The Bag Method

The Pros
  • This method is a gentle, safe and easy way to acclimate your new arrivals whether fresh or saltwater, and usually takes less than an hour to complete.
  • Like the "drip method" your new additions are gradually acclimated to your tanks water parameters. 
  • Fish, corals and inverts can be acclimated simultaneously without the worry of incompatable ones injuring each other.
  • This method requires only the use of the transport bag and a cup/dipper to add your tank water. 
The Cons
  • Most people get impatient and add too much water too quick and end up over doing it.
Acclimation Instructions
  1. Open the bag and pour off just enough to leave the fish completely submerged with water.
  2. Place the bag inside the styrofoam shipping box, this way you can be sure no bag water gets into the aquarium or the tank water gets into the bag.
  3. It is crucial to remember that oxygen can only enter water in the few square inches where air and water are in contact. An airstone in the bag for a few minutes would replenish oxygen depleted by the fish during transport.
  4. If fish are either overpacked or left in the shipping bag for an extended period of time, ammonia/ammonium levels can become very high. The dosing of an ammonia buffer like Amquel or Prime is strongly recommended.
  5. Now scoop out about 1 cup of the tank water, pour it into the bag and wait 10 minutes.
  6. The procedure is the same with freshwater acclimation only instead of adding a 1/2 cup every 5-10 minuets you add 1/4 cup every 5/10 minutes.The water should be allowed to mix for about 5 minutes, then that same amount of water (1/4 cup, for example) should be poured off and discarded. Three or four such additions, five minutes apart, is generally sufficient. The entire acclimation process can thus be completed within twenty or thirty minutes.
  7. Test the pH, salinity, and temperature of the bag water to see if these parameters match that of your tank water.
  8. If parameters do not match continue the process.
  9. Fish should be gently netted from the bag and placed into the aquarium.


There is yet another situation in which acclimation by any method is probably contraindicated. If fish are either overpacked or left in the shipping bag for an extended period of time, ammonia/ammonium levels can become very high. Oddly enough, however, carbon dioxide levels are often elevated as well, and the resulting low pH actually protects the fish by converting deadly ammonia into non-toxic ammonium. If the aquarist then adds water of a higher pH, aerates the water, or even leaves the bag open long enough for that carbon dioxide to escape, the ammonium is converted back to ammonia, and tragedy follows. Such bags of fish should receive no more than a brief period of floating - still sealed - and even that should be cut short if fish show signs of distress.


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