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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the important to have a quarantine tank?

The practice of quarantining new aquarium arrivals is a fundamental part of proper aquarium husbandry. Surprisingly, many aquarium hobbyists either forget or do not quarantine new aquarium additions. Quarantine tanks should be used by all members of the aquarium hobby prior to introducing any new aquatic life.

Every time we introduce new aquatic life to our aquarium, there is always the potential of also introducing unwanted parasites or disease-causing organisms. In addition, aquatic life stressed from transport and relocation are more susceptible to succumbing to any parasites or disease-causing organisms present in the new environment. Therefore, a quarantine tank is a vital piece of equipment all aquarists need to investment in to protect new AND existing aquatic life.

Why don't all aquarists have quarantine tanks?

Many aquarists don't have a quarantine tank because of the perceived burden of maintenance and expense of the quarantine tank. However, a quarantine tank doesn't need to be large or expensive, and in the end it will pay for itself many times over. In fact, once aquarists get into the habit of using a quarantine tank, they are so impressed with the benefits and uses that they would never be without one.

What are the benefits of quarantine tanks?

In addition to minimizing the potential spread of infectious disease, quarantine tanks boast many other practical uses. After all, they are basically an "extra" aquarium that's ready for use. As part of the quarantine process, they can be used to condition new fish to new water parameters as well as diet in a safe, stress free environment.

What size of quarantine tank should I get?

A 29-gallon tank makes an excellent quarantine tank and is perfect for most freshwater and saltwater applications. However, a slightly larger or smaller tank can work as well.

What equipment do I need for my quarantine tank?

Most quarantine tanks are set up with lighting, a heater, easy-to-clean rocks, and pvc tubes or plastic plants to provide the fish with much-needed cover. For filtration, a sponge filter works well and the sponge can be colonized with nitrifying bacteria by placing it in the sump of your wet dry filter, or in the main display if a sump isn't available. Make sure to disinfect and rinse well between uses. Substrate is unnecessary and not having substrate keeps cleaning and disinfecting quarantine tanks easy.

How do I disinfect my quarantine tank?

Aquariums and equipment can be disinfected between uses with a mild (2-5%) bleach solution. Make sure all traces of bleach are rinsed off before re-using. As an added precaution, use a chlorine neutralizer to effectively remove any potential residual chlorine. Drying also kills many but not all aquatic pathogens. Make sure to have a separate siphon for your quarantine tank and disinfect it as well between uses.

How long should I quarantine my fish?

Most hobbyists will keep their fish in quarantine for at least 2 to 4 weeks. During that time, they often treat for parasites with a copper-based treatment for 14-21 days, and only treat for bacterial infections if there are obvious symptoms (ragged fins, red spots, etc.). Make sure to perform a 10-15% water change every other day to keep the inhabitants of the quarantine tank healthy.

Proper Water Parameters for Home Aquariums

The aquarium hobby adds a level of contentment to your life and offers many benefits derived from adding the beauty, interest and relaxation element that stocked aquariums provide.

Maintaining proper water parameters is one of the most important responsibilities associated with aquarium keeping. Not only is monitoring the following levels important, but amending aquarium water with salt, conditioners and additives is an important step that helps aquarists meet ideal parameters.

Do you know what the water parameters for your home aquarium are? For both freshwater and saltwater (marine) aquariums, read on to find out what Island Aquatic recommends for each.

What do I need to test my freshwater aquarium water for?

 

Temperature

Given that not all freshwater fish and invertebrates require the same temperature, there are general recommendations for freshwater fish that replicate temperatures found in their native habitats.

 

pH Levels

pH is the measurement of alkalinity or acidity within water. The reading of a 0 is neutral. Levels of 1 to 6 indicate the water is acidic. Readings of 7 to 14 means the water is alkaline. Your water’s Carbonate Hardness must be considered if you wish to adjust your pH because soft water takes changes more readily than hard water does.

 

Ammonia (NH3)

Excess ammonia is detrimental to the health of your aquatic life. Keeping ammonia in check is an on-going process as ammonia is continually added to the aquarium through fish waste, and as leftover food and other dead matter decays. Monitoring and amending the water to deal with ammonia is essential.

 

Nitrite (NO2)

Nitrite is a toxic byproduct of the nitrogen cycle. It is often broken down and used by plants in a planted aquarium or it can be removed with water changes.

 

Nitrate (NO3)

Nitrate is a chemical compound that is formed during the final stage of the nitrogen cycle. It is the least toxic nitrogen byproduct and is often used by live plants. High nitrate levels are dangerous to aquarium inhabitants.

 

Alkalinity (Carbonate Hardness) KH

Carbonate Hardness is an indicator of the water’s buffering capacity and measures the dissolved bicarbonate and carbonate ions in the water. The KH reading relates to the alkaline makeup of the aquarium water.

 

General Hardness (GH)

General Hardness (GH) measures calcium and magnesium levels in the water. Monitoring is especially important for those who are breeding fish but should still be measured in other aquariums so the aquarist can use that knowledge to create the necessary water conditions for their aquatic life.

Why Acclimate?

The reason why acclimation is necessary is simple: the chemical makeup of the water in which the aquatic life is packaged is different from your aquarium water chemistry (i.e. water temperature, pH, and salinity). Aquatic life such as fish, and especially invertebrates (including corals), are very sensitive to even minor changes in water chemistry. The goal of acclimation is to gradually introduce your new aquatic life to the water chemistry found in your aquarium at a controlled rate to avoid distress.

Island Aquatic recommends employing the Floating Method or the Drip Method of acclimation. Keep in mind, no matter which acclimation method you choose, be sure to take your time and never rush the process.

 

Floating Method

1.Turn off aquarium lights.

2.Dim the lights in the room where your specimen bags will be opened. (Severe stress or trauma may result from sudden exposure to bright light.)

3.Float the sealed bag in your aquarium for 15 minutes. This allows the water in the specimen bag to adjust slowly to the temperature in the aquarium.

4.After 15 minutes, cut open the bag just under its closure and roll the top edge of the bag down one inch to create an air pocket within the lip of the bag. This will enable the bag to float on the surface of the water.

5.Add 1/2 cup of aquarium water to the bag.

6.Repeat Step 5 every four minutes until the bag is full.

7.Lift the bag from the aquarium and discard half the water from the bag.

8.Float the bag in the aquarium again and proceed to add 1/2 cup of aquarium water to the bag every four minutes until the bag is full.

9.Net aquatic life from the bag and release into the aquarium.

10.Remove the filled bag from the aquarium and discard the water. Never release enclosed water directly into the aquarium.

11.Keep your aquarium lights off for at least four hours after the specimens are introduced into the aquarium to help them further adjust.

 

Drip Method

The Drip Method is considered more advanced. It is geared toward sensitive aquatic life such as snails, corals, shrimp, sea stars, wrasses, and discus. You'll need a drip acclimation kit (sold separately) and must be willing to monitor the entire process. Gather a clean, 3- or 5-gallon bucket designated for aquarium use only. If acclimating both fish and invertebrates, use a separate bucket for each.

1.Turn off aquarium lights.

2Dim the lights in the room where your specimen bags will be opened. (Severe stress or trauma may result from sudden exposure to bright light.)

3.Float the sealed bag in your aquarium for 15 minutes. This allows the water in the specimen bag to adjust slowly to the temperature in the aquarium.

4.Carefully empty the contents of the bags (including the water) into the buckets, making sure not to expose sensitive invertebrates to the air. Depending on the amount of water in each bag, this may require tilting the bucket at a 45-degree angle to make sure the animals are fully submerged. You may need a prop or wedge to help hold the bucket in this position until there is enough liquid in the bucket to put it back to a level position.

5.Use the acclimation kit to set up and run a siphon drip line from the main aquarium to the bucket. You’ll need separate kits for each bucket used. The rigid tubing will sit over the trim of most glass aquariums. Use the enclosed valve to regulate flow from the aquarium into the bucket.

6.Begin a siphon and when water begins flowing through the tubing, adjust the drip rate using the control valve to a rate of about 2-4 drips per second. Water volume in bucket will double about every 1/2 hour.

7.When the water volume in the bucket doubles, discard half and continue the acclimation process until the volume doubles once more – about one hour.

8.At this point, the specimens can be transferred to the aquarium. Sponges, clams, and gorgonians should never be directly exposed to air. Gently scoop them out of the drip bucket with the specimen bag, making sure they’re fully covered in water.

9.Submerge the bag underwater in the aquarium and gently remove the specimen from the bag. Next, seal off the bag underwater by twisting the opening, and remove it from the aquarium. Discard both the bag and the enclosed water. A tiny amount of the diluted water will escape into the aquarium; this is okay. Also, to avoid damage, please remember never to touch the "fleshy" part of live coral when handling.

10.Keep your aquarium lights off for at least four hours after the specimens are introduced into the aquarium to help them further adjust.

 

NOTE: Most invertebrates and marine plants are more sensitive than fish to changes in specific gravity. It is imperative to acclimate invertebrates to a specific gravity of 1.023-1.025 or severe stress or trauma may result. Test specific gravity with a hydrometer or refractometer.

 

Important Tips:

  • Be patient – never rush the acclimation procedure. The total acclimation time for your new arrival should take no longer than two hours.

  • Always follow the acclimation procedure even if your new arrival appears to be dead. Some fish and invertebrates can appear dead when they arrive and will usually revive when the acclimation procedure is followed correctly.

  • Never place an airstone into the shipping bag or bucket when acclimating your new arrival. This will increase the pH of the shipping water too quickly and expose your new arrival to lethal ammonia.

  • Keep aquarium lights off for at least four hours after the new arrival is introduced into the aquarium.

  • Most invertebrates and marine plants are more sensitive than fish to changes in specific gravity. Please acclimate invertebrates to a specific gravity of 1.023-1.025 or severe stress or trauma may result.

  • Some live corals produce excess slime when shipped. After the acclimation procedure is followed, hold the coral by the rock or skeletal base and gently shake the coral in the shipping bag before placing into the aquarium. To avoid damage, please remember never to touch the "fleshy" part of a live coral. Many species of coral will not open for several days after introduction into their new home.

In some instances, a new tank mate will be chased and harassed by one or all of your existing tank mates.

Solution 1: 

A clean plastic spaghetti strainer (found at your local discount store) can be used to contain a tank bully within the aquarium for several hours until the new arrival adjusts to its surroundings. Just float the perforated plastic basket in the aquarium. Net the tank bully and place in the floating basket for approximately four hours while the new arrival adjusts to your aquarium. Never place the new arrival in this basket; the new specimen must get familiar with your aquarium. By placing the tank bully in a perforated basket, you’ll reduce the stress on the new arrival.

Solution 2: 

A perforated plastic lighting grid can be purchased at the local hardware store to cut down the width of your aquarium. This grid may be used to section off a small portion of the aquarium to separate territorial or aggressive fish from the newest tank mate.

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