What Happens If You Don’t Acclimate Fish? Bad And Risky Habit

Acclimating fish before letting it live in your aquarium is an essential task for an aquarist. If you just buy some fish and then put it in your main tank, you are going to have some dead fish soon. Acclimating is one of the most important tasks, but it’s also a very complicated activity that needs some attention from you.

Unfortunately, fish can’t easily change the conditions of living. You will never have a healthy and thriving aquarium unless you acclimate all living creatures before putting them in your tank. And any sharp change in the living conditions will result in big problems. Why? Let’s discuss it step by step.

Here’s what we’ll tell you today:

  1. Why acclimating your fish is extremely important?
  2. What factors of acclimating are vital for aquarium fish?
  3. What are the main mistakes when acclimating fish?
  4. How to acclimate your fish before putting them in your aquarium?
  5. What are fish species you don’t need to acclimate?

Let’s get started!

Acclimating – why is it so important?

If you don’t acclimate your fish, it will most likely get into shock and may even die. At least, the fish’s health will deteriorate quickly. If your fish is adult and strong, it will survive, but the stress will not pass unnoticed. Anyway, its health will be much worse than before and you will have to pay attention to a special diet, any problems with other fish in the tank.

Acclimation problems usually occur with newbies who only bought an aquarium and don’t know anything about fish. But you can get more information before putting your new fish into the tank. You should learn more and avoid all those mistakes that can lead to the death of your fish a couple of days after you buy it.

Here is what happens when acclimating doesn’t happen:

  1. You may know that stress is bad for a person and actually for any living creature. But for fish stress may lead to death and big health problems. Stressed fish will just starve to death or will die unexpectedly.
  2. Your new fish may not be healthy initially. And when you put it in the big tank, your new fish will share the illness it has with all the other fish in the tank. That’s not good news at all.
  3. Temperature shock is also possible. Nearly all fish can adapt to different temperatures of water. But once they adopt, they will want to have approximately the same temperatures all the way. Any sharp changes may lead to shock.
  4. Problems with pH can occur. Different tanks have different pH levels. And, of course, fish can adapt to a certain level. But once the sharp changes occur, your fish can just die because of stress.
  5. Salinity problems are not rare at all. If we are talking about the ocean or sea fish, these creatures need a certain level of salinity. And you should pay attention to this water parameter. Any sharp change will cause shock and the organs of the fish will not be able to compensate for that change.

So, the most important thing is to acclimate the fish to the water parameters in your tank. These parameters include water temperature, salinity, pH level, biological content, ammonia level, etc. Even the type of water is important. Especially, if you have taken this fish from the wild nature.

Once you make mistakes with the acclimating, you may just lose your fish or spend days and hundreds of dollars to try and save the life of the fish. We recommend a step-by-step acclimation that will let your new living creatures get used to new water parameters and then go into the main tank without any problems and consequences.

What is actually acclimation?

Any living creature cannot live well without acclimation. For example, you live in a cold area somewhere in the north of Canada. But suddenly you need to go on a business trip to, let’s say, Egypt. The temperature difference will be just huge and you will not feel good on the first days of your trip.

Fish are much less adaptable than people. It means that fish will not be able to adapt so fast and continue living well in an absolutely new environment. The best thing that can happen is your fish will just stop eating for a couple of days and then it will slowly adapt and acclimate to the new environment. But what if this doesn’t happen? Your fish will just die.

Here’s how you should acclimate your fish

Unfortunately, even some experienced aquarists don’t know how to acclimate their new fish. It isn’t that hard, you should just know the process to make sure your fish feels good and doesn’t need any urgent help. You will just need to follow some steps.

Before we tell you these steps, we should warn you that you may need a special tank for adaptation. It may be a special section of your big tank (separated from the main section). But better buy a small tank that you can use as an acclimating and quarantine tank in case you need this.

Here are some steps you will need to follow:

  1. Take your new fish home, open its bag, and pour all the water from the bag into your quarantine or acclimating tank. Let the fish swim in the water it was sold with for a while.
  2. Then, in a couple of hours, you should add some water from your main tank to the tank with your new fish. Be careful at this step – never add too much water at once. Better make the ratio one-to-one when you first add the water.
  3. Once every two days add more water from your aquarium. You may replace some water from the acclimating tank with the water from your big tank. This will help your fish acclimate in just 6 days or something.
  4. Repeatedly check the water conditions like pH, temperature, salinity, etc. Never allow sharp changes. If you see a sharp change, do everything you can to get the parameters back to optimal for your fish.
  5. Introduce your fish to the food you are going to give it. It’s important to ask the seller of the fish which food they used before. You can mix different types of food with the previous food that the fish is used to.
  6. Check if your new fish shows any signs of illnesses, infections, etc. If you notice that the fish doesn’t look healthy, don’t hurry up with introducing it to the big tank. Let it live in a quarantine tank for a while.
  7. If everything is OK, in 5 or 7 days you can relocate your new fish to the big aquarium. But after you do it keep an eye on your new fish because it may still feel uncomfortable and need some help.
  8. If you notice that something is wrong, just put your fish back into the acclimating tank instead of letting it feel some stress.

Stress is hard to avoid, anyway. When your new fish gets acquainted with your old fish, the old fish is not going to be very friendly. You will need to keep an eye on your new pet to make sure that it feels OK now.

It’s not hard to acclimate a fish, so you can do it easily. All you need is just another small tank to provide all those manipulations with water. Just spend a week and then you’ll be sure that your fish is OK and it can live in your big tank with no risks.

What fish will not need acclimation?

You may have heard that there are some fish species that can live in any water and under any temperatures. Of course, this is an exaggeration and you shouldn’t believe those claims. All living creatures have some optimal conditions range that they like.

If you want a fish that is hard to kill, we can recommend Plecos, Corydoras, Dwarf Gourami, Kribensis, or Lemon Tetras. These fish will not die if you put them right into your big aquarium without providing them with any acclimation.

But those fish will also experience stress and may get ill if the water parameters are bad. You still need to acclimate them and take care of them. Otherwise, they will be ill and inactive.

Final words

Acclimation is a very important part of getting new fish. You will need to acclimate your fish for at least 5 days before putting them into your big water tank. Also, you should know how to acclimate the fish. If you don’t do it, your fish may die or get ill because of stress. Acclimation means that you let your fish get used to new water parameters, new food, and also new friends.

Be careful and always consult with checked sources of information when you are going to do something with your fish. Never introduce new fish to the aquarium without paying attention to its behavior.