How to Build a Coral Quarantine Tank
Today, we are going to go over setting up a quarantine tank for corals, instead of fish, and show you why it is a smart idea to have a separate tank dedicated to the isolation and observation of corals.
New corals can carry a wide variety of not so pleasant hitch hikers into your tank. It is even possible for a coral frag or small colony to carry diseases and parasites that can not only affect other corals, but also many other animals found in a reef tank.
Some of you are probably thinking "I dip all my corals prior to going into my tank, so why would I isolate them, too?" The answer is simple: coral dips are not 100% effective.
We carry several great coral dips including the Coral Rx and Two Little Fishies Coral Revive and high recommend dipping all corals. However, some pests can be extremely difficult to get rid of. Eggs of many of the pests cannot eradicated with coral dips and can hatch weeks after being introduced into your aquarium.
Additionally, some pests may be hidden so deep within the frag plug or rock that a relatively short dip may not deliver a strong enough dosage to reach them. For these reasons, isolating and observing your corals in a separate quarantine tank is a great way to prevent these ailments from getting into your reef aquarium.
A small tank of about 10-20 gallons is all you need for isolating corals. Having a shallow tank makes it easy to provide ample lighting and flow and will also make it much easier to closely observe the new corals.
Once you have a tank, you will need a filter to keep the water clean and oxygenated. Unlike a fish tank, a coral quarantine tank will experience little to no waste so keeping nitrates down should be easy with a small hang-on power filter or canister filter.
With a small, shallow tank it is easy to find an affordable light. LED strip lights such as the new AquaMaxx NemoLight or T5HO strip lights such as the AquaticLife Marquis work great and are very economical.
For water flow, you want a small powerhead such as the Hydor Koralia Nano to move water inside the tank. You do not need anything fancy, just enough to circulate the water inside the tank and keep the corals happy.
A quality heater, such as the Eheim Jager, works well for keeping the temperature stable.
Egg crate or frag racks are great for holding the corals inside the tank. I like the pre-manufactured frag racks, such as the Innovative Marine ReefRack, because it is easy to create different zones. You can easily move them around the aquarium to accommodate the light and flow requirements of the specific coral.
Once you got everything together, bacteria supplements will most definitely help the process along.
Once corals have been dipped and added to the quarantine tank, check them regularly for healthy polyp extension and look closely at the coral tissue and base of the corals. This is where many coral predators hang-out and often times have very effective camouflage.
Sometimes signs of stress and infection may not be immediately visible so be sure to give the coral plenty of time for observation. We generally recommend isolation for 30-60 days without any signs of infection or diseases.
Physical removal is one of the best ways to completely eradicate many coral predators. Being in isolation makes it much easier to see this little organisms and get them out of the tank. You can also effectively dip an infected coral multiple times and place back into quarantine to help eradicate various problems.
Unlike a fish quarantine tank, it is not typical for you to directly medicate the entire coral quarantine tank. It is best to treat corals in a separate container and then place back into quarantine for observation.
Don’t forget to have fragging supplies, a specimen cup, and appropriate test kits handy. We also have some great blogs and additional videos all about coral predators and hitch hikers so be sure to check out the links in our video description to learn more.
If you need help setting up a quarantine tank or simply have some questions, our trained team of aquarium experts is here to help. Until next time, take care and happy reefkeeping.