Uncertainty on Maintaining a Quarantine Tank
I'm confused about this.
I'd like to have a really small hospital tank in case I need it in the future but I don't understand how to keep it going.
Obviously it needs to be cycled. So once that is done, then what? I would assume that the bacteria in the water cannot sustain themselves without a steady supply of fish waste.
Do you people that have hospital tanks just add drops of pure ammonia on a daily basis? (What a drag.) Or do you keep a solo fish in there, then remove it when there's a sickling?
Furthermore, after a sick fish is healed, does that also mean that the environment in the QT is also disease-free or does it have to be some how sterilized for the next sick fish?
And then after that, put the original solo fish back into the QT to maintain the cycle? Wow I'm confused.
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.
I was using "quarantine tank" and "hospital" as synonamus terms. Your answer implies people use them for two different things. Interesting.
I had also entertained the notion that if one fish is sick, sharing the same habitiat, the others would probably be, too, even if not as severe. That makes me tend to follow suit with you as far as treating them all together.
I like the idea of the sponge filter. That way with no sick fish, my only purchase will just be the filter. I could buy the small tank if/when I need it.
Some people keep an small HOB filter on their main tank that they just transfer over to the QT whenever they need to use it. Viola! instant cycle...
could you also just use a filter that had a bio-wheel, and transfer the main tanks wheel to the new tank and put a new/different wheel on the main tank?
keeping switching back and forth as needed
I have a 10gal I use as a hospital and QT tank.
If I do not believe the illness to be contagious, I treat them in the 10gal.
Its can get costly to try to treat a large tank and you risk harming your cycle with certain meds.
I leave a sponge filter in my main tank to transfer to the hospital when needed. I do not keep my hospital cycled because I do complete tear downs and scrub everything out after having any kind of meds in the tank. I also do not use gravel in my QT tank, so everything can be easily cleaned. Also, I do daily water changes if I have a fish in the hospital tank.
Most of the time (LUCKLY) the tank is torn down and just sitting there, but it nice to have just in case.
Quarantine is to avoid spreading contamination to begin with.
Hospital is to isolate and deal with an illness after it's already been in the main tank.
Honestly though, they are used pretty interchangeably, and most people will get what you are talking about whichever term you use.
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