Acclimating New Fish

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Category: Livestock
Published Date Written by karenlynndaugherty

How to acclimate new fish to an aquarium

While most people seem to know that you can't simply dump your bag full of new fish into a tank, many seem unsure as to what, exactly, they are supposed to do with them. Today, I'm going to solve that mystery for you.

The Floating Method

This is the basic acclimatization method, which works well for most of the fish you will commonly find for sale.

1. Turn the aquarium lights off to avoid stressing the fish. Place the sealed bag into the tank and allow it to float for fifteen minutes so that the water temperatures will equalize.

2. Carefully open the bag by removing the rubber band or cutting the knot off and roll the top of the bag over twice, creating an air pocket that will keep the bag afloat (see photo).photo12

3. Add about a cup of tank water to the bag every five minutes until the bag is nearly full. Dump half of the water out (preferably into your "fish only" bucket rather than a sink, in case one of your fish pours out with the water) and continue to add a cup of tank water every five minutes until the bag is full again.

4. You may now carefully net your fish out of the bag and release them into the tank. Be careful not to allow water from the bag to enter the tank. Leave the aquarium lights off for several hours to reduce the stress on your new fish.

The Drip Method

This is the more advanced acclimatization method, which allows fish to adjust to the new water temperature and chemistry very slowly and steadily. This method works well for all types of fish, but it is essential for success with very delicate fish, marine invertebrates, and in situations where your tank's water chemistry may be very different from what the fish are accustomed to.

1. Turn the aquarium lights off to avoid stressing the fish. Place the sealed bag into the tank and allow it to float for fifteen minutes so that the water temperatures will equalize.

2. Carefully release the contents of the bag (including the water) into your "aquarium only" bucket. If the water is too shallow to cover your fish, prop the bucket at an angle until there is enough water.

3. Tie several loose knots in a piece of airline tubing (or use an airline control valve) and run it from the aquarium to the bucket. Suck on the end of the tube to begin the siphon, and then adjust the flow by tightening or loosening the knots until two to four drops per second enter the bucket.

4. When the amount of water in the bucket doubles, dump out half, and allow the drip to continue until the volume doubles again.

5. Now you may net your fish out of the bucket and release them into your tank. If you are acclimating marine invertebrates, they need to be submerged at all times so use a bag of water rather than a net to transfer them to the tank. Leave the aquarium lights off for about four hours to allow your new fish to adjust.

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