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FAQs on Freshwater Medication: Quarantine Tanks

Related Articles: Choose Your Weapon: Freshwater Fish Disease Treatment Options by Neale Monks, FW Disease Troubleshooting, Freshwater DiseasesNutritional Disease, Ich/White Spot DiseaseMethylene Blue, Formalin/Formaldehyde, Malachite Green,

Related FAQs: Treatments, Freshwater Medications, Salt/Use, FW Antibiotic Use, Aquarium Maintenance, Ich/White Spot DiseaseAfrican Cichlid Disease 1, Cichlid Disease

We have for marine applications... pretty much the same: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisindex.htm the first tray

Sterilizers and (wound healing of) Aggressive Fish        9/2/15
I have read all of the WWM FAQs on UV sterilizers and I understand that there is no consensus on their general usefulness.
<Oh! IMO/E they are of real value>
One of the issues I did not see expounded upon was whether or not a sterilizer has any noticeable effect in reducing the rate of infection in wounds which may be more common when keeping aggressive species like cichlids.
<I have high confidence that this is the case>
Is there good reason to believe that running a sterilizer would be useful in such a situation?
<Yes; UV use, ozone production.... raises DO, reduces TBC, elevates RedOx...>
<Bob Fenner>

Question about treating the main tank 12/3/12
Dear Bob,
<Hi Josh, actually it's Rick today.>
    I was wondering when it is good to treat the main fish tank?
<There are a lot of variables here, but it really boils down to "whenever it's necessary." It depends on what the illness is, the condition of the fishes in the tank, the size of tank, the severity of the illness, and probably several other factors.  The thing about treating a large tank is that it can get very expensive.  For example, antibiotic packets are for 10-gallon tanks. You use a packet a day for five days, and possibly a repeat of the whole cycle.  The box costs about $10 to $15.  Multiply everything by 10 if you want to treat a 100-gallon tank.>
 I have read on your site that it should be avoided, and was wondering if there were any specific times when it is good to treat the main tank.
<As I said, whenever it can't be avoided. Whenever you have a parasite extremely contagious transmitted through the water and difficult to kill like the Camallanus worm.  But, even then it might still be better to isolate the residents in smaller tanks and thoroughly drain and sterilize the main tank. Often times this is a cost/benefit problem, or a risk/reward problem. It can be very dependent on the specifics.>
Would it be needed to treat an internal parasite, or would removing the sick fish and putting them in a hospital tank be better?
<Again, it depends.  Isolating is always best, but sometimes it's too late by the time you have symptoms and the entire tank is contaminated. See Camallanus worms mentioned above. Once you see the worms, your tank is infested and you can even transfer it to other tanks by using the same syphon or net, and that can take down an entire fish room.>
Also, does it work to starve
parasites by removing all the fish leaving any parasites in the water without food? If so, how long would you do that for.
<Sometimes. Costia can be killed off that way, but it's still very dependent upon what the parasite or pathogen happens to be.  It really needs to be handled on a case-by-case basis.>
Thanks so much for your time!
<Welcome. - Rick>
Thanks a lot Rick! Is Bob still answering the questions?     12/4/12

It makes sense to me. Thanks so much for your time!        Josh
<Heh! Of course Bob is still here.  I just stole his question because for a week straight I had bad timing and kept logging in to find an empty inbox!
- Rick>
Re: Question about treating the main tank    12/8/12

Haha. Thanks again! You've been helpful!
<Any time. - Rick>

Stocking & quarantine 03/26/2008 Hi there, I do have a few questions and hoping you have the answers. I have a 55 gal. tank with an AquaClear "70" filter system. Right now I have 15 fish 5 zebra Danios 1 gold Gourami 3 swordtails (1 male -2 female) 6 Australian rainbows (3 male -3 female) I want to add more fish and wonder if adding 3 more female swords and 3 more female rainbows would be all right for now. I want more color in my tank and thinking of a different species of rainbows. Any other suggestions would be appreciated. <With schooling fish, adding more of the same species INVARIABLY improves the aesthetics. A common mistake beginners make is to take a couple of these, a couple of those, and a couple of the others. Different shapes and different colours. Throw them into the tank. Result: a jumble. None of the fish behave properly. They don't school together. So instead of a synchronized group of ten Neons playing follow the leader (when they look fab) you get five Neons hanging about all over the place looking nervous. So, before adding NEW species, think about adding MORE of the same. Adding more Danios should be a no-brainer. A dozen would have hardly any effect on the capacity of your tank, while the resulting social cohesion will dramatically increase their value in terms of entertainment. Adding more Swordtails would be another good move because the more specimens, the less aggressive the males will become.> My next question concerns the quarantining of fish. I guess I've been very lucky in that I've never done this before but the more I read the more I think I should be doing this especially if I get a sick fish and not know it until it's too late. <Quarantining is indeed valuable.> I am a bit confused as to the set-up: bare bottom, diffused lighting, heater, thermometer and sponge filtering. It's the sponge filtering I'm not sure of. How do I get this sponge seeded and what kind of sponge is it? What kind of filtering is needed and does the sponge filter go into this system? Where and what is the sump on my AquaClear filter? <You basically set up a smaller version of your regular freshwater tank. Don't fuss about lights, the sort of filter, decorations, etc. I'd recommend grabbing some filter media from your existing tank and stuffing that into the air-powered box filter or small internal electric filter of your choice. Instant cycling! If the tank needs to be empty for more than a few days, don't forget to add some "food" for the bacteria in the form of a pinch of flake every 2-3 days.> One other thing-what does dip/bath mean? <Not particularly important for freshwater, so don't worry about it.> Thank you very much for any assistance you can give me. <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Ceramic media, air pumps... FW quarantine   8/28/07 Hello Neale, I just bought 4 neon tetras and 3 Pristella and they are now in the quarantine tank. How long do you suggest to keep them in the q-tank before moving them in the main one? Thanks, Giuseppe <Greetings. I don't think there's a hard-and-fast rule for quarantining fish. But a month should do the trick nicely. Cheers, Neale>

Set up and maintenance of a quarantine tank, FW   8/13/07 Hello, <Howdy> I'm so glad to have found the abundance of reliable information here on WWM. Each of you is quite the "fishy aficionado". <One of my fave words!> I am preparing to get a 26 gallon tank. After completing a fish-less cycle I plan to add two black moors. I have been reading through the goldfish and the FW set up articles and FAQ's but have not been able to find instructions regarding set up and maintenance of a quarantine tank (QT). <We have for marine applications... pretty much the same: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisindex.htm the first tray> Will you please give me full instructions on how to set up and maintain a quarantine tank? Also, do I set up and cycle the QT at the same time as the 26 gallon? Thank you, Michelle <Can be the same. Bob Fenner>

Unlucky Loricariids, and Why To Quarantine Plants - 02/20/2007 Hi Crew, <Hi, Carmel!  Sabrina with you today.> I have an unusual situation which I have been dealing with since December. Several tanks all containing assorted catfish. Just prior to onset of illness (about 3-4 weeks prior) I added a new longfin B/N and an Amazon sword plant to one tank.   <Quarantine, even of plants, is essential....  I have always recommended quarantining or dipping plants, and the one time that I chose not to, I introduced ich into a well-established tank....  Sigh!  These things do happen.  I hope at least the new fish was quarantined, yes?> In a nutshell, peppermint b/n were the first to develop lesions on head and back areas, resulting in death. 4 weeks later the common b/n's displayed the same lesions. Have worked closely with LFS & vets, during the last 2 months and in desperation sent specimens and water to our Dept of Agriculture (who also work for our Fisheries Dept).  They have identified a protozoan, similar to Chilodonella, but which they cannot positively identify. <Often protozoan parasites are present even on quite healthy fish; this is usually not a big deal.  It's when the protozoans opportunistically "take over" (fish is sick, weak....) and multiply to virulent quantities that you've got a problem that can then easily spread to your other healthy fish.  Sounds like this is what happened.> This report came to me today and I am about to commence treatment of formalin/malachite green in one tank &  Octozin (Waterlife) in another.  This still leaves me with more tanks & I was wondering if you may have any ideas on a treatment (result of cross-contamination) as we are all as unsure of the treatment as we are of the outcome. I think I will treat at the full dose, but gradually add the meds over a few hours. <Formalin and Malachite Green are toxic, especially to these scaleless animals....  There is a strong likelihood that even your healthiest Loricariids will not survive a treatment at "full dose".  I would re-thing this.  The Octozin, provided that it is Metronidazole as I suspect, is fine to use at the full recommended dose.  Try to find out if it is in fact Metronidazole.  Another option might be a salt treatment, though Loricariids don't "like" salt, it would be much less dangerous than a full dose of the Formalin/Malachite Green cocktail.  The method I would try, if I did this option, is detailed here:  http://www.aquariumadvice.com/article_view.php?faq=2&fldAuto=32 .> It would seem these fish are doomed otherwise anyway.  Also, any ideas on a positive ID of the invader would be gratefully received.   <If you have any means of providing us with a microscope photograph of the protozoan, I would gladly try to identify; I have a fish pathologist friend that would probably be glad to take a look and tell us what he thinks.> Regards,  -Carmel <Best of luck to you and your plecs,  -Sabrina>

More reasons why quarantining ALL new livestock is ESSENTIAL.   1/27/07 Hi Crew. <Hi Anne - Jorie here>    This is one of those letters I hate to write. I hate having to and I hate admitting my huge error. <I think that's a normal human reaction - no one likes it, but it takes a very mature and responsible individual to do so...kudos on taking responsibility.> You may remember me, I had said I have about 70 female Guppies of all adult age sizes and about 15 males, I think that was the amount I gave you. <I don't think I originally answered your query, but will try to help this time.  How large of a tank are we speaking of? That is the one factor that truly dictates how many fish you can have...> I know I should check back and give the exact amount I said, but please bear with me. You told me I had over crowded my tank and that I didn't quarantine long enough. <Again, I can't confirm on the former, as I don't know how big of a tank you are talking about.  With regard to quarantining freshwater fish, I usually aim for about a month, assuming of course there are no problems.  I will admit to you that I too, have wiped out (almost) an entire tank due to "overzealousness" and not QTing long enough...I felt absolutely horrible about it, and won't likely soon forget it.  All we as humans can do is learn from our mistakes so that we don't repeat them, and perhaps we can even educate others...> You were right on the latter. The crowding is no longer a problem as all of my fish are now dead. <I'm so sorry.> I am writing this so you can use me as an example of the need for at least a 2 week quarantine of all new blood into my aquarium. <Personally, I'd double that, unless extraordinary circumstances present themselves - I had a knight goby who absolutely HATED QT, no matter how well decorated, hidden, etc.  Livebearers should not be nearly as freaked out by the whole process.  2 weeks isn't enough time, in my opinion, to ensure everything's all right.> I feel like a total idiot,  but the loss of some of the most beautiful fish that I think are not replaceable. <I understand, and can relate to, your pain.  Again, all you can do is learn from this experience and do better next time.> The only excuse I have is that it was the first time I had purchased new blood in 18 months and a personal upheaval here at home caused me to rush. I will never make that mistake again. I know there should be no excuse, but I thought at the time I had no choice. <I felt the same way - I had basically bought too many fish at the same time, for the small QT tank I was using, and the male molly was attacking the female...after a few days, I decided that everything looked OK, so I'd chance it, and put the male into the main tank...BAD IDEA...same result.  Don't beat yourself up, just go on from here - I know, sometimes easier said than done.> I now will make sure I have a permanent quarantine tank set up before I ever purchase any more fish. <Excellent.> Can you please advise me of what treatment I can use on my plants to ensure they do not carry the Columnaris that I think you said my fish may have imported when I introduced 2 new males to my Guppies. They were in quarantine for a day but not long enough. <It sounds as though you don't have any fish left at all, correct? If that's the case, I'd say let the main tank run fallow for at least a month, doing regular water changes, etc.  Or, if you want to be really thorough, you can break the entire tank down, replace all the filter media, wash everything with a mild bleach solution, and rinse very, very well...assuming you have a place for the plants. Even a 5 gal. bucket with a light and an airstone with work for most plants...> Also when I first wrote I said I couldn't see any symptoms but there are some changes that over the progression of the deaths I noticed.  The first to die showed no symptoms.  Then a few days later some showed blood just under the surface of their bodies. Then a few more days on I noticed that some of the females who had no blood showing on their bodies had blood discharging from their pectoral fins. <Yikes, I can honestly say I've never seen a fish bleeding from its fins.  Generally, reddened areas on a fish can be caused by lots of things (e.g., ammonia, or other poor environmental conditions; damage from ectoparasites; injury; inflammation and/or hemorrhaging from a systemic bacterial or viral infection, to name several common causes.)  Columnaris can also result in reddening of the fins, but more prominently, you would most likely see some sort of cotton wool-like growths on the fins, mouth, etc.>   Due to the main and first casualties being my largest females, I have a feeling the disease may be spread by sexual contact between the fish when they mate. In the end no matter what size or age all of them have died. <It's possible that the females were already "stressed" due to being or becoming pregnant, thus resulting in their immune systems being compromising earlier than their male counterparts...thus rendering the females more susceptible to whatever disease/parasite was present...> I plan to clean the aquarium they were in with hot soapy water and rinse extremely well. Do you have any other suggestions? <Yes - bleach.  See above.> I thank you for the help you give me and others on your web site. <You are very welcome.> You're the best. <Ahhh, now I'm blushing!> I hope the very small amount of very young fish I still have in another aquarium who have the same blood lines will survive so I still have at least some of those that I treasured so much. <I will keep my fingers crossed for you and your fishies!> Btw, the two male imports are still alive. What I didn't tell you when I first wrote is there was also a female with them, she died during the first week of my problems. I have those two males alone in another tank. I have 4 tanks, two are now empty. <Definitely clean the affected tanks well, with bleach, to kill any residual problems that could remain.  Also, as mentioned above, do replace all filter media (e.g., carbon, BioWheel, etc.)> Thanks again. Anne. <You're welcome, Anne.  I know you are in pain right now, but this will make you a stronger and more experienced fishkeeper, not to mention person. Best of luck, Jorie>

Re: More reasons why quarantining ALL new livestock is ESSENTIAL. PART 2 Jorie, it's Anne again, <Hello again>    Thank you for your help. Just a few notes, the aquarium is 3 feet long 14inches  front to back and 18 inches deep. <According to my calculations, that's roughly 40 US gallons. I know guppies are fairly small, but 75 (or more), if I recall correctly, seems to be fairly heavily stocked, at the least. I don't recall of the top of my head how many males you had versus how many females, but in my experience, male guppies are very territorial and need space, or else fighting will ensue...> Bleach? Well it just goes to show I wasn't honest "again". I didn't tell you or the other "crew" member that I had used bleach before in two tanks. <Well, the use of bleach itself, if properly rinsed, is OK, but that last portion is key - residual bleach can and will wipe out an entire aquarium of fish.> I had a situation with my larger 4 feet tank where due to having sold a lot of my fish and because my stock was down I did a large clean. Taking out everything and holding back 1/3 of the old water to place back with my fish when the tank was ready. I had an algae problem and so I cleaned the tank with White King, I had about 4 dabs of the straight white king from the bottle onto a sponge. I do mean just 4, that would be I imagine less than 3 teaspoons of it. I thought I had all day to prepare my tank, rinse it well and then after making sure the water was stable by testing it replacing my fish. However suddenly my plans were changed due to having to baby-sit my grandchild unexpectedly. I there for  had 4 hours when  I was supposed to be preparing my water that I couldn't do so. So I rushed the preparation when I got back to my tank cleaning. I did rinse and I thought I rinsed it well. But I worried that I may not have done so thoroughly enough. <You really need to be sure that you've rid the tank of ALL bleach residue before filling it up again.  Even after rinsing multiple times, I usually add some dechlorinator as well, just to be doubly safe...> The reason being after testing the water and thinking it was OK, it obviously was not. I put half of my fish back then  I had to go to the shops, when I got back I noticed dead and dying fish by the dozens. I quickly placed those who were still living  in another tank that needed cleaning. I got all of them out and almost all that I placed in the tank that needed cleaning lived, about 5% of them died. My first thoughts were that I had not rinsed the bleach well enough. <My thoughts, too>   But also because our water system here comes from a storage tank. We live near a golf course and our water comes from their storage tank. They had a problem about 5 weeks before my fish started to die. There tank that is meant to automatically re-fill didn't it ran out. So I thought maybe I had all concentrated minerals from the bottom of their 200,000 gallon tank in our water. However, the fish that I didn't put into the rushed tank lived and most of those I rescued.. That is tank no 2... <I'll admit I'm a bit confused at to what tank is what at this point.  What I can tell you is that if you are concerned about the water quality around your area, you should test the source water (e.g., if you are using tap water, test for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate straight out of the faucet, in addition to in the already set-up aquariums). If your source water is bad (and sometimes it is - this could honestly be a large part of your problems), you may have to invest in a water purification system - a reverse osmosis/de-ionizing unit.  www.airwaterice.com is my favorite e-tailer for these units.> The tank where all of my fish have died (my breeding tank) also had an algae problem. I think the algae problems stems from the condition of the golf course storage tank when it ran dry. <Test the source water and the tank water for phosphates - many algae problems are caused / exacerbated by excess phosphates.  If it's a source water problem, then obviously doing more water changes with regular water won't solve the problem, hence the RO/DI recommendation.  If the high phosphates are only in the established aquariums, then cutting down on feedings, amount of light, and increasing water changes will all help.  Also, I like to recommend a filtration product called "PolyFilter" - it does a great job helping keep phosphate levels in check.> I cleaned it also with White King, it is a bleach. I rinsed extremely well. I know I did. Unlike the one where I rushed it and may not have rinsed well enough. Well I had no problems and no deaths at all, that is until I introduced the 3 new fish. One female and two males. The two males show no signs of ill health. However some of the others also didn't yet died. And some did show signs of being unwell. I felt so guilty about perhaps the White King killing them I didn't like to admit to using it. <Best to be honest so that we can identify and rectify the problem.> So two tanks both cleaned with White King,  but one tank no deaths until I introduced 3 new fish a month after setting it up. Today I went back to the business where I bought those males. I told them of my problem and they also suggested using bleach and you also advise it. I know you can even rinse vegetables in White King. A very small amount and extreme rinsing, not that I have ever done so. <I've never cleaned food with bleach, but I suppose if you rinse well enough. IN any case, I have personally used bleach in cleaning out my tank, and can tell you that if it is properly eliminated from the tank, all will be fine.  Try the dechlorinator trick, after continuing to rinse even after you think you're done!> I had thought if my rinsing was not sufficient in my tank # 2 that it may have damaged their livers and caused them to die slowly. So far I have only lost about 5 over the last week in # 2 tank. My # 1 tank no longer exists. <We are doing a lot of speculation - you NEED to test your source and tank water for the "usual suspects" - ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, not to mention pH.  If everything checks out there, we can rule out water quality.> I have the 2 males who were new blood in a small 2 foot tank. At no time did I see any sign of fungus on them nor near their mouths. I also was surprised about bleeding from the ends of the fins. <Could be ammonia burns.> I didn't know the clear looking fin had a blood supply. <Yes> Thanks again for being there for us when we need you. <Hope I've helped. Think about a scientific experiment - you need to keep all variables stable except for the one who's effect you want to test - it's the same principle in trying to identify what caused mysterious fish deaths, if you think about it.  Do check water parameters, first, and do always quarantine new livestock for at least a month. Best of luck, Jorie> Regards, Anne Gourami With A Sunken Head, Quarantine Tanks And Cycling - 01/24/2007 Hello, <Hi.  Sabrina with you today.> Sorry this will be long, but you guys seem to prefer more info to less, <Most certainly!> so here's what I've got:  I have a 46 gallon (bowfront) freshwater tank, purchased in early December. BioWheel filter with cartridge, as well as extra bag of carbon and Seachem "Purigen" pouch in second slot.  Fluorescent lighting, glass cover.  One large "tree root" ornament, and a large "rock" with a cave.  Artificially planted, with large "Fancy Plants" giant bamboo providing some floating cover, also lots of other underwater artificial plants.  Submerged heater maintaining at 78 degrees.  Also large bubble wand running across the length of the back of the tank (36").   <All sounds great.> The week before Christmas, I purchased 4 elegant Cory cats from my local fish-specialty store and began cycling, adding Seachem "Stability" as directed on bottle for the first week.  I conditioned the water with Seachem "Prime."  On January 3rd, my special order (which was supposed to be on hold) of two pairs (male/female) Neon Blue Dwarf Gouramis had arrived.  I advised that the tank wasn't quite all the way cycled yet, but LFS said as long as I checked the levels and did regular water changes, it should be fine.   <Err, not cycled yet should imply no fish yet....  Adding fish to an uncycled or not-quite-cycled tank is asking for trouble.  I'm also assuming here that you intend to not quarantine these animals....> Also added "NitroMax" bacteria supplement.  All was well for a week and a half.  All 4 gouramis seemed healthy and well-adjusted.  No fighting, colors good, getting along fine with the Corys, eating well, and the nitrite levels were dropping.   <Toxic at anything above zero....> I looked forward to having a cycled tank and being able to add more fish.  Then about a week ago, one of my female gouramis started looking "tarnished."  I observed this for 2 days over a weekend and it seemed to be getting worse (spreading).  She was listless and hiding most of the time.  I researched online and the best diagnosis I could come up with was velvet, most likely brought on by the stress of shipment and then moving into my not-quite-cycled tank.   <Poor water quality alone may have been the issue - but the "tarnished" look you mention (good descriptive word!) does tend to make me think velvet/Oodinium.> LFS was closed on Monday so I had to go it alone, and I purchased Mardel "CopperSafe" from a pet store and dosed the tank according to the directions on the package (1 tsp per 4 gallons water; I added 11.5 tsp for 46-gallon tank).   <Augh!  Not in the main tank!  Sigh....  You may forever in the future have trouble with keeping any invertebrates (snails, shrimp, etc.) healthy in this system....  Copper can be "absorbed" by your substrate, decor, filter media.... and is *highly* toxic to invertebrate life.  Furthermore, there goes your cycle!  I strongly, *strongly* recommend (A) Quarantining ALL new livestock, and (B) NEVER medicating your main tank - instead, remove fish to a hospital/quarantine tank for medication.> I removed everything from the filter box (cartridge - contained carbon - Purigen and bag of carbon) except the BioWheel.   <Should have removed this as well....  It would have been better had it, too, not come in contact with the copper.  Anyhow, any bacteria on it are toast now.> The pet store did not have a Copper test kit; I had to wait for LFS to get one in for me on Thursday (last week.   <Yikes!  Please don't use copper without testing properly.> The copper levels were higher than they should have been, <Dangerous....> and since Thursday I have done a water change every day: two 50% changes (Thursday night and Saturday) and the rest were 20-30% changes.  Sunday I replaced the bag of carbon to try to pull some of the copper out of the water. The levels are coming down, but still a little elevated (I think 0.6-0.8 right now).   <Do as much in the way of water changes as necessary to bring this to the correct levels, and urgently.  Copper is toxic/deadly to fish as well as the protozoan Oodinium; it is just fortunate that it is *more* toxic to the parasites.> The pH was low - usually around 6.5 but sometimes drifting lower, and my KH was on the low end.  I used API "pH Up" a few times over the last week to gradually bring it up, then added Seachem "Neutral Regulator" (3 tsp) to the big tank to bring the pH to 7.0 and add buffering capacity.   <It is good that you've buffered the water a bit; I usually frown at altering the pH of an aquarium unless necessary, but you imply that the pH had been unstable; adding some buffering capability was a good move.> The sick female improved with the addition of the CopperSafe, losing the discoloration and becoming active again.  It's been a week now and she looks great - perfectly normal.   <Excellent.> Both male gouramis are doing well - never had a problem.  Also all 4 Corys are fine.  But.  The OTHER female Gourami - smaller and (I believe) younger than the first - who was fine this whole time, has a completely different problem now.  On Saturday I noticed her abdomen slightly swollen.  Dropsy, I thought, most likely brought on from the stress and the water conditions.   <None of these somewhat delicate fish should have been subjected to a still-cycling tank; you are lucky to have come out with all but one still in relatively good/salvageable health.  Toxic copper only added to the stress.> She never got to the "pinecone" stage; her abdomen just remained slightly swollen.  I hoped that if I could get the water conditions stabilized it might resolve on its own.  Yesterday I noticed she had developed Popeye (both eyes), <A sign of poor water quality, almost invariably.> and she was still slightly swollen - but no more than she was initially.   <The swelling can be indicative of anything from simple constipation to organ failure from disease or toxins in the water; or her condition may have been present even before you got her.> She's been listless, alternately hanging out under the tree root and at the top of the tank near the filter outflow.  She seems to be "breathing hard."   <Possibly gill damage from the toxins in the water, or possibly from unseen Oodinium on her gills, possibly her gills healing from damage left by the Oodinium....  lots of "maybe's here.> She does come out to eat, but not as actively as the others.   <If she's eating, that's a VERY good sign.> Interestingly, her colors have deepened - instead of silvery with slight stripes, she's light blue and yellow now.  Then, last night I thought her head looked funny.  This morning when I fed them, I saw that it was very pronounced - her whole forehead is sinking in and looks collapsed.   <Hmm....  Collapsed like the muscle structure under the skin is poor, or eroded, like the flesh is eaten away?  Can you describe this a little more for me?> I thought hole-in-head disease was primarily in marine tanks, <Oh no, often present in freshwater aquaria, usually in  common with high nitrate levels and/or lots of decaying organic material, and sometimes due to Hexamita.> but that seems to be the closest diagnosis I can make.   <Entirely possible.... but your description doesn't make me think that initially.  Hole-in-the-head usually looks like pits of flesh eroding away.> Current conditions: pH 7.0, ammonia 0, nitrite 1, <Get this to zero with water changes, urgently.> nitrate 20-40, <Bring this below 20ppm ASAP, preferably closer to 5-10ppm.> GH 120-180 ppm, KH 120 ppm, copper 0.6-0.8, <If you're done treating, get this down to zero.> temp 78 degrees.  Morning and evening I feed a mix of TetraMin flakes and Spectrum Thera+A (all natural anti-parasitic) small sinking pellets.  Once a week or so I give them a pinch of TetraMin freeze-dried bloodworms or sun-dried baby shrimp.   <All good.> Last week (before the other female looked ill) I started cycling a 10-gallon QT with 3 danios, <Err....  Please take a look here, regarding cycling, and do a Google search as well on "fishless cycling" for some different options.  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm .> adding the Seachem "Stability" and using water from my big tank.  I've done daily water changes on it (3 gallons at a time) and the danios seem fine, but my "Ammonia Alert" is starting to show slightly elevated ammonia levels - normal for a start-up cycle.   <I'd recommend using a liquid reagent test in addition to the Ammonia Alert.  Though handy, it doesn't have the spot-on accuracy of a good test kit.  And please reconsider using fish, danios or otherwise, as a means for cycling a tank.> I didn't think it was ready for use yet.  On the other hand, if I'm going to be medicating, so much for the cycle, eh?  Should I move the danios (they've showed no problems for almost a week) into the big tank and put the female Gourami in the QT?   <No....  Whatever the animals in the big tank have been subjected to may yet be present; I would either remove the female to an entirely separate system for observation, or keep her where she is and hope for the best.  Were it me, I would also be doing some frantic water changes on the danios' tank to keep ammonia and nitrite at zero....  Though the cycle will be prolonged, the fish will be less damaged.  Also, for future reference, it is usually not necessary to cycle a quarantine system.  While a fish requires quarantine/treatment, you can do daily or twice-daily water changes and keep the water healthy.  Medicating the water usually kills your biological filtration anyhow; trying to keep the tank cycled before use, and then cycling again after use is kind of an unnecessary pain.  Just my thoughts.> Should I start with completely fresh (conditioned) water so there's no copper at all?   <Maybe.  Are you done treating for Oodinium/velvet?> On hand I have MelaFix and PimaFix, <Not really worthwhile, and possibly harmful, in my opinion....  I wouldn't add these.> but I should be able to get just about anything I'd need.  Thanks for your help and sage advice,  ~Jenny <All the best to you,  -Sabrina> Freshwater; QT tank.   7/4/06 Hi everyone, <Hello.> After reading many letters & articles on your site I've finally  decided to run a QT tank. <Awesome!> I have to say it really gives one--peace of mind. <Agreed.> As I was preparing to originally use a 2nd tank (10g)  for live  bearer breeding,  I already had running in my display tank a box filter &  a sponge filter (destined for use in the 10g)  along with the main  hang-on filter. Until I fully stock the display tank the 2nd tank will be exclusively used as a  QT. <Good.> I noticed that you suggest that a QT tank use a sponge filter. <Tis one way to skin the cat.> My question is---let's say there is a diseased fish in the QT tank with the sponge filter running. When the fish is finally cured &  QT is over (I remember your advice--after 4 weeks) is it safe to put the sponge filter back in the display tank?  My reason for this  inquiry is that I wondered if the sponge filter could become contaminated, infected or harbor the disease, parasites etc, etc. from being used in the QT tank. <I prefer to keep all QT equipment separate from the display...just in case.> Can the sponge filter be put back into the display tank without washing or treatment after being used in the QT tank? <See above.> Also is a box filter good for a QT filter in a 10G tank? <Yes this can work as well, I fin the most important filter to a QT is the aquarist...water changes, lots of them.> Thanks so much. I really depend on you guys for guidance. The MollyMan <Anytime, Adam J.> Preventive measures for new freshwater fish?  - 04/22/2006 Hi, <<Hi, Jon. Tom>> I've seen articles that suggest preventive measures that can be used with newly acquired saltwater fish to prevent transferring disease and parasites to the main tank (such as freshwater/chemical dips) but I haven't seen any suggestions for freshwater fish except to quarantine the fish in a separate tank and waiting to see if they become ill. Are there any preventive treatments that I should be using for my freshwater fish? <<Good question, Jon. Understand that many (most) SW varieties are captured in the wild while many FW fish are farm-bred, depending, of course, on the type of fish that we're talking about. (Not trying to "waffle" on you but it's the nature of the hobby. :)) Farm-bred fish (from reputable breeders) are less likely to carry the types of parasitic/bacterial infections that might be introduced into your aquarium from a 'natural' habitat. Additionally, breeders who routinely ship "sick" fish don't stay in business for long so it's incumbent upon them to maintain healthy stock. The best preventive treatment, in my opinion, is to quarantine all fish - SW and FW, alike - in the same conditions that you will have in the display tank. Now, this will require research on the part of the aquarist. You've done yours so I don't have to tell you that introducing Goldfish, for example, into a QT set up with Cichlid-type water parameters will lead to problems. Nothing, however, that I've ever come across regarding FW fish has conclusively shown a "preventive measure" that completely ensures a disease-free animal. The "upshot" here, Jon, is that quarantine for a good, two-week period for your FW fish, with close observation, is the best route to take. (Note that even the preventive measures you noted with SW fish don't relieve us of the responsibility to quarantine.)>> Thanks, Jon <<Any time. Tom>> Filtering A QT Tank  - 02/20/06 After reading your info regarding quarantine tanks, it is obvious that this is a must have item. Regarding the biological filtration, I am not familiar with all the filter brands mentioned. For all my pumps and canister filters I only purchase Eheim. For this Quarantine tank of around 40 gall, I am considering a Eheim powerline internal filter model 2048, this filter has provision for two sponge filters, please advise if this is an ideal filter. As cost is not a problem for this important issue, please let me know if you have an alternative choice. Regarding using this tank for administrating copper, should I remove the sponge filters and only do water changes to keep the water at its best. Thanks for providing all the excellent information. <My QT tanks are small bare bottom tanks with seasoned sponge filters or airstones. A couple pieces of PVC pipe are added to give the fish a place to hide. A seasoned sponge filter provides aeration, mechanical and biological filtration. I can see any leftover food and fish waste on the filter and on the bottom of the tank. A healthy fish should be eating and it may be difficult to tell if all the food is sucked up in the filter and out of site. This is also the time to wean the fish over to what ever food you are feeing. If the fish gets sick and requires treatment then I remove the sponge filter and replace it with an airstone. The medication will usually affect the bacteria living on the sponge and negate any biological activity so I remove it all together. Sick fish usually don't eat either. Any waste is removed daily with water changes. When the treatment is complete I add plastic box filter full of carbon to remove any leftover medication. The next day I replace the box filter with a seasoned sponge and start to feed the fish again. I find canister filters a pain to service. I think outside power filters are the best if you have room for them.-Chuck> Filter For A QT Tank   2/22/06 I called my supplier and he informed me he has no Hydrosponge filter. < Actually any sponge filter will work. Go to Drsfostersmith.com and search under sponge filters.> He does have a Eheim Liberty hang on power filter. Would this do the job ok ?. For this particular set-up space is no problem. < The Liberty Filter is a cool little outside power filter that will provides mechanical filtration with a little biological filtration if you have the sponge insert. I have one and found it works OK but replacement cartridges can be a problem to find. It will not provide as much biological filtration as a sponge filter but will be much easier to service than a canister filter.-Chuck> Quarantine and disinfecting Q's Crew, <Michael> I'm a long time reader, first time writer. I learn something new literally everyday from your site. I have a few quick questions that I was not able to find clear answers to on the site: <Okay> 1). Regarding quarantine tanks: Do they need to cycle in the same manner as other tanks and run continuously (artificially feeding the tank ammonia when not housing fish), or are they set up shortly before the purchase of any new fish and broken down/ disinfected after those fish are introduced into the main tank? <Either way... and do either have to "cycle" then and there or previously, OR provisions made to test, switch out large volumes of water> If it's the latter, I assume water changes need to be made every few days to prevent the inevitable ammonia and nitrite spikes from an uncycled tank. <Oh, yes> 2). Regarding disinfection: Can driftwood, from a tank which had parasites, be disinfected with the same water/bleach mixture used to disinfect other ornaments, or is there a danger of the bleach permeating into the pores of the driftwood and leaching out later. <Yes and yes> I'd like to disinfect the wood, rinse thoroughly, dechlorinate for a day, and then reintroduce into another tank (fully cycled with fish) shortly after, before it has the chance to dry out. <Would be better to let it "dry out" for just a day... to liberate the chlorine... residue> I'm just not sure if the dechlorination step can fully remove the bleach from the pores of the wood as effectively as it can from non-permeable aquarium decor. <Me neither. But have done this... many times. Bob Fenner> 

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