Acclimation Guide


Important Facts

  • Be patient - never rush the acclimation procedure. The total acclimation time for your new arrival should take no longer than one hour.
  • Always follow the acclimation procedure even if your new arrival appears to be dead. Some fish and invertebrates can appear as though they are dead when they arrive and will usually revive when the above procedure is followed correctly.
  • 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.
  • Keep aquarium lights off for at least four hours after the new arrival is introduced into the aquarium.
  • Most invertebrates and marine plants are more sensitive than fish 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.
  • Sponges, clams, scallops, and gorgonias should never be directly exposed to air. Follow the acclimation procedure, but instead of netting the specimen out of the shipping bag, submerge the bag underwater in the aquarium and remove the marine life from the bag. Seal off the shipping bag underwater by twisting the opening, and remove it from the aquarium. Discard both the shipping bag and the enclosed water. A tiny amount of the diluted shipping water will escape into the aquarium. Don't be alarmed; this will have no adverse affect on the tank inhabitants.
  • In some instances, your new tank mate will be chased and harassed by one or all of your existing tank mates.

    Solution 1: A plastic spaghetti strainer (found at your local discount store) can be used to contain a tank bully within the aquarium for several hours until the new arrival adjusts to its surroundings. Just float the perforated plastic basket in the aquarium. Net the tank bully and place in the floating basket for approximately four hours while the new arrival adjusts to your aquarium. Never place the new arrival in this basket; the new specimen must get familiar with your aquarium. By placing the tank bully in a perforated basket, you'll reduce the stress on your newest tank mate.

    Solution 2: A perforated plastic lighting grid can be purchased at your local hardware store to cut down the width of your aquarium. This grid may be used to section off a small portion of the aquarium to separate territorial or aggressive fish from the newest tank mate. After the new addition adjusts to the unfamiliar environment, the divider can be removed.

  • Some live corals produce excess slime when shipped. After the acclimation procedure is followed, hold the coral by the rock or skeletal base and gently shake the coral in the shipping bag before placing into the aquarium. To avoid damage, please remember never to touch the "fleshy" part of a live coral. Many species of coral will not open for several days after introduction into their new home. Please allow several days for the coral to adapt to the new conditions in the aquarium.
One of the most important aspects of a healthy aquarium is proper acclimation of your new arrivals.  The water used to pack the animal is going to be different than the water in your aquarium.  For creatures used to living in a vast and stable ocean, those differences can be quite a shock and sometimes deadly.  The most acclimation factors are temperature, PH and Salinity.  The best equaliser for these is time.  Spreading those changes over time allows your new animal to gently make its adjustment to the conditions in your aquarium.  Following the procedure bellow is a required part of our livestock guarantee and will ensure the best chance for a full and healthy life for your new pet.
Quarantine Tanks: We highly recommend their use to reduce the possibility of introducing disease and parasites into your aquarium.
Tools Needed:

- Drip Line
- Stress Guard
- Acclimation steps
- Sterile Styrofoam Container
- Additional salt water
- Scissors / knife – to open bags

There are two basic methods for acclimation: Float Method & Drip Method. The Drip Method is considered the best for sensitive animals and that is why we recommend this exclusively.  We are committed to the health of your animal and have included this guide to help you to do this.  Because we have separate holding systems fish, invertebrates & corals need to be acclimated separately. Please be present during acclimation to avoid spillage.
Drip Method: (for Fish and Corals)
  • - Turn off aquarium lights and keep them off for a few hours after introduction of your new animals. Also dim lights in room.
  • - Open all boxes to ensure that all animals have arrived safely, bags are intact and you have received a complete order (do not do this in bright light).
  • - Separate fish, inverts and corals into their own groups. Do not acclimate any of these 3 groups together (same body of water) because they likely do not share the same water parameters. If you don’t have enough boxes for water, do one group at a time in the order they are listed above.
  • - Float as many bags as will comfortably fit in your aquarium for 15-20 min.  This will bring the temperature of the water in the bag to what the tank is. Do not open bags.
  • - The Styrofoam box sent with your order makes a great sterile acclimation container and never gets confused as a cleaning bucket. If a bucket is used it must be sterile (no soaps or other chemicals). New buckets are fine, just rinse them and mark them for aquarium use only.
  • - Remove first group of animals and place them into the foam box. Cut open the tops of each bag and empty water gently into the foam box. You may need to prop up one side in the beginning to allow water to submerge the animal(s). Repeat process for all.  The level of the water should not be more than half way up the box- if it is, split up the acclimation into multiple boxes
  • - If possible, it is a good idea to cover the top with something so that fish don’t jump out and to reduce light.
  • - Prepare your drip line by sticking the suction cup on the top or front of the aquarium so that one end is submerged (in the aquarium water). Tie two loose knots somewhere in the middle of the tubing.  This will control the amount of flow by tightening/loosening.
  • - Begin a siphon by sucking on the end you will be placing into one of the foam boxes.  Start by having the knots tighter, then loosen to achieve desired flow (2-4 drops per second).  You want the water volume in the foam box to double in 30-60 minutes. Remember it is better to fill slowly than to fill too fast.
  • - Keep an eye on things so that nothing spills onto floor and you can adjust flow if needed
  • - Once water volume doubles, discard half the water from the box and then repeat process. If you plug the end of the tube and put it into tank with the other end, it should keep its siphon. For the next round- make sure it’s secure.
  • - Repeat this process two to three times.
  • - Net one fish at a time to prevent scratches or wounds, place gently get into tank.
  • - Corals & Anemones- gently place into tank .  We recommend using sterile rubber gloves because some are allergic to the toxins they can release plus it ensures clean hands and prevents you from being stung by certain corals and inverts.
  • - Now enjoy your purchase. Wait a few hours or next day before feeding.
 Drip method (Invertebrates: Snails, Crabs)
  • - These animals will ship in much less water and are therefore easily acclimated in their original bag.
  • - Cut open (or off) the top of the bag to allow water from your drip line to be added and then secure them so they don’t tip over when more water is added
  • - Often there is newspaper or paper towel to keep them moist.  Create a drip volume that adds maybe one drop or less per second (see above).  This should create about an inch of water over a period of one hour. For these creatures slower truly is better.
  • - You do not have to discard any water like above. After one hour, simply add the animals to the sand bed by hand (do not put acclimation water into tank).
  • - Never expose bags to bright light
  • - Always have enough mixed or natural salt water on hand
  • - Acclimate everything – even if it looks dead (many animals can recover if properly acclimated)
  • - Be Patient
Behavior During Acclimation:
  • - Fish-   Will usually breath heavily and some will lay on their side or at the bottom of the aquarium (Wrasses sometimes will play dead- continue with full acclimation) 
  • - Corals & Anemones- will deflate/shrink, these might take hours or days to fully open and color up.
  • - Snails & Crabs- may not open or move for days at a time- after this time if you suspect death pick them out of tank (if they smell bad, they're dead – don’t put them back)
  • - Starfish-  may not move for days, pick them up and look for signs of disintegration