The Story of Darwin's Demise...
Every aquarist has heard the advice at some point that all new fish should be kept in a quarantine tank for observation before introduction to their new forever home. But let’s be real, you already have one aquarium to look after with all of its required maintenance (or perhaps more if you are an aquarium addict like us). Do you really want to have a completely separate tank that you keep bare? Who has the time, room or patience for a whole other set-up distinctly dedicated to new fish? Before you decide if you are ready to forgo a quarantine tank, please take a moment to hear the story of Darwin our fallen fish friend.
Typically when we acquire a new addition to our discus brood, we keep them in quarantine for anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks before we introduce them to the main tank. The reasoning for such a long quarantine period is due to the delicate nature of these particular fish. During this time we treated for a host of potential parasites, following the instructions on each product. We also included periods of time between treatments to insure that there was no harmful side effects of mixing products. Carbon and water changes were utilized between products to ensure that no medications mixed.
Our reasoning for this was due to the fact that a majority of our discus came from the same retailer while Darwin came from a different lfs. Additionally, at this point in time our discus tank was nearly stocked. We had come to love our other discus and for their safety we decided to hold off on introducing Darwin. He was doing well in the quarantine tank and time would do nothing but calm our fears regarding his introduction.
Our hesitation turned out to be one of our best decision we have ever made in this hobby. Saddly one week after deciding to extend the quarantine, Darwin passed away quite mysteriously. The day before he passed, Darwin’s behavior became quite neurotic. He could be seen darting around the tank and swimming erratically. Equipment was inspected while tank temperature, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels were immediately checked. All chemical tests appeared within normal bounds (ammonia: 0 ppm, nitrite 0 ppm, nitrate <10 ppm) and the temperature within the tank was a stable 84 F. A water change was conducted on the tank; however, Darwin’s abnormal behavior continued.
We will never be certain of what caused Darwin’s sudden demise. But there is always the potential that Darwin’s sudden downturn was caused by a pathogen left untreated by the medications. If we had skipped the quarantine process entirely, whatever harmed Darwin could have been passed onto our other discus. If you introduce a fish into any aquarium without first conducting a quarantine period, realize that you are risking every member of your previously established system. Quarantine can apply to more than just fish, all creatures heading into our aquariums should be thoroughly inspected. Below is a video of some Aiptasia hitchhiking on a hermit crab we recently purchased for our nano saltwater tank. After removing the unwanted guest, this little guy spent some time in quarantine to insure that he had no other "monkeys" on his back!
Hopefully I have convinced, or perhaps frightened, you into considering adopting a quarantine process. But that still doesn’t change the aggravation of having to maintain an additional set-up. The good news is, having a quarantine tank does not have to be laborious or require much space.
Below is a picture of our quarantine equipment. It consists of a 10 gallon tank, hood, HOB (hang on back) filter, heater, extra power outlet, and net.
When not in use, our quarantine tank sits empty and dry on a closet shelf. When it is needed, we set it up in an area of our house, like a kitchen counter or office desk, for a temporary time.
But how to avoid that new tank syndrome? Swings of the nitrogen cycle can be harsh on our new acquisitions. The solution is easy!
Above all else keep the items from your quarantine tank separate from the items for your main aquarium! If your new fish friend does display signs of illness, we don’t want to risk passing the pathogen along to anyone in our main aquarium.
We’ve all admittedly done it before, added a new specimen straight into the aquarium. Be it due to ignorance, overconfidence, anticipation, or laziness. Before our 12 gallon long was converted into a saltwater system, it was a thriving planted nano tank. Our eagerness caused us to cut a quarantine period short on a few new green tetra and exposed the whole tank to ich. Most of our inhabitants perished due to this outbreak, causing us to dismantle the system for full disinfecting. The lone survivor, a dwarf orange crayfish, now resides in a nano planted tank within our bedroom.
Let us know what items you keep on hand for your quarantine tanks below!
That’s all for this time. Keep Krill’in!