• Quarantine Procedures

  • Quarantining all new livestock is key to keeping a healthy saltwater aquarium. Not only does quarantining all livestock help prevent disease from getting into your display tank, it also lets the livestock adjust to life in an aquarium. It is very important for fish to get used to people, feeding, etc… Fish can easily become stressed out if they have to compete with established fish for territory or food when first introduced.

    Being hobbyists ourselves, we know that keeping a quarantine tank can be both expensive and time consuming. Not to mention a trial of patience waiting for a new arrival to be ready to go into your display tank.

    The expenses and time spent on quarantining new livestock is easily dwarfed when disease breaks out in your display tank though. Improper quarantining or no quarantining at all can lead to years of headaches.

    Our fish and coral are held in new arrival tanks when they first arrive at our facility. In the new arrival tanks, they are treated with various medications and are closely observed. After being deemed healthy, they are moved to our main holding tanks. Inverts are kept in fishless tanks, to reduce the possibility of them carrying any fish diseases.

    Although we take extremely well care of all our livestock, there is still the possibility that something can slip by and not be detected in the time they are in our care. So it is necessary that all of our products are quarantined by our customers before they go into display tanks.

    Below we will detail our preferred methods of quarantining fish, coral, inverts and live rock.

    Saltwater Fish

    Fish normally get the most attention when it comes to quarantining. Fish can carry a large variety of natural diseases and parasites that you do not want to go into your healthy aquarium. What follows is our suggestion for quarantining fish, and what we follow with our own personal fish.

    Even more so than disease, stress can be the leading killer of newly arrived fish. Getting your new fish used to life in an aquarium and seeing you are extremely important. The first goal of any newly arrived fish is to get them to eat the foods you offer them.

    Our preferred method of quarantining fish is to setup a "permanent" quarantine tank. This tank is always running and has active biological filtration. We choose to keep a 40 gallon breeder for our quarantine, since we tend to have multiple or larger fish in quarantine. A 20 gallon long is also a great choice for smaller fish. Our quarantine tank is located in a closet that is not used and has a window for some natural lighting.

    In our tank we use the following equipment:

    • Two powerheads pointed at the surface to increase oxygen in the tank. Medication will often lower the available oxygen in the tank.

    • Air stone connected to a simple air pump to provide some additional oxygen.

    • Heater set to around 79 degrees if your house can get down to the high 60s and low 70s. If you live in a warm part of the country in the summer be sure to keep the air conditioning in the quarantine room at or below 80 degrees during the day.

    • Hang on the back skimmer to remove some of the organics out of the tank. This is optional, but just helps keep the water cleaner. We also add a small piece of filter pad to the output of the skimmer to help remove debris.

    • Hang on the back bio wheel filter completed filled with MarinePure ceramic media. This media holds enough bacteria (once seeded) to treat 250 gallons. Also the bacteria will not be killed off and will be active even when using medicines like Cupramine. We add filter pads cut to fit above the ceramic media to help remove additional debris.

    • Various pieces of PVC fittings large enough for fish to hide in. These are extremely important since they provide areas for the fish to hide if they feel threatened or stressed.

    • Additional precautions - We cover the tank with eggcrate covered with netting to keep fish from jumping out. An ammonia warning badge is a great addition as well, since you can quickly see if there are any issues with ammonia reaching toxic levels.

    After introducing the fish to the quarantine tank, we allow them one week to get used to live in the tank. This time period can be extended if the fish still aren’t eating after a week. After a week, or if the ammonia is rising, we will do a 10 to 25% water change on the tank.

    We will then start treating the fish for internal parasites with PraziPro. We do a dose once every 5 days. On the fifth day, we will do another 10 to 25% water change before the next dose. This should be done three times.

    After the third treatment of PraziPro and doing the following water change, we’ll give the fish a few days without medication. After this time we will start a treatment of Cupramine. This treatment will last around 4 weeks. If a species is sensitive to copper, like Wrasses, we’ll normally dose at half the recommended level. We will also take up to a week to raise the copper level in the tank. If the fish look too stressed, we’ll back off the treatment. During the treatment we will do water changes either once a week or when ammonia starts to rise. We then add the tiniest amount of copper back to the tank at a time until the levels are back where we need.

    When the Cupramine treatment is over we use a product like Cuprisorb to remove the copper from the tank. We then do another 10 to 25% water change and leave the fish in the tank for one more week to make sure that they look healthy and there are no signs of disease.

    If you follow these instructions, your fish should be healthy and have a much better chance of quickly adjusting and thriving in your display tank. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.


    Coral for the most part is a lot easier to quarantine than fish. For the most part you are trying to get rid of red bugs and make sure the water that the coral came in did not contain any fish diseases or parasites.

    We typically run a fishless "frag tank" for new coral and invert additions. This tank never has a fish in it, so no fish parasite or disease can take hold without a fish host to live on.

    Before a piece of coral goes into our frag tank, we will dip it in a solution to rid the coral of any unwanted pests, such as Coral RX. After that you need to find a location in your frag tank that has similar lighting and flow to where you want to place the coral in your display tank. This means your frag tank needs lighting and flow as close to your display tank as possible. Also for coral, frequent water changes are needed to keep water quality optimal. Sparse feeding is also a good idea, since the coral will need some means of nutrition.

    The coral is then left in the frag tank for 12 weeks. Each time new coral or inverts are added to the tank, this countdown is reset to 12 weeks for everything in the frag tank. This 12 week period is important, since after 12 weeks, most fish diseases and parasites would have died off without a fish host, and the coral would be safe to place in your display tank.

    Once again, if you have any questions about our coral quarantine procedure, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


    Our quarantine procedure for inverts is very similar to that for coral. Basically the goal is to keep your inverts in a system that is fishless for a period of 12 weeks. After this twelve week period, any fish parasite or disease that the water your inverts came in will have died off with lack of a fish host, making the inverts safe to go into your tank.

    Unlike coral, inverts do not need such strong lighting and flow. They just require good clean water and food sources. Depending on the type of inverts you are keeping, food can range from algae to meaty foods. The details about each of our inverts will detail what to feed them.

    Each time anything is added to the tank you are keeping your inverts in, the 12 week countdown is reset as well. After a full 12 weeks of being kept in a fishless system, your inverts should be safe to introduce into your display tank.

    If you have any questions at all about our invert quarantine procedure make sure to contact us at any time.

    Live Rock

    When it comes to quarantine and rock, there are many schools of thought. We have started our tanks with both live and dead rock. There are advantages to both, and neither is better than the other.

    Live rock comes with a host of life on it. Some good, some bad. If you want to have a tank full of all sorts of life, just make sure you live rock has cured and doesn’t have any die off before adding it to a tank with fish or inverts in it. When rock is shipped, a lot of organic material can die. When added to a tank, this material will foul your water and raise the ammonia, which can lead to the death of your fish and inverts.

    If possible, it is best to let your live rock sit in saltwater with no other livestock in it for 12 weeks to allow any die off to occur and also allow your rock to cure properly. After that time it can be added to your aquarium without much fear of causing a cycle or bringing in a fish disease.

    Many people will also cook live rock. This basically means killing all the life on the rock and starting with clean new rock. This will also kill the beneficial bacteria found in the rock, but will remove bad hitchhikers like aiptasia, mantis shrimp, etc… Over time, the beneficial bacteria will return to your cooked rock. Methods for cooking live rock are various. We have used an acid bath in the past, but this can be very dangerous and you must proceed with caution and do your research before taking such drastic steps.

    If you have any questions about how to cure and quarantine your live rock, please feel free to contact us.

    Browse the categories below to look over our selection of saltwater fish, coral, inverts and live rock...