Acclimation Guide

Discussion in 'User-Created Articles' started by minireefer, Oct 28, 2005.

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  1. minireefer


    Apr 26, 2005
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    Careful acclimation is very important since the temperature and pH will change during shipping. These fluctuations occur from fish waste and oxygen available in the water decreasing. It is important to take the time to properly acclimate your new fish or coral and never rush this process.

    Following are two methods for acclimation.The most traditional is the floating method. This method is somewhat labor intensive and requires you to closely attend your new arrivals. The second option is drip acclimation, which is our favorite, as it is fairly easy to acclimate several species at one time. You can start the process, and only need to check on it periodically. Using the drip acclimation method keeps the fish from floating under bright or hot lights in the display aquarium and possibly being stressed by the new curious neighbors.

    Acclimation Equipment: A list of items that may help you better acclimate your new aquatic additions.

    Turkey Baster
    Refratometer or hydrometer
    Clip or Clothes pin
    Pisces Pro Acclimator
    Towels (for drying and protecting floor)
    pH and Alkalinity test kits

    -Floating Method:

    Always turn off aquarium lights and dim the ambient lighting in the room as much as safely possible. It is also a good idea to turn off or turn down any televisions or stereo equipment. Bright lighting and loud noise is very stressful for an animal that has spent several hours in a completely dark box.

    Float the sealed bag in the aquarium for approximately 15 minutes. The reason for this is that sometimes the temperatures between the aquarium and the water in the bag are very different. Opening the shipping bag prior to letting the temperature equalize may lower the level of dissolved oxygen quickly and additionally stress your new arrival.

    After 15 minutes of floating, cut the shipping bag open under the metal or rubber band clip. Roll the bag down about three or four folds (like rolling up a pant leg). This ‘pocket’ will hold air and enable the bag to float on the water surface. It is also recommended to use a clothes pin or hair clip to hold the bag in place on the side of the aquarium. This will be helpful if you have a lot of current in your system that may push the shipping bags around and even knock them over. If you are acclimating a coral that is large or heavy, place the bag in a plastic bowl or bucket.

    Every five minutes pour a half a cup of water into the floating bag. A turkey baster (which you can purchase at any 99 cent store) will be perfect for this as well. Repeat this step until the shipping bag is full.

    Remove the shipping bag from the aquarium and carefully pour out half the water from the bag. Take care to not accidentally pour out your fish or coral. Pour the old water into a bucket which you can dump out later.

    Re-float the shipping bag again in the aquarium and continue to add ½ cups of aquarium water every five minutes until the bag is full.

    If you have a fish that is safe to net, you may net it out of the bag and release into the aquarium. Net handling can easily damage some tangs, angels, sharks, and others. When at all possible try to pour off as much of the acclimation water as possible, and transfer the animal to a collection cup or bowl.

    Remove and discard the acclimation bag. Try not to let any more acclimation water into your aquarium than you absolutely have to. Sometimes, to ensure the health of the fish during shipping, or even at our facility there may be medication in the water that can be harmful to inverts and other fish.

    -Drip Method:

    This is the preferred method. It is best used for animals that are very sensitive to parameter changes such as shrimp, sea stars, wrasses, and snails. However, fish benefit from this easy form of acclimation as well. If you will be acclimating fish and invertebrates, it is important to acclimate them separately.

    Drip acclimation requires the following items:
    3 – 5 gallon bucket
    Airline Tubing or Pisces Pro-Acclimator

    Begin with the floating method as described in our floating acclimation procedure.

    Carefully empty the contents of the bags (water and all) into the buckets. Be sure to not expose invertebrates to air as this can kill many of them. If there is not enough water you can tilt the bucket slightly until the drip acclimator adds enough water to fully submerge the animal. You can use a prop or wedge.

    Using airline tubing, tie several loose knots that you can tighten or loosen to manipulate the water flow. You can start the siphon by sucking on the end and place it into the acclimation bucket when water runs thru the tubing and all air bubbles have been expelled. You can also use a Pisces Pro Acclimator and adjust your water flow via the small dial. A drip rate of 1 or 2 drips per second for invertebrates and 3 – 5 drips per second for fish.

    Once your water level doubles in the acclimation bucket, discard half and continue with the drip for one hour or until the water volume again doubles.

    Keep in mind that some animals need a longer, slower acclimation period than others. Snails and sea stars, for instance, suffer osmotic shock and will break down and die. Results of acclimating too quickly can take days or weeks to show. Many animals like sponges, clams, and gorgonians will die when exposed to air. It is best to transfer these specimens in a bowl, specimen cup or bag into the main aquarium. It is recommended to acclimate snails, clams, shrimps, and sea stars for no less than a 3 hour acclimation period. Most invertebrates and marine plants are more sensitive to changes in salinity, temperature, alkalinity and pH than fish.

    Once acclimation period is over, carefully remove the animal from the bucket by net, acclimation cup, bowl, or by hand.

    -Important Tips for Acclimation:

    Be careful not to handle the fleshy part of the live coral as this can damage the polyp.

    When acclimating fleshy polyp corals it is a good idea to let them sit on top of a submerged plastic bag so they will not damage their flesh on the hard bottom of the bucket.

    Always attempt to acclimate your specimen even though it may appear dead. Often fish and invertebrates may appear as if they were dead and will often revive upon acclimation.

    NEVER RUSH. Acclimation procedures for fish should never be less than one hour. It should never be less than 2 hours for invertebrates and can take up to three for proper acclimation of the more sensitive inverts.

    Never use air stones when acclimation new arrivals as it will increase the pH of the shipping water and increase ammonia in the water, which is bad for your animal.

    It is important to test the salinity of the water your fish or invertebrate arrives in and compare it to yours. Invertebrates can suffer from severe stress, trauma and death if acclimated too quickly.

    Turn off ambient room lighting and aquarium lighting. This will cause your more inquisitive animals to seek shelter in the darkened aquarium and give your new acquisition time to adjust to it’s new surroundings. It is best to leave the lights off for 3 – 6 hours or even overnight. Having the lights off for one day will not kill your corals.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 28, 2005
    minireefer, Oct 28, 2005
    kbuser92 likes this.
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