Imagine living your whole life in a very warm climate until one day, out of the blue, you're picked up and dropped at the North Pole with no warm clothes and no time to get used to your new surroundings. Your body would become very stressed and you would most likely get sick . Well, in a sense, many marine animals are stressed to that level when they are taken from the ocean or there origional aquarium home, acclimated either poorly or not at all, and just placed in a new aquarium. Properly acclimating any new fish, coral or invertebrate to your saltwater aquarium is probably the most important thing you can do to ensure a smooth transition from the bag to your tank. Proper acclimation takes little of your time and will eliminate the disappointment of having to watch any new fish or other marine livestock introduced to struggle or just sink to the bottom of your tank and lay there after you drop them in. Acclimation also helps to reduce the chances of stress induced diseases such as saltwater ich and many others. The time you take to acclimate your new fish, corals, or marine invertebrates will make a huge difference in the health and beauty of the specimens for years to come. Please do your best to follow our recomendations below because, though they may vary what you have heard on the street, these time-tested tips and suggestions are based on our decades of experience in caring for aquatic life.
What factors are you acclimating for?
The shipping bags have been shipped across country to you, and though we use ice packs in the summer and heat packs in the winter, the arrival temperature will most surely be very different from the temperature in your home aquarium. Proper acclimation will take care of slowly changing the animals body temperature back to a normal temperature without stress.
For saltwater fish the specific gravity (Salinity) your animals are arriving in will be between 1.019 - 1.022. The lower salinity level means your fish is receiving higher levels of oxygen when it breathes. This is an excellent level to keep your home aquarium at. As a side benefit, at this salinity level your fish are less prone to common ailments such as ich. We highly recommend this salinity level for fish only aquariums.
For coral, and clams, the specific gravity (salinity) your animals are arriving in will be between 1.023 - 1.025. Reef systems require the higher salinity for optimum growth and color.This is an excellent level to keep your home reef system at.
Proper PH for saltwater specimens is between 8.2 and 8.4. Using a ph buffer or an occasional water change, it is easy to keep your aquarium within these boundries. Though not a large issue for corals, fish and invertebrates, will be under stress when they arrive because their PH will have dropped considerably. What causes this drop? From the time they are put in the ship out bag, the animal realeses ammonia, the pH of the water will drop from the ammonia. Proper acclimation to your tank slowly brings the specimen(s) back to healthy ph levels slowly, the same way the ph dropped slowly.
My Fish is Dying, he's
laying on the bottom of the bag!
The following items may display behavior you may not be familiar with:
Fish: May breathe rapidly during acclimation -- this is normal. Angels, Triggers, & Tangs: Lay on their side when in the bag or acclimating
Wrasses: Lay on their side when in bag or acclimating; may spin harmless cottony substance in bag and "play dead".
Shrimp: May act motionless for up to 30 seconds when first introduced into tank, move them around
Crabs: May act motionless when first introduced, move them around
Starfish: May stay motionless or not move for days at a time, pick up and inspect for signs of disintegration
Snails & Conchs: May not open or move for days at a time, pick up and see if it smells rancid.
Puffers: Like to lay on bottom
Corals & Anemones: May take hours or days to fully open or inflate
in little or no water, will inflate and shrink, disintegration
is only indicator of death
Dipping Corals with Iodine
Place SPS corals (DO NOT dip anemones, or clams!!) in an iodine based dip as a biosecurity measure to help insure that pathogens are not added to your tank. Add 15-20 drops of Tincture of Iodine (available at most drug stores in the antiseptic section) to a liter of tank water and allow the acclimating animals to stay in this dip for 15 minutes, or use a commercial coral dip as directed by the manufacturer. Rinse the animals with tank water prior to placing them in your tank. Caution: do not allow dip water into your tank!! A small low volume powerhead should be added to the acclimation and dip container to provide valuable circulation. You must insure that the containmer water remains at the same temp. as the tank during acclimation.
Some live corals produce excess slime
1. Put the coral, anenome, or clam with
all the bags water in a bucket or container of sufficient size
for the items to be completely covered with the water.
Warning: Sponges have two issues. When stressed they can release toxins into their water bag, these toxins are hazordous to aquarium inhabitants and may even kill them. Also if a sponge is exposed to air, it will die. What follows is our recommended technique for covering both of these issues during acclimation.
1. Put the sponge with all the bag's water in a bucket or container of sufficient size for the sponges to be completely covered with the water. The sponges must never be exposed to air. (When the sponge is exposed to air, the air becomes trapped inside the sponges body, keeping normal plankton-based foods from reaching its cells to feed. The end result will be the death of the sponge.)
2. Set the bucket on the floor next to the aquarium you will be placing the specimens into upon completion.
3. Sponges should be acclimated like all other specimens. Using some plastic air line tubing and an air gang value, set up and run a siphon drip line from the aquarium you will be placing the specimens into, to the bucket. Drip acclimate till the amount of water has at least tripled from the origional amount.
4. Once the drip acclimation is complete (water at least tripled), use either the bag the sponge came in or another plastic bag and scoop up both the sponge and enough water to fill the bag. Be mindful not to expose the sponge to any air when transporting it from one container to another.
5. Next, place the bag completely under water in the aquarium and remove the sponge, keeping the sponge under water at all times.
6. The final step is to quickly close off the bag under water, take it out of the aquarium, and dispose of the bag and its water. The water remaining in the bag may contain toxins released by the sponge during shipping or acclimation, and these toxins can be harmful to the rest of your aquatic creatures. As long as the process is done carefully, the small amount of escaping sponge water should not cause the aquarium inhabitants any harm. If a spill occurs, or you feel you may have let to much water enter the aquarium, we recommend a full water change.
Most invertebrates and marine plants are more sensitive than
fish to salinity changes. Place invertebrates in a container
and use a drip line to slowly acclimate all invertebrates. It
is critical that invertebrates be slowly acclimated!! Drip acclimate
at a rate of 2-3 drops tank water/second for at least 4 hours.
Snails, starfish, and other inverts are very sensitive to minor
salinity changes and must be slowly drip acclimated to insure
Though every precaution is taken to assure your specimens arrive in perfect condition, specimen deaths unfortunately can happen. If the item is a guaranteed species, (not on the Advanced Aquarist - Non Guaranteed Species List on the Aquacon.com site), please send an email to our customer service dept within our 48 hour guarantee period. Any deads must be digitally photographed and e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org within their designated guarantee period. Once we have recieved your photo, we will contact you for confirmation, that your DOA has been noted on your record, and the item or items will be replaced on your next order at no charge. At no time will a credit be applied back to a credit card for any DOA, so please do not ask.
Special Note: If the deads seem out of the ordinary, Aquacon.com reserves the right to request a water sample be sent. Guarantee applies to the original shipment only, no guarantee on replacement items. Shipping and handling charges are not included in replacement value.