Slow Acclimation vs. Quick-Release Fish Acclimation

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We've recently had a couple inquiries on why our acclimation procedures are so different from others they have seen. A person said that in one instance they were instructed to just open the bag and pour the fish directly into the tank, with no acclimation and the fish did great. They also said that ones they brought home from a pet shop and acclimated slowly, died shortly after. They couldn't understand how Angels Plus' procedure could be considered better in light of their experience. This seems like a good time to delve into this subject.

First, when a fish dies, we really have no good way of determining exactly why it died. Was it diseased? Did it experience some other trauma that contributed to its condition? Was there a substance in the new water that was toxic or some other hidden stress factor? Was it acclimated too fast, too slow, or maybe a combination of any or all of the above? The fact that it died should not automatically lead us to the conclusion that it was the slow acclimation.

Many fish keepers tend to measure things, like pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. If those are fine, some will claim the water is perfect. Yet, we fail to realize that water is a universal solvent. Almost everything will dissolve in it and the number of possible toxins that could be measured (if we had the ability) is almost endless. Some of these things a fish may handle if slowly acclimated to them. Others may be deadly if presented in full force all at once. Also, what a fish can handle when not under stress is usually quite different from what it can take when other stress factors have affected it for a long trip to their new environment. To analyze a problem when dealing with an infinitely complex set of variables, scientists are often forced to resort to "outcome driven" information analysis. In other words, outcome driven studies start with events known to occur and then look for the scientific explanations of how and why it occurred. In this instance, we don't go so far as to try and figure out exactly why it occurs, just that it does and what method is best to overcome the negative outcome.

Having shipped well over 100,000 bags of fish to many climates and far-away places, we have a good collection of data to examine. For years, we always contacted customers after shipments and took a short survey on the results and the exact steps they took getting the fish into their tanks. Our experience tells us that the results aren't even close. Angelfish shipped by us that were slowly acclimated have far higher survival rates than those that were plopped into a tank. This does not mean that other methods don't work, they obviously do - at least in the right situation and may even be the best method in those situations, but how does one know in advance what the new environment is going to present to the fish? We've found that we cannot predict how another person's situation might affect a fish sent from our water to theirs. We've found it's best to go slow if you don't know. Of course, a person can always risk one fish on the quick method and observe its reaction carefully for 30 minutes. That will teach them a lot, but it will put the fish at potential risk.

Have we proven why slow acclimation works? No, just that it is the safest method for our customers receiving our fish, based on our customer's experiences.

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