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New Arrivals Acclimation

New Live Products Acclimation to your Aquarium


Proper acclimation is the key to successful introduction of new aquarium arrivals. 

The reason why acclimation is necessary is simple: the chemical makeup of the water in which the aquatic life is packaged is different from your aquarium water chemistry (i.e. water temperature, pH, and salinity). Aquatic life such as fish, and especially invertebrates and corals, are very sensitive to even minor changes in water chemistry. The goal of acclimation is to gradually introduce your new aquatic life to the water chemistry found in your aquarium at a controlled rate to avoid distress.

The acclimation process is complete when equilibrium is reached, where the temporary container housing new arrivals shares the same water chemistry as your aquarium, and your new arrival appears adjusted to these conditions. 

TCP recommends employing the Floating Method or the Drift Method of acclimation. The Floating Method of acclimation, where aquarium water is added to the floating bag in 1/2 cup increments, is a great choice when acclimating most types of aquarium fish. However, for more sensitive fish, invertebrates, and corals, it is recommended to employ the Drip Method of acclimation. Keep in mind, no matter which acclimation method you choose, be sure to take your time and never rush the process.


PLEASE NOTE: Acclimation procedures must be followed for all new arrivals in order to be covered under our 14-Day “Arrive Alive, Stay Alive®” and 30-Day Guarantees.

The Floating Method is undoubtedly the most widely practiced method among hobbyists. However, a more exact method of acclimation provided by the Drip Method is required for fish, corals or invertebrates sensitive to sudden changes in water chemistry.

Floating Method

  1. Turn off aquarium lights.
  2. Dim the lights in the room where your specimen bags will be opened. Severe stress may result from sudden exposure to bright light.
  3. Float the sealed bag in your aquarium for 15 minutes. This allows the water in the specimen bag to adjust slowly to the temperature in the aquarium.
  4. After 15 minutes, cut open the bag just under its closure and roll the top edge of the bag down one inch to create an air pocket within the lip of the bag. This will enable the bag to float on the surface of the water.
  5. Add 1/2 cup of aquarium water to the bag.
  6. Repeat Step 5 every four minutes until the bag is full.
  7. Lift the bag from the aquarium and discard half the water from the bag.
  8. Float the bag in the aquarium again and proceed to add 1/2 cup of aquarium water to the bag every four minutes until the bag is full.
  9. Net aquatic life from the bag and release into the aquarium.
  10. Remove the filled bag from the aquarium and discard the water. Never release enclosed water directly into the aquarium.
  11. Keep your aquarium lights off for at least four hours after the specimens are introduced into the aquarium to help them further adjust.

 

Drip Method

The Drip Method is considered more advanced. It is for sensitive aquatic life such as snails, corals, shrimp, sea stars and wrasses. You'll need a drip acclimation kit and must be willing to monitor the entire process. Gather a clean, 3- or 5-gallon bucket designated for aquarium use only. 


  1. Turn off aquarium lights.
  2. Dim the lights in the room where your specimen bags will be opened. Severe stress may result from sudden exposure to bright light.
  3. Float the sealed bag in your aquarium for 15 minutes. This allows the water in the specimen bag to adjust slowly to the temperature in the aquarium.
  4. Carefully empty the contents of the bags (including the water) into the buckets, making sure not to expose sensitive invertebrates to the air. Depending on the amount of water in each bag, this may require tilting the bucket at a 45-degree angle to make sure the animals are fully submerged. 
  5. Use the acclimation kit to set up and run a siphon drip line from the main aquarium to the bucket. You’ll need separate kits for each bucket used. The rigid tubing will sit over the trim of most glass aquariums. Use the enclosed valve to regulate flow from the aquarium into the bucket.
  6. Begin a siphon and when water begins flowing through the tubing, adjust the drip rate using the control valve to a rate of about 2-4 drips per second. Water volume in bucket will double about every 1/2 hour.
  7. When the water volume in the bucket doubles, discard half and continue the acclimation process until the volume doubles once more – about one hour.
  8. At this point, the specimens can be transferred to the aquarium. Sponges, clams, and gorgonians should never be directly exposed to air. Gently scoop them out of the drip bucket with the specimen bag, making sure they’re fully covered in water.
  9. Submerge the bag underwater in the aquarium and gently remove the specimen from the bag. Next, seal off the bag underwater by twisting the opening, and remove it from the aquarium. Discard both the bag and the enclosed water. 
  10. Keep your aquarium lights off for at least four hours after the specimens are introduced into the aquarium to help them further adjust.


NOTE: Most invertebrates and marine plants are more sensitive than fish to changes in specific gravity. It is imperative to acclimate invertebrates to a specific gravity of 1.023-1.025 or severe stress or trauma may result. Test specific gravity with a hydrometer or refractometer.


Important Tips:

  • Be patient – never rush the acclimation procedure. The total acclimation time for your new arrival should take no longer than two hours.
  • Always follow the acclimation procedure even if your new arrival appears to be dead. Some fish and invertebrates can appear dead when they arrive and will usually revive when the acclimation procedure is followed correctly.
  • Keep aquarium lights off for at least four hours after the new arrival is introduced into the aquarium.
  • 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.

In some instances, a new tank mate will be chased and harassed by one or all of your existing tank mates.

Solution 1: A clean 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 the new arrival.