Beginner Topic Quarantine Setup Made Easy

Introduction: This article covers the equipment that I utilize in my current quarantine tank. I address commonly asked questions for newly cycled and existing QT setups. In addition, I touch upon the trusted medications that I keep on hand, helpful links, and trusted vendors for pre-quarantined fish.

Image of my current quarantine tank that successfully housed five fish for a twelve week period.

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- Two (2) Fluval C Power HOB filters - $22.00/each

- Two (2) Aqueon Glass Submersible Adjustable Heater - $15/each

- Two or three (2 – 3) Uxcell Fish Tank Biochemical Sponge Internal Filter/bubbler - $18/3 pack

- One or Two (1 – 2) Clear Tank Dividers - $15/each

- Two (2) Ammonia Alert Badge - $5/each

- Two (2) Magnetic Smart Thermometers

- Aqueon 29 Gallon Glass Aquarium - $29 In-Store Pick Up Only @ Petco



Why is it important to have multiple of the same equipment? Redundancy, redundancy, redundancy. Heater failures are common in the hobby and ammonia alert badges have known to give faulty readings. In addition, multiple HOB filters are important in my opinion as they provide ample housing for your biological filtration in conjunction with creating the appropriate amount of surface agitation.

How to mitigate aggression while in QT? I housed 4 angelfish and 1 tang in a 29-gallon aquarium for 12 weeks while running my display fallow with no problems at all. The key to my success was installing clear tank dividers between each fish to remove the additional stresses caused by aggression and the dividers also allow the fish to become more familiar with each other prior to acclimating into the display aquarium.

What is the trick to keeping ammonia levels in check? Provide plenty of surface area for beneficial bacteria to populate such as biological media housed inside the HOB filters and internal sponges. Keep QT setup minimal with PVC piping vs. live rock and sand as they tend to absorb medications that will potentially leach out if added back to your display aquarium. In the emergency scenario of a hospital tank, it is advised to purchase a couple bottles of nitrifying bacteria such as Bio-Spira or Dr. Tim’s One & Only for example to control the ammonia during the cycling process. In addition, I suggest preparing fresh batches of saltwater to conduct frequent water changes during the early stages of cycling. Maintaining pristine water conditions goes a long way when avoiding bacterial infections during such treatments as copper that compromise the fishes immune system.

Links to nitrifying bacteria below.

Instant Ocean BIO Spira

Dr. Tims One & Only

How often do I need to conduct water changes? This is all dependent on quantity of livestock vs. the water volume and the amount of biological filtration present in your QT. Good rule of thumb is 6-7-day water change on a well-established QT and 1-3 days on a newly cycling set-up. Based on the quarantine set-up suggested in the beginning of this article, once fully cycled you can conduct 15-25% water changes once a week for a heavily stocked aquarium. Internal sponges and ceramic media will provide plenty of surface space for the beneficial bacteria to populate.

How often do I need to clean filter sponges and media? Sponges should be rinsed approx. every 2 weeks utilizing the water removed during your water change. Using aquarium water helps remove detritus and other impurities while maintaining beneficial bacteria populations. If you choose to rinse media with tap or RO/DI water, you will certainly destroy beneficial bacteria. I suggest alternating between sponges every 2 weeks vs. one giant overhaul of all of them. Regarding ceramic media or bio-balls, I leave these alone other than a quick rinse with aquarium water every 4-6 months.

What salinity level should I aim for? I start on the lower end of 1.020 or match it to the vendor’s salinity and slowly raise it to match my display (1.026) over a 4-week period. I accomplish this by adding 1.026 salinity level whiling performing my 25% weekly water changes.

What temperature should I aim for? Initially I aim for the closest temperature of what the vendor or LFS hold their livestock at and raise it to 78 slowly over several days. Install two heaters in case one should fail. Set your primary heater to the desired temperature and the 2nd heater as backup 2 degrees below your primary.

I can’t start a QT tank if it is not cycled, right? If you’re in a pinch and need to treat a fish with medications immediately due to disease, you will need to add a bottle of nitrifying bacteria and defer to ammonia alert badges (therefore it’s important to have 2 if one reads faulty) and prepare plenty of fresh saltwater to conduct water changes every other day until the tank has fully cycled.

How far away does my QT need to be from my display aquarium? The minimum suggested distance between the display and QT aquariums should be no less than 10 feet away from each other. There was a study done on Marine Velvet involving aerosol transmission during the “free swimming” stage that caused recontamination of the parasite. Ich has a similar life cycle to Marine Velvet and is likely to be transmittable via aerosol too.

Can I use the same equipment such as pumps, tubes, and buckets for example between my display and QT? This is considered cross contamination and will most likely cause the treatments and/or fallow periods to fail.

Do I need multiple QT tanks? The answer is no, but if you have the space and the resources I always suggest it. If you only have 1 QT in rotation then the copper treatment must be held at therapeutic levels for 35 consecutive days. The reason is because copper only kills during the “free swimming” stage and certain strains of Marine Ich have a lengthy life cycles. So, if you only treat your fish for 2 weeks for example the life cycle of the parasite has not completed and once the copper level reduces below therapeutic levels, the parasite will rear its ugly head. This is where the 2nd QT becomes beneficial, it is considered a sterile (disease free) environment and the fish can now be transferred after 14 days of therapeutic copper levels.

What are my go-to trusted medications that I keep on hand and which disease do they treat?

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(Cupramine, Copper Power, Coppersafe) – Marine Ich and Marine Velvet. *Note: Copper can suppress Flukes, Brooklynella, and sometimes Uronema but will NOT eradicate fully. *Note: Each type of copper has specific test kits but the Hanna Checker is universally used throughout and is the most accurate and easy to read.


Copper Power


Hanna Checker Test Kit

Metronidazole (Seachem MetroPlex and API General Cure) – Uronema Marinum, Brooklynella, and Internal Parasites. I prefer GC as it contains both praziquantel and Metronidazole and it can be combined with copper medications. Another added benefit to using GC is it addresses Flukes in addition to Uronema and Brooke.

Seachem MetroPlex

API General Cure

Praziquantel (API General Cure and Prazipro) – Deworming medication. Eradicates Flukes, Black Ich, and intestinal worms. General Cure specifically can bind to the fishes’ food with the addition of Seachem focus to address internal worms, this is typically done when the fish has symptoms of white stringy feces or as preventative measures.

Hikari Prazipro

Seachem KanaPlex + Seachem MetroPlex + Furan-2 – These medications can be used separately; however, they are most effective when combined to address a wide spectrum of gram-positive and gram-negative bacterial diseases such as Popeye and cloudy eye, fin and mouth rot, open sores, redness, external bacterial infection and HLLE. There are many different options on the market that address these issues such as NFG and Erythromycin but I do NOT use them as they can destroy nitrifying bacteria in QT and are better utilizing during a bath.

Seachem KanaPlex

Seachem MetroPlex,pets,-1&sr=1-4

API Furan-2

Seachem Focus - Antibacterial polymer for internal infections of fish which is primarily intended to be mixed with foods and bind other medications making these medication reef safe or used in QT environment.

Seachem Focus

Seachem SulfaPlex + NeoPlex – These medications combined are a broad spectrum antibiotic effective against most external infections such as fin and mouth rot, bloating, lesions, and fungal infections. I tend to go this route if the symptoms are more fungal related.

Seachem NeoPlex,pets,856&sr=1-1

Seachem SulfaPlex,pets,164&sr=1-2

Helpful links to quarantine and identifying fish disease and treatments.

R2R Disease Index

Humblefish How to Quarantine

Trusted Sources to Purchase Pre-Quarantined Fish

1) Ocean Devotion

2) Quarantined Fish

3) Poma Labs

Happy Reefing!
About author
@Pathot984 supporting the community with fish disease prevention and treatment information.

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Great article thank you! Why does no one suggest Seachem Prime? It detoxifies Amonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate. Can be a life savor. Some suggest it cannot be used with copper but I have used it with Copper Power, Praziquantel, and Kannaplex with no problem other than it drops PH quite rapidly so be careful about that. What Bacterial and Fungal medications have you guys used that doesn’t nuke the Bio Filter?
Very informative! I really appreciate the details. Perfect for a noob like me.
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Sempre quarentene seus peixes!
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Great stuff here
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Very informative! Thank you!
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