How to Quarantine Fish the Easy Way
Many beginners may not know this, but one of the easiest ways to stop your fish from getting sick is to set up a quarantine tank. This separate aquarium is used to temporarily hold newly purchased fish or ailing animals that need a quiet environment to heal. You can monitor their health, give them treatments and prevent illness from spreading by keeping them isolated. 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. Another optional step is to mark up the side of the tub with 1-gallon measurement lines to help make water changes and medicine dosing easier.
As a cheap way to quarantine, a clear plastic container is an option. To facilitate equipment installation and improve air flow, drill or cut holes in the lid.
1. Add water conditioner to the hospital tank. 2. Install the aquarium filter and heater, and add fish tank ornaments to give the animals some shelter. Because there is no need for gravel or other substrate, a bare bottom allows you to easily clean and examine the hospital tank’s waste.
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. You can find out what disease your fish are suffering from by reading this article. 2. Fish purchased from a local fish market or breeder that you trust will be healthy, you should feed and monitor the fish for at least two days. You can see Step 5a above to identify an illness. If you do not see any symptoms, consider proactively treating them with ParaCleanse (as per the manufacturer’s instructions) to clear out any remaining internal parasites that are harder to spot. 3. If you bought new fish from an online retailer, pet store chain, or untested source, proactively treat them with the quarantine medication trio. 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. 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 everyone remains well, you can finally release the isolated fish from quarantine. 3. Once quarantine is done, clean the hospital tank setup and store everything dry. If you are planning to buy more fish, leave everything running until the next batch.
Many Questions About Fish Quarantine
What size quarantine tanks should be?
Since it is only a temporary setup, a quarantine tank does not need to be as big as the recommended size for the fish to permanently live in. 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. If you have to quarantine fish, simply move the extra filter or media to the hospital tank. It will bring lots of beneficial bacteria that will 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.
Add a sponge filter to an already-established tank. Then, use the extra filter or media to introduce beneficial bacteria to the hospital tank.
Is it possible to quarantine fish in buckets? In an emergency, any large, clean and food-safe container will do. 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 will cost less money to dose medication in a smaller volume of water rather than an entire 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.