Acclimatization of Fishes

Acclimatization of Fishes

It is important that you acclimate your fish to the new environment before releasing them into the aquarium.  The purpose of acclimatization is simple: the water that the fish is packaged in has different temperature, pH, and salinity parameters than your aquarium. Fish are very sensitive to even minor changes in these parameters, so proper acclimation is the key to ensuring their successful relocation.  The process of acclimatization should be slow to avoid shock to the fresh stock of livestock / fish. Also, remember to keep your aquarium lights off for at least four hours after the specimens are introduced into the aquarium to help them further adjust to the new environment.   It is also advisable that all aquatic life be quarantined in a separate aquarium for a period of one to two weeks to reduce the possibility of introducing diseases and parasites into your aquarium and to ensure they are accepting food, eating properly, and are in optimum health before their final transition to your aquarium.  At times, due to non-availability of quarantine aquarium, this cannot be achieved, it is therefore recommended that you are able to match the water parameters (hardness, temperature etc.) and see for visible signs of deformity and / or pathogens before releasing your new stock into the aquarium.

The sealed packaged fish should be placed in your aquarium.  Turn off the aquarium lights and also dim the lights in the room where the aquarium is situated.  Never open the box in bright light – severe stress or trauma may result from sudden exposure to bright light.  Float the sealed bag in the aquarium for 10-15 minutes.  Do not open the package bag at this time.  This will allow the water in the package bag to adjust slowly to the temperature in the aquarium, while maintaining a high level of dissolved oxygen.  After floating the sealed shipping bag for 10-15 minutes, open the bag slowly without causing agitation to fish(s).   Add 100-200 ml of aquarium water to the package bag of fish.  Repeat this step of addition of aquarium water in small quantities every 3-4 minutes till the package bag of fish is full.  Now discard half the water from the package bag and again keep the package bag floating in the aquarium and proceed to add 100-200ml of water every 3-4 minutes until the bag is full. Now, using the fish net, release the fish into the aquarium and discard the package bag and its water.  Never mix the water of package bag into the aquarium, as there is always a risk of infection.

Be patient – never try and rush the acclimatization procedure. The total time for acclimation should not take more than an hour. You should follow acclimatization procedure even if your new fish appears to be dead.  Some fish and invertebrates can appear as though they are dead when they arrive and will usually revive when the above procedure is followed correctly.  Never place an airstone into the package bag when acclimatizing your new stock. This will increase the pH of the packaged water too quickly and expose your new stock to lethal ammonia.  Keep aquarium lights off for at least four hours after the new stock is introduced into the aquarium.  Sponges, clams, scallops, and gorgonias should never be directly exposed to air, which could be fatal to them.  In certain instances, your new tank mate will be chased and harassed by one or all of your existing tank mates.  Provide for adequate hiding spaces, this will assist the new member to adjust better and faster. You could also use a plastic spaghetti strainer, which can be used to contain a tank bully within the aquarium for several hours until the new arrival adjusts to its surroundings.  You could also use perforated aquarium partition to segregate aggressive species from timid ones / new tanks mates.  After the new addition adjusts to the unfamiliar environment, the divider / partition can be removed.  Please observe the behaviour of the bullying species and that of your new tank mates very carefully and re-introduce the partition, if bullying continues and remove when the environment is conducive.

Some live corals produce excess slime when transported. After the culmination of the acclimatization process, hold the coral by the rock or skeletal base and gently shake it in the package bag before placing into your aquarium. In order to avoid any damage, never touch the “fleshy” part of a live coral.  Many species of coral will not open for several days after introduction into their new home and may look dead.  Please allow several days for the coral to adapt to the new conditions in the aquarium.

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