Saltwater aquariums come in all shapes and sizes. Some hobbyists enjoy keeping a fish only tank while others strive to maintain an ecosystem as similar to the ocean floor as possible, called reef aquariums. Although hobbyists who keep reef aquariums usually have a minimal number of fish, each of the hobbyists must appropriately introduce new fish into the aquarium in order to decrease the stress level all of their stock.
Hobbyists should factor in a couple of criteria when selecting fish. For instance, it is important to determine the types of fish that are most likely to successfully coexist with other established tank mates, whether in vertebrates, coral or other fish. And although experienced hobbyists have compiled lists of fish which are compatible or not compatible, it is important to remember that fish, like people, have distinctive personalities. This means that a particular species may react differently than what is indicated when exposed to an unfamiliar environment.
Another factor is the breeding of the fish. In other words, has the stock been bred captive way or was it captured from the ocean. Hobbyists will find that captive bred fish are much hardier and will handle stress better than those fish who were snatched from the ocean and introduced to an unfamiliar environment.
Acclimating your new fish to the tank requires a few steps. Although it’s not a requirement, it is highly recommended that all marine animal life be quarantined in a separate aquarium for two weeks to reduce the possibility of introducing diseases and parasites to the entire tank. Your first step is to turn off the aquarium lights and dim the lights in the room where the shipping box will be opened. This will lessen the stress or trauma that can result from sudden exposure to bright lights. If the fish were purchased from a local store the room lights won’t need to be dimmed.
Float the sealed bag in the aquarium for 15 minutes without opening. This allows the water inside the bag to adjust slowly to the temperature of your individual aquarium. After 15 minutes cut the bag open just under the tie and rolled the top edges down to create an air pocket within the lip of the bag. This will help the bag to float on the surface of the water without tipping. Add one half cup of aquarium water to the bag and repeat every four to five minutes until the bag is full.
Take the shipping bag out of the tank and discard half the water. Floated in the aquarium again and add one half cup of water every four minutes until the bag is full again. Remove the filled shipping bag, net the fish and throw out the water so you aren’t releasing water from another tank directly into your aquarium.
This process takes patience but the total time should take no longer than one hour. Follow the procedure even if the new arrival appears to be dead. Keep the lights off for at least four hours after the new fish has been introduced to the aquarium.
In some cases the new arrival will be bullied by another fish in the tank. The solution should be to contain the bully within the aquarium until the new arrival adjusts to his surroundings, and not the other way around. You might use a perforated basket or a floating tank inside the aquarium to contain the bully.
When introducing new fish to the tank provide plenty of hiding places, which can include rocks, plants or other shelter areas. This can reduce aggression from other fish and will also reduce the stress in the aquarium. Excellent water conditions are vital to ensuring a healthy environment during the introductions of new fish to the aquarium.
It is always best to introduce more than one fish at a time. This is because it reduces the chance of one particular individual being singled out and harassed. Feed your aquarium prior to any introduction which will help to reduce aggression towards any new tank mates. Prior to adding new fish into an established tank attempt to rearrange the decorations to distract the existing fish and remove any established territories. This will place the new fish and the existing tank mates on equal ground as new territories are developed by all.
If the aquarium is not fully covered on top it is strongly recommended that you do so with screens are barriers. Fish who are stressed, disoriented or being chased will sometimes leap from the aquarium and can get through surprisingly small openings. The first night the fish are home is probably the riskiest.
Sometimes the fish can become so aggressive that they will severely injure another fish. If it becomes necessary to break up a fight start by using nets or pokers is to separate and distract the fish that are acting aggressively. If this is not helpful it may be necessary to capture the aggressor and isolate them for several hours.
While acclimating the fish to the correct water temperature, pH and salinity of your tank may take just an hour the full acclamation and adaptation to a new environment probably takes days or even weeks. The new fish will need both to seek cover an assert itself when necessary and be able to acquire enough of food to sustain life and thrive. Although some may begin feeding soon after release others may hesitate. It might initially be necessary to provide food for them away from where other fish are feeding. You can try feeding in multiple places within the tank rather than as a single location. Properly fed fish will not appear as having slim musculature were sunk in the bellies which can happen when a new fish is introduced to the tank and must fight for their food.
Acclimating a new fish to a saltwater aquarium takes a bit of time and effort to ensure the health and well-being of all the fish involved. However, with a little bit of planning and perseverance a hobbyist should be able to introduce fish who are compatible without too much trouble.