Discussion in 'Reef Aquarium Discussion' started by Paul B, Dec 31, 2018.

The Other Way to Run a Reef Tank (no Quarantine)

  1. Paul B

    Paul B Valuable Member R2R Supporter Reef Spotlight Award Partner Member 2019 Reef Tank 365 Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2010
    Messages:
    8,936
    Likes Received:
    18,770
    Location:
    Long Island NY
    The other way to run a reef tank (No Quarantine)


    I was asked by my friend Humblefish to start a thread on my practices of running a tank with no quarantine, hospital tanks, medications, dipping or almost anything else.

    It is "not" just to take a fish from a store and drop it in your reef because that fish will probably die. You may not see many spots on fish in a store because just about all stores use medications in their tanks to suppress the parasites. They have to because they get new fish all the time from all over the world and they can't change all the water and sterilize their tanks in between shipments. But all fish are infected in a store and even in the sea. They swim in a soup of parasites, viruses and bacteria, some good, some not so good.

    In the sea those pathogens are kept in check by each other as viruses prey on parasites and bacteria and other forces such as things exuded from corals and tend to keep everything in check. Of course they all prey on fish.

    But fish have been around almost as long as those things and they evolved long ago to live in harmony with all of them. Fish eat parasites with every meal and those parasites are processed in the fishes kidney among other places and that causes the fish to exude antiparisitic and antibacterial properties in their slime. They constantly do this and it keeps parasites and bacteria from killing the fish even though some parasites will get through to sample some fish flesh.


    Anyway, that is the basis for my method that I slowly learned starting in about 1973 when I had to keep fish in copper continuously as we all did. (20 pennies to the gallon) Our tanks were not reefs, we fed flakes, changed the water to much and took out the rocks and dead corals to bleach them whenever they turned green which was almost weekly. The fish were always stressed and it was hard to keep even damsels.

    Then I started feeding things other than flakes, things like frozen clams, pieces of fish and live blackworms. In 7 weeks my blue devils spawned and kept spawning for 7 years. Spawning damsels is no great Whop but in those days few people could keep them alive for a few weeks.

    I gradually learned that bacteria and parasites would not kill my fish as long as I didn't medicate them. It was backward thinking but remember there was no internet and I didn't even know anyone with a salt tank so I was on my own.

    When I added a fish it normally would get spots and sometimes die, but most of the time the spots receded and the fish was fine and didn't get sick when I added a new fish.

    That was how I learned my method which is not really a method but a lack of a method.

    With my method you can not quarantine because that short circuits the process. I actually want parasites and bacteria as that is what the fish was swimming with in the sea a week before.

    I just put the fish in my tank and normally the fish starts eating right away and is fine. About half the time the fish will show a few spots but they are very few and disappear in a day or two. Yes they finished their life cycle on that fish and dropped off to infect something else, but they can't because those fish are constantly exposed to parasites so they are immune.

    The things I do “not” do is quarantine.

    I do not ever feed dry foods such as flakes or pellets as those foods are sterile.

    I do not suck every bit of detritus out of my tank


    I do however always feed something with live bacteria in it such as frozen foods.

    I feed whole foods with guts such as clams, mysis, mussels and I use LRS foods which is a commercial food which I consider the best. But I still want to give the fish something that I know has living bacteria in it. I try to feed a few times a week some live worms but sometimes I can’t. Where I live now I can’t get them but I do raise live whiteworms which live in dirt. I bought a few of them years ago and that batch is still living and reproducing. I like the worms because of the living bacteria in their guts and the dirt they are living in. Some people that have immune tanks never use live worms so they may not be necessary, but I use them when I can. These things need not be fed every day, but at least occasionally. But all foods should have bacteria in it and if you feed nothing but commercial food, I am not sure how much living bacteria is in that because you don’t know how old it is or what temperature it was stored at.
    [​IMG]


    If you have access to a salt water beach, collect a little mud and sprinkle it around the tank. That is for bacterial diversity. If you can’t get that, you can use garden soil with no pesticides or fertilizer.

    (I did not invent that, it was “Robert Straughn” The Father of salt water fish keeping.)

    The idea is that I want parasites living in the tank along with the fish. They will keep reproducing and trying to infect fish but they will fail.

    I know the argument that there is much more water in the sea than in a tank and the parasites are more numerous. But that is of no consequence because the fishes immune system will get as strong as it needs to be to repel parasites and the more parasites there are, the stronger the immune system.
    [​IMG]

    If you quarantine fish, there will be nothing for the fish to become immune to and any slight infection will crash the tank. Fish are not delicate creatures that need coddling and they almost never get sick. They have a fantastic immune system as long as we don’t try to short circuit it.

    I can’t remember the last time I lost a fish to disease but it was probably in the 80s. Virtually all of my fish only die of old age or jumping out. I do lose fish due to my stupidity like if I buy something that I can’t properly feed like shrimpfish, twin spot gobies, orange spotted filefish etc. My tank is not set up for those fish and I should not buy them. But everything else, with no exception live long enough for me to get tired of them and I give them away or they die of old age.

    I do not like clownfish but one day about 27 years ago I bought a baby of what I thought was a red hawkfish. It turned out to be a Fireclown and I still have it. She also spawns a few times a week as all my paired fish do as all healthy fish carry eggs all the time.


    If you have a tank full of quarantined fish, I am not sure how you could get those fish immune because that quarantining may have destroyed the immune system of those fish. It would be a long process because the fish would have to be infected, and then cured for them to become immune and you may lose some fish.
    [​IMG]

    It would be much easier to start an immune tank from the start. Remember, if you see some parasites, think of that as a good thing and not something that you need to dip or treat. Yes, you may lost some fish in the beginning but your fish will become immune to just about everything and you will never need medications or disease forums. Many fish die in quarantine or right after so that is also not a panacea.
    I did not mention parameters because IMO they are not that important for fish health. Corals, yes, but not fish. My nitrates were 160 for years and I never had a fish die and they continued to spawn.
    This is my method which has worked well for decades and I never lose fish to disease which is something I think we all strive for.
     
    Tags:

  2. jsker

    jsker Reefing is all about the adventure Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Partner Member 2019 R2R Secret Santa Reef Tank 365 Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Hospitality Award

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2015
    Messages:
    18,902
    Likes Received:
    35,832
    Location:
    Central Florida
    Thank you Paul

    I have yet to QT either;)
     
  3. theMeat

    theMeat Valuable Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2017
    Messages:
    1,204
    Likes Received:
    895
    Well said Paul. You are a pioneer
     
  4. Brad Miller

    Brad Miller Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor Hospitality Award

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2018
    Messages:
    828
    Likes Received:
    1,887
    Location:
    Dover, Pennsylvania
    Very cool write up Paul, always a pleasure to read any of your post...
    By the way, YOU are now the father of Saltwater fish keeping :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2019
  5. ReeferReefer

    ReeferReefer Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2015
    Messages:
    933
    Likes Received:
    522
    So you are saying that by simply ING giving the fish proper nutrition, QT isn't needed?

    Do you have tangs?
     
  6. brandon429

    brandon429 why did you put a reef in that R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2014
    Messages:
    7,427
    Likes Received:
    5,359
    Location:
    tejas
    This type of thread is how evolution occurs. In order for it to be worked to its best, new tank setters need to post here start to finish to observe the process
     
  7. amazongb

    amazongb Active Member R2R Supporter R2R Secret Santa

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2017
    Messages:
    185
    Likes Received:
    204
    Location:
    Redlands, CA
    Nice post, as usual Paul! How do you feel about stress-induced disease? I seem to have a tank full of fish that get along and I'm always scared to introduce a new one that might upset the apple cart.. I've never QT'd and if I had to, I'd probably quit the hobby.. I've never had to deal with ick or velvet etc.. I feed mostly frozen, but took your advice and chop up clams on occasion, pellets rarely. Seems to be working.. I'm just wondering if a lot of disease that's occurring in this hobby is caused by putting fish in confined quarters that don't get a long...
     
  8. ReefWithCare

    ReefWithCare Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2016
    Messages:
    837
    Likes Received:
    489
    I think more details about the seafood you select for the fresh food and how you prep them would help.

    Also, recommendations on what garden soil to purchase as many could be “enriched”

    LRS makes sense - I love that stuff .

    What do ppl do if you don’t live by the ocean for water?
     
  9. theMeat

    theMeat Valuable Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2017
    Messages:
    1,204
    Likes Received:
    895
    After years of arguing against Paul’s logic, and now years of agreeing, have to say i’m Never going back. Unless a new fish is obviously unhealthy from stress or shows signs of brook do not qt. IMO sometimes a fish can use a few days of alone time to recuperate, and even then it’s not in sterile water. The qt is filled with water straight from display. Which I know has ich and yes, I have tangs. A 7” hippo, 6” sailfin, 5” purple, and 4” bpt
     
  10. HotRocks

    HotRocks Fish Fanatic! Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Partner Member 2019 Reef Tank 365 Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Expert Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2017
    Messages:
    6,126
    Likes Received:
    17,575
    Location:
    Westfield, Indiana
    @PaulB thanks for the explanation of your practices.

    I can't wrap my head around all of it. I still think the species you desire to keep may weigh heavily on whether you are someone who can practice QT VS ich management with success.

    I also appreciate the fact you can still carry on a discussion about this even though we agree to disagree.

    I can tell you the only fish I have ever lost post QT was a Moorish idol. He shoved his snout into my Maxima clam who clamped down and neither one of them lived to tell about it unfortunately.

    I also feed a mix of high quality frozen foods being mostly LRS. My reef has been disease free since it's start. I do add vitamin supplements.

    I only feed live foods in QT though not in my DT.

    All in all I just want to see unnecessary fish death come to an end.
     
  11. Huff747

    Huff747 Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Partner Member 2019 Build Thread Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2017
    Messages:
    559
    Likes Received:
    438
    Location:
    Glen Carbon, IL
    I'm still new to all this but does like @HotRocks asks does this apply to all fishes? I keep seeing fish like Powder Blue Tangs listed as fish that can't survive in ich management systems.
     
  12. 4FordFamily

    4FordFamily Tang, Angel, & Wrasse Addict Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Partner Member 2019 Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Hospitality Award Expert Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2015
    Messages:
    17,442
    Likes Received:
    34,932
    Location:
    Carmel, Indiana
    Some things for the casual reader to consider:

    1) Is buying new fish today the same as it was 10-30 years ago? even a year ago? (Condition)
    2) Does the kind of fish matter? (IE I don’t believe most acanthurus tangs, angels, and other commonly coveted fish will be as resistant to parasites as Paul’s selected fish).
    3) Are these methods mutually exclusive to quarantine (other than the no-quarantining piece obviously).
    4) Does it matter to the end user (or fish) if a fish is resistant (immunity is not attainable scientifically) or if it’s in a system devoid of these pathogens or nasties?
    ——other than in the case of a resistant group of fish, a stress event could give disease the upper hand and often does for most users thus making it a ticking time bomb of sorts

    Thank you Paul, great writeup. If I understand the takeaways of your method, can they be summarized below?

    1) Do not QT
    2) Feed good foods, preferably fresh foods (IE avoid flakes or pellets)
    3) Add more and varied bacteria in the form of mud or other ways
    4) Natural seawater is best if possible

    I also think users would love to see more photos, you have some very beautiful, disease-resistant fish.

    I remember you mentioning undergravel filters in the past as well? I thought perhaps there was something to that the more I thought of it!

    Also, I seem to remember your systems weren’t overstocked like I tend to keep mine, I personally think that’s an important factor as well.

    I think users would benefit from a current stock list as well if you don’t mind, I certainly would! :)

    I know we are on opposing sides of this debate (@HotRocks and I stocking two 180 gallon tanks, and a 500 gallon tank full of tangs and angels is a very different ball game) but I genuinely appreciate your contributions and hold a healthy amount of respect for you. It wasn’t long ago I was almost completely against quarantine (about four years).

    Happy New Year to you and your family! God bless.
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2018
  13. 4FordFamily

    4FordFamily Tang, Angel, & Wrasse Addict Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Partner Member 2019 Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Hospitality Award Expert Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2015
    Messages:
    17,442
    Likes Received:
    34,932
    Location:
    Carmel, Indiana
  14. Mortie31

    Mortie31 Well-Known Member R2R Supporter UK Reef Club Member Build Thread Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2016
    Messages:
    940
    Likes Received:
    1,061
    Location:
    Uttoxeter. England
    Ive only had a short reefing career in comparison to yours, In the 14 years I’ve been in the hobby I had never quaranteened either, a lot of my fish had been with me this entire time, then back in October I added a new fish and a few weeks later all bar 2 fish were dead... with what was likely velvet, I thought I’d got pretty immune fish until then, the odd white spot outbreak that resolved a few days later, flukes in a tang... so I’m not sure really what to say, was I unlucky? Was the strain That came in on the fish particularly virulent? I don’t know. Now I don’t follow your methods exactly, I do predominantly feed frozen foods, but not the minced up clams etc like you do. Wondering if yours is an all in method (feed, bacteria and various mud) if you can’t do that is it better to completely quarantine? . but here I am restocking and I’m not quarantining again, gonna get me some clams and mud lol..
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2018
  15. HotRocks

    HotRocks Fish Fanatic! Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Partner Member 2019 Reef Tank 365 Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Expert Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2017
    Messages:
    6,126
    Likes Received:
    17,575
    Location:
    Westfield, Indiana
    For the sake of this discussion, would mind elaborating on what the inhabitants were before your wipe out? Which fish you added when the velvet outbreak occurred?

    Also sorry to hear about your troubles.
     
  16. hotashes

    hotashes Well-Known Member UK Reef Club Member Build Thread Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2018
    Messages:
    521
    Likes Received:
    617
    Location:
    London
    @Paul B thanks for sharing your experiences, this will always help others enhance their knowledge. Although you’ve got plenty of experience and reference to point us to, on this topic I’m inclined to mention the RUGF you’ve got in action. It would be good to find yourself or somebody else action your process in a tank without the reverse under gravel filtration system. Simply as it leaves a question in my mind whether you have such results keeping parasites away as during their lifecycle at some stage they will be encrusted at the bottom of your display tank, in turn resulting in them having great difficulty swimming free from the downward force of the RUGF system. Simply put if the parasites cannot swim freely then they will not find their place on the fish.

    Just a thought,

    A.
     
    MnFish1, rkpetersen, najer and 7 others like this.
  17. Mortie31

    Mortie31 Well-Known Member R2R Supporter UK Reef Club Member Build Thread Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2016
    Messages:
    940
    Likes Received:
    1,061
    Location:
    Uttoxeter. England
    Thankyou, The last fish I added was a gold flake angel that I bought private and had been in his tank for a year, and looked perfect, I had majestic, regal, coral beauty, and flame angels, 4 spot and pearl scale butterfly, sargassum trigger, purple, yellow and Naso tangs, 5 anthias, 3 yellow tail damsels, pair maroon clowns (female survived)cleaner wrasse (survived) in an 6.5 yr old 800L predominantly SPS tank, with most of the live rock coming from my previous tanks. As a side note I keep Japanese Koi and due to disease transmission there is virtually no market for private sales, most serious collectors think the risk is to high to put there collections at risk. Why didn’t I listen to myself....
     
  18. theMeat

    theMeat Valuable Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2017
    Messages:
    1,204
    Likes Received:
    895
    Can’t speak for Paul but like my grandma used to say...”your gotta eat 2 lbs of dirt by the time you’re 3 yo or you won’t be healthy.”

    Think sterile environment kills the good with the bad, which is worse. That’s what I mostly took away from Paul’s read
     
  19. brandon429

    brandon429 why did you put a reef in that R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2014
    Messages:
    7,427
    Likes Received:
    5,359
    Location:
    tejas
    One neat factor: Paul's method is working in my freshwater which is grossly overstocked with fish that had ich on them at time of addition from lfs

    By using no plastic decor but mud base with 130 lbs of tank driftwood + plants sold out of a twenty year system, the ideal aged natural substrates Paul favors and uses in his immune approach (plus feeding), my fw system suppresses disease without medication

    Ich dots leave any added fish, go into the system I guess but at year one it doesn't express. This tank is really well exported, it's high flow and high fish stocking that in lesser environmental conditions would require constant meds. There's approximately 30 fish in a 55, it's full.


    I'm feeding the best possible foods, even live tisbe pods at times. Cut up market food, I'm able to literally replicate Paul's method in freshwater all day long if that helps

    I know fw sw isn't a direct correlation between crypto/ ich but I do employ this method, wanted to state.

    Getting a group of Petco or lfs shoppers to perform this task in marine, with all its inherent variables, really tough work am thinking. They have access to market quality feed however, a big portion of Paul’s success is feed quality. and they have via internet trading the ability to source reef-specific (real reef) substrates somehow, get a chunk of maricultured rock that looks like Medusa, it adds the oceanic diversity, micropods, that his system presents as the ideal suppressant to disease. The way I see it, if you hit those two variables hard you have a chance to replicate Paul’s system, leave one out and it’s imbalanced. Literal marine substrates, or even mud and in some case ocean water or maricultured rock bring a competition aspect into tanks that we can’t replace without harsh meds and qt/fallow/xfer
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2018
  20. Kmsutows

    Kmsutows Well-Known Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2016
    Messages:
    760
    Likes Received:
    704
    In my opinion, and I know we've argued at length about, you should point out all that encompasses your setup. I know you insist the ozone and diatom filtration doesnt do anything (even though you've always used them for 40yrs) but many others like myself would argue this is just as important as good nutrition for your fish and should be pointed out for those interested in replicating your setup.
     
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page

Loading...