Hospital Tank and Quarantine Isolation Tank Setup

OB Guy

Differences between tank setups

1) Quarantine Tank (QT)

A QT is used to isolate newly acquired fish. The fish will be kept separately anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, depending on how long problems (if problems do exist) develop. There are cases where other treatments are needed. However, if you are getting your stock from decent sources, chances are good that you might not need the treatments at all. Still, be prepared in case problems occur.

2) Isolation Tank

This is just what it sounds like. Fish that are sick, injured, or stressed should be isolated to help them recover or to receive further treatment. Frequent water changes, serenity and perhaps a bit of Melafix are all that are needed to ensure the fish recovers quickly.

Those who keep aggressive fish will need this type of tank than those who keep peaceful fish.

3) Hospital Tank

This is used for treating sick or injured fish that need special conditions, medication, or treatment.

If treatment does not correct the problem, the whole tank and its contents must be disinfected and rinsed thoroughly prior to subsequent use. Filter media used in the setup must be discarded as a precautionary measure, particularly in cases involving viral or bacterial infections.

Basic Hospital Tank Procedures

1: Set up a separate tank with spare filter and heater that can house your largest fish comfortably. Include plastic plants, decor items, or rocks that can be disinfected easily. Hiding places will help the fish relax and feel more secure.

1a: To save a lot of time and trouble, run an extra HOB filter on your main tank that can be transferred to a hospital tank in case of emergency. A stocking or media bag filled with substrate from the main tank will also provide beneficial bacteria for your hospital tank.

1b: Some hobbyists prefer to use sponge filters as a convenient and cost-effective alternative to buying an extra HOB filter.

1c: Activated carbon can be used to remove medications and other chemicals. Keep fresh carbon on-hand and discard this used carbon following treatment.

How to set up a hospital tank:

2: Switch on your filter.

2a: Transfer established biomedia from the filter in your main tank or temporarily move the extra filter to the hospital tank. Established media helps to maintain the nitrogen cycle to reduce exposure to toxic conditions caused by high levels of ammonia and nitrites.

2b: Stressed, injured or sick fish will prefer as little water movement as possible, so keep the flow of your filter at its lowest setting.

3: Place some of the substrate from your main tank into a mesh bag. If you do not have a mesh bag, you can use pantyhose or a thin dress sock. Tie a knot at the end so it does not fall out of the bag. Place the bag directly in the tank.

There should be no loose substrate in the hospital tank. A bare bottom tank is quite ideal to enable easy tank maintenance. Trapped food leftovers ensure the rapid deterioration of water quality. Loose substrate in the hospital tank is usually not recommended, as a bare bottom tank is easier to keep clean. Siphon out leftover food regularly to maintain good water quality.

4: Switch on the heater, if needed, to bring the hospital tank water to the same temperature as the main tank. Drastic temperature differences can shock or stress the fish and adversely affect its body functions.

5: Transfer the fish to the hospital tank carefully. Allow it to get settled without disturbance, and proceed with appropriate treatment, as needed.

Please note that there are many factors to consider for each tank setup with different needs.