When it comes to marine fish, an ounce of prevention is worth a megaton of cure.

Quarantining fish is the single most important step to keep marine fish healthy.  Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most overlooked aspects in our hobby.  A main reason why the majority of aquarists skip this important step is because they simply do not understand what quarantine is about and often believe it’s a complicated and expensive process (it’s not).  And ultimately, this misinformation stems from a lack of reliable, accessible publications regarding marine fish quarantine. The fact is I can count the number of books about quarantine on one hand … and have fingers to spare.

Online reefkeeping personality Mark Callahan (better known as Mr. Saltwater Tank) found out about this unfortunate reality when he lost a dozen fish within three days after introducing them into his new 235 gallon reef aquarium … all because he was (in his own words) stupid and did not quarantine his new arrivals.  When Mark set out to learn more about quarantine and treatments, he discovered a disarray of conflicting, unsupported, and out-of-date information.  If a seasoned aquarist like Mark couldn’t find the information about quarantine he needed, what hope does the average aquarist have?  It is no wonder why too few fishkeepers quarantine their new fish.


Necessity is the mother of invention

Thus, Mark set out to write what he calls a “paint-by-numbers type of guide about QT and disease treatment.”  With extensive consultation with industry veteran, author, and impassioned quarantine advocate Steven Pro, the two began their work. The No-Nonsense Guide to Saltwater Fish Diseases, Treatments and Quarantine is the culmination of their efforts.

The first edition of The No-Nonsense Guide to Saltwater Fish Diseases, Treatments and Quarantine was published online September, 2012.  The publication is available as a downloadable PDF ebook as well as a paperback hardcopy.  The price of the PDF edition is $47 USD.


Cover to Cover

The No-Nonsense Guide to Saltwater Fish Diseases contains in-depth information about the entire quarantine process, from setting up quarantine tanks, selecting healthy fish, identification and treatment of the common marine diseases, and “myth-busting” prevalent misconceptions about diseases and their treatment.

The table of contents are as follows:

  • Introduction
  • Chapter One: To Quarantine or Not to Quarantine
  • Chapter Two: Building a Quarantine Tank
  • Chapter Three: Selecting Healthy Fish
  • Chapter Four: Prophylactic Treatment



  • Page 83
    Page 83

    Chapter Five: Marine Velvet (Amyloodinium Ocellatum)

  • Chapter Six: Marine Ich (Cryptocaryon irritans)
  • Chapter Seven: Brooklynella (Brooklynella hostilis)
  • Chapter Eight: Black Ich
  • Chapter Nine: Flukes
  • Chapter Ten: Internal Worms
  • Chapter Eleven: Cirolanid Isopods
  • Chapter Twelve: Uronema
  • Chapter Thirteen: Bacterial Infections
  • Chapter Fourteen Fish Tuberculosis
  • Chapter Fifteen: Viral Infections
  • Chapter Sixteen: Marine Head and Lateral Line Erosion
  • Chapter Seventeen: Cyanide Exposure
  • Chapter Eighteen: Swim Bladder Issues


  • Chapter Nineteen: How to Quarantine
  • Chapter Twenty: Removing Fish From a Display
  • Chapter Twenty-One: When Quarantine Goes Bad



  • Chapter Twenty-Two: Myth of Garlic as a Cure
  • Chapter Twenty-Three: Myth That Marine Ich is Always Present
  • Chapter Twenty-Four: Dosing Copper in the Presence of Sand and Rock


  • Conclusion
  • Treatment Spreadsheet
  • Treatment References
  • Appendixes


Supplemental Video … Not your father’s guide

Purchasers of the PDF edition are treated to something most traditional books do not provide; They gain access to exclusive supplementary videos produced and narrated by none other than Mr. Saltwater Tank himself.

Anyone who subscribes to Mr. Saltwater Tank episodes knows Mark’s gift for explaining and demonstrating reefkeeping concepts, and his The No-Nonsense Guide to Saltwater Fish Diseases, Treatments and Quarantine videos are no exception. These videos are not afterthoughts or bonus material; They are detailed guides which provide a useful auditory and visual compliment to the written texts.  I found all the videos very well produced and more importantly very clear and useful.

Screenshot of video instruction to build a QT system
Screenshot of video instruction to build a QT system

The NNG quarantine video series includes the following tutorials:

  • Quarantine Basics
  • How to build a quarantine tank
  • Diagnosing Fish
  • Freshwater Dips
  • Sterilizing Tanks
  • Using Copper


The Review

One of the main goals when the two authors began work on this quarantine guide was to filter out bad and confusing information about quarantine and marine fish diseases (and there is unfortunately a lot of it).

To cut to the chase, Mark and Steven succeeded.

While it is outside the scope of this review to fact-check all the innumerable details contained in The No-Nonsense Guide to Saltwater Fish Diseases, Treatments and Quarantine, I found the body of information fair, unbiased, and factually sound.  Despite Mark having described their book to me as a simplified “paint by the numbers” guide, the book actually provides impressively in-depth discussion on a broad range of topics.  Furthermore, when a topic had multiple theories or opinions, the authors presented the major differing viewpoints but never shied away from stating which ideas they support … and the reasoning for their conclusions.

The disease diagnosis flowchart
The disease diagnosis flowchart

I was particularly impressed with the spreadsheets, quick references, flow charts, and appendixes provided at the end of The No-Nonsense Guide to Saltwater Fish Diseases, Treatments and Quarantine.  While the entire guide was as easy to understand as advertised, the final sections of the guide really distilled all the information into the most simplified and accessible format yet.  If you’re looking for a flow chart for identifying diseases, a list of essential medications, or step-by-step instructions for Formalin baths, chances are you can find it in the appendixes.  A caveat: The table of contents do not list the appendix topics so you may have trouble finding information quickly. 

The No-Nonsense Guide to Saltwater Fish Diseases, Treatments and Quarantine was written as a  “cover to cover” reading.  Mark and Steven organized their book to walk aquarists through the entire quarantine process from the first to last page.   They begin their book with an explanation of why quarantine is essential, discussions about quarantine concepts, how to build a QT tank, information about marine fish diseases, then how to quarantine your fish for these diseases.

However, I found the order of chapters somewhat confusing because the authors separated procedural information started in chapters one to four then continued in chapters nineteen to twenty-one with chapters about fish diseases in between.  Mark informed me the reason for this disjointed order was because they felt it was important for aquarists to learn about diseases before learning how to quarantine for them.  While I appreciate their viewpoint, I believe after an initial front-to-back reading (as the authors intend), fishkeepers may have difficultly finding specific information because of how The No-Nonsense Guide to Saltwater Fish Diseases, Treatments and Quarantine was organized. Granted; This is a minor criticism to an otherwise well-written guide, but it’s worth noting.  With so much information found in a guide like this, it is that much more important to organize the information so readers can find them quickly.

My final major criticism of the guide is the number and size of the photos. I would like to see the authors add more, larger photos (especially for the purpose of disease identification) in future editions.



The No-Nonsense Guide to Saltwater Fish Diseases, Treatments and Quarantine is true to its title: a reliable source of straightforward information about quarantine and the treatment of saltwater fish diseases. The guide exemplifies what Mark Callahan does best: Explain marine aquarium concepts in accessible terms to aquarists of all skill levels.  The organization of content has room for improvement, but the content itself is excellent.

It bears repeating: Quarantine is absolutely essential for healthy fish, but it is also a process the majority of aquarists ignore.  If you find the idea of quarantining fish foreign or intimidating, I recommend The No-Nonsense Guide to Saltwater Fish Diseases, Treatments and Quarantine. Make quarantining livestock your New Year’s resolution.  It’s a matter of life and death … literally.

The No-Nonsense Guide to Saltwater Fish Diseases, Treatments and Quarantine
First published September, 2012
170 color pages
Retail price for PDF edition: $47 USD

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