Similar to the state of Hawaii’s required 120-day quarantine for pets, to maintain their status as the only rabies-free state, you can think of your quarantine tank as a model to prevent the “rabies” of the marine world. There is a multitude of different quarantine tanks, and choosing your type of quarantine system should be based on the ecological and dietary needs of your fish and coral.
The most simple fish quarantine tank is a bare bottom ten-gallon tank with a hang-on-the-back filter and a lid. Adding rock and plastic plants will reduce the stress of your fish; it makes them feel secluded and secure, which will prevent a disease outbreak.
Quarantine will also give you time to condition your new fish, giving them a chance to fatten and build up the immune system before it goes into the main display. You can do this by coating their food with vitamins. During their quarantine they are given a chance to develop a healthy appetite before they compete with other fish for food.
Lighting is unnecessary for quarantine but may be utilized; during the first couple days of your new fish’s introduction, it may appreciate having the lights off. Excessive medication may add to the stress of your fish; thus, it can be hurtful to dump medication in a tank that appears to have a healthy fish.
Watching your fish is the utmost important part of quarantine; ensure that your fish has healthy size, clear eyes, and clear skin. Observe the fish’s behavior to make sure it is not scratching or swimming erratically. Quarantine time depends on the hardiness of the fish, how aggressively it is eating, overall vividness, and body fat.
Some fish’s health will decline in a simple quarantine system such as Mandarins, pipefish, and wrasses. These fish can be quarantined with sand, macro algae, and live rock to increase the copepod population. Although you would not add medication to this tank, you can observe your specimen confirm it is healthy before adding it straight into the tank.
In order to maintain a pest free aquarium, you can extend your quarantine to your corals. This helps localize any outbreaks that may engulf an entire tank, especially Aiptasia!
Coral quarantine helps reduce the multitude of possible pests that may trespass into your tank. For example, Acro-eating flatworms, nudibranchs, and gorilla crabs are considerably easier to control in a quarantine tank rather than in your display. Coral quarantine may even help prevent certain algae from entering your system.
Your quarantine tank may be set up like a normal frag tank with a bare bottom and keeping most of the live rock in the sump. If you do not quarantine your corals, especially tanks that are hundreds of gallons, pests may never be eradicated from the system.
It is clear the importance of quarantine, and it is vital for every reefer to have a quarantine tank. Controlling diseases and pests are one of the biggest parts of the hobby, and it is always better to prevent than try to exterminate.