Acclimating New Fish To Your Aquarium

OB Guy

Acclimating New Fish To Your Aquarium:
Proper acclimation is key to successful introduction of new aquarium arrivals. The Floating Method is undoubtedly the most widely practiced method among hobbyists. However, a more exact method of acclimation provided by the Drip Method is required for fish, corals or invertebrates sensitive to sudden changes in water chemistry.

The reason why acclimation is necessary is simple: the chemical makeup of the water in which the aquatic life is packaged is different from your aquarium water chemistry (i.e. water temperature, pH, and salinity). Aquatic life such as fish, and especially invertebrates (including corals), are very sensitive to even minor changes in water chemistry. The goal of acclimation is to gradually introduce your new aquatic life to the water chemistry found in your aquarium at a controlled rate to avoid distress.

The acclimation process is complete when equilibrium is reached, where the temporary container housing new arrivals shares the same water chemistry as your aquarium, and your new arrival appears adjusted to these conditions. Since different species have varying levels of tolerance, different methodologies are required to control the rate of change experienced during the acclimation process.

Floating Method or the Drift Method of Acclimation:
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. However, for more sensitive fish, invertebrates, and corals, it is recommended to employ the Drip Method of acclimation. Keep in mind, no matter which acclimation method you choose, be sure to take your time and never rush the process.

Floating Method for Fish Acclimation:
1 - Turn off aquarium lights.
2 - Dim the lights in the room where your specimen bags will be opened. (Severe stress or trauma may result from sudden exposure to bright light.)
3 - Float the sealed bag in your aquarium for 15 minutes. This allows the water in the specimen bag to adjust slowly to the temperature in the aquarium.
4 - 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 enable the bag to float on the surface of the water.
5 - Add 1/2 cup of aquarium water to the bag. Repeat 5 every four minutes until the bag is full.
6 - Lift the bag from the aquarium and discard half the water from the bag.
7 - Float the bag in the aquarium again and proceed to add 1/2 cup of aquarium water to the bag every four minutes until the bag is full.
8 - Net fish from the bag and release into the aquarium.
9 - Keep your aquarium lights off for at least four hours after the fish are introduced into the aquarium to help them further adjust.

Drip Method for Fish Acclimation:
After following steps 1 thru 3 from above you can use the Drip Method for more sensitive aquatic life such as snails, corals, shrimp, sea stars, wrasses, and discus.

1 - Carefully empty the contents of the bags (including the water) into the buckets, making sure not to expose sensitive invertebrates to the air. Depending on the amount of water in each bag, this may require tilting the bucket at a 45-degree angle to make sure the animals are fully submerged. You may need a prop or wedge to help hold the bucket in this position until there is enough liquid in the bucket to put it back to a level position.
2 - Set up and run a siphon drip line from the main aquarium to the bucket. You can use airline tubing and air regulator valve to regulate flow from the aquarium into the bucket. There are also kits available for drip acclimation.
3 - Begin a siphon and when water begins flowing through the tubing, adjust the drip rate using the control valve to a rate of about 2-4 drips per second. Water volume in bucket will double about every 1/2 hour.
4 - When the water volume in the bucket doubles, discard half and continue the acclimation process until the volume doubles once more - about one hour.
5 - At this point, the specimens can be transferred to the aquarium. Sponges, clams, and gorgonians should never be directly exposed to air. Gently scoop them out of the drip bucket with the specimen bag, making sure they’re fully covered in water.
6 - Submerge the bag underwater in the aquarium and gently remove the specimen from the bag. Next, seal off the bag underwater by twisting the opening, and remove it from the aquarium. Discard both the bag and the enclosed water. A tiny amount of the diluted water will escape into the aquarium; this is okay. Also, to avoid damage, please remember never to touch the "fleshy" part of live coral when handling.
7 - Keep your aquarium lights off for at least four hours after the specimens are introduced into the aquarium to help them further adjust.

In some instances, a new tank mate will be chased and harassed by one or all of your existing tank mates.

Solution 1: A clean plastic spaghetti strainer (found at your local discount store) can be used to contain a tank bully within the aquarium for several hours until the new arrival adjusts to its surroundings. Just float the perforated plastic basket in the aquarium. Net the tank bully and place in the floating basket for approximately four hours while the new arrival adjusts to your aquarium. Never place the new arrival in this basket; the new specimen must get familiar with your aquarium. By placing the tank bully in a perforated basket, you’ll reduce the stress on the new arrival.

Solution 2: A perforated plastic lighting grid can be purchased at the local hardware store to cut down the width of your aquarium. This grid may be used to section off a small portion of the aquarium to separate territorial or aggressive fish from the newest tank mate.