When you bring a new fish home from the pet store, you should not just dump it into your tank – there are several reasons for this. First, you do not know what kind of diseases to which the fish may have been exposed in the store – you do not want to expose the fish you already have to a new disease which could be very dangerous. Another reason you want to be careful with introducing new fish is that it takes time for saltwater fish to acclimate to a new tank. If you rush this process, it could have serious negative effects on your fish. Below you will learn about several options for acclimating your saltwater fish to a new tank.
Why Acclimation is Necessary
Any changes in tank temperature or water quality are likely to have an effect on your fish. When you purchase a new fish, it will be put in a plastic bag with water from the store tank. The water parameters in the store tank are likely different from the parameters of your tank at home and it could cause your fish stress to go through these changes too quickly. Another factor which plays a role in the necessity of acclimation for your fish is the size of the transport bag. In a small bag, oxygen levels in the water will drop quickly and carbon dioxide levels will rise – this is a natural result of the respiration of your fish. As the chemistry levels in the bag change, so will the pH – as pH changes, ammonia becomes more toxic to your fish.
With all of this information in mind, it seems like it would make sense to transfer the newly purchased fish to a clean tank as soon as possible. While getting the fish out of polluted water is a good idea, it is not something you can do quickly. The rapid change in tank temperature and water chemistry could cause the fish to become stressed. As you may already be aware, stress in fish can cause them to be more susceptible to illness and it can decrease their general wellbeing. When fish are stressed, their bodies do not function at the optimal level and they may not eat as they normally would. All of these factors can lead to serious problems.
Acclimation Methods for Fish
One of the most popular acclimation methods for saltwater fish is the drip method. To start, transfer the fish from the bag of tank water into a clean bucket – one you use only for your fish tank. Next, place a siphon in your quarantine tank with the other end in the bucket containing the fish. Use an air control valve or tie a knot in the tube to control the water flow – the ideal flow rate is about 3 to 4 drips per second. After about an hour of dripping tank water into the bucket, it should be safe to transfer the fish directly into the quarantine tank. Remember, you should always quarantine new fish for two weeks or so to make sure they don’t expose your other fish to disease.
Another method of acclimation is to float the bag containing your fish directly in the quarantine tank. You can open the bag and roll down the edges, ensuring that the bag remains afloat. One thing to beware of with this method is that some types of fish including wrasses and eels are likely to jump out of the bag and into the tank before it is time. Let the bag float in the tank for about 15 minutes to give the water temperature in the bag time to adjust to the temperature in the tank. Next, pour about ½ cup tank water into the bag. Repeat this process every 10 minutes until the bag is full. At this time, you can transfer the fish into the quarantine tank.
Other Tips for Acclimating Fish
The key to acclimating your saltwater fish is to do it slowly so as not to stress your fish with any sudden changes. Another tip is to keep the water quality in your quarantine tank as high as possible – if the water in the tank is clean, your fish is more likely to acclimate smoothly. One way to ensure high water quality in your quarantine tank is to install an EcoBio-Stone. These products are made with natural lava stone and infused with beneficial bacteria. Once introduced into your tank, these bacteria multiply and immediately begin working to maintain the nitrogen cycle. The nitrogen cycle is the process through which harmful chemicals like ammonia (the result of waste breakdown) are converted into less harmful substances. With an EcoBio-Stone in your tank, your water will remain clean and clear so your new fish will feel right at home.