Mark Martin on NOT Floating Your Bags
When I tell people not to float their shipping bags upon arrival, people often ask why. I know you’ve always been told to float your shipping bags in your aquarium water upon arrival. The thinking here is that by floating the shipping bag before opening it, the temperature in the bag will become the same temperature as the water in your aquarium. While this will indeed happen, the problem with this approach is that the temperature in the bag will change quite quickly, causing unnecessary stress and even fatalities to your new livestock. As a result, we suggest you NOT float your shipping bags.
Through the use of heat or cold packs during shipping, we target an average shipping water temperature of between 60 and 80 degrees upon arrival. Given that most marine hobbyists keep their tanks in the upper seventies, there can be a dramatic difference between the temperature of the shipping water and the temperature of the aquarium water. Bringing the water temperature inside the shipping bag up as much as 15 to 20-degrees Fahrenheit in as many minutes is sure to cause undue stress on all species, but especially shrimp, urchins, starfish, sea cucumbers, and ornamental crabs. In particular, such a rapid shift in temperature can send many marine animals into osmotic shock, as their bodies struggle to adapt to the changing water conditions.
We therefore recommend that you drip acclimate all new arrivals (we include detailed instructions in our acclimatization guide that is included with every shipment). Drip acclimating your animals allows them to adjust gradually to the pH, salinity AND temperature of your aquarium. Following this procedure will greatly decrease stress to your new animals and ensure a healthy transition into their new environment.
Mark is the Director of Marine Ornamental Research at Blue Zoo Aquatics. If you have a question for Mark, please e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: “Ask Mark”.