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Goldfish Quarantine Procedure


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This article outlines the quarantine process for new fish. It is meant as a general guideline. Please remember that it is always better to ask for a second and even third opinion prior to beginning any medications. Each situation is different and this QT protocol is not intended as a 'one size fits all', but is a place to start. If you ever have questions regarding quarantine procedures or treatment during quarantine, please start a thread on the forum and one of our many experienced and helpful members will be happy to assist you! :)

Why Should I Quarantine?
It is important to quarantine every new fish before adding them to your main tank. A quarantine period serves not only to protect your established fish from any pathogens your new fish may carry, but also to protect your new fish from any pathogens your established tank may have. Fish with healthy immune systems may carry a variety of pathogens at subclinical levels. However, a new fish that is stressed from shipping or a change in environment may have a depressed immune system and be unable to effectively fight low levels of pathogens that could be present in your main tank. Similarly, your new fish may carry different pathogens that could harm your established fish if they were exposed.

The quarantine period also gives your new fish time to de-stress and build its immunity back up prior to being introduced to the main tank.

How Do I Set Up A Quarantine Tank?
Here are the things you will need:

1. Quarantine tank
The size of your quarantine tank will depend on how large your fish are and how many fish you are quarantining at once. For most situations a 10 to 20 gallon tank is sufficient. If you do not have an aquarium available, a large food safe, clear storage bin makes a great QT container.

The QT tank should be bare bottom (no substrate) and free from excess decoration. If you feel your fish may be more comfortable with some decoration in the tank, you can add 1-2 live or fake plants. A lack of substrate and other decoration helps to keep the tank environment as clean as possible while your fish is regaining its health.

2. Filter
It is a good idea to keep an extra filter on hand that is only used for QT. This filter should have an output of 10x the tank volume in gallons per hour (gph). For example, if you are using a 10 gallon QT, your filter should run 100 gph.

3. Heater
A heater is not always necessary. However, it is a good idea to have an extra heater on hand in case you need it. There are certain situations, such as when treating ich, that a heater is helpful. Make sure your heater is rated appropriately for your QT tank size.

4. Water Test Kit
Every fish owner (whether you are in the process of quarantining a new fish or not) should own a water test kit. During QT it is particularly important to make sure that water parameters remain pristine, as clean water is a major contributor to the health of your fish. A drop test kit is preferable over test strips. The API Freshwater Master Test kit is an excellent choice and comes with everything you need to check your water quality.

5. Medications
What medications you will need will depend on your particular situation. However, medications that are good to keep on hand include:

  • Salt - Please see here http://www.kokosgold...he-use-of-salt/
  • Praziquantel – This comes in both a powdered from and a liquid form (prazipro). Prazi can be difficult to find in some countries. Australians should look for a product called Aqua Master Fluke and Tapeworm Tablets. Those in the UK should look for Kusuri Wormer Plus.
  • Metromeds and MediGold – If you live in the US these two medicated foods can be bought online at https://www.goldfishconnection.com/ These medicated foods are not available outside of the US. If you are only able to buy one of these medications, it is best to have metromeds on hand, as this medicated food is used in more situations than MediGold. Please remember that these medications are only to have on hand if they are needed. You should never treat a fish who does not truly need these medications, and you should always consult others for a second and even third opinion prior to treating with these medications.

Should my QT Filter be Cycled?
If you are new to fish keeping and want more information on cycling please check out this link http://www.kokosgold....com/cycle.html

A quarantine filter may be run cycled or uncycled. In many cases it is preferable to run a QT uncycled, as this diminishes chances of exposing your new fish to pathogens that could be hiding out in your cycled filter media. It also encourages more water changes, which is important during the QT period. If you choose to run your tank uncycled, you will need to do at least one large (50-100%) water change daily. How much and how frequently you need to change your water in an uncycled tank will depend on the tank size and how many fish are in it, a water test kit can be helpful in determining this.

If you choose to cycle your QT filter, you can ‘seed’ it with some cycled media from your established tank. Please ensure that you only seed a QT filter when you have a main tank that has been healthy and free from illness.

Whether you choose to use a cycled filter or not, frequent water changes are important during QT. A cycled filter does not eliminate the need for frequent changes.

How Long Should I Quarantine my Fish?
The QT period should be a minimum of 4 weeks for new fish, and may be up to two months or more depending on the situation and whether or not the fish demonstrates symptoms of illness. Even if your fish appears healthy initially it is important to QT them for the recommended amount of time, as some pathogens take time to present themselves and the fish may not demonstrate obvious symptoms of illness until several weeks into the QT period.

How do I Quarantine my Fish?
Before you start any QT procedure please make sure you contact your vendor for information on their recommended QT procedures. This is particularly important for fish bought from online vendors that may come with a warranty. It is important to follow their recommendations for QT in order to avoid voiding the warranty.

For Fish Purchased From A Reputable Source:
This is for fish that come from a source that you consider safe and reputable. The vendor may have a long history of good feedback and/or the other fish at the store you purchased your fish at appeared to all be in good health.

  • 1.) Keep tank lights off most of the time for the first 1-2 days You may even want to cover the tank with a towel or blanket and only turn on lights when necessary. The darkness will help your fish de-stress.
  • 2.) Raise salt to .3% for at least 1 week
  • Please see link on salt above when choosing a safe salt to use. Remember to completely dissolve salt before adding it to the tank.
  • Raise salt by .1% every 12 hours until you reach .3%
  • .1% = 1 teaspoon of salt per gallon if you are using a coarse grain salt and ¾ teaspoon per gallon if you are using a fine grained salt. For increased accuracy, use a digital scale to weigh out 1 gram of salt per liter of water
  • 3.) Begin daily water changes
    • Remember to add back in the amount of salt you take out during water changes. For example, if you have a 10 gallon tank that has 30 teaspoons of salt in it, you will need to add back in 15 teaspoons if you do a 50% water change
  • 4.) Observe your fish for any obvious signs of illness Symptoms to watch for include bottom sitting, flashing/darting, fin flicking, yawning, obvious external parasites such anchor worm, white spots on fins/body, white stringy poop, raised scales, refusal of food etc. If you have any concerns, please post in the Diagnosis and Discussion section of the forum for assistance http://www.kokosgold...sis-treatments/

For Fish Purchased from a Questionable Source:
This procedure is for fish coming from a source that may have received poor reviews in the past and/or a store where many of the other fish appeared to be in poor health.

During the final 1-2 weeks of your QT period you can also begin adding in small amounts of water from the main tank to the QT tank. Steve Hopkins of Rain Garden Goldfish suggests that this can assist the new fish become acclimated to the microbes etc. that they will encounter when moved to the main tank http://www.raingarden.us/goldfish-acclimation.htm

At the end of the QT period, if your fish appears healthy, you may move them to the main tank, just make sure to match the temperature and pH of the main tank to the QT tank before introducing your new fish.

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