How to Acclimate

How to Acclimate

When I acclimate, I normally do it one of two ways. In this article I’ll be going over both the ways I acclimate and how to do so.

When acclimating a new fish, I either do drip acclimation or float & cup acclimation. Both are simple and easy to do. I’ve been doing my acclimations like this for years and have not had any issues arise from doing so. I consider these two methods to be the safest and most gentle for the fish who is in a new environment.

Before I get into the two ways I acclimate, I’d like to go over why you should acclimate.

Why to Acclimate

Acclimation is a necessary part of fishkeeping and not doing so risks causing shock and death to any new fish.

Acclimation helps a fish slowly become more accustomed to the new environment it is to live in. The environment you take/buy a fish from can be vastly different than the one you are about to place it in. If the temps are to different the fish can go into temperature shock and this can possibly lead to death. That’s why it’s important to get them acclimated to the temp. If the ph or other parameters are to different they can also go into shock which may cause death as well.

Another reason is the fact that the fish isn’t necessarily suddenly tossed into a new tank. With acclimation the fish will have some time to calm down before going into a new environment. For example, if you bought the fish from a store and it’s had to deal with a car ride or if it was shipped and it’s been in the dark for awhile. Acclimation helps the fish also be able to relax a little and be “still” after a bumpy car ride(even the best driver in the world will encounter some bumps). They also will help the fish get accustomed to the lighting. Even if it’s lights out in the tank, some light will get in and it’ll not be as dark as a closed box.

These are a few of the reasons as to why acclimation is important.

Now I’ll get into the ways I acclimate, starting with drip acclimation.

Drip Acclimation

What you need-
  • Airline tubing(should be rinsed and have some water run through it a bit before using in acclimation)
  • Prime(optional)
  • Bucket or container
Drip acclimation is a great and easy way to acclimate. It allows your fish adequate time to get used to the new parameters and temp, while all you have to do is tie a knot and wait! This is a very good method to use if you are busy and can’t come back to the acclimation every 15 minutes as you just set up the tubing and wait for it to be finished. Another bonus is the fact you get to adjust the drip, so you can have the acclimation go as quickly or slowly as you want.

Here’s how to go about it-

1. Get a bucket or container (or both) to set the fish/bag in. I typically will use a foodsafe container to hold the bag and place both the bag and foodsafe container into the bucket.

2. Place the fish in the bucket/container. Once you have the bag safely in the container/bucket open it.

3.(optional) use a drop of prime. See note 1 as to why.

4. Get your airline tubing in the tank you’ll be putting the fish in and tie a very loose knot. You’ll want it to be easy to tighten but not so tight water does not flow easily. Start siphoning.

5.(optional) if using a bucket or large container, use the siphon to fill the bottom of the container or bucket with about an inch of water. See note 2 as to why.

6. Tighten the knot and adjust how many drips you want. The more drips the quicker the acclimation. For more fragile fish or where the parameters are vastly different, you’ll want a slow drip. For hardy fish and similar parameters, a quicker drip is acceptable.

7. Wait for the bag or container to fill up then dump half the water out. Wait for the bag to fill up again. After it’s filled up again you can then net the fish out of the bag and place it in the tank.


Note 1
Prime will help reduce any nitrates or ammonia that’s built up in the bag. This also helps there not be a spike once the bag is opened. Prime is pretty potent, so you only need a drop in a bag lest it be a very large bag.

Note 2
I have no idea how many times this had helped me. When I drip acclimate I usually do so by placing the bag in a small food container and then placing both in a bucket. I’ve had multiple fish manage to jump out of the bag while acclimating and having that inch of water has saved their lives. I highly suggest doing this as a precaution.

Floating & Cup Acclimation

What you need-
  • Cup/mug/measuring cup/exc.
  • Prime (optional)
  • Chip bag clip (optional)
This type of acclimation is another good and gently way to acclimate fish. It’s not quite as gentle as the drip simply because you have to add more water at once, but it is still one of the ones I use frequently. When I use this it’s typically for my QT’s which are large tubberware tubs. Because they are on the floor it can be difficult to do a drip acclimation, so this is my go to QT acclimation.

Here’s how to go about it-

1. Place the bag in the tank and let it float.

2. Open the bag and secure it. Make sure that it’s in the water but that it will not float around to much and the top will stay upwards.

3. (Optional) Use a chip clip to secure the bag to the side of the tank. It’s best to clip it in a way that one part of the clip is actually in the bag, that way you can easily add water.

4.(Optional) Put a drop of prime in the bag. See note 1 as to why.

5. Wait 15 minutes after beginning to float the bag.

6. Gently add approximately 1/8 a cup of tank water to the bag.

7. Repeat steps 5 and 6. After the first addition of water you can add a bit more water than 1/8, around 1/4 each time you add water. For more delicate fish you may want to do 1/8 each time just so they have a slower adjustment. Do this until the bag becomes almost full of water.

8. Complete and net the fish out.


Note 1

Prime will help reduce any nitrates or ammonia that’s built up in the bag. This also helps there not be a spike once the bag is opened. Prime is pretty potent, so you only need a drop in a bag lest it be a very large bag.


First release
Last update
5.00 star(s) 3 ratings

More resources from Platylover

Latest reviews

Great article but I'd also note that, sometimes after long trips that fish have taken (3+ day trips) in shipping the ammonia has built up and it would be wise to just temperature acclimate them. But if you are getting low ph fish to go into high ph than I would always advice to drip acclimate.
Excellent Article ! I loved it ! :)
Thanks! I acclimate exactly like this, and it will be really helpful to let everyone know about this, although some may have their own opinions. Nonetheless, it is a good article!
I’m sure others will have differing opinions(just like I do when I read how others acclimate sometimes lol), and that’s fine, but that’s the reason I put “this is what I do” or “this is what I suggest.” And for me this is more of a way to make things easier and help others. This way when I’m asked how to acclimate I can just link this thread and cut down on response time. Makes it significantly easier! And others can find this information whenever they need to as well. Easier all around. Thanks for the review!
Top Bottom