How to Quarantine Fish the Easy Way
Although this may seem obvious to many, it is the most effective way to stop your fish getting sick. This separate aquarium is used to temporarily hold newly purchased fish or ailing animals that need a quiet environment to heal. It allows you to monitor their health and administer any treatment. This will prevent them from getting sick. Once they are fully healthy and free from disease, you can safely add them into your main aquarium without infecting any existing fish.
Materials for the Hospital Tank
– Clear plastic tub or aquarium with a lid – Aquarium filter with low flow, like a sponge filter – Aquarium heater and thermometer Aquarium decorations and hides Water conditioner – Trio of quarantine medications (includes Mardel Maracyn, Aquarium Solutions Ich-X, and Fritz ParaCleanse)
How to Set Up a Quarantine Fish Tank
1. You should keep your quarantine tank out of direct contact with your main display tanks to prevent cross contamination. (Other best practices include using a separate set of nets and siphons for the quarantine setup and washing your hands after each time you touch the quarantine fish tank.) 2. If your plastic tub is a rectangular shape, drill some holes to allow for air flow. To make it easier to do water changes or medicine dosing, mark the tub’s side with 1-gallon measurement lines.
You can use a clear plastic container as a cheap quarantine system. Cut or drill some holes in the lid to allow for easy equipment installation and better air flow.
1. Fill the hospital tank with water and add water conditioner. 2. Install the aquarium filter and heater, and add fish tank ornaments to give the animals some shelter. You don’t need gravel or any other substrate as a bare-bottom setup makes it easy to clean the tank and inspect the fish wastes if necessary.
Use a bare bottom tank with aquarium decorations to provide plenty of cover. The extra shelters will help sick fish hide better.
1. If necessary, add the fish to a container and observe their behavior and physical appearance. Remove any chemical filtration (like activated carbon) and UV sterilizers before adding medicines. 1. If your fish is already sick, and you are able to identify the disease, give them the appropriate medication and follow the instructions on their packaging. This article will help you determine if your fish have the disease. 2. If you purchased fish from a local fish store or breeder that you trust to have healthy animals, feed and observe the fish for a couple days. You can see Step 5a above to identify an illness. ParaCleanse can be used to treat any internal parasites you are unable to see. 3. The trio of quarantine medications can be used to treat new fish bought from online retailers, pet stores chains, or other untested sources. These medicines contain a blend of antibiotic, antifungal, and anti-parasitic active ingredients that are safe for scaleless fish, fry, shrimp, snails, live plants, and beneficial bacteria. One packet of ParaCleanse, one packet of Maracyn and one teaspoon (5 mls) of IchX should be taken for every 10 gallons. Let the medication soak in the water for 7 days without feeding the fish.
Description of quarantine medication trio
1. Regular water changes should be done every week once the treatment is complete. This will allow you to slowly remove the medication over time. Help the fish to build up their immune systems by feeding high quality fish food like frozen foods, which are nutritionally dense and easy to clean up. 2. We recommend quarantining most new fish for 4-6 weeks since the last disease symptom or death was seen. You can also add two healthy fish to your main aquarium to the fish hospital tank, and then see if any of them get sick. If everyone remains well, you can finally release the isolated fish from quarantine. 3. After quarantine is completed, you can clean and dry the hospital tank. If you are planning to buy more fish, leave everything running until the next batch.
Many Questions About Fish Quarantine
What size does a quarantine container need to be?
A quarantine tank is not meant to be permanent. A hospital tank with less water volume also allows you to use less medication when treating the fish.
How do you keep a quarantine tank cycled? The easiest way is to run a spare sponge filter (or extra filter media in a hang-on-back filter) in one of your display aquariums. You can quarantine fish by moving the extra sponge filter or filter media into the hospital tank. This will help to bring in beneficial bacteria and purify the water. After the quarantine period is complete, put the sponge filter or filter media back in your main tank. To find out what is cycling and how to cycle an aquarium, see our full article here.
Run an extra sponge filter or filter media in an established tank, and then use it to bring beneficial bacteria to the hospital tank when needed.
Can I quarantine fish inside a bucket? Yes. Any clean, food-safe container large enough can be used in an emergency. Clear sides are best so you can see the fish from all angles.
Should you quarantine shrimps and snails for disease prevention? Dwarf Shrimp can sometimes be infected if they are purchased directly from importers. In our experience, snails rarely seem to carry illnesses, so we usually skip the quarantine step and add them directly to our aquariums.
Do I have to quarantine my first fish? If you are setting up your first tank, you can theoretically add new fish directly into the aquarium without setting up a separate quarantine tank since there are no existing animals to protect. One situation where you might want to use a separate hospital fish tank is if your aquarium is very large and the fish are small enough to go in a scaled-down quarantine setup. It is cheaper to dole out medication in a smaller amount of water than it is to fill a large display tank.
Another instance would be if your main aquarium is full of live plants or snails. In cases where the quarantine med trio does not seem to be effective, we often turn to aquarium salt as a second line of defense. Because plants and snails don’t like salty conditions, you might be able to transfer your fish to another container to receive treatment.
What should I use to treat fish if I can’t buy the quarantine med trio? We recommend using aquarium salt – a cheap and widely available “medicine” that is quite effective for broad-spectrum treatment of bacteria, fungus, and external parasites. It is not safe to use on aquatic plants, snails, or certain fish, such as anchor catfish. For more information, follow the dosage instructions in our aquarium salt article.