Aquarists like to broadly divide classes of aquarium livestock into two big groups, the fishes and the invertebrates. The second group is a huge catch-all, as it includes all non-fish livestock ranging from sponges to crabs. Though invertebrates are overall more sensitive than fish to sudden environmental change, ideal acclimation procedure varies somewhat between the many different types of “inverts.”
We suggest the following when drip acclimating:
- As always, avoid roughly handling/opening packages (boxes, bags, etc.).
- Provide each new specimen with its own container (e.g. bucket).
- Open the bag with a small blade or scissors and slowly release the contents into the container.
- Place a lid loosely over the container for shade and to prevent climb-outs by mobile creatures such as crabs.
- Assemble the drip acclimation device.
- Prime the device to initiate water flow from the tank into the bucket.
- Adjust the acclimator drip-rate.
Creatures that are able to close up (and thereby expose themselves to new waters at their own pace) require the least time and attention during the introduction to a new system. Examples of this include stony corals and their skeletons, feather duster worms and their tubes, bivalve mollusks and their shells, etc. Some other creatures are not so well-protected. Echinoderms such as sea urchins, for example, possess a water vascular system that makes them especially sensitive to even minor fluctuations of salinity. In these cases, an exceptionally slow and easy-going acclimation is warranted.
How slow? That depends mostly on the species of invert (and perhaps its condition). When in doubt, it is always safest to opt for the longer acclimation duration.
We suggest the following drip rates:
- Corals, hermit crabs: 2-3 drips/second.
- Snails, shrimp, tridacnid clams, starfish, sea anemones: 1-2 drips/second.
After the transport water has been diluted by a factor of 4-5x, then the invert can finally be moved into the tank. Rather than pouring the water in the bucket into the tank, transfer the animal directly by hand or with the use of a net or scoop. Discard all wastewater left in the bucket.
Remember that photosynthetic animals (zooxanthellate corals and clams, etc.) may benefit from *light acclimation* as well. This necessarily is a slower process. The idea is to avoid shocking the specimen with overly intense light. Depending upon the species, the sort of light source and the animal’s distance from the light source, this may be as simple as running your unit at half power for the first couple of days and then increasing power in small increments daily until the normal intensity is reached. Super easy and done!
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