to personal preference, and what you're going to QT. If it's little clowns and so on, 10's are fine, if you have an expensive taste for large sohal tangs then a 55 is what you would use. You might blanche at using a 55 for QT, but if you're QT'ing hundred dollar plus fish then the cost of a second hand 55 is negligible.
Bear in mind this doesn't have to be fancy. When I was breeding a lot of freshwater fish my grow out tanks were 40 gallon plastic boxes from IKEA. Also bear in mind that when you're not using it, break it down and put it in the garage. This is to be advised anyway else it will invariably end up as a second display.
Whether you QT the single fish that goes in a nano is a good point. However if, or an invert dies in there you are going to know about it, and if it dies in your nano form ich where you can't treat it, then I wouldn't put another fish in for two months
 

Lorna

Elite Fish
Mar 3, 2005
3,082
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NE Indiana
#14
question: Would an old aquaclear 300 filter work on a 10g qt. I want to start one up at the same time I start my cycle in my main tank. Do you put down any substrate in the qt? or just pvc pipes. Could you say start a qt tank with something like those quick start products as I don't have any lr or other biological medium to add at this time????
 

1979camaro

Ultimate Fish
Oct 22, 2002
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San Ramon, CA
#15
the aquaclear would work fine. you can even float the filter media in your sump (if you have one) to colonize it with bacteria. no need for substrate pvc pipes will do. as far as the lr/bio media at this time it isn't of great concern as you are still in the process of setting up the display. by the time that is ready for fish you will be able to snag some lr from there temporarily
 

S.Reef

Superstar Fish
Dec 1, 2003
1,830
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Michigan
#16
The big thing that really needs to be stressed is maturing the filter before placing stuff in the qt...lost quite a few fish at first to that ammonia spike.
 

Jan 19, 2006
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#18
I think yu did a great job explaining the QT, but I have a question. They tell me I can use a sponge filter in my QT is this true? I am talking about a ten gal tank. I am sorry one more thaught. If I use a sponge "NEW" filter do I have to wait for the tank to cycle? I think I hado a form of ich and I have live rock and inverts in my 12 gal main. Would like to treat the main with hypo. if I can. How long will it take to clear the Tank out of these nasty parasite? .... sorry three questions :).
 

wayne

Elite Fish
Oct 22, 2002
4,077
3
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#19
Yes a sponge filter is fine though not my first choice - rather than using an air powered sponge I prefer an internal powerfilter (which includes sponge). Sponge filters are very efficient at removing ammonia, but do produce nitrates. But in a QT who cares?
Cycling can be done really quickly if you're prepared to sacrifice a piece of live rock to be seed material.

You have a 12 gallon with LR;inverts and think you have ich. I would NOT hypo a full blown reef. Hypo down to say 1.017, which I have seen before is NOT likely to be effective against most strains of ich, hypo down to 1.010 will kill some stuff. If I really wanted it to be free of ich I would take the fish out for two months - it's not an absolute certainty none will survive that long, but it's in the 99% + range. I would put them in as cheapo a setup as I possibly could, with a piece of old junk liverock, and hypo it down a long way OR copper them. What fish are they?
Do you have an lfs you can scrounge a few bioballs or some filter floss or something from to seed your filter. As I think I describe, for copper I have a 20 long, 200 watt heater and Fluval 4 power foam filter. I use as cheap a light as I can bodge, and bits of plastic tubing. If you seed the filter and change a bucket of water every week that is fine for 2 or 3 fish for months
 

Jan 19, 2006
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#20
Oh I basically lost all but one fish a green chromise or something like that. What I planned on doing was setting up the QT and using BIO spira to get the tank up and running. Then house my sea horse, cleaner shrimp, rock, crab and snails, I guess with the one fish in the QT. Then I wanted to raise temp of main tank to like 84 deg and lower salt to 1014 for like a week and also sift the sand as much as I can and hope I KILL the bumbs. Then once I get my main back up to snuff return all the above to main :). PS my inverts show no sign of sickness? Hmmmm. Do you think that will do it? Also should I change out my carbon filter after all this.

One more thing I have an hawian anenome <-- I think thats spelled right :). If I transfer that to my nephews tank does it run a risk of taking parasites with it? or should I just bring it back to the pet store?

Thanks*twirlysmi