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How I setup a QT


Hydro

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I had a member PM me about my QT tank, asking how to set it up. I thought I would pass this along to everyone considering setting one up. I'm 100% sure that a QT tank is important for new fish. It teaches them that you bring the food and that they do not need to fear you. Also if they die you can find them instead of decaying in your tank, most of the time when fish die they are stuck under or behind a rock almost impossible to get out. If your fish came with a guarantee you will be able to take pics of the dead body. This also gives the fish a chance to eat without comeption and to learn to eat new foods. You can treat the tank with antibotics and dewormer (prasipro) which I do, I also put zoe and garlic in the food and in the QT tank water. Once the fish is healthy, not skiddish, and fat they can be considered to be moved to the DT.

My current QT tank

36 gallon tank

2" sand bed

About 10 lbs of LR that I normally keep in my sump

Sponge filter that I keep in my sump until I need it for my QT, this has bacteria in it too that helps out the QT.

Large air pump to run the sponge filter and the 2 airstones (oxygen is critical to keep up the ph and to keep the stress down)

Cheap skimmer (turboflotor by aquamedic)

2 small koralias

And a lid on the tank!

I fill the tank with water form my DT...but I only take it after my UV sterilizer because I know that there is some ich in my DT. I unhook the return line of my UV and fill the tank with it several days before the new arrivals. When the fish are delivered I acclimate them over several hours by putting them in a bucket and using a 1/4" airline with a knot tied in it so that I can get a drip going. Keep in mind that the ph changes during shipping due to fish waste and many wholesalers run their tanks at 1.018 to 1.021, much lower than our reef tanks. You can add some freshwater to the QT (before you place the fish) to drop the salinity to what they show up at, doesn't hurt a thing. But the ph is the reason for the slow acclimation. I place the fish in the QT and cover it up with a towel, almost completely...and then leave them alone!!! Starring at them and moving rocks around trying to find them just stresses them out even more. In fact while acclimating them in 5 gallon buckets I put lids over them to keep them calm. The next day I try and feed them, usually frozen brine mixed with garlic and Zoe. I pull back the towel and drop the food in next to the powerhead which blows it around the tank, making the brine look alive and swimming around. On the second day I usually uncover the sides of the tank but not the top. I think that being covered on top makes them feel safer. I usually QT for at least a week, that is how long the wormer (prasipro) says it needs to work. On the second day I look for dead fish from the top using a flashlight (I'm usually QTing several fish at a time because its a PITA).

Very important...nitrates can rise really quickly and must be checked once a day or at least every other day. Don't do large water changes, I think that this is more stressful. When my nitrates get to 15-20 I usually do a 30% water change at the most using fresh salt water, not from my tank. Sometimes I just do 10-15% everyday depending on how many fish and how much I've been feeding. Oh and I feed alot while they are in QT, I will usually feed them twice a day as much as they will eat.

Hope this helps!

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Thanks for sharing your info, very helpful!

Do you change out the whole set up after each batch of fish? What do you do with the LR in the QT after fishes are in DT? How about an UV in QT and copper prophylaxis?

How do you QT corals?

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I break the tank down when I'm finished with it. I take the LR and put it back in my sump along with the sponge filter to keep them "alive". I do actually use a UV light, forgot to mention that, and I have a heater in it too. Both of these items are really important.

I just add the vitamins (zoe), garlic, an antibiotic (myaflex I think?? I have to check), prasipro (dewormer), but I don't add copper unless I have to. I have used coppermine in the past but have never had a fish survive the treatment. Most of the time ich is not a problem unless you are working with a tang. I would only QT one tang to a tank with no other fish in it because of the possiblilty of it infecting other fish with a breakout of ich. Almost always a tang will break out with ich after being shipped or even moved to a new tank. I don't mean that a tang will get ich and almost die everytime...it could just be a few spots for a couple of days to a full blown outbreak that weakens the already stresses fish to a point that it dies.

Before QT you must consider where you are buying the fish from. If you start out with a reputable company and get a healthy fish your efforts with the QT will pay off....if you buy a sick fish that isn't eating and is skinny then the QT will be a waste of time because in almost all cases these fish will die. You have to start out with a healthy fish for this to work.

With my QT I've been able to acclimate over 20 anthias (dispar, bartletts and lyretail) and 4 leopard wrasses to aquarium life and eating frozen foods. Both types of these fish have a low survival rate, I only lost 3 of these fish during QT and the rest are happy and healthy in the DT. It works!

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How do you QT corals?

Corals are a different story. I dip them in 1.5 stregth coral pro rx and put them in my tank like most people. I do however go an extra step by pulling the coral out and dipping it once a week for a month, and then a dip after about 2 months. If I find anyting at any point that changes the game plan. If you hae an infected new coral its best to just throw it out rather than try and save it, unless you have a qt for coral. My problem is that when I get coral its usually something finicky and they would never survive the QT after being stressed from transport. The flow, water parameters, temp, and lighting have to be just right to be able to QT a coral for 6 weeks....that is hard to do temporarily. Fish are much easier.

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I've always been told to not use sand and go BB in a QT. For example if you have an ich outbreak and need to QT the parasite will stay alive in the sand and the cycle continues, and if you treat with copper or something similar and put that sand/ rock back in your tank you infecting/poisoning the lot. QT should really be minimalists in thier approach , with the least amount of substrate and rock for bacterias to stay alive on. Try Large PVC pipes and a few pieces of rock that you do not plan on putting back in you system (QT supplies and rock really shouldn't go back and forth from DT, if you do you QT essentially only helps with stress factors and not with pathogens or paratsites as they can hitchhike back to DT easily this way adn these are waht causes a fish to die from stress). Just my 2 cents but everything sounds good and glad your even using a QT, I can be guilty myself.

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In the past when I used QT, BB, circ, heater etc, I was not able to keep up with NH3 and NO2, NO3 build up, even with water changes - thus fishes suffer from cycling of the QT. Adding sand bed seems like would be a hassle. I'm thinking by using DT water and LR, that should help with nitrifying bacteria to limit nitrogenous build up - what do people think? Hydro - do you follow those parameters after each new QT set up?

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If I were to treat for copper I wouldn't leave my LR in there or have any sand, I seldom try copper. Reduce the stress, feed garlic, and run the UV is a better method. Sandbed is not a hassle though...you just put it in. Keep in mind that low levels of stress is one of the biggest keys to survival for new fish. These fish lived in areas with sand and LR. Taking them away from that and putting them in a shiny bottom tank that they can see their reflection in and putting PVC pipes for them to hide in isn't natural and IMO helps contribute to the stress of the animal. I tried the QT with no sand and I've had fish pace the bottom of the tank trying fight a fish that is actually their reflection.

If you are having problems with the levels in the QT then you either need to do bigger water changes or have a bigger QT tank. If you do big water changes from your DT, even if everyday then your levels will be fine. Keep in mind that removing 50% of the water will remove 50% of the amonia and nitrates...do it again the next day and you are knocking the levels down significantly more. I change my water at about 25 ppm of nitrates. I use fresh saltwater for water changes becuase I know that I have ich in my DT tank. If I were to run it through the UV first and then put it in my tank it would be just fine. I don't worry about cycling the QT tank, that never really happens when you are on top of water changes.

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. . . and if you treat with copper or something similar and put that sand/ rock back in your tank you infecting/poisoning the lot. QT should really be minimalists in thier approach , with the least amount of substrate and rock for bacterias to stay alive on. Try Large PVC pipes and a few pieces of rock that you do not plan on putting back in your system . . .

This is certainly a good argument for not putting stuff from a QT back into a DT especially if copper was used. However referring back to some comments by Crab Rangoon ( http://www.austinreefclub.com/topic/15680-quarantine-tanks/ {I disagree with his approach of using a DTs refugium though} ) and Hydro's comments I would agree it's important to make a QT as hospitable as possible for fish and for some fish (like Hippo/ Regal Tangs) the chances of survival are much better. I know this approach means more work and expense but looking at the risk of having fish dying in a DT and the associated risk of having some form of nuisance algae cause problems it is arguably worth the effort. For my QT tanks I do use PVC for hiding places but I also use quite a bit of base rock from an established tank with some pieces of live rock as well as hermit crabs (I like the stripped legged ones from the coast). I usually use live sand and think it's very benificial, the cost of a few pounds to have a 1/4 to 1/2 inch layer is reasonable even if I toss it out when I tear down a QT tank. A QT can be set up quickly but I always check NH3/NH4 and pH is stable. I also will only run a few batches of fish through a QT then tear it down and start it over.

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So just to clarify, you re-use the LR after QT and use new sand (dry or wet) out of the bag and then toss it after QT? Water change as frequently as daily? That's a gorgeous wrass in the QT sand bed, even more impressive!!!

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Yes I reuse the LR and the sponge filter. The sponge filter is really important to have seeded and is important to the QT tank. I let the sand dry out and then I wash it really good before I use it again. I think that Timfish has a better plan, buy live sand and toss it out afterwards. If I weren't an hour from any LFS that's probably what I would do. I change out about 5 gallons of water from my 35 gallon tank everyday. I check the nitrates and if the are getting high I will do a more aggressive water change. I'll take some pics of my setup and post them today.

I really hope that this encourages people to start QTing their fish. I've tried it both ways and looking back its probably has taken my survival rate of about 50/50 (for hard to keep fish) to about 90%. In my last fish shipment I did lose a male maldives lyretail anthias in QT...there was nothing more that I could do for it though...I did the best job I could. If I were to have dropped this fish in my tank and never saw it again I would feel a little guilty becuase I would wonder if I could have saved this fish by doing a better job taking care of the new arrival. Plus since it died in QT I was able to get it out and take a picture, so now I have a credit at Live Aquaria. I know that the QT seems like a hassle and the upfront cost may be a couple hundred dollars, and that sucks. But fish cost money too and if you are having low survival rates on new pets you are losing that money in most cases. For me if I would have had the QT since the beginning it would have paid for itself with lost livestock. Its also nice to have this stuff just in case becuase you never know. Here is a breakdown of cost

Must have

$50 for a used tank off craiglist, a 30-55 gallon

$25 sponge filter

$25 for some LR, about 10lbs or so

$25 for enough sand

$25 air pump and air stones, get at decent sized one

So about $150 total or less

Optional

$100 small skimmer, not needed if frequent water changes are done

$100 for UV and pump, really only need for tangs or other fish that are susceptible to ich.

If I were 100% sure I would get it back whenever I needed it I wouldn't mind lending it out for members to use. Unfortunately lending stuff doesn't always work out for me. :angry:

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Do you worry about your LR and sponge harboring parasites or worms? Do you do anything special to them after the QT, particularly if disease is noted? Also no lighting on the fish during all this time?

Cost should not be a rate limiting step in setting up a QT, considering how much we spend on any reef tank. I must agree that the long term gain outweighs the short term hassle.

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Very good questions. I do wash out the sponge filter with freshwater when I'm done but I usually don't worry about the LR. I'm treating for most parasites in the QT so I'm not too worried about what might hitchhike across...but that is something to think about. You could freshwater dip the rock and put it back in the sump if you were worried about something being on it, sure it will kill some good bateria on the LR but it would be reseeded by the time it needs to be used again. You could also let the rock dry out and then slowly add peices back to the sump so you don't cycle the tank (for smaller tanks and new systems). Ich for example could make it but since I have it already in my tank (which 90% of us do) I wouldn't worry about that too much. Lets just say you get a group of fish and some diease wipes them out...I wouldn't put that LR back in as is...I would FW dip it for sure.

I do not put any light over the tank, just light from the room. Like I said before I always have the tank covered with a towel too....just the top though. I think being covered on top makes them feel more secure.

Even though I know you are supposed to QT for 6 weeks I never do for that long. It really depends on the fish. I leave them in there for at least 5 days since that is how long the wormer needs to work. If they fish seems stressed being in the QT and are eating I usually put them in the DT after 5 days. Recently in my QT I had potters wrasse, large male leopard, small female leopard, 6 small bartletts anthias, and a blenny. The potters wrasse was burying itself everyday (good sign) and coming out to eat frozen mysid but when it was out it would pace the glass which is a sign of stress. I made the decision to go ahead an put it in the DT whcih ended up being the right thing to do. It doesn't pace the glass in the DT and is eating amphipods, I'm 95% sure it will make it. The large male leopard looked really stressed and stayed buried mostly...and wouldn't eat. After 5 or 6 days it started to swim around the QT pretty much all day but since its a small tank it was just swimming in small circles. I thought it was starting to stress about being in the small tank, I could just tell by the way it was swimming. Problem was that it still wasn't eating. I went ahead and placed it in the DT since it was fat and swimming around, which ended up being the right thing to do. It is swimming normally now and is also eating amphipods in the tank, I would give it a 75% chance of survival. Had I left these wrasses in the QT for 6 weeks I think that they wouldn't have made it, the stress of the QT probably would have killed them. The algae blenny wouldn't eat in the QT, there was nothing for it to eat so I moved it to my sump after the 5 days. On the other hand I still have the anthias and the female leopard wrasse who seem to be at home in the small tank....no pacing or stress that I can notice. So I'm leaving them in there for at least another week or so...I'll just keep feeding them to fatten them up before being moved.

One thing that I didn't mention is that once I'm ready to put the fish in the DT tank I feed it first., as much as it will eat. Then I turn out all of the lights in the DT...or just wait until the DT lights turn off before I drop in the fish. After that I immediately try to make it as dark in the room as possible, lights off to the room and I shut the doors. This give the fish a chance to hide without being inspected and possibly chased around by the fish already in the tank. This will happen in the morning but at least it has all night in the new tank before this happens. I have several lights over my tank so I usually turn off the light on one end closest to where the fish is. Usually the new fish will spend most of its time in this area venturing out to the light a little bit at a time during the day.

I forgot to take pics yesterday.

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