03-30-2012, 09:18 AM
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Well... reading comments here are some things to consider.
1) In regards to substrate and bacteria ... you won't have any (much). You will likely not quarantine fish long enough for any substrate to get colonized by the beneficial bacteria (This takes 4-8 weeks remember). When not in use, the QT will be empty and cleaned. Any bacteria gained will be lost. Cleaning the tank after use, particularly if medications were used, will be much more difficult with substrate.
2) Plants. If you have a main display tank with plants ... you already have a source of them, so taking cuttings and putting them in the QT isn't going to cost you anything, and if meds need to be used and they affect the plants no big deal, you just toss them in the trash when done.
In addition, floating and stem plants, which are the fast growing types and thus remove the most ammonia, don't need a substrate. You can use plant weights to keep stem plants upright and prevent them from floating around if you like.
3) The most important thing about a QT tank is filtration. Since it sits empty there is no bacteria at all, you really need to avoid the ammonia/nitrite spikes as much as possible as with any new tank. Seeding from an established tank is a must. In another thread it was discussed that you should keep a sponge filter within the main tank (dosen't have to be running) at all times so that it is fully colonized and ready to go in a QT. You can use other filter media as well if you use a different filter on the QT. If medications are required in the QT, deep clean the filter media or dispose of it then place it in the main tank to be re-colonized (remember, it will take a couple weeks to recolonize).
If no meds are needed in the QT, you can just move the filter media right back into the main tank so it is ready to go for the next time.
Live plants, of course, also help particularly fast growing types.