How To Quarantine


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Had an accident this morning during a water change on the qt tank. This poor firefish went down the siphon into the bucket. Seems fine other than the scrape on the side. Should i try to treat with anything else? The copper level is at 2.5 and we are feeding metro and focus. Plan on doing prazi when the copper is done in a few weeks.


Big G

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Firefish are kinda funny. They are incredibly tough little dudes. They'll tear off their dorsal fins diving into the caves and re-grow them. But at the same time they can be a bit fragile for some other wounds.
Consider giving it a bath in Methylene Blue. It's very gentle and has some antiseptic and antibiotic qualities. ;)

from HF:

Methylene Blue: Best to use an aquarium product such as Kordon or Fritz.

  • 30 min bath (preferred): 1 teaspoon (5 ml) per 5 gallons.
  • In a quarantine tank: 1 teaspoon (5 ml) per 10 gallons every other day for 10 days with water changes before each treatment.
I have two sponge filters that have been in my nano tank, one for over a year. I suspect the nano tank has ich and I'm about to start a 30 day copper power QT. I'd really like to use those sponge filters since they're full of beneficial bacteria that should help with ammonia.

I always assumed that would be fine but wanted to double check that would okay and wouldn't effect copper power QT adversely.


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I would say that I would be comfortable throwing that Sponge into the QT tank as soon as copper is at 1.75... Then even if the cyst busts and the free swimmers come out the copper will kill them so it shouldn't be an issue. If you want to be really safe you could wait until you get it up to 2.0. Not an ideal way of starting a QT, but should in theory be just fine.


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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
  • Seachem Ammonia Alert badge (see pic below)

Scenario 1 (Simple QT with air pump + sponge filter):

Scenario 2 (More elaborate QT with HOB power filter - Seachem Tidal, Aquaclear and Bio-wheel are all good options):

A small amount of sand is fine in QT, but rock is best avoided as it will absorb many medications. However, one or two small pieces of live rock may be added for ammonia control, so long as they are coming from a disease-free tank. The live rock will need to be removed once a disease is spotted and before medications are used. Furthermore, the live rock must be considered “contaminated” once exposed to a fish disease, and sterilized in a chlorine:water (1:10 ratio) solution. Using a lid is very important to prevent fish from jumping out. As mentioned previously, egg crate can be used, but sometimes it is necessary to sew screen under the eggcrate top to prevent small fish from jumping through the holes:

Ammonia Control & Oxygen

Toxic ammonia, caused by fish urine/poop and uneaten food, needs to be closely monitored in QT. You can use a test kit (so long as no medications are present) or a Seachem Ammonia Alert badge (works even in the presence of medications.) Even the smallest traces of ammonia are toxic!

In Scenario 1, performing water changes is your best option for controlling ammonia. You can also use an ammonia reducer such as Amquel or Prime provided no medications are present in the water. Copper, in particular, can be converted from a stable form to a more toxic form when mixed with an ammonia reducer. If you need to condition tap water, do so 48 hours prior to dosing copper.

With Scenario 2 the use of “seeded” bio-media can help to break down ammonia. I personally use a Seachem Tidal power filter, utilizing the "Matrix" bio media that comes with it. Similarly, Aquaclear contains a foam insert and the Bio-wheel itself can be seeded with nitrifying bacteria for use as biological filtration in QT. Bio media can be seeded with live bacteria in one of two ways:
  1. Place it in a high flow area of your DT’s sump (or you can put it behind the rocks) for at least one month prior to QT. This one month allows time for enough beneficial bacteria to transfer over.
  2. Dose a "bacteria in a bottle" product, such Bio-Spira, Seachem Stability or Dr Tim's Nitrifying Bacteria, into the QT a few days before purchasing fish. Below are pics of bio-media discussed which can be seeded with live bacteria - Seachem Matrix, Aquaclear's foam insert and the Bio-wheel, respectively:

It is also crucial to provide sufficient gas exchange (oxygen) in QT, especially when using medications. One can accomplish this by creating a "disturbance" at the surface of the water by using a sponge filter, pointing a powerhead upwards or via HOB power filter:

Quarantine Protocols

Some prefer to just observe in quarantine and not use any medications unless necessary. This strategy can work, but it is important to set aside enough time in your day to observe for key behavioral symptoms of disease. These include loss of appetite, heavy breathing, scratching, flashing, head twitching, erratic swimming behavior, swimming into the flow, etc. Of course, also look for visible physical symptoms of disease: white dots or growths, dark spots, red sores, frayed fins, etc. If treatment is needed, ensure you can quickly transform your "observation tank" into a "hospital tank" - one without rock, UV, carbon, poly filter, etc. which will absorb medications. Alternatively, you can transfer the fish to a hospital tank for treatment - provided it is at least 10 feet away to account for aerosol transmission.

A once popular QT protocol is tank transfer method. However, the recent prevalence of Marine Velvet Disease can make this a risky proposition. It is thought that TTM can delay symptoms of velvet from showing, because the transfers keep the number of velvet trophonts on the fish at a sublethal concentration.

My personal QT regimen is a lot more aggressive, as I have first-hand knowledge of just how polluted the supply chain is with disease. Therefore, below are two options you can employ to closely mirror my QT protocol:

Option A - Fish is floated in the bag for 20-30 minutes (to temperature acclimate) and then released into QT with matching salinity. QT is predosed with one of the following:

1. Copper Power at 1.0 ppm, verified using the Hanna Instruments High Range Copper Colorimeter (HI702). Over the next 48 hours, slowly raise your copper level to 1.5 ppm in gradual increments. Then take another 48 hours to raise it to 2.0 ppm. And another 48 hours in order to achieve 2.5 ppm. (So 6-7 days total to raise the copper level from the initial 1.0 to full therapeutic 2.5.) You are now at a safe therapeutic copper level. Add to this metronidazole. If using 100% metronidazole powder, dose 25 mg per gallon. Otherwise follow the maximum dosing instructions for whatever product (e.g. Seachem Metroplex) you are using.


2. Chloroquine phosphate (pharmaceutical grade) at 15 mg/L or 60 mg per gallon. This is a therapeutic Chloroquine level.

The above prophylactically treats most parasites if held at a therapeutic concentration for 30 days. Therefore, it is important to test your copper level frequently. If the level drops below therapeutic (1.5 ppm is the minimum for Copper Power) even slightly, the 30 day clock restarts after you've raised it back up. Therefore, when doing a water change dose any new water with copper or Chloroquine before it is added to the tank. After 30 days you can perform water changes and/or run carbon, Cuprisorb, poly filter, etc. to remove the medication(s).

It is now time to move on to deworming your fish. Two options for doing this: API General Cure or Prazipro. Dose once, and in 5-7 days do a 25% water change and dose again. (Or use this treatment calendar to determine when is the best time to add the second dose.) The reason for the second dose is to eradicate the “next generation” of worms before they can lay eggs of their own. Because while Prazi does kill worms, it doesn’t eliminate any eggs they might leave behind. You can technically mix General Cure or Prazipro with copper, but only General Cure can be safely combined with Chloroquine. The risk associated with combining medications is a bacterial bloom (cloudy water) which can starve oxygen out of the water. To alleviate this risk, always point a powerhead towards the surface of the water or run an air stone on high whenever mixing medications.

After 30 days in copper or Chloroquine + being dewormed, your fish should be observed in non-medicated water for at least another 2 weeks. This is to ensure the treatments you applied were successful, and also observe for less common diseases (more info below).

Option B - Everything works the same as "Option A" except the fish is transferred into another QT (or holding tank) after 2 weeks. However, the following "rules" must be strictly adhered to:

1. Only the fish gets transferred, nothing else.
2. DO NOT lower the copper or Chloroquine level prior to transferring.
3. The "holding tank" must be at least 10 feet away from the QT, Display Tank and all other saltwater aquariums.
4. The two week countdown does not begin until copper or Chloroquine have reached therapeutic, and have been maintained at therapeutic throughout (very important!) So, it is wise to test your copper level often.
5. Prior to transfer, the fish should not be showing any signs of ich, velvet, brook or uronema. If he does, don't do the transfer!

The above works because parasites can only stay on a fish for a maximum of 7 days, and the presence of therapeutic copper + metro or Chloroquine shields your fish from reinfection. (The additional 7 days allows for some margin of error.) Any parasites the fish was carrying will have dropped off and are left behind in the original treatment tank. (So the QT that the fish is transferred from may still be contaminated with disease for some time.) After transferring you may deworm (if you hadn't already done so in QT#1) or dose other medications as needed. I recommend observing for at least 2 weeks before transferring any fish to your display tank.

Don’t hesitate to make changes to your treatment plan as needed! For example, if you know a fish has flukes treat with Prazipro or General Cure first. Notice white stringy poo coming out of your fish? Start food soaking General Cure, using a binder such as Seachem Focus to reduce the loss of medication to the water through diffusion. Seeing signs of a bacterial infection? Treat with antibiotics straight away (you can combine most antibiotics with copper or Chloroquine.)

Less Common Diseases

The following is a brief rundown of less common diseases you may encounter in QT (and what to do about them!). Blue words contain links to more detailed information.

1. Internal flagellates/intestinal worms (white stringy poop): Food soak API General Cure for 2-3 weeks, or until "normal" poo is observed coming out of the fish. Here's how, using a shot glass to more effectively concentrate everything:

1 scoop (~ 1/8 teaspoon) of medication
1 scoop Seachem Focus (this makes it reef safe)
1 tbsp food (preferably pellets or frozen food)
A pinch of Epsom salt to help expel dead worms/parasites
A few drops of saltwater or fish vitamins
Stir until a medicated food slurry has been achieved.
Feed after soaking for 30 mins.
Refrigerate or freeze any leftovers for future use.

2. Bacterial infections (red sores, discolorations): Treat with antibiotics.

3. HLLE and Lymphocystis: Click on words/links for more info.

4. Brook and Uronema: Click on words/links for more info.

5. Prazi resistant flukes: Hyposalinity for 1 week, formalin, or fenbendazole.

6. Prazi resistant intestinal worms: Fenbendazole (via food soaking).
I have fish that are copper sensetive. I would like to use some meds that I have on hand for QT. Can I combine general cure metroplex and Kanaplex and hyposalinity to do a successful QT?


Dr. Fish
HF Vendor
Navarre, FL
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I have fish that are copper sensetive. I would like to use some meds that I have on hand for QT. Can I combine general cure metroplex and Kanaplex and hyposalinity to do a successful QT?
I would recommend this approach instead:


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At therapeutic level with copper power as of today and just debating whether to dose Metroplex or GC first. I've got 2 smaller tangs (yellow and kole) in a 20 gallon and they seem to be doing okay. Has anyone had any issues mixing GC and copper power with Tangs? I've got a bubbler and strong powerhead in the QT along with a Tidal filter to help with aeration.

Big G

007 ?
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At therapeutic level with copper power as of today and just debating whether to dose Metroplex or GC first. I've got 2 smaller tangs (yellow and kole) in a 20 gallon and they seem to be doing okay. Has anyone had any issues mixing GC and copper power with Tangs? I've got a bubbler and strong powerhead in the QT along with a Tidal filter to help with aeration.
It's fine to dose GC with copper. Especially if you are seeing the immediate need to do so to treat parasites. Personally, I wait until after the copper has been removed if treating prophylactically. Anytime you double up treatments it adds stress to the fish's immune system.
Is the powerhead aimed up toward the surface so it's actively rippling the water's surface? Provides the best O2 exchange when doing so.


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Would tangs typically be okay to handle copper and gc/metro simultaneously though? They seem healthy but I'm having a hard time viewing them, especially the Kole tang which refuses to come out when I'm in the room. I know they're eating as I watch them on a webcam but I'd like to get metro into the water just in case.
Aeration in the tank is really good. The flow is borderline too much in that the PVC does move around a bit at times but the tangs seem to enjoy it and swim around the tank all day. The yellow tang has no problem anchoring in the corner at night and the Kole occupies one of the pvc fittings.


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Quick question on Copper Power dosing speed. I got fish last Friday (Coral Beauty, Yellow Watchman, Molly Miller Blenny, and (2) clowns) and have just observed them over the first week and they are all doing great and show no signs of disease. I am still going to do the two tank method QT. My question is should I ramp up copper evenly over 7 days (~14.5 gallons, so 3.055ML/.357ppm per day)? Or should I bring it to 1.0 over two days and then slow down the ramp to .25ppm per day that Humblefish recommends in the original post?

Big G

007 ?
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Often velvet can be hiding within the fish's gills doing tremendous damage without presenting any external symptoms. I do the second choice to get closer to therapeutic levels quicker, just in case.
Keep a close eye on the Coral Beauty. Some dwarf angels do and some don't do too well with copper.