This might be stupid question, but here it goes anyway: if I ask my LFS to hold the fish for me for a few weeks, is this considered quarantining or does quarantining literally mean isolating the fish in a separate tank for a few weeks?
Sorry to sound ignorant, but I don't have a separate QT tank, and my LFS can hold the fish for me if need be.
Karaim.... I'm new to the hobby, but here are my thoughts...
The purpose of a quarantine is to:
1) Make sure the fish does not introduce any unwanted parasites/diseases into your display tank. By leaving the fish at your LFS, it will still be in their water, it will still have their parasites, disesases, etc... So for the purposes of avoiding diseases, I would say the LFS "quarantine" would not work.
2) Acclimate the fish to your water conditions. Same as above, if the fish is left at the LFS for a few weeks, he still will not acclimate to your water until he gets to your home.
3) Let you observe the fish easier, and often. I think a quarantine is a great way to 'get to know' your fish. You can observe it's behavior and mannerisms, you can pamper it and make sure that it's eating and acclimate it to your food sources (who knows what it ate before? Who knows what it will eat best?) Once you know the fish's personality, then it will be easier to spot trouble down the road.
Unfortunately, I'm having to learn all this the hard way. Just the other day my Coral Beauty Angel came down with crypto (ich) just days after bringing it home and putting it directly into the display tank (and it had been at my LFS for almost a month "in quarantine" he said...
And in all honesty, a quarantine is super easy... Do you have a basement, or closet, or something? It cost me almost nothing to make a quarantine. Get a 10 gallon tank ($10 if you don't already have one), a heater ($10), a small freshwater filter $15-25 w/ the option to remove the carbon if you need to Aquaclear filters seem to work well), some rocks/slates/plastic plants/PVC pipes for hideouts (free-$10), and any type of small light and hood (free-$20). I read last night that less than 5% of aqarists have quarantine tanks!
From now on, I will be quarantining all my new fish for a month.
In conclusion, I would say set up a simple quarantine in your closet and have your LFS hold the fish just until you set up the tank. (Of course make sure you only buy the fish if it looks healthy, disease free, and is eating well. If it's not eating well, and you still want the fish, maybe then leaving it at the LFS for a little while might help just so it can acclimate to captivity?)
No question is stupid. so no worries.
You need to QT the the fish in your own tank water, first to get it used to the water you are using and second to treat with something like Interceptor. It'll take care of parisites you may have on the fish. You will want to quarantine for anywhere between 21-28days. that gives time have some break out, if it's going to happen, occur and not affect the entire tank. The other reason you want to qt is because the lfs may have something in the tank water.
All you need is something like a cheap 10g tank lik from Walmart, it's only $10ish. Use your tank water for the initial water and for the water changes that you'll do on it. You want to top off as often as possible because S.G changes very quick in small tanks.
Any other questions you may have please feel free to ask any other questions and you can find more here Melevsreef.com - Avoid Those Pests!
I have one more question. I initially had too much rock in my display tank and I took out some rock and put it in buckets about 3 weeks ago. That's the rock I plan to use for the QT tank. However I never added a heater to the buckets and kept them in my garage. The water in the garage got very cold, probably around 45 degrees or so. Do you think the beneficial bacteria died off at such temperatures?
Good luck with your quarantine.
One more question - I plan on using meds in the QT tank. Won't that kill the beneficial bacteria in the live rock or in a biofilter?
Continue to do your research to find an effective medication that will suit your needs and make sure to ask a lot of questions (like you are) to be sure they won't do more harm than good.
On a side note, a lot of people stay away from medications entirely if there's not 100% positive scientific evidence to back it's claims. I think this is for good reason... Fish can be very hardy creatures, but it's when they get stressed that things happen, and some medications can be quite stressful.
A more recent trend is to maintain a low salinity in the q-tank, say 1.013 to 1.014, over a period of 3 weeks. Then gradually raise to display levels over a period of 7 to 10 days prior to adding the fish to the display. This can be very effective against parasites.
Others have advocated very slowly raising the temperature to 86F, which kills parasites, while having very little long term impact on the fish.
The point is, there are a lot of effective techniques. Just use one and observe carefully during the q period.
I have a few more questions. I recently saw a piece of live rock that I LOVE. It has some nice coralline algae as well as bubble algae.
Do I need to quarantine live rock? If so for how long?
Also, the live rock has a bunch of tiny shrimps (I am not sure what kind) on it and some other creatures. It also has a little bit of hair algae. Should I avoid buying this because of the hair algae (I'm worried it might take over my tank)?
I would say buy it! Typically I don't think liverock needs to be quarantined, however I think putting it in quarantine for at least a few hours is maybe a good idea... I usually just put mine in a bucket for a while just to keep some of the possible die off out of the tank, and also to scout possible bad hitchhikers. For example I found a piece a few weeks ago that had some algae, LOTS of coralline, a bunch of brittle sea stars (mini ones), etc. Well after a few hours in a bucket I also saw a TON of bristle worms... I picked off about 20 from 2lbs of live rock. Not that bristle worms are necessarily something to rid your tank of though... I still think a few were still in the rock, I just didn't want to add 20 to the tank.
As for your creatures, they're probably isopods or something of the sort. They're fine. As for the algae, as long as you have a decent clean up crew and your not having outbreaks I'd say the algae will only provide more nutrition. Hermits should make short work of the hair algae, and I've heard emerald mithrax crabs eat bubble algae as I'm sure other things do too.
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