Quarantining Marine Fish
Lately Iíve been researching quarantine process a lot for marine fish, mostly to make sure the process that I have used is a good one. Almost all of this I got from other people and a few things I found on the internet. I want to describe the process that Iím using in hopes of getting some feedback or suggestions for improvement.
During my research I was kind of shocked to learn that a large number of people that donít even perform a quarantine process. I never have really understood that. From my point of view, you want to QT fish because of: (just to name a few of the reasons):
1) Protect / prevent the introduction of a disease into your main display tank
2) Allow you time to observe and identify and potential diseases and treat it;
3) Give the fish a chance to recover from any condition or disease
4) Get the new fish on the right foods and nutrients, not all stores feed the best foods;
5) Further acclimate wild caught fish to aquarium life without being bothered;
6) Allow the fish to eat without having other tank mates taking the food away from them so they can build up their strength; and
7) Allowing the fish to get over the stress of removal from the wild and/or shipping as well as any potential injures from those activities
Equipment need for a marine quarantine tank (in no particular order)
1)A proper sized tank. I read a lot of info that suggests a rule of thumb to use a tank that is about 3 or 4 gallons per inch of fish. As I typically buy younger, small fish, Iíve never had to worry about this yet.
2)Filtration. The easiest (and likely the best) is to keep a sponge filter running on your main tank that you can just transfer over to the QT tank when needed. The sponge filter should be running on the main tank for about 3 weeks before being ready to be used in your QT tank
3)A test kit, your standard one for: ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and PH
4)A refactometer for testing salinity. I would stay away from the hydrometers with the plastic swing arm in them (I have found those to be inaccurate)
5)A heater and thermometer
6)Just enough lighting for your fish to find its food
7)Some cave like structures for fish to hide in when they feel stressed
8)Some decorations similar to your main tank to help the fish adapt after you transfer it to the main tank
9)A appropriate sized powerhead for some gentile water movement.
10)A on-hand supply of mixed, ready to use, salt water
11) Some medications describe below
If you are in the same situation as me, having only one SW LFS in town which is closed two days a week, you might want to keep some medications on hand to treat the more common problems. If you have access to a store that would carry these and be open at least 6 days a week, I would not bother to keep any meds on hand.
Stress Guard: This will help to repair or replace the fish's mucous coating from damage that can sometimes occur when they are netted out of the holding tanks, or damage due to other injuries or diseases.
Praziquantel: This can be added to regular fish food used for de-worming
Beta Glucan: You can use this like a food additive. It will help boost the fishís immune system. It can be found at most people health food store
Maracyn Two: This is used to treat many different types of bacterial infections. As this has a shelf life to consider, you have to be careful to make sure the amount you keep on hand is not expired.
Cupramine: This is one of the best copper treatment medications. This can be used to treat either marine inch or marine velvet. This even can be used on the more sensitive marine fish and can be effective in half doses.
Starting the QT
1) Ensure all equipment is washed and cleaned (except for the sponge filter) before setting up the QT tank
2) Fill the QT tank with water from your main tank
3) Place the filter and all equipment in the tank
4) Wait a hour and test all the parameters to make sure the tank is ready to go
5) Keep the salinity, temperature, and PH the same as your main tank.
6) If the fish going in the QT tank is a sand sifting fish, add a bowl of silica sand to the bottom of the tank
7) Drip accumulate the new fish to the tank just like you would for fresh water fish
8) Add your fish within 12 to 18 hours of setting up the tank provided the parameters are all in line
While the QT tank is in use:
1) Test the water parameters often. Some meds can affect the biological filtration in the QT tank
2) When treating with copper, carefully watch your ammonia and nitrite levels for spikes. Copper can kill off the beneficial bacteria
3) Add any de-wormers or other food additives you may want to use on the fish food you will be using
4) Remove any un-eaten food a short while after feeding
5) Complete weekly 50% (or more) water changes with newly made saltwater ( unless you have meds in the tank)
6) Follow the water changing instructions on any meds when they are being used.
7) Complete water changes to keep all levels in line (unless you have meds in the tank)
8) Carefully observe your fish every day looking for signs of illness / disease or odd behavior
9) Start any required treatments as soon as the symptoms are identified
10) If no symptoms are noticed in your fish after 3 weeks or longer, you can add them to your main tank after dip acclimating them.
11) If your fish was treated for any disease or sickness, wait until three weeks after all symptoms have cleared up before adding the fish to your main tank.
12) Do not allow any of the water from the QT tank to be added to the main tank.
13) Only use silica sand so it will not potentially interfere with any meds
1) if you are going to use the QT tank in the near future, you can keep it set-up and running by adding a few drops of ammonia daily or adding some food day (between 0.3 to 0.5 grams of frozen food pre 20 gallons of water). Just complete a 1005 water change with water from the main tank before adding your fish
2) if you did not add many meds, you can return you sponge filter to the main tank. If you did use meds it would be best to dispose of the sponge and replace it in the main tank
3) Wash all equipment
4) Never return anything to your main tank if copper was used in any treatments in your QT tank
Things you should not do:
1) Donít assume you water parameters are OK, test often
2) Donít use products in a QT tank that claim to instantly cycle a tank. Only Mother Nature can do that for you.
3) Donít use live rock for filtration in the QT tank. Meds will get into the rock and be transferred into your main tank.
4) Donít use carbon in a QT tank. It will remove any meds that are used
5) Donít use products in a QT tank that claim to instantly cycle a tank. Only Mother Nature can do that for you.
6) Donít place too many fish at once in your QT tank. Your biological filtration may not be able to keep up with a larger stocking at once, and you donít want to treat a lot of fish if only one of them is sick
7) Don not allow any water or equipment from your QT to be returned to your display tank if a copper treatment was used.
Last edited by Cliff; 04-13-2011 at 02:54 AM.
If you take your time to do the research FIRST, you can successfully set-up and keep ANY type of aquarium with ease.
"Not using a quarantine tank is like playing Russian roulette. Nobody wins the game, some people just get to play longer than others." - Anthony Calfo
Fishless Cycle Cycling with Fish Marine Aquarium Info
Awesome write-up Cliff. Just one thing I'm not understanding:
10) If no symptoms are noticed in your fish after 3 weeks or longer, you can add them to your QT tank after dip acclimating them to the main tank.
Did you mean "you can add them to the main tank after drip acclimating them"?
Awesome write up Cliff
Now correct me if I'm wrong, but I always heard there are a few fish you shouldn't QT, either due to their diets or other things. The biggest ones that come to mind are mandarins, because of their pod diet they may starve in qt. They also have a pretty thick slime coat which protects them from most parasites and illness
29 gallon-planted community
20 long frag tank
75 gal-planted goldfish
75 gallon mixed reef with 20 gallon sump