Our Acclimation Guide

Please read this Acclimation Guide in its entirety before attempting to acclimate your new livestock. Acclimation is the process of helping an animal gently adjust to changes in its environment, such as changes in lighting, water temperature, salinity, and pH. Fish, invertebrates, and coral are very sensitive to even minor changes in these parameters, so acclimation is important.

NOTE: Our fish from California ship at an SQ of 1.017 to 1.020 and coral ships at an SQ of 1.021 to 1.023, you should be prepared for this.

Livestock From Texas ships in an SQ of 1.025

The marine life you are receiving has just endured a stressful journey in total darkness. By taking the time to read the Acclimation Guide and acclimate them properly, you will help ensure that the transition to your tank goes successfully.

IMPORTANT: After you have received your shipment, be sure dim the lights in the room where you will open the box, turn off your aquarium lights, and wash your hands thoroughly. BE PATIENT, this process can seem tedious but is very important for the health of your livestock and tank. Follow the Acclimation Guide and acclimate everything! Many animals are severely stressed during transport, and may even appear dead; many times they will revive if properly acclimated. Please see section below about “Common Behaviors During Acclimation.”

Acclimation For Non Conditioned or Quarantined Livestock

FISH & INVERTEBRATES (except snails and crabs)

Float ‘n Drop Method

For hardier, fast swimming species, the safest approach is to get the fish comfortable in your aquarium/Quarantine Tank as quickly as possible. This is achieved by matching the TEMPERATURE, pH, and SALINITY in the shipping bag to that of your tank.

Matching Temperature

Fish are especially sensitive to temperature because they cannot regulate their own body temperature. Because of this, fish 100% rely on their surroundings to control their metabolism and other bodily functions. You will often notice fish lethargic upon arrival and an increase in activity once they begin to warm up while floating in the bags.

Place sealed shipping bags in your aquarium (they will float on top). Leave the bags floating for 30-45 minutes to allow the temperature in the bag to equal that of the tank

Matching pH

Using a reliable Marine Test Kit , test the pH of your aquarium and the pH of the water in the shipping bag. Make sure to thoroughly rinse any tools or cuvettes in between testing your aquarium and the bag water to avoid possible cross contamination. The ideal Marine pH ranges between 7.4 and 8.5. As long as the pH in the bag and the aquarium do not drastically differ, your aquarium’s pH is acceptable for the fish.

Matching Salinity

Using a calibrated refractometer, test the salinity in your aquarium and the salinity in the shipping bags. Make sure to thoroughly rinse any pipettes used to extract water from the aquarium to avoid potential cross contamination. If the salinity in the bag matches that of your aquarium, the salinity is acceptable for the fish.

Once the Salinity, Temperature, and pH of the bag and tank match, you may now gently transfer your fish into your tank, taking caution to get as little of the shipping water into your tank as possible.

“Drip” Acclimation

“Drip” Acclimation is an important step in acclimating sensitive, less hardy fish species and invertebrates to your aquarium. It is a gentler introduction, allowing the animal to get used to the parameters of your tank slowly.

Matching Temperature

Fish are especially sensitive to temperature because they cannot regulate their own body temperature. Because of this, fish 100% rely on their surroundings to control their metabolism and other bodily functions. You will often notice fish lethargic upon arrival and an increase in activity once they begin to warm up while floating in the bags.

Place sealed shipping bags in your aquarium (they will float on top). Leave the bags floating for 30-45 minutes to allow the temperature in the bag to equal that of the tank

Move To Acclimation Container

Open the bag and gently pour the fish and all bag water into your acclimation container.

Create Your Drip

Create your “Drip” line by using small tubing (loose air line tubing works well). Prepare the tubing by tying two loose knots in the middle of the tubing. This allows you to control the rate at which your tank water drips into the acclimation container by tightening or loosening the knots.

1-2 Drips per second – for snails, shrimps, crabs, starfish, anemones
2-3 Drips per second – for wrasses, puffers, anthias, gobies, butterflies
2-4 Drips per second – for majority of other fish such as angels, tangs, corals

All quarantined and conditioned livestock will come with a “Drip” Acclimation Kit. Instructions can be found in the box.

When the water in the acclimation container doubles, empty ¼ of the water and continue the “Drip” process until you reach the level prior to emptying the last ¼ of water. This takes approximately 30 minutes – 1 hour depending on the flow rate. It is recommended you DO NOT try to rush a delicate species or invertebrate.

Livestock Transfer

You may now gently transfer your fish or invertebrate into your tank, trying to get as little of the acclimating/shipping water into your tank as possible.

INVERTEBRATES (snails & crabs)

Additional Invertebrates Notes

These animals ship in much less water and depending on the animals, sometimes they will only be shipped with newspaper or paper towel to keep them moist. Create a drip volume that adds maybe one drop or less per second (see above).

Sponges, clams, scallops, and gorgonians should never be directly exposed to air.

CORALS

Additional Coral Notes

As you are adding water from your tank, watch carefully for any hitchhikers that may have been hiding in the coral and remove them. If the corals are not from a place that practices a great QT process remove the plug from the coral.

Pest Coral Dips (Optional) – While not everyone performs coral dips, they can be helpful. This process helps prevent potential parasites or hitchhikers, such as unwanted crabs, flatworms or nudibranch from sneaking into your tank. Whatever coral treatment dip you choose, be sure to follow the instructions on the bottle. If you see any harmful SPS crabs, manually remove them as some are very hardy and can survive the coral treatment dip.

We recommend using sterile rubber gloves because some people are allergic to the toxins coral release. This also prevents you from being stung by certain corals. You can now add the corals to your tank. Find a good location where the new coral will receive the appropriate flow and lower light. It will need a few days to adjust to the new lighting and conditions.

Common Behaviors During Acclimation

  • Fish: They may breathe heavily and will sometimes lose coloration or lie on their side for a while (wrasses are known to play dead as a defense mechanism, continue with full acclimation.)
  • Snails & Crabs: They may not move for a couple of days, give them a bit of time. You can inspect them for movement. If they have a foul odor, they are dead and should be disposed of.
  • Corals & Anemones: When moved, they will often retract, lose colors and shrink and it may take days for them to return to their normal state.
  • Starfish: They may not move for several hours. If you think they are dead, you can pick them up and check for signs of death such as disintegration or decay.

Important Facts

Never place an airstone into the shipping bag when acclimating your new arrival. This will increase the pH of the shipping water too quickly and expose your new arrival to lethal ammonia.

Leave your aquarium lights off for at least 4 hours after the new arrival is introduced into the aquarium.

Sponges, clams, scallops, and gorgonians should never be directly exposed to air.

Most invertebrates and marine plants are sensitive to salinity changes. It is imperative to acclimate invertebrates to a specific gravity of 1.023-1.025 or severe stress or trauma may result.


Acclimating Quarantined Fish

“Drip” Acclimation is an important step in acclimating fish and invertebrates to your aquarium. It is a gentler introduction, allowing the animal to get used to the parameters of your tank slowly.

  1. Place sealed bags in your aquarium (they will float on top). Leave the bags floating for 30-45 minutes to allow the temperature in the bag to equal that of the tank.
  2. Open the bag and gently pour the fish and all bag water into your acclimation container.
  3. Remove vial of Prodibio StopAmmo from provided Acclimation Kit. Break open the vial and drip contents into acclimation container. Instructions on opening Prodibio vials can be found on the package.
  4. Remove the AccuDrip Acclimation tube from the Acclimation Kit and follow provided instructions for set up. Desired flow rate is 4-6 drops per second for very delicate species and invertebrates, and 8-10 drops per second when “Drip” acclimating hardier species.
  5. When the water in the acclimation container doubles, empty ¼ of the water and continue the “Drip” process until you reach the level prior to emptying the last ¼ of water. This takes approximately 30 minutes -1 hour depending on the flow rate. It is recommended you DO NOT try to rush a delicate species or invertebrate.
  6. You may now gently transfer your fish or invertebrate into your tank, trying to get as little of the acclimating/shipping water into your tank as possible. Dim the lights for the first day to allow your new livestock to settle in your tank.

* Acclimation Containers can consist of a variety of things, as long as they are of appropriate size to the livestock and can handle DOUBLE the water volume of the shipping bag. If you plan on using the same acclimation container multiple times, we do NOT recommend using a metal container. Be sure to cover your container when acclimating wrasses or any other known species to jump. 

** Prodibio StopAmmo is an all-natural product that works quickly and effectively to trap and stop ammonia. Additionally, it limits and reduces nitrites. This helps prevent fish from being shocked or killed by ammonia levels in the water. This is especially helpful when “drip” acclimating as it can reduce and/or completely eliminate fish loss and encourage quicker acclimation.