Thoughts on Pests, Quarantine, and Biodiversity

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andiesreef

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Hey everyone. Just wanted to talk about some opinions I have on biodiversity.

So what's considered "best practice" by many reefers right now is a strict quarantine regime on corals, fish, inverts, whatever. Dipping and treatment are commonplace, as are rounds of medicines designed to wipe out bacteria, fungi, worms, etc. We are actively decreasing biodiversity because all of these hitchhikers are "bad", yet turning around and preaching the values of an established tank and pods and whatnot. I think we need to change our thinking on SOME of these pests. Sure, there are plenty of nasties out there that are a threat to our investments and time, but sometimes it's worth it to increase biodiversity. Ex. bristleworms are kinda creepy-looking and can hurt you, but they clean up detritus (and plenty of other reef animals, like crabs, can hurt too). Feather dusters and sponges are often seen as annoying, but these animals are free filtration and clean up the water for you! Even quarantine for fishes can cleanse the immune system, but MIGHT leave them vulnerable to future pest outbreaks because they never had a chance to build up natural immunity. In reef keeping, we have the ability to culture these amazing ecosystems, but we don't always get to pick and choose only the desirable stuff. All of these animals live in the sea, and aren't we trying to cultivate a slice of the ocean? Just try to be more open-minded towards these animals. And no, I'm not saying to drop all quarantine and dips and such (hell, I'll never quit dipping my new frags), but the point of all this is just to try to understand the annoyances in the reef tank and if getting rid of every single one of them is worth the drawbacks.

Would love to hear your thoughts and opinions :)
 
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One thing to keep mind is "natural immunity" is not a very good way to go about things as no fish immune system is able to handle constant bombardment of disease over and over and over again in the same puny little area. You can't expect a fish to become tolerant of disease especially when the disease is often lethal (such as velvet). Yes in the wild you will find parasites and what not in fish (and disease kills a significant amount of wild animals), but the fish don't sit there with an increasing number of them.

A "natural" approach is not practical nor ethical in our tanks. Our tanks are nothing like the wild, and should not be thought of as such.
 

reefsaver

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When I started my tank I thought it was really unnatural, almost like some kind of weird science experiment. It just seemed so sterile and like it was missing something. I did pour water in my tank from a couple different stores I'm not gonna lie, mainly for the reason of biodiversity. Discovering small things here and there like deeper green film algae growing on my rockwork after introducing corals I realized that stuff will come even if you dip your corals.
I think a careful sterile approach and dipping and not pouring water in from the store or even toothbrushing plugs is probably the best approach because who knows what you could be introducing into your tank. The only thing I've seen maybe undesirable so far are these tiny hydroids but they don't really do any harm I think and you can't really see them.
 
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andiesreef

andiesreef

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One thing to keep mind is "natural immunity" is not a very good way to go about things as no fish immune system is able to handle constant bombardment of disease over and over and over again in the same puny little area. You can't expect a fish to become tolerant of disease especially when the disease is often lethal (such as velvet). Yes in the wild you will find parasites and what not in fish (and disease kills a significant amount of wild animals), but the fish don't sit there with an increasing number of them.

A "natural" approach is not practical nor ethical in our tanks. Our tanks are nothing like the wild, and should not be thought of as such.
I definitely agree that tanks are much different then the sea. Then again, some fish such as clownfish stay in the same anemone for a long time or gobies in their small caves, and they can keep diseases at bay. Most fish in the sea get eaten before the little spot on their tail kills them. And even in captivity some fish are able to fight off ich and other such diseases as long as they are fed well and housed appropriately.
 
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andiesreef

andiesreef

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When I started my tank I thought it was really unnatural, almost like some kind of weird science experiment. It just seemed so sterile and like it was missing something. I did pour water in my tank from a couple different stores I'm not gonna lie, mainly for the reason of biodiversity. Discovering small things here and there like deeper green film algae growing on my rockwork after introducing corals I realized that stuff will come even if you dip your corals.
I think a careful sterile approach and dipping and not pouring water in from the store or even toothbrushing plugs is probably the best approach because who knows what you could be introducing into your tank. The only thing I've seen maybe undesirable so far are these tiny hydroids but they don't really do any harm I think and you can't really see them.
Thanks for your opinion! I've had hydroids before and they kind of fizzled out over time
 
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Tamberav

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I QT for fish diseases and that’s it. I use live rock otherwise and follow it before placing in tank. The only pests I remove from corals are actual pests like flat worms and such.

You can QT without going overboard.
 

Sakosreef

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So I wanna say thank you for posting this thread its always nice to share ideas, opinions, and points of view. I buy qt'd fish, I qt my own fish, I have a frag tank where I put anything wet that's NOT a fish in for 90 days so ich tomonts can hatch. Any new arrivals stay in the frag tank for 90 days which gives me time to monitor for any serious pests as well as give the ich tomonts which encyst on rock, bases of coral, frag plugs, snail shells, etc, time to hatch and free swim, without a host they cannot re-encyst so dip, shake, and scrub of the coral and whatever they're attached to allows me to then place it in my DT without worrying about ich. I chose the heavy qt method, however, a lot of the time I get a lot of beneficial hitchhikers come in with the corals like stomatellas, bristle worms, spaghetti worms, etc. After 90 days I move those corals as well as the hitchhikers into my DT so I can have biodiversity, I try not to remove any sponges or feather dusters off the corals I introduce. I never had luck with fish that were not qt'd so this is just what I do and it works for me, it may not work for you :)
 

ReefGeezer

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So, like everything else, my thoughts along these lines has "evolved". I don't QT anything that is suitable to put in the tank immediately. I do have protocols that, in my mind, at least reduces the some of the risks.

I buy premium fish from high quality vendors rather than taking chances with cheaper options. They may not be completely quarantined, but at least I can be sure they are at least healthy, eating, and packed/shipped using sound practices. I drip acclimate fish in dim light in a five gallon bucket with strong aeration. When the bucket is full, I add 5 ml of 37% formaldehyde and let the fish soak in the solution for about 45 minutes while I replace the 5 gallons of water removed from the tank. Finally, I place the them in pH & temperature corrected fresh water for 2-3 minutes before adding them to an in-tank acclimation box. The light stays dim until the next day sometime.

Corals are dipped and all of their surfaces and the bottom of the dipping vessel are viewed with a lighted magnifying glass before they go in the tank.

I am afraid of live rock though. I buy it from one trusted vendor. I put new rock in high salinity water until the creatures evacuate it and then let it sit a few weeks in a darkened tub with power heads.

Finally, I keep Bumblebee Snails, a Wrasse, a Springer's Damsel, and some Peppermint Shrimp in the tank just in case.

I'm not a believer that fish develop immunity to parasites. Instead, I think their overall health and stress level determines its ability to ward them off. Obviously, health and stress levels do also impact immune responses to other pathogens. Besides starting with healthy fish, I try to keep fish that are comfortable in the space I have, try to keep conditions optimal for their health, and feed them heavily with high quality foods that meet their needs.
 

Dkmoo

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You also have to think about the quality of the QT itself and what its doing to an already stressed fish that just finished transport and uprooted from an environment that it is familiar with.

Generally, many QT are
1) barebone, so not a lot of features and habitats to relief fish stress
2) temporary set up or restarts each time new addition is added, so parameters and stability may be issue
3) since isolated from DT, will still have "new environment shock" upon completion of quarantine since params will again be different between DT and QT
4) QT also smaller, further contributes to instability and stress from lack of swimming space - imagine quarantining a tang in a 20G QT

Many fish die from compromised immune system due to elevated stress that in a stress-free environment it may have healed.

Unless your QT has addressed all of the points above - ie, make it constantly run, same size, same rock/habitat, same param, as your DT - it is arguable if the QT does more good or harm to the survival of a fish over a large enough sample size..

Just my 2c
 
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andiesreef

andiesreef

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So, like everything else, my thoughts along these lines has "evolved". I don't QT anything that is suitable to put in the tank immediately. I do have protocols that, in my mind, at least reduces the some of the risks.

I buy premium fish from high quality vendors rather than taking chances with cheaper options. They may not be completely quarantined, but at least I can be sure they are at least healthy, eating, and packed/shipped using sound practices. I drip acclimate fish in dim light in a five gallon bucket with strong aeration. When the bucket is full, I add 5 ml of 37% formaldehyde and let the fish soak in the solution for about 45 minutes while I replace the 5 gallons of water removed from the tank. Finally, I place the them in pH & temperature corrected fresh water for 2-3 minutes before adding them to an in-tank acclimation box. The light stays dim until the next day sometime.

Corals are dipped and all of their surfaces and the bottom of the dipping vessel are viewed with a lighted magnifying glass before they go in the tank.

I am afraid of live rock though. I buy it from one trusted vendor. I put new rock in high salinity water until the creatures evacuate it and then let it sit a few weeks in a darkened tub with power heads.

Finally, I keep Bumblebee Snails, a Wrasse, a Springer's Damsel, and some Peppermint Shrimp in the tank just in case.

I'm not a believer that fish develop immunity to parasites. Instead, I think their overall health and stress level determines its ability to ward them off. Obviously, health and stress levels do also impact immune responses to other pathogens. Besides starting with healthy fish, I try to keep fish that are comfortable in the space I have, try to keep conditions optimal for their health, and feed them heavily with high quality foods that meet their needs.
This is a really interesting approach- combining a little bit of both worlds. And I agree with the last part. A fat, happy fish will be able to ward off pathogens way more effectively than a skinny, sick fish
 

Wyvern

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I have had freshwater aquariums over the years and just started my voyage into reefing, since I don't have room for a QT tank, I decided to buy all QT'd animals from DD and Reef cleaners for my CUC, would I rather give them another 2 weeks of observation? Yes, but I should be ok, I accidentally ordered a conditioned Fairy wrasse from reef pro thinking it was a full QT fish, so far so good, I had it 2 weeks and was out and eating like a pig, but I think it got spooked a couple days ago into hiding, but is coming out more with no spots/flashing/velvet so fingers crossed- only threat is a medium sized Midas Blenny, but he keeps to himsehimself, so it may have been something else.
The only 3 diseases that have me scared is ueronema, Velvet and brook, I anticipate eventually getting Ich, but it's not a death sentence.

If for some reason, I can have a QT set up in a day, but Ich is not reason enough for me, I will manage it if it shows up and have Ozone and UV on tap to keep numbers less than plage like, if it's anything like FW ich, it comes and goes for a year and then dies off.
 
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