Aquarium Fish

Acclimation Procedure for Saltwater Species

posted: 05/15/12
Jump to:Page 2, Back to Set Up & Stocking — Overview. , [b]Main Menu[/b]

Adding new inhabitants to an aquarium can be stressful for the newcomers as well as those already established in the tank. By following the procedures listed below for all fish, invertebrates, and live corals, you can minimize the stress on your new arrivals and to ensure the long-term success of your aquarium.

Quarantining aquatic life

We highly recommend that all non-plant aquatic life be quarantined in a separate aquarium for a period of two weeks. Quarantining new arrivals virtually eliminates the possibility of introducing diseases and parasites into your established tank and allows new tank mates to regain optimal health before their final transition to your aquarium.

Acclimation procedure

1. Turn off the aquarium lights.

2. Dim the lights in the room where the shipping box will be opened. Never open the box in bright light — severe stress or trauma may result from sudden exposure to bright light.

3. Float the sealed bag in the aquarium for 15 minutes. 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. Never open the shipping bag at this time.

4. After floating the sealed shipping bag for 15 minutes, cut open the bag just under the metal clip 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. For heavy pieces of live coral that will submerge the shipping bag, place the bag containing the coral in a plastic bowl or specimen container.

5. Add 1/2 cup of aquarium water to the shipping bag.

6. Repeat step 5 every four minutes until the shipping bag is full.

7. Lift the shipping bag from the aquarium and discard half the water from the bag.

8. Float the shipping bag in the aquarium again and proceed to add 1/2 cup of aquarium water to the shipping bag every four minutes until the bag is full.

9. Remove the livestock from the shipping bag and release them into the aquarium.

10. Remove the filled shipping bag from the aquarium and discard the water. NEVER release shipping water directly into the aquarium.

Important facts

- Be patient — never rush the acclimation procedure. The total acclimation time for your new arrival should take no longer than one hour.

- Always follow the acclimation procedure even if your new arrival appears to be dead. Some fish and invertebrates can appear as though they are dead when they arrive and will usually revive when the above procedure is followed correctly.

- Never place an airstone into the shipping bag when acclimating your new arrival. This will increase the pH of the shipping water too quickly and expose your new arrival to lethal ammonia.

- Keep aquarium lights off for at least four hours after the new arrival is introduced into the aquarium.

- Most invertebrates and marine plants are more sensitive than fish to salinity changes. It is imperative to acclimate invertebrates to a specific gravity of 1.023-1.025 or severe stress or trauma may result.

- Sponges, clams, scallops, and gorgonias 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. Seal off the shipping bag underwater by twisting the opening, and remove it from the aquarium. Discard both the shipping bag and the enclosed water. A tiny amount of the diluted shipping water will escape into the aquarium. Do not be alarmed; this will have no adverse effect on the tank inhabitants.

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

Solution 1: A 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. Move the tank bully into the floating basket and let him remain there 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 will reduce the stress on your newest tank mate.

Solution 2: A perforated plastic lighting grid can be purchased at your 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. After the new addition adjusts to the unfamiliar environment, the divider can be removed.

- Some live corals produce excess slime when shipped. After the acclimation procedure is followed, hold the coral by the rock or skeletal base and shake the coral in the shipping bag before placing it into the aquarium. To avoid damage, please remember never to touch the 'fleshy' part of a live coral. Many species of coral will not open for several days after introduction into their new home. Please allow several days for the coral to adapt to the new conditions in the aquarium.

More on
Aquarium Fish