DO NOT acclimate UNLESS you have salinity mismatch.

Sk8r

Staff member
RC Mod
Acclimation kills a lot of fish that arrived perfectly healthy.
Use a refractometer. Don't 'guess' with a swing-arm. They're treacherous.
If your qt salinity matches the fish salinity within .001, Do Not Acclimate. Float the still-sealed bag for 15 minutes to equalize temperature, then put the fish into qt.

Be clever. ASK your fish store their salinity before you buy. Phone and ask the shipper. They know these things. Pre-set your qt to match.

Test your arriving fish against that number, just to be sure. Test your own qt just to be sure.

If there is only a .001 difference or less, do not acclimate. Put the fish into qt immediately.

UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCE PERMIT A SHIPPED FISH TO ACCLIMATE MORE THAN 30 MINUTES!

PH generally is not an issue.
 
Last edited:

Vilas

New member
What about inverts, such as cleaner shrimp? I've always been told two hours. I lost one in acclimation at one point, poor guy had been bagged for too long and I was too scared to acclimate him quickly. This was years ago.
 

snorvich

Team RC member
Team RC
What about inverts, such as cleaner shrimp? I've always been told two hours. I lost one in acclimation at one point, poor guy had been bagged for too long and I was too scared to acclimate him quickly. This was years ago.

Measure SG of transport water and of the receiving water. Acclimate inverts until you are 0.001 away.
 

Sk8r

Staff member
RC Mod
Within 30 minutes. Shrimp are sensitive to big salinity shifts because of their shells, but not THAT sensitive: I've had them handily survive a .005 shift.
 

Sk8r

Staff member
RC Mod
I'd be sticking my neck out, but it's my suspicion that the leading cause of early death in our hobby is acclimation mistakes, as in too long, and without the simple procedure of setting up the qt as a 'receiving tank.' You then adjust the salinity to match your dt over the next 4 weeks of observation, and the fish is never, ever stressed.

People often don't recognize what happened because exposure to ammonia on day one can cause a fish who's been in the tank two days to suddenly stop eating, then fail, and die...the owner suspects every disease in the book, when the simple truth was the kidneys were so badly damaged by ammonia on day one that toxic stuff could not leave the bloodstream, and the animal dies after a few days of 'mysterious causes.'
 

Torture

In Memoriam
how about frags? I have had different guys from different aquariums telling me to either do it or don´t, just through them in.
 

Vilas

New member
My tank was 1.026 - water was 1.019, I seem to remember. I only remember because I used it to teach my ex about acclimation.
 

HumbleFish

Dr. Fish
Premium Member
Great write up!

I'll just add this - if you do have to drip acclimate due to significant SG difference - a squirt of Amquel or Prime in the bag will neutralize any ammonia.
 

DavidinGA

New member
The 30min rule is good unless you have a large difference in salinity. If you buy a fish at 1.018 and your tank is 1.026 I wouldn't raise it in 30min...I would take at least 60min or more
 

Sk8r

Staff member
RC Mod
This is why you phone the seller to find out their salinity and pre-set the qt to that salinity.


You can have accidents, like a punctured bag and evaporation during shipment. There is where the Prime/Amquel suggestion can save a specimen.

Technically, the fish breathes and poos and generally excretes during shipment. Ammonium is in these excretions. THrough the magic of chemistry, co2 being released as the bag is opened on receipt causes the ph to drop, and as the ph drops, ammonium (harmless in those amounts) is automatically and rapidly converted to ammonia (which is lethal or damaging in small amounts)---exposure to ammonia for over 30 minutes is fatal (through organ damage, which can take as long as several days to manifest). This is why we say don't open bags until you are ready to start dealing with that specimen! NEVER ACCLIMATE LONGER THAN 30 minutes!


This is why having an adjustable qt is a lifesaver, and a heartbreak-saver.

And Amquel and Prime are very good products to have on hand. I have used Prime in an sps reef without harm---or rather, to save it from harm, due to a very bad situation.

When in doubt, test. And test twice. Test everything. And have things on hand like Prime, that can help you.
 

tmz

ReefKeeping Mag staff
Premium Member
How are they exposed to ammonia?
Isn't the ammonia in the bag water diluted by drip acclimation?




Total ammonia includes NH3(ammonia) and NH4 (ammonium);the ammonium (NH4) is much less toxic.The proportion of NH3 to NH4 changes as pH changes. More H+ = lower pH ,more NH 4 and less NH3.
Ammonia builds up in the bag from respiration and urea ,and to some extent from secreted waste if it has enough time to degrade . Fish secret it to get rid of excess nitrogen .
CO2 also builds up from respiration and bacterial activity. The CO2 as it is hydrolized adds H+ from the water lowering the pH.(CO2 +H20 ---> CHO3 (bicarbonate ) plus H+.

So, the lower pH ,ie the higher H+ from the CO2 ,keeps the proportion of NH3(toxic) relatively low vs NH4( much less toxic).

When the bag is opened ,the CO2 level in the bag water equilibriates with the air ; it drops in the bagwater and the pH rises .When that happens the NH4 to NH3 ratio shifts to NH3, toxic ammonia. So, keeping a fish an open bag of water for very long is likely to expose it to toxic levels of ammonia. The dilution via drip isn't likely to offset it enough.

Fish can be moved right from the bag to a tank acclimated to the bagwater in terms of temperature and sg (specific gravity) instead of drip acclimation as long as the sg in the recieving qt tank is lower or equal to the bag water sg.

This thread of mine may be of interest:

http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2185929&highlight=fish+acclimation+and+quarantine
 
Last edited:

tmz

ReefKeeping Mag staff
Premium Member
What about inverts, such as cleaner shrimp? I've always been told two hours. I lost one in acclimation at one point, poor guy had been bagged for too long and I was too scared to acclimate him quickly. This was years ago.

Inverts are different than fish. Fish have an internal sg of around 1.008. They drink alot and process highly concentrated urine to maintain it in seawater . They are hypotonic. .
A shift in internal sg throws off all the internal chemsitry and life functions, ie, it causes a loss of homestasis often resulting in death from osmotic shock when the fish can't keep up with a rapid upward shift is sg. Increases in sg should ideally be limited to .001 per day to avoid significant stress and osmotic shock.

Inverts have an internal salinity that varies with the water around them as it diffuses in and out They have no renal system or means to regulate their internal salinity,(the seawater average sg is 1.0264 ) like fish do . They are isotonic. They may be able to accomdoate a relatively small range of sg. This is why they can't survie hyposalinity treatments, for example.
 

m0nkie

Active member
Ok. Newbie question, how can you tell if sg is within 0.001?? I have a refractometer. 0.001 on it is like a tiny tiny margin difference. Trust your eyes? Or is there a digital refractometer
 

HumbleFish

Dr. Fish
Premium Member
Ok. Newbie question, how can you tell if sg is within 0.001?? I have a refractometer. 0.001 on it is like a tiny tiny margin difference. Trust your eyes? Or is there a digital refractometer

Hold the refractometer up against a very bright light and turn the dial to focus. If you can't see that, give it to your wife who probably has better eyesight (or at least thinks she does ;)).
 

m0nkie

Active member
So trusting my eyes it is... the gf is already mad enough that i spend all night reading fish forum... she's going to make me sleep with the fish soon
 
Top