Adding fish or inverts to an aquarium is one of the most exciting and rewarding parts of the hobby. However, as tempting as it might be to open the shipping box (or rush home from the local fish store) and immediately drop your new fishy friend into the tank it is important to take the time to properly acclimatize the new reef tank resident.
So what exactly is acclimatization and why is it so important? Since different tanks have different levels of nutrients, major and minor elements and even salinity, acclimatization is the process of allowing fish and inverts to slowly become accustomed to the parameters of their new home. Depending on the amount of time spent in transit, the temperature of the water in the shipping bag containing the fish or invert may be significantly colder than the water in the tank they will be added to. Proper acclimatization will dramatically reduce the stress on the livestock being added and aid in both their short and long term survival.
There are two main methods for acclimatizing livestock, the float method and the drip method. The float method is simpler, although less precise, and does run the risk of allowing water from the shipping bag to be introduced into the aquarium, which is something reefers generally try to avoid. The float method consists of the following steps:
- Float the sealed bag in the aquarium for about 15 minutes to allow the temperature of the water in the bag to stabilize to the temperature of the tank water.
- Cut the top of the shipping bag just under the knot or metal clip and roll down the lip of the bag. This will create an air pocket that will allow the bag to remain floating.
- Add roughly 200 mL of tank water to the shipping bag every 5 minutes until it is full.
- Remove the shipping bag from the aquarium and discard about half the water.
- Continue adding 200 mL of tank water until the bag is full again.
- Use a net to remove the livestock from the shipping bag and place it in the tank. Remove and discard the shipping bag and water.
While this method will effectively acclimatize most livestock, some reefers prefer to use the drip method for more precise control. This is particularly advisable when adding sensitive fish and many different types of inverts. Because here at Reef Casa we want every reefer to experience success, we have designed an easy to use and inexpensive Drip Acclimation Kit that allows hobbyists to easily and safely acclimatize even the most sensitive livestock. Simply follow the step by step instructions and feel confident that your new tank inhabitants are off to a healthy and happy start!