A quarantine tank is important part of fish keeping. They are simple to set up and maintain. They help prevent the spread of disease, pests and parasites.  I personally quarantine everything and would never put anything into my system without quarantining it first. It’s not worth the risk of your other livestock.

No matter where you get livestock for your system it’s a good idea to use a quarantine tank (QT). The livestock can look perfectly fine but stress from shipping or even bringing them home from a local store can stress them. Just like in people with stress it can weaken them and allow something to pop up that was being fought off otherwise. It’s also possible that the disease or parasite just hasn’t fully develop yet. If something does develop having them in a smaller QT also saves on the price of medication. This way you are only treating the sick fish as well. With plants it’s possible to have eggs or snails or other hitchhikers you may not want. With a QT you control what goes in the tank.

Often many people set up a QT but just don’t give the time needed to make sure everything is safe. With plants there is very low chance of spreading disease. Washing them off and doing a plant dip with potassium permanganate can typically keep all snails and pests out of the tank. 2-3 weeks in a QT after the last snail or pest if you find any should be safe. The longer the better but that is typically fine. Inverts such as snails and shrimp have a very low chance of spreading anything to any fish. Same with plants 2-3 weeks in QT is typically plenty of time. Fish are by far the most important thing to QT and should always be QT’d for 1-2 months after the last sign of infection or parasite. With some expensive fish I know some will even QT their new fish 3 months. For example you get a fish with ich. After treatment and the last sign of ich you start the clock over. Like I always say better safe then sorry.

Picking the right size of a tank is also important. Since it’s only going to be a short term home many can get away with a 10-20 gallon QT. in some cases even a 5 gallon will work. It really depends on what size of fish and how many you will be QTing at once. If you are getting a lot of fish at once you might even think about having 2-3 QTs on hand. Larger fish will need bigger tanks as well. My QTs range from 20 to 75 gallons since I get a large number of fish at once.

Setting up the tank is easy if done correctly. The first thing is you want to keep it bare bottom. There is no need for any substrate nor décor. You will want to get a heater for the tank. I just use a clip on light from lowes/home depot for lighting. You don’t need light but it helps you see the fish better and look for problems. I just use the cfl spiral bulbs and it works great. The filter is the most important part. This will help make sure your QT is cycled. A HOB (hang on back) or sponge filter is preferred. I am a big fan of the aquaclear brand hobs or the hydro sponge filters. What you need to do is leave it running on your main tank. This way the bacteria is built up ready to go. When you get new fish just move it over to the QT. once the QT is over just move it back on to the main tank. If the fish happen to die I bleach the whole tank. I wash everything out and use a little prime to break down any extra bleach. I then leave everything out to dry. Once it’s fully dry you can put it back on the tank. It will take 3-4 weeks to fully seed again. You can jump start it by taking some media from one of the other filters for the QT filter. In some cases you can’t have an extra HOB filter going you can always leave your QT filter dry. When needed you just take some of the media from the filter and put on the QT filter.

These easy but important steps can help save your livestock and save you money in the long run.