Did you know that more than 80% of wild caught marine species die somewhere between capture and your aquarium?


Most new arrivals you see at your local fish store are hanging onto life by a thread. And being moved from the LFS tank to yours without the proper precautions could easily be fatal.


The most stressful and dangerous time in the life of any captive marine organism is being moved from one aquatic environment to another with different water parameters

Move me with care

Move me with care

This means even slight differences in pH, temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen and water pollution between the 2 different saltwater environments can cause potentially fatal stress.

Think of us humans suddenly moving to another planet with a slightly different atmosphere and trying to breath!

Up to 90% of captive marine life mortality comes from the physical, chemical, biological and ecological stresses caused by being transferred from one aquatic environment to another and that is the bottom line!

But these massive marine life losses are easily avoidable! A good acclimation procedure is key here, as is understanding the stresses placed on marine life taken from one body of water and put into another non-identical one.


Understand the underlying cause of the stress:

  • Physical stress is caused by differences in water temperature, cold stress is much worse than slight heat stress. The ocean is always the same temperature, so when bringing a new pet home float the bag in display tank water for 15 minutes to equalise temperatures.
  • Chemical stress is usually caused by differences in pH and also accumulation of ammonia; which can burn gills, in shipping water (always add an ammonia destroyer or buffer to the shipping water). The key is to slowly add water from your display tank to the shipping water.
  • This is biological stress!

    This is biological stress!

    Biological stress is caused by the unwitting introduction of parasites into your display tank, this happens a LOT. You should always quarantine new purchases in a separate bare-bones tank for 4 weeks to ensure no parasites make it past this point. They would have been revealed to you by this time and if you do spot them, you can easily medicate the water to safely remove them.

  • Ecological stress is caused by putting your new pet into an established ecosystem, that already has a pecking order in regards to food and space. Bullying is the main manifestation of this stress and is another great reason why you should quarantine. After this time your marine specimen will be much less stressed and able to cope with the wider display tank environment.

As you can see there are a whole host of stressors that can easily cause harm to your new marine pets. With a good acclimation process these stresses can be minimised.


When you are at the fish store ready to take home your new aquarium pet there are steps you can already take to help with the acclimation process:

  1. Ask for oxygen instead of air to be put in the shipping bag.
  2. Add an ammonia destroyer/buffer to the shipping water.
  3. Keep bag upright and insulated from temperature fluctuations where possible on the journey home (plastic food coolers are excellent for this)
  4. Get home as quickly as possible and try to keep movement and vibration to a minimum.


Once you get your saltwater aquarium pets home

The best acclimation method I know is the Drip method. This is the very gradual (drip by drip) transfer of your tanks aquarium water via small diameter tube to your new pets holding water.

Angels need special care

Angels especially need careful acclimation

You should aim for about 2 drips per second and the whole process should take over an hour so you get about 3 times the original volume of shipping water. You will need to measure water parameters (temperature, pH and specific gravity) of your saltwater aquarium’s water and the shipping water at the beginning and at the end to ensure they basically end up the same.

Getting rid of stress!

A good acclimation process like the one above should eliminate physical stress and chemical stress.

Biological stress can be removed by quarantining your new pets in a bare-bones quarantine tank for at least 4 weeks before they go into your display tank. Almost all diseases or parasites will show up in this time and can be treated swiftly without putting your other marine life at risk.

Finally Ecological stress is simply a matter of researching and choosing your saltwater aquarium inhabitants wisely, ensuring they are compatible and will get along together. If there are problems with bullying there are a variety of strategies that can help with this.

If you would like more information on minimizing disease in your tank, click here for my FREE eBook with my 9 saltwater aquarium success tools “Minimizing Disease In Your Saltwater Aquarium

Andrej Brummer
Saltwater Aquarium Advice Scientist




The post How To Easily Prevent The Majority Of Deaths Of Your New Marine Pets by Andrej Brummer first appeared on Saltwater Aquarium Advice.