Please visit our Sponsors
FAQs on Acclimation Controversies

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 LightingMethylene Blue,

Related FAQs:  Acclimation 1, Acclimation 2, Acclimation 3, Acclimating Marine Invertebrates, & FAQs on Acclimation: Rationale/Use, Tools/Gear, Chemicals, Methods, Troubles/fixing, & Acclimating Photosynthetic Invertebrates, Acclimation of Livestock in the Business, Dips/Baths 1, Best Quarantine FAQs, Quarantine

Extra stress from acclimation, floating... pyramid hats and gov't efficiency for sale as well

How to Acclimate After a Long Shipping Time   10/12/11
Hello Crew, hope you are all well. I recently purchased some marine fish from a mail order vendor. The specimens took a long time to arrive; they were in the carton for about 42 hours. When they arrived, the ammonia reading in the bags was about 0.7 and the pH had crashed to about 7.0 or maybe a bit lower. The vendor's acclimation instructions advise to get the fish into their aquarium within 30 minutes,
<... not advised w/o matching the new water's pH and likely temperature>
since low pH ionizes ammonia to nontoxic ammonium. The reasoning is that raising the pH through water exchanges raises the pH and causes ammonia poisoning.
<Yes... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/acclimat.htm
the second piece, and: http://wetwebmedia.com/mardisindex.htm
But because the pH was so low, I extended the acclimation to two hours, and now one of the fish is not doing well.
My philosophy is that, even at a pH of 8.0, this much ammonia should not cause serious damage in an exposure of about 1 hour.
<IF the ammonia in whatever state is gone, yes... as in gone out of the mixed acclimation water AND the organisms themselves>
After all, at this pH the fraction of ammonia is only about 0.047, so the concentration (with a Red Sea ammonia kit reading of 0.7) is about 0.7 x 0.047 = 0.033. This doesn't seem like enough ammonia to cause a severe problem in short-term exposure.
<It actually is, and likely has been for several hours in transit>
(The references say that 0.01 can be toxic
<Any IS toxic... reduces Hemoglobin to Methemoglobin... Dire consequences>
to "some" fish, but I assume this is over a time longer than an hour or so.)
<Not so... any period of time is debilitating>
And of course, the water changes do remove some of the ammonia,
<And time needs to go by to flush the NH3/NH4OH out of the organisms metabolically>
so this calculation overestimates the ammonia toxicity. Am I misunderstanding something here?
<Mmm, just not understanding, appreciating the no-zero risk for exposure>
The fish that is displaying symptoms of lethargy was fine for the first 24 hours in the tank. The symptoms appeared after about a day. My understanding is that pH shock can show a delayed reaction, so I'm wondering if what I'm seeing is due to the change in pH from 7 to 8.2 in 2 hours. What do you think?
<What do you mean?>
And what would be your advice when receiving fish in shipment water with these parameters? Obviously, neither rapid pH changes nor ammonia is good for fish. In this situation, where would you draw the line: sudden (30 minute) acclimation or not?
<The time/duration for acclimation is totally unimportant... If it takes hours, so be it... One MUST match the ambient (bag water) pH with new water to prevent further burn damage (ammonia and nitrite principally). Depending on the size, condition of the specimens, it may take hours to flush out metabolic nitrogenous wastes. Bob Fenner>
Re: How to Acclimate After a Long Shipping Time   10/12/11

Thanks for the prompt reply. Regarding your asking of what I meant by one of my questions, I was trying to say:
(1) the pH the specimens were exposed to went from 6.8 to 8.2 in 2 hours. I assume this is not good for them and might cause pH shock.
(2) the ammonia content of the water was quite low initially when the specimens were received, because of the low pH. I know ammonia is never a good thing, but there must be some concentration that does relatively little damage, especially in short-duration exposure. The ammonia went up when I exchanged the acidic water with tank water (I didn't match pH). It probably never got up to my estimated value of 0.033 since I don't think the pH in the bags got above 7.5. So, maybe for 30 minutes or so, the animals were exposed to a level of ammonia that is sort of borderline in terms of being dangerous.
<Is not borderline. The very circumstances you list are what kills and prematurely kills almost all marine specimens>
(3) The distressed fish was OK for about 24 hours, then showed signs of distress.
<Poikilotherms "do this"... much different than tetrapods that folks are familiar w/>
This is a seahorse that now doesn't swim, but shows no signs of disorientation; it just hitches itself to one spot and stays there. Very different from when I first put it in the tank, or the current behavior of its tankmates. It never showed any signs of respiratory distress, and still eats when target-fed.
(4) So the seahorse was exposed to a very large pH change and some ammonia.
I'm curious about which of these might be a more likely source of the trouble I'm seeing. The normal breathing and delayed onset of symptoms tends to push my speculation in the direction of pH shock,
<How to put this: There are folks who contend there isn't actually anything such as "pH shock"... I differ in that the related effects of sometimes loss of vitality are pH related...>
rather than ammonia; that's what I was asking. Or could this relatively limited ammonia exposure cause neurological damage that is responsible for these lasting symptoms?
<Easily, yes>
The problem has been going on for three days now.
<The loss of hematocrit, O2 carrying capacity is paramount here>
I was asking because there is a tradeoff between lengthening the time needed for pH adjustment and getting the fish out of the ammonia quickly.
<Mmm, no; not really... again, w/ some water being dripped in, the ammonia flushed out of the system AND organisms over time (tens of minutes to a few hours), then the pH slowly raised (in the absence of metabolite)... this is the essence of good acclimation SOP>
Your suggestion to do the water exchanges with acidic water (to match the water in the bag) is obvious in retrospect and is undoubtedly the solution to this tradeoff, but didn't occur to me at the time!
<... is standard practice in all wholesale facilities, public aquariums, aquaculture businesses of size... Some folks still use inorganic acid/s, others CO2 gas/carbonic...>
Thanks again for your response to my question.
<Welcome. BobF>

Acclimation Guide Post: Please Read :)  9/7/05 Hello Mr. Fenner, <Ruth> There is this post on this message board that I frequent where a member (quite a dignified member of the board) is posting an acclimation guide for newbies, would you mind taking the time to read it and perhaps responding to him with your thoughts? http://www.nano-reef.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&postid=592560#post592560 He states: "1. Floating the bag. This method was developed for freshwater fish like millions of years ago, and somehow people started doing this on saltwater fish. This method is worthless as it only acclimates the life to temperature and nothing else. Truthfully we don't even use this method in the freshwater industry anymore. It is obsolete. Edit: I am actually kind of shocked by the number of marine aquarium guide books that still only suggest the bag floating method. (yah I'm talking to you FENNER!)" I don't think a guide for newbies should contain this information at all as I believe in the "bag floaty" method...but because he did mention you I just thought I'd bring it to your attention.  I hope this e-mail finds you well :). Thank you. - Ruth <Thank you for your concern and sending this along. I am still a "fan" of bag-floating... as this allows for viewing the animal/s, easily changing water out, and as the writer mentions, thermal acclimation... In store, wholesale applications there is a further advantage in being able to see, move the organisms about... while doing whatever input to record their reception, placement. Alternatively... there are other procedures... for instance detailed here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acclimat.htm and the linked files above. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Re: Acclimation 9/8/05  9/9/05 I have always acclimated new marine fish by first floating the bag for temperature equalization, then removing a few large spoons of bag water to a bucket and replacing those spoonfuls with tank water.  Repeat every 3-5 minutes for about a half hour, then remove fish from bag and place in tank, discarding remaining bag water.  I know I should quarantine first, but I don't. <Eventually... folks get "caught"> My LFS keeps their tanks at about 1.015 to prevent parasites, and it works. <Too low... not good for long/er exposure>   My own FOWLR tank is about 1.017, and I have never had any parasites.  I know it's like Russian roulette, but it works for me. <Good...> Anyway, I was at my LFS (very reputable chain of 4 stores) last week when they received a large shipment of new livestock.  They netted each fish right from the shipping bag and placed them straight into the tanks.  I asked about acclimating them, and they said that the fish have been through enough stress and time in the bag water, so they can handle going directly to the tanks.  They said they rarely lose any fish despite this procedure.  If it works for them, why wouldn't we all just order by mail and place them right in the tank? <Mmm, depends... mainly on the source, treatment of livestock before you receive them... the biggest issue is "initial quality"... has the livestock been expediently handled, fed, kept in "good" conditions ahead of you? Next is shipping techniques, protocol, time in transit... As the prime example, consider the issue of ammonia in the bag water (and fishes) if they have been long in getting to where they're going, excreted and secreted a great deal... being tossed into higher pH system water in this instance is a genuine mistake... will likely harm the fishes to the point of their demise...> What are your thoughts on this? <If the folks, you get livestock from "nearby", from folks who "know and do what they're supposed to", they may well "get away" without acclimation for water quality other than temperature... Most people, institutions are not so lucky... My input on individual/hobbyist and industry acclimation can be found archived on WWM. Bob Fenner>  

Question about acclimation, leaving lights on Hello, I was reading about the Flame Angel on your site. You say to extend the photo period for 24 hours when we introduce him to a new aquarium. I'd like to understand why. <Ah, thank you for asking for this... Leaving the lights on serves a dual purpose here: it allows the new fish to "settle in", see where all is, avoid current inhabitants... and it disorients those current tankmates... perhaps disrupting current territorial dynamics... again, allowing the newcomer to settle in. Bob Fenner> Thank you, Nathalie

Re: question about acclimation, leaving lights on Thanks for answering...BUT 2 questions...1) Everyone normally says to turn off the lights...so that the new fish gets less stressed... does this have any validity? <To some extent and argument, sure. Life is "a series of compromises" in one view... which is better here: to leave the lights on, turn them off? Turns out most livestock is lost... at night... and on the day of arrival... Better to leave some outside light at least on... for the first day> 2)Is your theory along the same lines as..."when introducing a new fish, some people say to move the coral-decorations around"... ? Therefore if we do leave the lights on, then we do not have to move the decorations around, right therefore less stress on the other fish)?? <This is a very similar argument for the one benefit, but does little to help the new livestock to see its way about its new surroundings. Very many "bumps" in the night on first arriving. Bob Fenner> Thanks again, Nathalie

Re: question about acclimation, leaving lights on My hubby & I are having a 'little' argument (And I will be right of course..) <Hmm, perhaps you both will be, maybe neither...> After reading your answers, I say that you are saying 2 things, we can either leave the aquarium lights on for 24 hours OR the kitchen lights (in our case the aquarium is dividing the kitchen & living room) on for 24 hours...and He says, that the only choice we have is to leave the kitchen lights on low only...who is right? :) <Ah! As I surmised/guessed, both and neither... you "can" of course elect to do either or neither... I would leave the kitchen lights on 

Question about Introducing fish to tank... Hello Bob, <Steven Pro this evening.> I was just wondering if you could give me your opinion on something I read online. According to the following site, this guy believes marine fish should be introduced to tanks (QT or main) without floating or mixing the bagged water with some of tank water, but the fish should simply be netted out and put into the destination tank. His reasoning is that fish are used to differing salinity, PH and temperature in the wild, <Quite untrue. The ocean is a vast pool of water that is usually very consistent in those categories.> and the floating/ mixing just adds un-necessary stress that outweighs the stress from a "no-float, no mix" introduction to the tank. <What stress could possibly be added by floating a bag.> What are your thoughts on this? If the temperature is approx.. the same, maybe slightly warmer than the bag, should I just omit the floating/ mixing? <I always float to ensure the same temperature. Most times I do add some tank water to the bad water to match salinity and pH, but I do not put the bag water into the main display. There is one instance where I would not recommend mixing the water. When working at a store, there are occasions when fish have been delayed in shipping for extended periods of time. At that point, I float and then net and drop into tanks as fast as possible, but I still match the temperatures. That is the only set of circumstances where I feel you would be doing more harm than good, but few hobbyists ever have this need.> Site is here: http://www.aquarium.net/1296/1296_6.shtml (to find the paragraph, do a search for "no float"). Thanks for your thoughts, Monty :-) <You are welcome to them. -Steven Pro>

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: