Drip Acclimation Method
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.
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.
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 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:
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.