Being an aquarium hobbyist is a test of patience and care. Quarantine is another such test! Quarantine in fishkeeping is the process of monitoring a new addition in a separate aquarium, to ensure they’re healthy and free of all unwanted pests, before adding it to an existing environment. This process ensures all of your current pets remain healthy.
Don’t You Quarantine? Why do I need to?
Yes! We are very strict about our quarantine periods, and we will never sell a fish that we believe is unhealthy. However, sometimes an illness is not immediately evident, and sometimes changing to a new environment can cause an issue to affect the fish more aggressively. This is an extra precaution and a great practice for all hobbyists. Also, it means you have an extra aquarium ready to go if you ever find a fish you just need to take home.
What Should I Quarantine?
Anything alive should be quarantined: plants, fish, and invertebrates. Yes, I said plants! There are two exceptions to this rule:
- Tissue cultures from Tropica
- Livestock additions to a brand-new cycled aquarium. The aquarium has no other fish you’re protecting, so you can quarantine in your main aquarium for these first additions. There are still risks to this, but they’re quite minimal.
How Do I Quarantine?
To quarantine your new arrivals, you need a second aquarium. This can also be used as a hospital tank later if your fish ever fall ill! How big this tank needs to be completely depends on your fish. It doesn’t need to be as large as a permanent home for the fish, but it shouldn’t be so small that it stresses your new pets. Chat with us if you want more direction on this!
This tank should have no substrate (this makes it easy to clean) but it does need a filter and a heater. You may want to consider some silk plants or hardy live plants like anubias to allow your fish to feel more comfortable; these plants should be able to withstand medication if needed.
Do you rarely purchase new fish, and don’t have the space to keep it running all the time? We suggest buying a small sponge filter and air pump and running that in your main aquarium aside from your regular filter. That way, you can keep the aquarium in storage, and ‘instant cycle’ it for quarantine purposes when you need it!
How Long Should I Quarantine?
You should quarantine your new addition for at least two weeks before moving them to their permanent aquariums. If you notice any issues, extend the quarantine period one week past when the last symptoms are evident. What to watch for:
- Look for algae like black beard, hair, staghorn, and cyanobacteria. These are hard to get rid of and should be eradicated before moving into your new tank.
- Look for snails or snail eggs, and remove them (unless you want snails).
- Watch for other pests and parasites, like hydra and planaria. If you see either of them, treat the tank until no evidence remains.
- Watch to ensure they’re vibrant and active.
- Look for common shrimp illnesses, like green fungus, and treat accordingly.
- Watch their condition (weight, colour, and shape) to ensure they look healthy, bright, and aren’t losing weight.
- Keep an eye out for common health issues like ich (white spot disease) and columnaris (saddleback disease). Both are found in most water, and infect fish with lowered immune systems (common with fish who have travelled).
- Watch their eyes. Are they clear, and not swollen?
- Are they eating well?
- Are they active, or sluggish?
If you notice any possible issues, treat them for the likely condition, and extend the quarantine as needed until you’re confident the fish is healthy. We suggest at least one week after you stop seeing the symptoms/algae/snails.
Do you have any questions about quarantine? Is this something you do? Share your quarantine set up with us in the comments! If you don’t quarantine, are you considering setting something up now?
April’s Aquarium guarantees all of our fish and invertebrates for seven days; if you notice an illness or infection at any time, talk to us! We can help.