Proper acclimation is the 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.
We recommends employing the 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.
The Drip Method is considered more advanced. It is geared toward sensitive aquatic life such as snails, corals, shrimp, sea stars and wrasses. You'll need a drip acclimation kit (sold separately) 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.
- Be patient – never rush the acclimation procedure. The total acclimation time for your new arrival should take no longer than two hours.
- Always follow the acclimation procedure even if your new arrival appears to be dead. Some fish and invertebrates can appear dead when they arrive and will usually revive when the acclimation procedure is followed correctly.
- Never place an airstone into the shipping bag or bucket 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 changes in specific gravity. Please acclimate invertebrates to a specific gravity of 1.023-1.025 or severe stress or trauma may result.
- Some live corals produce excess slime when shipped. After the acclimation procedure is followed, hold the coral by the rock or skeletal base and gently shake the coral in the shipping bag before placing 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.
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 a local 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.