Acclimating Your Saltwater and Freshwater Fish – Float vs. Drip
Author: Kara K.

Float Acclimation
The most commonly used method of acclimating freshwater and saltwater fish. This is when you float the bag that your fish has been placed in, in the water of your aquarium. Floating for approximately 30 minutes ensures that the temperature in the bag water slowly begins to match the temperature of your aquarium, making it less stressful on the fish. After floating for 15 minutes, double the volume of water in the bag with your aquarium water. Continue floating for another 10 minutes or so.

Just dumping them into the aquarium without acclimating is likely to cause enough shock to kill your new fish. After acclimating, the bag is opened or cut, and the fish is taken out of the bag with a net and released into it’s new home.

Pros: Temperature is most likely to cause shock in fish. The Float method ensures that the dangers of temperature change are eliminated.
Cons: Owners commonly will dump the bag water into their aquarium along with the new fish. If the water in your new fish’s bag is contaminated with whatever was in it’s previous aquarium, that bacteria will then be in yours.
Float acclimation

Drip Acclimation
Less heard of than the common float method. Drip acclimation requires:

1. A clean bowl large enough to hold your new fish and twice the water contents of its bag.
2. A net.
3. Air pump tubing.

With the tubing, create a siphon from your aquarium, into the clean bowl. Place the all contents of your new fish’s bag into the bowl. Siphon should drip 2-3 drops per second (a knot can be tied in it, and loosened/tightened to adjust the water flow) into the bowl. Let drip until the water in the bowl has doubled in volume. This process should take approximately 30-45 minutes, and definitely no longer than an hour. With a net, gently scoop your fish from underneath and place him into the aquarium.

Pros: Especially handy for saltwater fish because it gradually acclimates them to the salinity, pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels in your established aquarium.
Cons: Temperatures in the low volume of water held in the bowl can drop considerably in half an hour, increasing the risk that your fish will suffer temperature change shock.