How to setup a quarantine tank.

You can use a tank which can be either glass or acrylic – it does not matter which, neither does it need to be large. Think about it how many fish are you actually going to be keeping in it – one, possibly two. Of course if you keep large fish then you need to take this into consideration when planning your quarantine tank.

In the tank put a very fine scattering of sand over the base – this is not for filtration, decoration or any other purpose – it is purely for the benefit of the fish which will temporarily inhabit this quarantine tank. Before placing the sand into the tank ensure that you clean it well and if possible run a magnet over it to remove any metal which may be in there.

Place a couple of pots or rocks in ensuring that they are stable – these are so that the fish have somewhere to hide.

Nothing else needs to go into the aquarium – other than the essential kit needed.

Obviously a heater is required but due to the size of the quarantine aquarium probably a small one will suffice.

Fill the aquarium with water – water from your aquarium when doing a water change will suffice

Now we need a biological filter. For this use either an internal filter or a small external canister filter. This filter will need to be matured ready for use. This can be done using filter maturation fluid. Another way is to connect the filter to your main aquarium and use your main display aquarium water to mature the filter. Of course you cannot keep the filter connected to your main aquarium. As soon as it is matured remove it and place it in the quarantine tank.

You will need a small power head for circulation unless the filter you choose has sufficient power to create water movement. Ensure when you locate this in your aquarium that you have no dead spots. You do not want a large amount of water movement just gentle water circulation.

You will need lighting but small fluorescent tubes will perform this task well. It’s only use is for a day night cycle.

Now all you need to do is keep the biological filter active so that it is ready for when you may need to use it. Again really simple just put some food in it a couple of times a week, when this decomposes it will be converted by the filtration.

That’s it – it really is simple, that why I am amazed that more people do not use them,

Be interesting to know how many of our readers actually use one – it would be great if you could leave a comment and let us know.

  1. Great article, we’ve had troubles with infected fish from the store which wiped out almost all of our guppy and neon population, then we treated with meth blue which took ages to remove the blue stain.
    We’ve since brought a small Aqua one starter aquarium to use just as a quarantine tank.$130 for tank, light, pump, heater, net and a few bits and pieces. We’ll be using this now whenever we get new fish.
    Thanks again for the article.

  2. Hi Simeon.

    Thanks for the kind comment. We’re glad you found the article interesting and useful.
    .-= John´s last blog ..A Large Aquarium Re-Start =-.

  3. I have limited room and money, I want to start a qurantine tank. I have an extra heater. I had an extra colonized sponge I used in an emergency hospital glass gallon jug for one of my male guppies who got nipped and I am pretty sure fungus then. (Hard to see but edges of tail got like transparent, then like it seemed in 24 hours he went boom donw hill. His main body started to get pale and he was hanging at top. (My main tank 20 gal long is truly pristine. I have a UV sterilizer, 50 Aquarclear, planted. 6 gups, 3 ottos, 3 corries). My params are all 0 with just a trace of nitrate. Can a gal glass jug be used as a QT tank? I can get a sponge filter and cycyle the QT by also adding Nurtrafin, Tetra Safe Plus, and I do have a few femal fry I don’t mind it they get ‘culled” to cycle this tank. Will this be ok?

  4. Hello Diane.
    I must say straightaway that this is a marine aquarium website and I don’t usually get involved with fresh water, though I had freshwater aquariums decades ago (that long, crikey!). However the quarantine principle is the same for both, that is isolate problems helping to introduce healthy stock.
    The first thing is, a quarantine tank must not be overloaded, so whatever the ‘fish inches per gallon’ is for freshwater, that’s the limit. However, by their very nature quarantine tanks usually have very few temporary inhabitants.
    The water needs to be moved so that it remains healthy and oxygenated – just slow movement so that water is getting to the surface and down again.
    I don’t like the idea of ‘culling’ anything when there’s another means. If you are to use a sponge as a ‘life support’ filter then instead of culling why not leave a little cut off fish in the tank. This bit of fish can be obtained from what we eat as long as it hasn’t been treated with anything, such as preservative etc. In the marine world there are ‘cycle fluids’ that can be used to prepare an aquarium, if there are for fresh water then these will be better than fish – just follow the instructions carefully.
    I hope the above is useful.

  5. man o man lets say i messed up and made clean fresh salt water and started the treatment right away… in my QT what do i do now!!!

  6. Hello Chris. I assume the ‘mess up’ was in your display aquarium, and the problem was moved to the quarantine (QT) tank. The requirements of a QT tank are high quality seawater, appropriate temperature and peace for the introduced inhabitant(s) as they recover.
    There are a few reasons why the use of a QT tank is invoked, such as a major equipment failure in the main display aquarium that can’t be fixed straight away so there is an environmental threat to the inhabitants, the introduction of new fish or the outbreak of disease.
    Whatever the mess up was, the aquarium inhabitants should remain in the QT until the display aquarium is fully functioning with all necessary equipment, the temperature is correct and stable and the seawater is of high quality.
    As treatment was started ‘right away’ perhaps it was disease. The livestock involved should remain in the QT until the disease is fully cured. This process is shown on the treatment of choice – for example copper is the treatment of choice for some problems and the packaging shows the frequency of dosage, the amount needed and the time needed. Instructions should be carefully followed. If the problem is severe then a lengthy period to prove the problem has truly been overcome is worthwhile as otherwise if any livestock are still in the display aquarium they would be at risk.

  7. Thought I knew better and ddn’t have a quarantine aquarium. Well after losing ALL my saltwater fisk to ick I will never introduce a fish in it my display aquarium without a stay in a quarantine aquarium. The tang I bought looked healthy but soon proved it wasn’t.. A costly price to pay .

  8. Hello Wayne.
    So sorry to read of the loss of your fish. It can be very difficult to eradicate serious disease problems particularly in a reef system and, as you realize, it’s best to minimise the risk by protecting existing fish from newcomers and giving newcomers a fighting chance should anything untoward arise.

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