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Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup" | Creative Commons License,

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How to Create a Goldfish Hospital Tank Cheaply

By Vicki McClure Davidson


When you have pet fish, eventually one will get sick. This could be one you recently bought or one of your longtime, finned buddies.

A hospital/quarantine tank is an imperative to help your sick fish recover undisturbed. It's also an imperative step when introducing new fish to the primary tank.

It's extremely important to use a hospital/quarantine tank, especially for the first week or two that you have a new fish.

Never put new fish directly into your established tank with other fish. Should the new goldfish (or any other species of fish) be sick, by the time you realize it, it will have infected all your other fish. This could be fatal for all your fish, which would be a tragic loss. As with all things, you must err on the side of caution.

A second aquarium, to be used as a hospital/quarantine tank, is a smart investment to protect your fish, and much cheaper than replacing them should they all become sick. | Photo credit:

A second aquarium, to be used as a hospital/quarantine tank, is a smart investment to protect your fish, and much cheaper than replacing them should they all become sick. | Photo credit:

By isolating sick or new fish in a second tank, you can observe their condition and treat them with any necessary medication (the medication could be harmful to your otherwise healthy fish). Additionally, the period of isolation from the other fish is an imperative safety precaution. Not only will it keep the others from getting sick, but it will protect it from being attacked by the other fish. At times, when fish sense a weakened or sick fish in their midst, they may bully, attack, or even chew on the affected fish, adding to its misery.

For all these reasons, it is imperative to have a second tank be ready as a quarantine tank for new fish and hospital tank for sick fish. However, many people don't have the space or can't afford having an extra tank. Since the hospital tank needs to be cycled by the time it receives new or sick fish, many people may have it operating with a couple of hardy non-demanding fish. Suddenly, the hospital tank turns into a primary fish tank and you're without a proper hospital/quarantine aquarium.

One solution is simple and relatively inexpensive. Purchase an extra power filter and keep it running in your current goldfish aquarium. Keep an old aquarium (a 10-gallon size should suffice) and its hood in a closet or in the garage. When you bring home new fish or if one of your current fish gets sick, take out the stored aquarium and fill it with water from the aquarium where the sick fish is. This water will already be conditioned. From there, remove the extra filter from the goldfish aquarium and place it on the hospital/quarantine aquarium. Your hospital aquarium will be ready to use in just a few minutes.

After the treatment or quarantine is over, drain the aquarium, disinfect it with 70 percent ethanol, and store it again. Be sure to also disinfect the power filter and throw away the media in the tank. Finally, put new media in the filter and place it in the goldfish tank again. You'll always be prepared when time is of the essence.

If you don't have a second smaller tank, you can often find them listed in the classified ads of your local newspaper, garage sales, CraigsList, or Freecycle. Pursue several avenues to getting a second-hand one before spending more money on a new one.

However, the cost of this hospital/quarantine aquarium will be far cheaper than having to replace all your fish should they become fatally infected from being exposed to one other infected fish.


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Source: Koko's Goldfish Forum website, (