The easiest way to have the parameters of the water your new organism is sitting in match your tank’s parameters is easy to do. Simply take your new critter, empty it and the water it is traveling in, into a bucket or small tank. Next take a piece of airline tube which most everyone has hanging around in abundance and start a syphon from your main tank to the bucket where the new coral or fish was just emptied. Then just tie a simple knot in the airline tube to slow the syphon down to 30-40 drops a minute. Put simply, this will slowly make the water in the bucket match your tank over the next 30-45 minutes. Just make sure that your bucket has enough volume to handle this and won’t overflow. It is also sometimes a good idea when acclimating fish this way to have a piece of 2-3″ PVC in the bucket so that they have something to hide in and feel more secure.
Step 2-Medicate and Dilute
Not knowing the water that came with your organism means that you don’t know what medications might have been used where you bought it. Typically the water corals and inverts come in is safe, but many times fish are kept in a tank treated with copper or other medication which could potentially kill most inverts in your reef tank. To dilute this medication to a safe level, simply take the coral or fish from bucket 1 to bucket 2.
We also like to treat any of the inverts with some form of coral “medication” like a Coral Rx, Interceptor, or the like to make sure we aren’t introducing any pests like Acropora Eating Flat Worms (AEFW), Montipora Eating Nudibranchs, Red Bugs, or a variety of others! To do this we add one extra step adding a second bucket with water from our tank next to the one that has been dripping. Once the bucket with the fish or invert is acclimated to our parameters, we like to add the coral or other medication to this second bucket and move the organism to that for 10-15 minutes. Once that time has elapsed, we usually feel safe that the coral or fish is acclimated to our water parameters and that any hitchhiker that was on a coral or rock should be sufficiently stunned that one of our wrasse will pick them off as it gets placed in the tank.
Good, Better, Best-Quarantine For Success
We can’t stress enough how important this process can be to introducing healthy corals and fish to your home reef environment. After all, the last thing we want to do is bring something home and kill it. Most times, the percentage of fish and corals that even make it to a local fish store are small in comparison to what is originally harvested from the oceans. This is also a great reason to look at purchasing sustainably raised fish and corals where you not only know the parameters above before you say go, but you also can find out important information like optimal lighting and flow that the organism thrived in before you purchase it and bring it home.
A great addition to the above process is to add a small tank to your ecosystem that is NOT plumbed into your main display tank and can thus serve as a hospital, observatory, or more commonly termed “Quarantine Tank.” Many people will see this as an elaborate extra step, but it can be an invaluable tool that acts as a buffer between the potentially pest and disease ridden water you bring home in a bag, and the pristine reef that you keep in your living room. Your choice, but in this case a little extra work really does go a long way!
Do you use a similar practice when you introduce new things to your reef tank? We would love to hear your version of acclimation.