How to set up a Quarantine tank

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Jaysee, Apr 20, 2010.

  1. JayseeFishlore LegendMember

    Quarantine/hospital tanks are a very important component to long term success in the hobby. It may not seem so at first, but as more and more fish go in the tank, the risk of something upsetting the balance also goes up. There is nothing more frustrating than adding that LAST fish to the tank, the fish that completes the tank, only to have it infect the others and undo all the time and energy (and $) that's been spent. If propperly done, a quarantine tank can be set up and be ready for fish in a matter of minutes and can be broken down just as quickly. It DOES NOT have to be a perminantly running tank (unless you have a lot of fish to buy :) ).

    A QT does not need to be expensive - bare minimums will do fine, as long as those minimums are well covered.

    Tank - For most applications, a 10 gallon tank is good. However, if you plan on getting larger fish, a larger QT is needed. A 20 Long is a terrific tank for larger fish, or for active fish. Of course, if you keep small fish, a 5 gallon will do.

    Filter - There are a few ways to go. First (and cheapest) is to get a sponge filter and leave it in the main tank. After a few weeks, it'll be seeded well enough to support fish in a QT. So, when the time comes all you need to do is move it from the main tank to the QT. A little more expensive is the HOB filter, which like the sponge can be set up and running on the main tank so that it is ready for the QT when you need it. A third option is to get a HOB, but rather than run it on the main tank, put some media in the main tank's filter so that all you have to do is transfer it to the QT filter (best option IMO). All that's needed is charcoal free media, so either a plain filter pad, ceramics, or whatever.

    Heater - definitely needed, but doesn't need to break the bank. Make sure it's adjustable and not a fixed temp heater.

    Lights/hood - Lights are not needed, and the tank is best kept in a dark quiet place to let the fish adjust. A hood will be needed, but can be a DIY. Fish in quarantine can be easily spooked, and some take to the air when that happens.

    Substrate - generally, bare bottom is the way to go. It is easiest to set up and break down. Also, it is easier to keep the tank clean. Some fish need a substrate, even in a QT, because they are streesed without it. Bichirs are a good example, as they use their fins to dig in and stay put. Most fish will be fine without substrate.

    Decor - It's important to have SOMETHING to put in the tank for the fish to hide in - Even if it's a terra cotta pot. I like to put multiple caves in the tank. IME it encourages the fish to move about the tank as it goes from cave to cave. Also, backgrounds are very important to making fish feel safe, even if it's just construction paper.

    Food - Fish in quarantine should be fed minimally. There are far more issues that can arrise from overfeeding than from underfeeding. Also, since the fish are new it is likely they won't eat right away. I generally don't feed the fish until they are out and about, looking for food. Minimal feedings will also ensure you don't overload the transfered bacteria and cause a minicycle. This is especially important when putting a group of fish in quarantine, rather than a single fish.

    Products - stress coat +, or similar products are designed to minimize stress. It also is a good idea as fish can lose scales from being netted.

    Water changes - There are lots of variables involved in this, but they are needed. It is important to maintain excellent water quality. Often, fish that look healthy may exibit signs of sickness once they are in your tank. The stress of being caught and moved and all can depress the immune system such that an ich spot may show up, for example. IME, minimizing the stress and providing good clean water is all that's needed for the fish to make a recovery on their own.

    Medications - Before turning to meds, frequent water changes should be employed. However, if that does not turn things around in a few days, it may be neccessary to medicate. Make sure the carbon is removed from the filter, if it's being used, and follow directions. Just like humans, if treatment is not carried out to completion, the ailments can return.

    Duration - Minimum of 2 weeks. Species with known issues should be kept in quarantine for longer. Also, species that are very difficult to remove from the tank ought to be quarantined for longer....just to be sure. Also, by keeping the fish in QT for at least 2 weeks, the main tank's biofilter will be able to keep up with the new additions.

    Tips - Once your seeded QT media is moved to the QT, replace it with a new piece of media. If there is an issue with the new fish, you can just toss the media and you have another piece of seeded media for next time.

    -When filling up the QT, let the filter turn the water over a few times before putting the media in to make sure the water has been completely detoxified.

    -Know how to acclimate the fish. There are several methods.

    -Those plastic storage bins make cheap, easy QTs (and come with a lid) and work very well with sponge filters. HOBs may not fit.....

    Last edited: Jul 16, 2010
  2. JrobberWell Known MemberMember

    This is a great guide. Thanks for writing this up Jaysee!

  3. midthoughtWell Known MemberMember

    Agree with Jrobber. I think it should be stickied. :)

  4. MeenuFishlore VIPMember

    This is very thorough. Good job, Jaysee. :)
  5. LucyModeratorModerator Member

    Nice write up Jaysee.
  6. bolivianbabyFishlore LegendMember

    Awesome job, Jaysee!
  7. sirdarksolFishlore LegendMember

    Good writeup.
    One thing that was in an earlier thread (which has gone missing in the archives), and was one of the more clever ideas that I wish I had come up with (;)), was the use of a Rubbermaid tub instead of a tank, if a person didn't have a spare tank sitting around.
  8. jerilovesfrogsFishlore VIPMember

    can i ask what you mean by sponge filter? i know what sponge media is....i use those.....

    i use a HOB on my Q, so it's not a huge issue, but i just wondered what exactly you meant. thanks for the guide. ;)
  9. brokenwingWell Known MemberMember


    Here is a link for a sponge filter. Great write up Jaysee. This is a great article for someone that does not have a q tank.
  10. AquaristFishlore LegendMember

    Thanks JaySee! Great job!

  11. jerilovesfrogsFishlore VIPMember

    thanks are you supposed to stick that star shaped sponge thing in the main tank's filter to get it seeded, and ready to go to the Q when needed? i wonder what other uses people would use these for. other than a Q.
  12. JayseeFishlore LegendMember

    Sponge filters are are driven by an air pump. For a sponge filter, you would put it inside the main tank. If it'll fit in the main tanks filter, you could try that but there comes a point where a filter can have too much media and performance is compromised.

    Sponge filters are good for Quarantine and hospital tanks, as well as fry tanks and weird tanks that traditional filters don't fit on.
  13. HitchHikerValued MemberMember

    Great write up, the only thing that I would change is on the heater, make sure that it has adjustable heat. I have one in my tank that self adjusts to 78 only. If you need to treat Ich and want to raise the temp to 81 you can't.

    But thats just my 2 cents.
  14. LucyModeratorModerator Member

  15. JayseeFishlore LegendMember

  16. midthoughtWell Known MemberMember


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