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Acclimation Guide
Water Conditions
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Acclimation Guide

One of the most important aspects of a healthy aquarium is proper acclimation of your new arrivals.  The water used to pack the animal is going to be different than the water in your aquarium.  For creatures used to living in a vast and stable ocean, those differences can be quite a shock and sometimes deadly.  The most acclimation factors are temperature, PH and Salinity.  The best equalizer for these is time.  Spreading those changes over time allows your new animal to gently make its adjustment to the conditions in your aquarium.  Following the procedure bellow is a required part of our livestock guarantee and will ensure the best chance for a full and healthy life for your new pet.

Quarantine Tanks: We highly recommend their use to reduce the possibility of introducing disease and parasites into your aquarium.

Tools Needed:

Our care package provides you with most of the items you will need:

  • Drip Line
  • Stress Guard
  • Acclimation steps
  • Sterile Styrofoam Container
  • additional salt water
  • Scissors / knife – to open bags

There are two basic methods for acclimation: Float Method & Drip Method. The Drip Method is considered the best for sensitive animals and that is why we recommend this exclusively.  We are committed to the health of your animal and have included the tools you will need to do this.  Because we have separate holding systems fish, invertebrates & corals need to be acclimated separately. Please be present during acclimation to avoid spillage.

Drip Method: (for fish and corals)

  • Turn off aquarium lights and keep them off for a few hours after introduction of your new animals. Also dim lights in room.
  • Open all boxes to ensure that all animals have arrived safely, bags are intact and you have received a complete order (do not do this in bright light).
  • Separate fish, inverts and corals into their own groups. Do not acclimate any of these 3 groups together (same body of water) because they likely do not share the same water parameters. If you don’t have enough styros, do one group at a time in the order they are listed above.
  • Float as many bags as will comfortably fit in your aquarium for 15-20 min.  This will bring the temperature of the water in the bag to what the tank is. Do not open bags.
  • The Styrofoam box “styro” sent inside the cardboard box makes a great sterile acclimation container and never gets confused as a cleaning bucket. If a bucket is used it must be sterile (no soaps or other chemicals). New 3-5 gallon buckets are fine, just rinse them and mark them for aquarium use only.
  • Remove first group of animals and place them into the styro. Cut open the tops of each bag and empty water gently into styro. You may need to prop up one side in the beginning to allow water to submerge the animal(s). Repeat process for all.  The level of the water should not be more than half way up the styro- if it is, split up the acclimation into multiple styros.
  • If possible, it is a good idea to cover the top with something so that fish don’t jump out and to reduce light.
  • Prepare your drip line by sticking the suction cup on the top or front of the aquarium so that one end is submerged (in the aquarium water). Tie two loose knots somewhere in the middle of the tubing.  This will control the amount of flow by tightening/loosening.
  • Begin a siphon by sucking on the end you will be placing into one of the styros.  Start by having the knots tighter, then loosen to achieve desired flow (2-4 drops per second).  You want the water volume in the styro to double in 30-60 minuets. Remember it is better to fill slowly than to fill too fast.
  • Keep an eye on things so that nothing spills onto floor and you can adjust flow if needed
  • Once water volume doubles, discard half the water from the styro and then repeat process. If you plug the end of the tube and put it into tank with the other end, it should keep its siphon. For the next round- make sure it’s secure.
  • Repeat this process two to three times.
  • Net one fish at a time to prevent scratches or wounds, place gently get into tank.
  • Corals & Anemones- gently place into tank (following placement tips listed below and on our website product page).  We recommend using sterile rubber gloves because some are allergic to the toxins they can release plus it ensures clean hands and prevents you from being stung by certain corals and inverts.
  • Congrats- that’s it.  Wait a few hours or next day before feeding.

 Drip method (Invertebrates: Snails, Crabs)

  • These animals will ship in much less water and are therefore easily acclimated in their original bag.
  • cut open (or off) the top of the bag to allow water from your drip line to be added and then secure them so they don’t tip over when more water is added
  • Often there is newspaper or paper towel to keep them moist.  Create a drip volume that adds maybe one drop or less per second (see above).  This should create about an inch of water over a period of one hour. For these creatures slower truly is better.
  • You do not have to discard any water like above. After one hour, simply add the animals to the sand bed by hand (do not put acclimation water into tank).


  • never expose bags to bright light
  • always have enough mixed salt water on hand
  • acclimate everything – even if it looks dead (many animals can recover if properly acclimated)
  • be patient

Behavior During Acclimation:

Fish-   will usually breath heavily and some will lay on their side or at the bottom of the aquarium (Wrasses sometimes will play dead- continue with full acclimation)
Corals & Anemones- will deflate/shrink, these might take hours or days to fully open and color up.
Snails & Crabs- may not open or move for days at a time- after this time if you suspect death pick them out of tank (if they smell bad, they're dead – don’t put them back)
Starfish-  may not move for days, pick them up and look for signs of disintegration

If any livestock arrives dead or dies within the guarantee period please follow the procedures listed on our website. Please send us an email immediately with the following information: (your name, order #, phone # and any information on possible causes). This email is the first step in getting you credit on your loss- please no phone calls first.  We will get back to you within 24 hours to help answer questions and you with the credit.

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