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dnalex

Does a QT tank for new fish need to be cycled...

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Hello,

Recently, there was some discussion that was raised because a certain online seller of fish had been telling his customers to go ahead and skip the QT process entirely, because a lot of times the QT tank is not cycled, and that could be dangerous to the new fish. I've taken the liberty to copy the advice given by Mr. Steve Hopkins of Rain Garden Goldfish on his suggestions in the process of quarantining new fish. As you will see, he will explain why QT is important, and why an uncycled QT can be perfectly fine. :)

It's important to note that I am using Mr. Hopkins words here because: 1) he succinctly puts into words the reasons and the process of QT, and 2) many people on the forum get fish from him. He certainly isn't the only to say this. I'd venture to say that all careful and responsible fishkeepers will say the same.

Happy Reading! :)

From: http://www.raingarde...acclimation.htm

ACCLIMATING YOUR NEW FISH

We put a lot of effort into making sure your new fish is healthy when it leaves here. Each is given a health check-up and closely observed for several days before shipping. If we find any evidence of parasites or disease, you will be given the option of canceling your order or postponing the shipment until it can be treated and cured. We pack fish very lightly to avoid stress during the shipping process. Unpacking instructions will be included in the box.

When you receive your new goldfish, it should be placed in quarantine for two to four weeks. During this time, your new Rain Garden goldfish should not be exposed to other fish or the water of other fish (except as described below). Like you, I and every animal, goldfish can live comfortably in the presence of potential pathogens which we/they have developed an immunity to. However, your old fish may be immune to strains of opportunistic pathogens which your new fish have never been exposed to. So, there should be a quarantine period before your new goldfish are introduced to your old goldfish.

The quarantine tank, pond or tub should provide at least ten to twenty gallons per fish. The more space there is, the easier the quarantine process will be for you and your fish. If there is inadequate space, either you will be forced to do larger and more frequent water changes, or the fish will be exposed to poor water quality.

Do not start with a tank which has housed other fish. It should either have been bone dry for a month or so, or disinfected before preparing to quarantine new arrivals. After cleaning out any debris or sludge, the tank can be disinfected using two tablespoons of household bleach (e.g. Clorox) per gallon or water (one cup per ten gallons). Use enough of the chlorine solution to coat all surfaces and then let it stand for ten minutes before rinsing. Rinse well and use a water conditioner or chlorine removal product to make sure there is no residual.

If you are using a biological filter, do a "fishless cycle" using household ammonia. An Internet search for "fishless cycle" will yield numerous descriptions of the process. Some prefer to use a commercial product containing nitrifying bacteria to jump-start the process, but it is not necessary. Remember, when you add your new goldfish to the tank, the beneficial bacteria in the filter will have to adjust their numbers in response to the changing feed input. So, even if the filter is "cycled" the system will have to establish a new balance. It's an ecosystem down there. Expect to have to do larger and more frequent water changes than usual to compensate for the imbalance.

Water changes alone can be used to maintain excellent water quality during the quarantine process. People have been successfully keeping goldfish since before the invention of filters, test kits, packaged nitrifying bacteria, electricity and all the rest. In general, the more water exchange the better during the quarantine process. Fifty percent every day or every other day usually works fine if you have fifteen gallons per fish. One hundred percent per day is not too much. If you can measure even a trace of ammonia or nitrite, or if the water becomes cloudy, then you should be changing more water. You will find that the amount of water that needs to be exchanged declines over time. If you are using water from a public utility (as opposed to having your own well) then you will need to use a water conditioner to remove chlorine and chloramines.

Feed your new fish very sparingly. Many, if not most, problems experienced in the first few weeks can be attributed to feeding practices. The fish will have built up energy reserves before you receive it and it will not starve to death. A hungry goldfish is a healthy goldfish.

If the plan is to move your goldfish to other quarters which already contains fish, then start getting them used to the microbes slowly. In the second or third week, add a small amount of water from the other fish tank/pond to the quarantine tank. As days pass and everything is going well, keep adding water from the other tank in ever larger quantities. When the fish itself is finally moved, the new surrounding will "smell" like home.

I have to say that many customers do not do any of this stuff. Upon arrival, they just put their new fish straight into a tank or pond with their old fish. It usually works fine, but you do so at your own risk. Proper quarantine will substantially reduce the likelihood that something unpleasant happens.

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I haven't been around much to see the discussions that have been going on, but here's my :twocents

I've always been a huge advocate of advising people to use a cycled QT/hospital tank. The main reason being that many people make the mistake of using a tank that is far too small, and if it is not cycled then the inevitible happens...an overnight ammonia spike. Of course those types of conditions pretty much do the opposite of what QT is meant to do by severely stressing the fish and, if it is sick, making the situation a whole lot worse. I've seen this happen far too many times here over the years :(

BUT I do agree that if the tank is sufficiently large enough and the person has a solid understanding of the importance of water quality and what kind of work it takes to maintain it in an uncycled tank like that, then it can work. I've used uncycled tanks in the past in emergencies, but it has been stressful (for me and the fish!)....always checking perams, doing water changes contsantly, etc.

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Hi Chrissy, I'm glad you are able to join in on the discussion. :)

I've always gone with the assumption that my QT tank is uncycled, at least for the 1st week, and do 100% WCs daily, even when I have a fully cycled filter. I prefer it this way, because fresh water daily is already such a great thing. Not only that, this avoids the mistaken assumption that people have that just because they are using a cycled filter that their cycle is actually holding. Many times you still have a little cycle bump, and it's important to check your parameters daily.

I've found that with 1 fish in a 10 gallon, once daily 100% WC, along with Prime, is more than sufficient to keep the water in fantastic conditions. It's not stressful for me, because I like doing WCs. (I actually do back to back 90% WCs instead of 100% so that I don't have to remove the fish.)

In any case, I am not at all discouraging people from using a cycled tank from QT. Far from it. I am saying that please always QT, and that not having a cycled QT tank is not a good excuse to throw the new fish into the main tank. In addition, even though one might be using a cycled tank, I would still encourage daily WCs of at least 50%, at least for the first week :)

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I've always gone with the assumption that my QT tank is uncycled, at least for the 1st week, and do 100% WCs daily, even when I have a fully cycled filter. I prefer it this way, because fresh water daily is already such a great thing. Not only that, this avoids the mistaken assumption that people have that just because they are using a cycled filter that their cycle is actually holding. Many times you still have a little cycle bump, and it's important to check your parameters daily.

:exactly excellent advice!

The biggest mistake I've seen people make is with hospital tanks. They realize they need to isolate a fish and panic, often putting the fish into a very small (e.g. 5 gallon) tank or even a bucket. Of course that never ends well :(

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Thanks for posting Alex. His point about adding water from the established tank to the QT later in the process is an interesting one and not something I would have thought to do.

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Thanks for posting Alex. His point about adding water from the established tank to the QT later in the process is an interesting one and not something I would have thought to do.

I don't do it, either, but it's not a bad idea. :)

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I also found adding water to the QT tank before introducing interesting. It's a pretty good idea. Thanks for posting :)

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I've used both QT methods now, and I honestly greatly prefer doing a filterless QT and doing 100% daily water changes. I LOVE knowing exactly how much salt and medications are in the tank, and knowing that all the water is fresh. I just use a double dose of prime, and feed very sparingly to keep waste under control until the next water change. It seems like my new fish are really enjoying all the fresh water as well, and so far their QT is going great for both of them. It is definitely much more work, but also gives me more peace of mind knowing that their environment is as pristine as possible each and every day. :)

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I couldn't agree more how important QTing is to prevent spread of disease in both the new and existing fish. Unfortunately not everyone feels this way, which I'm sure claims many lives.

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I've used both QT methods now, and I honestly greatly prefer doing a filterless QT and doing 100% daily water changes. I LOVE knowing exactly how much salt and medications are in the tank, and knowing that all the water is fresh. I just use a double dose of prime, and feed very sparingly to keep waste under control until the next water change. It seems like my new fish are really enjoying all the fresh water as well, and so far their QT is going great for both of them. It is definitely much more work, but also gives me more peace of mind knowing that their environment is as pristine as possible each and every day. :)

:goodpost

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I'm a strong believer in daily 100% changes in a hospital or quarantine tank and no filter for the first few days to a week depending on circumstances. The locations of dirtiest water and the likeliest location for pathogens/parasites are the bottom of the tank and the filter. When I drain a tank, the very dirtiest water and the highest concentration of visible organisms is the last inch. I empty this out and rinse repeatedly. Any filter cleaning that is thorough enough to get rid of bad bugs is going to get rid of the good ones too. Since some medications will kill or weaken the cycle, it's safest (particularly for beginners) to assume an uncycled tank.

I use a two-tank (10 gallon) hospital system, setting up both tanks initially, and emptying, rinsing and refilling each tank when I move the fish out. This means the fish is going into a tank that is the same temperature and the same pH as the one it came from, it leaves behind shed parasites and pathogens, and only experiences a few seconds of pressure variation when it is scooped from one tank to another.

For small fish or those suspected of illness, this is good for quarantine as well. For big, apparently healthy fish, a larger tank with a filter and partial water changes will be more comfortable and easier for both fish and keeper.

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I think that is an interesting read and really also applies to uncycled tanks as well with old or new fish. In general frequent, large water changes is only a good thing for the health of the fish. I can certainly attest to how much work it has been doing a fish-in cycle process. Each and every day I remove 75%-80% of the water, then I add a clean gallon of water to dilute it a little more and remove another gallon of the mixed together water. After that type of water change my nitrites and ammonia are very close to 0. 24 hrs later I do it again. It is alot of work, requires about 45 minutes a day, but the fish seem to really love it and frolicking is the only word that comes to mind with their activity levels.

I guess my point is these are great water practices to follow no matter what stage your fish are in, brand new and quarantined or older existing fish. I don't mean daily changes of course but probably more frequent changes than most think of to do. I think even after the tank is finished cycling, hopefully in the next month, based on how "happy" they seem I will probably still do 2x weekly changes.

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