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WHY I USE AN ISOLATION TANK

Posted By: Greg Dunlap <gregandeileen@juno.com>
Date: Sunday, 27 October 2002, at 12:10 a.m.

If you are tired of hearing my arguments for using an iso-tank, and you are not convinced "or don't want the hassle", maybe THIS will change your mind.

You may remember I went to the lfs Thursday and bought 10 Black Neons. I took 5 home to iso and told the owner I would be back next week to pick up 5 more (he put then separately into another tank.) Less fish per iso is better, I only have a 3 gallon iso-tank. I am patient- another week will make no difference!

I came home Thursday and filled the iso with tank-water, Spectrogram, Quick-Cure and salt, it took all of about 15 minutes. Plug in the air-pump and heater, stick in the thermometer and add the fish.

Now these fish were huge, and beautiful. I watched them for 15 minutes in the store and looked very carefully for ANY signs of disease, and saw none. Just BIG (2.25-2.5") Tetras, very beautiful, healthy and active.

The night after I put them into iso I noticed a potential problem- one I have seen before. On 2 of the 5 there were faint red-streaks in the tails, and a third one had them too, but a little darker. My eyes missed it in the store's tanks, and 99% of buyers would have missed it. I had missed it, but the store lights were not as bright as our kitchen's, and they were VERY easy to miss.

Now there are 2 possibilities here. First, some species are prone to visible veins into the tails. Second, this IS a sign of BACTERIAL infection, and can be the start of a BAD one. I have seen this before, especially in Tetras and other minnow-fish. I didn't sweat it- time would tell. If it was an infection, I would see the streaks start fading after about 2 days in iso.

Yesterday, end of day one, I thought the streaks might be fainter, but I could not be sure. I changed the iso water out and added new meds and salt (which I do every day for iso).

Today I looked at the three, and IT WAS an infection. After 48 hours, one is completely cleared, one is much fainter and should clear by tomorrow, and the worst of the three should clear in 2 more days. I plan to extend iso with the antibiotic and salt for 6 days instead of the 5, just to be sure. And you can damn well bet I will iso the rest when I pick them up!!

That's it. I have seen this before, and it is near impossible for anyone but a very experienced aquarist to spot it in the early phases, I even missed it this time.

I have seen this before-it slowly spreads into the tail, and the tail literally starts rotting off. It can be cured in the main tank, but only by hitting the tank with huge amounts of expensive meds.

The medication I use says "it doesn't kill off the "good" bacterias". Techs at the places I do large supply (annual) purchases have told me this is crap- maybe not kill off, but heavy doses of antibiotics are hard on the tank biosystem, period. This is the REAL truth. And the high cost of the meds, and the hassle of treating "in the main", and the sick fish, and the dead fish, and the cost of replacing fish, and the carbon-packs after, and all the waterchanges. What an expensive, royal pain in the ass it used to be!

My wife saw the streaks also and recognized them- the disease has killed our fish before. And she told me to "Please, NEVER put any fish into the tank without them going through isolation".

Some person out there will try to claim the illness was cause by a factor other than what it was- a VERY contagious killer that is very hard to see when it first starts, but spreads and kills quickly. The sad truth is it is EASY to get rid of in the EARLY stages in iso!!

16 months now, and zero illness or kills from disease in the main-tank, and the tank is SO healthy from NO antibiotics or ANY meds.

I have seen this twice now in iso. The last time it hit like this I had about 10 small Neons in iso when I first saw it- FIVE died before the iso was over, the rest did 10 days in iso and lived a LONG time. I also put a nice Redtail-shark inot iso, and he sickened and died a horrible death in 48 hours! The meds? No, I replaced him with another that went through iso in 5, and he is very fat, beautiful and happy today, thank you. Aside from this, I have lost no other fish in iso.

I have two prize-size Clowns and a small one, and some somewhat rare species (cherry-picked and VERY beautiful) in the tank. ALL my larger fish are getting large, fat, and should live many years. I hate the diseases, the cost, hassle and sadness of the deaths.

If THIS story doesn't convince you to iso with meds, I have no idea what to say anymore. And the fish were otherwise healthy- the disease would have gone into the tank, spread slowly unnoticed, and then expoded.

Isolation without meds? I have seen this stuff "creep" for 2-3 months before exploding, which it ALWAYS does, eventually, and then it is hard to eradicate. So do you iso for 6 months without meds to be sure? Four months? I like 5 days.

I once had a Granola-head friend. He and his girlfriend owned two very large dogs. They "Didn't like flea-collars because they had chemicals, which were bad for the dogs" (this was in the early 80's when collars were still all you could do for fleas). They "Wanted to be organic" and read where you should feed the dogs garlic and tie it around their collars- this would stop the fleas.

It never worked. They had convinced themselves it was working, "and was so organic". Funny- every time my ex and I went over there and sat on the couch or on the floor we would get fleabites!

Some of you have argued for "holistic" approaches to controlling disease in tanks. Fine, use them, I'll bet they are not HIGHLY effective.

I will bet ANYTHING this disease would have gotten past them and caused havoc in their tank.

If this needles some, sorry, I seldom worry about being politically correct. I have read, discussed, asked questions and tried everything for disease-control over the past 20 years. None is HIGHLY effective except using an iso-tank with meds, or maybe isolation withoud meds for a LONG time. And I did try the Melafix- it was an expensive joke. I have talked to several really experienced people, and they all say pretty much the same thing.

A problem with the lfs? No, his tanks looked good. It's a problem with how fish are trapped, raised, shipped, and warehoused in tanks. They are stressed, overcrowded, and disease spreads, period.

I choose to NOT have disease in my tank. I read all the gut-wrenching pleas for help from people with dying fish. Don't go through all that- spend about $30 to set up an iso and stop the cycle once and for all. GREG
 

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