Originally Posted by dwalstad
Bottom Line: Fish deaths are not always due to poor care. I would advise beginning hobbyists to (if at all possible) buy directly from the fish breeder.
I agree on pretty much all points of this post Diana. However, one must realize that this last point is not always feasible, especially for beginners, who may not be able to locate breeders as easily as someone who has been in the hobby long enough to have made the contacts and collected the information necessary for hunting down a good breeder.
In light of this, I'm going to add that in the event this is not possible, or practical (as in many cases, if one is looking for a specific type of fish, a local breeder may be difficult to locate, and the shipping costs of live fish can be extremely prohibitive) the next best thing should be recommended, and indeed, it is a concept both JanS and I have been constantly drumming up here on APC: The Quarantine Tank
Whether one is a newbie to the hobby or a long time fishkeeper from way back, this is, in my oppinion, an indisposable part of a set up. Even fish obtained from a breeder can carry contagious diseases (yes, sadly this is sometimes the case) that fish in your home aquarium may not be capable of dealing with when forced into a sudden introduction. Therefore, the seperation of any newly obtained fish is key to preventing the spread of anything new to your current aquatic residents. Sadly, many hobbyists do not realize this until they've invited that one seemingly innocuous little fish into their tank, only to promptly lose everything to a massive outbreak of ich or some other nasty (this was certainly how I learned this lesson).
Maintaining a quarantine tank is not a hugely expensive undertaking, in most cases because it is not necessary to put as much money into the equipment (lighting, substrate, etc.) as one would a featured show tank. It is well worth the small amount of cost and effort in the long run, and will allow you to identify any diseases or problems in a new batch of fish before an introduction into your system.
Obviously, as you mentioned with your guppy problem, sometimes this just isn't going to do much good if you keep getting stock that is perpetually doomed. In such cases it probably is wise to find another source, but for every fish purchase I don't think ordering from a private breeder is necessary. For some, myself included, tacking that extra $40 and upwards shipping fee onto for every fish purchase is just out of the question. Maintaining a 10-20 gal QT is much much more cost effective.
Just my oppinion on the matter and now for a question:
What does TB look like in fish? I hadn't realized they could contract it, I'd be interested to know what the symptoms are and if all species can be potential carriers. Also, is there any treatment that you know of?