Your corals are here. Now what?
The big day is here. Your order arrived. Now comes the fun part! But before you invite the gang over to drool over your new corals, you should take a few precautions. It all starts with a good dip.
Trust us, except for excessive amounts of cappuccino and really bad 1970’s movies, nothing keeps us up at night more than worrying about the prospect of a flatworm, red bug, or other unwanted guests getting into one of our systems-or worse yet, one of yours. Even though we examine, dip and acclimate every coral on arrival to our facility, and examine the coral again before it leaves, there is always the chance of some pest organism getting through. It just comes with the territory.
So, to alleviate our fears (and to increase your chances of success), we really want you to perform a dip procedure for all corals that you add to your aquarium.
Here’s what you’ll need:
-High quality coral dip solution (we like Coral RX or PolypLab Reef Primer)
-Plastic container (preferably clear or light-colored)
-Pair of small tweezers
-Small turkey baster
-If you like, use a soft toothbrush to remove any unwanted algae on the base
-About 20 minutes of your time.
Here’s how you do it:
Float your newly arrived specimens in your aquarium, with the shipping bags still fully sealed, for about 10-15 minutes. This will allow the temperature to to equalize. Next, open the bag and mix with some water from your aquarium at a 50/50 ratio. Pour the water into an appropriately-sized plastic container (like a margerine tub). Inspect the specimen carefully and remove any unwanted growth (ie; microalgae, etc.). We try to get this stuff off before shipment, but nobody’s perfect, right?
Once you’re convinced that the specimen is clean from any extra stuff, add your coral dip solution to the water, per manufacturer's instructions. Use a small turkey baster to gently blow the water into the coral specimen. Make sure you get it into all the nooks and crannies! You’ll be surprised at all the creepy-crawly things that can come out of a seemingly “clean” specimen when you do this.
Let the coral sit in the container for another couple of minutes. Then, you just rinse the specimen in some fresh aquarium water, and you’re ready to go.
That’s the dip process. It’s easy. It’s quick. It’s important. And it works.
So get to it!
What about the fish?
The fish acclimation process is pretty simple, really. We recommend two standard acclimation techniques to assure a successful start for your new arrivals. Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t suggest that you quarantine all new arrivals for at least 3-4 weeks to limit the possibility of introducing disease and other pests into your display aquarium, and to give them a chance to feed and adjust to captive life. We are huge fans of what is known as the “drip method”. This technique is perfect for more sensitive animals, yet it works great for ANY new arrivals. Here is the easy procedure: First, you’ll need the following items:
1- Plastic Bucket,1-length of airline tubing, and about an hour of time.
Here’s how you do it:
1) Keep your aquarium lights off to avoid startling the new arrivals
2) Carefully unpack your shipment away from direct light (it can stress your new arrivals)
3) Float the sealed bag containing your livestock in your aquarium for about 20 minutes to allow temperatures to stabilize,
4) Empty the contents of the bag into the plastic bucket.
5) Use airline tubing to create a siphon “drip line” from the aquarium into the bucket. Control the flow by either tying the tubing in a knot, or employing a non-metal airline control valve.
6) Start the siphon flow by sucking on the end of the airline tubing, and adjust the drip to around 2-3 drips per second using the control valve or by tightening the knot.
7) When you’ve doubled the quantity of water in the bucket, its time to discard some of the water (about 50%), and keep the drip going until the volume doubles again.
8) Now it’s time to transfer your specimens to the aquarium. Scoop them gently out of the bucket using the bag that they came with, and release them into the aquarium.
The other method of acclimation is really easy. We call it the “floating bag method”:
You start by floating the sealed bag in the aquarium for about 20 minutes to allow the water in the bag to reach the same temperature as the aquarium.
Next, cut open the bag and add about ½ to ¾ of a cup of aquarium water to the bag. Keep adding water to the bag about every 10 minutes, until the bag is completely full.
Net the fish out of the bag and gently release it into the aquarium. Discard the water from the bag. Be sure that you don’t mix water from the shipping bag into the aquarium.
Regardless of which method you employ, be sure to take it slow and acclimate your animals carefully. The process takes about an hour, and your patience will be rewarded with fishes that are better adjusted to their new surroundings. If you really want to do it right, embrace a full quarantine protocol, BEFORE placing your new fishes or corals in your reef. It's not an "instant gratification" thing, but it's the single most important step you can take to assure success with your fishes and corals!