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FAQs on Freshwater Livestock Acclimation

Related Articles: Acclimation of New Freshwater Livestock, by Bob Fenner Freshwater Livestock by Neale Monks, Freshwater Livestock Selection by Bob Fenner,  Fishes, Amphibians, Turtles

Related FAQs:  Livestocking Freshwater, Freshwater Livestock, FW Livestock 2, FW Livestock 3, FW Livestock 4,

 

Freshwater Fish Acclimation, commercial... TDS element in incidental mortality?  4/16/10
Attention- Bob Fenner
Bob-
<Ray>
I am a retail tropical fish store owner in California that has been in the trade for over thirty-five years. In that time I've endeavored to help other stores along the way through pet trade organization publications and seminars dealing primarily with tropical fish husbandry at the retail level.
<I salute your efforts>
In the last two years I have been working on better understanding and perhaps developing a strategy to improve tropical fish acclimation at both the retail and consumer levels.
I strongly believe that much of the fish loss suffered by retailers and hobbyists is avoidable through the use of better acclimation, and after reading many of your posts on this forum see that you agree.
<This is so>
Many importer/wholesalers of marine fish do a good job acclimating and I have visited several in southern California to see first hand how they go to great lengths to "double acclimate" (flush ammonia first with pH adjusted water) to prevent the exposure of unionized ammonia as the pH raises to that approaching their holding tanks. As you know virtually no retailers acclimate their fish properly.
<Unfortunately>
Bags arriving at retail fish stores are simply floated to adjust temperature and then cut open and the fish are released. Some of the elite retailers follow the proven methods of many importers, but these stores are very rare. I think more conscientious hobbyists are apt to acclimate before retailers do.?
At first I set out to measure bag chemistry from numerous suppliers and varying durations of time spent in the bags. Not surprising, the pH levels measured anywhere from 6.5 to 7.3 in the bags for marine.
However, for freshwater it was a shock to see pH values dipping to a shocking 5.7!?
<Yes>
I understand that these low pH values are in many cases keeping the fish alive by preventing the accumulated ammonia from containing a higher percentage of the toxic unionized form.
<Yes>
Being our store is in central California, our freshwater supply of water comes mostly from aquifers, which pick up high levels of calcium carbonate, magnesium, etc., resulting in a high pH (from 8.2-8.8) as well as a high KH and GH. This is quite a distance for the fish to adjust to in virtually no time! Double acclimation reduces this problem greatly. In addition we mitigate the problem by diluting the tap water with a reservoir of RO water above each system to lower the pH and KH to tailor the chemistry closer to the species requirements.
Recently my attention has been directed to another potential source of shock for freshwater fish and the potential cause for much of the loss we now encounter -- I have measured a sharp difference in the importers' TDS (total dissolved solids) in their system water and that of our systems.
Our retail store has three main freshwater systems --
Temperate freshwater fish
(primarily goldfish) pH 7.5, KH 3.5, TDS 700 ppm
<Wow. Liquid rock... like we have as source water here in San Diego>
Low pH, soft water species
(tetras, SA cichlids, etc.) pH 6.8, KH 1.0, TDS 185 ppm
Higher pH and hardness fish
(African cichlids, live bearers, gouramis, etc.) pH 7.8, KH 6.5 TDS 500 ppm?
<Sometimes even a bit higher>
The importer has many systems as well, but the bulk of the freshwater species are kept in the following water -
pH 6.3
KH 1.0 or less
TDS 1600 ppm or 1.6 ppt ( I believe this is so high because they are adding sodium chloride)
<May well be... this practice is very long established... though of dubious utility>
In addition the pH can go as low as 5.7 within the shipping bags due to carbonic acid accumulation.
<Yes, mostly>
My question to you is thus... how significant is the TDS disparity from the suppliers 1600 ppm to our low of 185 ppm?? Is this enough to cause osmotic shock??
<I do not know, but would not be overly surprised if this were to degrees a factor in overall stress>
Could this be the real smoking gun behind fish loss due to improper acclimation??
<Easy enough to test this hypothesis. I suspect the ammonia ionization at lower to raised pH is more important though>
It is well documented that a change in osmotic pressure due to a lowering of the concentration of the water can cause osmotic loading (water rapidly entering the cells in large amounts, causing them to swell and burst).
Going from low TDS to high TDS will?
<Even just hemolysis alone could be important here>
not result in such a stress, but the other direction -- look out!? How many retail store owners or hobbyists own a TDS meter and know about this potentially fatal problem? ?
<I suspect very few indeed>
There have been a few references to this problem addressed at various Internet sites, but little in the trade is mentioned about fish going from high TDS levels to low TDS levels (Charles Nunziata and Mike Jacobs, Killie
fish breeders most notably have written about this). I am particularly worried about many retail stores (such as PetSmart and Petco using salt in their main systems and not advising the hobbyist about this sudden pressure
change, as they take their fish home and put them in water presumably
unsalted.
<Yes and hopefully so>
Also, many Koi importers add salt to their stock of fish upon arrival (up to 5.0 ppt) and a unsuspecting hobbyist may put the new Koi in the pond directly without proper acclimation.
<This is so as well>
Is there any data out there that you have come across as to tolerances to TDS changes??
<None that I'm aware of>
I have heard that anything beyond twice the TDS level is dangerous -- do you have any numbers?
<I do not>
Thanks for your life-long efforts to improve this trade. I appreciate and value your input on this subject.
Ray Meyers
Owner, Pet Fun
Monterey, CA
<Ray, I am going to post this on WWM... and hope others will chime in, add to this discussion. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Follow-up Acclimation Project  -- 7/14/10
Bob-
<Ray>
I wanted to keep you in the loop of my efforts to improve acclimation at the retail aquarium level with a follow up to my letter to you a couple of months back.
<Please do>
The following is a exert of my letter to old friend George Blasiola, author and speaker in the aquarium trade for years, who I 'm sure you have met.
<Yes... and have seen some writing from him recently. Thank goodness, thought we'd lost him forever to the body-building addiction>
I have cut out the personal parts of the letter.
After reading, please give me your thoughts. By the way, were there any comments from your group when you posted my last letter to you on acclimation? I do not know where on your web site to look back.
Thanks,
Ray Meyers
<Should be here: http://wetwebmedia.com/mardisindex.htm
the first tray>
George-
<I have been hoping some time now to get your thoughts on a very exciting project I have been working on that may potentially help the
retail aquarium trade. For the last two years I have been studying the effects of acclimation on a fresh and saltwater fish and invertebrates. Having a retail tropical fish store is the perfect testing grounds for a number of methods and devices. Without going into too great a detail (I could talk all day on the subject), here is a summary of what's going on:
Pet store tropical fish loss has always been tragically high, and my theory is that it is in a large part due to poor acclimation. Petstores notoriously do not properly acclimate their new arrivals. They typically float a fish bag for 15-20 minutes for temperature adjustment and then pour the contents of the bag through a net and release the fish in their aquarium. I believe the shock from the chemistry changes to be the cause for, at minimum, a reduction of the fish immune system, resulting in higher susceptibility to a myriad of disease causing agents; and at worst osmotic loading, causing the cells to swell and either burst or undergo apoptosis --high TDS levels in the bags going to low TDS levels in the aquariums.
I started by measuring samples of freshwater from pet store aquarium system water from all over northern California and a few from the LA area, as well as numerous fish suppliers. I found that the disparity was shocking! For example, one supplier maintains a freshwater fish system with pH 5.9, GH 4ppm, KH <1ppm, and TDS 1800 ppm (the high TDS I confirmed was the result of salt addition). The average pet store (over 30 samples) was pH 7.8, GH 7ppm, KH 6, TDS 500. When tests are done of the bagged water the pH can be as low as 5.3 due to the accumulation of carbonic acid. Some stores have pH levels in their systems in the mid 8's, and some bags from suppliers have TDS levels over 2000 ppm and stores as low as 185 ppm. Big differences.
I started acclimation for the two obviously extreme disparities, pH and TDS, knowing that significant levels of accumulated ammonia in the fish bags was almost all ionized at the low pH and the raise in pH would represent more of a threat as the ammonia changed to the toxic unionized form. I set as my limit (Spotte tables) to prevent exposure greater than .1 percent unionized ammonia during the acclimation process. For this I needed to dilute the ammonia first before raising the pH beyond 7.1. This called for a double acclimation of one hour each cycle. The ratio of new tank water to bag water was3 to 1.
The initial results on a number of sensitive freshwater species (cardinal tetra, Rummynose , etc.) in our store system is very intriguing. I'm now setting out to try to demonstrate acclimation makes a measurable difference by conducting a small experiment. I set up three 20 gallon tanks, one that I change the water chemistry to match the bag chemistry of the new fish (control), and the other two tanks with chemistry matching the average pet store system water. After they all get temperature acclimation, the control group goes straight in, the second group of fish (same quantity and all from the same supplier and species) receive various acclimation times, and the last goes straight in without any acclimation. Hypothesis: non-acclimation losses will be higher than acclimation fish and the control group.
The cardinal tetras in the non-acclimation tank developed ich and all perished within 5 days! They went suddenly form a pH of 5.3 to a pH of 7.5. The other two tank's occupants had losses amounting to less than 10 percent during this time. This was very interesting, but five days later the remaining two tanks developed ich too and all died the following week. Did the cardinals in the last two tanks get contaminated by the first group, or did the cardinals all get exposed to ich much earlier before we received them? If so, did the acclimation process delay the symptoms and subsequent death in the second and third tanks? Very provocative results in the first run of this experiment. I can't wait to start the tests on marine fish as well. Koi are another concern, as they frequently go from high TDS (salted water) to low TDS and low pH to high pH all the time from suppliers to hobbyists without any acclimation.
In the next test we will choose Rummynose tetras and the supplier has agreed to give a sample of the water from the initial bags from the trans-shipper before he adds them to his system so we can see what shock they are receiving before we get them. He will also hold 100 Rummynose for one week to 'weed out' the most stressed fish before they get to us.
Ray Meyers
Owner, Pet Fun
1780 North Main Street
Salinas, CA 93906
<Much to speculate on Ray... and definitely worthwhile developing and adhering to a useful acclimation protocol, for all aquatic life. Bob Fenner>

Acclimation Protocol Commercial 7/20/10
Bob-
<Ray>
Just a quick follow up this week on my acclimation project...
I read all the post on your web site regarding commercial acclimation and two struck me as worth going over with you.
1) The use of an airstone in the acclimation process seems on the surface to be counterintuitive. I would also think the removal of CO2 and the reduction of carbonic acid to raise the pH preternaturally, and thus elevate the percentage of unionized ammonia in the water. I see that you addressed this in one of the points, stating that it did not make a significant difference and to try it yourself.
<Yes>
Have you, and what kind of raises do you get, say from pH of 6.0 after thirty minutes or so?
<... depends on "extant water quality"... pH can be/is "stabilized" ("buffered") by a few compounds, at any given "point">
I'm going to try to get some hard numbers this week with an airstone added to
the acclimation of a large group of feeder goldfish (pH is usually down to 6.0 or so, and the total ammonia can be well over 3.0 ppm. If the airstone does not jump the pH to over 7.0 the percentage of unionized ammonia should be within the range they (feeders) can handle, and the increase of O2 and removal of CO2 (causing hypercapnia) will be a great immediate benefit.
<Yes... and w/o [O2] near saturation, all will die in short order anyway...>
2) You made reference in a couple of posts regarding the need to "double flush" the fish to first remove the ammonia from the water AND from the fish themselves. Like you also said, this is standard operating procedure for good importers such as Quality Marine in Los Angeles, but I was not aware
the first flush (pH matched to the bagged water) was also to allow the ammonia in the fish to escape.
<It is>
I did some reading in Spotte's "Captive Seawater Fishes" and found a reference to how environmental ammonia might enter across the gills of freshwater fish.
<It does>
He states that the "...ammonia movement across the gill is proportional to the NH3 diffusion gradient, and only diffusion of NH3 occurs during periods of low environmental ammonia concentrations. When ammonia concentrations in the water are low and adequate Na+ is available, NH3 diffuses from the blood across the serosal surface and is lost ultimately by diffusion across the apical surface to the environment... when ammonia concentrations in the water are high, NH3 diffuses into the fish across the apical surface and enters the blood through the serosal surface." Is this the rationale you were referring to when you mentioned first flushing out the ammonia in the fish and in the water?
<Yes>
This is a very significant (and unknown and unreported to the general fish hobbyist) additional reason to double acclimate!
<Indeed>
I'll check out the pH raise when the airstone is added to the goldfish feeder acclimation tests today and give you some hard numbers later. I hope the increase in aeration will not elevate the pH enough to increase significantly the percentage of NH3 in the water, defeating the acclimation process.
<Again... this all depends on how much of the low pH is due to simple carbonic acid concentration...>
Thanks again for the interest in my acclimation protocol project.
Ray Meyers
Owner, Pet Fun
<Thank you for sharing. BobF> 

Re Freshwater Commercial Acclimation 8/14/10
Bob-
<Ray>
Follow-up on my commercial acclimation project:
Regarding the airstone usage we last discussed in the acclimation process - After checking the chemistry in a few incoming bags from our northern California supplier, I have
found it may not be wise to add an airstone to the process of acclimation, at least in my applications. Most of the fish bagged water had been buffered to a pH
greater than 7.2. A sample of the water in the bags before aeration came out at pH 6.2, dKH 2.0 ppm (a calculated CO2 of 37ppm),
but after aeration it shot up to pH 7.4 (CO2 approx. 2.5 ppm). Since these bags had total ammonia greater than 5 ppm, I did not want to expose the fish to a higher percentage
of unionized ammonia than necessary.
<Good>
At pH 6.2 the concentration of unionized ammonia is about .1 percent (25 degrees C), and at a pH of 7.4 the unionized
ammonia would be 1.4 percent (fourteen times higher).
<Mmm, yes... am showing/using a fave nomograph showing this relationship (and temperature) for one of my talks at a fish health conference am on my way to this AM in Maine>
In general, I think the airstone may be safer to use in acclimation if the initial water is not buffered at a
point beyond 7.0, where the percentage of unionized ammonia is far greater. And, since we are headed for a pH of 7.5 or so in our holding tanks, I would like to see the ammonia greatly
reduced before we start the pH climb.
<Best through slow, initially pH-matched drip/acclimation... slowly (tens of minutes) diluting the ammonia laden water, then slowly raising pH>
Maybe the best rule of thumb for a retailer or hobbyist trying to acclimate fish that have been hours in the bags is to first aerate a sample of
the bag water and see where the pH ends up before using an airstone in the process.
<Mmm, if you can get folks to adopt/adapt this practice, you're a far better pet-fish man than I>
If it heads above 7.0 or so, best to flush out the ammonia with a lower pH water source.
I do agree that it would be an advantage to get the high CO2 out of the water fast, but not at the expense of exposure to high unionized ammonia. What are your thoughts?
<As stated... I would not be, am not concerned with the high carbonic acid content, its effects, but just the relative pH and ammonia concentration. No need to drive off the CO2, nor really add oxygen in any way other than the addition of the new/mixed acclimation water of pH matched new water... Wakarimasu?>
I completed the sampling of a broad range of retail operation's system water in California and now have my efforts directed on the wholesale /importer
chain of distribution. I'm not sure I fully understand the role of both the bagged water and new tank water's buffer has on the acclimation process. If the process involves
multiple flushes it should ultimately come out to the new tank water, but if the acclimation is merely the addition of new tank water to the bagged water, then
the two waters have simple mixed and predicting the final chemistry may be more difficult.
<Again... I strongly encourage folks to measure the pH of some sample bags of incoming livestock water... MATCH the pH (with organic, inorganic (careful) acids (most folks use dilute HCl), or CO2... and use this pH matched mix water to slowly dilute out measurable ammonia in the mix/ed water... NOT incidental existing tank water... BEST done outside of tanks... on receiving (can be the same as shipping) tables/area... where all mixed water is vented to waste... Comprende vous?>
In cooperation with a northern California wholesale tropical fish supplier (they supplied me with some bagged water from a sample of swordtails they received
directly from Singapore (over 48 hours in bags?).
<May be>
The Singapore water chemistry was a bit baffling and not what I expected after supposedly being in transit for so long.
The water to the sight was appalling -- it had a yellow cast and when aerated would produce foam, an indication of high DOC (dissolved organic carbons). I expected the pH to be in the 5's
and the CO2 off the charts. The tested pH was 7.7-- seriously! I calibrated the meter again, as I could not believe it. The dKH was 2 and the TDS was a whopping
4680 ppm! Since the dGH was only 5, this super high TDS must be a result of salt additions. I have heard of some countries adding salt to their stock before shipment, that was
not the surprise - the low calculated CO2 and high pH were not expected. Why did the pH not drop with a high volume of fish in a bag for so long?
<Do come out with us next May to Aquarama... I'd like to state a good deal more than I feel comfortable stating here, and having all see on the Net... re ambient water quality, practices in Sing..>
The calculated CO2
with those numbers is only 5 ppm! I read some where the CO2 calculation formulas are not valid if phosphate buffer solutions are used. Could this by why?
<Yes>
If they are buffering at such a high pH, isn't that counterproductive to expose the fish to unionized ammonia?
<Compromise/s>
Most of the bagged fish samples I see are in the low 6's. heading
to mid 7's after acclimation. Do you simply think the wholesale supplier allowed the CO2 to de-gas before he sent me the sample?
<Perhaps the fishes were rebagged... w/ or w/o water change. This is a pretty standard practice in the transshipping biz. You'd do well to call/write Steve Limbaugh at Dolphin Intl. (their LA office); you're welcome to mention my name, our association>
That makes more sense. I'm not aware of
any buffer preventing the accumulation of CO2 leading to carbonic acid.. Can some buffers prevent carbonic acid from lowering pH?
<Yes>
Anyway, as to the protocol of freshwater acclimation, I'm leaning towards trying to find out first what experiences (acclimation or lack of acclimation and the extreme differences) the
fish were exposed to prior to the arrival at our retail operation. For example, proper acclimation at the retail level to those swordtails from
Singapore that were already seriously shocked from rapidly descending from 4680 TDS level to the supplier's 500 TDS level (not to mention the exposure to extraordinarily high levels of
unionized ammonia) without acclimation at that point might be a bit like putting a band-aid on a terminal cancer patient.
<I too am interested in whatever results AND discussion you produce. It has been my long-standing position that TDS directly (though definitely not indirectly) is of little importance in shipping/acclimation issues>
I suppose what it may boil down to is, if that information is unknown(able), it wouldn't hurt to at least acclimate the species that the retail store is having repeated trouble keeping.
<Again, for emphasis, I STRONGLY recommend a S.O.P. acclimation procedure for ALL inbound be strictly adhered to... to reduce overall stress, resultant mortality>
In fact, that
is where we stand at our store today. We acclimate all the livebearers, wild-caught and trans-shipped fish (fish in bags for long periods of a time). And, I very happy to report losses have
dramatically improved.
<Ah, yes... IF only you and I could have (had) pervasive effect in distributing such info./techniques... There is a huge negative effect on the industry and retention of our client base (aquarist consumers) from the ill effects of less-than ideal (and simple) acclimation procedures>
My goal is to produce a methodology for acclimation (with your input and others) that is practical for both the retailer and the hobbyist. Perhaps a simple flow chart
a user can reference that will relate how long and what method to use to best acclimate, based on a few tests (pH, dKH, dGH, TDS and NH3+NH4) of the bagged water and the new tank water.
With the exception of TDS meters, most test kits are common at every pet store.
Your thoughts?
<To beat the proverbial dead horse, am looking forward to what data/support there is for TDS as a factor... and dissemination of this information, its popularization in the trade>
Kind regards,
Ray Meyers
Monterey, CA
<Bob Fenner, Lindbergh Airport>

Acclimation Experiments- Follow up 9/3/10
Bob-
<Ray>
Latest update to my freshwater commercial acclimation project:
After three experiments to determine pH sensitivity I am going to move in a new direction and look specifically at TDS (total dissolved solids). There were some interesting results from the pH tests and I will share the data, video and my thoughts of the pH acclimation experiments later.
In the meantime, I have set up a new experiment that will attempt to suggest any possible patterns related to the sensitivity of rapid changes to TDS, without changes to pH being a factor during the acclimation process. I am using the same 20 gallon tanks I used in the pH experiments, all factored to eliminate as many variables as reasonably possible (same systems, conditioning, fish from same supplier, etc.). I find this area (TDS) to most interesting, as I have found so few individuals have any input on it.
In theory the physical damage from osmotic shock resulting from going from a high TDS to a low TDS rapidly should be a factor adding to the stress that leads to way too many losses of fish. Of course it may turn out to be insignificant by itself and only another cumulative factor in a long line of stress factors, but who knows at this point? I have queried many in the fields of aqua culture and tropical fish husbandry, and with the exception of Dr. Gratzek in the seventies, nobody may have looked at this area, at least nobody that I am aware of yet.
I understand you are skeptical of the TDS issue, and so am I -- This is why I'm doing the experiments. Something that troubles me on this issue -- freshwater dips are frequently suggested to remove parasites from marine fish, which is an enormously rapid downward TDS shift. Maybe the fact that the fish are exposed for such a short period of time is why they are able to tolerate this change (although I have seen many marine fish drop to their sides as soon as they hit the freshwater ph balanced water -- that can not be good.) Having parasites, stressing fish -- lesser of two evils?
<Yes... a judgment call in each case>
Here's how the TDS test will go: Swordtails that have been acclimated (one week) to a high TDS 4.5 ppt (such as I have measured from a direct shipment from Singapore) will be put in tanks with all the same chemistry except TDS, which will be much lower at .5 ppt. Half of the fish will be non-acclimated (floated for temperature only and bag water poured through a net and the fish placed directly in the new tank) and half will be slowly acclimated (two flushes over a two hour period to match the new low TDS level of .5 ppt, which is typical of many retail stores system water). I will then monitor the two groups for two weeks to see if any significant difference in the condition of the fish is demonstrated. And, like the pH experiments, I will repeat the tests with different species at least three times.
As to the retail acclimation protocol we have been discussing, I believe you are spot on with the pH adjusted first flush followed by the flush of the store system water. I have been aware of this method for years after visiting several commercial importer operations in southern California. However, there may be an exception where two flushes from the store system water may be alright without the pH balanced step. If the target water (store system water) is low in pH, such as a system for South American fish 6.4 -6.7 pH, and if the fish have been in the bags a very short time from a supplier and the ammonia is very low. Most of the ammonia is ionized at this low pH and the degree of toxic unionized ammonia in the shipping bags will be in the acceptable range (less than.1 percent).
I'm still a bit fuzzy on the benefits and effectiveness of products that claim to tie up the ammonia and render it non toxic, such as Amquel in the acclimation process. I suppose it can not hurt to add it, but I would not use theses products in lieu of the proven pH balanced flush method to significantly dilute or remove the ammonia.
One potential problem with these products is their interference with organics from the reagents in Nessler method ammonia test kits, such as the popular Tetra kit. Nessler method kits will incorrectly register extremely high pH readings after adding products such as Amquel, confusing the test results. Dr. Rofan <Rofen> from Novalek (Kordon brand, distributors of Amquel) suggests using salicylate method ammonia kits (many such as Aquarium Pharm use this method) when Amquel is used.
When flushing ammonia at high levels, it is my experience that it may take more than the addition of pH matched water (such as tripling the shipping bag water) as this will only dilute the ammonia level. After diluting it, you may also need to remove the water back to the original level in the acclimation container(typically one quart on most retail shipment bags) and add again the pH matched water. This second step will significantly dilute the ammonia levels to acceptable ranges (again, depending on the target pH of the retailers tanks). Think of it like topping off a tank vs. doing a water change --Big difference.
How many additional flushes to raise the pH to the store target water will depend on the buffers between the two waters.
<Mmm, no>
But the best method is to continue adding target water and removing it back to the original quart level until the difference of the desired pH is within .1 to .2 units.
I understand (wakarimasu) that the ideal method for acclimation would involve trays set to overflow to a floor drain, but this is unlikely to be practical to the average retail aquarium/pet store. The overflow method is precisely how importers get around this issue, as they have
large pH matched storage tanks that flow slowly into low profile trays for the new arrivals, until the ammonia is diluted to next to nothing, and then a new line of tank system water is flushed through to bring the pH up. I do not see too many retailers who would be set up for this effort (although it would be nice if a new store could design an area of the back room for this process). While dreaming, they would also benefit from the longer and proven quarantine method, but that's asking way too much'¦...
I'll keep you posted with the new TDS experiment.
<Real good>
By the way, I would be interested in that trip to the Singapore Aquarama in May. Are you planning to go?
<I am. Rob Bray/House of Fins and some other friend/s may well be going... doing a bit of diving... ahead, maybe in PNG or the Maldives.>
Kind regards,
Ray Meyers
Monterey, CA
<BobF, down in FL at MACNA> 

Acclimation, FW  7/9/09
Hello Crew, Hope all is doing well. Please tell me if when adding new fish to the tank if it is necessary to keep the lights off for several hours as well as not feed them the first night. Thank you, James
<Certainly a lot of people like to do this. I tend to adjust my methods depending on the fish. If it's something gregarious, like Neons, then leaving the lights on in a shady, well planted tank doesn't do any harm, and the light allows each Neon to find the other, and so settle down into a group quickly, which is what they want above all else. Solitary or nocturnal fish, such as plecs and cichlids, are more bothered by being transported and removed from their territories, so leaving the lights off while they find a safe crevice perhaps works better for them. So use your common sense, really, and do what seems best. Cheers, Neale.>
re: Acclimation
Thanks Neale.
<You're welcome! Cheers, Neale.>

FW lvstk. acclim., BioSpira status, Allusions to Incredible Archaeogastropod flix  8/19/08 Hi Have a few really quick questions <You do?> 1. I have a tank that should be finished cycling in about two weeks. Same water source and everything from established tank sitting two feet from new tank. When I move the fish to new tank do I need to float them? I know usually you have to or is it ALWAYS have too even for reason I stated? <Don't float them in the tank. Get a bucket, and half-fill with water from the aquarium. Float the bag in that. After 5 minutes or so, open the bag and sluice in a little of the aquarium water. Repeat across 15 minutes or so until the water in the bag is fully mixed with the aquarium water in the bucket. Then use your net to lift the fish into the bucket. Why do it this way? Because this minimises chances of diseases (such as whitespot) getting between the fish shop and your existing aquarium.> 2. I read that Bio Spira is no longer manufactured. Anybody know the reason why? <No idea. It didn't always work that well, so perhaps that's why.> 3. Is it possible to train a fish to wear glasses and talk like the great Don Knotts? If so, I need to get me one of those. (sorry had to throw that in) <I have no idea who Don Knotts is. Is he like a trained Killer Whale or something at Seaworld? I've seen that, and Shamu certain did wear stuff like hats and whatnot, and if I recall sang happy birthday to some kid in the audience.> Thank you <Cheers, Neale.> <<Thrummmm! RMF>>

Acclimating New Fish Hello, At the pet shop I work at we are having a problem with the freshwater angel fish we bring in. Commonly experience loss of about 50% or more of the first few days. Having tried various things, I wonder if there is some point in your guerilla acclimating procedure I could mimic and get more headway. First how we do it. Fish arrive as shipments from a company called Coast. The old box with Styrofoam surrounding it. Fish in bags of bluish water, which I take is Methylene blue. < Maybe Start Right by Jungle that is a combination of Meth. blue and salt.> We float the bags for 20 - 30 minutes. Cut off top of bag with scissors, and gently pour into a specimen container, then using a net put them directly into the aquarium. {don't have the facility to quarantine, really} Yes, sometimes we've tried introducing tank water into the shipping bag. I do have concerns of raising the ph of the shipping water, thus making the ammonium more toxic as ammonia. Might that only be a valid concern if the ph of the shipping water is below 7? 7.4 o.k.? < Two things going on. If the fish have been in the bags for a long time then there may be a build up of CO2 in the bag which is an acid and lowers the pH of the water. You are right in the sense that the lower pH has made the ammonia less toxic to the fish. Check the Ph of the newly opened bag with a pH meter. Add an airstone for 20 minutes and check the pH again. If the pH has risen then the CO2 has been aerated out of the water and the pH should be closer to your tanks at the store.  The second is a build up of ammonia in the bag. Check the ammonia levels in the bag. The ammonia levels in the water can be quickly neutralized with chemicals and resins. Neutralize the ammonia then volatize the CO2. In the 20 minutes that the CO2 is being given off, the fish will lose some of the ammonia back into the water as a waste product. So there should be less of a pH shock and stress from ammonia.> Since at work the fish are shipped with 'blue water' already in the bag, should I still make a mix of Methylene blue in the 'holding water'? < No, waste of time. > Shipping in 'blue water' may make testing for ph harder, we use the questionable accuracy of strips from jungle to do it. I could always bring in a digital ph pen to give me a more accurate number. Is that the best choice? < Absolutely. Make sure it is calibrated with a standard solution.> So from the guerilla's mouth I should change the way I acclimate at least my angels to; Floating the bag for temperature < Waste of time unless extremely hot or cold> Remove a portion of holding tank water to a kitty litter bin scissor off the fish bag and test the ph add enough ph-down to the holding water in the litter bin to match the ph (does that take long?) < Extreme pH changes should be avoided. Aerate to drive off the CO2, Neutralize the ammonia.> 8 drops of Methylene blue, tablespoon aquarium salt, band-aid in a bottle nova aqua maybe some Maracide and Maracyn and an air stone So in essence we have given a medicative dip to a fish at the same time as acclimation, which does indeed eliminate many of the nasties in shipping bag water. The salt is purely to help the stressed fish, you apply to this to tetras and S. American catfish? < No way. They hate salt!!> These fish are known to be salt intolerant, but in this instance the salt is short term. Probably best to avoid with elephant nose fish, though. < Absolutely.> Novaqua would be helpful - for physical injury and slime coat damage < I do like the Kordon products.> For my work I'm thinking angel fish from Coast, for myself I'm thinking wild caught zebra Plecos or queen Plecos. Any difference in procedure? < You are talking captive bred angels with wild caught pleco's. If the pleco's are coming from the same guy then they should be in the same water and the same procedures will apply. Wild pleco's from South America are a different story.> Thank you for your help. I know I have to chew the fat of the guide for awhile. The airstone contradiction.. the combining of medicating and acclimating in the same step... but I do see it as working, and perhaps a better way. I should ask to view the acclimation of sensitive S. American catfish at my LFS, if they don't think I'm stealing their secrets for the competition. Thank you, again < If your fish are dying after a few days then there may be something wrong with your tanks too. Baby angelfish are usually at the wholesalers for awhile and get little or no food at all. Once they are in the tank they should get lots of aeration and at least one feeding of live food live worms. Check the nitrates. They should be under 25 ppm, the lower the better.-Chuck> 

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