When you bring your new animals home, whether from the local fish store or from an Internet vendor, whether it be fish, corals, or other invertebrates, you need to follow some simple steps to make sure your little friends have an easy time adjusting.
Let me say that it is important that you quarantine each animal before introducing them into your display tank. I will not go into the details of quarantining here, as that is a topic for another article. I will say, though, that acclimation into a quarantine tank is the same as that of a display tank.
During shipping, animals are subjected to some extremes in temperature, ammonia, and pH; perhaps even a little starvation. So, by the time you get them home they are no doubt stressed out. These guys are pretty tough, but not many things can handle the stresses that they are subjected to. All of these things may not always directly kill the animal, but failure to acclimate properly can exacerbate the stress, leaving the animal weakened and vulnerable to opportunistic diseases and parasites that can surely kill them.
Each category of animal requires a variation from a very standard them, so I will cover each of them individually. The common theme here, though, is adjust temperature, pH, and salinity so as to make for a smooth transition into their new home. I will identify the process for each of the following types of animals:
To introduce a new fish into your aquarium, following this procedure:
As a side note: If you are introducing a new fish into an established aquarium with other fish, mix things up a bit. Move around some rocks or place a large colorful plastic cup in the middle of the tank. This will confuse the current fish so that they are not likely to take a shot at the new guy.
These animals make take several days to expand fully and show their natural colors. Additionally, the anemones may wander the tank for days until the find the spot they like. This is normal.
Crustaceans, starfish, and snails are extremely sensitive to rapid changes in salinity and pH. Therefore it is necessary to acclimate these animals extremely slow. If improperly acclimated, snails can start to die within hours, and starfish may pop off a leg or two or five in a few days. Sometimes they simply dissolve into star(fish) dust. I wouldn't have believed it, but it happened to me.
To introduce a new coral, clam, or anemone into your aquarium, following this procedure:
I know how anxious you get to see that new animal in your tank. Sometimes it is all you can do to not toss 'em in, flip on the light, and step back and "OOH" and "AAH". Resist the temptation to rush things. If your don't do it right, you could easily lose the animal without ever a single "OOH" or "AAH" and that would be a shame.
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