When adding new livestock to your tank, careful acclimation will ensure a smooth transition of your new additions, whether you had them shipped overnight or picked them up right down the street. Acclimation is the process of equalizing temperature, pH, and Salinity to prevent any “shocks” to your new fish, coral or invertebrate from sudden changes in any of those parameters.  Proper acclimation will also help reduce the chances of stress induced diseases such as ich and many others.

Here is a quick overview of what and why we acclimate.


After being in a bag for even a few minutes, the water temp inside the bag can change drastically and will usually not be the same as your home tank. The simplest way of acclimation which most people are familiar with is “floating” the fish bag to equalize the temperature with the display tank. This method however does not address the other two important factors, salinity and ph.
Salinity:  The salinity or specific changes between systems and is a good factor to account for. Typically our fish are kept at a lower salinity (1.018-1.022) to combat ich and other disease, as well as because of the increased oxygen content of lower salinity water. Our corals and invertebrates are kept slightly (1.023-1.026) higher as we’ve found this ensures the best growth and color.


Proper PH for saltwater aquariums  is between 8.2 and 8.4. Using a ph buffer or an occasional water change, it is easy to keep your aquarium within these boundries. Though not a large issue for corals;  fish and invertebrates, will be under stress when they arrive because their PH will have dropped considerably. What causes this drop? From the time they are put in the ship out bag, the animal releases ammonia, which causes the pH to drop. Proper acclimation to your tank slowly brings the specimen(s) back to healthy ph levels slowly, the same way the ph dropped slowly. If they have been bagged for a large amount of time, the ph can become severely depressed and must be accounted for when acclimating, if the pH is raised too rapidly it can cause Ammonia shock.  We typically have a bottle of Amquel  (ammonia remover) on hand to add to the bags.

Basic Acclimation Procedures.

We begin by floating all bags to equalize temperature for 15-30 mins. Then we remove the fish, coral , or invert from the bag and place them in buckets next to the aquarium.

We then use  a small airline tube with a valve to start siphoning water into the bucket. The valve helps regulate flow as we only want a slow drip rate. The same can achieved by tying a knot in the tube and tightening/loosening it. We do this until about 3 times the water that was in bag has been added. Once that has happened, check Salinity, pH, and Temp to see if it equals your tank, if so then you are done and ready to add the new livestock.


When bucket acclimating, make sure the temp does not drop, especially during winter. Many customers dutifully acclimate all livestock for over an hour, but forget about temp. Sometimes a small heater may be necessary in cold environments or for long acclimations

Never use an airstone as the sudden increase in oxygen can cause pH to rise too rapidly and shock the animals.

Keep aquarium Lights off for the first day or so.


Invertebrates such as shrimp, crabs, snails, and starfish are much more sensitive to changes in water chemistry, and therefore must be acclimated slower, we recommend at least over the course of an hour. Rushing acclimation often proves fatal for these otherwise very hearty creatures.

Dip, Dip, Dip!:

During acclimation is a good time to dip for parasites or unwanted hitchhikers. We dip all of our fish in prazaiquantal on arrival to remove flukeworms, turbellarians, and other parasites. Corals can be dipped in ReVive or other coral cleaning solutions. Do not dip Clams, Anemones, inverts (crabs, shrimp and snails) , or sponges

Do not expose sponges to Air! After Acclimation, add the sponge underwater
My fish is hiding/My corals aren’t open??? Your new animals have been through a lot and may take a few weeks to adjust to its new tank life. Help fish by making sure they have plenty to eat as well as many hiding spots. If a fish does not feel secure, and is constantly stressed, chances for survival are very low. If other fish are harassing the newest one, you can try rearranging rock or coral structures to “break up” territory.

Corals also take time to adjust to new water conditions and lighting. Its typically best to start them off near the bottom to acclimate well away from bright lights.

If you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to call or email us!!