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Setting Up A Quarantine Tank For Your Fish

Updated on September 3, 2010

Almost all aquarists, even advanced, can experience some problems with fish disease. When this happens, it is important to keep them in an isolated quarantine (or 'hospital') aquarium to help nurse them back to health. Hospital aquariums are generally inexpensive tanks with simple equipment and no decoration. If you suspect your fish is diseased, it is important to searate them in these tanks for several reasons:

  • You can keep an eye on their behavior and health, to see if they are sick or getting better.
  • Medicines won't harm organisms sensitive to the ingredients, including invertebrates, plants, and scaleless fish.
  • If your fish has a communicable disease, there is no risk of contaminating your other pets.
  • In a community tank, they won't be as stressed from having to compete with other fish for food or mates.
  • The beneficial bactera in the main tank is protected. Because hospital tanks are small, medicine won't cost as much because it will require smaller doses. It can be easily disinfected to remove germs from the diseases fish,

Of course, there is a drawback to moving your fish to a hospital tank; fish can get stressed from separating them from their home, and this can worsen your disease. To make it easier on him/her, add a little aquarium salt and keep the quarantine tank in a dimly lit area where people don't walk by constantly.


Quarantine tanks can help prevent diseases/parasites from infecting other fish in your tank, such as the anchor worm on this danio.
Quarantine tanks can help prevent diseases/parasites from infecting other fish in your tank, such as the anchor worm on this danio.
Some organisms can be sensitive to fish medicine, such as this shrimp, so putting your diseased fish in a quarantine tank is a good idea.
Some organisms can be sensitive to fish medicine, such as this shrimp, so putting your diseased fish in a quarantine tank is a good idea.

Setting It Up

Hospital aquariums shouldn’t cost a lot of money to set up, because hopefully it will not be used that often. There shouldn’t be any substrate and decoration, except maybe some artificial items that can be used as hiding places. This includes silk plants (not plastic as it can cut the fins of delicate fish), PVC pipes, and overturned terra cotta pots.

The tank should be well-aerated, and an air pump is recommended. A soft filter is recommended (a sponge filter, for example) as some sick fish can be too weak to fight a strong current. Activated carbon should be removed, because it will remove the medicine from the water.

The tank should include an adjustable heater, even if you are treating coldwater fish, because raising/lowering the temperature of the water may be necessary depending on what disease your fish has. An aquarium thermometer, obviously, should also be bought to monitor the temperature.

It is important the tank is large enough that your biggest fish can feel comfortable in it. An ideal tank should hold about 20 gallons.


When you are finished with hospitalizing your sick fish, the tank and its contents should be disinfected to prevent it spreading to another animal. Soak everything in a bucket with 4 mL of bleach for every 100 liters of water. Rinse thoroughly afterwards.


Photos by: Clevergrrl and Napolean_70


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    • finatics profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Haha thank you, lorlie :)

    • lorlie6 profile image

      Laurel Rogers 

      8 years ago from Grizzly Flats, Ca

      Reading your hubs is going to make me more of an expert than my hubby and son! HA! Really, this is interesting, finatics-we have had some fish tragedies through the years, and I think a hospital tank would have been a great idea.


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