From http://www.reefs.com/blog/2015/01/19/reef-table-ret-talbot-rich-ross-sustainability-conservation/

WAIT! Don’t tune out – this will be interesting. Is it a glamorous topic? Not at all. I sat down (giddily) with one Ret Talbot and one Richard Ross to talk about sustainability, conservation and what it means to the hobby. We talked about just how sexy it is (spoiler alert: it’s not even the tiniest bit sexy).

From Reefs.com
Posted on August 28, 2014 by Caitlin Goldenberg

ulufeke 300x225 The Top Five Speakers I Cant Wait to See!: Grand FinaleHere we go, guys, the final round of my Top Five! This particular speaker sparked my interest not too long ago, based not only on the strides he’s made in the aquarium industry and his fascination with my absolute favorite thing ever- Cephalopods, but for how he came to be the Octo-Guru he is today. Richard Ross, Senior Biologist at the Steinhart Aquarium in the California Academy of Sciences, actually kicked off his career in a comedic fashion in the form of juggling and improv while pursuing a degree in Philosphy instead of the expected field of Biology. Eventually establishing himself as a full -time entertainer, he also began exploring the arts of glass blowing, founding his own glass blowing studio in Alameda, CA. After the birth of his daughter, Ross left his career as an entertainer and fulfilled the duties of a stay-at-home dad, where he was able to completely engulf himself in the beauty of the reef keeping hobby. He eventually made incredible breakthroughs in keeping Sepia bandensis, the Dwarf Cuttlefish, documenting the entire process. Rich began volunteering at the Steinhart Aquarium in 2003 after a divesting earthquake forced the animals to be moved to a holding facility. After years of volunteering and part-time employment, in 2008 he was offered an opportunity he could never turn down – the full-time position of managing their 212,000 gallon Philippine Coral Reef and associated exhibits. I haven’t had the pleasure of viewing this phenomenal system in person, but it’s on my list for this upcoming year. The reason this all fascinates me so much is I myself started of on a vastly different career path before I found myself here, writing this. While I’ve always had a passion for the ocean and it’s occupants, and my first job was scrubbing algae and doing water changes at the local fish store, I ended up following the culinary road, with a degree in Professional Cooking. Unhappy with the field I found myself itching to get back into Reefs, discovered my love for the Octopus, and quickly started following Ross’ career. Needless to say, I consider him a huge influence in my endeavors. This year, he’ll be speaking about Phosphate, what it means, and how it effects your reef systems and how it influences a thriving tank. It’s going to be riveting, I seriously am jumping up and down with glee for this one. For more about Rich and his career path, check his website here.

From Reefs.com, by Tal Sweet

Part of the MBI’s goal is to promote captive breeding of new species that haven’t been done before and to recognize the efforts of those that succeed. To be granted a species first award, the breeder must be able to provide proof of the date of the success via a verifiable third party publication including, books, scientific journals, online forums, or the MBI system. Extremely detailed Journals within the MBI are required for this award. When granted a Species First Award, a star medal will be applied over regular success icon to indicate that it is a Species First. The MBI Council is proud to register and confirm the following Species First awards:

Sepia bandensis: Richard Ross, 2007

Sepia bandensis 1st MBI Species Firsts

TFH 5 of 6 300x199 MBI Species Firsts

http://www.mbisite.org/DReview.aspx?ID=89

http://www.mbisite.org/Forums/tm.aspx?m=47829

More »

From Reefs.com

Many marine aquarium enthusiasts know about Richard Ross as the Aquarist Extraordinaire behind Steinhart Aquarium’s stunning 212,000 gallon Philippine Coral Reef. He has kept marine aquariums for over 25 years and has made a name for himself through his many conference presentations, articles and for just being an all around nice guy.

222527 358755317547273 1699593298 n L Life before the big fish bowl...A closer look at Richard Ross

Those of you attended the banquet at MACNA 2013 will no doubt recall Richard’s brilliant and somewhat unorthodox  performance as MC.  For those of you who missed it…he juggled swords while precariously balancing on a board on top of a pipe while standing on a stool! Before seeing his performance at MACNA, I had no idea that aside from being a darn good aquarist, he actually had a few other “tricks” up his sleeve.  I managed to catch up with Rich for a quick  interview just before his talk at Reef A Palooza last week. I was curious to hear about how he became such a good showman and where he learned all his cool death defying tricks. More »

From Reefs.com

For your amusement in the lead up to this years MACNA, here is a reefers version of the popular Hitler subtitle meme from the film “Downfall”. Humble beginnings can have terrible endings, and most importantly, don’t forget to QT your Acros.

The Majano Wand in action – photo by Tim Wong

Pest anemones can be worse than a piece of popcorn stuck between your teeth; they annoyingly consume all of your attention, they multiply quickly, sting animals you like and it seems like no matter what you do to control them, there are always a few that appear impervious to any attempt at eradication. As part of the anti pest anemone kit the Majano wand is an easy to use, quite effective and cathartic way to deal with pest anemones in a reef tank. More »

From Reefs.com

Acropora cervicornis sperm/egg bundles about 40 minutes after emergence.

Biologists from The Florida Aquarium, Steinhart Aquarium in the California Academy of Sciences,  Moody Gardens, Disney’s The Seas, and the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium have gathered at the Coral Restoration Foundation’s facility in the Florida Keys to continue to expand our understanding of the sexual reproduction of the areas endangered Acropora cervicornis and Acropora palmata corals. More »

From Reefs.com

A 1 cm captive bred Flamboyant cuttlefish prepares to strike at prey

The Marine Breeding Initiative’s 2012 workshop is next weekend, so the timing to share a pic of a captive breeding success story.

Metasepia spp have long been thought of as one of the ultimate aquarium display animals. Their colors and patterns that continually change and move across their skin make their common name obvious – the Flamboyant Cuttle. The problem? The only live about a year, and they have traditionally shipped poorly which means if you are lucky enough to get one that survived shipping, its probably near the end of its natural lifespan anyway. Captive breeding would be a no brainer, except getting broomstick has been near impossible because on the rear occasions these animals do get imported, the get imported in single digits. More »

From Reefs.com

In anticipation of the MBI workshop coming up on July 28th in Bloomfield Hills, MI, I have been breeding everything I can get my hands on – including the dwarf seahorse Hippocampus zosterae pictured above. These little seahorses max out at about an inch, and both parents and fry can be raised and maintained with easy to hatch, enriched Artemia. If you have a fuge or a spare 5 gallon tank, why aren’t you breeding these guys? Or some clownfish? Or some Banggai cardinals? Seriously, find someone who is breeding any of these easy fish (buy captive bred animals as it is possible wild populations of some of these fish may be in trouble), get some yourself and do it. Little to no impact on wild populations, super fun, super educational, very easy, and there is nothing like the cuteness of little animals you can raise yourself…why isn’t everyone doing it? No reason I can think of, so get to it.

From Reefs.com

The last year has seen a lot of heated discussion and possible legislation regarding the Marine Aquarium trade. In these discussions everyone seems to have data on the numbers of fishes that move through the trade, but the sources of that data often somehow seems ‘iffy’. Today a new paper was published in the open access journal  PLoS One (making scientific papers available to anyone for no cost!) that examines a years worth of US marine fish import paperwork to present a clear picture of how many fish of what kinds are actually being imported into the country. The 9 page paper  by Andrew Rhyne et al, available here, not only presents useful information, but also gives a great overview of the process of importing fish into the US as well as addressing some invasive species concerns. I expect in the coming weeks there will be a lot of themselves. Finally, actual data is available, and anyone that has ever entered into a discussion about the sustainability, ethics or responsibility of reefkeeping should take advantage of it.

 

This school of Jacks is beautiful, and would feed a lot of people.

After two weeks of slogging through the jungle, being forced to endure huge stick insects, wild pygmy elephants, several species of hornbills and a Tarsier, we are finally getting down to seeing some “good wild life.” (Ow. My wife just kicked me, but she knows I am kidding – the land portion of this trip has been astounding). So far we have dived house reefs of various resorts, all of which have artificial reef structures that are rather mature and teeming with life. Not only are they fantastic to explore, but it’s great to see local operations building habitat. Tomorrow we dive Sipadan Island, and I can hardly contain myself, but that has to be its own blog post.

I woke up this morning in my room on stilts built over the reef. From the font window I watched the sun peek up over the Celebes Sea and bathe my sleeping daughter in ‘sweet light’. I walked out the front door, and as I made way to the 5 star dive center, I watched the local village come to life. The juxtaposition between the luxury of the resort, and the stark substance lifestyle of the local community was sobering as I prepared for the first dive of the day.

Less than 30 minutes later, fishing village forgotten, we were diving paradise. My wife was swimming through a tornado of jacks when a tremendous KRACKKKKKKBOOMMMM shattered the idyllic experience. What the hell was that? The dive master and the 5 newbie divers with us didn’t react at all. To me, the sound was overpowering and terrifying. I hoped it was some kind of construction project, but the recent round of dynamite fishing and reef destruction in Komodo made me think it was not construction at all. Twice more on the dive, the calm was split by the jarring shock of explosions. The sound was unbelievable. It was awful to be surrounded by life and beauty but to know that animals and habitat were being destroyed nearby in the name of easy food. I was moved to tears both under water and now while I write this.

At the surface the local dive master confirmed that it was dynamite fishing but that it was ‘far away’ – sound travels far underwater. The aquarist in me was horrified, but I couldn’t help thinking as a father; my family has never gone hungry. It’s easy for me, with my first world values, to wish education and responsible practices would prevent this kind of destruction…but if my daughter needed a meal, I would do whatever I had to do to provide for her.  And, if I found a practice that worked, that ensured that my little girl would have a full belly at night, I am not sure what anyone could do to make me give it up.

It’s a heartbreaker. Lets keep that in mind as we are tempted to judge real world practices that we feel might impact our hobby of keeping reefs in our living rooms. We need solutions that fill bellies as well as fill glass boxes.

PS I was filming during the dive and I think I was shooting during the one or two of the explosions. When I get back to my computer, I’ll listen to the footage and if I have any of the explosions recorded, I will post a follow up. For now, I have to go prepare for another dive in some of the most beautiful reefscape I have even been on, and hope that I won’t hear any more destruction in the distance.

From Reefs.com

hen I finally got home, I wiped the glass and everything looked just as good as when I left; all of my automation worked perfectly. Yay Automation.

It seems to me that we hear a lot about automation disasters, but not so much about automation successes. That makes sense because disasters tend to stick with us when we hear about them, and we just don’t talk about everyday successes because well, they are just regular every day happenings. So, here is a non everyday automation success story.

Recently, I had to leave town immediately and unexpectedly  for what turned out to be several family medical emergencies in succession (it was difficult, but everyone turned out to be fine). I was gone for 10 days with no time to prep the tank, though I did franticly arrange with friends and colleagues to move some octopus I am working with to a lab at UC Berkeley. The whole time I was away I thought about my reef tank exactly once on day 4, the first extension of the trip, when my wife and daughter asked me if they were feeding the tank the right way. While in the hospital dealing with emergency room doctors and drama, the back of my mind was not also busily worrying about my home systems, I was able to focus on what was right in front of me.

My advice – automate everything you can on your reef. Not only will it free you from the some of the drudgery of every day maintenance and help keep the system stable over time, but it will give you some piece of mind when you are out of town on vacation or for an unexpected emergency.

From Reefs.com

Last December when Koji Wada of the renowned Blue Harbor visited the Steinhart Aquarium he was kind enough to bring us two stunning Halcuriascarlgreni anemones. From Japans deeper, cooler waters, these anemones are jaw droppingly bright and colorful. Currently, they are being kept at 66 degrees in our Nautilus exhibit and both animals seem to be getting along just fine with each other. The Halcurias are being fed thawed frozen mysis via ‘Julians Thing’ every other day, and we hope they will be so happy and full of food that we will have more of them in the near future.

From Reefs.com

I took a chance on a Live Aquaria Divers Den  Juvie Regal Angel (Pygoplites diacanthus) about 2 months ago. As beautiful as this fish is, it ended up getting an appetite for some of my favorite SPS corals as well as a voracious appetite for my growing Zoanthid collection, so it’s got to go. Easier said than done right?

Catching a fish in a fully stocked, mature reef tank is often a hassle.A net is not going to work because there is too much coral growth in the way. Trying to remove the fish while it’s sleeping is not going to work (unless you are very lucky) because sleeping spots are so numerous and, invariably, the fish picks a spot at the bottom middle back of the tank.  Removing rocks isn’t practical because, since the tank is mature, removing rocks probably means destroying the coral that you have worked to hard to grow. Since the reef is mature, it’s probably fully stocked with fish, so any attempt to use a fish hook isn’t going to work because other fish are going to get the food off the hook before the fish you are trying to catch even knows there is something to strike. Knock-out drugs won’t work either because not only are they hard to get, but even if you are able to squirt it in the face of the fish, the knocked-out fish can sink to the bottom where it is impossible to remove before it wakes up, swims away and laughs at you.

To the best of my knowledge, that leaves one option  – the fish trap. 5 days ago, I pulled out my trusty acrylic trap, the kind with the weighted door that is held open by a piece of monofilament with a suction cup on the end. This particular trap also has another piece of monofilament that you can pull on to slam the door closed quickly instead of simply relying on gravity to trap the fish. I used some electrical tape to affix an old algae magnet to the trap so I can rest the trap on the glass instead of on coral. The magnet also allows me to leave the trap in place  over time without it getting blown around by the current. This is very important because unless you are very lucky and the fish goes right in (I am not lucky), the trap needs to be left in place over time so the fish gets comfortable enough with the trap to actually go in the trap. Of course, the most important part of trapping a fish with this method is patience – and man can that patience be annoying.

Every night, I bait the trap with some Reef Nutrition Mysis Feast and watch patiently as almost every other fish in the tank-Orange-spotted rabbitfish (Siganus guttatus), Radiant Wrasse (Halichores iridis), Multicolor angel (Centropyge multicolor), Potter’s Angelfish (Centropyge potteri), Margined butterfly (Chelmon marginatus), Yellow Tang (Zebrasoma flavescens), orchid dottyback (Pseudochromis friedmani), Mimic Saddle Puffer (Paraluterus prionurus) and even green chromis (Chromis viridis) hang out in the trap and chow down – often all at the same time- while the Regal hangs out near the trap entrance waiting for scraps. Every night the Regal gets a little closer to the trap, but doesn’t go in. I may need to catch every other fish that goes into the trap to make the Regal feel comfortable, but not yet. Tonight I moved some Zoanthids into the trap to make it even more enticing. I hope.

It’s really frustrating, but I keep calming myself down reminding myself that patience is the key and it works. Just a month ago, I had to catch two big lunare wrasses out of the 212,000 gallon reef tank at work. It took two weeks of baiting the trap for the fish to be comfortable enough to go in, and when the finally did, I was able to catch both of them in less than 10 minutes. But it took patience. Patience.

Some corals have fallen over, but I am going to leave them for now as not to disturb the Regal. Algae is growing all over the front glass, but I am going to leave it as not to disturb the Regal. So, here I sit, most of the pumps off to keep the food in the trap waiting…and waiting…and waiting…because thats what I have to do.

 

 

From Reefs.com

by Chris Maupin

I have known Rich Ross for a long time, let me start by clearing the air with that disclaimer.  You also may read this post and feel like it is a bunch of ass-kissing.  If that was your conclusion, then apply for a MacArthur Grant, because that’s exactly what it is. Rich is a philosopher who should have been a scientist.

I say that not to belittle his life choices, but to compliment him on the fact that he is independently one of the best and most creative skeptical and scientific minds I have met.  He will openly tell you that he killed something or did something wrong, and, more importantly, tell you why it happened, and therefore how you can avoid having the same problem.  How scientific, right?  Not to mention, uh, productive and helpful.  This mindset and attitude has taken him from philosophy major to peer reviewed, published scientist, WITHOUT re-attending undergraduate with a science major, or attending graduate school.  How many can claim that?

Despite this introduction, the focus of this post is actually Rich’s home tank.  Every year I make a trek to the Bay Area for the largest annual scientific conference in the world, and every year the hospitality of Rich and his family is a highlight of my trip, allowing me to see the progression of an amazing example of home reefkeeping.  Rich managed to go from a respectable stay at home dad to rogue professional aquarist, responsible for hundreds of thousands of gallons worth of living coral habitat on display in the largest closed system living reef aquarium in the world.  Somehow, he still has not lost the passion for his tank at home.  Unfortunately for the eyeballs of reefkeeping community, he is WAY too humble about it.  So I’m calling him out.

The tank Rich set up and maintains is what folks these days would call a “fruit stand”.  In fact, it goes beyond that. It pretty much could be the reefkeeping definition of a stand of fruit.  I’ve come to understand there is a negative connotation in the community to the use of such a term, but I am at a complete loss to understand why.  Perhaps it’s a lack of patience in allowing such systems to mature?

Rich’s tank is coral after coral, anemone, clam, etc. set in a highly custom, faux built-in system.  The display is a tightly focused 150 gallons, with an additional 250 gallons to provide stability and dilution.  The set up is designed to be redundant without being overly technical.  The lights, heaters, water motion and returns from the sump are distributed across different electrical circuits.  The Vortech has a battery back up, a modified Maxi-Jet is on a UPS and there are multiple battery-operated Penn Plax air pumps.  There is a calcium reactor driven by a peristaltic pump and a fail-safe automated top off through a kalkwasser reactor.  Lighting consists of 4 x 250watt metal halides bulbs (2 x 14k and 2 x 20 k, with all of them being on at the same time for about 3 hours a day), blue LED supplementation with all lights controlled by different timers.  Rich is adamant about this.  A true skeptic at heart, he avoids a single point of failure, such as a controller.

Water motion is a fundamental pillar in Rich’s philosophy of the fruit stand.  There are two Vortech MP40’s, a 10 port Loc-Line manifold driven by a Sequence 5800, again, on its own timer, a modified Maxi-Jet, a Hagen 801 which pumps water out of an overflow back into a tank, also on its own timer (are you sensing a theme yet?).  There is a Poseidon Titanium pump that drives two eductors, both of which reside in the back bottom corners to keep any detritus from settling, and finally, an Ampmaster 3k serves as the sump return.

It’s a mature tank as well, despite a major crash only two years ago (http://www.reefsmagazine.com/forum/reefs-magazine/66910-epic-fail-anatomy-disaster.html), which gets to the crux of my awe for it.  Nothing looks muddled with.  Corals have been allowed to grow into each other, undergo warfare, and grow over each other.  There is depth.  Instead of everything being at the forefront where it is easily accessible to the viewer, every available square inch is utilized.  You have to crane your neck, peer around corners and squint.  You can stare at the tank for hours and still not see everything.  The closest thing I can liken it to is diving on a real reef.  Photos do it hardly any justice because of its depth and complexity.  You could see it today and never know that it had undergone multiple, accidental disasters.

To conclude, when it comes to reef aquariums, ultimately, I haven’t experienced anything close to the “holy expletive” factor of working on reefs of every variety in the Solomon Islands or Vanuatu, especially not with the recently hyped low-ecology systems, but to each their own.  That being said, I also haven’t seen anything near the “holy expletive” factor of Rich’s matured “fruit stand”.  Why?  Well because it’s the closest thing I’ve seen to the real deal.  Period.  And I say this as a reef scientist who REALLY likes looking at real reefs, and not as a modern art aesthetist.  I encourage more reef aquarists to exercise the patience it takes to get there.  Do it.  And f you make a terrible mistake, learn from it, tell people about it, and do it again.

From Reefs.com

Larval damselfish from eggs laid in the Steinhart Aquarium's Philippine Coral Reef exhibit. These will be sent to the University of Florida's Tropical Aquaculture Lab as part of the Rising Tide Conservation project. The lines in the top left are millimeters.

This week Amblyglyphidodon ternatensis eggs and larvae collected at the Steinhart Aquarium in the California Academy of Sciences were shipped to Florida as part of the Rising Tide Conservation project.

Rising Tide Conservation was started by SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment to make breeding and rearing of marine tropical fish economically viable so that there are alternatives to collection. It quickly expanded from a program focused on breeding and rearing fish in display facilities to one focused on integrating efforts of display aquaria, the hobbyist industry, and academia to create a platform for the promotion and dissemination of information related to marine tropical fish aquaculture. Large scale tropical marine fish aquaculture has been held back by four specific hurdles: difficulty in egg production, difficulty in larval rearing, use and production of an appropriate live feed, and most importantly, the difficulty in clearing these hurdles in an economically viable manner. Transfer of capabilities identified in this program to commercial producers is critical for the success of this initiative.

Rising Tide Conservation is an effort to reduce commercial collecting of reef fish by promoting captive breeding. This program provides a lifeline for reef populations by providing source alternatives. Many attempts to raise marine tropical fish have resulted in small successes. Rising Tide is an effort to move these advances to more widespread use.

For more images of the eggs and larvae please scroll down.

 

Amblyglyphidodon ternatensis eggs on Acropora. The adult fish lay their eggs on areas of Acropora skeleton that they strip of flesh. This fragment and eggs were collected in California and shipped to Florida as part of the Rising Tide Initiative.

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From Reefs.com

As some of you may remember from my previous article ‘The anatomy of a disaster” http://www.reefsmagazine.com/forum/reefs-magazine/66910-epic-fail-anatomy-disaster.html  I have a penchant for not keeping up on float switch maintenance and ending up with kalk overdoses. Regardless of the failsafes I put in place, I continue to OD on kalk, and guess what, I did it again recently, and I humbly present to you the newest of precautions I have put in place to possibly save my lazy butt from yet another disaster.

The last disaster was really, really bad.

The most current kalk issue was not nearly as bad as the previous one. Last time I lost 95% of my SPS corals, where this time I only lost 2 – though some of them are going to take a month of so to recover completely.

When I caught it, the pH in the tank was 9.7, bad but not immediately kill everything bad. My sump is essentially a 180 gallon tank so when the primary float switch failed about 15 gallons of yummy kalk water was pumped into the tank until the secondary float switch, located about 3 inches above the primary clicked into action.

This time, instead of dumping gallons of vinegar in the system to lower the pH, I tee’d off of the CO2 feed to my calcium reactor and bubbled CO2 directly into the display tank. CO2 is better for a couple of reasons, the most important being the lack of bacterial bloom that results from gallons of vinegar being dumped into a saltwater system. Since the system wasn’t totally crashed, this was very important to me. Another good thing about the CO2 addition is that its effect of lowering pH is very fast and its hard to overdose – just take line out of the tank. Getting the pH down to 8.2 took less than 10 minutes, and the change was startling. Fish that were clearly stressing and hiding came right out and ate. A Linkia starfish that looked to be dead, perked right up. LPS corals started opening up within 30 minutes. I like the CO2 much better than vinegar. Of course, it should be obvious that CO2 can be dangerous for both your tank and you, so be careful and I wouldn’t even think of doing it without a calibrated electronic pH meter.

So what did I do to avoid this avoidable problem in the future. First, I further slowed the amount of water pumping into the system via the Auto Top Off. I also put the ATO on a timer with an on/off cycle of 30 minutes.   The system can still move enough water to keep up with top off, but it takes time to fill it up, and that less time means more time before the problem becomes critical.

The second thing I did was reconfigure the sump equipment so it was all easier to get to and maintain. Easier and neater means faster and better regular maintenance. Now, the switches are right up front, in a dark space and soaking them in vinegar takes a matter of minutes. Easy peasy. I also modified the way the float switches were laid out. Now, instead of 3 inches between primary and secondary float switches, resulting in a 15 gallon addition, there is about .5 inches, resulting in a 3ish gallon addition before the secondary kicks in. Its such an obvious modification that I marvel at my lack of making it immediately upon receiving the float switches.

A modification so obvious that I should have done it long ago (The second set of floatswitches is for the auto fill for water changes)

The third and most important think I did was set up a 4 month recurring calendar event on my computer to remind me to do the regular cleaning.

Will this work? Will I avoid disaster in the future? Only time will tell…

From TONMO and Reefs.com

When you receive a new saltwater animal you don’t want to just dump it into its new home. You want to give it time to get used to any water parameters that may be different from the water in the bag and the water in the tank.The basic idea of acclimation is that you slowly adjust the water in the shipping bag of the animal until it matches the water chemistry of your tank giving the new animal time to adapt to the new water chemistry before release into its new home. Makes complete sense, however, some ‘old aquarists tales’ have entrenched themselves in the e literature and subconscious of aquarists and I think that these ideas are at best a waste of time and at worse detrimental to the health of the animal. Below, I hope to outline reasonable acclimation procedures and present reasons why some of the ‘acclimation myths’ should be abandoned.There are many ways to go about acclimating new animals to your aquarium. Here is my rundown on the basics for a new animal that looks healthy in a bag of relatively clear water.

  • Float the shipping bag in the new aquarium or sump to get the water in the bag to match the temperature of the tank (if the new animal is a fish or coral please use a quaranteen system to avoid introducing parasites to the show tank, but for cephs and other inverts this seems not to be an issue). . This should take no more than 10 or 15 minutes.
  • Remove the bag from the tank and either decant the animal into a bucket (making sure to put something under one side of the bucket to tilt the bucket so the water is deep enough to keep the animal comfortable) or open the bag and clip it to the side of the inside of the bucket. If decanting you will be doing the acclimation in the bucket, if clipping you will be doing the acclimation in the bag. Either way, the goal is to make sure none of the bag water makes it into your tank because it could be ‘infected’ with parasites, but more probably its nasty from having an animal sit in it for 24+ hours.
  • Begin adding tank water to the bag or bucket. This can be accomplished with a cup, or you can siphon water from the tank with an airline hose equipped with a valve or tied in a couple of knots to control the speed at which water is added. General rates of tank water addition are 1/2 cup every 3-5 minutes, or if dripping, 1-3 drops per second. If using a clipped bag you are looking to have extra water overflow into the bucket over time. This process should take 30 minutes to an hour, then move the animal to its new tank.

It should be glaringly obvious that there was no water testing mentioned in the above procedure. This is because, really, once you receive the animal you’ll have to do something with it regardless of the availability of water testing and the above procedure is pretty comprehensive. That doesn’t mean they can’t be useful. Mostly, we are concerned with salinity, pH and temperature so testing those parameters to determine when the tank water and the water the animal is in match can reduce the acclimation time. You don’t want to adjust any of these paramaters too quickly, but you also don’t want to dawdle. It seems that there isn’t much to be done about most other parameters, so testing doesn’t seem necessary except for the ones mentioned above if possible.The other parameter we care a lot about is ammonia, and it is important to note that it is linked with pH. Ammonia can be lethal to the animals, but its toxicity can be depressed by low pH. Over time in a closed shipping bag the pH of the water lowers which is great because the ammonia generated by the biological processes going on in the bag is rendered less toxic than it otherwise might be. However, once you open the bag and let fresh air in, the pH begins to rise and the ammonia becomes more toxic. This is why I suggest temperature acclimating while the bag is still sealed.If the water is nasty when the shipment arrives, if you test and find that ammonia is high, I would ignore most if not all of the acclimation procedure and get the animal out of the toxic soup immediately. Sure the other parameters may be off, but you have to get the animal out of the toxic water. Its a risk, but I feel its one worth talking because you know the bad water in the bag is killing the animal.All of the above can, of course, be modified based on your saltwater common sense and experience. You have to trust you, and no recipe can replace your developed saltwater thumb.The mythsThe biggest persistent myth I see is ‘the longer the acclimation the better’ which has resulted in people going through the procedure for 2-8 hours (in at least once case – over night!). The idea that the animals we are dealing with are fragile is true to some extent, but they are also pretty robust within reason and can deal with reasonable changes in environment. A super long acclimation just isn’t necessary and can be detrimental – ammonia levels can rise, temperature in the acclimating vessel can drop, and the animal can be stressed. Longer is not necessarily better, so either test to make decisions or be reasonable.The other myth I see happening with some frequency is bubbling air into the shipping bag. Sure it seems to make sense – the animal has been in a bag for a long time and the oxygen must be depleted so give it some. However, as we have seen above, this is the exact opposite of what you want to do because the fresh air will increase the pH of the water and will raise the toxicity of any ammonia that surely is in the water.I hope this is helpful, and as always, please let me know if anything is missing or if there are any questions.Finally, here is a link to one of my favorite online vendors acclimation instructions.http://www.liveaquaria.com/PIC/article.cfm?aid=157