We all know we should quarantine our fish but unfortunately, most of us do not have a quarantine tank for a variety of reasons. Just a few excuses that are at least familiar to most of us include the fact that such a tank costs space and money, that such a tank is hopefully not often used and the fact that such a tank often turns into yet-another-tank. Of course, the spouse factor should not be forgotten either.
Many aquarists use the ‘dump and hope’ approach. I will not deny that this works often enough, but I think many reefers cannot deny they feel to have lost some more fish than necessary by not following proper quarantine procedures. While I can completely understand the reasons for not having a quarantine tank, I did see the benefits of quarantining fish as well, just to mention a few:
– the fish can be separated from the system, thus avoiding infection of the current population
– you have control over the fish
– the fish can rest from its long journey over the world
– you have the possibility to treat the fish with medication
– you can nearly literally gut load the fish in order to strengthen its immune system
The last few years, I have used a technique that offers nearly all benefits of quarantine, without having to have a separate system. I will not recommend my method over actually ‘truly’ quarantining an animal, but I do strongly advocate its use over the ‘dump and hope’ protocol many of us use.
I have bought a small plastic tank containing about 12 litres, have drilled it with multiple holes and have outfitted it with a small pump supplying it with water from the tank. Simply hang the tank in your aquarium, offer the new comer some hiding places (coral, pvc-tubing, seaweeds… ) and let it acclimate to your tank for at least a few days.
The plastic tank can be kept in place with the use of a strong algae magnet or it can be hung in a framework made of small wooden beams laying on the top of the tank. I recommend to feed newcomers as often as possible in order to let them regain strength and to get them to know the foods you feed.
Also, by seeing the other fish in the ‘reef’ around it, the fish will relax and get to know it’s new home without risking to be injured or harassed.
Apart from the risk of infecting the current system, all benefits of ‘real’ quarantaine are present. Of course, this risk is definitely worth considering, but by just releasing the fish in your aquarium without any special attention you’d expose the other animals anyway.
I can honestly say that this tool has become very valuable to me. Of course, the importance of selecting healthy fish from a trustworthy source cannot be replaced, but by keeping the fish for a few days to a few weeks in this container, I have avoided many unnecessary fish losses.
Because of this, I feel more secure about adding weird, sensitive or expensive fish to my system leading to more joy of my hobby. With this article I hope to convince you to give this method a try. Your fish are worth it. How do you treat new acquisitions?