Quarantining is an important process. When you acquire new fish, they are most likely stressed from being collected and/or transported and held in the store's tanks. They may not have eaten very well, and they may have fallen ill to opportunistic infections or diseases. They may also have gotten parasites or other evil goobers from the wild, or from the store's tanks. They may be even more stressed when put in your water, if it's different from the water they're used to. It's a very good idea to put any new fish in their own quarantine tank for 2 to 4 weeks (the longer the better). While in the tank, the fish can slowly adapt to their new surroundings without facing the competition for food, territory, etc. that they may face in the tank you're hoping to put them in. They will also probably show signs of any disease they may be harboring, so you can treat them in isolation. After about a month of isolation and observation, if they're healthy, you can be reasonably sure that they're safe to add in with your other fish.
Quarantine tanks are also important for people who don't buy new fish very often. If any of your fish gets sick, starts acting funny, gets injured or nipped at, has babies, etc. those vulnerable fish can be put in a quarantine tank quickly. These emergencies always seem to happen on sunday nights after all the stores close, and having a tank handy can be great.
My quarantine tank is a 5 gallon tank. I have a number of extra filters that I try to keep cycled at all times (by doubling up on filters in other tanks), so that if I need to set the 5 gallon tank up, it'll have a cycled filter going into it immediately. It doesn't do much good to quarantine a fish for its own health, if you then subject it to skyrocketing levels of ammonia and nitrite, while your sterilized filter tries to cycle.
Notes from 1997:
There have been times when I've been "full to the gills" with fish, and have had to use my quarantine tank for keeping fish longer term. Several emergencies have happened in those times, and I've always wished I had an extra tank handy. This time, I'm determined. Live and Learn.
Well, Har Har. I have had a female Pseudotropheus greshaki in this quarantine tank for EVER, it seems. If I return her to her tank, she'll be back in quarantine, sans scales and fins, in less than a day, so I think she's safer here. The male greshaki, who is beautiful but truly evil, I have in a separate 10 gallon tank. He sits and pouts inside of a pipe. At least she swims around. sheesh. Anyway, here's an awful picture of the tank.
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Last Modified January 12, 1999