How to Set Up a Hospital Fish Tank (Quarantine)


I don’t like the word quarantine. For this reason, I am going to refer to the tank used to treat sick fish away from your main system as a hospital tank.  It is important to have a hospital tank to use in tandem with your aquaponics system.

Hospital tanks aren’t new to aquaponics, they have been used in aquarium care for a very long time.  A hospital tank is a space where you can care for fish outside the normal environment of your system.


The principles for setting up a hospital tank aren’t set in stone. However, a few key concepts will help guide you in putting your own together.   My suggestion is to have a tank big enough for 20 fish.  The average size of your fish in your system will drive how big your tank needs to be.  If you have lots of large fish you are going to need a bigger tank.  For example, if you have 20 fish at 1 lb each, you would ideally have a 200-gallon hospital tank.   If you are dealing more with fingerling size fish, then you might only need a 50-gallon tank.

Now that we have covered the desired size for your tank it is time to cover the basics of setting it up.  The most important part of setting up your hospital tank is to make sure it has proper filtration.  If you want to create another media bed and have a second cycled system that is a fine choice.  It’s also fine if you would prefer to use a more traditional aquarium configuration,. For example, one that has a filtration system built-in.

Keep in mind that you will need to maneuver more within this system. A tank that is very tall and very deep might not be best suited for this purpose.  The easier you can net your fish, the less stress you will cause for them. This is very important since this tank meant to heal your fish.  You should also not share the same water with your main system into the hospital tank.  If your water is shared, you could potentially infect the other fish in your system while trying to treat unhealthy fish.  Since you will be using a separate water source for the tank, it is beneficial to have an easy way to change out the water as necessary.  If you can set up your tank to easily drain out of the bottom, it will save you time and effort.

Tank Maintenance

A few quick tips to keep your hospital tank running smoothly and effectively serving its purpose.

  1. Clean the tank after you have healed the fish you put into the tank.  You do not want to have the disease linger in the tank afterward.
  2. Make sure your tank is no frills,  Don’t have lots of decor that you have to remove constantly to clean the tank,  Only have the bare essentials for this tank as it is just a temporary holding spot to quickly heal your fish.  Fewer parts will make it easier to clean,
  3. Keep your hospital tank up and running at all times.  Being able to quickly transfer fish into the hospital tank at the first sign of trouble can save valuable time. It will also minimize spreading disease in your main system.  You do not want to have to set up the tank after you have discovered disease and waste time allowing the infected fish to continue to infect the rest of your fish.

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