How to Quarantine Fish the Easy Way
A quarantine tank is one of the best ways to prevent your fish from becoming 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. You can also use separate nets and siphons to quarantine your fish tank and wash your hands after handling it. 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.
As a cheap way to quarantine, a clear plastic container is an option. Drill or cut holes in your lid for easier 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. There is no need to use gravel or other substrate because a bare bottom setup allows you to easily clean the hospital tank and examine the fish’s waste if needed.
Use a bare bottom tank with aquarium decorations to provide plenty of cover. Sick fish often want to hide, so the extra shelters will make them feel more comfortable.
1. Add the fish and observe their behavior. If necessary, administer medication. Remove all chemical filtration (such as activated carbon and UV sterilizers) before adding any medicines. 1. If your fish are already sick and you can identify the disease, treat the fish with the specific medication for that illness and follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the packaging. If you are not sure which disease they have, follow the instructions in this article. 2. You can feed the fish and watch it for a few days if you bought fish from a fish shop or breeder you trust to keep healthy fish. If you detect an illness, see Step 5a above. ParaCleanse may be recommended to prevent you from becoming ill. 3. You should treat any fish purchased from an untested source such as an online retailer or pet store chain. 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. Allow the medication to sit in the water for seven 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. You can help your fish build their immunity systems by giving them high-quality fish food, such as frozen fish. These foods are nutritiously dense and easy to clean. 2. For new fish, we recommend that they be kept in quarantine for at least 4-6 weeks after the last symptom or death. 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 all is well, then you can release the individual fish from quarantine. 3. Clean the hospital tank and dry it once you have completed quarantine. You can leave the tank running if you intend to purchase more fish in the future.
Most Common Questions about Fish Quarantine
What size quarantine tanks should 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 ends, return the sponge filter or filter medium to your main tank. To find out what is cycling and how to cycle an aquarium, see our full article here.
Run an additional sponge filter or filter medium in an existing tank and then use it when you need to add beneficial bacteria to your hospital tank.
Is it possible to quarantine fish in buckets? In an emergency, any large, clean and food-safe container will do. However, we recommend using a container with clear sides so that you can easily view the fish from all angles to see if their health is improving or worsening.
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. Dosing medication in smaller quantities of water will be cheaper than buying an entire 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. However, it is not safe for aquatic plants, snails, and certain fish like anchor catfish. For more information, follow the dosage instructions in our aquarium salt article.