How and Why Should I Quarantine New Corals?Posted on Thursday, November 12th, 2009 at 5:21 pm by ReefTools
Is it safe to put a new coral you just got directly in your tank? Absolutely not. Any new introduction to your system may contain any of a variety of pests you don’t want in your reef. So what’s the alternative you ask? Quarantine!!
Although this may initially seem like an inconvenience to the new hobbyist, any experienced reefkeeper will gladly share horror stories that are sure to convince anyone willing to listen. These stories of flatworms, red bugs, zoanthid-eating spiders, mojanos, to name a few, are the result of skipping the necessary quarantine procedure. Compare the prospect of day or sometimes weeks of work against the simple quarantine procedure, and I think you’ll see why it’s the right thing to do.
Not convinced yet? Ok, let’s try to scare you. You just brought that new coral home from the store, a swap, or a trade with another hobbyist and it looks just fine. It couldn’t possibly have any hitchhiker pests on it right? Well, let’s go over what it “couldn’t” have on it first. Here’s a quick list of some common reef hitchhikers you want to to prevent from being introduced to your beautiful reef tank:
- Acropora Eating Flatworms (AEFW)
- Aiptasia (Aiptasia Removal Methods)
- Asterina Starfish
- Montipora Eating Nudibranchs
- Red Bugs (Treating for Red Bugs with Interceptor)
- Vermetid Snails
- Zoanthid Eating Nudibranchs
- Zoanthid Eating Spiders
Trust me when I say, that although there are ways to eradicate these pests from your system after they are introduced, you are WAY BETTER OFF avoiding them to begin with.
Now that the scary part is out of the way, let’s get to the topic of how to quarantine corals. A simple coral quarantine tank needs be nothing more than a small tank, light, heater, powerhead, and live rock. There are some hobbyists that set up a new quarantine tank each time they get a new order in, I’ve always thought it’s much easier to just keep my quarantine tank up at all times. I actually use a Solana I had laying around, but of course that is not necessary. Just a note, if you plan on using this tank to quarantine fish as well, make sure that you do not use any copper-based medications when treating fish. Traces of these medications will remain in your tank and will harm future corals you place in quarantine.
When I receive a new coral, my first step is to acclimate it to my tank’s water temperature. This can easily be archived by floating the bag in the tank for 25-30 minutes. Because bright light may stress a new acquisition, it is recommended that this is done with the lights off. Next, I dip the coral in either Tropic Marin Pro Coral Cure (10 – 15 minutes) or Revive (5 – 6 minutes). While the coral is in the coral dip bath, I make sure to either swish it around with my hand, or use a turkey baster to blast the coral. This assists in the manual removal of pests from the coral. I make sure to dip the coral before placing the coral in my quarantine tank, in order to allow the dip to remove any pests that it is able to. Next, I place the coral in the quarantine tank and add a dose of Interceptor in order to kill Red Bugs. I normally leave the coral in the quarantine tank overnight (at least 10-12 hours).
Although there is always a risk that a pest will slip through the cracks, I believe that this simple procedure is well worth the added protection it provides. Maintaining a quarantine tank at all times, makes this process even easier, and soon it will become part of your routine. Because the quarantine tank is stable, it allows you to take your time and inspect a new coral for an added period of time if necessary. If you feel the need to perform an extra dip or dose of Interceptor, you can do so without to much trouble. In addition to maintaining a healthy, pest free reef tank, you are also doing your in preventing the spreading of these pests amongst hobbyists.