How to Acclimate Fish into your aquarium for a 100% success rate!
Fish, especially ones for Nano aquaria, tend to be delicate. When healthy, they are robust and entertaining to watch. It is your objective to as safely as possible acclimate your fish into your aquarium so you can avoid suffering through significant fish loss - and nothing's worse than getting excited about that great new, maybe rare, fish only to have a mass die-off within 24-48 hours.
In this case, I had my fish shipped to me - it's often difficult to get great nano fish at Local Fish Stores, usually due to demand and their extra handling requirements.
The first thing you should bear in mind, is that whether you're taking them home from the LFS or if you've got them shipped in, those little guys are going through an insane transition period right now and are likely stressed out.
Imagine if you were plucked from where you're sitting now, got wrapped up in a giant translucent box and immediately started to get transported, only able to get the faintest glimpses of your surroundings. Rocking back and forth, starting and stopping as the transportation process begins.
You'd probably be freaking out or stressed -just- a little bit, no?
It's okay though - the fish you're bringing home are going to a great new home in a Nature Aquarium that is as close to perfect conditions for them as possible (side note: always make sure your Ammonia levels read 0 before adding fish).
Preparing Your Aquarium Checklist
1. Turn off your Co2 - these fish aren't adapted to Co2 conditions yet at worst, at best they come from tanks that have Co2 but are too stressed to handle it.
2. Lift your lily pipe or outflow pipe for additional aeration into the water to get more oxygen going.
3. Get a 5 gallon bucket ready for the fish
4. Have a long piece of airline or co2 tubing available - such as the tubing that comes with an ADA Clear Parts or Gray Parts Set.
5. Have your fish net handy - a soft net, such as one used to get trimmings out of an aquarium is the best to use. These soft nets are best for dealing with the extremely small size of the fish and their scales without damaging them. Any net that's even a little bristly to the touch you should avoid. Stick to one that is 100% soft and smooth.
, you should have a 5 gallon bucket on hand (you should always have one for your aquarium maintenance duties - life savers!), gently pour the water from the bag into the bucket - the fish should slide gently with the flow of the water into the bucket.
you're going to want to begin to drip acclimate
the fish so that they can adapt to the new temperatures and water conditions of your aquarium.
Drip acclimation is easy - take your piece of airline tubing, place one end in the aquarium such as depicted here:
Now, before you begin the siphon, tie a loose knot into the end of the airline tubing that is going into the bucket - just a very basic loop is all that's necessary.
Begin the siphon and, once water flow begins, tighten the knot vigorously and this will slow the water flow down to a drip.
Example of a tightened knot
Once the dripping has commenced, sit back and relax and wait for the water in the aquarium to be drained to a level where the outflow is breaching the water's surface like so:
As soon as the water level reaches this point, stop the siphon by removing the airline tubing from the aquarium and drain the remainder of the water in the tubing into the bucket.
Your water volume should now be roughly 60% water from your aquarium and 40% water from the original bag containing the fish.
If it isn't, you may need to add some more water from the aquarium.
The next step for you to take
is to sit back and relax! place an airstone into with an airstone attached to an air pump into the bucket
This keeps the water nice and oxygenated for the fish.
Meanwhile, go take a nap, watch some TV, surf the internet, whatever for about 45 minutes and let the fish get accustomed to the new water.
After the 45 minutes is up,
take your fine fish net and catch the fish from the bucket and place them into the aquarium. NEVER add the water from the bucket into the aquarium! This will release built up ammonia or contaminates from other aquariums into yours.
Once all your fish are into the aquarium, they should at this point have faded coloration and some may even appear white. This is normal - they're still getting acclimated.
***Make sure to keep your Co2 Off*** Do not turn on your Co2 until the next day and maintain the water level where it is.
Keep the Co2 Turned off until the next day and maintain the water level at this point
5-10 minutes later
the fish should be colored up and happily eating!
Small Nano fish particularly enjoy really small granule fish foods - such as ADA's AP-1 Fish food. They tend to devour this stuff fairly quickly.
In the end, 15-20 minutes after initial placement into the aquarium, the fish should be happily dancing around, colored up and enjoying the new setup you've got going:
Feed the fish 1-2 times a day, in small doses, only to the extent which they will eat within 30 seconds. Every 30 seconds for 1-2 minutes you may add a little bit extra, so long as they continue to eat. Don't overfeed - as this will lead to an algae outbreak.
Hope you've enjoyed the Nano Fish Acclimation Guide!
P.S. Feedback is always appreciated if the post brings you value! Make sure to ask me with specific questions.