09-23-2011, 10:03 AM
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The first answer to your question is that a fish remains in a hospital tank until a week or two after he appears healed.
As to you second question, I agree with Romad - you do sufficient water changes to ensure against an ammonia spike - bear in mind that a 5g or 10g hospital tank typically contains only one or two fish at a time, so ammonia spikes are rarely and issue. Along with water changes, I like to use a conditioner like Prime that neutralizes (detoxifies) Ammonia, Nitrites and Nitrates so this is not an issue.
I don't worry about trying to establish/maintain a hospital tank with N2 bacteria - many/most medications inhibit or harm bacteria anyway, which is why we use a hospital tank and not treat the main tank.
Having written the above, if you have a well established tank that is properly maintained and you are cautious managing new arrivals (quarantine), you will find that it is very rare that you need to setup a hospital tank.
The ounce of prevention is worth the pound of cure.