The overall goal of the fish quarantine tank is pest and disease removal just like the coral quarantine however fish quarantine tanks are a different beast from coral quarantine tanks in how they achieve their goal. They must also be kept if possible a good distance away from your coral tanks as the medications that are used can wipe out a coral reef tank. Let's take a look at how a fish quarantine tank works and how you put one together.
How Does A Fish Quarantine Tank Work?
One of the main differences between a coral only quarantine and a fish only one is that the fish only will typically have medicine in it at all times. Coral quarantines will typically be for Isolation and Identification and treatment is done in an outside dipping vessel.
There are many diseases that fish can suffer from or simply be the carriers of.
Depending on what medicine is required to treat the particular ailment, different amounts of time in the quarantine will be used. There are many medications on the market today and some are for broad prevention while others are specific to what they treat.
We opt for something more general like a copper-based treatment that can be effective against the most common fish ailments like Marine Ich and Marine Velvet. A typical quarantine for these ailments lasts about a month so that the medication can completely deal with all life cycle stages of the disease.
How To Setup A Fish Quarantine Tank
Typically a quarantine tank is a small simple version of your main tank that meets all the minimum survival criteria for fish in this case to have a 4-6 week siesta in.
The ReefNation fish quarantine currently includes:
-40 gallon tank or plastic tub (or what you have sitting around)
-any lighting even ambient room lighting is fine
-powerhead and or small protein skimmer (again, we do water changes instead)
-some biologic filter like bio balls
-**NO LIVE ROCK OR SUBSTRATE that is aragonite or carbonate based (this reacts with the medication)
Using The Fish Quarantine Tank
Two important points here that we've learned and need to pass along. Do not use any aragonite or carbonate-based rock or substrate in your fish quarantine. Medications like copper will react with these materials and since they are also porous, they could never be used again in a non-quarantine tank. Second, make sure when you setup the quarantine, you either seed it with some bio balls from a copper-treated system somewhere else. If this isn't an option, you can wait for the biologic to establish, but that will take a solid month and will require some copper to be in the system during that time. Make sure you do one of these things before adding any inhabitants to the system though so that you can make sure their wastes won't cause them further stress. Make sure you also feed the tank during the bacteria seeding phase as they will not have their usual fish poop food until later when the quarantine is occupied.
Separation baffles can also be added if the quarantine is needed for 2 or more individuals that can't be kept in close proximity to each other. These can be made of plastic or your own creation to get the job done.
One side benefit of the time spent in quarantine is that your fish will be able to exist free from the anxiety they have when they are introduced into a community environment. In theory, this should add to their vigor during and after their rest stop in the quarantine.
Once your fish have been in the quarantine for the prescribed period, they should be fat, happy, and healthy and ready to move into your community tank.