Drip Acclimation Method

by Jun 19, 20226 comments

Drip Acclimation

It is the process of slowly acclimating your newly bought fish/es, snails, shrimps, etc. from the pet store to your tank water parameters. Your fish is packaged in a plastic bag with water from the pet store. Some pet shops put some oxygen into the plastic bag before sealing it. You may have very different water parameters than the water from the pet store.

The Drip Acclimation method raises the chances of your newly bought faunas surviving the transfer and being as stress-free as possible.

Table of Contents

What is the Drip Acclimation Method?
Temperature Acclimation
How to Perform Drip Acclimation Properly?
DIY or not to DIY?
Video Demonstration
More Tips
Be Observant

If you put your fish quickly in your tank without acclimating them, it may turn out fine, and your fish lives because your water parameters are the same as the water in the pet shop. But in some cases, your fish may die instantly or slowly due to very different water parameters.

Rummy Nose Tetras

Some hobbyists only float the plastic bag with the faunas in it at the top of their planted aquariums, on the water surface. What they are doing is only temperature acclimating them. Where the water temperature inside the plastic bag will align itself with the temperature of your tank water in a few hours or so. What they are not doing is letting their fish have a taste of your water parameters gradually.

Water temperature is just one of the many parameters in a planted aquarium. There are others like pH, KH, GH, TDS, Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate levels. They are discussed thoroughly in this series of articles, go here. Unless they are really sure that they have the same water parameters as their pet shop. So in this article, we will be discussing how to properly acclimate your newly bought fish, snails, shrimps, etc. to your tank’s water parameters and temperature.

Yes, Drip Acclimation does both at the same time, kind of hitting 2 birds with one stone.

How to perform Drip Acclimation properly?

Use a clean plastic acclimation/isolation tank (like the pic below, can be bought from the pet store), or you can use a clean bucket or dipper. Just make sure that your fish have no means to jump or escape. Put the fish in it along with the water from the pet store.

My Drip Acclimation-Isolation Box

My Drip Acclimation-Isolation Box

My DIY Drip Acclimator

My DIY Drip Acclimator

There are drip acclimation products commercially available, you can use it, or you can just DIY it as I did with the above picture using plastic two-way valves and air tubing. Basically, it works by submerging the long end of the air tubing into your tank water and securing it. Now perform a suction on the other end with your mouth.

The end with the two-way valve should be open so that water can flow through it. Once the suction is made, you can now adjust the rate of the water flowing. I usually set it to 1 drop per 5 seconds, then place that end going to the container where your fish are held temporarily, then secure the tube so that the drops of water coming from your tank will fall/drip on your container (to your fish). This is why it is called drip acclimation.

Please watch the video below so you can understand more about Drip Acclimation.

My DIY Drip Acclimator Video Demonstration

You can wait 1-2 hours to monitor your fish and the water level in the container. It might spill if your drop rate is too fast, giving your fish a chance to jump. So carefully set your drop rate to avoid this.

But if you don’t want to DIY this and wants to do it manually, you can use a clean spoon, or a 5-10 ml measuring cup from medicines, or even a syringe (designate it to be used only on your aquarium, don’t use it again for other purposes), get water from the tank, and pour it into your container where your fish are every 3-5 minutes. Do this for an hour or two.

Once you’re finished drip acclimating your fish, net your fish one by one, and put them in your tank. Do not pour the water from your temporary container.

It is also a good idea to transfer your fish when your light/s is off already (if you have existing inhabitants in your tank). Your newly bought fish might be bullied. The dark allows them to hide immediately completely unnoticed.

Like I said above, the drip acclimation method will do both: have your newly bought faunas adjust gradually to your water temperature and other parameters.

This is not to say that I still don’t have casualties. Sometimes the faunas are not healthy in the first place from the pet store which will lead us to the important note below:

Crystal Red Shrimp

Buying faunas from your pet store and observing them first if they are healthy is your job and should be done in the pet shop. Look for signs: dead fish/es in a community tank, lethargic behaviors, ich, fungal infections, algae infestation, visual water quality problems, etc. If you see one of these signs or combinations, point that out to the owner and do not buy those fishes or plants.

Always assume that the whole tank is already infected if you see these signs. This will also show the level of tank neglect and naivety the pet store is doing. It is also possible that they are already too stressed and will not be able to survive the transfer, and will die in a couple of hours.

Whatever they have will certainly be carried over and infect your whole tank. That is also the reason why you should not pour the water from the pet shop into your tank even after drip acclimating. You can request lighting if there are display tanks that have no lighting, so you can observe the faunas better.

If you are buying online, you can request a short video of the tank and fish/es with enough lighting.


In this article, we have discussed the importance of drip acclimation and how to do it properly with DIY materials found in your home. That it can do both: Temperature and the rest of all water parameters acclimation. It raises the chances of your newly bought faunas surviving the transfer and being as stress-free as possible.

We also discussed your important job of observing the faunas for any disease, lethargic behaviors, etc. in the pet shop before you decide to buy them.

Want to Explore More?

Dutch Style Planted Aquariums

This style is characterized by many different assortments of plants and leaf types. Carefully planning and designing a multitude of textures, shapes, and plants’ colors is the main focus. It is much like the terrestrial plants that are displayed in flower gardens.

The Planted Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle

It is easy for a beginner to get too excited to set up their first planted tank, set up the filter and lighting, begin aquascaping, planting, filling it with water, putting the fish in, etc., then meet the consequences.

New Tank Syndrome – this usually happens when you put fish/fishes, snails, and shrimps in almost immediately after setting up your tank, harming the fish/es, snails, or shrimps and can even result in their untimely demise.

Safe Water Sources for our Planted Aquarium

Your water source should be chlorine or chloramine-free at the most basic of things and should have very little unknowns in it. Remember, you cannot test everything in the water, so your water must be clean with little unknown substances. But to add to the confusion, very pure/clean water is also bad for your plants and faunas, which we will explain further.

Dissolved CO2 – The Planted Aquarium Water Parameters

As for all living things, Carbon (C) is essential, including our aquarium plants. The main source of Carbon for plants, whether terrestrial, semi-aquatic, or aquatic, is Carbon Dioxide (CO­2). Terrestrial and half-submerged plants usually absorb an adequate amount of CO2 from the air with their leaves. The average concentration of CO­2 in the air is currently 0.04 % (412 ppm) by volume.

Canister Filters – Types of Planted Aquarium Filters

Canister filters are more powerful and larger than most other filters, and they are suitable for medium to large planted aquariums. This means you can stuff more media due to its larger capacity/volume, which in turn allows for better filtration and more beneficial bacteria colonization. The simple fact is the more volume your filter has, and the more media you can stuff into it, the more effective and efficient your filtration is and the clearer/cleaner your water is.

Hardscape Diorama Style

The Hardscape Diorama Style is still a subset of the Nature Style. The only differences are emphasizing using a lot of hardscapes and building complex nature-like structures such as forests, caves, bonsai trees, canyons, or even fantasy worlds (think Avatar 2009 movie). Building just the structures takes days, weeks, or even a month before even planting.

Dynamic skills should be mainly displayed here to create an illusion of depth, scale, and proportions.


  1. Chester

    Hi Lemoel and good post and good presentation!

    I don’t know a lot about the Drip Acclimation method and thank you for explaining to me, although I still have some doubts about it.
    It was a bit difficult to understand.

    It’s amazing the background and colors on your website. I enjoyed it much!

    I didn’t know that fishes needed diferent water parameters and a “correct” temperature to survive.
    Also I didn’t know that fishes can bully other fishes on the tank.

    Did you make the video yourself? that is very good. Transparency above all.

    You seem to know about the Drip Acclimation method a lot!

    i find really sad that pet shop and store owners sell their fishes sick.

    well I think you did a great job explaining this to us and the video is well made too. Amazing, Keep up the good work!


    • Lemuel Sacop

      Hello Chester,

      Thank you for visiting my website. That is why I made a video on how to properly do it so my visitors can easily understand. Please stay tuned for more articles coming soon. I hope in some way or two, I was able to help you in your decision to keep a planted aquarium in your very own home. I can’t wait what you can come up with and hear about your experiences.

      Yes, I had an experience where the store don’t have any lighting on their display tanks and bought some black Molly fish. Only to find out they have Ich the next day after I drip acclimate them the previous day and put them in the tank. I have to treat my whole tank for 2 weeks for Ich, ugh.

  2. stephanie c.

    Thank you for your video showing me how to properly transition my fish. Reading the directions is not the same as actually watching the video. Thank you for explaining the DIY way because not everyone has the money. I am glad you explained to us to tell the owner if we see the problems you listed, I never would of thought the pet shop could possibly do anything to have unhealthy fish, and I never would of thought to look for the signs. This is probably why many times people buy fish and they die so fast when they bring it home. On top of not properly transitioning them.

    • Lemuel Sacop

      Hello Stephanie,

      Thank you for visiting my website and appreciating this article. Yes, there is really something in videos that hook the audience and impart your ideas more clearly compared to what you had written haha.

      Yes, I had an experience where the store don’t have any lighting on their display tanks and bought some black Molly fish. Only to find out they have Ich the next day after I drip acclimate them the previous day and put them in the tank. I have to treat my whole tank for 2 weeks for Ich, ugh. They recovered but decreases their life expectancy.

  3. Ashley

    Great information. I was always wondering about the best way to do this. I love that you came up with a cheap DIY version because I feel like anything you buy at the pet store is extremely overpriced. I think I can get a two-way valve like that really cheap on Amazon or even at my local Ace HArdware. I am really looking forward to introducing some new fish friends to my aquariums. Also, is there a way to get the pet store water to be able to tell exactly how similar or different it is from the water in my own tank?

    • Lemuel Sacop

      Hello Ashley,

      Thank you for visiting my website and appreciating this post. I am always first and foremost, a DIY man, to gain valuable insights and understand the intricacies of my hobbies or passions. As for your question: you can ask the pet store to test their water parameters or at least show you their most recent test. Or if you have a tester at home, you can test the water that comes with your newly bought fish from the pet shop.

      There are visual water indicators: cloudy, green water, algae infestation, etc. but even if the water is clear, it doesn’t mean it is the same parameters as your tank. Their water source is an indicator too. My pet shop always uses stock tap water, and I am using RO/DI water where I control what I put in it. So, I always assume we don’t have the same water parameters. Another example is deep-well water. While it has no chlorine, deep-well water quality varies greatly from location to location, even if it is just a few blocks away.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

AAPA Logo Final 512x512

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from AAPA.

By clicking this checkbox:

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This