This is such a complicated question. Is it REALLY necessary to quarantine your new saltwater fish before putting them into your main display tank.

Most seasoned reefers will tell you that it is absolutely necessary to quarantine, and that the question isn’t even worth debating. This is normally because they have either seen or read that the expected thing to do is to quarantine, or because they have been unfortunate enough to introduce a parasite or disease into their tank and have lost some of their more prized, and usually more sensitive fish.

I don’t disagree with these reefers, but what about those of us that are just starting in the hobby, and are taking things slowly and only buying hardy, less prone to disease and less expensive fish to start with? Is it an absolute must then?

I put a poll up on my Facebook page, which has seasoned & new reefers that follow it, to see just what percentage of people actually quarantine their fish, the results were shocking! You can see the results below. If you would like to join in on my Facebook page, you can find it here

Facebook Poll Results
Facebook Poll Results

As you can see from the poll results, 73% of the 222 people who responded to the poll, do not quarantine. To me, that percentage of reefers seems extraordinarily big, especially considering that every article you read, every YouTube video you watch, every local fish shop, pretty much every bit of information available stresses how important quarantining is for the health and well being of your livestock.

So why are the seasoned reefers such big advocates of quarantine? I honestly think it is because the majority of them have had to deal with something hideous thing in their tank, and as a result wished they had set up a quarantine tank.

Seasoned reefers have, more often than not, devoted a fair chunk of their lives to their tanks, couple that with hundreds, if not thousands of pounds worth of investment, it would be devastating to watch all of that deteriorate in front of your eyes being unable to stop the havoc that ensues, all because you didn’t set up a quarantine tank.

Quarantine tanks are not always practical for people, they often don’t have the space for them or sometimes even the time to maintain them properly, and lets not forget it is yet ANOTHER expense within this hobby.

There has also been articles that state quarantining your fish actually increases the chances of losing a healthy fish, due to the increase stress of an improper environment. So this should be taken into consideration when deciding to quarantine or not.

Firefish Goby
Firefish Goby

There is a saying relating to gambling, “You should only gamble what you can afford to lose”. I think this is very apt, even within this hobby. For those of us just starting out, you can probably afford to loose a couple of hundred quids worth of fish, it would still hurt, but it’s not the end of the world. Once the value of your livestock starts to increase, you are then playing with bigger stakes, which will ultimately make you more nervous. Some people will get nervous at the thought of losing £500.00 worth of stock, for others it may be £1500.00, but we all have a limit as to what we are prepared to risk.

In my experience in all worlds of fish keeping, the more expensive the fish, the easier it seems to be for them to perish, despite your best efforts and thinking you have done everything right.

Tang with Ich
Tang with Ich

Most of us tend to stick to easy to keep, friendly, hardy fish when we start in this hobby, so the risk of disease wiping out your tank is far less than those who have progressed into the more specialist, more desirable and in turn, more disease prone fish. For these fish it may be too much of a gamble for you to consider adding them to your main display tank that is likely already filled with several of the cheaper, hardier fish.

Eventually, one day, you will likely lose if you choose to continuously gamble with the health of your display tank. The bookie always wins in the end.

In conclusion do you really need to quarantine your saltwater fish, yes, eventually I think you do. But for those of us just starting out, I think as long as you are prepared to take the chance and you are only adding fish that are less prone to disease and are more hardy, then maybe it is worth the gamble. That being said, just because they are less prone to disease, it doesn’t mean they wont catch one or introduce one into your display tank.