One of the most important aspects of a healthy aquarium is proper acclimation of your new arrivals. Correctly introducing new fish to your aquarium is important not only for the health of the new fish, but for your existing fish as well. The water used to pack the animal is going to be different than the water in your aquarium. Fish, and especially invertebrates (including corals), are very sensitive to even minor changes in the parameters, so proper acclimation is the key to ensuring their successful relocation. Saltwater fish acclimation takes time but will reduce your disappointment of watching them struggle or just sink to the bottom of your tank. The most important acclimation factors are Temperature, PH and Salinity. The best equalizer for these is time. Spreading those changes over time allows your new animal to gently make its adjustment to the conditions in your aquarium.
• 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 acclimation procedure is followed correctly.
• Don’t rush! Be patient during the acclimation process.
• Keep the lights off for at least four hours after the procedure.
• Try dimming the lights in the room where your saltwater aquarium is. Bright lights will cause harmful stress to the saltwater fish.
• Always feed your aquarium before any new fish are introduced. This will help to reduce aggression toward new tank mates.
• Provide plenty of hiding places for your new arrival sheltering areas will reduce aggression and thus stress in the aquarium.
• Never place an air stone into the shipping bag when acclimatising your new arrival. This will increase the pH of the shipping water too quickly and expose your new arrival to lethal ammonia.
We highly recommend that all aquatic life be quarantined in a separate aquarium for a period of two weeks to reduce the possibility of introducing diseases and parasites into your aquarium and to ensure they are accepting food, eating properly, and are in optimum health before their final transition to your main display. We recommend either of the two-acclimation methods explained below, and wish to remind you the acclimation process should never be rushed.
Drip Line Method
This method is considered more advanced. It is geared toward sensitive inhabitants such as corals, shrimp, sea stars, and wrasses. You will need airline tubing and must be willing to monitor the entire process. Gather a clean, 3 or 5-gallon bucket designated for aquarium use only. If acclimating both fish and invertebrates, use a separate bucket for each.
• Turn off aquarium lights.
• 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.
• Float the sealed bag in the aquarium for 15 minutes. Never open the shipping bag at this time. 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.
• 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.
• Using airline tubing set up and run a siphon drip line from the main aquarium to each bucket. You’ll need separate airline tubing for each bucket used. Tie several loose knots in the airline tubing, or use a plastic or other non-metal airline control valve, to regulate flow from the aquarium. It is also a good idea to secure the airline tubing in place with an airline holder.
• Begin a siphon by sucking on the end of the airline tubing you’ll be placing into each of the buckets. When water begins flowing through the tubing, adjust the drip (by tightening one of the knots or adjusting the control valve) to a rate of about 2-4 drips per second.
• When the water volume in the bucket doubles, discard half and begin the drip again until the volume doubles once more – about one hour.
• At this point, the specimens can be transferred to the aquarium. Sponges, clams, and gorgonias 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. 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 O.K. Also, to avoid damage, please remember never to touch the “fleshy” part of live coral when handling.