Acclimating fish - have I lost the touch?

JoshP12

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When I first acclimated fish I would float the bag, cut off the top, clamp it, then slowly add tank water and then after an hour or so plunk in the fish - everyone lived and was happy.


I recently got a co2 system - all of my fish in the system adjusted fine (I tuned it up to a green drop checker slowly). The other day, I added 6 Amano’s and was extremely distracted (and perhaps showered with bravado of my previous successes) and had poor tank quality (high tds) - shocked them, killed them almost instantly.

Since then, I cleaned up the tank and stabilized everything - got my drip acclimatize + a tds meter. I acclimated the water to the same tds as the tank (and temp). I spotted all Amanos (4 in total) and only 3/4 neons last night.

Note: I added the fish mid-Ish co2 cycle and they seemed ok with the transition.

Today, I lost 2 neons and only spotted 2 Amanos.

My question: do co2 users do something different when acclimating fish to their “established” tanks?


My thought: it seems that the more I learn, the more I think people pick their hardscape, pick their plants, and pick their fish (after several years of mistakes) all to suit the right parameters etc. They set up the hardscape, plant densely, flood the tank, set up the co2 starting it slowly while monitoring algae growth and start with low lighting. Add ALL the fish they want (use pre-cycled media that can combat the off-gas of the substrate or wait for the mini-cycle to finish then add the fish - with the low co2 levels).

Then just practice husbandry of the plants and tank - and feed the fish.

Then make several minor mistakes and rinse and repeat and optimize?

I suppose we have to make the big mistakes first :)?

Oh ya, and how do I prevent this from happening in the future? What is the conventional practice for acclimation of co2 injected tanks?

Also, some of the plants I added have started melting (the leaves became transparent).
 
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alto

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Note: I added the fish mid-Ish co2 cycle and they seemed ok with the transition.

Today, I lost 2 neons and only spotted 2 Amanos.
When adding fish to a CO2 aquarium, I always consider fish needs first - healthy plants (or even slightly healthy plants) are far more able to manage a day without lights and CO2 - than shop fish dropped into 20-30 (or even higher) ppm CO2 :eek:

Fish purchase is a pretty stressful journey for fish - especially as in Canada you’re unlikely to be buying from a shop that has any sort of quarantine area for new shipments ... if fish get an “overnight rest” from bright lights/nets/crazy activity they are lucky (most shops won’t sell fish directly upon arrival ... well, except for the Big Box shops)

Even if fish has been at the lfs for several days, it has not really acclimated at a biochemical level to the possibly very different conditions (than the supplier, which may also be significantly different than the aquafarm, and while some suppliers will not ship fish that have not been in for at least 2 weeks, other suppliers will ship out newly arrived fish), then it is chased about daily by nets, possibly stressed by unsuitable community inhabitants, then netted itself, bagged, transported to a completely new environment

This is the point at which every hobbyist (finally) has some control over the process

1) optimally clean water ie do your water changes the day before new additions, not the day after!

2) dim lights - ambient or just visible tank environs

3) optimum oxygen levels (stressed fish really appreciate this, especially as they may have some/significant compromised gill function re shipping stress, ammonia, sudden increases in external parasite levels (think of fish as having low (completely manageable) levels of many potential parasite, bacteria etc before beginning their Grand Travels))

4) CO2 off (even if oxygen is maximized, stressed fish prefer to avoid the CO2 Challenge)

5) pre-fed tankmates so that RUSH to investigate is quickly tampered by an ohhhh nothing going on here response by existing tankmates
(I never feed new arrivals for 12-24h)

6) float bag (which has been kept in a dark, vibration free place) ~10 min to temperature equilibrate

7) slowly add water by drip method or whatever, over some time interval, until tank water has basically replaced lfs water, then net fish and add to tank - if you follow this method, products such as Stress Guard or 5X dose Prime etc can mitigate stress conditions (note, dilute the Prime etc into the water being added, rather than dumping onto fish)
BUT studies have shown that fish are highly stressed during this version of (7)
I never add foreign water to my aquarium ;)

OR

7) quickly pour off fish into net (I use a container such that fish remain in water except for the very least time required - if you buy Sundadanio species this is very important) and place in tank, allowing fish to swim free at their own pace
For shrimp, I just leave the net in place in the aquarium until shrimp have climbed out - usually overnight
(in the morning there will be an assortment of shrimp in the net, I just slowly lift net)

Note I don’t add new fish to a community tank, they are always quarantined for some weeks
I check bag parameters using test strips, if necessary I’ll adjust the quarantine tank water parameters to “match”
In case of toxins, I’ll move fish out as quickly as reasonable
When these are the first inhabitants going into a planted tank, I may add fish directly IF I’m convinced they have no health issues (I prefer not to medicate in planted tanks)

(I probably missed a step )
 

alto

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I lost 2 neons
Inspect the rest very carefully for external parasite symptoms - first indication is increased respiration, some decrease in activity - monitor for “white spot” (as this is found (in low - or higher - levels) in something approaching 90% of shipped fish; some species are fairly resilient, others seem to have minimal defences)

They are other pathogens which proliferate in gill tissue, but ich is usually responsive to treatments, so it’s a good place to begin
 

JoshP12

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@alto,

Thanks for all the replies!

How long does the co2 stay off for? If I was to add the fish at night when the co2 turns off and the ph has gone back up, would that be sufficient until the next day, or would I have to reduce co2 levels for a week or so slowly ramping it back up?

I remember reading a post by ceg that said plants take several weeks to adjust to lower co2 levels due to a protein they need to create — does that mean that during the acclimation process, I will be more susceptible to algae? Those fish were ok for 1 day, in fact one has lived the whole thing - but I think a gradual slow increase is best (but how long)?

Josh
 
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Kalum

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not saying it is right or wrong, but this is what works for me (using c02) and not had an issue with any fish or shrimp yet *touch wood*

  • minimum 50% water change on morning of new arrivals, co2 left as is but mine is only slight lime green so not excessive
  • make sure chihiros doctor and surface skimmer are running 24/7 to maintain oxygen levels
  • transfer fish/shrimp and bag water into small container (some of the bag water removed to make sure it is under 1/5 of container volume)
  • if they have been in the bag for a while i use a tiny drop of seachem prime to stop any ammonia spikes in the small water volume
  • container placed on the floor in front of tank with a small heater set to tank temp and airline tube set up for drip acclimation
  • drip acclimate until water reaches 1:3 ratio of bag water to tank water (usually aim for 2-3 hours)
  • net and transfer into tank
 

Conort2

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I make sure co2 is off for that day if I remember to do so. If not I turn off once the fish arrive and ensure a lot of surface agitation to get rid of any co2. I then float the fish for around 10/15 minutes bet them out and remove the bag and water. Sometimes I do this even quicker. I feel it’s more stressful to leave them in a bag. Have never had any losses with this method.

cheers

Conor
 

Zeus.

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All depends if I got them from the LFS or through post.

If LFS i normally just pop them straight in and plan it whilst CO2 is off, then run tank as normal.

If through post I float the bag in tank 10-15mins then pop them in tank whilst CO2 is off, then run tank as normal.

Though post more likely to lose one or two OFC
 

jaypeecee

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If LFS i normally just pop them straight in and plan it whilst CO2 is off, then run tank as normal.
Hi @Zeus.

I can only assume that the LFS water and your tank water are very similar in terms of temperature, GH, KH, TDS and pH. Otherwise, osmotic shock (just one example) could harm the fish. Or, that the fish you are buying are not those that would be considered 'sensitive', e.g. German Blue Rams or Discus. I think it would be very unwise to "just pop them straight in" in a lot of cases. Very unwise indeed.

JPC
 

Zeus.

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I can only assume that the LFS water and your tank water are very similar in terms of temperature, GH, KH, TDS and pH.
Correct

that the fish you are buying are not those that would be considered 'sensitive'
Correst again.

Howerver 25years ago when I did have Discus and apart from 10-15mins in bag in tank thats all they got and they was fine. The days before internet and online shopping.

How do these species survive a sudden downpour in the wild when there can be a big change in GH, KH, TDS and pH.
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
Howerver 25years ago when I did have Discus and apart from 10-15mins in bag in tank thats all they got and they was fine. The days before internet and online shopping.
I've always been a fan of a <"fairly quick transfer from bag to tank">.
My original rationale was that the water in my tanks is going to be a lot lower in ammonia and higher in oxygen than the bag water, so I'm going to aim to get the fish into better quality water as soon as possible.
cheers Darrel
 

jaypeecee

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How do these species survive a sudden downpour in the wild when there can be a big change in GH, KH, TDS and pH.
Hi @Zeus,

I would expect the rate of change of these water parameters to be much slower with a sudden downpour than a 2 litre bag suddenly being emptied into a 50 litre+ tank. That's just my hunch. But, more to the point, I was concerned that a less experienced fishkeeper than yourself may read your "pop them straight in" method then wonder why their fish were doing the back crawl!

JPC :)
 

Conort2

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You even have certain species like some corydoras which release a toxin that can harm themselves if it is not properly released from the fish before they’re bagged.
 

Zeus.

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I would expect the rate of change of these water parameters to be much slower with a sudden downpour than a 2 litre bag suddenly being emptied into a 50 litre+ tank.
Yes and no IMO - I was was fishing on the river Lawrence in Canada with my son the river is really wide and deep, it was really hot so we would take a swim and the water was pretty warm near the bank as you would expect, swim out a few meters and it soon get pretty cold in the main flow, also fished some smaller rivers in the UK and heavy rain upstream and there can pretty quickly have a big increase in flow and the water level increase a couple of feet, so my train of thought is fish are much hardier than we think as they tackle these sudden changes in nature on daily basis or just when there is a downpour.

But using a drip feed is always a safer bet OFC but never used one, do scoop some water from tank into bag and if fish seem fine scoop a bit bit more etc etc then release, never had a fish go belly up on release, pale and hide most of time but think we would all be a bit pale if in a bag ;)
 

SRP3006

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Hi all, I've always been a fan of a fairly quick transfer from bag to tank
I've always been curious of the logic behind leaving a fish in a bag, stressed and swimming in its own waste, whilst we fiddle about connecting a drip. Spend 20min equalising temp for the temp to drop whilst the fish is being slowly acclimatised to the tank water...........

That thread is a great read and quite an eye opener for me.
 
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I've always been curious of the logic behind leaving a fish in a bag, stressed and swimming in its own waste, whilst we fiddle about connecting a drip. Spend 20min equalising temp for the temp to drop whilst the fish is being slowly acclimatised to the tank water...........
I've myself always wondered why people equalize temperature during acclimation...The fish is either in too cold water or too hot water. Putting it quickly into a tank with appropriate temperature will be the best choice. Having said that, during a water change I've happened to drop the temperature from about 26-27C down to 20C without ill effect or even a notion of such.

In terms of acclimating in a bag? If one acclimates, it should never be in a bag, because of the lack of surface area for oxygen exchange and the small volume of polluted water subjected to chemical reactions immediately upon opening, creating a toxic environment.

But, more to the point, I was concerned that a less experienced fishkeeper than yourself may read your "pop them straight in" method then wonder why their fish were doing the back crawl!
I used to drip acclimate in a dark covered bucket. I never lost a fish either during, after or weeks or months, or whatever standard safety period after the event. Then I changed to the "pop them straight in" method, and I didn't lose a fish either during the event, days, weeks or even years after introduction. Both methods work just fine. The point is not to expose the fish to any further stress during and after acclimation....Waving the plastic bag inside a tank where other fish come over to poke at it, lights on, fish half suffocated inside,lack of swimming space , etc..is the worse you can do really in terms of acclimation.

Generally, the chances are it is the receiving tank's water that is not fine when one experiences deaths soon after introduction. Even weak, sick and stressed fish can be "remedied" with a pristine water quality, plenty of subsequent water changes, high quality food and non-stressing tank setup and inhabitants. The only exception is high CO2 concentrations in which case even a healthy fish can die as different species have different tolerances and some just can't adapt to certain CO2 levels.
 

SRP3006

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I've myself always wondered why people equalize temperature during acclimation...The fish is either in too cold water or too hot water. Putting it quickly into a tank with appropriate temperature will be the best choice. Having said that, during a water change I've happened to drop the temperature from about 26-27C down to 20C without ill effect or even a notion of such.
To be honest, I've always done that as it seems to be the accepted/recommended process. But when I think about it I always purposely drop the water temp in my tank now during water changes. In previous tanks it brought on breeding, I'm not saying its the same thing, just saying maybe fish aren't quite as sensitive as we have been led to believe in terms of fluctuations.
 
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I'm not saying its the same thing, just saying maybe fish aren't quite as sensitive as we have been led to believe in terms of fluctuations.
They are sensitive to water temperature outside their tolerated level. We're talking water either too hot or too cold, i.e below 20C for some tropicals or above 30C. If fish are in a temperature they can't tolerate, they'll go into shock, fainting literally. So why would one not just grab said fish and plop it in a tolerated level temp tank instead of slowly bringing the temperature within normal levels, prolonging their torutre? It's the difference between life and death for that fish. Apart from that, fish can tolerate sudden temperature changes as long as they are within their tolerated levels to support bodily functions, even if the temperature itself is not ideal long term.
 

JoshP12

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I want to thank everyone for these responses; I also have an update.

It seems that I left out a variable - by accident - but when I noticed the fish were fine after adding them in, I had upped my CO2 to start earlier (and in my lack of patience because I wouldn't be home to monitor and figured it would be fine - big mistake) I increased the start time by 2 hours (my drop checker was NOT green when lights had come, I experienced a tiny speck of algae and instead of cutting the leaf, or letting my tank balance with patience, of course, I reacted (another mistake).

So Day 1: fish were fine (as we know).
Day 2: I came home and noticed the new additions dead (I attributed this to my error).
Day 3: 3 more of my population died (this was CO2 poisoning before the lights came on - I am certain of it). At this point, I reduce my CO2 to 2.5 hours to come on before the lights (which is only 30 minutes later than before - this should have been my FIRST move in 1 week after the fish were settled and if the algae got worse, I should have cut the leaf -- please advise, if this is correct).
Day 4 (today): 2 more casualties. :(

So, 2 neons left, 1 amano that I can find; my 2 rainbow goby's survived ... they are out more than ever o_O.

I really need to know what the appropriate next steps would be here, if anyone can chime in.

@Kalum, I like this strategy and I think my fish would have survived had I not upped the turn on time.
@Conort2, when do you turn the CO2 back on?
@Zeus. Does this mean you add fish AFTER the photoperiod and CO2 cycle is done (so the run the tank as normal refers to giving the fish about 12 hours of regular time, then the regular safe exposure after --> should a healthy fish be able to handle this?
@dw1305, the reason I acclimated was because in my previous attempt I killed them in a near drop in approach (but this was entirely my tank waters fault as @sciencefiction mentions with the pristine water conditions).
@jaypeecee in the event that water parameters are similar, then can you just plop in after temp acclimate -- or omit the temp acclimate?
@sciencefiction -- is a dark bucket the way to go? Does the light stress the fish? What about the temp drop from the bucket to room temp and then when you splash them in after? It seems that the temp (as long as in ideal range) isn't a huge issue?


Again thank you to all - I appreciate it immensely.

It seems that we have 2 camps:
1) plunk immediately, provided your tank is pristine, the fish will be better off this way to minimize the acclimation stress.
2) drip acclimate to TDS etc

My leftover question is with the CO2:
1) Do we turn it off or leave it on?
2) If we turn it off, when do we turn it back on?

Is the ideal answer to:
1) water change the day before to give pristine tank conditions,
2) plunk into a dark tank after CO2 is off, give them a day, hope your CO2 levels are safe (as demonstrated by your other fish who you have NOT marathoned to tolerate 65 ppm CO2 +)? ONLY IF the GH/KH/PH is close together (what does this mean 1degree?)
3) If the water chem is NOT close, then we need to drip acclimate until it is.

ext: should we go as far to reduce CO2 levels and slowly raise over a week (but then we spark algae problems?) ---- perhaps I should have got my ideal CO2 injection with the fish I had AND THEN add the next ones ...
 
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