by Jeff Young

It’s important to understand and follow standard quarantine procedures (QT). We QT fish because they are living creatures. All living creatures have the ability to carry pathogens like bacteria or protozoan of one sort or another. Bacteria are frequently carried externally on discus. My discus all come from either Singapore or Malaysia and carry bacteria that are common to fish from that region of the world.

When new discus are placed in the same tank with discus you already have the bacteria mixes and one or more of the discus may become sick. Two independently healthy discus can be mixed together and one may become sick.

I try to explain this so people can easily understand it by a short example. If I go to Mexico Friday evening for the weekend, eat local food and drink the water, by Monday I’m usually sick. Now there can be hundreds of locals in Mexico that eat and drink the same as I do and it will have no effect on them whatsoever. That is because they are used to the bacteria that is present there and I am not.

It will not have the same effect on the locals because they have been exposed to that bacteria and have a resistance to it where I do not. It’s the mixing and new conditions that determine if one gets sick. Oftentimes discus will have a resistance to the bacteria they carry in small amounts and it may not make them sick unless they become stressed. Then they may be overcome with the bacteria they carry.

So now that you understand why it’s important to QT lets look at the best way to go about it. What I recommend first off is their own tank, nets and hoses, filling devices, airlines, filters and buckets for a minimum time of 5 weeks. New discus should be kept in a separate room if possible from all your existing tanks. You have to remember even 1 drop of water from your old tank to the QT tank is cross contamination and vise versa!!! So it is very important to remember this when feeding and doing water changes. You should either clean the QT tank first or last and wash your hands and arms between the QT tank and your existing tanks.

What is QT? To me QT is a time for observation. I do not believe in just medicating at random. What I would do as soon as all the discus are in the tank and swimming is to add ¾ cup of freshwater aquarium salt per 10 gallons of water and raise the temp to 90 degrees. I would add a regular dose of Maroxy (5ml per 20 gallons) for 5 days. You should do 50% daily water changes and replace any salt and Maroxy removed from the tank during the water change. You want to maintain ¾ cup of salt per 10 gallons of water and 5ml of Maroxy per 20 gallons for 5 full days. This will stress the discus slightly. If there are any problems with the discus it will usually show now.

When the 5 days are up you will now lower the temp to 84 degrees and maintain that temperature and continue daily 50% water changes. You will NOT replace any salt or Maroxy being removed from the tank.

Some people will then want to worm for tapeworms with Prazi. This is strictly up to you.

After you have finished with treatment observe for 1 more week and then add a cull from your existing stock. Leave the cull from your existing stock with the discus in QT for a minimum period of 3 weeks. If there are no problems you should be able to mix the discus.