How to Acclimate Marine Fish to Your Aquarium

HawkfishMarine fish can easily die from shock if not properly acclimated to a different aquarium or quarantine tank. To help avoid this, we have put together this simple list of how to drip acclimate saltwater fish. We recommend acclimating fish to a quarantine tank so they can be held and observed and treated for any diseases, parasites, or illness prior to adding them to your main show tank. To do this, you will need the following items; a bucket, an air pump with air tubing and air stone, a separate length of airline tubing with an adjustable valve, a marine pH test kit, a hydrometer, a thermometer, a fine mesh fish net, and some patience.... here we go:

floating bags1. Float the fish in the sealed bags in the tank they will be transferred to for about 15 to 30 minutes. This will allow the water in the bags to meet the temperature of the tank the fish will be transferred to.

fish in bag2. Open each bag and empty it along with the fish and the water from the bag into a bucket large enough for the fish. Allow room for more water to be added, and be sure the bucket is next to and below the aquarium that the fish will be added to. Also, it is recommended that you use a bucket that is solely designated for saltwater aquarium use only. Do NOT use a bucket that is also used for car washing, floor mopping, etc.

air pump with stone3. Set up an air pump next to the bucket and place an air stone in the acclimation bucket. This will help provide oxygen in the transfer bucket.

fish drip acclimation4. Now take a length of airline tubing and use a valve on one end. Place the non-valve end of the tube into the tank the fish will be transferred to, and place the valve end of the tube in the acclimation bucket. Start a siphon of water and use the valve to control the drip rate from the transfer tank to the acclimation bucket. You want to establish a slow and steady drip of water from the transfer tank to the acclimation bucket.

pH test kit5. Now wait until the water level in the acclimation bucket is about 3 times the amount that was in the bags. Test the water in the acclimation bucket and make sure the pH, salinity and temperature match the transfer tank that the fish will be placed in.

Fish Net6. Once everything is equal, gently transfer the fish to the quarantine tank with a fine mesh net. Be careful to avoid getting the dorsal fins caught in the net, or causing any undue stress to the fish while transferring it.

marine aquarium fishFinally, monitor your fish for any signs of disease for at least 1 week before adding to your main show tank. Treat for parasites or infections as needed. Also, the drip rate for the siphon line should be about 1 drop of water per second. One last note, if adding several aggressive species or fish with toxins in their spines, it may be best to acclimate those fish by themselves instead of in a group.