NEW FISH TO THE
By Jim E. Quarles
This subject is one that every new hobbyist should know by heart and
even the breeders that have been in the hobby for a while should review
the rules of the game.
You might be surprised at how many times people who buy new fish and
take them home don't know how to properly install them in a tank. It is
not that hard to learn, and it will save you lots of heartache and even
If you have a tank already in operation that is in good health and has
proper water parameters you should never, repeat NEVER just dump new
arrivals in the tank. Even if you use the proper procedures to release
them like allowing the temperatures to adjust or exchanging a little water
to adjust the ph.
I am amazed at the number of people who should know better that just
release new fish into the established tank without quarantining them
The process of quarantining new arrivals is so fundamental and yet is
so ignored thousands of fish are made sick or die along with costing huge
amounts of money to treat diseases that could have been easily avoided.
A QUARANTINE. TANK WHY?
Even if you see a fish you truly want to add to your collection you
must assume for safety sake that it has diseases or at least is carrying
some parasite or bacterial infection that will cause illness in your
By first installing a new arrival in a properly operated quarantine tank
you can insure that this event does not happen. The amount of time
required for a new fish to remain in quarantine will depend upon the fish
and your good judgment. But a good rule of thumb is about two to three
HOW TO SET UP THE QUARANTINE
There are a few simple rules that must be followed in making sure that
the procedures are correct and successful for both you and the fish. The
number one rule is that the tank has to be the proper size to meet the
requirements of the new arrival. With discus fish a twenty to
thirty-gallon tank works well. The second rule is that all equipment that
will come into contact with the water or fish in this tank is used only
repeat only in this tank. Nothing that comes into contact with a
quarantine tank should ever be used in your established tanks, this means,
nets, hoses, buckets that have contained water form the quarantine tank.
The third rule is after handling anything required for the operation of
this tank wash your hands and clean under your finger nails. You could be
the carrier as well as a dirty net or hose so be careful about your
Needless to say but I will anyway, the water in your quarantine tank
must be suitable to meet the requirements of the fish you intend to
isolate. Make sure the water is the proper ph and that you have a working
biological filter in operation in this tank. The temperature must be at
the proper setting for the fish as well and don't forget the required
water changes needed by all fish for good health.
QUARANTINE IS OVER NOW WHAT?
Moving your fish out of quarantine can be tricky so you must be careful
with this operation as well. If you do it wrong Ph. Shock and / or
temperature shock can occur. There are several ways the transfer can be
safely made. After the fish has been in quarantine for the time required
you may be fairly sure it is not sick or a carrier of disease or
So now you can use two or three methods to move it to it's new home. One
would be to bag the fish and float it in the receiving tank until the
water temperatures are equal and while that is happening add some water
from the receiving tank to the bag so that the pH can be also equalized.
Then after about ten minutes you can simply net the fish out of the bag
and place it in the tank. I would avoid discharging any water from the bag
containing the fish into the receiving tank if possible. Remember use a
clean net, not the quarantine tank net.
Another way to make the transfer is by the use of a small bucket, I
often use this method. I simply take some water from the quarantine tank
into the bucket and place the fish in the bucket with just enough water to
cover it safely. Then I start an air tube siphon going through an air
check valve into the bucket. You can adjust the rate of fill with the
I let the fish remain in the bucket for about twenty minutes and then
simply net it into the receiving tank and dump the water out of the
Anytime you buy a new fish and add it directly to your main tanks
containing other fish you are taking a very big chance of passing diseases
or parasites to your established aquarium and this can be deadly and very
costly. I keep a tank going that can act as a quarantine tank at all times
it is easy to do, just keep a few guppies, swordtails or other fish in it
to keep the biological filter going. Then when you need it is ready to be