How to Acclimate Fish

Properly acclimating new fish to your already established tank requires more than the simple β€˜bag float’ method.

Most people who have had fish tanks or aquariums of any sort have heard of floating the bag containing the new fish in your aquarium water; however, that is only a fraction of what you should do to properly add new fish to a brand new environment.

Within this post, we will discuss the proper way of how to acclimate fish to your aquarium. Don’t worry, the methods we’re about to share below are quite simple and easy.

Step One: Water Testing

Before you even buy a new fish, the first thing you should do should be to test your tank’s nitrate, pH, & ammonia levels.

Once that is completed, and all are found to be well, write the levels down for reference. Bring that sheet of paper to the aquarium store with you, and don’t be afraid to ask someone working there to test the water in whatever tank the fish you would like to purchase are being kept.

After ensuring the water levels are safe, as well as determining how far off your readings are from there, this will give you a better idea as to how to acclimate fish to your tank.

Step Two: Bringing the Fish Home and Acclimating to Your Tank
After everything has come back good with the water level testing, it’s time to purchase a new fish. It’s always best not to add too many fish at once, mainly because of the following reasons:

When introducing new fish to the tank, there is always a possibility of infection or disease. To keep that chance low, only attempt to introduce one fish at a time to ensure fish safety.
Certain breeds of fish are territorial and will attack new fish. It’s a shame and a waste of money to buy more than one fish at a time in case the other fish in the tank bully or even kill your new fish.

The Floating Bag Method

After you arrive home, you should do a small water change within the bag that the fish and water is in. Empty about 25% of the water from the bag and replace it with water from your own aquarium.

This is done to ensure there is not a high ammonia buildup and as well as to get the fish slowly accustomed to the pH and levels within your tank.

After doing this, you may seal the bag and place the bag into the top of your tank to get accustomed to the water temperature so as not to shock the fish when you do release it into the tank.

The Bucket Method

There is also another method of acclimating fish properly, and that is known as the bucket method.

This method is better than the floating bag method because you don’t run the risk of getting any of the bag water into your own tank, which you should always try to avoid, and it allows the fish to be in clean water.

This method is done by putting the fish with the bag into a clean bucket, and as with the floating method, remove about 25% of the bag water, keeping the remainder of that water in the bag, and replacing the 25% which you removed with water from your own tank.

Every 10 minutes, you should add about 1 cup of tank water to the bucket, and you should do this for an hour or so. After an hour has passed, you can safely use a small net to retrieve the fish from the bag and introduce the fish to your tank.

How to Acclimate Saltwater Fish: The Drip Method

The method of how to acclimate saltwater fish is a bit different. There is more detail and care taken in this method, which is known as the drip method.

The reason it is more of an intricate process is that saltwater fish are more prone to have adverse reactions to new environments and pH levels, as well as other water chemistry levels.

There are a few items necessary to acclimate saltwater fish:

  • A clean bucket
  • A vegetable clip with a suction cup
  • Air pump tubing long enough to reach from tank to bucket

After gathering the necessary items, you will begin the process. First, you will put one end of the tubing through the vegetable clip and into your tank. You will suction this to your tank with the suction cup.

You will then need to tie a knot into the tubing to ensure you have control over the water flow and rate coming out of your tank into the bucket. Once you get the flow started, place the other end of the tubing into the fish bag inside of the bucket.

You will want a very slow drip going. Think of a slow IV drip. There should be about one drip per second. Depending on what you are attempting to introduce into your tank, you will use this method for 1-3 hours.

Final Say

Ensuring you acclimate saltwater fish properly will increase the chances of survival a great deal and will ensure good practice for every new fish or invertebrate you introduce to your saltwater tank.

Learning how to properly acclimate fish, in general, is essential to life in the tank – for both new and already established fish. Anyone can become a fish connoisseur and have success as a fish hobbyist by learning proper acclimation methods.

πŸ π™ƒπ™‹ Team
πŸ π™ƒπ™‹ Team
We're just like you - aquarium enthusiasts who love aquatic life! We've been caring for and breeding all sorts of freshwater and marine aquarium fishes, plants, and other pretty little creatures for years. We love sharing our knowledge with other fish hobbyists, and this article you have just finished reading is the best proof of that. You can read more about us here.

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