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If you've kept fish, no doubt you've also dealt with sick fish. If you have a fishroom full of healthy fish, you need to be careful when bringing in fish from the outside, from pet shops, swap meets and auctions. While quarantining is essential, you also need to be mindful that you don't inadvertently transfer disease from tank to tank when netting fish or changing water.

A few years ago, I visited my good friend Chuck Rambo in San Jose, CA. Chuck took me a large wholesaler in the Bay Area. We first checked out a cart which included a net and a small container of Net Soak. Before using the net in a new tank, you had to dip the net in the Net Soak and shake it out.

Net Soak is usually a solution of Potassium permangenate which is an oxidizer. It helps to prevent the transfer of disease organisms by oxidation. Unlike other oxidizers such as bleach, it is gentle on nets and your hands, and pretty safe to use. Net Soak prevents most bacteria from spreading, but not viruses. 

Net Soak is a fine product but it can be expensive. A gallon of Net Soak typically runs $50 to $60. I'm always looking for a way to save money and I've recently had very good success using food service sanitizer. This product is used in restaurants for washing dishes via the 3-step cleaning process- Wash, Rinse, Sanitize. 

About a year ago, I started experimenting with a product I found at Sam's Club called "Pro Force Santizer" A gallon of Pro Force costs $4.18 and makes 128 gallons of sanitzer solution. This is a USDA-approved product to use on foodservice equipment.

I keep all my nets in three-gallon square bucket filled with the Proforce Sanitizing solution which mixes up at 2 tablesppons per gallon of water. Before using a net in my tanks, I rinse them thoroughly with clean water.

You can also dip your nets in sanitizer and hang them up to dry. Once the sanitizer dries, it leaves no residue on the net and you can use it in your tanks. It's also handy for rinsing our buckets, siphons and ornaments. I just dip them (or sometimes scrub them in sanitizing solution) and let them dry.

In case you are wondering, Proforce is a "Quat" or quaternary ammonia compound. I won't bore you by including the really long chemical names, but Quats have a long history of being effective santizers.

At any rate, I've used this product for over a year with good results. Since it is cheap, I've use it whenever I am exchanging hoses between tanks (rinse with fresh water) and for general cleaning. Since using this regularly, I haven't had one instance of disease transfer between tanks.


ProForce Sanitizer on the Rack at Sam's Club