Planted Tank Guru
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Contra Costa CA
Copper based meds seem to hang around for a long time after you think they are gone, so you cannot keep shrimp in the tank for a long time after using copper.
Salt: Add 1 teaspoon per 5 gallons each day for 3 days. Total dose is 1 tablespoon per 5 gallons. (Not too far off 1/2 teaspoon per gallon). This is at the high end for salt sensitive fish. It is too much for plants, especially at that high temperature.
If you move the fish to a hospital tank the main tank will not have fish, so Ich will die. No host. I would also move the shrimp and continue to keep the main tank cycled with ammonia, just like the fishless cycle. If there were any doubts that the main tank was cycled, then a week or two without fish, and adding ammonia will definitely finish out the cycle, and grow a lot more beneficial bacteria.
I would keep the shrimp separate from the fish so you can use what you want on the fish. If you want to use copper in the hospital tank, that is OK.
When setting up the hospital tank you can use water from the main tank, but not because it is cycled. There is no such thing as cycled water. You are using that water because that is what the fish are used to. You could use a certain % of new water and that would be like a water change. If you can match the GH, KH and TDS then use all new water, and transfer only the minimum of Ich organisms in the water that clings to the net during the transfer.
Moving that many fish into an uncycled tank can indeed be a problem. You could use the filter from the main tank, or use a sponge filter if it has some established bacteria. The problem is that often medications can stop the bacteria from reproducing, if not kill them outright. Whatever bacteria you can move is all that the hospital tank will have. Plan on doing LOTS of water changes for 2 reasons: Removing the fallen Ich organisms before they breed (Bare bottom hospital tank, and vacuum the floor of the tank daily) and removing ammonia and nitrite.
Here is what I would do:
Move the established filter, fish and water to the hospital tank. Maybe use 50% old water and 50% new water, being sure to match GH, KH and TDS.
Add as many plant clippings as possible. They will die in the hot, salty water, but will be there for a few days, helping with the ammonia.
Run UV on the hospital tank, add salt and do daily vacuuming.
Raise the temperature at the rate of 1 degree F every couple of hours until the temperature in the hospital tank is 86*F.
Meanwhile, the main tank: Move the shrimp to a different container and work on the fishless cycle here. Use the sponge filter or anything else that you can leave in here for a few weeks after you return the fish. A mesh bag of lava rock or bio media would be best.
When you return the fish to this tank:
1) BIG water change. The fishless cycle can raise the nitrate way off the charts.
2) Keep the newly cycled media.
3) Clean the old filter (it was on the hospital tank) really well. Not bleach, you are not trying to kill the bacteria, but wash clean all the debris.
4) Move as much of the newly cycled bio media into the filter as will fit. Hang the rest in the tank in the mesh bag.
5) Remove a little of the bio media from the mesh bag each week until it is all gone, perhaps over a month or so. This will ease the transition while more bacteria get established in the filter. The removed bio media can be kept cycled in the hospital (now quarantine) tank, if you want, by adding ammonia. I do not keep a tank cycled unless I know I will be buying fish soon.