Quarantining fish is very important for long term success in the hobby. Of course if the fish is going to live alone, then it's not really necessary. Too, the first fish in a tank are essentially being quarantined.
I quarantine for 1-2 months. During that time I treat them for parasites as a preventative measure.
While the fish are in quarantine you just want to pay attention to them, making sure that they are swimming, eating and pooping as they should.
The quarantine period also gives fish the chance to adjust - something some fish need more than others. It gives them a chance to adjust to what you feed, as well as you and your routines. One of my rules of thumb is that the fish stays in quarantine till its no longer afraid of me.
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