Before You Medicate Your Saltwater Aquarium…

Happy New Year saltwater aquarium fans!

May 2011 be the best year yet for you and your saltwater aquarium.

Many marine aquarists panic when they spot a disease outbreak in their tank and immediately run out to the LFS and grab some newfangled “reef safe” medication that is supposed to be the magic bullet against Ich or velvet or whatever…

Please, take a deep breath and consider these points BEFORE you medicate:

1. Correct Identification:

Before you medicate your fish you need to be SURE what the disease is as you may only get one chance to get it right and incorrect medication can and does kill fish and invertebrates.

2. Establish the cause:

You really need to figure out why your fish have the disease to nip the cause in the bud! The most common causes are transport stress and incorrect acclimation procedures and “new tank syndrome” if your aquarium has just been set up which means it hasn’t been cycled long enough and this is causing chemical stress.

Quarantine Tank

Quarantine Tank

3. Reduce the chance of disease by 90% – Quarantine!:

You need a quarantine tank! Think; (a) quiet, stress free place for new arrivals to acclimate and (b) perfect environment to separate and medicate sick marine life effectively. Two awesome reasons to get one!

4. Can biological control species help you?

Consider “cleaner” species such as Gobies (especially the Neon) and Shrimp  (Skunk cleaner shrimp are excellent), these guys will happily pick off parasites from your fish and are natural biological control agents.

5. Follow directions!:

To effectively medicate read the label first (obvious I know, but so many people don’t) and ensure medication will have no bad side effects on you other pets (another reason a quarantine tank is a good idea!) especially corals and the like. Finally remove any chemical filtration such as carbon to effectively douse your sick friend with the medicine without the media pulling it out of the water.

Bluestreak Cleaner Wrasse6. Dont believe the hype:

If a pet shop employee tries to talk you into a new, natural completely reef safe medication that seems too good to be true it probably is! Every year millions of dollars are wasted on new “magic bullet” medications that dont work or arent reef safe which means many millions more are wasted on replacement fish.

If you have a marine Ich (Cryptocaryon) or marine velvet (Amyloodinium) outbreak, the ONLY EFFECTIVE medication is a copper solution that IS NOT reef safe (so you need a quarantine tank). Believe me millions of dollars are wasted every year by people that believe the hype about “reef safe” alternatives.

Good luck!

Saltwater Aquarium Advice

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About Andrej Brummer
Hi I'm Andrej, a biologist, geek and best-selling author of 11 aquarium books. I love helping people minimize mistakes and create sustainable, thriving tanks. I believe all captive marine life should have the best chance possible if we take them out of their natural habitats.
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