Acclimating New Fish

Updated: Feb 13, 2019

So after setting up your aquarium, you now have some fish in a plastic bag waiting to be put into their forever home. The process of transferring fish from the store to your aquarium is very important. You can’t just scoop them out of the bag and plop them into the tank. The chance that your aquarium and the fish store they came from having the exact same water parameters is nearly impossible. The differences can come in the form of different level of ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, a difference in pH, different temperature, oxygen levels and more. Any sudden change in these parameters could harm the fish. They might survive overnight, but if you don’t acclimate them properly, you shouldn’t be surprised if you wake up the next day to some floaters. Depending on how long the fish have been in the bag, there is a high chance that the temperature in the water has dropped. The fish need to be slowly warmed back up. I am going to talk about two popular methods of acclimating the fish to their new homes.

Air Tube Drip

One should always begin by turning the lights off in the aquarium. When it is dark the fish become less anxious and stressed. Next, place the bags in the aquarium. Allowing them to float for about 15 minutes, this will allow the water in the bag to slowly warm up to the temperature of their new home. Next, open the bags and pour the fish and water into a small bucket right next to the aquarium. Then use some air tubing that is meant for bubblers in the aquarium, and use it to slowly siphon water from the tank into the bucket. If the water is flowing too fast, it can be useful to tie a knot in the tubing to slow down the flow. The idea of this is to slowly change the water parameters from the store conditions, to the homes. This process should be continued until roughly four times the amount of water you started with from the store is in the bucket. If you have to pour out some of the water from the bucket to reach the ideal amount, that is fine, just make sure you don’t put the water in your aquarium. Once enough of the aquarium water has been siphoned into the bucket, use a fish net to carefully transfer the fish to their new homes. Keep the lights off for about an hour to help reduce the stress on your new fish. Once you turn the lights back on, place a little bit of food in for your fish.

Pour Method

This technique is very similar to the air tube drip method. Start off the same by turning off the lights in the tank to help reduce stress and anxiety. Then while keeping the bags in the tank, open them up and pour in ¼ cup of water from the aquarium, into the bags. Repeat this process every 3-5 minutes. Once the bag is full, pour out half of the water in the bags, then fill them up again. After they are filled for a second time, use a net and transfer the fish into the aquarium. Just like in the first method, keep the lights off for an hour, then feed the fish.

Caution of Contamination

One thing all fish owners need to be careful of, is getting water from the fish store into your new tank. It may not seem like putting a small amount of water from another tank to yours is dangerous, but it can have some big impacts to your environment. There are a lot of bacteria or small parasites that could potentially live in the water. So if you got fish from a store that had poor water, and place that water into your tank, you run the risk of your tank now becoming infected. By using the net, it reduces this risk.

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