FAQs on Acclimation
Related Articles: Acclimation,
Quarantine ppt., pt.s 1, 2,
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,
Related FAQs: Acclimation 1, Acclimation 2, Acclimating Marine Invertebrates, &
FAQs on Acclimation: Rationale/Use, Tools/Gear, Chemicals, Methods, Controversies, Troubles/fixing, & Acclimating Invertebrates, Acclimation of Livestock in
the Business, Dips/Baths 1,
Yes, even corals require
careful acclimation, quarantine...
Acceptable temp drop, during acclimation
Is 3 degree temp drop considered steep for acclimation?
<F? No, C? Yes>
Fish came in today, floated for 20 minutes, placed fish in quarantine, same
Evidently 20 minutes floating bag was not enough, water in bag was 80, tank temp
Would the 3 degree drop concern you?
Re: Acceptable temp drop 9/6/19
Thanks bob, calmed my nerves a bit. Was talking Fahrenheit.
Quarantine question; rdg.
Hello WetWebMedia Crew! First of all, allow me to say that I truly am a
big fan of your forum as it is a source of much information ...... thank
you also for quickly replying to my emails in the past.
I have a quick question for you today, about quarantine procedures
...... I recently purchased some golden semilarvatus butterflies and a
tigerpyge to be shipped from the USA to Manila. I have read that
butterflies and Centropyge have a high sensitivity to copper and that
the next best thing to get them started with the quarantine procedure is
to do a freshwater dip with Methylene blue?
<Yes; one approach that is less toxic; effective>
1. What is the ratio of freshwater to Methylene blue?
<VERY safe; you just want the water VERY blue... Can't say the ratio, as
individual products are of differing concentration. Put in enough that
you can't see the bottom of the container>
2. And do I dip them as soon as the shipment arrives?
<No; need to flush out the ammonia in the fishes... and the water. READ
and the linked files above; till you're sure you know what you're doing>
Or do I wait for a few days before doing the dip?
<For these species, I would do along with the acclimation protocol...
i.e., on arrival>
I am just a bit worried that the fishes will be highly stressed out from
the long flight time?
<I understand. IF they do appear too stressed, you can wait for the
dip/bath procedure later... as you suggest.>
Would love to hear your thoughts on this. And thank you very much in
<DO write back if all is not clear. Bob Fenner>
Re: Quarantine question 6/8/17
Hi Bob! Thank you very much for the prompt reply.
Will read on the link you forwarded and will send you an email again if
I do have further questions. Truly truly appreciate all your advice.
Acclimation Method When Fish In Transit for 80 Hours-
Good Evening Crew,
Since there is not very much (thankfully) out there about acclimation
for extreme situations I thought I would share my experience for others
and your critique.
<Ahh; thank you for sharing>
First, props out to the folks over at Fosters & Smith/LiveAquaria for
their packing procedures. Second, shame on the entire UPS company for
their horrible customer service both locally and nationally.
<Thanks; and yikes>
I had a colony of mushrooms and a latticed butterfly shipped for
Saturday delivery. Unfortunately, although the UPS system shows my
address has Saturday delivery, my local depot does not make Saturday
package arrived at 9:10 pm on Monday night- the inside packing looking
as though it had been shaken, the bags tipped at odd angles and the
heating pack away from the bags.
So I start with livestock in bags for at least 80 hours which sat over
the weekend in the warehouse while we were have nighttime temps in the
Having never had experienced this sort of thing before I worked off one
assumption: the livestock needed to be removed from the bags ASAP. This
was my procedure---
1) Immediately opened the bags. I tended to the BF first, assuming the
low oxygen was a greater concern for the fish. BF was alive, but
breathing so slow, shallow and irregularly it was hard to see.
2) Took temperature (58 degrees), ph (6.4) specific gravity, and ammonia
(over 8ppm) readings of bag water.
3) Placed bags and two ice packs (careful to make sure the ice packs did
not touch the bag) in acclimation bucket w/ room temperature water. My
rational was to create water that matched the bag as quickly as possible
and it would take too long for the 72 degree "clean" water and the 58
degree bag water to equalize.
4) Adjusted the acclimation bucket water ph to 6.6. Specific gravity was
already the same and I had previously added an airstone.
5) Adjusted the water in my quarantine tank to 7.6 ph. My rational was
to get the fish in something semi-close to "normal" ph that night, but
that getting into the 8.0 range wasn't doable in a few hours given the
6) When the temperature in the bag and the acclimation bucket were
within 2 degrees of each other (happen at 64/66 degrees after about 20
minutes) I discarded the bag water and slipped the fish in the
7) Began a slow drip from my quarantine.
8) After 30 minutes checked temperature. It hadn't really changed so I
added a small heater, which I monitored, plugging and unplugging so that
over the next hour the temperature in the acclimation bucket came to 78
9) Dripped for 45 minutes removed 1/4 of the water
10) Dripped for 45 minutes, removed 1/3 of the water and increased to a
drip-drip-drip. Around this point the BF started to come around,
righting herself and leaning against the bucket.
11) Dripped for 45 minutes, removed 1/2 of the water and increased to
dripdripdrip. BF gently swimming around bucket.
12) Over the 1.5 hours I removed water every 20 minutes or so, testing
ph as I did so.
13) Around 1:15 am the ph in the acclimation bucket matched the tank and
I discarded the bucket water and slipped BF into the tank.
Around 24 hours after delivery I brought the ph of the quarantine up to
8.0 and the BF started to eat grated shrimp soaked in Selcon. I has now
been 1 week since shipment and four days since delivery and the BF
continues to eat the shrimp but refuses everything else. She exhibits
stress color except when "begging" for food or eating- then she turns
almost "normal" color. Also, she has a several areas of raised scales
that can be seen
from overhead and a white injury spot on her tail fin (although no signs
of velvet or Ich). I have not dipped her or treated with any medication
due to the extreme stress of shipment. Do you have any other advice as
to increase her chance of making it to my display tank?
<Really; just time going by; patience on your part>
Many thanks for all that all of you do,
PS- Similar procedure with the mushrooms, but they did not make it. Most
of the colony was dissolving when I opened the bag so I wasn't
<Me neither. Again, thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>
Re: Acclimation Method When Fish In Transit for 80 Hours-
Thank you for the quick response. I will keep my fingers crossed. Have a
<Thank you Tricia. You as well. B>
pH adjustments. SW acclimation
I have been reading your pieces on isolation- quarantine tanks/dips for
new fish. I am confused about two different explanations as to how to
switch the new fish to the quarantine/isolation tank.
<Let's see if I/we can un-confuse you>
most say to float acclimate the shipped bag to match system temp then
match the FW dip pH to the shipped bag pH ( usually using baking soda
from 1/4 tsp - 1 whole tsp per gallon)
<Mmm; actually, the pH is almost always lower in (longer haul) shipped
bags... thus a need to lower pH in the receiving (temporary) water. Most
folks use a simple organic acid for this... Acetic/vinegar... or a
commercial prep.; often sodium biphosphate>
then my question occurs- when transferring fish to the QT, some say to
bring the QT pH to that of the shipped bag ( and FW dip) while other
seem to say to bring the FW dip pH to that of the QT tank.
I believe these were the rec.s of different authors on site. please
<Better, perhaps best to simply have you read my SOP re such acclimation
procedures. See (READ) here:
and the linked files above. Do feel free to write back w/ specific
questions (after reading). Bob Fenner>
thanks again for all your ongoing help.
Re: pH adjustments. Acclim. process, SW
I got the idea of baking soda from answers similar to -"Yes, freshwater
that has been treated for chlorine/chloramine, and buffered (often with
just sodium bicarbonate to a pH of about 7.8) is pretty much a/the SOP
(Standard Operating Procedure) for most all marine fish and invertebrate
I think my tap water comes out at pH 7.2 , so it made sense to me that I
needed to raise it for the FW dip since the transit water is usually in
the high 7's.
I will send other questions in separate note
<Jay; the pH should be matched w/ whatever the incoming shipping water
is. I can't tell what this is... B>
Re: pH adjustments 12/5/16
thanks for rapid response. I have read most if not all of acclimation/
dips info on WWM. I think points of confusion for me were too many terms
for perhaps same stage/containers and unsure as to the time duration for
changes between stages.
<A few minutes is all... subjective to a degree... ALWAYS with you in
attendance, MOVING the fish/es out if they're over-stressed>
Instead of repeating various answers in WWM and showing you where my
misunderstandings are, I have tried to create a
detailed step by step .
So my current summarized plan for a FW/meth blue dip for new fish is as
I envision 3 containers
1-The shipped bags o’ fish with usual marine salinity/SPG but a pH which
has lowered in shipping to probably about 7.6-7.8
<Do test a few... will all likely be about the same>
2-The FW dip , using dechlorinated tap water, pre- oxygenated over
night, with pH matched to bag #1 .( My tap water comes at pH approx 7.2,
so I assumed I would need to add some baking soda to bring it up to the
shipping bag pH. Methylene blue is added to this to create a medium dark
3-QT with SPG, salinity and pH all matching the display tank.
here is the process-
*Receive shipped bags o’ fish.*
*Float bags for temp equalization to system's 78-80 degrees.*
<Mmm; how to explain here... IF the temp. is w/in several degrees F.
(really 7,8 F.), I'd NOT float... not worth the time, stress, and TIME
is definitely of essence here. Just OPEN bags and start drip/mixing in
the new pH adjusted/matched acclimation water>
*Have prepared ahead the QT and bucket of heated, oxygenated tap water
*Buffer the FW with baking soda to match pH of shipping water ( expected
to be in 7.6-7.8 range. Various WWM rec.s for using baking soda range
from ¼tsp to 1 tsp/gallon.)*
<Okay... sorry for the prev. confusion here. Our tapwater comes out
8.2-8.4... we actually have to LOWER to match shipping water>
*then dechlorinate the now buffered tap FW with Seachem Prime*
*Transfer fish and shipping water into a new container. Slowly add above
FW until this container is now pretty much FW. [ How long for this
<AS LONG as it takes to flush out ALL detectable free ammonia>
*Add meth blue till relatively dark.*
<This can be added before or during the drip>
*Observe fish behavior but aiming for 15 -20 min in FW/MB dip( which is
still at shipping water pH).*
<I'd immediately start the drip>
*After duration of dip complete, slowly add water from QT to bring up
salinity and pH to that of QT (pH of about 8.2-8.3), (again how fast?) *
<About a drop per second.... So/hence the pH change, NH3 flush will vary
depending on the volume of shipping water mainly>
*transfer fish to QT.*
**** the fish I am expecting soon are a Carpenters Flasher Wrasse, One
Spot Foxface and *Royal Gramma Basslet (Caribbean). You have mentioned
that wrasses should have short duration FW meth blue dips, yes? How
about the other 2 fish?*
<Run all as per above. These are long-distance shipped animals I take
it. NOT one, two hour in-transit?>
*have you ever considered making a long detailed YouTube video for this
<I had not... but do agree that such might be of tremendous use. The
process and its variations is confusing, involved>
I think it might be boring for you, but it would answer a lot of folks'
questions.( a picture is worth a thousand words)*
<I'll direct if you do the emcee-ing!>
<Certainly welcome. BF>
Re: pH adjustments. Vis SW acclim.
please explain which container or what water you are referring to when you
say-start drip/mixing in the new pH adjusted/matched "acclimation water".
<The new, pre-mixed dechlorinated/dechloraminated water you're using to flush
out the ammonia-laden shipping water>
I think you mean the buffered FW before the meth blue is added.
<The Methylene Blue can be added before use; but yes; this is it>
when I am adding this to the shipping water you say "as long as it takes to
flush out NH3"- don't kill me but do you want this change done over a few
minutes or by dripping in the FW over a couple hours?
<Minutes is best; via dripping as stated prev.>
--Up at the top of you response you say "a few minutes is all" -- (But hasn't
the Seachem Prime already detoxified the ammonia anyway?)
<NOT within the organisms. DO TAKE CARE here, NOT to trust chemical removal>
when you say -"
<I'd immediately start the DRIP>
" are you referring to dripping the FW into the shipping water? Wouldn't this
take quite a while ??
<Yes and yes>
As to my poor brittle star, I already have Kent Zoe and AquaVitro Fuel.
Can one of these or a mixture sub for Seachem Vitality?
<Yes they can>
Lastly, I use to work with your old WWM colleague Steve Allen, a pediatrician.
Do you hear from him these days?
<Ahh! I have not. Please convey my regards to Steve. I do hope/trust all is well
with him and his family. Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Methylene blue necessary for acclimation?
Hi your websites great, so much useful info.
I've been reading your guide to acclimatizing new imports, everything makes
sense and i am ready to trial your recommended method. The problem I have is I'm
based in the UK and I can't seem to purchase Methylene blue to add
to the freshwater dip, is it essential to add the Methylene blue?
<Not required, but helpful. Ph and temperature adjusted freshwater is fine.>
Is there any other treatment that is available in the UK that I could use in
place of the Methylene blue.
<Personally I believe in watching the animal at a dealer's for a week or so,
making sure it's healthy insofar as you can
observe, with a deposit to hold onto the fish if needed. My favorite local
retailer dips them as he receives them and again before he sells them to me, may
want to ask for this service, which they should be happy/wise to provide.
Chemical dips are possibly stressful and I consider them more of a prophylactic
for suspect animals than a requirement.>
<Glad to be of use, please follow up with your results for others' edification
and also read WWM's section on dips, it's pretty thorough. -EC3>
Re: Methylene blue necessary for acclimation?
Thanks for coming back to me so quickly.
<Now BobF; Don't know if Earl put this in my inbox....>
Sorry I wasn't very clear in my firs message, I run an lfs and am wanting
to fine sop for new fish imported.
<Uhh; please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/methbluefaqs.htm
and here: http://wetwebmedia.com/dipsadditvs.htm
Would just a freshwater dip be sufficient ?
<Uhh; let's have you scroll here:
Or do I need to get a treatment to add into the dip, if so any idea what I
might be able to use over here in the uk ?. Thanks
<Right. Bob Fenner>
Shipped fish sufferin 3/25/15
I shipped some fish in from the Caribbean. Shipping only cost me 45 dollars ups
Everything looks great , except for large black angel (Resting on the bottom)
and large atlantic blue tang. They looked iffy on shopping bags, and so I drop
acclimated for 2 hours.
<.... what they do at times>
In my tank, the Atlantic blue is swimming upside down, sideways, near the
surface, and at times bobbing at the surface.
I am in contact with the seller, however I do not like watching animals suffer.
The shipper is telling me to give it time, and it should straighten out.
<He's, they're right>
How much time would you give it before thinking of using clove oil or another
with euthanasia product.
<All the time in the world. B>
Shipped fish 3/25/15
hey Bob, thanks for the fast response, much respect.
It was 40 to ship 70 pounds of boxes over night,
<Wow! How many organisms?>
to my house; not to the airport. To me that seems very fair.
Fish seem to still be doing the same. I shut my powerheads off, seems they
enjoyed floating around only to get stuck in them.
The symptoms I listed , does that sound like ammonia poisoning, lack of O2, or
just flight stress?
<Likely ammonia burn mostly... see WWM re Guerilla Acclimation... for biz>
Thanks, and have a good evening
<Off to cook, serve at the Green Flash HHH. B>
Re: Shipped fish 3/25/15
Roughly 17 organisms.
<Wow! That's a BUNCH>
70 lbs worth of water, including a few big Angels (6 inches or so)
<... do you have room for all this?>
a few bigger tangs, a few large sponges and a ten inch stop light parrot fish.
<.... a poor choice. Viride's of this size rarely adapt>
All fish with exception of two acting strange came in beautiful.
(Ps this guy, who seems very honest, said with his ups discount, shipped this
order for 340 overnight. But his flat rate shipping of 40 is what saves the
consumer) I could never justify 340 in the fish let along just the shipping.
I highly recommend this guy ( foxy tropicals ) for anyone looking for Caribbean
I read that gorilla article a long time ago, couldn't find it today so that is
why I asked.
<Use the search tool, indices... Guerilla...>
I see some people advocate bag floating for temp acclimating, and dropping fish
in, no dripping. This seems in attempt to not arouse ammonia with rising ph.
What is the green flash? Jersey guy here who doesn't make it out much.
<A local brewery; the Hash House Harriers... we have a monthly run there>
Thanks again for all you do.
<Cheers (and the reading as usual) B>
Re: Bob Fenner ( Quarantining SW Fish)
Good afternoon Bob,
First off I would like to say your website is a wealth of knowledge!
I've done a lot digging on your website and I think I've come up with
hopefully a full proof way of quarantine my new arrivals.
<Let's hear, uh, read it>
Step 1. Float fish in qt tanks to acclimate them to 78 degrees.
<I'd insert a Step 1.5 here: Measure the pH and ammonia concentration of
the shipping water... IF measurable [NH3/NH4OH], see/do the commercial
acclimation detailed in various places on WWM>
Step 2. Prepare FW/ methalyne blue bath.( buffer ph to 8.0, raise temp
to 78-80, add methalyne blue until the bath solution is noticeably blue,
add air stone)
Step 3. Immerse fish in bath solution for 5-10 minutes( shorter time
period for smaller fish ex.clownfish,gobies)
Step 4. Place fish in qt tank (depending on size of fish either a 20 to
55 gallon tank equipped with a seeded sponge filter, heater and PVC for
Step 5. Observe fish for two weeks to insure that there are no diseases
If symptoms occur
Fin and tail rot,popeye -treat with furan 2
Ich and velvet-treat with Chloroquine phosphate
Flukes and worms- treat with Prazi pro
I trying to keep this as simple and effective as possible. Please let me
know of any potential problems or concerns you see with this qt
procedure. I'm more then willing to read but finding specific
information took a lot of digging. Thanks Bob for your insight and
<Heeee! Well, I do wish at times that the universe were so simple,
discrete; but what you have written here is a good general SOP. Bob
Burned Naso; rdg.
Hello. My name is Marco and yesterday I received a Blonde Naso Tang and
a small goby from liveaquaria.com. There was an issue with
shipping that delayed the delivery for 5 hours.
<Oh... too long in the bag... I do hope you read, used the commercial
acclimation SOP posted on WWM... I see below... nope... Ammonia
burned... need/ed to drip matched pH water on till the ammonia was
flushed out of the specimen>
After getting my fish, I acclimated them using the drip method for about 2
hours until S.G. and ph in the bucket was almost a perfect match with
the water in the quarantine tank. Both fishes were looking very good,
the Naso was swimming all over the place and grazing on the live rock.
This morning the Naso does not look as good as he did last night. His
coloration is rather dark with a couple of grey spots near the gill area
on his right side, the caudal fin is not "opened" (for lack of a better
word) as it was last night. He ate some Nori algae soaked in Selcon but
he looks a little weak.
<Shouldn't have offered food this soon>
I should probably mention that about 1 month ago we had a Naso Tang that
we tried to "rescue" from the LFS since he was losing weight and by the
time we bought him he was weak and he died a few days later from what I
thought was HLL disease and also we have kept a Bicolor Blenny in there
for 2 months now and he is doing great.
Water parameters are:
Ammonia: 0 ppm
Nitrites: 0 ppm
Nitrates: 0 ppm
<? How rendered thus?>
Ca: 420 ppm
Mg: 1350 ppm
Alk: 11 dKH
Salinity: 1.025 ppt <Not the right units>
My question is. Is there something I am missing?
<As stated above>
Something I don't know that is particularly important to pay attention
to when keeping Naso Tangs? Or is this "normal" coloration and behavior
for a new fish of this species?
Thanks for your time and advice. I hope you have a great rest of the
If you need pictures or any other info please let me know.
<Let's take my time to refer you: Read here:
Help needed please on how to acclimate in an emergency
situation... delayed shipment 1/1/14
Hello WWM crew and Happy New Year!
<And you Robert>
Thank you for being here all these years and the help you bring. I
am looking for advice for an upcoming emergency situation I will have in
the morning. My recent fish purchase from LiveAquaria was screwed
up in transit by UPS. The shipment went out on Monday 12/30
scheduled for a Tuesday 12/31 arrival. Unfortunately, it got lost
half way across the country and will now because of the holiday arrive
Thursday 1/2 by the early morn. These fish/inverts if still alive
(a Laboute's fairy, a few Anthias and some turbo snails), I assume will
be much much more severely stressed then their usual rough trip.
What is the best way to immediately acclimate them in this type of
extended travel situation?
<See/read here re "long haul acclimation":
I know time is of the essence. Should I still float them and raise
up the temp in the bag first?
<Mmm; no... read and ask further questions if you're unclear on how you
Or is that a bad idea because the O2 has to be about depleted?
Should I immediately drip or even pour a little directly into the bags?
<Definitely not... the sudden elevated pH will too likely kill them
outright... TAKE your time>
The weather has been cold here as well as in the Midwest I believe
where it spent an extra night in the warehouse. I would appreciate
your thoughts. Thanks in advance Bob in NJ.
<Cheers, BobF in SD, CA>
pH Adjustment in Acclimation 8/27/13
Hello crew, I'm going to get some mail-order seahorses soon. Regarding
acclimation, most breeders say to just use a short acclimation
One well-regarded vendor even says to just do thermal acclimation, then
throw the seahorse in your tank.
<I would NOT do this.... Please read here (though I see you know most of
it by reading below):
But I'm a worrywart, and I'd like to do a more thorough acclimation.
<You are wise here>
I imagine they suggest an abbreviated acclimation to reduce the likelihood
of ammonia poisoning. I understand the shipping water will have a low
pH, which detoxifies ammonia. When you mix regular water with the
shipping water, the pH goes up, and the fish get poisoned by ammonia.
Reading on your site, I find the "gold standard" of acclimation to be
mixing pH-adjusted water with the shipping water.
This protects from pH shock and keeps the ammonia from becoming
Bob Fenner's book says "if the pH is not adjusted, the resident ammonia
in the organism's bodies may be converted to ammonium, toxifying the new
life." Actually, isn't that a misprint?
<Yes it is...>
I thought it's mostly ammonium at low pH, and becomes ammonia at high
<This is so>
Also a point of academic interest...that statement implies the internal pH
is largely a function of the pH in the ambient water. Is that true for
fish, or just for inverts?
<Both; less so in fishes, larger organisms>
I thought a fish's metabolism regulated its internal pH, just like for
<Both are to degrees; humans more so than fishes>
And finally my main question...I plan to quarantine the new seahorses in
their own tank for a couple of weeks. The quarantine tank will have a
sponge filter that's been seasoned in the display tank for a couple of
weeks. I can use "pH Down" drops to bring the QT water down to the level
of the shipping water
<Mmm; no; don't do this. ONLY the to-be-mixed acclimation water s/b pH
adjusted. ONCE the ammonia-ium has been flushed out of the mixed water,
pH should be brought back up via drip (to that of your system, QT)>
(I have an electronic pH meter). I imagine the pH will buffer upward
gradually, or I can bring it back up to a normal marine level with water
changes. But if the QT's water is reduced in pH to the low 7's (say),
would that harm the sponge's nitrifying bacteria?
<Yes it would>
I've seen a downward pH adjustment harm biofilters in fresh water, but
that was going from about 7.2 to about 6.5. I don't know how
pH-sensitive marine biofilters are. Thanks for any information you can
<Do please read the above citation; and write back if there are further
concerns. Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Freshwater dip gone wrong for wrasse and Cardinalfish. RMF
post protocol/ppt 8/14/13
I'm writing to see if you have any ideas for what went wrong with my
first FW dip yesterday. Basically, the end of the story is that a
carpenter flasher wrasse died immediately and a Banggai Cardinalfish
died several hours later. Here's what happened step-by-step:
1) Aerated and heated fresh RODI water
<We'll revisit this start water...>
for an hour and added about 1 tsp of baking soda. Waited about 20 minutes
and verified that the pH matched my quarantine tank's (8.0).
<... first has to match the shipping water>
Added Methylene blue until the water was dark blue (might have added too
it was hard to see the fish, one they were in it, without a flashlight,
but I have heard it is hard to overdose; correct if me I'm wrong, but I
doubt this was the fatal step?)
<It is not>
2) Acclimated new arrivals (1 carpenter's flasher wrasse and 2 Banggai
<STOP! What was the pH AND total/ammonia in the shipping water?>
Drip acclimation over 50 minutes with quarantine tank water. Heated the
water in the bucket throughout so that it was always 79F (quarantine
tank temperature) +/- 1 degree. All fish were alive at this point.
3) Placed the fish into the freshwater dip. After one minute, the wrasse
had gone stiff as a board as if he were dead. He was not gilling. I took
him out and put him right into the quarantine tank. He stayed "dead" for
a moment, expelling waste, and then he came to life, swam upside down
across the tank very fast, and then no longer moved. I tried to revive
him (blowing water with a dropper around his gills, then eventually
moving him to a pitcher of tank water and aerating), but he was
4) Meanwhile, the Cardinalfish seemed okay. They had not seemed to be
gilling heavily in the freshwater dip, nor were they swimming upside
down, but I panicked and took them out as soon as I saw the extent of
the wrasse's problems. They seemed to be struggling a bit to keep still
in the tank (they had been shipped overnight from LiveAquaria, so maybe
competing with my single powerhead was a bit taxing, but I'm not sure).
<... a good source/Dr.s F & S... QM...; but hours in the bag... there
was assuredly lowered pH AND elevated NH4/NH3>
5) About six hours later, one of the Cardinalfish was dead. No apparent
injury. The other Cardinalfish is alive, but is very shy, refusing to
leave the dark area of the tank behind my sponge filter, and I just get
the sense that he will soon be dying as well.
Ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate are all undetectable. pH of the tank right
now is 7.9. It's about 30 hours since I acclimated the fish right now.
I'm not sure where I went wrong. I've read a few other stories on WWM
that feature a very sensitive carpenter's flasher wrasse, but I don't
understand why the Cardinalfish was apparently okay before the sudden
death. As far as I can tell, there are three possible explanations.
1) The two fish were just extremely sensitive. Personally, I think the
whole process just stressed the wrasse so much that he couldn't handle
it rather than just any one component, but that doesn't explain the
2) The pH changed significantly between the buffering and the dipping.
(Incidentally, does Methylene blue affect pH?
<Not by itself; no. BUT w/ any agitation, aeration, it will raise DO, pH
more quickly than w/o>
I use color-based test kits for my quarantine tank, so I can't test the
pH with the Methylene added). The Cardinalfish didn't seem to show
symptoms of pH shock (side-swimming, disorientation, heavy gilling).
3) I overdosed the Methylene blue. Should I be buffering and verifying
the pH of the pure fresh water up until the moment before I add the fish
and wait to add the Methylene blue until that moment, or should I be
aerating the FW mixed with Methylene for a longer period of time?
<No/t a problem>
Which of these options is most likely in this scenario?
<That the fishes were "burned" going from their shipping bags into the
too high pH mix/acclimation water. Please do review the Guerilla, aka
Commercial Acclimation pc. here:
The SOP is identical for hobbyists dealing w/ "long/er haul" livestock
I'm at a loss.
If I get new fish, I would probably do the same procedure as above
(although I probably won't dip a wrasse again). I still think
prophylactic freshwater dips are less stressful than the potential of
copper dosing, but I want to make sure I do it right next time, if I
messed something up already. This is the first time a fish has died as a
direct result of something I've done and i feel pretty horrible.
<Please don't be "too hard on yourself"... As you state, small Labrids
are (more) sensitive to handling period; and dip techniques are easy to
confuse. Does (on rereading) the acidification/matching of acclimation
of (flush) water w/ the bag (shipping) water make sense to you? We want
to flush out the ammonia from the mix AND that inside the livestock;
ahead of raising the pH of the acclimation through slow drip water that
is matched w/ the quarantine/isolation>
Thanks for your time. I know you hear this a lot, but your site is the
greatest resource out there on the web for aquarists.
<IF you have suggestions re improvements; please do forward them to me.
Re: Freshwater dip gone wrong for wrasse and Cardinalfish; still too
much noise, confusion
<Chris... due to your prev. and this msg. am decided... to post my
acclimation ppt. presentation on WWM... Spiffed up from giving last wk.
at the UNE Fish Health Conference (and practiced a few times at regional
hobbyist get-tog.s. Watch for it under "New on WWM":
should go up today>
Thanks for your response. I hadn't been aware of the different protocol
for acclimating fish transported for so long--all my purchases so far
have been from a store 30 miles away, so it's never been a problem.
<Correct... "not far away" implies two basic differences: Time in bag,
and relative amount (much larger) water>
Thanks so much for bringing the problem with my short-term method to my
<Am glad... and sorry what we have posted is not clear/er. You are
helping make it so>
I just have a couple questions now about the acclimation procedure after
reading the article. Could you look over this checklist just to check my
understanding of the logistics?
1) Pour system water into a bucket.
<I'd do 3) first, AND check ammonia concentration>
2) Float the bags in tank to adjust temperature. Heat the water in the
<As long as the temp. is within 5-6 F. not a worry>
3) Open the bags and check their pH (use the average value?).
<Use more than one acclimation set up if they are more than 0.1 pH point
3)a Maybe also check ammonia to know what I'm dealing with?
<ABSOLUTELY you should>
4) Adjust the system water in the bucket to the correct (bag water) pH
with something like pH Down.
<Okay; but better to do in "another bucket", container... easier to
stir, make/mix up>
4a) Should I also be trying to match the salinity of the bag water?
<For fishes, not so much... as long as they're a few thousandth's
(0.001) density close. FOR invertebrates, the salinity MUST be close: no
more than 0.001 different.
SOME retailers keep their water MUCH lower... but the better/best
wholesalers, etailers (like LiveAquaria) use close to NSW (near
5) Possibly add Methylene blue to this SW mixture as well and aerate?
<No aeration! Can/will drive pH up too quickly>
6) Drip system water into the bucket until end of acclimation.
<Mmm, no; drip the pH matched water into the bags/or wherever you've
poured them with the livestock; until there's no measurable ammonia
6a) Should I monitor the bucket's pH throughout to determine when to
<Not the pH, but the ammonia>
7) Possibly freshwater dip?
<IF the fish/es appear to be "healthy enough"; otherwise wait for this
till after they've "rested", hardened-up in quarantine; perhaps in
transit to the main/display tank/s>
8) Transfer to quarantine tank.
And finally, would you personally recommend prophylactic FW dips on fish
purchased and shipped overnight like those from LiveAquaria?
<Most fishes, most the time, yes; again, there are exceptions: e.g.
small wrasses, Gobioids, Blennioids...>
It seems to
me that if ammonia was so high and pH was so low in these bags, they are
already incredibly stressed and even a mild mixture of FW and Methylene
blue might push them over the edge in such a state. If I follow this
acclimation procedure next time, do you recommend that I still dip them
at the end of it?
<Keep reading on WWM re dips/baths, acclimation till you understand>
Thanks so much for responding personally, Bob. I really appreciate it.
<Welcome; and thank you. Bob Fenner>
Fish Pickup 4/6/11
Your site is where I turn first for trusted information so I thought
I'd seek your input on a query I have. I tell everyone interested
in the hobby to go here first.
<It is gratifying to realize we are of such help to you>
Here's my quandary: I have ordered three fish for Thursday pickup
at Premium Aquatics in Indianapolis. You may not know the distributor,
but they advertise on your website. Really a stand up, reputable
I feel good receiving my livestock from here.
<Good; I am familiar w/ this co.>
The fish will come in Thursday and I can see them in bags before
Premium Aquatics acclimates the fish to their systems. Is it better to
have the fish acclimated an additional time in order for me to
ascertain their health and appetites?
I am not sure what's worse - acclimating them more than necessary,
which will certainly (understandably) invite parasites from a crowded
system, or choosing to acclimate them to my system straight from the
box. I am not on the hook for the payment - I have the right to see
them before I take them. It's a relatively expensive order - a
Sargassum trigger, a sub-adult queen angel and a 4 line wrasse. That
said, even if it were 3 chromis I would want to ensure their health and
<On "average" (all measures of central tendency) it IS
better to "acclimate longer" for the species listed. Premium
will have the facilities and personnel (knowledge) to mediate pH et al.
differences in shipping water...>
I have the QT tank ready now, and they will be in QT 4-5 weeks, but I
need some direction on what to do when I see the fish fresh from the
Take them home to QT or ask to see them in the dealers' tanks?
<The latter, assuredly>
<And you, Bob Fenner>
Just a quick general question. When introducing a new fish (aka blenny)
to a saltwater tank is it normal for them the hide and breath a little
heavy for the first couple of days?
<Does happen, especially if it was not acclimated properly. Might
was to read here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acclimat.htm
James (Salty Dog)>
Acclimation of Lysmata amboinensis --
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
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
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 !
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
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
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
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 ?
Maybe over an entire day after discarding bag water as quickly as
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
<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.
<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
After this is done (by serial dilution) slowly raising the pH back up
is done ahead of adding them to "normal" system water.
Re: Acclimation of Lysmata amboinensis --
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
Anyways these are my parameters :
Temp constant at 25 c
Alk 8 dKH
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!
Re: Acclimating Lysmata amboinensis, and CP
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
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
How old are Bob Fenner's articles ?
My name is Kent and I live in Sweden. I just read the article
and I am wondering about if it is still current article or too old to
<Is still current... of utility (accurate, significant, meaningful),
though penned in the mid-eighties. Bob Fenner, olde>
Flame angel harem... acclim. f'
Hello there guys and gals of the Crew.
I'm going to attempt a harem of dwarf flame angels. On Wednesday,
I'll be receiving 5 of them, one (hopefully a male) in the
2.5" - 3.5" range and the other 4 (hopefully all still
female) are within 1.5" - 2.5" range.
I have two questions. One, since they will be in different bags of
water, is there any way I can acclimate them all in the same
<Yes... they will be so disoriented from the travel that there
should no obvert aggression in this procedure>
I typically let a bagged fish sit in my QT for 15 minutes to equalize
temperature somewhat, then I dump the bag into a bucket and start a
drip going down into it. Then I take out about half the water in 15
minutes (or whenever the initial water volume seems about doubled), let
it drip again for another doubling of the water volume, then I go ahead
and stick me hand in there, catch the fish and bring it up to the QT.
By the way, I've stopped using mesh nets on any angels or tangs,
way too many problems with either the caudal blade or the gill spine
<Mmm... Please see my combined articles on acclimation here:
If these animals are coming from some time away... more than 12 hours
let's say, you may want to measure pH, match this... see the pc.
Anyway... acclimating 5 flame angels this way I could probably do, but
the other factor is I'm also getting in 4 small convict tangs.
These are all going into my 210 gallon tank, I'm going to try a
different type of setup with not just a bunch of single, big fish, but
instead smaller fish that will interact with each other. I'm not
going to be able to run 9 different buckets to acclimate. Do you think
it's possible to take the 4 tangs, temperature acclimate them, then
dump them all into the same tote and drip acclimate the entire tote at
This will of course mix all their shipping water together at once,
<Again... pls read the articles... I would NOT mix the water IF
there is any measurable ammonia present... NOT at an initially high
but I'm hoping it is all similar enough in parameters that it wont
be hard on them. Same with the angels, drop all five into a tote and
just acclimate the entire tote. Is that doable?
The second question is more personal opinion, I think, but I'd like
yours :) I have this PVC matrix I made up of 3/4" PVC with lots of
elbows and three and 4 way splits. It looks like a jungle gym gone
wild. What it does though is break up line of sight throughout the QT
really well, plus I also have 3 pieces of large PVC sitting at the
bottom that they can swim through and maybe claim as a little
territory. Having no experience with anything more than a single flame
angel, I'm HOPING this works. Do you think it will be possible to
maintain 5 dwarf flame angels in a 29g QT, with one male and 4
<Mmm... I would not likely do this... but instead dip/bath all and
place immediately in the main system. Such small Centropyges are too
easily lost in over-handling>
I have oversized filtration, basically a big emperor filter that is
made for a 55g tank so I'm not too worried about water quality,
I'm just worried that it might be too small of a volume for the
angels. I don't really have any more room for QT tanks, but if you
think 5 small angels will fight too much in a 29g, then I might put 2
tangs in each of my 29G QTs and 2 flame angels in one and 3 in the
other, with the group of three containing the male. This wouldn't
cut down on the bioload in each tank but it would possibly cut down on
aggression. Of course if I do that, 2 of the 5 flame angels aren't
going to be initially introduced into the harem, so I might have
problems when I combine them all in the 210 gallon display.
Your thoughts on this matter would be much appreciated! Thanks for all
you guys do, you've helped a lot in my journey through dumping all
my money into bright little bits of fishy flesh :)
Re: Flame angel harem, quar. f'
Thanks for the reply, Bob. I have read through your acclimation
articles and they make sense.
Let me just verify for my sanity's sake that I understand...
You're recommending a FW dip, which I'm comfortable with doing,
I've done it in the past lots. I take a 5g bucket, fill it with 4
gallons of tap water, treat it with the chlorine/chloramine/slime coat
"stuff" and put in a powerhead. I usually drop in about 3
tablespoons of baking soda to make sure the pH is around 8.2.
<Do match the pH of the shipping water... VERY important... then
slowly raise this up to your quarantine or main tank pH... through
dripping in water.>
I throw in a heater normally near the end so it gets the water to about
75 degrees. Right before I add the fish, I add about 2 ml of formalin,
the 27% formaldehyde variety.
<Mmm, usually 37%... but do take care, add aeration, being eminently
present, observe the livestock during this exposure>
I then take the 5 bags of fish, float them in a tank to get the
temperature up in the bags, then I net out each fish separately and
give them a 2-10 minutes fresh water dip. Then just splash, into the
display tank they go? Does that sound correct?
<For "nearby" purchases, yes... for distal, please see,
follow the "Guerilla Acclimation Techniques" in the article/s
Also, I've heard tangs don't do good with freshwater dips, and
I've heard the same about dwarf angels as well. I'll be
receiving both types, so do you think my fears are unfounded? I
don't want to kill a perfectly good little fish by dipping it.
<Is a matter of guessing, judging about what will be, likely will be
worse/better... the transference of biological disease, or more stress
on the livestock>
I used to do freshwater dips and then I stopped when a harlequin tusk
died during it. Ever since then, I started to use quarantine tanks. If
I'm going right into my display, I would definitely like to do some
type of dip first though.
As always, your thoughts are appreciated.
<Glad to share. BobF>
Multiple Order of Fish, New additions, 5/1/09
I just purchased a medium order of fish/inverts over the internet and
they should be arriving today.
<I would call this list a large order.>
The order consists of the following:
2 - ocell. clowns
1 - 3 stripe damsel
2 - yellow tail damsels
<Plan on lots of aggression with this group, hope this is a large
1 - cleaner shrimp
20 - turbo snails
2 - brittle starfish
5 - sandsifting snails
1 - pincushion urchin
My question is how can I acclimate all these at once?
<Lots of buckets.>
Or should I acclimate each different item in separate containers?
<This is how I would do it.>
FW dipping and acclimation, reading -
02/08/09 Hi guys. I am unable to reconcile Fenner's
recommendation to FW dip with the whole acclimation process (both
described in his book CMA). I take a fish home. OK. Why spend the time
to acclimate to existing tank water only to then dip in FW &
Methylene blue? <A temporary immersion procedure... can be done in
place of, alternative to acclimation into/through quarantine. Is
covered on WWM...> I am in the planning stage--no fish yet. The plan
was to introduce to a QT for observation prior to introducing to the
main tank. Thanks so much for any light you could shed on this.
<Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/acclimat.htm and the
linked files above. Bob Fenner>