There has been much debate over whether, or not, to quarantine new additions before they are allowed to be incorporated into an aquarium. Time, expense, effort, type of medication, how much and how long combined with the understanding of the whole concept may become construed as a waste of time and exertion to many aquarists. The truth of the matter is, setting up a quarantine tank in conjunction with a hospital tank makes alot of sense for two reasons. The first resides in the fact that they optimistically diminish the likelihood of introducing parasites and bacteria into a system, potentially posing a serious threat to inhabitants already established in an aquarists tank. The second deals with identifying the potential foreign pathogen and time to treat and remedy these unwanted pests with a form of medication to depilate them before they have the opportunity to affect healthy specimens in your show tank once they are added.
Obviously there are four distinct ways of adding livestock to an aquarium. Either through an online venue, pet shop, friends tank or collecting from the wild. The idea behind being able to visually see and monitor the livestock you plan on purchasing tends to bring about the greatest rewards. Having said this, however, doesn’t assure you of being able to automatically pass go and collect your two hundred dollars. The difference between a healthy and happy fish is not always cut and dry. Moreover, fish in the wild rarely display a stressed out persona. Given this fact you may not be aware that, often times, fish in the wild host parasites with no repercussions. Once these same fish have been captured, all bets are off.
In the wild, fish tend to have the upper hand over parasites. Fish are normally strong and healthy enough to combat and negate the possible maladies brought upon by parasitic organisms, hence you probably wouldn’t even know the fish was infected. Ideal water parameters, abundant food supply and lack of predators help to ensure a balanced Relationship. Now, take away their natural habitat and the pendulum sways the other way, at the fishes expense favoring the parasite. Stress does a number on humans, however, it can be just as debilitating to fish, invertebrates and coral as well. Out of their natural environment fish exert a great deal of energy to exhibit either a fight or flight mentality. It is because of this that problems arise. And the truth of the matter is that problems are not always clear cut right from the get go.
Often times, it takes days, even weeks before the wrath from parasites becomes apparent. This is why it makes sense to not only wait before purchasing that prized possession upon being received at your local pet shop but also incorporating a quarantine and hospital tank into the equation at home or office.
Ok, so here are the benefits of using a quarantine and hospital tank. Monitoring your new addition is always beneficial. Being able to watch the behavior of your livestock such as breathing pattern, swimming behavior, is it feeding, is it developing a signs of pathogens, irritants, spots, lesions or blemishes. These are all attributes of stress and the rigors of collecting, shipping and handling. By containing your livestock in a designated holding tank separate from your main tank changes can be taken to remody events that occur out of the norm from your new addition. Moreover, being assured that these maladies are not introduced into your main tank is of utmost importance.
Being able to convert your quarantine tank into a hospital tank is ideal, economical and convenient. Medications, temperature fluctuations and salinity variances can be incorporated into a hospital tank with no reciprocal repercussions being felt by livestock in the main tank. Many times, when you try to correct something in a show tank, especially with livestock that is healthy even down to bacteria, polychaete worms, foraminiferans, rhizopods, micro crustaceans and numerous species of pods, you end up potentially causing these once healthy organism to suffer significantly as a result of alterations in water parameters and medication. Their are various forms of medications that treat different maladies, so your knowledge as to what the problem is to match the medication to use becomes very important. For example, you are not going to treat invertebrates with a copper based medication. Also, Formalin, Paraguard, Methylene Blue, Malachite Green and other medication treat different types of maladies, so you must know the symptoms displayed by your fish to best prescribe the right medication. You never want to administer these medications or alter water parameters in the show tank if the health of your livestock is not to be inadvertently affected.
As I mentioned above, usually a parasitic explosion has a life cycle of roughly 3-4 weeks. Because of this time frame it makes little sense to add the livestock to your main tank before this time has terminated. All this does is pose a problem to the healthy fish in your main tank. Chances are that your hospitalized fish are still infected and introducing them into the healthy tank could bring about a parasitic explosion that ultimately, could plaque your healthy fish. Don’t rush the system, just like you don’t want to rush an initial cycle or add too many fish at once. Arrogance, complacency, anticipation, stupidity or mere excitement are not words that go together well with patience and taking the time to do it right by heeding the dedicated time ritual needed for a thorough and successful treatment and a now, healthy fish, coral or invertebrate.
You don’t need to over do it when it comes to providing a quarantine or hospital tank. A bare bottom tank complete with hang on filter, heater, live rock for biological filtration, light and patience. It is important to keep test kits near by as well to track your water parameters. Remember, if something abruptly takes place regarding your water quality, the most efficient and effective way of reversing degrading water parameters is to perform a water change, period! Not only does this process remove detritus, dissolved organics, ammonia, nitrites and nitrates, phosphates, carbon dioxide and contaminants, but also replenishes trace elements, buffers and salts that are used up by fish as well as removed by filtration.
Trust me on this, for as long as I have been in the marine hobby, I have gained substantial knowledge regarding many aspects of the trade. This topic represents just one, of many, variables that need to be looked at in depth if you are to succeed in this very enjoyable hobby. I have witnessed one to many aquarists come up to me to voice their concerns regarding loosing uncountable numbers of marine life with a puzzled expression on their face. They just could not fathom the reason for their failure with introducing livestock into their system. So I looked at them and asked them if they use a quarantine and hospital tank? Their reaction and response to my question was illustrated as if they had just seen aliens in front of their house. They didn’t have any sense of what I was talking about. So, I reitterated to them, that this is one of the most crucial steps, in my opinion, that can either make you or break you in your endeavour to be successful as a marine hobbyist. Set up that quarantine tank and hospital tank and take time to acclimate these delicate animals for roughly a month to ensure that your fish are parasite free. Pathegic protozoans life spans range from 3-4 weeks so this is how long your fish should remain separate from your main system. You can alter this time period by decreasing salinity values and heating your water up to 85 degres or so. This aids in the shortening of the life cycle of these unwanted parasites to roughly 8-14 days. When all is said and done and your fish show no signs of repercussions from the maladies presented by parasitic infestation, you then can add your newly aquired fish into your show tank.
Hopefully, upon reading this article, you will have a better grasp on successful alternatives to just adding new livestock into a healthy show tank while sacrificing the decision to acclimate properly. Cutting corners and instilling the mentality of talking a deep breath and reliance on hope and a prayer to adding livestock successfully while neglecting to use a quarantine and husbandry tank, will ultimately result in your demise. History proves this, skipping crucial steps won’t be tollerated by living animals, so why should you?