Welcome to part 2 of setting up a quarantine tank! This post will cover all of the care and maintenance of keeping your quarantine tank or tub established and your new fish healthy. I will go over everything from feeding schedules, to preventative medication treatments, to water changes and more! If you are reading this and are still in the process of setting up your new quarantine tank or tub, you can read this post first to help guide you in the right direction. After you’re done come back and read the next steps 🙂
So now that you have received your fish and successfully placed them in their new (temporary) home, you may have asked yourself “what’s next?”
Well don’t worry a bit because I’m here to help guide you along the way and ease any anxiety you may have about keeping your fish healthy. As always, this is what I personally do every time I receive new fish. This is not the end all be all of how to quarantine and you certainly don’t have to do it EXACTLY the way I tell you. Fish keepers follow their own regimes when quarantining and what they think works best. Some of the things I explain most keepers tend to do, It’s when you get into medications and water changes that things will differ between hobbyists and that’s totally okay! The most important thing you take from this is to find what works best for you and your fish, while still keeping their health in mind. So enough of that, let’s dive in!
I’m going to start by talking about food, because it will probably be the first thing you do when you put your new fish in the tank-which will probably be the same day you get them in the mail. Usually, If you have your fish shipped to you, it’s smart to hold off on feeding for a day or two. The reason for this is because the fish went through a very stressful period to get to you. It was fasted, put in a small bag, put in a dark box and probably spent about two days in there rocking back and forth from driving/flying. This can cause the fish’s digestive track to become weakened and when you open the box, place them in the tank and feed them it could cause harm to them. They could end up getting a blockage or not being able to digest the food properly, which will aid in getting sick. So for the first day or two, I would refrain from feeding until the fish grow accustom to their surroundings. When you do eventually feed them for the first time, it is highly suggested that you start with only gel food. Gel food is soft and can easily pass through the digestive tract without getting lodged like a hard pellet, or a dense protein packed blood worm would. If you want to feed gel food, but are unsure of where to purchase it, I have placed a link below.
The next important thing to talk about is water changes.
Water changes are probably the key factor in this whole equation that will really set the bar on how successful your quarantine process will be. As you know, water changes are very important in a regular healthy goldfish’s routine -this is probably double that. The reason why is because your fish’s immune system is compromised from all of the stress it endured on it’s trip to you. As with humans, when your immune system is weakened you get sick very easily. So you take measures like washing your hands frequently to prevent having bacteria or other disease causing agents getting you sick. This is the same concept with your fish, except it counts on you for that pristine, clean water. So my rule of thumb for water changes while In quarantine would be at least 60-80% water changes EVERDAY. Not weekly, not every couple of days, everyday. The waste your fish emits will play a vital role in his/her health and it’s up to you to make sure it’s minimal to none.
This also brings up your new best friends- the API water testing kit and Seachem prime. The testing kit (not strips) will give you a good Idea of where you’re at with your parameters and will ultimately tell you if you’re doing a good job, or if you need to step it up. The Seachem Prime will dechlorinate any heavy or toxic metals in your water to aid in the health of your fish and is extremely important! Don’t skip on your prime, seriously, you’ll be glad you didn’t. Prime will also detoxify any ammonia build up in your water, but don’t rely on that as a sole method. You still need to have accompanied water changes everyday.
So now that I told you the most important things that I would strongly recommend you follow, the rest of the items on the list are things you can choose to do or choose not to do. Both sides of the spectrum have seen fine results, so this will really be up to your preference on what precautionary measures you would like to take with your new fish.
Choosing to medicate your new fish is never a bad thing. Especially if they came from somewhere that you cannot physically see with your own eyes. I don’t say this to sound like the place of origin is not clean by any means, but you truly cannot know what diseases or parasites you may be taking on when you get a fish from somewhere else. This isn’t limited to a place across the country that you never stepped foot in either. This can be a reputable breeder, a friend that takes great care of his/her fish, or that really reputable LFS. Parasites can lurk anywhere and can and will take over your tank if you do not catch it before exposing your other fish. However, even if you were to run rigorous medications and extend your quarantine out “just to be sure”, it’s still a gamble when we introduce new fish to our existing stock.
That being said the one medication I run every time I get new fish is Prazipro. I love Prazi because it treats multiple parasites that may linger on your fish. Here is a list of parasites covered, taken right off of the bottle:
You can buy a bottle of Prazipro right off of Amazon, I’ll leave the link below 🙂
Another treatment fish keepers like to use is plain old aquarium salt. This is a nice option if you don’t want to run a medicated treatment and it helps protect the fish’s natural slime coat which may have been effected through shipping. (Link below):
One of my personal favorites that I like to use on new fish and even after water changes is Dr. Tim’s First Defense which is specifically and scientifically formulated to handle stress in aquarium fish by supporting the immune system. It also promotes healing, repairs wounds, helps fish adapt to new environments and detoxifies heavy metals. Dr. Tim’s also puts vitamins back into the water column which is why the fish’s immune system is strengthened. (Link below):
There are many more medications you can get into, these are just a few -and, at least In my opinion the only ones you really need. If you start getting into the heavier medications you could end up stressing the fish out more and end up seeing negative results, that or the fish could build up an immunity and when you actually need to use the medications for a real reason they will be ineffective. So use sparingly, only as needed 🙂
One last thing on medications, you are probably wondering when to start them? This is also preference, but typically I like to wait a week to let the fish get acclimated to their new surroundings before I add any new meds to their routine. I find better results doing this, but some medicate as soon as the fish arrives. Either way, what ever your comfortable with. Waiting a week also helps out their stress levels, instead of unbagging and immediately medicating, you give them that distressing period they need to get their strength and immunity up.
Lastly, I want to talk about how long the fish stays in quarantine for. What is really a good time to introduce them to your tank? I would wait 4 weeks (1 month) before introducing your fish to your tank. I know it’s very hard to not want to see all of your stock together in your nice main tank-trust me I do, but you must use restraint 🙂 . Honestly, the longer you leave your fish In quarantine the better. If I had to give you a minimum amount of time, I would say the absolute earliest you could introduce the new fish into your main tank would be three weeks. Although this comes down to preference and a case by case basis, Most hobbyists generally follow the 3-4 week rule.
I hope this answers all of your questions! If I missed anything or if you still need help, feel free to comment below or send me an email directly (contact page) and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!
Have a great day guys 🙂