Acclimation: not necessarily. It can kill.

Sk8r

Staff member
RC Mod
It's my studied belief that acclimation (badly done) probably kills more fish than diseases and accidents. Why? There's a sticky-thread up there atop the forum that explains the chemistry of it. http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1959576 Here are the facts.

Acclimation is about only 2 things. 1. temperature differences 2. salinity differences. The rest of them (given a tank that is ready for fish and bag water that is survivable) are not a problem.

Your fish is in a bag with limited oxygen; and the sooner out, the better in that regard. If you're going to acclimate, do your whole process WITHIN 30 minutes!!!!!!! This prevents death from chemical changes in the water.

Procedure:
1. float your UNOPENED bag for 15 minutes. This will help equalize the temperature. If you have gotten an extraordinarily cold bag (shipping), go longer, but DO NOT OPEN THE BAG. See the article in the stickies, for why.

2. then (step 2) open the bag and immediately measure the salinity in the bag, and in your receiving tank (your qt). If they are equal, do not delay: put the fish into the new tank, discarding the water in the bag. Nothing further needed.
If they are not equal, start adding a gulp of water every few minutes to bring them equal---remembering that that fish needs to move to the new tank within 30 minutes. So keep testing salinity in the bag, and keep adding water, and yes, faster than a drip is ok. Your fish can handle a change in salinity if it's minor and if he has time. So just keep at it: every few minutes, more water. Once your difference between bag and tank are down to .002 on your salinity tester (get the instrument you look through like a spyglass) you are good to move that fish over immediately.
 
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Sk8r

Staff member
RC Mod
Get a refractometer. It measures salinity with the accuracy you need. Our sponsors sell them. Amazon sells them. They're not hugely expensive--when you count the survival of your fish and the accuracy of your water changes.
 

wsboyette

New member
Get a refractometer. It measures salinity with the accuracy you need. Our sponsors sell them. Amazon sells them. They're not hugely expensive--when you count the survival of your fish and the accuracy of your water changes.

What is the advantage of a refractometer over a SG meter, Sk8r ? I have been using a SG meter and mixing my water to 1.025.....
 
I agree with the referenced article and your thoughts. Thank you for sharing. I do wonder why the “Industry” continues to recommend drip acclimation. There must be some science / logic/rational to it? Be interesting to see if any vendors respond.
 

wsboyette

New member
Since the PH and salinity of my tanks matches that of the tanks at my LFS, I do not worry about those parameters when introducing a new fish. I float the bag for about 20 minutes to allow the temp to equalize with that of the tank, then I cut open the bag at the top. I then lower the open top of the bag into the water and allow it to slowly enter the bag, and then just wait for the fish to swim out of the bag into the tank. Using this technique I have never lost a fish during acclimation to the tank
 

Sk8r

Staff member
RC Mod
The problem with this method is that it allows store water and any pathogen or microscopic parasite in the store system to enter your tank. By removing the fish from that water you are down to what clings to the fish. I suppose you could do an intermediate dip bath on the way to the tank to cut it down even further, but the less store water, generally, the better. I generally use my hand to make the transfer, because I have small fishes as a rule. Nets are a problem because many marine fish have a cheek-spine that can get caught in a net, wounding the fish. The gold-plated method is to transfer the fish in a small container from which you drain the water. A mini plastic colander would work, so long as you prevent the fish jumping out. And they can.

Re your question about the sg meter they may be as accurate as a refractometer: they are fairly new. The refractometer relies on a drop of water on a plate: the degree of refraction is reflected to a scale on the optic end. A refractometer can be recalibrated with a small screwdriver and it requires no batteries. A reference solution is generally provided, but I have never gotten one new that isn't correctly calibrated. A refractometer is generally cheaper than an sg meter.
 

Sk8r

Staff member
RC Mod
One of the saddest sorts of posts (and we get them every year) is: I acclimated this special fish over an hour...and he died!
The direct cause? From a lengthy stay in a shipping bag (again, reference that article cited above) that was then opened and subjected to a long, slow drip. A chemical change in the water, the minute that bag is opened, and a long, long delay getting that fish into clean water---is the cause. Remember: 30 minutes is the absolute longest you have.
 

wsboyette

New member
The problem with this method is that it allows store water and any pathogen or microscopic parasite in the store system to enter your tank. By removing the fish from that water you are down to what clings to the fish. I suppose you could do an intermediate dip bath on the way to the tank to cut it down even further, but the less store water, generally, the better. I generally use my hand to make the transfer, because I have small fishes as a rule. Nets are a problem because many marine fish have a cheek-spine that can get caught in a net, wounding the fish. The gold-plated method is to transfer the fish in a small container from which you drain the water. A mini plastic colander would work, so long as you prevent the fish jumping out. And they can.

Guess I've been trusting my LFS too much, then !
 

Sk8r

Staff member
RC Mod
You evidently have a good clean store, but don't bet the farm on it forever. My advice is get rid of that water. You don't know 100& they haven't put a med into it, you don't know if they've had a sick fish in it (most stores clean that up before you see it) and seriously, trust yourself and just arrange a gentle tip of a CD bucket (you know those containers in which they sell (sold) 50-lots of CDs, DVDs, whatever. Those things are great for a controlled release and a fish transfer that won't snag fins or injure. Only thing you have to guard against is the jumpers: keep a hand over that container. Dartfish are the worst, but I've had some amazing tries from a shallow standing start....
 
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wsboyette

New member
You evidently have a good clean store, but don't bet the farm on it forever. My advice is get rid of that water. You don't know 100& they haven't put a med into it, you don't know if they've had a sick fish in it (most stores clean that up before you see it) and seriously, trust yourself and just arrange a gentle tip of a CD bucket (you know those containers in which they sell (sold) 50-lots of CDs, DVDs, whatever. Those things are great for a contropped release and a fish transfer that won't snag fins or injure. Only thing you have to guard against is the jumpers: keep a hand over that container. Dartfish are the worst, but I've had some amazing tries from a shallow standing start....

Yes, the Fish Room is a very nice reputable LFS, but as you pointed out one can never know if they have tainted water in their tank. Guess I had better avoid letting shop water get into the tank henceforth !
 

billdogg

Well-known member
What I do is take a small sample from the bag using a syringe and needle and then taping the hole shut, them float the bag in my frag tank while I adjust the QT to the correct salinity (the correct sg being whatever the water in the bag reads). By then, enough time has passed that the temperature will be equalized. I cut open the bag and pour it into whatever container is large enough to hold it all, then cover the top with my hand and pour out all the water. This allows me to transfer the fish to the QT with almost no store water. It's not that I don't trust my LFS - it's a very good reputable place but why take a chance?
 

Zionas

Member
If my LFS is helping me set up my tank and I’ll be having their water from the beginning, would you say I can just plop the fish in after floating for 15 minutes without even having to acclimate for Temperature?
 

wsboyette

New member
If my LFS is helping me set up my tank and I’ll be having their water from the beginning, would you say I can just plop the fish in after floating for 15 minutes without even having to acclimate for Temperature?

Have done a quick introduction like that myself on several occasions, immediately releasing the new fish into the tank, no problems those times. But I was taking a risk - as Sk8r noted - by introducing store water into my tank.
 

Sk8r

Staff member
RC Mod
The more details of the operation YOU control on your tanks and specimens, the better you know what's fact and not with your tanks. At very least do the full battery of tests (temp, salinity, calcium, DKH alkalinity, and magnesium, plus nitrate and ammonia, the minute they leave. Never take anybody's word about something for which you have a test. And run those specific tests once weekly from the start of the tank. Keeping a logbook.
 

Sk8r

Staff member
RC Mod
Same thing. Snails and crabs, which can live in tidepool conditions, not so much, but a critter that relies more on the stability of the great ocean, more so.
 
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