Quarantine is easily one of the most important processes to consider when obtaining new fish. It is one of the primary contributing factors towards illness and death in our fish but is also NOT regularly performed by most fish keepers. In this article we will give a brief outline of the best method by which to quarantine your discus fish.
The best method by which to quarantine your discus fish is often debated and there are no rules which are set in stone. However, below is a step by step list of instructions which will help fish keepers to avoid many of the most common ailments which effect our fish regularly.
1) This truly is RULE Number 1: Do NOT introduce new fish to your aquarium without first conducting the quarantine process. Ideally you should have a separate aquarium running at all times to ensure the water is mature and suitable for your new fish. This separate aquarium should have al of it’s own equipment (nets, hoses etc) as even a tiny drop of water can contain millions of microorganisms which can devastate any home aquarium. The standard quarantine procedure will last from 4-6 weeks and must be maintained.
2) During the quarantine process, this is the opportunity of the fish keeper to carefuly observe and monitor the new fish for signs of any problems. In many aquatic retail stores, thousands of different fish are kept on single filtration systems which facilitate the movement of disease-causing microorganisms around the whole display, so if you see even one sick fish in system of that kind, it is highly likely that the microorganism is also in the water where you have chosen your own new fish from and so if you really want the new fish then a quarantine process will help you to protect the health of both your new and original fish and your monetary investment. Often, people will recommend prophylactic treatment of new fish for flagellates (worms) or other parasites such Gyrodactylus / Dactylogyrus (flukes) as well as bacteria, firstly it is important to communicate with your supplier about their own quarantine and treatment procedures (although however good, you should still always quarantine the fish yourself as well) but as for prophylactic treatment, typically this is not the best method and you should wait to observe true symptoms prior to treatment – This is also more fair on the fish. If in doubt you should always search for qualified advice from a veterinarian if you are not comfortable with dealing with and administering medications.
3) It is ESSENTIAL that you maintain the quarantine meticulously. This means being aware of cross contamination from not only your equipment (nets, hoses etc) but also your own hands as these can also transfer microorganisms. Clean your hands thoroughly (ideally using alcohol to eliminate pathogens) before placing your hands from one aquarium to the other and preferably deal with one aquarium at a time (even one per day).
4) To ensure that your new fish are quarantined correctly, your quarantine aquarium should be situated in a separate room (as far away as possible) to your existing aquarium and should be continually cycling to ensure it is mature for your new fish. The importance of this is to reduce the chance of microbes which are able to travel as bioaerosols (in the air) coming into contact with your existing aquarium.
5) When the time of introduction arrives, it is adviseable to use a ‘sacrificial lamb’. This is one of your existing fish (least favourite and often least expensive!) which you will then add to the quarantine aquarium. You should then observe this fish within your quarantine aquarium for a minimum of 2-3 weeks. If no problems arise for this fish, then you can assume that it is safe enough to begin integrating the new fish (and the sacrificial lamb) back into the main aquarium.
This is only a guide for proper practice of basic quarantine procedures and so you cannot assume that your fish will not become unwell after the introduction. This guide is simply a method by which to help reduce the risk of any problems. Good luck!