View Full Version : Tank Cycled / Should I quarantine starter fish?

01/03/2011, 04:45 PM
Hi all. I'm still new at this and a bit confused by different info I read out there. Would appreciate your input re cycling and quarantining. I have a new tank set up, 145 gallons, 150 pounds live rock and 150 pounds live sand (carib sea argonite). I got the live rock already cured locally and got it into my tank within 3-4 hours.

Has my tank cycled? In four days I've not seen an ammonium spike and nitrites are not measurable either but I now have around 2.5 for nitrate. Not sure whether a) there was already enough bacteria to break down the ammonium from the live rock since it had little/no die off, or it is yet to come. Any thoughts on that? I don't want to put fish in too early
(SG is 1.025; pH is 8.0; temp is 79; Ca is around 360, no lights yet, coming next week). LFS owner sold me some Seachem stablizer which I used for first 3 days which would theoretically further speed up cycling.

Also, I'm convinced of the value of quarantine for fish. Is it equally applicable for the first fish that go into the tank? Someone told me that hardy fish don't need quarantine however I'm wondering if 2-3 weeks in a quarantine tank would ensure they don't have any parasites prior to bringing them in to the DT or if, being 'hardy' they would be resistant such that e.g. for ich it wouldn't show anyway. If I should quarantine, I'm thinking that it's getting to be time to get that started. I still need to figure out how to get the QT tank set up though so that it's cycled also. I have some of the live rock in the sump so thinking about using that.

01/03/2011, 05:00 PM
Its hard to say if your tank has cycled. Since you've been monitoring levels and not seeing anything so far, it might be ok to place a fish in the tank. Start out very small. Get a small, hardy fish from someone/place that you can return it to if it appears stressed after introducing it to your tank.

I wouldn't be as concerned about QT your first couple fish. The intent of QT is to seperate your expensive display fish from newly added critters. Since you don't have anything in the display, your display can act as the QT. I suggest starting your QT right away though, because in the coming months you'll have a few fish in your display and will want to add more.

I wouldn't place any rock in your QT that you don't intend on leaving there. Once you introduce some of the QT chemicals there is no going back for the rock or sand. I suggest using rubble rock (for fitration) and large PVC (for hiding places).

01/03/2011, 05:25 PM
I'd suggest putting a raw shrimp or some flake food in the tank to help get the ammonia to spike & kick start the cycling process. Personally, I've never been a big fan of adding chemicals to a new tank to speed up cycling process. IMO, I'd wait a few more weeks & continue to monitor your parameters. Then, after ammonia/ nitrites/nitrates are 0, add a few CUC. A few wks later, add a fish.
Always QT all fish. If not, & 1st fish gets ich, the parasite is in your newly cycled tank & it takes around 8 wks for the life cycle of parasite to die off (providing you don't add anything else in meantime). Good luck & welcome to reef central!

01/03/2011, 05:26 PM
Yes you should QT the very first fish... it can bring disease into your system just as easily as a future fish can, and I can tell you you DON'T want to have to deal with a disease in your tank right out of the gate.

Here's a link to a post that may be helpful:

As for cycling the QT tank, if you use a sponge filter on the QT, you can keep the sponge in the main tank (or sump) for a bit before putting it into the QT tank. This ensures a good bacteria population without using up your DT live rock. Then go bare bottom in the QT and use PVC pieces for hiding spots as the previous poster mentioned. You can easily clean the tank, and replace the sponge/PVC each time you change fish.

Good luck!

01/03/2011, 05:29 PM
You should QT every single fish you ever get. If it cannot be QT'd, then you really should consider whether or not you should even get such a fish. Starter fish tend to be rather hardy anyways, because most people starting off tend to get fish that wil do well. They can harbor parasites that may not readily showup until it is too late and they have infected your system. Please Qt them, for your sake and the fish's sake.

01/03/2011, 05:35 PM
Can you watch a fish for several weeks at LFS before buying instead of quarintine

01/03/2011, 05:48 PM
Thanks for the fast replies. I appreciate the consistent advice re quarantine. I will do that. I have two small LFS's close to me, perhaps one of them would hold a fish for me and help me ensure it's clean. Do others agree that could be safer for the fish than my own QT since I don't have one set up or cycled yet?

01/03/2011, 06:01 PM
At 4 days old, I doubt seriously that your DT is anywhere near cycled. You have plenty time to set up a 10 gal QT & cycle both at same time...& while that is happening, read all you can about reefing (& ask questions on here). The more knowledge you acquire, the better your chances are at keeping your animals alive. If you want long term success in this awesome hobby, you'll learn patience....fast--otherwise you'll be throwing money away on fish or corals dying because water parameters aren't correct, etc. Even if the LFS would 'hold' a fish for you & it looked healthy, the stress of transport to your tank could cause problems. Hence, the QT...

01/03/2011, 06:18 PM
Always quarantine. Never use a fish to cycle a tank.

01/03/2011, 06:49 PM
QT at home it is then.

By my post you might think I'm complete clueless but I have already read four books several times, countless posts, and talked to many people. Conflicted and confused may be a better description. In Researching saltwater aquaria I have never come across an area that has so many contradictory points of view of conflicting advice. I appreciate the clear and direct responses to my post. The most credible by far involve no short cuts and careful patience. So my plan is no fish in the DT for a few weeks and I'll get a QT tank going asap.

Any suggestions on the best filter/pump to get? 15g tank I think.

01/03/2011, 08:28 PM
Everyone here has been a noob at some point...A lot of things I'm still clueless about 7 yrs after starting reefing. The only stupid question is the one NOT asked...

A marineland penguin would be a fine filter for a QT.

01/03/2011, 09:02 PM
I'm glad I came here to start learning/giving advise. I learned some additional information today also!

01/03/2011, 09:38 PM
Thanks again!

01/04/2011, 01:04 AM
You bet! There's decades of experience & a treasuretrove of knowledge here on RC & you've come to the right place to learn about this incredible hobby. I've learned so much & I'm really glad my LFS guy suggested this site when I got back in the hobby a few yrs ago.

01/04/2011, 07:05 AM
Can you watch a fish for several weeks at LFS before buying instead of quarintine

Many LFS will let you buy a fish and leave it in their tank until you're ready, but it's doubtful they would hold a fish long enough that it would qualify as a quarantine. Besides, it may pick up new diseases at the LFS.