Acclimation Methods to Add New Fish

Boy with New Fish in Bag

After purchasing a new fish or any invertebrates from the fish pet store, you will have to release it from the bag into their new home. Moving into a new aquarium tank can be stressful for a fish and there’s nothing more heartbreaking than watching a new fish die right after you place it into your aquarium. Whether you just purchased a new fish or relocating your fishes to another tank, you must acclimate the fish to it’s new water. By following proper acclimation methods, it allows the fish to adjust to their new environment’s temperature, pH, hardness and other parameters.

Proceed with caution whenever you relocate any fish or any invertebrates into another aquarium tank. Remember to always check your aquarium’s parameters before adding in the new fish, to make sure  they are suitable for the new fish’s requirements. If not, you might have to adjust it a bit so it is suitable for your existing fishes and the new one.

Never rush a acclimation or simply dump a new fish or any invertebrates into an aquarium. Follow our guide below for easy steps to relocate fishes into your established aquarium tank.

There are three different common types of acclimation methods: Floating Bag Method, Bucket Method and Drip Method. Each method has their pros and cons, find one that you prefer.

Warning

Remember to always avoid releasing the pet store’s water into your established aquarium tank. Otherwise you might introduce unwanted parasites and bacteria.

Floating Bag Acclimation Method

Probably the most common used acclimation method to introduce your fish or invertebrates into your aquarium tank is by floating the plastic bag for a while in your aquarium before releasing the fish. Most pet stores will recommend this method to you, however most missed telling you the crucial step of adding in your aquarium tank’s water into the bag to let your new fish get used to the water’s parameters. Follow our steps below to properly use the Floating Bag Method to relocate your fish.

Equipment required for Floating Bag Method:

  • Fish net

Steps to painless transfer your fish using the Floating Bag Method:

  1. Turn off the aquarium lights to create a less stressful environment for the new fish.
  2. Let the bag (that has the new fish in it) float around in your aquarium tank for about 20 minutes.
  3. Cut the bag open just under the tied up knot and add the same amount of water in the bag from your aquarium tank. You should end up with 50% pet store’s water and 50% your aquarium’s water.
  4. Pin the top of the bag to your aquarium’s cover and let the bag float there for another 20 minutes.
  5. DO NOT pour any of the water from the bag into your aquarium tank. Catch the fish in the bag with a fish net or a cup. Gently place the fish net into your aquarium and let the fish swim out on its own.
  6. Come back after 3-4 hours and turn the aquarium lights back on.

Pro: Easiest method to acclimate your fish.

Con: There’s a chance that the pet store’s fish water might get into your aquarium’s tank water.

Bucket Acclimation Method

The concept of the Bucket Method is a combination of the Floating Bag Method and the Drip Method. Instead of releasing your new fish from the bag, you release it into a bucket then slowly get the fish used to the your tank’s water before transferring it in. Unlike the Floating Bag method, it prevents any accidental spills from the bag’s water from entering your aquarium tank. Follow our steps below to properly use the Bucket Method to relocate your fish.

Equipment required for Bucket Method:

  • Clean 5-gallon bucket (use the bucket you use for cleaning your aquarium tank)
  • Fish net

Steps to painless transfer your fish using the Bucket Method:

  1. Turn off the aquarium lights to create a less stressful environment for the new fish.
  2. Grab a clean bucket (rinse it so that it’s free of debris if necessary). You can use the bucket you normally use for cleaning your tank.
  3. Cut the bag (that has the new fish in it) open just under the tied up knot
  4. Remove about 25% of the bag’s water and replace back the 25% of water you removed with the water from your own aquarium tank.
  5. Add about 1 cup of tank water every 4-5 minutes. Repeat until the water volume has doubled. Discard half of the volume and repeat until the water is doubled again
  6. Once the water in your bucket has doubled again, it’s time to finally transfer the new fish or invertebrates into your aquarium tank. Catch the fish in the bucket with a fish net or a cup. Gently place the fish net into your aquarium and let the fish swim out on its own.
  7. DO NOT pour any of the water from the bucket into your aquarium tank. Dump the water from the bucket out since a portion of the water is from the pet store.
  8. Add some water back into your aquarium. Make sure it doesn’t contain any chlorine by either using a dechlorinator or water that has been sitting for 24 hours.
  9. Come back after 3-4 hours and turn the aquarium lights back on.

Pro: It prevents the water from the fish pet store’s bag into your aquarium.

Con: It’s a bit more work than the Floating Method.

Drip Acclimation Method

The Drip Method is probably the most complicated out of the three acclimation methods. However, it’s the one that is most recommended by aquarium hobbyist because it allows your fish to get used to the temperature, pH, hardness and all the other parameters of your aquarium tank’s water slowly. It introduces your aquarium water to the new fish by a few drops per second to reduce the stress level to a minimal. You can either purchase a Drip Method Kit from a pet store or create one yourself. Follow our steps below to learn how to make your own Drip Method Kit (or purchase a Pre-made Fish Acclimation Drip Kit) to properly use the Drip Method to relocate your fish.

Equipment required for Drip Method:

  • Airline tubing
  • Clean 5-gallon bucket (use the bucket you use for cleaning your aquarium tank)
  • Fish net

Steps to painless transfer your fish using the Drip Method:

  1. Turn off the aquarium lights to create a less stressful environment for the new fish.
  2. First let the sealed bag with the new fish in it float for about 15 minutes in the aquarium fish tank where they are going to live.
  3. Grab a clean bucket (rinse it so that it’s free of debris if necessary). You can use the bucket you normally use for cleaning your tank.
  4. Cut the bag (that has the new fish in it) open just under the tied up knot and gently pour the fish and the water into the 5-gallon bucket. You might have to tilt your bucket a little to make sure the fish or invertebrates is fully submerged into water if your bag doesn’t contain a lot of water. Use objects to help prop the bucket at 45-degree angle or get someone to help you hold your bucket in this position if necessary.
  5. Using your airline tubing, run a siphon drip line from your aquarium tank’s water to your bucket. Tie loose knots to the airline tubing to control the flow, tie more knots to make it drip less frequently. There should only be about 5-7 drops per second.
  6. Start the siphon by sucking on the
  7. Keep your bucket level once it’s filled with enough water to avoid it tipping over.
  8. When the bucket’s water level has doubled, remove half of the water from the bucket.
  9. Once the water in your bucket has doubled again, it’s time to finally transfer the new fish or invertebrates into your aquarium tank. Catch the fish in the bucket with a fish net or a cup. Gently place the fish net into your aquarium and let the fish swim out on its own.
  10. DO NOT pour any of the water from the bucket into your aquarium tank. Dump the water from the bucket out since a portion of the water is from the pet store.
  11. Add some water back into your aquarium. Make sure it doesn’t contain any chlorine by either using a dechlorinator or water that has been sitting for 24 hours.
  12. Come back after 3-4 hours and turn the aquarium lights back on.

Pro: Most suitable for sensitive fishes such as saltwater fishes. It prevents the water from the fish pet store’s bag into your aquarium.

Con: Costs more than the other acclimation method since you have to buy an airline. Requires sucking on the airline which some people might not like. More work in comparison to the other two acclimation methods, Floating Method and Bucket Method. Takes a bit longer, 40 to 60 minutes to complete.

Tags:

Leave a Comment