How to do Drip Acclimation for your New Fish

When you first bring your new fish home, there are a couple of things you have to do to make them feel more welcome in their new Your fish in the bagenvironment. Normally, the people at the aquarium place will tell you to float your fish in the bag for a while before you release them into your tank. This is to make the water in the bag reach the same temperature as the water in your tank, therefore when you release the fish, they won't get shocked by the sudden temperature change. However, floating is not always the best thing for your new pets, especially in tanks over 10 gallons. There is another method, which is a little more time consuming, but if you are serious about keeping fish as a hobby and you want them to be healthy and last you a long time, I would recommend taking the time to do Drip Acclimation. It's especially recommended for marine tanks with corals, shrimp, sea stars, etc., but when used in freshwater tanks, it can almost guarantee a 100% survival rate. And yes, you can do this with one, or many fish.

You will need:
-A 5 gallon bucket. (Should be brand new, or the one you exclusively use for your aquarium)
-Enough airline tubing to reach from the bottom of your tank to the bottom of the bucket.
-One airline tubing control valve.
-Airline tubing suction cups or airline holders.
-A fish net

To start, float the bag or bags as you normally would, 15 minutes or so, to get the water temperature even, and in the meantime, prepare your set up. Remember to turn off the lights in the tank.
What you are going to do, is very slowly drip water from your tank to the bucket with the new fish so that they will get acclimated to the conditions of your existing water. Put your bucket next or below the tank and prepare the airline tubing so that one end is in the tank, towards the bottom, secured with a suction cup or an airline holder. The other end should be secured in the bucket, also closer to the bottom. At this point there are two things you can do. You can cut the airline somewhere in the middle and attach it to the control valve, or you can knot the tubing to control the flow of water, but if you are going to be adding fish often, a control valve is more useful and it's really cheap.

Now, take the bag your fish came in, and empty it slowly, fish and all, in the bucket. If it's only one fish and it came in veDrip Acclimation Setupry little water, or it's just not enough water to maintain some water depth for the fish to swim in, you can tilt the bucket 45 degrees to attain that water depth, or you can use a smaller container with the fish and the water from the bag, and start the drip there. Eventually, the water will overflow the small container and then you can remove it. If you have more fish, just empty all their bags and put them together. (Separate invertebrates from fish, though, you have to acclimate them separately)

What you need now is to start a siphon. The way to do this is to suck on the end of the tube going to the bucket to get the water going. Once you do this, you need to control the flow of the water, either by tightening the know or with the control valve. You want to aim for 1-3 drops per second. You need to at least quadruple the water that was originally in the bag. If adding the fish to a 10 gallon tank, (like I said, I wouldn't do it with anything smaller than 10 gallon), drip 2 gallons or 20% of the water into the bucket. Use that as a guide. Just make sure you get about 20%. If you have a larger tank, once the bucket starts filling up, remove half of the water and keep dripping until you get the 20% you need. Obviously, the best time to add your fish would be the day you are going to do a water change, that way you can accomplish two tasks at the same time.

When you are done, take the tubing out and fill your tank with new water, use any water treatment you normally use, as in a regular water change. And now, you are ready to use the net to transfer your new fish to the tank. Throw away the water in the bucket (I use it to water my plants). NEVER mix the water from the bucket with your tank water (you should always discard the water that the fish came in when you buy them).

Some tips to keep in mind

* Make sure that the bucket is not under the air conditioning vent or a fan, or under a window or a hot lamp. You need to make sure the water in the tank and in the bucket are the same temperature.
* Don't panic if your fish appear lifeless for a while, This is normal when the PH conditions of the water change.
* The whole process should take a couple of hours for a 10 gallon tank. That's how slow the drip should be. If it starts filling up faster than that, slow down the drip. Remember 2 or 3 drops per second. Be patient. It will pay off, I promise.
* Some times, your existing tank inhabitants will become aggressive towards the new tank mates when they first arrive, but you can fix this. If only one fish tends to be aggressive, you can use a cheap plastic spaghetti strainer to contain the aggressive fish while the new one gets acquainted with the tank. Make the strainer float on top of the water and put the bully in it. This will give the new boy or girl time to explore and the bully to calm down. You can also use a tank divider or a plastic grid purchased at the hardware store, cut it down to the width of your aquarium, and section off a portion of the aquarium to separate the aggressive fish from the newcomer(s). After a while, you can remove the divider and let them be. Another thing you might try is to leave the light off for the rest of the night, or if it's morning, blackout the tank. That will calm down the inhabitants and they will leave the new guy alone to explore. Don't feed them until at least the next day.

Enjoy your new fish!