Today I picked up some new stock for my planted 30 gallon sorority from my local petsmart. My haul included 5 black neon tetras, two mystery snails (one ivory, one blue), and 3 ghost shrimp. My hope is to add more to this group once this first group finishes it’s quarantine. I felt this was a great opportunity to talk about quarantine and how to set up a QT tank.
QT means quarantine in the hobby. It is probably the most important thing you need to do when keeping fish. Anything new, be it fish, invertebrate, or plant should be quarantined away from your stock for a period of at least two weeks. Personally I try to go at least 3-4 weeks before integrating any new animals into my tanks. Plants can be dipped in a light bleach solution or potassium permanganate to kill any bugs so QT is much easier to do with them but still important! Skipping this step could be the difference between a thriving tank and one that is taken down by illness.
Most people hear this but still end up having to learn it the hard way. I was one of those people. I foolishly added a shoal of neon tetras to my 29 gallon planted tank without quarantining them. In less than a week my entire tank had gone belly up. Out of around 10 female bettas only one survived, none of the neons survived, and I ended up taking the whole tank down to disinfect. Once you go through an ordeal like that you learn just how important it is to make sure your new stock is healthy before letting it come into contact with your existing stock.
Now you might say to yourself “I don’t have room for another tank!” but a QT tank is meant to be temporary and very basic. It can be something as simple as a plastic bin which can double as equipment storage when not in use. I perfer to use a glass tank for QT however so I can better judge the health of the fish. My QT tank, and on occasion hospital tank, is a 5 gallon standard glass tank. For a larger group of fish a larger tank would obviously be needed. For my current needs, a 5 gallon suits just dandy.
So what do you need for this QT tank? Like I said before, these are basic, bare bones tanks. Keep it bare bottomed to better judge the health of the fish (you know what this means… poo checks!). A heater, thermometer, some plant cover (live or fake, your decision), and some type of aeration are all you need. Depending on the type of stock you have in the tank you may add some meds such as praziquantel to remove any parasites the animals may have. If you aren’t comfortable with meds, a warm tank with clean water will suffice just fine. To be on the safe side, I recommend QT-ing away from your current stock and do not mix equipment between the QT animals and your animals until the quarantine is complete.
Keep up with routine water changes on this tank for a minimum of two weeks, with a month or longer being preferable. If at the end of your QT period your stock is happy and healthy then you can go about introducing them into your larger tank. But that is a post for another time.
I’ll leave you with a few pictures from today to better give you an idea of my QT set up. Keep your fish safe and just keep swimmin’!