Quarantine Tank, Why it is Crucial for New Fish Especially

quarantine tank

Having the quarantine tank is a concept that is more germane to expert aquarists. If you have a significant number of fish and frequently enrich your collection buying new ones, a quarantine tank is essential for your smooth aquarium journey. A quarantine tank is a small tank used to rehabilitate newcomer fish or treat weak and unwell fish.

This tank’s primary purpose is to provide your tiny pets special care, keeping away from the main display tank’s stress. The quarantine process is equally important both for freshwater fish and marine fish.

An ideal quarantine tank has to be equipped with accessories that the main tank should have, including a filter and water heater. Additionally, a thermometer is essential for a quarantine tank to monitor the water temperature, which is vital here. Making a proper quarantine aquarium is a pretty simple and straightforward task.

Quarantine new fish

When you buy fish from a shop, they carry the risk to come down with germs. Usually, in shops, the shopkeepers use UV systems or provide routine medication to prevent diseases. Fish in the shop share a common environment with many other fishes, and they can carry disease silently. When you get new fish at home, they may manifest signs of illness. So a monitoring period is essential before putting them in the established tank.

Another reason why you should keep your new fish in a quarantine aquarium is to relieve their stress. When fish are in shops, they are in particular microecology. Taking them out of their old home is creating some stress on them.

The stress of being packed up and a journey to your home from the shop can make them weak. It can affect their immune system and make them prone to fungal and bacterial infection. Putting them directly in the chaotic environment of your main display tank with the established fish is not a good idea.

Hospital tank for sick fish

Finding one of your fish is badly injured while fighting with another one is nothing unusual. Or you may notice someone usually vivacious, seems lethargic. In both cases, fish need special care, which is not possible in the display tank. And it is better to separate an infected fish from the existing fish of the aquarium. So you have to make a hospital tank.

A hospital tank is nothing but a quarantine tank you are using for a slightly different purpose. While you are treating a sick fish, you need to dose medicine or feed medicated food. Some remedies may be harmful to other fish and plants of the main tank, so it is better to treat patients separately.

You should remove all sorts of chemical filtration during medication time, and we don’t recommend it in a quarantine tank. Still, biological or mechanical filtration is okay, and using bacterial additives is beneficial to fight potential ammonia spike during medication.

Setting up an ideal quarantine tank

A small ten-gallon tank can be used as a perfect quarantine aquarium. If the budget is low, you can also use a sturdy 10-gallon (40 liters) container. Even a smaller tank is sufficient here for small fish. But make sure the material is safe to use, and the container is strong enough to sustain the water weight. Arrange a lid to prevent fish from jumping.

 A proper filtration system to maintain water quality is very much essential for the quarantine tank. Some people prefer a small power filter. Hang on back filters with sponge media will be suitable for this purpose. Another good idea is to share microbes from the existing established tank. It can be done by seeding the QT with biological filter media from the main tank.

A small water heater of 50 watts is sufficient for a 10-gallon tank. Water temperature is crucial as the lower temperature promotes fungal and bacterial infection of fish. To monitor the water temperature, a thermometer with a digital display can be perfect.

Rinse the whole container thoroughly with pure potable water. Fill the tank full and keep for several hours to make sure it is leak-proof. Once the tank is ready, place the heater and the filter with the desired settings to check the functionality. Place the thermometer to check whether the water temperature is matching with the heater set point.

If everything functions well, your tank is now ready. So you know your tank won’t leak, the heater and the filter function properly. Now you can unplug the heater and the filter and store those in a safe location. It is better to keep the sponge filter media inside your main display tank so that beneficial bacteria can grow.

The Quarantine tank should be a bare bottom tank. Because it is only for a temporary quarantine period, and if you use a substrate, it will be difficult to clean your QT every time the quarantine is over.

How to use a quarantine tank

If you are planning to purchase new fish, it’s time to prepare the quarantine fish tank. Fill the tank half with pure drinking water and the rest half with mature water from your main display tank. Place the filter, put the filter media, and run it 3/4 hours before adding fish.

The temperature should maintain at 75 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit for most species of fish. Confirm the water temperature with the thermometer. Now your tank is ready, and you can put your newly bought fish in their temporary home.

If your fish get sick and you intend to use the QT as a hospital tank, fill it with fresh water. Place the filter and the heater similarly, and maintain the water temperature as same as the main display tank. If you can suspect any particular fish disease, treat it properly. Take suggestions from experts if you are unsure about anything.

Providing medicated fish feed is a good idea to improve the immune system of fish. You can feed the quarantined fish Anti-Protozoan flakes and Deworm flakes. Medicine dosing with a particular % water change is essential to practice this time.

Bacterial additives are another great idea to accustom your new fish. We suggest using a seeded sponge or biofiltration during times of quarantine. Beneficial bacteria promote the nitrogen cycle to keep a healthy environment inside the aquarium. 

Quarantine period

It is usually 2 to 6 weeks. The sufficient quarantine period for new fish is at least two weeks. Depending upon the symptom and activity of fish, this period can be extended to six weeks. Feeding and medication are vital during this period.

You will have to habituate the new fish with regular food habits that you maintain in your main aquarium. Once the new fish are adjusted with the new environment, everything becomes much more manageable.

Water changes

Fish in a new environment is susceptible to pathogens. Regular water changes with fresh, clean water are the best prevention. For maintaining the water quality in a QT, the easiest way is frequent water changes.

For a two week quarantine period, in the first week, do water changes daily and dose Mythelene Blue in water every other day. Adding clean water without any medication is sufficient from the second week, and do it every other day.

You should do a 90% water change for the first week, and 75% for the second week. If the quarantine period is extended, the % water change and frequency will reduce gradually. It is better to check water parameters with test kits.

If you use a seeded sponge filter or biological filter, you should sustain on at least 50% water change every other day throughout the quarantine period.

"Don'ts" associated with quarantine tanks

You quarantine fish to isolate an animal with its potential problems, so keep all the items associated with a quarantine aquarium strictly separated. Never add any water from the QT to your main fish tank!

The tools you use in the quarantine tank like fishnets, jugs, glass-scrubber, keep separated entirely and never use for the main tank. Germs and pathogens from QT can pass to your main fish tank and affect other established fish through these used tools. Keep the spare filter and the heater separated in the same way.

While providing medicated fish feed to your quarantined fish or medicating infected fish, make sure they are 100% safe to use, and you are providing the right dose. Consult with experts and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter.

Final Words

There are different opinions and ideas about a quarantine tank. For the beginners, it is not necessary if they buy all fish from the same source. But when you are buying fish from several different sources, the quarantine system is useful, as stores can be the origin of various fish diseases. It is not good to mix all fish, bought from different sources, as one germ carrier can pass it to a healthy fish.

Special measures for new fish are vital. You’ll have to take care of them with special food, medication, and regular water changes. The main intention of the full process is to reduce fish stress. With good care, the survival rate of new fish can be improved satisfactorily.

Setting up a quarantine tank is not a hard task; it is very easy and affordable. You don’t have to buy a costly aquarium kit as a QT. Instead, you can convert a sufficiently spacious sturdy container into a quarantine aquarium.

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Sujit Modak Aquarium Tales Owner
Sujit Modak

Hello, everyone! Welcome to my aquarium blog. Fishkeeping is my passion, and I started this fascinating hobby back in 2006. Besides my engineering profession, I deeply studied many fishkeeping topics since I started building my home aquarium. I researched effective aquarium filtration and lighting of planted aquariums. I am keeping 20+ species of freshwater and saltwater fish as my aquatic pet collection. I successfully experimented with a complex ecosystem inside the aquarium, biotope aquariums, aquaponics, etc. I would love to share some learnings from my hands-on experience of the last 14 years. Hopefully, my sharing will be somewhat helpful to make your aquarium journey awesome! 

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