Sterilizing Quarantine Equipment
After running a batch of fish through quarantine (QT), whether it was a successful QT or not, it’s a good practice to then sterilize the equipment before getting your next group of fish. The reason being, especially if your QT was unsuccessful, that there can be lingering bacteria or parasites in the water or attached to the hard surfaces of the equipment that can then infect the new fish. If you are using a QT that is always up and running, and you are having an issue with getting fish through it and into the display (DT), you may have something lingering in the tank that is effecting the new fish. Your first step in breaking that cycle should be to “reset” your quarantine by sterilizing it.
This is especially important when running Tank Transfer Method (TTM). It's essential to sterilize each tank after a transfer and let it dry for the entire 72 hours the fish are in the other tank. Once the transfer is done, you'll sterilize all the equipment right away so it can be drying for as long as possible. You'll do this with each and every transfer.
We sterilize our tanks couple different ways. Bleach is a good stand-by and everybody has bleach on hand. Vinegar is handy, cheap and very safe to use around yourself, your fish equipment and tanks. Air drying, is something that is free ('cause air is always free), easy and will kill anything that we are worried about in our QT’s. While all of these are very easy to do I’m going to give you a step-by-step and even a video for those visual people.
This is easy and it applies to a Tank Transfer Method tank, Copper or Chloroquine Phosphate treated tank, or even a permanent QT that is up and running most of the time.
1. Gather your cleaning equipment: Vinegar or Bleach, old rag or sponge, and all equipment used during QT like hoses, HOB filter ect. Be sure to dispose of any media inside the HOB filter and use new for the next batch of fish. Dispose of any air stones used as well.
2. Empty all the water out of the tank, leaving all the pvc elbows, heater, thermometer and any other equipment inside the tank.
3. Refill the tank with freshwater from the hose to about half way. Add 1 teaspoon of bleach per gallon of water if you choose to use bleach. Or just splash in about a ½ cup of vinegar. Vinegar won’t hurt you if you add too much, so the instructions are meant to keep you from wasting it or making your hands smell really bad. You can take this opportunity to soak everything in bleach or vinegar, but it’s not necessary.
4. Use your old rag or sponge to wipe everything down individually including each piece of equipment and the walls and bottom of the tank.
5. Fill the tank again with fresh water to rinse and empty. Take each piece of equipment out and rinse individually, then rinse the tank individually.
6. Set each piece aside to dry for several days to be sure every little nook and cranny has dried completely. The drying is the most important part of the whole process.
That’s it! Easy peasy. Here’s a quick video of how I do it. There’s no one way to do this, but this is easiest for me and quick (except when I'm doing it one handed and trying to film it). I use the tank as wash everything in, so I don’t stink up the house with vinegar or get bleach stains on my linens and I always do it outside.
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Video - How to sterilize a Quarantine Tank
A quick guide and video explaining how I sterilize a quarantine tank. You can use this method or adapt it to make your own.