Keeping a reef tank is one of those rewarding experiences. Its also one of those experiences that also come with its fair share of frustration, with the major one being the introduction of parasitic and predatory organisms into our display systems. Hitchhikers come in many forms, and these unwanted guests can wreak havoc and devastate the organisms we work to keep in our display systems. But (dah dah daaaah! “resounding trumpet sounds behind me”) there is hope; and this bit of advice on how we set up a quarantine system, despite the size of your location will be your saving grace.
The things we can manage should be.
When keeping a reef tank in your home, many variables have to be managed. One variable that can easily be managed yet is still the downfall of many a reef keeper and a cause of many people to exit from the reef keeping hobby are coral pests. It is very easy to buy a coral, bring it home, and just add it to your aquarium; to which this has a potential dark side. Buying, acclimating (or not), and placing in the tank might seem innocuous and harmless, but you may be introducing unwanted hitchhikers with voracious appetites for your coral beauties. Think of this practice like gambling in Vegas, if you play the game long enough you are guaranteed to lose. The bright side to this potential nightmarish scenario is that with a little effort and some tank parts you probably have laying around, you can avoid adding pests to your tank altogether.
We all know what a quarantine system is, but let’s go over the basics again?
A quarantine system is a separate isolated space where you can place coral frags, colonies, inverts, and fish to be observed and treated before you introduce them into your display tank. The key here is “isolated”, meaning that it should not be connected in any way to your display system. Additionally, since we are discussing Coral Pests and Coral Rx, we will iterate that you should not use Coral Rx on invertebrates. It is a good idea to quarantine your invertebrates however, we will only be discussing quarantining and dipping corals.
On to what your quarantine system should look like.
In the simplest of language, a quarantine tank or system is a place to observe and treat corals for a variety of pests or diseases, in a controlled environment before you introduce new specimens into your display tank. To view the range of pests that Coral Rx is confirmed to treat visit https://Coral Rx.com/Coral Rx-treats/ and see pest photos and a brief description of each pest.
In all honesty, your quarantine system should be as simple as you can sustain, meaning that a simple tank, a hang on back (HOB) power filter (minus the carbon) and some frag racks are about all you need to successfully quarantine your corals. This time should be between 4 and 8 weeks or longer if you feel that it is warranted. Obviously if you have an infestation on your new frags or colonies of montipora eating nudibranchs, you want to fully break the life-cycle with multiple dips in Coral Rx over the course of the quarantine time and observation periods to make sure you catch eggs that have not hatched which cannot be seen because they are hidden in crevices or in hard to see places on your frag. The most important thing to remember is your quarantine system must meet the minimum survival needs of corals while supporting the ability to visualize and or remove corals for inspection and treatment. The main point to take away from this is you should be able to view and easy to remove coral frags or colonies so you can treat if you need to.
I’ve got my corals dipped in Coral Rx and my quarantine system is set up, now what?
Once your corals have been initially dipped in Coral Rx and introduced into the QT system, this is now the time where patience and keen observation skills are important. Look at the underside of each frag and the frag plugs, look at and observe where the frag is glued on to the plug. This is typically where you will see the eggs of the majority of pests we encounter in the hobby. One other precaution if you can is to remove the frag from its mount and toss the plug and just place the frag into the QT without the plug if at all possible.
Systematic consistency is the key to a successful quarantine.
Once you have initially dipped in Coral Rx and taken all the other precautionary steps to remove pets, you can then start an observation and dipping regimen that follows the same pattern of observation, inspection, and Coral Rx dip if necessary, over the next few weeks. In the morning, observe each frag and check its underside for bite marks, receding flesh, or visible pests. Next, observe each frag after lights out with a flashlight. Nighttime is when we often see specific pests that may come out of rocks and have been able to escape the initial Coral Rx dip.
To wrap up, here are a few final tips and instructions for using Coral Rx.
- Remember, NEVER ADD CORAL RX DIRECTLY TO YOUR DISPLAY, always add it to water that is taken from the QT or Display system, and then place frags back into your systems only after they are rinsed with clean tank water.
- Never dip corals over your QT or display tank, this could result in spilling or contaminated water entering the clean QT or display. Remember, when some pests die they release toxins, which is why you need to rinse each frag after dipping and use a fresh Coral Rx mix for each frag.
- If you see pests in your quarantine system, then you must re-dip in Coral Rx and extend the quarantine time again. It is recommended to extend the QT stay by 4 more weeks after each round of dipping is required for newly discovered pests.
- Quarantine systems are your best defense for preventing pest infestations in your display or fragging systems when used in conjunction with Coral Rx.
- Coral Rx alone is a tremendous way to kill pests introduced into your system, but QT and Coral Rx make an almost infallible system.
The most important thing to take away from this is always Dip your corals and to quarantine.