Do Enough Aquarists Use Quarantine Tanks

Keeping a marine aquarium be this a fish only aquarium, a coral only aquarium or a mixed reef aquarium one thing you are definitely going to want to do is protect your livestock.

As aquarists we attempt to ensure that the water quality is optimum, the temperature is correct, the lighting is correct, the fish, corals etc are all well fed etc etc. Effectively we attempt to create an environment in which the animals we care for are able to flourish and grow.

So why is it that a lot of aquarists put their livestock at risk by not utilising a quarantine tank?

I always find it surprising how few people actually use a quarantine tank. It is exceptionally simple to set up and when not in use can be used as a hospital tank etc.

Perhaps it is a ‘it will not happen to me’ syndrome, perhaps it is lack of knowledge, maybe it is pure laziness I am not sure why a lot of people do not use one but it is of my opinion that every responsible aquarist should use one.

Think of it this way….

A fish only aquarium full of marine fish all living in harmony together. They are all thriving, well fed and happy. One day at a local fish shop the aquarist sees a fish in the shops aquarium and decides to purchase it. The fish is caught, bagged and once paid for taken home. It is slowly acclimatised to the water and released into the aquarium. For a while all seems well – the fish is feeding and getting on with other fish in the aquarium however other fish appear to be scratching on the sand and on the rockwork. Not sure at first the aquarist decides to watch the fish for a few days however over this time more fish are scratching and flicking. At this point the aquarists unsure what to do asks for help. Marine Ich is the probable answer however as live rock is used in the aquarium to filter it then medication can’t be used. It would be very hard to remove the fish to treat them and where would they be put anyway. Research reveals that garlic could be used and modifying the temperature may help so this is performed and slowly over time the aquarists starts to win the battle. Unfortunately though several fish died including the new one which was purchased.

Or how about…..

A mixed reef aquarium full of corals (soft, sps and lps) and fish which has been running for a while and the system looks wonderful however there is a gap where another coral could be sited. At the local fish shop the perfect specimen is identified. The lighting is all correct and the coral should fare well in its chosen place. The coral us subsequently purchased, bagged and transported home. It is acclimatised to the water and put in place. The coral is closed at first however over the next few days it starts to extend its polyps. Great – it looks lovely! However unknown to the aquarists some ‘bugs’ were on the coral which was introduced into the aquarium. These have now started moving around the aquarium and are effecting other corals in the aquarium – primarily the sps. Some of the sps are turning white, others look dead and other looks the worse for wear. Careful investigation shows that this can be treated in a mixed reef aquarium with live rock as filtration so the aquarium is subsequently treated and the aquarium slowly starts to recover. Eventually all the bugs appear to be gone however several corals are lost including the prized centre piece and others aren’t looking at their best.

Both of the above scenarios can easily be avoided.

That’s right – the use of a quarantine tank!

A quarantine tank is not expensive to set up, it does not take a lot of time to maintain and can be a lifesaver plus it can save you an awful lot of money and heartache.

A while ago we created an article which details how to setup a quarantine tank :

How To Setup A Quarantine Tank

This is only a short article which goes to show how easy it is to set one up and maintain. The thing I like about having a quarantine tank is that it can also be used as a hospital tank. If a fish is getting harassed in the display aquarium and can be caught then it can be transferred to the hospital tank and dosed, fattened up and basically given a rest. Once this is done then a decision can be made what to do. Either the fish can be returned to the display aquarium where it may become harassed again or it can be taken back to the fish shop.

It is important to note that both fish and corals should be quarantined. Personally I would recommend that fish should be quarantined for a minimum of two weeks after purchase however this can be longer in required.

Corals do not need to stay in as long – there are some people who dip their corals to remove any nasty inhabitants prior to it being introduced into the display aquarium and there are others who like to quarantine corals for the same period as fish where they can be treated and observed.

At the end of the day the risk of not using a quarantine tank is quite high. One sick fish can wipe out the entire aquarium, one infested coral can mean other corals being lost – not something any aquarist wants to see. I appreciate that there will be some aquarists who are lucky – they do not use a quarantine tank and have never had a problem and perhaps never will but are you prepared to take this risk? I for one am not.

So in answer to the question asked in the title of this post then the answer in my opinion is no, definitely not.