Saltwater Aquarium Livestock Acclimation

Very Important
Imagine living your whole life in a very warm climate, and one day being 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 they are somewhat different from what you may do or have heard, but what we have taken the time to explain is for the benenfit of your new marine life. so you may continue to enjoy them for a long time to come.

Thank you
Ron Ratoff

What factors are you acclimating for?

1) Temperature

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.

2) Salinity
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 1.025 - 1.028. Reef systems require the higher salinity for optimum growth and color.This is an excellent level to keep your home reef system at.

3) PH
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!
No your fish is not dying, he is just reacting to the stress he's under. You can successfully acclimate fish which are gilling heavily and laying on the bottom of the bag. It only takes time, be patiant,and follow the procedures outlined.

 Acclimating Saltwater Fish

1. Put the fish with all the bag water in a bucket or container of sufficient size for the fish to be reasonably covered with the water.
2. Set the bucket on the floor next to the aquarium you will be placing the fish into when done.
3. 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 fish into, to the bucket.
4. Start a siphon and slowly allow the tank water to drip into the bucket, using the gang air valve to adjust the drip rate. Keep the drip fairly slow. To fast a drip can change the water parameters to quickly and shock out your fish.
5. When the water dripped into the bucket equals about three times the volume of the bag water you started with, test the pH, salinity and temperature of the water in the bucket to see if these parameters match that of your tank water. If they match, you are done. If not, continue the drip method until the parameters match. If the bucket's water level is getting to high, you may remove water from the bucket.

Saltwater Fish Acclimation Tips
Never place an airstone into the bucket when acclimating . This will increase the pH of the water too quickly and may expose your new arrivals to higher, lethal levels of ammonia.

It doesn't hurt to add an ammonia buffer or destroyer such as Prime or AmQuel to the bag water in the bucket with the fish in it prior to starting the procedure, as ammonia build up may still occur while the fish is kept here, no matter how long completion of acclimation takes.

You don't want to set the water drip in rate too fast, like drip-drip-drip, nor too slow, like drip-----drip-----drip-----, but in between, like drip--drip--drip. If you are acclimating several fish at one time and any are of a toxic releasing or poisonous stinging nature, it is best to acclimate such species individually in a container of their own!! Keep aquarium lights off for the day, after the new arrivals are introduced into the aquarium.

 Acclimating Snails, Crabs, Shrimp, and Starfish

Caution: Your Cleanup Critters are the most fragile during acclimation ( they are very sensitive to salinity and ph change), and need to be acclimated very slowly, over a period of approximately two hours. Do not rush this procedure or losses will occur.

Acclimation Procedure: Snails, starfish, and other inverts are very sensitive to minor salinity and ph changes and must be slowly drip acclimated to insure their survival. 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 1-2 drops per second for at least 2 hours.

 Acclimating Corals, Anemones, Mollusks, and Clams

First Get them to The Right Temperature
Shipping is a stressful process and careful acclimation and a little TLC for the first few days will insure long-term success. Remove the outer bags and float the closed inner bag with the animal inside in your tank or sump for 30 minutes or until the bag and tank temp. are the same.

Then Give them a bath!
Every coral arriving at our facility is dipped in a mild iodine based solution as a biosecurity measure to help insure that pathogens are not added to our systems. We highly suggest before placing corals
(DO NOT dip anemones, or clams or they will die!!) in your tank, you do the same. There are many preperations on the market , and we can provide one for you, or your local LFS will glady help you. If none are available to you the same solution may be made by going to your local drug store and purchasing a small bottle of Tincture of Iodine from the antiseptic section. Add 15-20 drops of Tincture of Iodine to a liter of tank water and allow the corals to stay in this dip for 10 -15 minutes. Rinse the animals with tank water prior to placing them in your tank. When finished, throw out the dip water, do not add it to your tank.

Place the newly acclimated animals at mid-tank or lower for the first few days, with mild alternating current. After a few days most corals may be placed in their final location. For SPS corals, (acropora), it is best to keep them in a lower lighting area for at least 1 week. and over a few weeks slowly move them to final positions. If they are to quickly supplied with bright light, many times they will bleach, or RTN and die.

For Sponges Only
Note: Sponges should never be directly exposed to air. Follow the normal coral acclimation procedures for temperature, but once acclimated to the temperature, submerge the bag underwater in the aquarium and remove the sponge from the bag under water. Never let the sponge be exposed to air.

Some live corals, especially leathers, and some SPS acro's, produce excess slime when shipped.
After acclimation , hold the coral by the rock or skeletal base and shake the coral in the shipping bag before placing into the aquarium. To avoid damaging the coral, please remember never to touch the "fleshy" part of a live coral.

My Coral's not Opening or Flowering! Many species of coral will not open for several days or weeks after introduction into their new home. Please allow time for the new addition to adapt to their new home.