04-05-2009, 01:59 PM
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I think I'd be afraid of having a "hospital tank" in case it would serve as a bad omen and I would then have need for one! So far, I haven't; parasites (ich or whatever) is about the only things I come across, and for parasites you have to treat the entire tank to get rid of them, so moving the infected fish would be stressful for no purpose. And that's a point to remember, if a fish is "sick" it will be more stressed if it is chased around the tank to be moved, unless of course its just sitting still or floating but still respirating. Except for parasites, I don't even attempt treatments because I wouldn't know what it was. Fungus of course can be seen, and I catch the fish (the two times I've had to do this I've done it when I do the weekly water change as it is easier when the waterlevel is down) and dab the fungus with straight malachite green (methelene blue also works) and its gone.
Maintaining a "quarantine tank" is similar to the hospital tank. In either case, you're correct, it needs to be cycled, and you need to keep a source of ammonia alive in it, or it will be very stressful on any fish you put in it, sick or new.
In the case of a sick fish, the water in the hospital tank should be the same as the tank the fish is from to avoid further shock and stress. This is a little less critical with new fish, but again the more similar the water in the quarantine is to where the fish will live in a couple of weeks, the better. Of course, it would be easy to fill the tank with water from the existing tank provided the biological system was established. And one can always add "Cycle" to get the bacteria going stronger in a flash.
Someone on this or another forum suggested keeping a small sponge filter sitting in the corner of the established tank; it needn't be hooked up--as long as the sponge is submersed completely in the tank water the bacteria will colonize it. Then when the small tank is needed, hook up the sponge filter, add water from the main tank, and add Cycle, and you're set.