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Re: New Discus

Tom Wood wrote, as I knew that he would, <sigh>:
"I understand the rationale behind the quarantine tank, but there is a
countervailing concern that has always led me to skip it. If the quarantine
tank is set up for the new fish, then the new fish will be the ones to cycle
the tank. And if you introduce fish/mulm/filters from the show tank into the
quarantine tank to make it cycle, then the new fish are not quarantined from
any parasites in the show tank anyway."

A lot of us "skip it". If you're lucky, you can get away with it. But one of
these days, you'll get bitten big time by a disease outbreak that will have
you pulling your hair out - you can't successfully medicate a planted tank
very easily. The best way to handle it is to avoid introducing pathogens
into a display tank in the first place - and that requires some form of
quarantine tank.

As far as "cycling" a filter in a quarantine tank, you have a number of
options, depending upon whether or not you can keep a quarantine tank
running all of the time or not (if you have the space).

1. You could keep a couple of HEALTHY fish in the quarantine tank as a
source of ammonium for the filter bacteria. Swap out those fish into another
tank when you wish to use the quarantine tank with new fish. The healthy
fish from the quarantine tank should never be exposed to your main display
tank nor to any other fish, their sole purpose is to provide ammonium for
the filter bacteria in your quarantine tank. This would entail, in effect,
running 2 quarantine tanks.

2. Maintain the filter in the quarantine tank using inorganic ammonia.
Before you put new fish into the tank for their quarantine period, just
perform a large water change to get rid of the built up Nitrate that would
be in the water. You're back to only needing one quarantine tank if you go
this route.

3. Forget biological filtration in the quarantine tank altogether and rely
on excellent mechanical and chemical filtration and LOTS of frequent water
changes to keep any ammonia or nitrite not absorbed (adsorbed) by the
chemical filtration media diluted below danger levels. Most Discus breeders
regularly perform very large water changes on a regular basis.

Tom also said:
"If the water parameters are good, healthy fish can fight off most

Very true, but we're talking "just shipped" Discus here. The possibility
that they are going to be stressed and in a weakened condition after being
in a shipping container for a while is very high. They will need a while in
a clean, stress free environment to regain their strength. Its rather unfair
to just plop them into an already populated display tank and hope for the
best. I'm glad I'm not one of your fish.

"And, if I were buying enough Discus to stock a 90 gallon, I wouldn't want
to quarantine them in anything smaller than a 90 gallon, especially if it
isn't cycled. It's a

A quarantine tank ought to be spacious, but I don't know if it needs to be
the same size as the main display tank. It does need to be big enough so
that the fish don't feel crowded and can have a sense of personal space, but
that doesn't mean it has to be huge. Things like rocks or partial dividers
(anything that can later be removed and disinfected) can form "barriers"
that can make the fish feel more comfortable during their stay. And nobody
said that a quarantine tank HAS to be an aquarium. Rubbermaid makes a whole
range of inexpensive storage containers that can be bought in any "big box"
type store (Home Depot, Canadian Tire, etc.) that can easily be pressed into
use. I have one on my balcony right now, holding some Mollies...it holds 30
gallons of water and cost me all of around $10.00 Cdn.

"I would delay the Discus shipment until you've fixed the underlying cause
an ich outbreak. It doesn't occur all by itself, there is something about
the tank that is stressing the fish. Killing it with medication is only the
first step."

Its pretty hard to avoid introducing Ick into your tanks. It requires that
you be VERY careful and vigilant regarding your handling methods. As you say
(and I concur), healthy fish can easily fight off a few parasites and
providing your fish with a stress free, spacious home is the best line of
defense. But that does not and never will negate the desirability and wisdom
of quarantining ALL new fish before they are put into a display tank. And
when they cost as much as Discus do, its pretty cheap insurance.

James Purchase