Acclimation Guide

Acclimation Guide

New fish, inverts and coral are moderately shocked by changes in water conditions and lighting. To minimize stress on your new arrivals it is important to acclimate all new arrivals and to be patient doing so.  Prior to acclimation, ensure proper water conditions in your aquarium and that your system is completely cycled if new.  Water parameters must be within the following levels: 72°-78° F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, and salinity/specific gravity 1.020-1.025. 

Following our recommended acclimation (Drip Method), is a required part of our livestock guarantee and will ensure the best chance for a full and healthy life for your new Livestock.  Always keep up proper aquarium monthly maintenance which includes 20% water changes for each tank and visual inspections of UV sterilizers, pumps, heaters and electrical outlets, and daily inspection of skimmers and filters. Doing so will keep water parameters acceptable and your equipment operational.

Quarantine Tanks: We recommend their use to reduce the possibility of introducing disease and parasites into your aquarium.  Just because a new fish is compatible with an existing fish in your aquarium does not mean it is free from being harassed. Some fish will pick on new arrivals that are weaker or smaller and this will create stress and disease. It is recommended to purchase adequately sized fish to help prevent this in an existing community tank.  Quarantine tanks must contain the same water parameters as the community tank and should meet the guideline above.

Wash hands thoroughly and make it a practice every time you feed and work on your tanks. 



1)   Wash hands thoroughly.

2)   Open all boxes to ensure that all animals have arrived safely, bags are intact and that you have received a complete order (do not do this in bright light).

3)   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 Styrofoam containers, do one group at a time in the order of: fish, inverts, and then corals.

4)   Place as many sealed bags as will comfortably fit into your aquarium for 15-20 minutes.  This will bring the bag water temperature to that of the tank.  Do not open bags.

5)   Prepare an empty acclimation container for each “group” (fish/inverts/coral).  The shipping Styrofoam sent inside the cardboard box makes a great sterile acclimation container.  You will be adding the bagged aqua life to this container and the combined water level should fill approximately half of the container.  If a bucket is used it must be sterile (triple rinse sterile container with plain tap water only).  New buckets are fine, just rinse them and mark them as “aquarium use only” so they are not confused with cleaning or other substances.

6)   Place bags in acclimation container.  To do this, remove first “group” of bagged aquatic life from the tank and place into its respective acclimation container prepared in step #5.  Cut open the tops of each bag and empty water gently into the container. You may need to prop up one side in the beginning to allow water to submerge the animal(s).  Repeat this process for all bags.  Ensure that the level of the water is approximately half way up the acclimation container - if it is not, split up the acclimation into multiple containers.

7)   Cover top of acclimation container.  This will prevent fish from jumping out and will also reduce light.

8)   Prepare drip line.  Attach a drip line tube to a suction cup and place 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.

9)   Begin a siphon by sucking on the non-submerged end of the tube.  Start by having the knots tighter, then loosen to achieve desired flow (2-4 drops per second).

10)       Ensure correct water level.  The water volume in the acclimation container must double in 30-60 minutes.  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 the flow if needed.

11)       Once the water volume doubles, discard half the water from the acclimation container and then repeat process one more time.  (To maintain the siphon action, plug the end of the tube until ready to use again.)

12)       Turn off aquarium lights and keep them off for a few hours after introduction of your new animals.  Also dim lights in room. 

13)       Transfer fish from acclimation container to tank or to Quarantine Tank (see Basics, above).  Net or gently scoop into a sterile cup one fish at a time to prevent scratches or wounds, place gently get into tank.  For inverts and corals, follow the same process and place them gently on the bottom of the tank or in a desired location.  Sterile gloves may be used to prevent stings from certain corals and inverts.


Notes During Acclimation:

Fish will breathe heavily and some will lie on their side and discolor.  Corals and anemones may lose their size and color and they may take a while before they respond favorably and return to their normal state.  Snails and crabs may not move for days.  You can always inspect their undercarriage for movement.  Starfish may not move for hours.  After several hours of non-movement, pick them up and inspect for decay.