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FAQs on Freshwater Quarantine

Related Articles: Freshwater DiseasesFW Disease Troubleshooting, Ich/White Spot Disease, Choose Your Weapon: Freshwater Fish Disease Treatment Options by Neale Monks,

Related FAQs: Freshwater Disease 1, Freshwater Disease 2, Toxic Situations, Aquarium MaintenanceFreshwater MedicationsFreshwater Infectious Disease, Freshwater Fish ParasitesIch/White Spot DiseaseWorm Diseases, Nutritional Disease, African Cichlid Disease 1, Cichlid Disease

Question about quarantine      6/3/16
I have a 5.5 gallon tank with a single male Betta in it. He used to have a companion, but it passed. So then I got some other fish from a family member. They are 3 neon tetras and 3 zebra danios. The only cycled tank I can quarantine them in is a 1.2 gallon tank. I'm worried the stress from such a small space will kill them if I go the full 14 day quarantine.
<As these are not "new" fish; but ones being transferred, I would skip the quarantine and introduce them directly. Not likely they are bearers of pathogens. Alternatively, if you feel isolation, examination is worthwhile, I'd move the Betta to the 1.2 gal. and use the 5.5 for the new fishes>
I know the 5.5 gallon tank may be too small as well, but it's the best I can do for now. I do water changes several times a week as needed based on the testing I do with the API kit. What would you recommend I do?
<As stated. Bob Fenner>

Albino Bushynose Pleco Quarantine Duration   4/25/12
Hi crew,
I just purchased 5 Albino Bushy nose Plecos juveniles (1 to 1 1/2 inches) for my 240 gallon Discus aquarium. They are currently in a 10 gal quarantine tank. What do you  recommend for quarantine duration and/or any proactive meds. They seem very active and healthy. Are there any diseases or parasites that are common with these fish?
<These are farmed fish, so they may well carry all the usual fish farm pathogens: Whitespot, Velvet, Camallanus worms, etc. More specifically, Loricariidae can be plagued with intestinal parasites, not necessarily worms, but things like Rickettsia bacteria that cause chronic wasting. To be fair, Ancistrus spp. are generally not seriously affected by these, especially not compared to wild-caught Panaque spp., so this isn't something to be paranoid about. Bottom line, quarantining for 6 weeks would be worthwhile, and deworming a very good idea. Beyond these, if these Ancistrus are feeding well and not obviously underweight (no hollow bellies or sunken eyes) I'd not worry about them beyond this. One last thing:
Ancistrus aren't particularly happy at Discus-level temperatures, so do ensure the water has plenty of oxygen. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Albino Bushynose Pleco Quarantine Duration   4/25/12

Thank you Neale for your quick response and information, I really appreciate it.
Could you recommend a safe dewormer for these juveniles?
<They're quite hardy, so any commercial dewormer (containing Flubendazole, Praziquantel, etc.) should work well. You'll have dewormed your Discus, presumably, and the product you used for them will be fine here.>
Thank you
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Attn Neale, GF, not tiny QT  11/9/10
Hi Neale
Deborah here again.
<Hello Deborah,>
You helped me with Sparticus. I added a new fish and he died today. I think it wasn't in the best condition at the store and got worse when I brought it home. I have a 29 gallon tank with 1 very healthy goldfish in there. I've had him for about year 1/2. A 50 gallon filter and a 30 gallon filter Aqueon outside tank.
<I see.>
I have a small 5 and 1.5 gallon tank that I would like to use as a quarantine or to pull a fish out when its sick so I don't have to medicate the whole tank.
<Would not recommend this. A hospital tank needs to be at least as good as the main tank. If it's a worse environment, then using it will make things worse.>
Is it okay to start another small filter on the tank so when I have to pull a fish out I can use one of the extra filters that have the good bacterial through cycling?
<All filters need to be matured, and once matured, constantly "fed" with ammonia, whether from fish or some other source. A common approach is to place the hospital tank media in the main tank's filter, and remove as required. Hospital tanks are also operated using Zeolite ("ammonia remover") but you need quite a lot of this for it to work with something as messy as goldfish, and it also needs to be replaced every few days, the aim being to keep ammonia at zero and to replace the ammonia before the Zeolite is saturated. Zeolite can be cleaned using hot water and then recharged a few times by soaking in brine, but I wouldn't recommend beginners do this.
Instead, replace Zeolite as required. The plus side to Zeolite is that it doesn't use bacteria, so you can use medications that might harm filter bacteria without problems.>
This way the first signs of distress I can catch it in time and pull him out into the proper set up. I would be able to put the big tank water in there and tap and medicate. Does this sound safe?
<If the hospital tank was 10+ gallons and the biological filter maintained appropriately when the tank was unoccupied, yes, it can be safe.>
What would you suggest
<Do read:
Although aimed at marine fishkeepers, the basic rules hold for any hospital tank.>
Thank you kindly
<You're welcome, Neale.>

Quarantine tank, FW  8-7-09
I was reading the article about "First Aquarium" on the site, and it mentioned the use of a quarantine tank. It said that this tank need not be up and running at all times. Would that mean that the QT tank wouldn't be
"cycled" or does the article infer that one would take water from the main tank, and that would provide adequate bacteria to cycle the tank? Just confused.
< It would not be cycled, which is why it is encouraged to run a small sponge filter or have extra filter media running in your main tank which can be moved to the QT when it needs to be set up.>
And while I'm here--If I took the water from a water change of a 20 gallon tank (5 gallons) and dumped it into a 100 gallon (new to me) tank would that be enough bacteria to get things going or should I put the old filter in the new tank too....I was planning on taking out some of the gravel from 20 gallon tank and putting it in the 100 gallon tank--no fish in it.
<The water has almost no bacteria in it, or at least not the bacteria used for cycling the tank, move the filter media over and some gravel which contains lots of helpful bacteria and will give your new tank a nice jump
I have a water lily I would like to plant in the 100 gallon tank--good idea or bad idea?
<Could try.>
Thanks for your help, time and interest!
Re: Quarantine tank, Cycling 8/7/09

Thanks Chris!
So, for my new 100 gallon tank (B) could/should I then take the whole filter unit from smaller tank A and let it run in bigger tank B for a week-- AND take some of the gravel from tank A and put it in tank B--same
color roughly... (I have two 20 gallon tanks and could take both filter systems for a visit to the new big tank.)
<Assuming you are no longer going to run the 20 then take the whole filter, it will help jump start the cycle in the 100G. Run the filter in the new tank and add small amounts of food daily which will be a source of ammonia.
Test the ammonia and nitrite levels in the new tank and when both reach 0 with some nitrates present the tank is cycled. This could take longer than 1 week, possibly up to a month.>
I have a 10 gallon that has run without fish for a long time (a year)... would it be considered cycled, or has the good bacteria died off?
<Unless some source of ammonia is present (some life form or fish food) then it is most likely no longer cycled.>
Re: Quarantine tank, Cycling, FW  8/8/09

In the last post you said, (or I heard) if I wasn't going to use the 20 gallon tank then take the whole filter and transfer. What if I still have fish in it? It has two convicts who are going in the bigger tank.
<Then leave the filter material for the convicts and just transfer a little gravel to seed the new tank.>

Anchor worms and quarantine   6/4/09
I've poked around on the web, but haven't found anything that can answer my question. On Monday I bought 2 new goldfish, a calico fantail (3cm) and a orange-and-white fantail (4cm), to add to my 10 gallon with a 6cm fantail (upgrading to 60gal at the end of the month).
<Glad to hear you upgrading this tank! Ten gallons isn't nearly enough for three Goldfish.>
I've had that fantail for a year and a half, with no problems. This morning (Thursday) I noticed that there are thin string-like things on the tips of the white-and-orange fantail's tail, he also has a scale that is dark (looks like a wound) that I noticed when I bought him home.
<Now, there are three things to think about here. The first is some type of external parasite like Anchor Worm, just as you suggest. But the two other things to consider are Finrot and Fungus. Finrot erodes fin tissue, leaving behind what we call fin rays (the bones) until these snap off. It's actually very common for Finrot to take the appearance of receding fins and trailing fin rays. Fungus is characterized by the presence of the hyphae that make up the "body" of the fungus, and these look like cotton wool threads. They can, in some instances, be quite long, over 1 cm. So that's another thing to think about. Both Finrot and Fungus are latent in all aquaria, even well maintained ones, since the bacteria and fungi responsible normally do good work breaking down waste materials.
Consequently they have the potential to come out of nowhere when conditions turn bad in the aquarium. Anchor Worm, and indeed most of the other large external parasites, have complex life cycles that cannot be completed in aquaria. They only really become problems in ponds, and because Goldfish are farmed in ponds, it's newly imported fish that are likely to carry them. Once exterminated, Anchor Worms rarely turn up in aquaria ever again.>
I've done some reading about Anchorworms and I've decided to quarantine him, because he doesn't seem to have any other wounds where the worms could've reproduced. Should I keep him in quarantine and treat him, or should I treat the main tank?
<Quarantine, treat and observe the fish until you are happy he is no longer infected. Free living parasites could potentially hitchhike from the quarantine tank to the display tank via buckets, nets, etc. so take care to
isolate the two tanks as fully as possible. Disinfect buckets, nets, etc. using a strong brine solution (50 g/litre cooking salt should do the trick). Anchor Worms are normally treated using organophosphate insecticides to kill the free living stages, with the adults ideally removed by hand. This is fairly tricky to do, but worthwhile if the insecticide isn't killing the adults quickly. Place the goldfish in a waterlogged towel, wrap the fish securely to hold it firmly, and then pull away the adult Anchor Worm using forceps from its head, NOT it's tail (it's a lot like removing ticks from dogs, if you've ever done that). Dab the wound with some sort of antiseptic such as mercurochrome, iodine, tea-tree oil, etc. It would be a very good idea to use something like tea-tree oil proactively in the aquarium once you're finished to prevent secondary infection, though if only the tail fins are affected, the risk of trouble is very small. You may decide to dip the Goldfish in seawater for a few minutes prior to manual removal of the parasites; although this won't cause serious harm to the Goldfish, and doesn't kill the parasite, it does weaken the parasite, making it easier to remove them. Make up seawater using 35 g per litre non-iodised cooking salt or aquarium salt; don't use regular
marine aquarium mix because that raises the pH and hardness, which won't be appreciated by the Goldfish. Dip the fish using a net, and leave for several minutes, potentially 15 minutes, but remove the fish at once if it
shows signs of distress such as rolling over. You can now pull of the Anchor Worms a bit more easily than otherwise. After a couple of weeks, if there's no sign of any more parasites on the fish, and you've finished the treatment of insecticide, you can then move the Goldfish into the display tank.>
I know this isn't fin rot, there is nothing else wrong with his fins or with him, he's eating and swimming....
Thanks for your time!
Nadine (South Africa)
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

Kribs in Quarantine- Quarantine New Cichlids 05/27/09
Dear Crew, I have 5 Pelvicachromis sp. approximately 1.5 -2 inches in length in a 10 gallon quarantine tank. Ammonia and Nitrite are 0, Nitrates are 5 ppm and pH about 8, temperature 78F. They have several PVC "caves" and some fake floating plants for cover. My questions:
1) Is it better to remove the hiding places so that I can observe them while in QT? Currently they hide about 99% of the time in or between the PVC pipes. I don't want to stress them out by removing their sanctuaries.
< You need to be able to see them to determine any problems. I understand your concern by stressing them out, so try at least once a day to remove the caves so they can be evaluated.>
2) I have had the fish for 3 days and they have not yet eaten. I have offered several food items, small bits of floating Cichlid sticks, freeze-dried bloodworms and thawed bloodworms. They have not come out of hiding for any of these. Do I need to provide a sinking pellet for these Cichlids?
< If you look at their mouths you can see that they are slightly downturned. A sinking food would probably be eaten.>
3) One of the 5 has very dark coloring, I understand that this is a sign of stress. The other 4 show normal coloration. Is it better to go ahead and add these fish to the main tank or keep them in QT for observation?
Currently it is very difficult to determine if the fish in question has any physical damage or infection because of Question 1 above.
<You do not mention the species. If these are wild fish then you could have more than one species and that would account for the darker color. Look for other symptoms like clamped fins or white spots.>
Mostly I'm concerned that they hide constantly and haven't eaten. I know they can go maybe a week safely without eating but they've got me worried.
Thank you for your help, Evan
< Dwarf cichlids are very shy by their nature. It will take them awhile to become use to their new surroundings. You are doing the right thing by  isolating them. They will eat when they get hungry. Try and find out something about these fish from where you purchased them. Wild fish may take some time to get adjusted.-Chuck>

Pacu in Quarantine 05/25/09
Hello Crew--
I have a quick question for you. My husband and I recently completed our 1000 gallon indoor pond for Guido, our red-tailed catfish.
<Ahh! I recall>
WWM has been instrumental in getting me through this trying experience, and I thank you for it. The pond is complete, and 18-inch Guido is in it (now looking very, very small...). We purchased a Pacu, who is about 14 inches, to be Guido's only tankmate. The Pacu was in a pond at our LFS, and was a really good-looking fish, without any of the scars typically found on Pacus of his size. He is in Guido's old tank, alone, for quarantine. It is 125 gallons. However, the water quality is decreasing (I think I'm overstocked hehe) and I'm beginning to wonder if it wouldn't be better to put him in the pond.
<Very likely so... not much reason for quarantine for an animal that has likely been tank-raised>
We have a four-day vacation coming up, and my mom, who is caring for the fish, won't be able to do water changes should problems occur. My worries re moving the Pacu to the pond are the following: 1. That the Pacu would cause an ammonia spike in the pond, as Guido has only been in there a couple of days, with no spike evident yet. I'm not sure if we'll see a huge spike, due to the water volume and decreased feeding.
<What did you do... will you do to speed up the establishment of nitrification? I'd carefully pre-measure foods to be left for your mum to use>
2. That the Pacu is ill, though he was in the pond at the LFS for at least a month, and does not appear to be sick. I know quarantine is always best, but in this situation, I'm worried the quarantine itself will make him sick. What is your opinion?
<I'd move this fish>
I appreciate your help, and want to do right by this monster fish. It's so weird with him in the tank, which is at the foot of our bed. I haven't gotten over the feeling that there's a stranger in the room. Again, thank you for what you do for fish and their owners.
<Welcome Melinda. Bob Fenner>
Re: Pacu in Quarantine 05/27/09

Hi Bob--
Thank you for your reply. I was leaning in that direction also, but it's nice to be able to get a second opinion from a trustworthy source.
<Ah yes>
In anticipation of stocking our 180 gallon saltwater tank (moving up from a 75), I recently purchased "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist." The book is informative and your conversational tone makes it easy to read.
<I appreciate your input>
The photographs are also very nice. I will move Mr. Pacu as soon as hubby wakes up -- ahh, the joys of moving fish that are the size of house cats!
<Mmm, yes... best done with a heavy duty (fish) bag... 4 mil.s... scooping up, with minimal water... and lifting (watch your back/s!)...>
As for your question re the nitrification process in the pond, we have added two types of bacteria-in-a-jug -- one that is Dr. Foster and Smith brand, and one recommended to us by our local pond store. We tried to cycle with ammonia, but after a month passed and nothing happened (i.e. ammonia stayed, nothing else appeared),
<It is often the case that exogenous ammonia does this... poisons the system...>
decided that it would be better to just do water changes if needed. Thank you again for your help and all you do.
<And you for your participation as well. BobF>

A quick goldfish Ich question and thank goodness for QT! 4/16/09
Hi all you fantastic WetWeb crew,
I just have a couple of Ich questions; I have used the search tool but I am a bit confused.
I have just purchased two new common goldfish to join a single one in a fully cycled 190 ltr tank.
Fortunately I put them in a 60 ltr fully cycled quarantine tank when I got them on Saturday. I am almost certain one of them has Ich. I am so pleased I did this!
<Agreed, should make treatment easier, but since the Ick parasite is highly mobile (e.g., on wet nets and hands) it is likely your other fish are at risk, so observe carefully.>
I have been testing the water each day and have 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, 7 nitrates and the pH is 8.2.
<Sounds fine.>
I would really like to use a salt treatment to clear this up, rather than medicate the tank as I feel that they have been stressed enough from their move. However, I am not sure what dosage the salt should be in. I can find dosages but I am not sure if the crew member answering is using English gallons or US gallons.
<It's 2 to 3 teaspoons of salt per US gallon.>
Could you tell me what the dosage is in English gallons (or Litres!).
<One US gallon is 3.78 litres. If your bucket or aquarium is rated in Imperial gallons, 12 US gallons are 10 Imperial gallons.>
I kind of assume that you add the salt over a period of time, not straight away, if this is so what sort of time period do you use to get the salinity up?
<Adding the salt straight away is fine; the salinity is very, very low.>
I am under the impression that salt treatment may affect my biological filter.
<It won't.>
Am I right in thinking that you continue treatment two weeks after the spots have fallen off?
<Correct; the salt doesn't kill the white spots on the fish: only the free living parasites.>
Once the Ich has gone, and I move my fish, I was going to take out my filter sponge and bioballs and place them in my external canister filter (so I always have spare mature filter media in an emergency). Should I
sterilise everything or just run the tank for 3 or 4 days without fish in it to get rid of any Ich?
<It's a good idea to sterilise hospital tanks, provided you can keep filter media alive someplace else. Of course, in the case of serious illnesses you would sterilise the filter media as well, and then re-cycle the hospital tank.>
My other little goldfish has had a bit of a white patch by her mouth which we never noticed until she was in QT. This has almost cleared right up but I guess the salt may help this little fish too.
<May help a little, but I'd observe, and if the white spot isn't clearing up (it may simply be a bruise) I'd treat for Finrot/Fungus; in the UK, I recommend eSHa 2000 as working on Finrot, Fungus, and Columnaris equally well.>
I can't say how brilliant QT is - both the fish looked fine in the tank at the LFS and also in the bag when we got home, but once in QT you can really get a good look at them.
It was very, very tempting to put them in our main tank, and thanks to your website, I'm so glad we didn't!
Many thanks in advance, Michelle
<Hope this helps, Neale.

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