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youcallmenny

What are your QT and incoming livestock sterilization procedues?

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Hello everyone! 

Like the title asks, I'd like to discuss our personal disease/pest prevention.  A few months back I finally paid for my own lack of QT and got an ich/velvet outbreak and went from 15 fish to 4 inside of a couple of days.  The reason I say it may have been ich when it seems more like a velvet timeline is because I had been throwing fish and livestock in willy-nilly since the start and kind of suspect that I finally tipped some scale and the ich went nuts.  Either way, I about wiped out my fishstock due to my own laziness.  Bummer.  After some consideration I decided that if I'm sticking with this hobby for the long haul, and I am, I ought to get serious about all aspects of reefkeeping.  I had already been aware that skipping quarantine was a bad choice and this seemed like a good time to finally get this figured out.

I salvaged the last 4 (clowns, pajamafish and a lawnmower) by setting up a 20g QT with some 4" pvc tubes and appropriate gear.  My fledgling QT procedure was born and here we are.  Fast forward to now and those four were treated with copper and prazi and allowed to chill in the QT for 76 days to wait out the ich cysts.  Essentially I fallowed my DT and now the 4 are back, healthy and ready to go.  I currently have 2 medium Swallowtail Angels (Thanks Jeff!) in QT beginning their copper.  There will be no exceptions to this rule in my system.  I ignored these procedures for the first 3 years and paid dearly for it, so I no longer believe that to be a responsible or successful way to introduce fishstock.  I hope we can help some folk out with this discussion.

What I want to discuss for my own sake is everything else.  I know a lot of people don't see this as necessary but for the sake of the conversation, let's pretend it is.  There has been enough reports of pest eggs hiding inside of coral skeletons to warrant at least a look at what the hypothetical cleanest procedure would be.  Obviously inverts are going to have to sit and stare at the wall for 76 days if we can agree that cysts can live on their shell.  There isn't much to be done.  How do I keep them alive for 76 days in an unmedicated QT?  Any experience here?  

Then there's the million-dollar question: How do I safely QT coral?  I tend to get mostly SPS with a smattering of LPS/Softies if they're really nice.  I want to know the most foolproof methodology here.  Bayer is on the agenda, but I need the most bulletproof procedures here for using it.  Things like AEFW and red/black bugs terrify me worse than the fish diseases.  Currently the only thing I have working knowledge of is to do a thorough inspection of the coral before ever considering purchase.  I am completely new to dips for coral other than brief Seachem Reef Dip baths.  I'd like to hear about these types of products  that have the most proven track record.  Also I am definitely aware of the problem with being unable to kill eggs this way.  Is this going to require dosing or regular coral QT WC's?  Let's hear it!  

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Hello everyone! 
Like the title asks, I'd like to discuss our personal disease/pest prevention.  A few months back I finally paid for my own lack of QT and got an ich/velvet outbreak and went from 15 fish to 4 inside of a couple of days.  The reason I say it may have been ich when it seems more like a velvet timeline is because I had been throwing fish and livestock in willy-nilly since the start and kind of suspect that I finally tipped some scale and the ich went nuts.  Either way, I about wiped out my fishstock due to my own laziness.  Bummer.  After some consideration I decided that if I'm sticking with this hobby for the long haul, and I am, I ought to get serious about all aspects of reefkeeping.  I had already been aware that skipping quarantine was a bad choice and this seemed like a good time to finally get this figured out.
I salvaged the last 4 (clowns, pajamafish and a lawnmower) by setting up a 20g QT with some 4" pvc tubes and appropriate gear.  My fledgling QT procedure was born and here we are.  Fast forward to now and those four were treated with copper and prazi and allowed to chill in the QT for 76 days to wait out the ich cysts.  Essentially I fallowed my DT and now the 4 are back, healthy and ready to go.  I currently have 2 medium Swallowtail Angels (Thanks Jeff!) in QT beginning their copper.  There will be no exceptions to this rule in my system.  I ignored these procedures for the first 3 years and paid dearly for it, so I no longer believe that to be a responsible or successful way to introduce fishstock.  I hope we can help some folk out with this discussion.
What I want to discuss for my own sake is everything else.  I know a lot of people don't see this as necessary but for the sake of the conversation, let's pretend it is.  There has been enough reports of pest eggs hiding inside of coral skeletons to warrant at least a look at what the hypothetical cleanest procedure would be.  Obviously inverts are going to have to sit and stare at the wall for 76 days if we can agree that cysts can live on their shell.  There isn't much to be done.  How do I keep them alive for 76 days in an unmedicated QT?  Any experience here?  
Then there's the million-dollar question: How do I safely QT coral?  I tend to get mostly SPS with a smattering of LPS/Softies if they're really nice.  I want to know the most foolproof methodology here.  Bayer is on the agenda, but I need the most bulletproof procedures here for using it.  Things like AEFW and red/black bugs terrify me worse than the fish diseases.  Currently the only thing I have working knowledge of is to do a thorough inspection of the coral before ever considering purchase.  I am completely new to dips for coral other than brief Seachem Reef Dip baths.  I'd like to hear about these types of products  that have the most proven track record.  Also I am definitely aware of the problem with being unable to kill eggs this way.  Is this going to require dosing or regular coral QT WC's?  Let's hear it!  
Well I will say this. I always qt and treat my fish with copper and prazi. I didn't QT a trio of anthias i got because i was just excited. Then two days later... ich in the tank. Not the end of the world but it has yo be dealt with sooner or later. You CAN live with ich.. but why?

Flash forward.. I never QT my coral. Just a dip or two, then in the tank. Then my sps just stopped growing? then some STN, then it stopped. Finally I got a magnifying glass and looked at them.... UGGHHH.. i had acro eating flat worms!!

Again, not the end of the world but here i am just because I wanted to do things the easy way.

The great thing about forums is that there is so much good information out there. The problem with forums is that you can always find someone that says what you want to hear. From "this product is amazing" to " i have never QT a thing in 10 years and never had a problem.

So for me, because I have a great deal of money in my tank I told myself everything gets QT'd. The extra time it takes is well worth it to know that I am not letting parasites into my display tank.

Hope this helps





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oh yeah. From what i have read and talked to others, bayer is the gold standard of dipping for corals. For my sps QT i have a cheap ebay T5 setup over a 20 gallon. dip 2x a week and look for flukes. When you dont see flukes for 2 weeks, one more dip and you are good to go (for AEFW). Also.. always cut off base rocks.

In regards to inverts, there are many places that sell inverts (and chaeto) from fishless systems so you are guaranteed no ich cysts.



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Ok... going to play devil's advocate here a bit (I know, shocking isn't it!).

I think there are potentially some legitimate questions one could ask about how best to approach the whole QT scenario with fish, coral, inverts etc. and whether or not a 100% exclusion target is either obtainable (realistically) or desirable vs. an approach that would favor reduction over elimination in combination with more general health maintenance.  As noted by youcallmenny and pdxmonkeyboy above, there are many ways that pests can gain entry into your system and it takes a lot of dedication and planning to completely avoid all of them (sterilization of all equipment, sand, rock, prolonged separate QT of fish, coral, inverts).  So, one honest question is whether or not that is a reasonable expectation of one's personal situation - after all, we all have high hopes and typically want to do the right thing but also have a tendency to underestimate the effort required to truly follow through on such a strict regime, especially when this hobby can through you as many curves as it does.

A second question, which I find even more interesting, is whether or not a 100% avoidance approach is even truly desirable in the long run.  While it may seem counter intuitive, might a better approach from both a biological (and personal sanity) perspective be one of "limiting" exposure combined with boosting natural resistance?  The rationale here is that, despite one's best intentions and diligence, there is a good chance that at some point, one of these pathogens will make it into your system.  When that happens, the impact may very substantially depending on the history of your system and whether or not you have become overly reliant on exclusion as your sole defense mechanism.  As on overly simplified example, a person's immune system can be easily overwhelmed by a new pathogen if it hasn't experienced it before and been "primed" for an effective response.  This is where too "clean" of an environment can actually backfire and create a catastrophic impact if/when something does get introduced.

So... what are the options between strict QT and just saying "what the $&@@, I'm just going to throw it in"?  I think a case can be made for doing a combination of pathogen and stress reduction (as opposed to elimination) that makes some sense from both a theoretical and a practical standpoint.  This would involve things like preventative dips for incoming fish and coral along with running UV (pathogen reduction) along with careful monitoring of redox potential on one's system along with basic husbandry such as water parameter consistency and attention to stocking levels and specimen choices (stress reduction).  The idea here is to take care of the low hanging fruit in terms of reducing the level of pathogens through new introductions to the system while also assuming that they will happen so how best to make sure they don't become overwhelming to your existing stock.  This approach can include picking "worker" fish such as wrasses that will eat flatworms, sand sifters (fish, snails, starfish) to reduce detritus in the sand bed (source of water chemistry stressors) as well as using "artificial" mechanisms of control such as UV, good skimmers, carbon, etc.. This basic idea here is that fish are exposed to these pathogens in nature but typically not at the levels they can reach in contained systems or under as stressful conditions as an aquarium can be if over/badly stocked or maintained - thus let's address those points as opposed to shooting for 100% avoidance.

I have been burned by velvet in the past and it is painful but have still settled on a "reduce but not eliminate" approach for myself as 1) I can't see myself ever being able to completely execute the full blown QT system and 2) I can see an argument for something more balanced being a better overall approach in the end (for me).  That said, I still will choose a QT'd  or even better, established fish over a newly imported one (for a variety of reasons) and I will continue to dip corals since these type of mitigations are easy wins for reduction - although not 100% effective as an elimination tool.  In the end, I think there is no simple answer - other than "what the $&@@, I'm just going to throw it in" is a bad idea - and everyone will have to find their own "sweet spot" of elimination vs. containment.  More than likely, this sweet spot will be impacted by how much you have invested and how much time, money and space you have on hand.

 

 

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Very well said and as a biologist i can certainly see your point. I mean, if you look at countries like japan that are complete germaphobes (anti bacterial clothing, etc), they have are more susceptible to infections because there immune systems are compromised as they are not as robust as someone exposed to lots of germs.
So in this sense, it seems logical that not going overboard on QT would not make sense because if fish or corals are healthy, they can thrive despite the presence of pathogens.

On the other hand.. one doesn't contract a mild case of AIDS, or don't sweat it, its just a little HSV2..

It seems to me that there are certain things you can roll the dice with.. velvet, ich. And certain things that once you get, it will systematically crush your tank over time. red bugs, acro spiders, AEFW.

It seems at the very least, everyone keeping sps should have a 15x hand loop and a dipping regime.


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I'm a self-proclaimed Quarantine Queen :angel:, but I mostly get weird reactions from people when I talk about it. Those people tend to have larger tanks with better filtration than I do, so they can get away with more and tend to go the dump and pray route. Eventually, it bites some of them, but enough get away with it that it continues to be standard practice. I have a 20 gallon tank with no skimmer and water changes as my only method of nutrient export, so I have no room for error. Any parasite or other nasty that gets in can overwhelm the tank in no time, so I refuse to let them in.

Fish
When I first get a fish (assuming it's not a delicate species I need to wean onto prepared foods, another matter entirely), I put it through the Tank Transfer Method. This is a series of 4 transfers over 12 days (3 days each) into new water each time, designed to outrun the life cycle of ich. The idea is that ich falls off the fish, reproduces, swims around looking to infect again, but cannot do so due to the fish having packed its bags and left Ich City. I use buckets for single fish under 3", but you'd obviously use proper tanks for larger fish or multiple fish. All equipment is sterilized between transfers. Feeding schedule, I decide based on species, but for most, I feed on the 3rd day of each transfer and add in Prime to ensure I'm not creating an ammonia spike.

When the ich-be-gone transfers are complete, I move the fish into a clean, cycled QT tank to watch for other problems and fatten them up. I treat with 2 rounds of Prazi Pro for flukes and internal problems they may have going on. As long as I don't see stringy white poop, I don't worry any more about that. If I do see such a thing, I treat with Metroplex in the food. The fish I've found the hardest to treat for worms are anthias, because they tend to reinfect themselves constantly by eating the poop. :sick: Bacterial infections are less common, but if they do pop up, treat with antibiotics chosen according to the species and particular problem. Reef2reef is an excellent source of help from experts who haven't let their status go to their heads/turn them into jerks like that other forum. :tongue:

After 4 weeks in the QT tank (nearly 6 weeks total since acquiring the fish), if no problems have presented themselves or have been completely cleared and the fish is eating with gusto, into the display he goes! :yahoo:

Corals & Inverts
Non-fish livestock cannot be infected by ich, but they absolutely can carry it into your tank. More than a few people have been burned by not QT'ing anemones only to transfer velvet into their system. Plenty of coral pests end up in tanks this way. In short, there's a long list of things that can go wrong from not QT'ing all things wet. There is excellent info here about how to determine time frames for QT. I personally go 8 weeks, because encysted ich is not jumping from one rock to another; it is staying put until it bursts and goes on a hunt for fish to infect, which it will not find in my coral/invert QT. My coral dipping procedures are sufficient to eliminate any free swimming ich coming in through store/fellow reefer tank water, so even if I dropped new corals in 4 weeks ago, the ones that have been in QT 8 weeks are ready to go into the display. I don't chance it if I've added anything in the last 4 weeks, but that's due to coral pests rather than ich concerns. If I added a coral yesterday, I'm not going to take a chance that a pest didn't crawl from it to another overnight. If I were QT'ing a lot of SPS (rare for me), I would likely be more stringent, but that's something you have to determine for yourself based on what you keep, which pests are likely, how much damage they can do and how fast, and how easy or difficult they are to control or eradicate.

When I bring home a coral, I first dip using Coral Rx (10 minutes for most corals, but some don't like it and I stop at 5). I have no experience using anything else, except maybe ME dip once or twice when I had a free sample. Plenty of people use Bayer and can offer advice there. I use a 50/50 mix of source water and my QT water to get the acclimation going. After the dip (assuming nothing nasty came off), I thoroughly rinse with new QT water in a separate container, then move the coral into a third container for a 30-minute dip in a heavy overdose of Flatform Exit (longer/again if I find any). I'll add 10 drops or more in a pint-size container. I also do this with any live rock I bring in. I've never experienced any problems doing this, although sometimes I'll see brittle stars and copepods going through a rough time. The stars, I'll grab if I can and toss into my coral QT so I don't have to watch them die a painful death. The pods don't get rescued.

If you start seeing a lot of flatworms die off, you will need to periodically change out water and re-dose the dip, so you don't end up with toxin overload in the container. I've never had that happen, thankfully. Before developing this step of my incoming rock/coral routine, I did end up with red planaria in my coral QT. Once eradicated, I vowed I wasn't letting those bugs in again. Much easier to keep them out of the QT entirely, so I can make sure none ever make it into my display. I know there are worse pests for SPS lovers, but for the corals I keep, not so much.

 

I might be forgetting some things, so feel free to ask questions. I might also be boring people to tears, but those people likely didn't make it this far, so advice to look away is useless. :laugh:

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4 hours ago, pdxmonkeyboy said:



On the other hand.. one doesn't contract a mild case of AIDS, or don't sweat it, its just a little HSV2

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So wait... are you saying you are adding monkeys to your tank? 👀

i kid... I kid. Lots of good points and it reminds me that I keep meaning to track down a good magnifying glass!  

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So wait... are you saying you are adding monkeys to your tank?
i kid... I kid. Lots of good points and it reminds me that I keep meaning to track down a good magnifying glass!  
well, i got a pair of those $7 amazon glasses with multiple magnifier lenses... dont like them. you have to hold things soooo close to your face. I did find some AEFW eggs on a frag though.

I was dipping all my acros and rinsing them and putting them back. Any way you slice it... NOT a fun part of "the hobby" it just makes a mess no matter what you do :(


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Really good input and discourse here!  

@albertareef - I completely agree with the 'boy in a bubble' argument and have seen and heard several anecdotal cases of pristine QT gone wrong when one pest finally slipped through and annihilated everything.  From a biology perspective this sort of lack of immunity response is obviously a bad thing and I appreciate your insight here.  Things that make sense in science don't always come off as intuitive to the layman so it's helpful to the community hopefully to expose some of these more cryptic insights.  

@Flashy Fins - Wonderful write-up!  Thank you for your contribution to the discussion.  Tank transfer method is something that interests me more than the typical QT/HT setup but despite reading the process about a hundred times, I still am not clear enough to feel comfortable doing it.  I suspect it's because I am primarily a tactile learner and someday I need someone in my face, saying words and gesticulating at me to do the right thing.  That said, I've read more success stories out of this approach than any other, especially when it comes to our water-filled friend the Anemone.  I know you posted a comprehensive link but for the sake of locality in the thread, would you mind posting a few pictures of your bucket process and QT?  If you don't have any perhaps I've at worst given you an excuse for a new piece of livestock? :clap::highfive:

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10 hours ago, pdxmonkeyboy said:

well, i got a pair of those $7 amazon glasses with multiple magnifier lenses... dont like them. you have to hold things soooo close to your face. I did find some AEFW eggs on a frag though.

I was dipping all my acros and rinsing them and putting them back. Any way you slice it... NOT a fun part of "the hobby" it just makes a mess no matter what you do :(


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Yeah - I now worry more about coral pests than fish pathogens and the immunity argument doesn't really apply to them either.  In addition to dipping, inspection, rock/plug removal this is where I rely on my natural pest control buddies as well - green coris, melanarus, blue star leopard, red possum... fortunately I like wrasses!

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1 hour ago, youcallmenny said:

 

@Flashy Fins - Wonderful write-up!  Thank you for your contribution to the discussion.  Tank transfer method is something that interests me more than the typical QT/HT setup but despite reading the process about a hundred times, I still am not clear enough to feel comfortable doing it.  I suspect it's because I am primarily a tactile learner and someday I need someone in my face, saying words and gesticulating at me to do the right thing.  That said, I've read more success stories out of this approach than any other, especially when it comes to our water-filled friend the Anemone.  I know you posted a comprehensive link but for the sake of locality in the thread, would you mind posting a few pictures of your bucket process and QT?  If you don't have any perhaps I've at worst given you an excuse for a new piece of livestock? :clap::highfive:

Agree with this - I think the tank transfer holds a lot of promise as a "low impact" methodology to reduce pathogens but I likewise struggle with understanding the timing and details.  As for other QT methods... this is where I lean on people like Holly (Saltwater Harmony) and Colby (Pacific Island Aquatics) who are doing it on a larger scale so investing in the various tanks/treatments/equipment can be spread across a number of specimens to make it reasonable.  They both offer a selection of pre-QT'd fish which makes for a great option for those who can't implement a full QT program themselves.

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11 hours ago, youcallmenny said:

@Flashy Fins - I know you posted a comprehensive link but for the sake of locality in the thread, would you mind posting a few pictures of your bucket process and QT?  If you don't have any perhaps I've at worst given you an excuse for a new piece of livestock? :clap::highfive:

None at the moment, because I haven't added any fish in a while. But I'm hoping to pick up some new fish soon (getting rid of some current ones and changing things up), so the next guy who swims in will get paparazzi treatment and a write-up on the forum. :thumbs:

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There are some people who do their Prazi treatments at the same time as TTM, dosing every other transfer (2 out of 4). I've done it that way once or twice, but I was never crazy about it, because it made me so nervous in regards to oxygen levels. I use airstones in my transfer buckets (not recommended for saltwater tanks, but they're fine for a few days of use; stones are thrown away after each transfer, since they're too porous to reliably sterilize and dry). I much prefer doing the Prazi treatments in my cycled QT, even though it creates the extra work of a water change before each dose.

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I read this the other night and thought i should pass it along. Sometimes I have used tap water and prime for my QT set ups simply because I did not have RO on hand.

After some reading last night i found out that UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you add prime to water with cupramine in it. If you have to use prime to make water you have to wait 48hours for the prime to disapate.

Prime can change the cu2+ that is cupramine to highly toxic CU+ form of copper.

cheers

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Agree with this - I think the tank transfer holds a lot of promise as a "low impact" methodology to reduce pathogens but I likewise struggle with understanding the timing and details.  As for other QT methods... this is where I lean on people like Holly (Saltwater Harmony) and Colby (Pacific Island Aquatics) who are doing it on a larger scale so investing in the various tanks/treatments/equipment can be spread across a number of specimens to make it reasonable.  They both offer a selection of pre-QT'd fish which makes for a great option for those who can't implement a full QT program themselves.
Hey Sean,
The timing for TTM is pretty simple "leave it be for three".
It takes at least 3 days for an ich cycst that has fallen off the fish to hatch and become motile to attach itself to a fish.

So simply remove your fish to a fresh bucket every three days, thereby moving them out of harms way.

The confusing part is how many transfers are needed. If you are never exposing them to the swimming stage.. it should be only 3 transfers. (the most often quoted time for ich to mature and fall off the fish is 7 days). But most people say 14 days.

I'm using copper right now because i am treating a bunch of fish but I am going TTM in the future.

I need to get some square plastic colanders to use instead of nets.



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2 hours ago, pdxmonkeyboy said:

The confusing part is how many transfers are needed. If you are never exposing them to the swimming stage.. it should be only 3 transfers. (the most often quoted time for ich to mature and fall off the fish is 7 days). But most people say 14 days.

4 transfers totaling 12 days is used as a padded effort, just a safety built in on the last one. I do it for the extra assurance.

There is a method of TTM for velvet, but if I recall correctly, transfers happen every 12 hours. Way more work than it would be worth in the majority of cases!

Excellent call on using colanders instead of nets. Years ago, I had a tiny wrasse get his tooth caught on the net, and that was not fun trying to remove it. Worse was that I figured it to be a one-off occurrence, only to have it happen again the very next transfer! He was obviously freaking out and biting the net. I’ve yet to encounter a fish who doesn’t seem far less stressed by a plastic container. 

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8 minutes ago, pdxmonkeyboy said:

I saw the plastic collanders on the R2R qt sticky. they look like this..a023414e019f28ef2d2648b3959ec8f0.jpg

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Great idea!  Couldn't you have found a larger picture though?  This one is a bit too small to make out the details...

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