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Old 01/12/2011, 11:22 AM   #1
Sk8r
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Death in bags...acclimation fatality: why it happens

WHY should a creature 2 days in a bag alive suddenly die when the bag is opened?: poop. Respiration. In shipped livestock, or during a trip home from the store, the waste from the fish/invert hits the water and you have ammonium and co2 in that water. The moment you open the bag, you release the co2 and ph climbs. This ph change converts the harmless ammonium in the water to deadly ammonia. The longer the fish is exposed to ammonia (remember it's drinking it as well as breathing it) the more damage its internal organs take. Too long in the opened bag and the fish takes too much damage to live very long.
--------
First, you should know (phone) at what salinity your shipper ships certain livestock. They'll tell you. You should have a qt tank ready AT THAT SALINITY if you've got a fish. You can put inverts straight in.
----------
Step 1: DO NOT OPEN THE BAG. Float it for 15 minutes. This handles temperature.
Step 2: open bag and test the water to be sure you were told accurately. AS OF THIS EXACT POINT (look at the clock) YOU HAVE 30 minutes OR LESS to get that critter to a qt tank, if fish, or to your tank, if invert, and to dip it and set it safely on the bottom of your tank if coral. Remember acclimation is all about salinity. Be accurate. Be fast. If salinity matches within .001, that fish is good to go into that qt water. Instantly as you open the bag if you've got a near match!
Full procedure given here: http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1939508


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Salinity 1.024-6; alkalinity 8.3-9.3 on KH scale; calcium 420; magnesium 1300, temp 78-80, nitrate .2. Ammonia 0. No filters: lps tank. Alk and cal won't rise if mg is low.

Current Tank Info: 105g AquaVim wedge lps reef: 3 firefish, yellowhead jawfish, yellow watchman, 3 chromis, tailspot/starry blennies, pink margin fairy wrasse, mandarin, kalk, radion pro, gyre, Eshopps s-200 skimmer, basement sump.

Last edited by Sk8r; 01/12/2011 at 12:56 PM.
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Old 01/12/2011, 11:51 AM   #2
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wow thats really good info. i usually did an hour from the time i floated them to them swimming in the tank(i dont do corals). im glad you put this up.

thank goodness mt fish are all ok and swimming like tangs to this day(3 fuzzy lions, marine betta, ghost eel, cockatoo waspfish)

another great set of info from Sk8r

matt


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Old 01/12/2011, 12:19 PM   #3
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Really only 30 minutes? I usually acclimate for almost a hour too, no matter what and ha ent lost that way yet. Fish, corals, nems I do them all this way. Only difference is I add about two cups of tank water every twenty minutes or so to mix in.


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Old 01/12/2011, 12:49 PM   #4
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A lot of factors are in play: how long the fish has been in the bag: (shipping is the worst), relative amount of water, how cold the bag got (cold slows chemistry, heat speeds it). Your 2 cups of tank water are diluting the ammonia pretty fast, but they're also changing the salinity pretty fast.

Ammonia is lethal, and if your fish gets too high a dose, it will assuredly die. The longest, slowest and most careful acclimation in bag water is apt to be the very deadliest---and frequently the lament is: "BUT---I acclimated it for an hour!--[two hours!] ---etc.

Your own circumstances may have kept the fish alive, but it was in spite of the situation, rather than because you took extra long, and the fish would have come in happier had it gone directly to safe water.

There are a lot of health complaints around introducing new fish: "My new fish won't eat." Not having drunk ammonia for 10 minutes today might make a difference.
"None of my fish survive quarantine." ---It's very likely not your quarantine tank at fault: it's not getting your fish into it fast enough.
"My fish seems stressed and listless." Yep.

It's a case of killing a fish with kindness. Shorter is better. Most things are better than ammonia.


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Salinity 1.024-6; alkalinity 8.3-9.3 on KH scale; calcium 420; magnesium 1300, temp 78-80, nitrate .2. Ammonia 0. No filters: lps tank. Alk and cal won't rise if mg is low.

Current Tank Info: 105g AquaVim wedge lps reef: 3 firefish, yellowhead jawfish, yellow watchman, 3 chromis, tailspot/starry blennies, pink margin fairy wrasse, mandarin, kalk, radion pro, gyre, Eshopps s-200 skimmer, basement sump.
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Old 01/12/2011, 01:01 PM   #5
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FWIW, right after I open the bag, I add it to an acclimation bucket and put a few drips of Sechem Prime and a full glass of the tank water. The Prime will eliminate ammonia in the shipping water. Never try and oxygenate the water before using something to get rid of the ammonia as it will further cause a PH spike. I use the drip method with any/all fish going into QT, however I only do this for 40-60 minutes. There have been times when a fish did not ship well and looked terrible in the bucket; so I immediately removed it to the clean water of the QT without any noticeable health issues to the fish.


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Old 01/12/2011, 02:08 PM   #6
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yep. Drip acclimation is a needless hardship on the fish if you're close enough in salinity. All that's being done by that process is holding the fish in ammonia'ed water. There IS no other reason for drip acclimation than approximation of salinity, and the instant that is close enough, move the fish. Since the salinity of the bag is knowable, there is just no sense in drip acclimation at all. Set the qt to match, and put the fish straight into qt after a 15 minute closed-bag float.


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Salinity 1.024-6; alkalinity 8.3-9.3 on KH scale; calcium 420; magnesium 1300, temp 78-80, nitrate .2. Ammonia 0. No filters: lps tank. Alk and cal won't rise if mg is low.

Current Tank Info: 105g AquaVim wedge lps reef: 3 firefish, yellowhead jawfish, yellow watchman, 3 chromis, tailspot/starry blennies, pink margin fairy wrasse, mandarin, kalk, radion pro, gyre, Eshopps s-200 skimmer, basement sump.
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Old 01/12/2011, 02:19 PM   #7
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I follow the fish sg acclimation, but what's the variance with inverts as it applies to getting them into your water? They are much more susceptible to shock due to other parameters than sg, hence needing the drip? No? Thanks!


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Old 01/12/2011, 02:33 PM   #8
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Wow - you learn something new every day. Thanks Sk8r!


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Old 01/12/2011, 02:45 PM   #9
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@matt---yep. The answer is No. All they need is to match re salinity, within .001 being safest. Because of their shells, they can't 'sweat' as fast as fish, so while they're simpler creatures, they do need that match if you want healthy inverts, and I kind of prefer to swish them through an intermediate 'safety' bath in tank water to clear ANY bag water off them that I can---but outside of that, if they come in at 1.024 (and most do, because inverts don't like to be at 1.021!)---put them straight in.


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Salinity 1.024-6; alkalinity 8.3-9.3 on KH scale; calcium 420; magnesium 1300, temp 78-80, nitrate .2. Ammonia 0. No filters: lps tank. Alk and cal won't rise if mg is low.

Current Tank Info: 105g AquaVim wedge lps reef: 3 firefish, yellowhead jawfish, yellow watchman, 3 chromis, tailspot/starry blennies, pink margin fairy wrasse, mandarin, kalk, radion pro, gyre, Eshopps s-200 skimmer, basement sump.
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Old 01/12/2011, 02:48 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sk8r View Post
WHY should a creature 2 days in a bag alive suddenly die when the bag is opened?: poop. Respiration. In shipped livestock, or during a trip home from the store, the waste from the fish/invert hits the water and you have ammonium and co2 in that water. The moment you open the bag, you release the co2 and ph climbs. This ph change converts the harmless ammonium in the water to deadly ammonia. The longer the fish is exposed to ammonia (remember it's drinking it as well as breathing it) the more damage its internal organs take. Too long in the opened bag and the fish takes too much damage to live very long.
--------
First, you should know (phone) at what salinity your shipper ships certain livestock. They'll tell you. You should have a qt tank ready AT THAT SALINITY if you've got a fish. You can put inverts straight in.
----------
Step 1: DO NOT OPEN THE BAG. Float it for 15 minutes. This handles temperature.
Step 2: open bag and test the water to be sure you were told accurately. AS OF THIS EXACT POINT (look at the clock) YOU HAVE 30 minutes OR LESS to get that critter to a qt tank, if fish, or to your tank, if invert, and to dip it and set it safely on the bottom of your tank if coral. Remember acclimation is all about salinity. Be accurate. Be fast. If salinity matches within .001, that fish is good to go into that qt water. Instantly as you open the bag if you've got a near match!
Full procedure given here: http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1939508
I learned this with a yellow tang.Kind of long story, but I was trying to acclimate slowly and in the process lost the fish. Thanks to sk8r lesson was learned. I firmly believe what is being said as I put a chocolte tang in the quarantine within 35 mins.! All good.


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Old 01/12/2011, 03:26 PM   #11
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I tend to do two types of acclimation. The first is similar to Sk8tr since, in reality, salinity and temperature are the only really critical factors. The second is with local fish and any where the salinity is off by 3-4 points.

For that I open the bag, dump it into a container 3-4 times the size of the bag and immediately add about 1/4 the bag amount of my own water. Every ten minutes or so, I dump about 1/4 of the water out of the container and add that much of my water. After a few changes I'll check salinity and temp, usually pretty close, and, if needed, float the container for 15 minutes or so to get the temperature correct. Then I put the fish/invert in the tank (no container water) or dip the coral and put it in. This doesn't work if the SG is under 1.020 and I'm at my normal 1.025/6, then I just have to acclimate longer and hope for the best.

I haven't lost any live stock this way that didn't come in with symptoms of something, cold shipping, delay, etc. FWIW, the places I order from will tell me the tank conditions and I can match my QT tank to that before the stock arrives. I have one LFS that keeps fish AND corals at about 1.019, I just don't buy live stock from them.

[EDIT] My rule is: If I buy from a place three times and whatever I buy dies all three times, I don't shop there again. [/EDIT]

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Old 01/12/2011, 03:36 PM   #12
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I figure that any store that's keeping its salinity virtually in hypo has some disease issues with its sources, that I want none of; and if they don't, why on earth are they doing it---knowing any newbie who doesn't have a refractometer (and fully half don't) is apt to seriously injure a fish? There's a lot of moving parts when you're starting out, and remembering to check bag water salinity without dropping your fish or the instrument is a learning curve!

And of course corals and inverts don't fare well in hypo, so those are almost all ready to go in: they tend to arrive at 1.024.

F&S uses 1.021 on fish, 1.024 on inverts. If your qt is set to 1.021, that fish is good to go right in the instant the bag is open. If your tank is 1.024 (and if you have crabs and snails it should be!) to 1.025, you're good to put them straight across. Even if you're 1.026 it's not going to do them great damage, but I like to be within .001.


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Salinity 1.024-6; alkalinity 8.3-9.3 on KH scale; calcium 420; magnesium 1300, temp 78-80, nitrate .2. Ammonia 0. No filters: lps tank. Alk and cal won't rise if mg is low.

Current Tank Info: 105g AquaVim wedge lps reef: 3 firefish, yellowhead jawfish, yellow watchman, 3 chromis, tailspot/starry blennies, pink margin fairy wrasse, mandarin, kalk, radion pro, gyre, Eshopps s-200 skimmer, basement sump.
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Old 01/12/2011, 03:47 PM   #13
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Would a drip still be good if you test the bag water and theres no sign of ammonia?


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Old 01/12/2011, 04:30 PM   #14
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To answer the question directly, most chemical processes are not instant, flashover events, and I don't know how fast the total ammonium>ammonia transition is, before it becomes acute---the answer to that probably is "depending on: time in transit, water temp, poo type, etc" So you would have to keep testing for ammonia every 5 minutes during the drip process, because the equation is too complicated by variables.

But why do a drip, if you test the bag and there's no salt difference? IMHO, drip acclimation can lead you accidentally to harm the fish, when a salinity test and a ready qt at identical salinity definitively will not.


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Salinity 1.024-6; alkalinity 8.3-9.3 on KH scale; calcium 420; magnesium 1300, temp 78-80, nitrate .2. Ammonia 0. No filters: lps tank. Alk and cal won't rise if mg is low.

Current Tank Info: 105g AquaVim wedge lps reef: 3 firefish, yellowhead jawfish, yellow watchman, 3 chromis, tailspot/starry blennies, pink margin fairy wrasse, mandarin, kalk, radion pro, gyre, Eshopps s-200 skimmer, basement sump.
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Old 01/12/2011, 05:04 PM   #15
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Here is a question: I unfortunately do not have the luxury of a QT tank, mainly due to space constraints. I do plan on buying a few fish from F&S in the near future. Since I keep my salinity at around 1.025, I need to do some type of acclimation process. Can I set up a few gallons of water at 1.021 salinity to pose almost as a very very short term QT tank to allow me to properly acclimate the fish to the new salinity of my tank? My thinking is this way I can remove them from the bag water immediately so that I can do a acclimation without worrying about the ammonia. I know it isn't an ideal process, but it sounds like it might be better than trying the "bag water" acclimation.


Edit: The more I think about it, I find myself asking: if I have space for 5 gallon buckets, or this intermediate container... why don't I have space for a small QT? No need to derail this conversation though... I'll be asking details around this in another thread when it comes closer to when I'll be adding any extra fish.


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Old 01/12/2011, 05:20 PM   #16
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This makes an awful lot of sense...now can understand why I have lost some inverts and such..ty..


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Old 01/12/2011, 05:21 PM   #17
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Remember that a qt is just as temporary as those buckets: you store it between uses, you have it handy should anything EVER make your livestock need immediate rescue (a nephew with a packet of Koolaid)---and to set it up, you just add tank water, run the cheapest air-driven filter---it needs no light, just a heater. And you need a bottle of test strips (daily use) plus a bottle of Amquel or Prime, should it get out of hand. F&S has very high quality livestock: the likelihood you would have to treat is very slight, but---if you should, you just drop the salinity over 48 hours and hold it low, and you're good. Having an actual little tank and daily inspection of the fish means you have instant awareness of any problem, you start treatment on the spot, with no stress of having to catch everybody---and no traffic jam in qt, having to catch ALL your fish. So it's just easy: tuck the qt tank under the bathroom sink and use it to hold spare TP when it's not in use. And when it's in use, think of it as a way to get your fish eating without competition, and get them unspooked. This way they're not dropped into a blazingly-lit tank with no knowledge where safety is and with several other fish who're going to defend their territory with nips and threats. This tank is all theirs and they get to rest and eat in safety.


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Salinity 1.024-6; alkalinity 8.3-9.3 on KH scale; calcium 420; magnesium 1300, temp 78-80, nitrate .2. Ammonia 0. No filters: lps tank. Alk and cal won't rise if mg is low.

Current Tank Info: 105g AquaVim wedge lps reef: 3 firefish, yellowhead jawfish, yellow watchman, 3 chromis, tailspot/starry blennies, pink margin fairy wrasse, mandarin, kalk, radion pro, gyre, Eshopps s-200 skimmer, basement sump.
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Old 01/12/2011, 05:27 PM   #18
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what about PH shock?


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Old 01/12/2011, 05:28 PM   #19
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sk8r, i am a noob and recently added my first fish, a yellow tang. When i got it home, i did the drip method and later that night, the fish was acting all kinds of screwy. Your lesson given earlier on this thread could definetly be what happened! Needless to say, i wont be doing the drip method again......

BTW- The tang pulled through and is happy in his new home! Thank god, because i thought to myself, how horrible to lose my first fish!


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Old 01/12/2011, 05:47 PM   #20
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Smile

Thank-You Sk8r!!!

And Thank-You Jason (jnc914) for posting your acclimation procedures. I will have to borrow that one.

Sk8r FTW!!!! LOL, I just wanted to through in an acronym like all the cool guys do...


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Old 01/12/2011, 05:48 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NickC5FE View Post
sk8r, i am a noob and recently added my first fish, a yellow tang. When i got it home, i did the drip method and later that night, the fish was acting all kinds of screwy. Your lesson given earlier on this thread could definetly be what happened! Needless to say, i wont be doing the drip method again......

BTW- The tang pulled through and is happy in his new home! Thank god, because i thought to myself, how horrible to lose my first fish!
Drip method is a perfectly fine method if you eliminate the ammonia in the shipping water upon initially opening the bag or transitioning it to another acclimation container. I never acclimate in a shipping bag nor do I ever go past 60 minutes using the drip method. Sounds like the fish was suffering from ammonia burn/toxicity that luckily the Yellow was able to pull through it.


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Old 01/12/2011, 05:51 PM   #22
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It's most apt to happen to a new hobbyist who is resolved to do things absolutely, considerately, by-the-book right, who has read all the recommendations about drip---but who doesn't get the info about the ammonium>ammonia transaction; or it happens to the very experienced guy who normally doesn't acclimate too long, but has a prized rare fish he wants to take special care of---I started recommending this alternative to drip after reading a very sad post about a big and rare fish and a disaster.


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Salinity 1.024-6; alkalinity 8.3-9.3 on KH scale; calcium 420; magnesium 1300, temp 78-80, nitrate .2. Ammonia 0. No filters: lps tank. Alk and cal won't rise if mg is low.

Current Tank Info: 105g AquaVim wedge lps reef: 3 firefish, yellowhead jawfish, yellow watchman, 3 chromis, tailspot/starry blennies, pink margin fairy wrasse, mandarin, kalk, radion pro, gyre, Eshopps s-200 skimmer, basement sump.
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Old 01/12/2011, 05:55 PM   #23
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I'm liking this notion of matching both ph and salinity: easy to inquire. One of the problems with eliminating ammonia via Prime and Amquel in such a situation is that if you have a big fish, large water volume, not so hard to figure the dose; but figuring the dose with a tiny goby's water, not so easy. One of my newest guys would fit on a penny, with plenty of room for his mate.


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Salinity 1.024-6; alkalinity 8.3-9.3 on KH scale; calcium 420; magnesium 1300, temp 78-80, nitrate .2. Ammonia 0. No filters: lps tank. Alk and cal won't rise if mg is low.

Current Tank Info: 105g AquaVim wedge lps reef: 3 firefish, yellowhead jawfish, yellow watchman, 3 chromis, tailspot/starry blennies, pink margin fairy wrasse, mandarin, kalk, radion pro, gyre, Eshopps s-200 skimmer, basement sump.
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Old 01/12/2011, 07:40 PM   #24
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So I have my first fish in qt right now, a midas blenny. He will be ready to be transfered to the dt next week. If I match my qt salinity/temp to the dt, I can just take him out and pop him right into the dt? From the info in this post, that will be fine. If this is not the case, please let me know. My tank is a bit over 2 months old at this point in time.


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Old 01/12/2011, 07:46 PM   #25
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Another great post, thanks againf or doing these up for everyone.


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