This is from a thread I started a couple days ago. Op here suggested it be reposted in this thread in hopes of having an all-in-one QT thread. I agree, so...
Maintaining a quarantine tank long term
I've always wondered about the best way to keep a quarantine tank running continuously with minimal power usage.
All that's needed to set one up once you have the need is a tank, filter and heater. Light would be nice but would depend on where the tank is located. If you wait until the need arises I've considered it somewhat counterproductive without a cycled filter to use. If your QT period is as long as it should be the tank would be ready for fish about the time the QT period is over.
For me, space to keep one running continuously isn't an issue. I have room in the garage and room at my business to keep it running. The cost of heating it though only to use it a few times a years has been my concern.
Keeping the bacteria colonies alive with a food source seems easy enough, just a pinch of food every once in a while. Temperature of an unheated tank had me wondering what would happen to those colonies.
Last week I asked these questions of Timothy A. Hovanec, Ph.D. via email. He's the owner of Dr. Tim's Aquatics and formerly of Marineland. I met him briefly about 15 years ago at Marineland's corporate office in Moorpark, CA when I was training for point of sale sales program they had. That was a fun job and I did that for several years.
Anyway, here's the conversation. I'll breakup my two-part question and his answers.
I explained the questions were regarding keeping a QT tank ready and I wrote...
> #1 food source to maintain at least minimal biologic activity. My
> thinking is an occasional pinch of flake food or whatever would
> solve that.
Dr. Tim's response...
some fish food or a drop or two of ammonium chloride once in a
while. the bacteria do NOT die if not fed everyday (they are not
human) so periodic feeding keeps them going
> #2 temperature How important is temperature range? If you keep a
> quarantine tank in the garage in SoCal without heat it can still
> get down in to the 50's. When it comes time to make use of the
> tank, say at 77°, how will that effect the viability of the
> bacteria? Is there a tighter temp range that we should aim for?
> Simple thing would be to just keep the tank warm but I prefer not
> to spin the power meter any faster than necessary.
Dr. Tim's response...
As long as the water does not freeze being colder is actually better
for 'preserving' the bacteria because it slows them down. Think of
if this way - they are an energy cell with a capacity of X. The rate
they use up X is temperature dependent - the lower the temp the
slower they use X. But they can respond very fast - plug the heater
in and let the temperature rise into the 70's and they will start
working very fast. We did this with the old BioSpira - kept in a
refrigerator around 50 F at the store and then pour into the aquarium
around 75F and they go to work immediately.
I'll glad to see that with minimal ongoing cost I can maintain a tank that would be ready once it's brought out of hibernation in a short time.
Found this interesting and hopefully prevents some from bypassing a QT
period and risking all the other livestock. I know it's not possible for everyone.
But then maybe everyone but me already knew this. lol