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Chemoprophylaxis vs. Observational Quarantine

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Preface: There has been much controversy over Chemoprophylaxis vs. Observational Quarantine in our hobby. The purpose of this article is to discuss the best practices for implementing both techniques, and to weigh the pros & cons of these two different methods of quarantining saltwater fish.

Chemoprophylaxis - the use of drugs to prevent disease.

The primary argument for advocating this approach is how "disease polluted" the supply chain is, meaning that the odds of buying a diseased fish are high. (Although this seems to be more of a problem in the US than some other parts of the world.) Many hobbyists cannot properly identify fish diseases and/or some diseases have no obvious visible physical symptoms. Therefore, chemoprophylaxis is a practical way to "cast your net wide" to treat for the most common/virulent diseases. Which include: Ich...

How To Quarantine

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How to Setup a Quarantine Tank

The following are the bare essentials:
  • Aquarium (10-30 gallons seems to work for most people. Bigger QT lets you house more fish and gives you more wiggle room when it comes to ammonia. Smaller QT is cheaper, easier to maintain and can be setup/broke down quickly.)
  • Heater and thermometer
  • Small powerhead or air pump and sponge filter, for circulation & gas exchange.
  • Freshly mixed saltwater which has been fully dissolved and circulating for at least 24 hours.
Optional/recommended equipment:
  • Light (can just be a simple, one bulb fixture)
  • Hang on the back (HOB) power filter, where a “seeded” sponge (explained later) can be added
  • Egg crate (used on lighting panels), which can easily be cut with snips to build a custom top to prevent fish from jumping
  • PVC elbows (see pic below) used as “caves” in which the fish hide...

Disease eradication vs. Disease management (new)

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This article expands upon the Ich eradication vs. Ich management thread I wrote. It takes other diseases - such as Velvet, Brook, Uronema, Flukes, Bacterial Infections - into consideration; and discusses the best strategies for preventing vs. managing all pathogens commonly found in a saltwater aquarium.

Disease eradication - Simply put, this means doing everything possible to keep diseases out of your display tank (DT). That can only be accomplished by utilizing a strict quarantine (QT) protocol as outlined here: How to Quarantine. It is very important to QT each & every fish, including your very first one, if you wish to avoid Ich, velvet and other diseases in your DT.

It is also important to QT all corals/inverts as discussed here...

*Salvage protocol for treating very sick fish*

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Reposted with permission. @alprazo

Salvage protocol for very sick fish.

Almost daily I read a post from someone describing a fish sick from either ich or velvet and can predict that it will not make it to the morning.

There are several techniques that can be employed to reduce the metabolic demands on the fish, reduce stress, decrease the damage from its immune response and possibly keep the fish alive until you are able to eradicate the parasite.

1. Decrease the temperature to 72F for most tropical fish.

2. Decrease the salinity to 1.017 or lower

3. Increase the oxygen saturation to greater than 150% by the addition of pure O2.

4. Turn the lights off

5. Intramuscular injection of dexamethasone at 0.5 mg/kg

Though I have never used all of these techniques together, I have used them all and have been surprised to find that fish swimming the following morning. These are recommendations and should be adjusted to the situation.

Difficult Fish to QT guide

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Below is a list of difficult fish to quarantine, with specific recommendations on QT strategies for each group of fish.

Angelfish (and their sensitivity to copper)

I've never figured out if angels being sensitive to copper is a "thing" or not. They do seem to fare a little better in Cupramine vs. chelated copper (e.g. Copper Power). Angelfish do, however, require high oxygen levels so ensure maximum gas exchange is occurring (see video)!

QT strategy: Sometimes it is wise to get an angelfish used to QT (ideally eating) before medicating. They do better in Chloroquine (better tolerated) than...

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