Why Set Up A Quarantine or Hospital Tank?

You can’t prevent your fish from falling ill, but setting up a quarantine tank can prevent the spread of disease.

No matter how careful you are, your fish will likely get sick at some point during your time in the hobby. Running a quarantine tank is a great way to prevent an illness from becoming a crisis or introducing unwanted pests or problems to your tank. The quarantine tank is also known as a hospital tank. Whatever you call it, the purpose is the same – to protect your current fish/ coral/ rock (aquaria) and treat your fish for disease.

Understanding Quarantine Tank Benefits

A quarantine tank is an invaluable backup for isolating and observing fish, providing myriad benefits to aquarium enthusiasts.

Disease Control and Prevention

The primary advantage of a quarantine tank is its role in segregating sick fish from healthy ones and isolating items infested with pests. This proactive measure effectively curtails the spread of diseases and pests within the main tank. While some diseases proliferate swiftly and can be transmitted via water, timely transferring of affected aquatic life to the hospital tank can mitigate widespread contagion.

Initial Quarantine for New Arrivals

Newly acquired aquaria or fish that appear potentially unwell should be quarantined immediately, given that most fish fatalities transpire within the initial two weeks following purchase. Stress and suboptimal environmental conditions during transit and shipping predominantly cause these early-stage illnesses. Hence, it’s prudent to quarantine and monitor new arrivals for at least seven days, ideally two weeks, before integrating them into the main healthy tank.

Observation and Adjustment Period

A quarantine tank facilitates close observation of new additions to your display tank, allowing them to acclimate and settle without interference or aggression from existing tank inhabitants. This precautionary period is also crucial for observing new corals and rocks, minimizing the risk of inadvertently introducing pests into the main environment.

Targeted Treatment without Risk

A quarantine tank can treat individual aquatic life without medicating the entire primary tank. Since many aquarium medications adversely affect invertebrates and beneficial bacteria, administering medicine to the whole tank might be detrimental. Quarantine tanks allow for precise, needed treatments only to affected aquaria. When others bully sick fish, a quarantine tank provides a safe haven for recovery before reintegration into the main tank.

How To Set Up A Quarantine Tank

Quarantine Tank Setup Guide

Setting up a quarantine tank is easy and economical, with a 30L tank typically sufficing for most aquarists.

Selecting and Preparing the Tank

You can purchase a kit that encompasses all essentials, ranging from filtration systems to aquarium heaters and lights. Alternatively, utilizing an old aquarium you might have lying around is also a practical option.

Simplifying the Interior

While it’s crucial for the hospital tank’s water conditions to closely mirror those of the main tank, their interiors don’t need to match. Decorating your quarantine tank isn’t necessary, except for adding a few hideaways for the fish. Avoid using the substrate as a bare-bottom tank simplifies the cleaning process.

Temperature and Water Quality Control

Initiate your setup by filling the hospital tank with water, aiming for a temperature close to your main tank. Employ an aquarium heater to sustain a consistent temperature, monitored with a thermometer. Consistent water parameters and temperature, coupled with high water quality maintained through water changes, are pivotal for the well-being of the tank’s inhabitants and expedited recovery of sick fish.

Choosing the Right Filter

Ensuring high water quality necessitates the installation of an efficient aquarium filter. Exercise caution in filter selection to avoid choosing models that generate excessive suction or water flow, potentially endangering weakened or injured fish. Sponge filters are ideal for quarantine tanks due to their gentle yet effective mechanical and biological filtration capacities, maintaining cleanliness without creating substantial water flow. Since administering most medications involves removing activated carbon from filters, incorporating chemical filtration in a quarantine tank is generally redundant.

Equipment needed

  • Heater (if needed)
  • Filter (corner filters are cheap and efficient)
  • Air pump & air stone
  • Cover glass
  • Lighting
  • Hiding place

Proactive Maintenance Tips for New Tanks

Maintaining a quarantine tank is as vital as caring for the main tank. Below are pivotal tips to ensure your tank matures effectively, providing a safe environment for aquatic life.

Routine Water Changes

Whether you have fish in your quarantine or it’s being used as a hospital tank, it’s imperative to perform routine water changes to sustain high water quality, particularly if your filter lacks a chemical filtration component. This practice is crucial for the health and recovery of the fish within.

Post-Treatment Recovery Time

After a treatment cycle, allow ample time for fish to recuperate fully in the hospital tank before transferring them back to the main tank. Hastening this process might risk a resurgence of the disease you’ve been treating.

Regular Cleaning and Sanitization

Post-use, diligently clean and sanitize the hospital tank to avert disease transmission. Keeping the tank sanitary is paramount in preventing the spread of any residual disease from previous occupants.

Keeping the Tank Ready

After cleaning, immediately refill and prepare the quarantine tank for future use. Early treatment of newly acquired aquatic life or swiftly addressing signs of sickness significantly enhances the likelihood of full recovery, underscoring the necessity of a well-maintained and ready-to-use quarantine tank.

Quick Set-Up Tips

Borrowing water from the main tank can expedite the biological filtration process in situations necessitating a rapid set-up. For smaller or nano tanks, consider placing some substrate inside a stocking and then introducing it into the quarantine tank to aid in establishing a biological balance swiftly.