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Establishing a QT
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Joined: 21 Jun 2006

PostPosted: 2006.11.24(Fri)20:47    Post subject: Establishing a QT Reply with quote

Hey there everyone, I just established my first QT, its been running (with fish in it) for about 10 days. 20 gallon perfecto with one powerhead with filter attachment, some dead live-rock, some pvc pipes, about half an inch of substrate just to take away the reflectiveness of the glass, and I found an old sea-clone skimmer just to have some sort of filtration. Is there anything anyone would recommend me to add or get rid of? it's been 10 days my fish (yellow tang, golden wrass, maroon clown, green chromis) have been in it with a copper treatment (I am currently dealing with an ich breakout that I lost a flame and royal gramma to) and they seem to be doing much better. only the tang has a few little spots of ich on his fins. Anyway I'll end my babble now, I just wanted some reassurance. Thanks for reading this!
I can only guarantee that there are no guaranties in fishkeeping.
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Joined: 25 Jan 2006
Location: Sydney, Australia

PostPosted: 2006.11.25(Sat)9:00    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK... if it has only been running for 10 days, I would strongly advise against putting any fish in it. It won't be through the cycle, which means that the ammonia is likely to spike, as are the nitrites. If this happens, it could kill your fish, or at least severely hurt them.

It's generally good to wait at least 30days, before you add fish to the tank, because it usually takes approximately 4-6 weeks for the cycle to finish. So, if you return your fish to the main tank and make sure that they are kept well fed, and ensure that the water parameters are fine, this should improve the situation. You could even consider adding a cleaner shrimp to your main tank, as they will clean parasites off your fish, and can also help with the outbreak.

As for your qt, once it's finished its cycle, it should be fine to use. The only thing worth mentioning, is that people tend not to keep substrate or live rock in the qt. Generally, its kept empty, or can sometimes have a really small piece of live rock. I think this is particularly important if you're adding treatments. Hopefully someone can elaborate on this point for me, because atm I'm having a memory blank! I just remember someone giving me this advice when I set my qt up...

Anyway, I hope this is of some help.
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Joined: 04 Jul 2004

PostPosted: 2006.11.25(Sat)11:56    Post subject: Reply with quote

sunshine is correct; you need to cycle your QT for several weeks otherwise everything will suffer... as it is, make daily water changes and keep an eye on your water with daily tests for ammonia/nitrite... I do not normally use a skimmer on a QT as it can interfere with antibiotic meds, but in your case it may help you. Still, be advised; if ammonia comes up even a bit you may need to take your fish to the LFS for a few weeks if they offer a hospital tank for customers. If you return the fish to your display now the ich will hit them again; you need at least 3 weeks with no fish in the display to starve all parasites.
Here's my archive on QT/hospital tanks:

Regarding the QT, there are different ways to success here, this is the way I choose to do it, and have done it for many years... others have success with different setups, who cares... more power to them! My main concern is that you have SOME type of QT system and use it religiously!

Some advocate setting up the QT as a temporary system, to be used only from time to time and then break it down when done. I do not prefer this method. I prefer to keep a small, second marine tank with a stable bio filter running all the time for emergencies. In fact in my opinion this is one of the great secrets to long term success in the hobby, and it is essential to reducing disease issues in your display.

You can get by with a 10-20 gal simple set up employing an undergravel filter and run it 24/7/365, you will need a constant resident for a healthy biofilter like a tank raised tomato clownfish, a heater, basic flourescent strip light and a cover. Do not skimp on any of these parts, you need a good heater to control temp, you need a good light in order to observe your fish carefully for parasites and the cover is required as well. The undergravel can be driven with 2 small powerheads or even a basic air pump will work. Skimmers, cannisters, UV filters all have their place... this is not one of them, and they are not required for a successful QT. Of course, if you have a huge display and plan on adding huge fish to it, you will need to scale up the size of the QT, so use discretion.

Set the heater to maintain the same temperature as your display tank. You can try to keep the specific gravity the same as the display also, but no need to get fanatical over this. You can "borrow" some water from your display to make the water chemistry closer if you want but again; but no need to get fanatical over this. If you like, you can locate the QT under your main display on the bottom shelf of many aquarium stands.

Do not use live sand for the QT, use 1 inch of crushed coral or oyster shell and do not use live rock, as you will be medicating with copper from time to time, indeed that is the purpose. No invertebrates. None. Zip. Nada. Add a couple of hiding places; rocks or even PVC tubing will work. (this is a very simple setup).

You can also use a hang on filter instead of the UGF, some will prefer a bare bottom in the QT, but I have always preferred UGF as the crushed coral naturally buffers the water and makes it a very stable system (as long as it only has one or two fish and low feedings). When using copper always test daily as the new substrate will absorb it for a while until it gets older. If you practice fresh water dips, your use of copper will be far less, I really think of this as more of a back up tank; it's good insurance in case you have an aggression problem or a disaster like a leaking display. One thing I want to make clear; the QT will in no way be connected to the display, it will never share a centralized filter or sump... it needs to be completely separate; a stand alone system.

Like any marine system, you will need to cycle the QT, you can ease this process by seeding it with gravel from a healthy system. That's it, simple... once it's cycled, you feed the resident fish once a day and make 15-25 % water changes once a month and you're done. Keep the water quality good; your new arrivals need a healthy system.

Any and all new fish need to be placed here first, then carefully observed eating and exhibiting healthy behavior in the QT for at least 3-4 weeks. If you have an outbreak of ich in the QT, you need to treat the fish and make sure the fish are disease free for a month before placing them in your display. (If you think this sounds like a pain, try dealing with ich in your reef system or established display!)
Keepin' marines happy for 25 years
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Joined: 21 Jun 2006

PostPosted: 2006.11.25(Sat)22:52    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well thanks a bunch both of you, that was extrememly helpful. I know theyre usually kept bare but the golden wrass likes to dig and I didn't want to stress him out further. Anyway, its comming along fine, I do have an ammonia problem because being in a panic from the ich outbreak I forgot I needed to cycle a new tank. That's why I have the skimmer going and I am doing water changes frequently, it's going down slowly. Anyway, thanks again both of you
I can only guarantee that there are no guaranties in fishkeeping.
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