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Discussion Starter #1
How do you set one up? Should it be bare bottomed or would it be alright to have sand? I'd like to have live plants and make the tank look good appearance wise, but I'm not sure if it'd be exactly sanitary to have sand in it, because shouldn't the tank be cleaned after each use?

Anything else I should do? I've read that some people automatically treat the fish with copper sulfate, is this a good idea or just treat as symptoms appear?
 

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QT tanks are a little different than the initial display tank. They are set up in many ways and forms. My QT tank has very fine gravel and I don't keep live plants inside of it unless I Quarantine the live plant to remove snails and what not. Some medications kill live plants or damage them badly. My QT is inside my bed room. Where as the main display tank is in my living room. Appearance wise it doesn't matter sine I only care about the health of the fish. Mostly I have fake plants and 2 little caves in case any fish inside are scared or stressed. I never really clean my tank. Once a quarantine is complete I do a full water change one the first day then a full water change on the 3rd day and I ensure the beneficial bacteria in the filter is safe and will not be destroyed. Fully cleaning the tank destroys the bacteria needed. It's really up to you how to set it up. Any infections/fungus/ick cannot survive in the tank without a host therefore my QT is without fish or plants for at least a min of 5 days before putting another fish inside of it if need be unless it was an absolute emergency.
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Bare bottom, sponge filter and a heater with minimum if any decorations.

The benefit of this, you can see the bottom of the tank to see how much waste is accumulating and it makes it easier to vacuum.

Sponge filter assuming no medications are used, which shouldnt be unless a disease is present, can be stored in the back of the main tank when not being used, this will keep it cycled, allowing you to store away the QT tank.

Having live plants and substrate can make it extremely difficult if you have to medicate a fish or fishes. It as mentioned, can kill live plants and with substrate means if you use any medications, you should ideally wash the substrate.

QT for a minimum of 3 weeks and fully observe the fish, some diseases take time to show up, I QT any new fish for a full 6 weeks. Making sure that the fish is eating, pooping normally and totally disease free.
 

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Just to clarify...the QT tank doesn't have to be running all the time, right? You just fill it up and put the sponge filter in when you need it?
 

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Just to clarify...the QT tank doesn't have to be running all the time, right? You just fill it up and put the sponge filter in when you need it?
That's right. Also, I agree with the bare bones approach. I might add a small flower pot for cover and some cheap floating plants for water quality while in use. This approach also allows you to use the tank as a hospital if necessary. Many people don't believe in this but, with no substrate or permanent fixtures, I don't understand what harm could come from this.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Would it be possible to remove the live plants when medication is necessary, and just place them in the main tank? I may just keep them in pots for easy moving, and keep the bottom bare.

What brand of sponge filter do you guys use? Seems to me everyone agrees they're the best for QT.
 

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Would it be possible to remove the live plants when medication is necessary, and just place them in the main tank? I may just keep them in pots for easy moving, and keep the bottom bare.

What brand of sponge filter do you guys use? Seems to me everyone agrees they're the best for QT.
Sure, you could do that with the plants. Insofar as the brand of sponge filter is concerned, they're pretty basic, simple devices. I wouldn't spend any time looking for a particular brand.
 

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Thanks! I only saw a few different types and I wasn't sure if anyone had a preference. Good to know :)
 

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with a qt tank simple is better otherwise evetually you will find urself setting up a new 10gal display. bare bottom some type of cave a heater and a air powered sponge filter or small HOB. taking plants decor oput when u medicate and or washing when done is just that more work. easyier when qt is up to move fish empty tank and throw sponge back into ur display somehow to keep live bac on it so its rdy to use next time u need to qt or medicate. when i used a qt i have a bio wheel HOB and was able to fit some sponge in there to seed for the qt when needed but would only reuse after i knew for sure it was clear of any diseases parasites etc etc
 

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My approach is against most of you, but it has merit so I will offer it. First, one must be clear between a QT for new fish and a "hospital" tank to deal with a sick fish from the main display. I see these as very different, and my approach is only relating to a new fish QT.

Considering the significant impact of stress on fish, getting new fish into a settled environment is essential. These "bare" QT can actually cause disease like ich that otherwise might not occur. I've experienced this with fish removed from the display for specific treatment; the stress of being in so sparse a tank caused it to bash into the tank sides, creating more issues. I keep a 20g planted tank running permanently, and this is my QT for new fish.

Hopefully one will not have to treat for anything. Ich is usually all that may occur, and this is easily treated with plants in the tank by simply raising the temperature.

I worry most about internal protozoan that are undetectable. And here the 5-6 week QT is advisable. Treatment is best with medicated foods, so this too has no effect on the plants, etc.

I have sometimes kept new fish in this tank for several months. This works well if the fish are wild caught and may have feeding issues. I have been able to introduce fish like Chilodus punctatus with far fewer losses when I have had them in the QT for several months; feedings can be more substantial because they are within a more controlled environment. The fish had no issues when moved to the display after this. But I would hate to subject any fish for several months to a bare tank. It might well not survive, which rather defeats the whole idea.

Byron.
 
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Do you treat for internal protozoans automatically? And with what medication?
Glad you asked, since I forgot to mention earlier about "treatment," and this is very important too.
No, I never treat for anything without being fairly certain it is present.

Never use any medications unless there is a clear disease/protozoan and you are targeting that. In other words, when fish are in the QT they must not be subjected to some medication unless they show clear symptoms of something. There is no "general" cure-all. And all medications do negatively impact fish, so this is adding more stress.

When there are internal protozoan, I use metronidazole added to flake foods. I have had success with Aquarium Solutions' Metro+, and I also have Seachem's pure metronidazole. These are both white powders that you place in a zip-lock bag with a quantity of flake food and mix; keep the bag sealed. The oils from the flake food will assimilate the metro. You can make a quantity to feed for 2 weeks. Some of the white powder gets in, but that is no harm; if the fish eat it, all the better.

When I acquire new fish, if they start dying off I would assume it is protozoan (in the absence of any external cause) and feed the metro. Otherwise not.

Byron.
 

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I'm 100% with Byron on this one. . .

A QT tank and a hospital/sick tank are two different things, though we are often forced to use one tank for both purposes, because of space/money limitations. . .

First the QT side of things. . .which, in my limited personal experience is what this tank will *mostly* be used for :)

The fish that you bring home from the store has likely traveled quite a long way before it made it to your local shop. They've been boxed, bagged, and shipped from far off, often with a stop off at various distribution centers, before ever making it to your shop! It's likely that each stop along the way has different water parameters, and varying levels of care given - only the toughest will make it to the shop.

With all this in mind. . . these little fish really NEED a break when we get them home! They need a place to rest from all of their traveling, and get used to the water parameters, nose level, and how you run your tank without having to worry about anything, or feel threatened by anything for the first time in we have no idea how long! They NEED stability and calmness.

In my opinion, the ONLY way to properly do this is to give them a nicely planted, comfortable environment in a quiet corner of the house. Think about relaxing in a hospital as opposed to your home. Hospitals are clean, stark, and cold. Most people will recover far more quickly in the comfort of their own home! So. . . the idea is to make your QT tank as close to the fish's natural home as you can, without going *too* nuts about things. . .

With this in mind, If you can make changes to tailor the tank specifically to your new arrivals (like adding rock caves if you're bringing loaches home), do it! If they want to hide - let them! They'll feel much safer, calmer if given hiding places, and ultimately LESS likely to hide. Even the most skittish fish, given enough time in a good environment, will come around far more quickly in a tank like this than in an empty hospital tank! In most cases, a truly ill fish won't behave like the others, and will make his presence known in one way or another - and in most cases, you'll be happy to find that they come through like champs given an ideal environment and clean water.

Our fish live with a mind-boggling array of parasites, protozoans, and 'illnesses' but for the most part, they are able to fight these off on their own without any help from us, except of course, for clean water and stable parameters. In some cases, they may harbor nasties for their entire lives - it isn't in the best interest of most parasites to kill off their hosts. This isn't the case with every illness, of course (Ich being one prime example, along with some protozoans that really hit swiftly and spread through the tank at a rapid rate) but for the most part, it isn't until a fish is stressed that many of these latent issues are able to get the 'upper hand' and start to cause problems. Because of this, it is in your best interest as a fishkeeper to do all you can in helping the new arrivals to settle comfortably into their new home - I see it as a preventative measure for the new arrivals - if they feel safe and comfortable, they won't get 'sick' in the first place!

I also keep an extended QT period for my fish. I generally give them 8-12 weeks, depending on where they came from, if they were wild-caught, and the behavior I see from them. You'll know when they're ready to be moved. They'll be calm, showing colors, feeding well, and open. They'll own their tank. . .and I've found that when they reach this point, they rarely show much stress after the move into the 'main' tank, they flip immediately into exploratory mode, and settle right in as if they've always been there!

I'm a firm believer in using live plants for my tank, I feel that the fish CAN tell the difference, and also that fast growing stem plants and duckweed (cheap, easily replaceable) can make all the difference in the world in a tank that has rapidly changing stocking levels. I personally like to keep my tank running at all times, fully cycled, as this allows the tank to 'mature' and establish. I have seen direct evidence that fish feel absolutley more at home in a tank that is 'old,' as opposed to one freshly set up. EVEN when you use pre-seeded media to ensure a stable cycle - there's a difference in behavior (though my fish do tend to be fussier than your average guppy, so it could just be my limited experience, lol!)

That said, I also am sure to keep back up filter media - TWO sets, actually. ONE I add when I add new fish, to ensure that there is enough bacteria to handle the bioload of, say, a shoal of 20 tetra. The second I keep on-hand to replace the first in the event that I am forced to use a medication that knocks out the beneficial bacteria established in the tank (this has not yet happened, but I'm ready!)

THEN there's the hospital tank side of things, which for me must be the same tank. Because of this, I have found that it's a good idea to keep a supply of artificial plants on-hand so that if you have to use medications that will kill plant-life, you can maintain the 'comfort' of the tank by replacing the living ones with the artificial ones as needed. Personally, I do this as the plant-life begins to fail. Early enough to avoid ammonia spikes due to massive die-off because of the medication but bit by bit, and not all at once. It seems gentler to me to do gradually, and less stressful to the sick fish (though I'm sure that some meds will kill off an entire tank of plants at the same time, I've never had to use these!). Because I do things this way, I tend to prefer to keep stem plants and duckweed in the QT tank - cheap enough to replace, fast growing enough to handle cycle flux, and. . . fast growing enough that there can always be more spread through other tanks to replace any that has been lost/contaminated because of medication or illness. I also keep artificial floaters on-hand to replace the duckweed with if necessary, to ensure that the fish will always be given the benefit of a shaded tank. It adds so much to the comfort of many species. . . A thin layer of cheap playsand is my substrate, I have a bag on-hand for if I need to siphon out all of it and replace it in case of medicating. . .

Sorry to go on so long about this. . .it happens to be a topic that I feel VERY strongly about! I just can't help but feel bad for all of those fish coming 'home' to barren hospital tanks, and I really feel that it isn't the kindest way to go about things - even though I know that it tends to be the standard. . .

P.S. don't forget to equip your QT/hospital tank with a bubbler. You'll need it in case of medications - and be sure to have extra air-stones on hand at all times :) Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks for all the information :) I really appreciate it. As you already know from my other thread, I think I'm going to take the direction that you and Byron have, and have the tank with substrate, plants, and something for the fish to hide in.

I'm also hoping to pick up a 10gallon to have on hand, with an extra filter/heater/bubbler, in case of having to medicate.
 

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Okay, you've sold me haha. Currently I only have 1 20 gallon. Once I move into a bigger space, I'm planning on getting a bigger tank. I will use my already established 20 gallon as my quarantine from then on.
 

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YAY! Your future additions will be very glad to 'come home' to a very cozy and relaxing environment, I'm sure!
 
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