- Permanent Systems
- Emergency Systems
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Quarantine tanks, or “hospital tanks”, are a highly beneficial and often underestimated part of keeping your fish healthy and happy. A good quarantine system will help you monitor the health of new fish before adding them to your aquarium and minimize the spread of disease. Even the simplest quarantine tank will quickly pay for itself tenfold in money saved from reduced use of medications and fewer fish losses. Quarantine tanks do not have to be showy and elaborate systems and only require a few essential pieces of equipment. For a suitable quarantine tank, all you need are the following:
Tank – ten to twenty gallons is usually sufficient, depending on fish size
Filter – anything from a simple sponge filter to a small power filter depending on the type of quarantine system you wish to use
Heater *– essential to tropical and saltwater systems but unnecessary for goldfish
Tube or Plant/Ornament* – not completely necessary, but will reduce stress by giving the fish a place to hide and feel more secure
There are two main types of quarantine systems, permanent and emergency. Permanent systems are highly recommended because they are more stable, but emergency systems will work in a pinch if properly maintained.
Permanent systems remain set up and established all the time, whether a fish is being medicated or not. This allows for a stable environment closer to that of the main aquarium, but requires space and time for it to be maintained. This type of quarantine tank should be equipped with a small power or canister filter, and water conditions kept similar to the main tank. Ideally, the filter should allow for easy removal of the chemical media (carbon, zeolite, etc) while medicating. The tank should be maintained regularly as well. Frequent water changes and algae maintenance after cycling will keep the tank healthy and ready for new arrivals or ailing fish. Hardy fish like danios or plecos (for freshwater) or mollies and damsels (for saltwater) will keep the tank cycled and stable between uses. When adding new fish to these systems, the fish should be slowly acclimated to the new tank as water conditions will be different from their previous tank.
The emergency quarantine tank is one that is set up as needed. While not as stable as a system that remains established, these systems are good for isolating and medicating sick fish, or as a temporary home for a new or displaced fish. Since these tanks are set up only as needed, a power filter is preferred but not necessary. A simple sponge filter attached to an air pump is sufficient. The tank should be filled with water from the existing aquarium to give the fish a somewhat more stable environment. For this reason, a long acclimation is often not needed. These tanks also do not require starter fish to maintain the nitrogen cycle because they are cleaned out after each use. When cleaning, it is important to remember not to use harsh chemicals like Windex, or other cleaners. If disinfection is necessary, a very dilute bleach solution can be used. Just make sure to rinse the tank thoroughly after using the bleach water, and allow the tank to dry thoroughly before using it again.