Whether you are a beginner or an experienced aquarist, from time to time you will bring new livestock home and introduce them to your aquarium.
When you buy your aquatic animals, they will be packaged in water that is different from the water in your home aquarium.
Fish, invertebrates, and corals generally react poorly to sudden changes in water parameters and temperature. These swings stress them out and can easily lead to shock or even death.
For this reason, it is very important to properly acclimatize the livestock when placing it in an aquarium.
Acclimation ensures that the fish and other livestock can adjust to the different water chemistry in your tank, ensuring that they remain healthy.
Although acclimatization may seem rather easy, it becomes very stressful for the fish. Especially if you bought the fish online and sent it to your address.
Reason being, most of the time your fish will be shipped to you by FedEx, meaning it’s going to be in the shipping bag longer than fish you purchase from your local pet store and drive home.
A smooth transition is the ultimate way to acclimate the fish to its new home.
Aquatic Life Acclimation Guide
Live Fish, Invertebrates and corals arrivals must be acclimated immediately upon receipt!
It may take between 15 minutes to 1 hour to properly acclimate your aquatic life.
Some fish and invertebrates can appear dead when they arrive and will usually revive when the acclimation procedure is followed correctly.
Always follow the acclimation procedure even if your new arrival appears to be dead!
The Floating Method of acclimation, where aquarium water is added to the floating bag in 1/2 cup increments, is a great choice when acclimating most types of aquarium fish.
1. The aquatic life you take with you has just experienced a journey in total darkness. Please dim your room lights before proceeding to open the box. We want to emulate the shipping environment which the fish just survived by not exposing them to any bright lights to reduce the appearance of stress or trauma to the fish. This will reduce any shock to livestock from exposure to sudden brightness.
2. Wash your hands thoroughly to remove cream, perfume, lotions, etc..
3. Next, rinse off the exterior of the plastic bag that contains your fish. This is to prevent any contamination of aquarium water when you put the bag inside.
4. Float the sealed bag in the aquarium for 15 minutes. Never open the shipping bag at this time. Once you open the shipping bag, the CO2 will escape into the atmosphere and raise the pH, making ammonia extremely toxic to fish.
This step allows the water in the shipping bag to adjust slowly to the temperature in the aquarium while maintaining a high level of dissolved oxygen. If, for whatever reason, the bag has burst or the water is extremely foul, do not temperature acclimatization.
5. After 15 minutes, cut open the bag just under its closure and roll the top edge of the bag down one inch to create an air pocket within the lip of the bag. This will allow the bag to float on the surface of the water—or, if possible, secure the bag to the aquarium side with an algae clip.
6. Slowly add ¼ to ½ cup of aquarium water to the bag. It may be easiest to use ¼ cup for small bags and ½ cup for large bags.
7. Repeat Step 6 every four minutes until the bag is full.
Now, take out the bag and pour half of its water into the sink and float it back again in the aquarium. Keep adding a half cup of aquarium water in the bag every 5 minutes.
8. Once the bag is full, remove the bag from the aquarium and discard half of the water in the bag into a bucket, being careful not to harm or expose your aquatic life to air.
9. Do not pour fish into the net, especially when acclimatizing fish with delicate smooth fins, otherwise they will get stuck in the net. This removes the protective layer of mucus and leaves the fish vulnerable to disease. Always let go, allowing the fish to swim out of the bag, or pull it out of the bag with your hands.
10. Try not to introduce water from the pet shop into your system.
If a small amount of diluted shipping water gets into the aquarium, don't worry; this will not adversely affect the inhabitants of the tank.
11. Leave the lights off in your tank after you have introduced your new animal. This reduces stress in your new animal, and may reduce aggression toward your new fish by established inhabitants.
Second reason for Acclimatization
Another reason acclimatization is necessary is because you want to make sure the fish get along with the pre-existing community in your tank.
Putting a bag containing the new fish in the aquarium will give them a chance to get along and become familiar with each other. If the pre-existing community does not accept a new addition, at least there will be a barrier between them and the new fish.
The sound of filters and waterfalls may disturb your new fish a bit as they are not familiar with their new environment. The plastic bag dampens these new sounds to a great extent, forcing the fish to gradually become accustomed to the new sounds.
Minimizing Aggression from Other Fish
Acclimating new fish to an established tank means the social dynamics have been altered in a big way. There are quite a few tricks to help your new addition find its place in the hierarchy.
- Feed the fish a small amount of food at this time so that the old fish are busy and less likely to bother the new ones.
- Since your new addition may not have a chance to find a turf of its own, rearranging the decorations levels the playing field a bit. If possible, change the location of stones and decorations, since they are all territorial markers for residents.
The introduction of new fish is less likely to elicit a reaction from the current inhabitants, especially if they are of the same species. Fin nipping and aggressive displays are common greetings for slightly panicked new additions.
- Use an aquarium divider to contain any tank bully giving the new fish a hard time. Scoop the aggressive fish into the perforated plastic critter keeper and float in the aquarium for several hours while the new tank mate adjusts to the aquarium. That said, never place the new arrival in the floating basket because it needs to get familiar with your aquarium setting.
Be sure to keep a close eye on your fish to ensure that they’re not bullied by the older fish.
Our signature Coral Acclimatization Recommendation:
The dehydration method is our unique method of adapting corals before planting in a new aquarium. It is based on removing the internal water from the coral, which can be very different from the water in your aquarium. It is because of this difference that the coral receives stress, which leads to an increase in the time for its adaptation to new conditions, and sometimes to death. Using our method, your new corals will quickly fill up with water from the aquarium and will not be stressed.
1. Grab the coral by the base of the stone or skeleton and shake gently in the shipping bag before removing it from the bag. Some living corals excrete excess mucus when transported. Never touch the "fleshy" part of a living coral!
2. Remove the coral from the water and let it sit in the air for a few minutes.
LPS corals and Soft:
Small frags - 3 minutes
Large frags and colonies 5-10 minutes depending on colony size
Small frags 1-2 min.
Large colonies 3-5 minutes depending on colony size
3. Before placing corals in the aquarium, treat them with an anti-parasite and anti-infection agent, strictly following the instructions on the package. We do not recommend the use of iodine preparations for SPS corals, as the corals may lose color vibrancy.
Many coral species do not open for several days after being placed in a new aquarium. This is normal; give them a few days to get used to their new home.
Acclimation of Invertebrates
Once you get the Invertebrates, place these bags in the aquarium for about 5 minutes and then acclimate them using the floating acclimatization method.
Sponges, clams, scallops, and gorgonians should never be directly exposed to air. Follow the acclimation procedure, but instead of netting the specimen out of the shipping bag, submerge the bag underwater in the aquarium and remove the marine life from the bag.
Consistent water quality, water temperature and specific gravity are critical to the health of aquatic life, especially invertebrates and corals. It is very important to acclimatize marine invertebrates and corals to a specific gravity between 1.023 and 1.025, otherwise severe stress or injury may result.
Using a Quarantine Tank
Although not a requirement of our acclimatization procedures, we strongly recommend that all aquatic organisms be quarantined in a separate tank for 1-3 weeks before adding them to the main tank.
Quarantine tanks also allow you to give wild and/or sensitive species space to put on weight without having to compete with established residents for food and real estate. Medications are easier to dose and provide without negatively impacting your fish or beneficial bacteria.
You can make adjustments slowly, over the course of weeks if necessary, to pH, salinity, temperature, and other conditions until they match your main tank.
Once your newest fish is acclimated to these conditions and eating the same food as the other fish you’re safe to move them right in.
We try our best to make sure that pests are not introduced to our syst. All animals Always overexposed, parasitized, fully quarantined.
However, we recommend that you always treat corals for parasites and infections before placing them in an aquarium. Animals come from wild conditions and even 4-5 anti-parasitic treatments are not enough.
Patience, care, and following all the steps are the key to making your fish comfortable in a new setting!