Best Practices for Quarantining Pond Fish

Pond fish are susceptible to a number of diseases and other problems, and when detected they must be contained as quickly as possible. One way of preventing illness from spreading is through quarantine, and below are some best practices for doing it.

What Is Quarantine?

The term quarantine, when used in a pond of aquarium context, simply means that a fish or group of fish which are ill will be separated from those which are not. This allows the afflicted fish to be treated while minimizing the possibility of them infecting the rest. Even newly purchased fish which do not exhibit outward signs of sickness should be kept quarantined or separated from the rest of the group for a specific period of time to ensure they are healthy. The length of time needed for quarantine is the subject of debate among experts, but will vary depending on the circumstances. A fish that is exhibiting clear signs of illness will need to be quarantined longer than a recently purchased fish which is not.

How Does Fish Quarantine Work?

Quarantine for pond fish usually involves isolating them. The fish which are ill will be placed in a quarantine tank. While in the tank they should be observed for signs of distress or symptoms of illness. There are dozens of diseases which afflict fish, and few pond owners are experts in most of them. However, typical signs of diseased fish include abrasions or unusual growths on their body. Fish which are under stress will also behave differently than normal fish, sometimes rubbing against the sides of their enclosures.

To find out exactly what is wrong it is recommended to visit a veterinarian, unless you have sufficient knowledge of fish diseases to determine the cause yourself. Diseases can be tricky, and what appears to be the symptoms of one condition may actually be the symptoms of another. While in quarantine the oxygen, pH and water temperature levels must remain stabilized. The fish should also be fed food which is medicated as well as non-medicated.  Once you know which disease you’re dealing with you can administer the appropriate medication. Once the quarantine period ends the fish can be returned to its original environment, but should be monitored for the first few days to ensure it acclimates correctly.

How Long Should Quarantine Last?

Recommendations for quarantine lengths from experts range from 15 days to six months. However, 15 days is not enough time for diseases such as ich parasite, which won’t begin showing signs until about 17 days have passed. Six months on the other hand may be too long for most pond owners, and should only be used for rare, exotic fish which are extremely expensive to acquire. As such the majority of pond owners should quarantine their fish from four to six weeks maximum. It must be also noted that quarantine does not guarantee that your fish won’t get sick, but will greatly reduce the chances of the illness spreading.