If you just bought a captive-bred fish, congratulations. You made the right choice! Captive-bred fish are much hardier and better adapted for aquarium life. Purchasing captive-bred fish also has no impact on the wild populations of fish and wild corals, unlike the wild-caught alternative. Captive-bred fish are raised in aquariums, so aquariums are all they know. Transferring a captive-bred fish from one location to another causes far less stress than transferring a wild-caught fish. However, there are still somethings you should do when adding your fish to your aquarium. Fortunately, you are in the right place to learn everything you need to know about acclimating your captive-bred fish and adding them to the aquarium. Don't worry, it's not difficult.
Should you quarantine your fish?
Before we talk about acclimating fish, let's first talk about quarantine. It would be wrong to say that having a quarantine tank is uncommon, however a lot of new hobbyists either overlook it or are completely unaware of the idea. A quarantine tank is a system completely separate from your main aquariums in all ways. This system is used to treat new fish because they may potentially have disease. Quarantine tanks are usually small and simple with only basic hiding places. Fish often come with diseases, even those you can't see. Keeping the fish in a separate system for a select amount of time ensures that your other fish will be safe. It is also much easier to treat a fish when it is in a smaller tank that lacks any inverts.
Wild-caught fish come from the ocean. This means they are exposed to a wide range of diseases and parasites. When you get a new fish that has been collected from the ocean, it would be more surprising if the fish didn't have any diseases or parasites than if it did. Captive-bred fish
, on the other hand, are not exposed to things wild-caught fish are. Therefore, they are much less likely to carry diseases. However, it is still recommended that you quarantine the fish. While captive-bred fish are unlikely to carry disease, it is certainly possible. For the sake of your other fish, you should quarantine all fish before adding them.
If you are unable to set up a quarantine system (thought it's not difficult or expensive), you have to accept and expect disease in your aquarium. It is a choice for you, the hobbyists, to make, but it is strongly recommended that you have a quarantine system. The topic of treating fish and keeping them in quarantine is a topic for a whole other article, but this short explanation should be enough to open you up to the idea.
Now, how do you actually acclimate the fish to a new system? Whether you are adding a fish to a quarantine system or moving it from the quarantine system to the display, you need to acclimate your fish. If you transported a fish from one aquarium to another without acclimation, the fish probably wouldn't die, depending on the kind of fish. However, it would cause a lot of stress both psychologically and physically. While not acclimating probably won't kill a fish, it certainly could. It's better to be safe the sorry. Also, why skip out on something that is so easy to do?
There are several different acclimation methods that you can implement. The most widely accepted method is what is called drip acclimation. This is where the aquarium water is slowly added to the fish's current water slowly overtime, drip by drip. You can use this drip acclimation device
from Innovative Marine to do this. You can also make your own, but that tends to not work well. You can also float the fish in your aquarium while it's in the bag to get the fish familiar with temperature gradually.
Here's a step by step list of things to do when acclimating your fish.
- Float the fish in the bag in the aquarium for about 15 minutes.
- Carefully cut open the bag and pour the fish and its water into a single container on its own. Don't acclimate fish together unless they arrive in the same bag.
- Set up the drip acclimation system and adjust the flow rate.
- Place some sort of lid loosely over the container to avoid jump-outs and carpet surfers.
- Once the water is diluted by a factor of four or five, use your hand to carefully remove the fish from the container and release it into the aquarium. Make sure to wet your hand before picking up the fish. Also, avoid picking up poisonous fish. If needed, use a net, but be careful as fish spines, fins, and gills can get caught in a net. This is why using your hands is best.
- Avoid adding any of the water from the container into the tank.
That's how to acclimate your fish and add them to the aquarium. However, there are some other things you can do to make the transition less stressful. First, you can feed the fish already in your aquarium to distract them before adding the new fish. Also, you can turn the lights off before adding the new fish. Then, resume the normal light schedule the next day. This will give the fish a chance to hide and get used to being in the aquarium before interacting with other fish.
Another thing to consider is that different types of fish may benefit from different periods of acclimation. As a guideline, provide 2-3 drips per second when acclimating anthias, gobies, butterfly fish, wrasses, and puffers. For most other fish provide 2-4 drips per second. If the fish is extremely delicate or appears to be highly stressed, slow the rate to 1-2 drips per second is recommended.
There you have it. You now know how to correctly acclimate fish to an aquarium Remember to set up a quarantine system, as it will be best for all of your fish. Acclimating fish is not difficult but is certainly needed to reduce stress and ensure a healthy transition into your aquarium.