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Video - How to sterilize a Quarantine Tank

melypr1985

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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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bif24701

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dang, I'll have to throughout a lot of bio media in my canister. I've been looking for a reason to try out the Seachem Matrix media however and I can buy it 4L at a time for <$40
 
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melypr1985

melypr1985

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@melypr1985 You are on a roll girl! Great job *as always*
Thanks Humble. You know how I have that list.... I'm working my way down it with what I can do. Some of that list I'll need extra equipment for and access to other stuff... anyway :)
 

Dino

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So if your going to keep the qt tank running. Do you clean it then set it back up after it drys?
 
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melypr1985

melypr1985

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So if your going to keep the qt tank running. Do you clean it then set it back up after it drys?
If your QT is always up and running, then this is something that you might do only if you are having issues with unexplained deaths... or a bacterial infection in a group of fish, or possibly even if Velvet or Brook was present with the last group of fish. It's a "reset button" for your QT. But yes, if you do this with your permanent QT, then you would let it dry completely, then set it back up.
 

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Thanks! Trying to figure out if i want to keep set up all the time or break them down and set up everytime. This is my first reef/ saltwater tank. Been researching and buying equipment the past yr. before setting my tank up thats been sitting for a yr also. I've been doing cichlids for the past 6 yrs
 

rockstarta78

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I'm going to follow this how melypr1985 explained. Quick question tho, since I've been running my QT for a while it has all the beneficial bacteria in the tank. If I wash it wouldn't it lose the bacteria.
 
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melypr1985

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I'm going to follow this how melypr1985 explained. Quick question tho, since I've been running my QT for a while it has all the beneficial bacteria in the tank. If I wash it wouldn't it lose the bacteria.
It would indeed. It would be a good idea to keep sponges (or your media of choice) in your sump so you always have one that's seeded with bacteria. You would throw the old sponge away, sterilize the rest, then set it back up with a new, seeded sponge from the display's sump. I like sponges because they are cheap and easy to throw away without the wallet taking a hit each time.
 
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Empress

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I always wondered about the air stones. Like if I used one for a 5 minute fresh water dip....is it still good to use again? Can't they be sterilized in vinegar?
 

Humblefish

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I always wondered about the air stones. Like if I used one for a 5 minute fresh water dip....is it still good to use again? Can't they be sterilized in vinegar?
Yes, disinfect using vinegar:water solution but allow to air dry thoroughly before ever using again. Remember, air stones are very porous. ;)
 
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weezy

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I was also wondering if I had to keep a quarantine tank always going. I have been lucky until now. Just started the hobby in March of last year. Great information. Thank you.
 

biga1106

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I have a question melypr1985 ! I finished QT a small kohl tang and I've had him in my display for two months now with out a problem. I just finished QT a yellow wrasse and put him in a week ago. She came out of the sand a few days after. I QT both with 30 days of Copper. But I did not drain and disenfect the QT. A few days ago I've notice my kohl tang scratching him self on the rocks, as we all know that's a sign of ich . No signs of white spots and still eats and looks healthy and fat. If it is ich, do you think I reintroduced it by not disenfecting the QT tank ?? I just did 5 months of fallow and I'm dreading doing 76 days now .. but if I have to I will
 

Syntax1235

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I run my air stones with an air pump in a bath of rubbing alcohol. Whether you use vinegar, bleach or alcohol, running the air pump may help to make sure all surfaces have contact with said disinfectant.
 
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melypr1985

melypr1985

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I have a question melypr1985 ! I finished QT a small kohl tang and I've had him in my display for two months now with out a problem. I just finished QT a yellow wrasse and put him in a week ago. She came out of the sand a few days after. I QT both with 30 days of Copper. But I did not drain and disenfect the QT. A few days ago I've notice my kohl tang scratching him self on the rocks, as we all know that's a sign of ich . No signs of white spots and still eats and looks healthy and fat. If it is ich, do you think I reintroduced it by not disenfecting the QT tank ?? I just did 5 months of fallow and I'm dreading doing 76 days now .. but if I have to I will
You probably didn't.. but it could have been introduced another way. Did you add any corals or inverts without first QT'ing in a fishless tank for 76 days? Are you sure you never cross contaminated between QT and display... example: anything wet including your hands, arms, nets, spoon or turkey baster. If any of those went from one tank to another and had even one drop of water on it, it could have contaminated the display.

Another possibility is Flukes. Did you treat with prazipro while in QT? Two doses spaced 5-7 days apart?
 

JP79

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I was also wondering if I had to keep a quarantine tank always going. I have been lucky until now. Just started the hobby in March of last year. Great information. Thank you.
I do not. The keys to this are to always have some type of sponge or poly filter in your sump or canister filter so you'll a way to keep that QT tank from cycleing if you need it. I would also always have salt water ready to go. But that's weather you have a qt tank or not. Happy reefing.
 

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