Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Acclimation of New Fish

We added our first fish today! Since we now have coral (just mushrooms and zoos) and a pair of clownfish, I thought now would be the perfect opportunity to discuss acclimating new creatures (fish or other inverts) to the saltwater aquarium.

Remember when you had a freshwater tank? You got a new fish and simply floated the bag on top of the tank for 20 minutes before releasing the fish and all into the tank. Better to just erase this memory from your mind right now because the bag-floating technique is a big no-no. It's too much of a shock to the fish. Plus, you end up introducing strange, foreign water containing who-knows-what into your pristine saltwater aquarium (remember all the hours you spent mixing up your saltwater to get the pH and specific gravity just right?).

How to Correctly Acclimate Fish to a Saltwater Aquarium:
1. Carefully pour fish and water into container ~3x the volume of water.
2. Gradually add water from your tank to acclimation container.
  • You can add 1/2 a cup every 10 minutes or set up a drip system (the easiest way).
  • For the drip system, connect a thin, plastic tube from the aquarium to container with a valve to control the flow rate.
  • Watch the drip system carefully. You may have to adjust the flow rate periodically. If acclimation container gets too full, empty a few cups out.
  • *Note--Do not leave to take a nap for 2 hours. I actually did this when introducing the coral. I can't believe they survived. I woke up and ran downstairs to check on them. The drip system had been set up too slowly, and the original water had turned cold. I put them immediately into my aquarium, and they now are all happy as clams (pun intended).*
3. Continue step #2 until the water in the acclimation tank is the same as the aquarium (pH, specific gravity, temperature). The entire process takes ~45 minutes.
4. Carefully net or use a small cup to delicately add your new fish to the aquarium.
5. Keep lights off or dim for a few hours to overnight while new fish get settled.
6. You may wish to wait a day before feeding. New fish that are stressed aren't very hungry, and uneaten food just junks up your tank.

--Our new clownfish in the "acclimation bucket" (a tupperware container) with the drip system going from our aquarium to container.

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