A quarantine tank should be used for everything, not just fish as I
mention throughout this page, in any effort to prevent the Ich parasite
from getting into your tank, you must be aware of its life cycle and
understand that it can hitch a ride on and in anything, if any inverts,
corals, sand, rocks...anything, has been exposed or kept with fish,
they too must be quarantined for six weeks at normal salinity levels
and with NO fish in with them. It is the only safe way to break this
parasites life cycle and prevent it from getting into your tank.
Please see my Marine Ich page for a full understanding of what you can and will be dealing with. Quarantine Everything!
As you can see in
the above photo, I quarantine all of my live rock for at least a few
days to a few weeks which gives me time to remove any unwanted hitch
hikers. I do on occassion find a good many creatures that would
not be suitable for an enclosed environment.
Each of the compartments holds about two gallons of water and are just
large enough to contain an average sized rock. I keep this system up
and running at all times since I do use it for other purposes. The left
compartment holds my mated pair of harlequin shrimp. All compartments
run on nothing but live sand and an air stone. To quarantine fish, I
would only use a QT as a temporary set up since you do not want to keep
possible fish diseases and parasites living in an established QT.
To prevent the transmission of any number of possible parasites
and diseases into your aquarium. With the numerous holding and shipping
tanks that the fish must pass through during their journey to
your aquarium, they are subjected to any number of diseases and
parasites. The stress of the journey also makes them much more
susceptible as their immune systems are weakened. Having a quarantine
tank set up and ready for your new arrivals will give them the much
needed time to recover and regain themselves as well as learning what
prepared foods are. This is also your time to observe them on a daily
basis for any signs of infections or parasites and thus prevent them
from infesting your main display aquarium.
Tank Size - The tank size used will be dictated by what size fish you are planning to buy, if your main tank is only going to keep your basic 4 inch fish, then a 10 gallon tank will do just fine, but if you are going to buy adult tangs, angels or other large adult fish, then you would need to up the scale to match the size of fish. Since the majority of hobbyist buy and keep the smaller species or juveniles then I will assume to set up a 10 gallon quarantine tank for this discussion.
All that is needed besides an empty tank, is:
1. A suitable cheap powerfilter (can buy them at walmart for 10 bucks) with a few extra packs of pads/cartridges, the reason for the extra pads is so that you can place a few of them into the main tank's sump or hidden behind some rocks out of sight to allow them to grow some biofiltering bacteria on them. When you set up the QT, you will have ready cycled pads to aid in filtration of the QT. But DO NOT ever return the pads back to the main tank once used in the QT since you could very well be transporting the very parasites or diseases you are trying to prevent with using a QT.
2. A water heater of suitable wattage for the size of tank you will be using.
3. A thermometer for obvious reasons, I recommend not using the same one you use for your main tank since all it takes is a single drop of water containing a contaminant (ich) to transfer back to your main tank. Unless you are going to take the trouble to sterilize it after each use, but lets not kid ourselves on our ability to always remember to do that.
4. A refractometer, since hyposalinity levels are below what a normal hydrometer can read / test. While a bit more expensive, a refractometer will give you much more accurate salinity readings for use on any of your saltwater tanks.
5. An ammonia alert badge, this will give you constant readings on your ammonia levels which need to be monitored frequently, the QT is not an established bio system and you will see ammonia levels creep up on ya.
6. A bottle of amquel, this will lock up ammonia and keep it from becoming deadly until you can make up some new salt water for a water change to reduce the ammonia levels.
7. A small cheap air pump with airstone, you may not need this if you feel the little hang on power filter is providing enough aeration as the water falls back into the tank.
8. Enough salt mix on hand to be able to do small water changes on a frequent basis if need be. Since this is a small tank, the amount of a partial water change is not going to break the bank.
9. Some large diameter plastic PVC pipes for hiding areas, do not use rocks as they are abrasive and can cause damage to a fish that is easily startled and not familiar with the tank's "landscape", a fish diving for cover into unknown rock work is asking for wounds. Rock can also absorb any treatment chemicals if their use is required.
I would also like to suggest that you also keep on hand, a product called Right Now, or Bio Spira, both will provide an instant biofilter which would solve a big issue that newly setup quarantine tanks tend to have, and that is, one of ammonia levels. I feel that by using either of these products, it would make everything much easier and less stress full for both you and the new fish.