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Acclimation Procedures

General Information
The following procedures are recommended to safely and successfully introduce new aquatic animals into an established aquarium. These procedures must be closely followed for you to be eligible for all of the benefits of That Fish Place's conditional livestock guarantee.

Our acclimation procedures are safe and simple ways to help your new aquatic pet adjust from the relatively stressful chemistry of the shipping bag to the health and safety of its new home. Though it may seem like the best course of action is to get your new pet into your clean aquarium as soon as possible, it is extremely important to note that a rapid change in water conditions can be more dangerous than being kept slightly longer in an unhealthy environment. It is this slow transition from shipping container to established tank that is the focus of our acclimation procedures. Slow is good; take your time and enjoy your new aquatic pet!

Please note: That Fish Place recommends quarantining all newly purchased animals in a separate tank before introducing them to the population of your established aquarium.

Helpful Tips

  • Always follow the steps of our acclimation procedures with all new specimens, even those that appear deceased. Many fish can appear lifeless under conditions of depressed pH, but will "revive" as the pH increases during acclimation.
  • Always turn off aquarium lighting and dim room lighting before, during and after acclimation. The only exception to this guideline is coral acclimation. Acclimate corals with an initial low level of lighting and gradually increase lighting level to allow the coral(s) time to adjust.
  • Never introduce an airstone or other form of aeration into the shipping container. Aerating the water inside the shipping bag will convert non-toxic ammonia to a toxic form that will be extremely harmful to the animal inside.
  • Never expose sponges, gorgonians, or shark eggs to open air. This is the only case where you will have to introduce some of the bag water into your aquarium. Keep these species underwater at all times.
  • Do not be too anxious to admire your new pets. Allow them time to adjust to their new home before you expose them to bright lights and attention.

  • Fish Acclimation

    This procedure should take no longer than 1 hour to complete.
    Test chemistry and make necessary adjustments to prepare your tank for acclimation.

    You will need the following supplies:
    • A good, non-abrasive net
    • A plastic cup
    • A clean, empty bucket for acclimating
    • A bucket with newly prepared seawater that is the same temperature as your aquarium.
    • A thermometer

    1. Turn off the light in your aquarium and dim the lights in the room.
    2. Cut the bag open below the rubber bands and pour the fish and water into the empty bucket.
    3. Slowly add 1 cup of water from the aquarium to the bucket.
    4. Repeat step #3 every 5 minutes for 45 minutes.
    5. Net fish and release into the aquarium.
    6. Discard water left in the acclimation bucket.
    7. Replace the water removed from the tank during acclimation with the newly prepared aquarium water.
    8. Keep the aquarium lights off and the room lights dimmed for at least the first 12 hours after acclimation.
    Drip Acclimation:
    Instead of using a cup of water, airline tubing can also be used to slowly and continuously add aquarium water to the acclimation bucket. Start a siphon from the aquarium to the acclimation bucket. Tie a knot in one end of this tubing and adjust the knot until water drips at a rate of one drop every 1-2 seconds. Allow the water to drip continuously for 45 minutes and proceed to step #5 of the acclimation.

    Coral & Clam Acclimation

    This procedure should take NO LONGER than 1 hour to complete.
    Test chemistry and make necessary adjustments to prepare your tank for acclimation.

    You will need the following supplies:
    • A good, non-abrasive net
    • A plastic cup
    • A clean, empty bucket for acclimating
    • A bucket with newly prepared seawater that is the same temperature as your aquarium.
    • A thermometer

    1. Cut the bag open below the rubber bands and carefully place the coral or clam and water into the empty bucket. Be extremely careful when handling live corals not to touch the delicate flesh of the animals. Try to handle corals only by their hard base whenever possible.
    2. Slowly add 1 cup of water from the aquarium to the bucket.
    3. Repeat step #2 every 5 minutes for 45 minutes.
    4. Carefully remove the coral or clam from the bucket. Be extremely careful when handling live corals not to touch the delicate flesh of the animals. TRY to handle the corals only by their hard skeletons whenever possible.
    5. Place your new clam or coral in a safe place in your reef community. You should not place newly introduced specimens too close to other well established aggressive species, as they will sting their new “competitors.” Check on compatibility issues to see where your new clam or coral should be placed in its new home. Remember that many aggressive coral species extend their “sweeper” tentacles mainly at night, so what may seem to be a peaceful environment during acclimation may not be once the lights go out.
    6. Discard any water left in the acclimation bucket.
    7. Replace the water removed from the tank during acclimation with the newly prepared aquarium water.
    8. Keep the aquarium lights at a low level and gradually work up to a higher level, allowing the corals or clam time to adjust.

    Invertebrate Acclimation

    This procedure should take NO LONGER than 1 hour to complete.
    Test chemistry and make necessary adjustments to prepare your tank for acclimation.

    You will need the following supplies:
    • A good, non-abrasive net
    • A plastic cup
    • A clean, empty bucket for acclimating
    • A bucket with newly prepared seawater that is the same temperature as your aquarium.
    • A thermometer

    1. Turn off the lights in your aquarium and dim the lights in the room.
    2. Cut the bag open below the rubber bands and pour the invertebrate and water into the empty bucket.
    3. Add 1 cup of your aquarium water to the bucket.
    4. Repeat step #3 every 5 minutes for 45 minutes.
    5. Carefully remove the invertebrate from the bucket using a net. You can “pour” the animal into a net held over a waste bucket/drain. Be extremely careful when handling invertebrates that may have a toxic sting or bite.
    6. Place your invertebrate into its new home in an inconspicuous corner of the aquarium. What is an interesting and beautiful new specimen to you may be just another tasty meal for one of your well established reef animals. Give your new pet a chance to find a hiding place in the tank until it can establish itself.
    7. Discard any water left in the bucket.
    8. Keep the aquarium lights off and the room lights dimmed for at least the first 12 hours of acclimation.
    9. Replenish the water you removed from your tank during the acclimation process with the newly prepared seawater.
    Drip Acclimation:
    Instead of using a cup of water, airline tubing can also be used to slowly and continuously add aquarium water to the acclimation bucket. Start a siphon from the aquarium to the acclimation bucket. Tie a knot in one end of this tubing and adjust the knot until water drips at a rate of one drop every 1-2 seconds. Allow the water to drip continuously for 45 minutes and proceed to step #5 of the acclimation.

    Live Rock Curing

    After being harvested from the ocean, transported into our holding tanks, and then reshipped to the end customer, "die-off" of organisms will occur on the live rock. This is a natural reaction to the environmental stress of temperature changes and exposure to air. "Curing" live rock is the process of removing the dead and decaying organic material from your live rock before you can add livestock to your new aquarium, or before you add new live rock to your established aquarium. During the curing process ammonia levels from the decomposing organic material can reach toxic levels, and for this reason you should never add new live rock to an existing aquarium. Most of the beneficial nitrifying bacteria and some of the other corals, macroalgaes, and animals will survive this process, providing you with the foundation for a successful marine aquarium.

    Curing your live rock usually takes from one to three weeks depending upon the amount organic material that is on the live rock. This can be highly variable depending on what type of live rock is purchased. Follow these steps for the best results.

    You will need the following supplies:
    • A trash can or storage container of suitable size to submerge the live rock, 30 gallons is usually a good size
    • A submersible aquarium heater big enough to keep the water at 80 degrees during the curing process
    • A submersible pump, or pumps, to provide vigorous water movement in the container
    • A soft scrub brush and an old tooth brush, to remove debris from surface of the rock.
    • Synthetic salt mix
    • Salt water ammonia test kit.

    1. Premix enough saltwater to completely submerge rock in your large container upon arrival.
    2. Use the soft scrub brush to remove any loose or obviously decaying material; use a toothbrush to get into smaller areas. Do not scrub the entire rock, you are only removing loose or decaying material.
    3. Place rock under water and use the submersible pumps to create a vigorous water pattern in the container; use the heater to keep the water at 80 degrees.
    4. Keep the container covered or dimly lit to prevent unwanted algae growth during high nutrient conditions.
    5. Perform 100% water changes twice per week
    6. Repeat scrubbing as necessary in-between water changes.
    7. After the first week test the water for ammonia, once the ammonia levels have been reduced to zero the rock is cured and ready for the aquarium.