Tank Transfer Method


Dr. Fish
Tank Transfer Method

What It Treats
Marine Ich (Cryptocaryon irritans) only.

How To TreatTank transfer (TTM) is my favorite method for clearing a fish of Marine Ich, but the prevalence (and similarities) of Marine Velvet Disease can make TTM a risky gamble nowadays. To properly execute TTM you need two tanks (or buckets), with dedicated equipment for each tank (not to be shared between the two). I personally use 2 of the 10 gallon tanks to do TTM, each with its own heater, thermometer, air stone, airline tubing and PVC elbows for hiding places. This is how TTM is implemented:

Day 1 – Fish is placed in initial QT.
Day 4 – Roughly 72 hours later transfer the fish to new tank. The time of day you do the transfer is unimportant, but never exceed 72 hours from the last transfer. The temperature and SG of the new tank should match the old one perfectly, so you can just catch & release (no acclimation). Transfer as little water as possible with the fish.
Day 7 – Repeat.
Day 10 – Repeat.
Day 13Repeat and done (fish should now be ich free).

After transferring, immediately sanitize the “old tank” and all equipment using bleach or vinegar. Rinse well. Let air dry thoroughly before next use. The air drying is the sterilization process when using vinegar, or detoxification process when using bleach.

Simply put, this process works because you are literally outrunning the parasite’s known life cycle. If a fish is infected with ich, trophonts will leave the fish at some point during the TTM process, and the encysted stage doesn’t have enough time to release theronts (i.e. free swimmers that re-infect the fish) before the fish exits the tank. Ammonia isn’t much of a concern with TTM, because every 3 days the fish is placed in a new tank with new water; or you always have the option of using ammonia reducers, such as Amquel or Prime, in conjunction with TTM since there is no risk of negative interaction because no medications are present. However, you do have the option of dosing Praziquantel (if you need to deworm) at the tail end of transfers 2 & 4 (or 1 & 3). The fish only needs 24 hours of exposure time to Praziquantel, so dose 24 hours before you are set to make the next transfer. A second round of Praziquantel is required 5-7 days after the first, but again dose the medication 24 hours before you are set to transfer the fish out. Just remember if you do this that you can’t use any ammonia reducers while Prazi is present in the water.

One of the cons to tank transfer is the amount/cost of saltwater needed to do it. For example, using my 2-10 gallons I go through 50 gallons of saltwater before the TTM process is complete. However, a thrifty hobbyist can use water stored from a recent display tank water change to implement TTM. Obviously, this only works if you are 100% confident that your display tank is disease-free and don’t siphon anything off the bottom. The other problem with TTM is netting the fish every 3 days. That concern can be somewhat alleviated by using a plastic colander in lieu of a net to catch the fish (square ones work better than round ones):

ProsChemical free solution to Marine Ich, highly effective when performed properly, can be combined with deworming via Praziquantel.

Cons/Side EffectsCost (if using all new saltwater), time/effort expended, probably somewhat stressful on the fish being caught every 3 days, does not treat other diseases such as Marine Velvet Disease, Brooklynella, Uronema, etc.

More detailed information on Tank Transfer Method: http://www.tanktransfermethod.com/node/1

Tank Transfer Method For Velvet

Below is a TTM schedule which will eliminate both Ich & velvet:

Day 1 - fish in tank
Day 2 - 1st transfer at 36 hours
Day 4 - 2nd transfer at 36 hours
Day 5 - 3rd transfer at 36 hours
Day 7 - 4th transfer at 36 hours
Day 10 - 5th transfer at 71 hours
Day 13 - 6th transfer at 71 hours

^^ No chemicals (such as H2O2) required.

Basis: Assuming worst case scenario, and velvet trophonts stop dropping off a fish immediately after going into a tank, you have around 48 hours until the tomonts begin releasing free swimmers (that reinfect the fish). So, a 36 hour transfer moves the fish away from the threat before this can happen. However, velvet trophonts can also remain on a fish for as long as 96 hours so that is why you have to do more than one transfer @ 36 hours.

The "standard" 72 hour transfer (or 71 hours for good measure) can resume only near the tail end, once the threat of velvet is gone and you are just concerned about the possibility of Ich (which can remain on the fish for a longer duration - 7 days).

The above TTM schedule was once just a theory of mine, but has now been successfully tested multiple times! :)
Last edited: