Is a quarantine tank REALLY necessary for your saltwater set-up?


When dealing with a disease such as saltwater ich, that can quickly and easily kill and spread to other fish – why take the risk of possibly introducing something like this when it could be avoided by quarantining your fish first?


It’s like paying to regularly change the oil and other fluids on your car or not – yes, you might be able to drive for many years without having any issues, but why would you take the chance of your engine or transmission seizing up which will end up costing you WAY more?

Today, we’re going to talk about why it’s important for you to quarantine your saltwater aquarium so you can save money and heartache long term (and short-term).


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Why do we need to quarantine?

Most parasitic infections in the wild are pretty minor, the parasite just wants to reproduce and there are many fish and a huge area of the reef which means that for the parasite/infectious organism to ensure its continued survival there will be low infection rates on any one fish.

But when the fish is captured it becomes very stressed – it’s body virtually shutting down functions like the immune system to devote energy to a potential escape – this is known as the fight or flight response.

Not only this but the stresses of transport and sub-optimal water quality begin to kick in further weakening its immune system.

Then you finally get it home – This is where quarantine becomes vitally important!


Do not take the risk of not owning a basic, cheap, simple quarantine tank and using it properly, it is just not worth it!


What are the advantages of owning a quarantine tank? 

  • The perfect isolated environment to check for any disease symptoms over the time period you would typically see them presented. After this time (usually a month) if there was any disease you would definitely have seen it so can safely say your pet is disease free and its ready to meet the rest of your pets.


  • A quiet place to observe your marine pet away from the stresses and competition of your main aquarium if you suspect disease, damage, bullying etc.


  • An excellent place to effectively medicate sick, diseased individuals so that disease cannot spread further in your display tank and the medication cannot harm your other marine life (for example many medications are toxic to invertebrates, corals, biological filter bacteria and live rock).


(Image credit: Adam Wimsatt)


What are the requirements to set up a quarantine tank?

  1. A small covered glass or acrylic aquarium of about 10-40 gallons depending on the number and also size of the fish to be quarantined and the number of fish your display tank contains.
  2. A simple outside filter such as a hang-on canister filter or wet/dry filter that will give you combined mechanical and biological filtration in one. It is a really good idea to “seed” your new filter from water containing bacteria from your main aquarium.
  3. A basic heater and thermometer appropriate for the aquarium size.
  4. Some PVC piping cut at different lengths for fish to hide in.
  5. Very simple fluorescent lighting to illuminate the tank (or if you intend to quarantine corals find a fluoro light around the same intensity as they are getting in the main tank).
  6. No substrate, rocks or anything else that could possibly absorb treatment medication.


That’s about it! It is also a good idea to get a net and a siphon that you use only for the quarantine tank. You will also need to purchase the appropriate test kits for any copper etc you will use for treatment.


(Image credit only_point_five)


Here’s my super-simple quarantine procedure:

When you get your new fish home start with my acclimation procedure then a freshwater dip for 3-5 minutes, which will kill, off a lot of the nasties.

Then simply place in the quarantine tank, turn off the lights, don’t feed for 24 hours and observe every day keep a careful eye out for any infection…

With your QT conduct maintenance and regular partial water changes as normal. And strive to siphon up any debris and uneaten food quickly.

Keep the fish in the aquarium for at least 60 days (the duration of marine Ich and Marine velvets’ life-cycles).

If at any time during this 60 day period you add another specimen to the QT you need to hold the original specimen for another 30 days (nothing should go into the display tank without being quarantined for at least 30 days).

If you spot any sign of disease or parasitism diagnose quickly and treat in your perfect treatment center feeling good about the fact that the disease is not spreading rampantly through your display tank!

This procedure is so easy and will make such an unbelievable difference to your chance of success with your new marine pet!


(Image credit: Dawn Ellner)


The quarantine process is not really necessary and the decision, if you’re going to use one or not, is up to you. But hopefully by now you have realized the massive importance of quarantine and how having your own QT is beneficial and in fact not that expensive or difficult.

It would undoubtedly save you a lot of headaches and heartaches in the long run. It’s better to be safe than sorry – am I right?


Don’t forget, if you would like access to my free ebook “9 Saltwater Aquarium Success Tools” to minimize mistakes and get your tank thriving simply click the button below.

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