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FAQs on Acclimating Marine Invertebrates

Related Articles: Acclimation, Quarantine ppt., pt.s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 by Bob Fenner Acclimation Articles by Bob Fenner, Acclimation in the Business by Bob Fenner, Acclimating Photosynthetic Reef Invertebrates to Captive Lighting, Methylene Blue, Quarantine of Corals and Invertebrates, Acclimation of Livestock in the Business, Cnidarians, Acclimating Symbiotic Reef Invertebrates to Captive Lighting,

Related FAQs: Acclimation, Acclimation 2, Acclimation 3, Growing Reef Corals, Dips/Baths 1, Best Quarantine FAQs, Quarantine, Stony Coral Behavior,

Re: Quarantine for fish shipments     2/26/16
Hi Bob!
I just wanted your opinion on acclimating corals.
Currently we are utilizing this method with good success but wanted to know if there is anything we can improve on.
1. Lights off,
<Red fluorescents... are what I'd use>
open boxes and place bags into water for 20 - 30 minutes to temperature acclimate
<IF the organisms appear in good shape... otherwise, if the temp. is close, particularly if warmer than shipping water; I'd expedite>
2. Open bags and place corals into large bin with holding tank water for 5 minutes
<Whoa! What water? I'd match the pH and drip to flush out ammonia...>
3. place into Bayers dip for 10 minutes (Is very effective in removing most pests in our experience)
<Is a good choice>
4. Rinse corals in a bucket with holding tank water to remove any residual dip/dead pests and place into holding system
Anything you think we can improve?
<Yes; the addition of a hexose sugar.... Too much to re-state, re-key... archived on WWM. Let's have you READ here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acclimat.htm
and the linked files above...>
Should we add erythromycin in dip session as well to help prevent possible bacterial infection?
<I would not; not effective>
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Quarantine for fish shipments     2/26/16

Thanks for the quick response.
Yes. I forgot to mention in regard to point 2. We dump the water from the bag into the bins and then drip the holding tank water into the bins until pH matches.
<Ah... need to match the pH first, to that of the shipping water. The purpose here is to flush metabolites, principally ammonia, from the tissues of the stock BEFORE subjecting them to a higher pH... this is all gone over... IF you'll just read where I've referred you>
Also dose Amquel to detoxify ammonia during this process.
<... doesn't work to neutralize nitrogenous wastes inside tissues>
I wanted to clarify in regard to dosing the glucose powder. I've been searching around and have not found much in regards to this.
What benefits does it serve and are you using just simple table sugar
<Mmm; no.... akin to the use of simple six carbon monomers in human intravenous fluids...>
at 1 teaspoon per 5 gallons of water? (As per your response in one of the links).
<This dosage is about right... glucose is best>
Also for iodine dip, do you recommend using this during the Bayers dip or while they are acclimating pH to the holding tank water?
<Anytime is fine. In actual practice I/we flush the incoming livestock out of their shipping water, into a receiving table/trough of matched pH new water (or system); and massively overdose w/ iodide-ate. In reality, I don't even measure the I2 solution for concentration... as this is an immersion bath of short duration. Bob Fenner>
Re: Quarantine for fish shipments     2/26/16

Hi Bob,
<Howsit? Sorry for the delay in responding. Am/was in transit out to give a pitch in Denver>
So just to clarify, what you suggest is.
1, Open the boxes and temperature acclimate (if needed)
2, Have holding water pH matched in troughs ready
3, Open bags and dump bag water down the drain
<Mmm; no. You'll likely have to use all or most of it as the starting fluid to add the no-metabolite, pH matched new water to... Drip this, overflow or pour off periodically till ammonia is barely or undetectable>
and place corals into pH matched troughs
<No; see above>
and begin dripping with Holding tank water (not pH matched) which will give time for corals to detoxify and slowly adjust back to regular pH (over an hour or how long should this take?)
<... Am sorry you're not reading where I've sent you... Please do.... YOU NEED TO only start dripping system water (high pH) AFTER ALL ammonia is rinsed out via the addition of matched pH water. PLEASE READ>
4, Then Dip corals into pest solution with Bayers, Iodine (which product would you recommend and at what dosage?
<Am a huge fan of SeaChem's lines>
I'm leaning towards Kent's lugols at 40 drops per gallon or is there a more economic product that I can use)
<There are; esp. when buying in large/r sizes. I use gallons, carboys>
and 1 teaspoon of Glucose (same as dextrose per my grocery store) per 5 gallons for about 5 ~ 10 minutes depending on coral
5, rinse in bucket with holding tank water and place into holding tank.
Just to make sure I understand everything as I've read the link you sent me a few times already and I apologize in advance if I had misunderstood anything.
I've also heard from many suppliers stating that it is not as beneficial for corals to be pH adjusted or rather can tolerate the fluctuation much better than fish
<In general this is so; however, it is near impossible to judge/discern the initial health of incoming livestock. I WOULD definitely go through the pH adjustment... after handling hundreds of thousands of specimens over
decades time, from MANY places in the world, I assure you the time, expense is WELL WORTH it>
which is why some do not recommend pH adjusting and is better to just iodine dip to move them into the holding tank asap to reduce acclimation stress?
<Try a few shipments, w/ and w/o; and believe what you will till experience changes your mind>
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Sensitive creature drip acclimation, but what about ammonia?     8/4/13
Hi, Crew,
In the case of very sensitive creatures (like starfish),
an hours- or even days-long drip acclimation is recommended-but it takes only minutes for the ammonia level in the shipping water to get awfully high (I measured 1 ppm 20 minutes into the drip acclimation). Which would be less harmful, a much faster acclimation with SG-matched water or sitting in all that ammonia?
<Best to go faster, dilute the ammonia by overflowing the bag (outside the system) with water of the same pH... Bob Fenner>
Re: Sensitive creature drip acclimation, but what about ammonia?     8/4/13

Thanks, Bob. :)
<Welcome! BobF>

Q/T corals     8/16/12
Hello,  So i finally set up a Q/T for corals, better late then never right?
<Some times>
  I am worried about the stress from moving a coral from the LFS tank, then to my Q/T tank, then again to my Display Tank in a time frame of around 2 months.
<And avoiding, excluding pests, parasites>
 Each tank having different lighting, different flow and different parameters.  Is this something that i should worry so much over?
<Mmm, not worry; but be aware, plan accordingly>
   With the Q/T tank, since i will not be putting any sort of treatment in, i will try and breed a pair of captive bred clowns.  According to Martin A. Moe, Jr.'s book "Marine Aquarium Handbook: Beginner to Breeder" He mentions on page 309 that temperatures are required to be at 80 Degrees F.
<Somewhere around this>
 My Display tank sits at 78 degrees.
<Is fine>
  Now that i am writing this i am starting to think that it is not a big deal between the two degrees but none the less, granted when the coral is moved to the display there will be a temperature acclimation but do you think the temp swing will be an issue, assuming the coral will be in around 80 degrees for about a month or two and then switching to a tank with 78 degrees?
<Not a worry, issue>
 or is the 80 degree even that necessary to breed clowns? Thanks for your time, Giancarlo
<Keep studying. Bob Fenner>

Post-shipping acclimation procedure for invertebrates 11/23/10
I have done what seems like hundreds of searches on WWM and cannot find any detailed procedure for acclimating invertebrates, especially corals, to tank water conditions after shipping.
<Most is archived here: http://wetwebmedia.com/acclimcrllgtfaqs.htm
and the linked files above>
The main acclimation procedure outlined on WWM is mainly for fish from what I understand, I quote "Non-fish (live rock, invert.s, algae) are of course kept in higher salinities without copper.
Their initial handling is so diverse and specialized it merits separate discussion."
Unfortunately I have been unable to find that separate discussion. I am receiving a shipment of coral frags tomorrow, mostly Acanthastrea with a few Zoanthids, some Montipora, a frag of clove polyps and a Tridacnid clam.
They are being shipped today with delivery tomorrow. I assume the possibility of quite low water temperatures due to shipping in this weather. From what I have read I know that I need to have plenty of water ready with the same salinity as my tank water with non organic ph adjusters so I can adjust the ph to the average of that in the shipping bags. I guess the alkalinity supplement and vinegar I used to set the pH of a freshwater dip last night is a no-no.
<Usually so>
I assume my livestock, if shipping water pH's are roughly the same, can be acclimated together in a bucket.
<Per their capacity for toxifying, stinging>
The clam will probably benefit from separate acclimation. I plan to buy the proper pH adjusting chemicals today and Amquel + which is supposed to also neutralize ammonia and not affect pH. As of right now my plan would be to check
the pH in 6-8 bags of the corals especially that from differing species.
Then, barring large fluctuations add the coral frags and water from the bags to a common container (bucket). The water I will be using to acclimate will have been made up shortly prior to arrival using Amquel+ to neutralize the chlorine/chloramines and have the ammonia neutralizing compounds (hopefully)
still active in the water. The water will be temperature matched and salinity matched to that of the display which will be their new home. I will adjust the pH of the water to that of the pH in the container where the corals are now communally housed/awaiting acclimation. I will then slowly (doubling water volume over 45min-1hour) add the pH adjusted water hopefully neutralizing any ammonia with the Amquel+ compounds still active. After the first doubling occurs I will remove half the water and double again (sounds like making bread).
After the second drip I will remove half the water and begin dripping tank water.
I will add tank water twice doubling both times. I will then turn off part of my display lights( I have 6 t5ho bulbs over an 18 inch tank) I am figuring on turning off the 2 daylights and running the 3 actinics and one purple. I will place the frags on the bottom of the tank. The frags come from a system using MH lighting. I assume that going to full lights the following day, with the frags on the tank bottom would be acceptable?
<Should be fine>
I would like to add both a prophylactic treatment and one a little more active to the water as a "dip" for coral health and to try to prevent/kill any bad hitchhikers that may be present. I read something about Iodine. What is the procedure for using Iodine in this fashion?
<Mmm, iodide/ate can be used as a "soak" (bath... dip of longer duration) at some ten times (or more, safely) concentration...>
Do you recommend it?
<IF the frags were coming from the wild (reefs), or in very bad apparent condition, yes>
What else would you recommend if the corals are going directly in the display after acclimation for getting rid of any pests/diseases?
<Isolation, support on pipe piece, PVC parts, egg-crate to allow observation... for a week or two>
Brands? Where to purchase?
<Dependent on observed troubles, pests... posted on WWM by type>
How long, if using aquarium specific pH adjusting chemicals do I need to wait for the pH to stabilize before dripping the water?
<An hour is about right>
I think I have covered everything; pH, group acclimation, time length, number of acclimations, chemicals(Amquel+), lighting considerations. Ahhh I forgot to ask about temperature acclimation. I assume that a slow drip will be fine and bag floating not necessary if the water being dripped is at tank temperature.
Is this correct?
<Yes, as long as the air temp. in the room is not too cool>
Thank you in advance for any help/steering you can provide. If this is fully covered somewhere I apologize as I could not find it. Please feel free to critique or completely trash my plan and offer a better one or make any and all additions you can think of that will be of benefit to my newly arrived corals (of which there will be 25 or so covering a fraction of a frag plug and the clam). The only thing that I cannot offer (that I can think of) is a quarantine tank as the one they are going into will soon be the QT since I am setting up a larger better display. Thank You.
<Your plan sounds/reads as fine. Enjoy the process. Bob Fenner>

Invertebrate Acclimation 12/28/09
Dear Bob and Crew,
<Good day Joe>
Again, thank you so much for your tireless efforts in regards to answering questions/maintaining the website. I can literally find new information everyday on it and marvel at how vast and complete it has become over the years. I do think that WWM will become the number one authoritative site on ornamental aquatics. Lastly, I do appreciate the daily marine photos- truly spectacular!
<Deeply gratifying to receive your acknowledgements>
This should be a quickly: I have ordered marine fish from online vendors before with success, keeping in mind that the pH of the bag water is almost always significantly low. I like to quarantine fish in water that matches the bag and within a week or so, bring the pH up to match the display. I have never ordered invertebrates this way and wanted to know if I should use the same protocol. I know that it is difficult to be specific but generally, how would you compare invert bag water to fish water shipped from the same location for the same duration (or is it even possible to estimate?)? I would guess that invertebrate bag water pH would be slightly higher due to their production of less waste products.
<I do agree... less pH change, but still very important to match, slowly elevate>
One last item regarding acclimation. I know that airstones can raise the pH of shipping bag water due to reactions with ammonia. Do you recommend using a small powerhead to (indirectly) circulate water within the bucket for
corals while drip acclimating?
<Mmm, no... just the bit of agitation from, and addition of new water>
Again, thank you and have a productive and enjoyable 2010!
Joe W.
<For all of us I hope. Cheers, BobF>

Need your help with new Montipora 12/23/09
Folks, I am hopeful, but scared.
I bought a small Montipora frag online - the coral came on time, about 16 hours after being mailed, packed very well in Styrofoam box, with heater pack, etc. It looked great in the bag (see picture Monti 1).
I acclimated it the best way I know how - floated the bag in the tank and poured tank water into the bag at regular intervals over approximately 45 minutes.
<Umm, wait... Did you measure the pH of the shipping/bag water and adjust the acclimation water to it/this? Mistake otherwise>
The tank water I put in the bag was dosed with Coral dip at the usual dosage. The coral seemed to tolerate the acclimation in the bag just fine.
What I did not do is check the pH or salinity of the water in the bag before putting my tank water in.
<A problem>
At the end of the 30-45 minute acclimation process I took the coral out of the bag and placed it gently at the bottom of the tank. It bleached immediately, and has not a bit of color since (see photo Monti 2).
<Is dead>
Is it dead? What could I have done differently? Is there any way to save it? Its' been almost 24 hours since I put it into the tank and it remains completely white.
Here is my setup: 6 gallon nanotank - 11 inches deep with 36 watts of 50/50 PC bulbs.
Water parameters at the time I put the coral in yesterday:
Salinity: 35 ppt
pH 8.2
Ammonia 0
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 0
Alkalinity 3 mEq/L
Calcium 460
Magnesium 1395
Phosphate 0
As you can see, I put the Montipora at the very bottom of the tank, thinking I would move it up to the very top rock (which is about 3-4 inches away from the lights) over a couple of days. Should I move it to the top now? Again, it bleached immediately after being put in the tank (seconds).
All of my other corals are OK, including the Birdsnest you see in the top right corner. The tank has been up and running for 2 months and has been very stable. The other inhabitants are:
A few snails and a red-legged hermit as CUC
Acan lord (1) head
Candy cane (1 head)
(Moseleya (1 head)
Birdsnest (3 inch piece)
One 1.5 inch purple Dottyback
All the other tank inhabitants have been in there for one week or longer (tank stocked in stages).
Please help - I really like the little Monti... BTW, I am new to the hobby, in case you can't tell.
<Small volumes/systems are hard to keep viable... Please read here re acclimating:
in particular, the second piece on "Guerilla Acclimation" (or acclimating for the business, and organisms that have been "bagged" for long durations.
Bob Fenner>

Acclimation of Lysmata amboinensis -- 12/15/09
Good day crew,
I am experiencing problems acclimating skunk cleaner shrimp to my tank. All tank parameters are fine except for nitrate being around ten. Also tested for copper. My first batch of three were flown in personally by me from Singapore and made it in good condition. Temperature acclimated them for half an hour.
<Mmm, a critically important question. Did you measure/check for both pH and nitrogenous (ammonia, nitrite) issues?>
But on drip acclimating them over a period of an hour and then releasing them in the tank, they initially climbed all over the rocks then just dropped to the floor lifeless ! I reasoned that the acclimation was too short. Then I got one specimen flown over from Sri Lanka. This was acclimated for two hours. Was alive for maybe half an hour and then again died ! What am I doing wrong ?
<Likely didn't measure for reduced (in transit) pH, nor ammonia... the rapid (yes) change to normal seawater values... caused the ammonia to poison/toxify the shrimp. Actually very common where aquatic livestock is
"bagged" for hours>
I really want to keep these alive in my tank. Please do advice. And is it possible they are perishing due to netting them and hence exposing them to air for a few seconds ?
<Mmm, no; not likely>
Thanks in advance for your help.
<Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/HighInvertInd.htm
scroll down... the few FAQs files on Shrimp Health
Bob Fenner>

Acclimation of Lysmata amboinensis JustinN's indept. reply-- 12/16/2009
Good day crew,
<Hello Blesson! JustinN here!>
I am experiencing problems acclimating skunk cleaner shrimp to my tank. All tank parameters are fine except for nitrate being around ten.
<Actual numbers here would be beneficial -- may be an imbalance somewhere..>
Also tested for copper. My first batch of three were flown in personally by me from Singapore and made it in good condition. Temperature acclimated them for half an hour. But on drip acclimating them over a period of an
hour and then releasing them in the tank, they initially climbed all over the rocks then just dropped to the floor lifeless !
<Oh dear>
I reasoned that the acclimation was too short.
<Is possible, but not my likely guess>
Then I got one specimen flown over from Sri Lanka. This was acclimated for two hours. Was alive for maybe half an hour and then again died !
<Definitely something wrong here>
What am I doing wrong ? I really want to keep these alive in my tank.
Please do advice. And is it possible they are perishing due to netting them and hence exposing them to air for a few seconds ?
<Not likely to be the problem here.>
Thanks in advance for your help.
<It sounds to me like there is either an undetectable/untestable toxin within the water, or perhaps iodine deficiency. The iodine seems far less likely to me, due to the fact that the duration is so quick -- I would expect an iodine issue to manifest closer to time for a molt. Please do provide a full breakdown of your tank parameters -- perhaps there's a clue lying there? -JustinN>
Re Acclimating Lysmata amboinensis... RMF interregnum 12/16/2009

Good day Bob,
I have actually read all the files pertaining to shrimp and am sort of confused about the different techniques for acclimation.
<Let's see if we can reduce your confusion here>
I agree it is a mistake on my part for not checking the ph on arrival. If it is reduced what am I to do ?
<Match it in the acclimation, drip water... and after a few volumes of this has been "run over" (i.e. spilled to waste, to dilute the nitrogenous metabolites), allow system pH water to be slowly blended/mixed in>
Is the use of dilute Hydrochloric acid necessary as mentioned in the Guerrilla technique ?
<Mmm, actually, better to use a "less strong" acid like sodium biphosphate (common ingredient in freshwater pH adjusting products) or an organic acid like acetic/vinegar>
Or should I just employ a longer acclimation ?
<Mmm, no>
Maybe over an entire day after discarding bag water as quickly as possible.
I also read something mentioned in the FAQs about poking pin holes in the bag and letting it float in the tank, this is supposed to mix water very slowly. Is this a viable technique with regards to my situation.
<No. Best not to add shipping water to your main display>
I am kind of nervous on ever attempting to keep another specimen after killing four ! Thanks for all the effort in trying to help me out. Blesson.
<Does the protocol above make sense to you? Imagine that aquatic life (including fishes) when in their shipping bags have about the same concentration of metabolites in their blood streams et al. as the water tests for in the bag/s... They can't take the sudden change (in pH in particular) with these materials present... So, time needs to go by with matched pH water (with not metabolites in it) diluting the bag water, allowing the animals to flush out the metabolites from their systems...
After this is done (by serial dilution) slowly raising the pH back up is done ahead of adding them to "normal" system water. BobF>
Re: Acclimation of Lysmata amboinensis -- 12/16/2009

Good day Justin,
<Hello again Blesson!>
This mail was already replied to by Bob. He reasoned that pH difference and accumulation of metabolites within the bag to a toxic state while slow drip acclimation to be the problem.
<A very reasonable assumption here -- that's why he's the man.>
Anyways these are my parameters :
Sp.gr 1.024
Temp constant at 25 c
Ph 8.1
Alk 8 dKH
Ammonia 0
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 10
Phosphate 0
Calcium 440
Cu 0
Trace elements including Iodine are dosed on a regular basis
<As a side note, I'd personally up the salinity to the 1.026 range, but otherwise looks great. Glad that Bob was able to help you -- I would agree with his assertions completely. Cheers! -JustinN>
Re: Acclimating Lysmata amboinensis, and CP trtmt. 12/16/2009

Hi Bob,
Thanks a lot, that cleared up almost everything.
<Ahh; clarity is pleasurable>
When I adjust the ph upwards with the system water, how slow should this be done ?
Over how many hours ?
How slowly should I drip the ph adjusted water into the bag water ?
<An hour per full pH point is about right... as a medical student, earnest academic I am sure you appreciate the order of magnitude in Hydrogen ion content, the implications here>
And one last question. Three weeks back you had suggested I use Chloroquine phosphate to treat my fish which showed symptoms of both Crypt and Amyloodinium. Since my qt is not big enough I had to separate the fish into
two batches as I am leaving the display fallow. Most of them are treated in the qt whereas the yellow tang and the cleaner wrasse are treated in a large inert plastic tub. Everything was going on fine until suddenly the water in the container has turned deep yellow about a day back ! Its almost impossible to see the fish and the Tang keeps trying to jump out. What is this due to ?
<A over simplistic jargonistic statement but: "Metabolite interactions"...
Best to...>
Already did a partial water change. Should I go with another larger change and replenish the medicine or not ?
<Change most all the water and re-new the medicine to full concentration.

When acclimating Lysmata amboinensis - 11/09/06 Alight thank you I will read on WetWebMedia. One more quick question When acclimating Lysmata amboinensis. What is the best method to use? <Very slow drip into an open container... a length of air-line tubing either tied to reduce flow, or a nut, couple of washers, and bolt to pinch/restrict. Bob Fenner>

Re: step by step acclimation for shrimp Hey Craig, I need to ask you if it's possible to e-mail me with a step by step process for acclimating cleaner shrimp or CBS. Here's my acclimation method: 1. float bag for 15-20 min (livestock from LFS) 2. open bag and add water from tank (1 shot glass) every 10 minutes until volume of water in bag doubles. 3. pour half of the water from bag, then repeat step 2 until volume doubles. 4. release livestock (shrimp dies within 2 hours and some don't survive the acclimation process) I'm doing this process with the bag afloat in my tank (lights off). The whole process takes me about 2.5-3 hours to complete. What am I doing wrong? Ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, copper and PO3 are 0, Alk 11, Ca 400-420. Another question. Can I mix cleaner shrimp with 1 CBS......Thanks again....Jun <I would try to shorten the process time wise, but I really can't see anything wrong with this Jun. Don't mix a Coral Banded Shrimp with a cleaner, the CBS will eat the cleaner. Two or more shrimp of the same type require steady feeding to co-habitate... I tend to think this is fresh high pH water mixing with LFS/shipping water containing wastes, thereby increasing the toxicity of ammonia/wastes in the bag water....thus they don't survive the acclimation. Remove more of the bag water at first or replace more volume than a shot glass to overcome/dilute this faster. If salinity and temp are close this will help. Good luck! Craig>

Coral Acclimation Greetings Marine Men <that's a cool title :p> I was reading over WWM and I still don't understand the acclimation procedure of corals. Is it different for LPS and SPS or the same? <it is not different for LPS, SPS or most any invertebrate for that matter. Essentially all inverts are far more sensitive to changes in water quality than fishes. The duration of the initial acclimation to water in a bucket or tank varies on how the animal was obtained (Mail order versus local bought, transshipped versus wholesale versus retail shipped, time piece has been held in captivity, time of transit, etc). Still... the gist of it is to slowly mix water offer a 15030 minute period while maintaining stable temperature (floating bag or heated acclimation bucket). And of course, no new animal should be placed into the display without quarantining for 2-4 weeks first in a bare bottom QT tank (see archives on this if you need). After that, the next concern for symbiotic cnidarians is light acclimation... see here, my friend: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acclimcoralslight.htm Best regards, Anthony> And could you describe, if it isn't too much trouble, the exact steps in acclimating LPS and SPS to your tank for me? And the procedure for good health through the proceeding days. Thanks John Moyer http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acclimcoralslight.htm

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