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How to Acclimate a Fish to a New Bowl or Aquarium

Updated on March 19, 2013

How To Keep New Fish Alive

When you bring your aquarium fish home, make sure you acclimate the fish to your new bowl of aquarium if you want them to stay alive. There are some simple but very important steps to take when adding new fish to an aquarium.

If you take the 15 minutes or so that it takes to introduce fish to a new aquarium properly, the result will be a much higher probability of success for the new fish and lower probability of disease to the old fish.

keep your new fish healthy by acclimating them well
keep your new fish healthy by acclimating them well | Source

Add Fish Slowly

Never add more than 2-3 fish at a time. It's better to go back to the store two weeks later for more.

Get New Fish Home Fast

For starters, once you have purchased a new pet for your home fish tank, it's time to go home. Don't stop off at a few more places to shop while the poor fish is left in the car. There's oxygen in that little bag of water, but only so much, and the temperature will change much more quickly in the bag than it would in a 10 gallon tank. Also, make sure you have not purchased too many fish for your fish tank size.

Getting your pet home quickly will reduce stress that can come from excessive temperature change or lack of oxygen. This stress is what can bring on disease that not only may cause problems for this fish, but can end up taxing your entire aquarium. For best results, make the pet store your last stop before going home.

Leave Fish in the Bag

Keep the bag closed and equalize the water temperature first.

let the bag float on top for 15 minutes
let the bag float on top for 15 minutes | Source

Equalize the Temperature

Once you make it home, place the unopened bag in the water of your home aquarium for at least 15 minutes. This will allow the temperature of the water in the bag to gradually change to be equal to the temperature of the water in the tank or fish bowl.

This gradual change is much better for the fish, and will make the transition much easier - at least where the temperature variance is concerned.You will also be entertained by the other fish in the tank as they check out the big strange bag floating around at the water's surface.

Don't forget about your fish! Leaving the fish in the bag too long, or forgetting about it, can cause a depletion of oxygen in the water that will harm or kill your new fish.

Add Only the Fish

Don't dump the water into your tank - just the fish please.

Adding Fish to a New Aquarium

Now it is finally time to get the fish in the tank, but before you do that take note. Whatever you do, don't dump that nasty pet store water into your pristine home aquarium or fish bowl. That water can bring with it diseases that you really don't want.

To properly introduce a new fish to an aquarium, use a small net to scoop them out of the pet store bag and gently place them in the fish tank water. This leaves the bag of water out of your tank.

Once you have added each of the fish, you can toss that pet store water down the drain and wash it away.

When to Feed New Aquarium Fish

Wait at least an hour or two from the time you add new aquarium fish before the next feeding. This gives them time to settle down and get acclimated to their new surroundings so that they may actually eat. It also allows the other fish to get to know them a bit.

Feed just as you normally would, adding only enough food that all the fish will eat in a few minutes. If they don't seem to eat well at first, don't sweat it. They are likely to be good to go at the next meal.

this is the happy face of a fish that was acclimated to his tank properly
this is the happy face of a fish that was acclimated to his tank properly | Source

A Quick Review For Introducing Fish

Remember, to make sure your new fish stay alive, follow these steps:

  1. Don't add more than 3 at a time
  2. Bring them home quickly
  3. Equalize the water temperature in the bag before opening
  4. Add only the fish, leaving the pet store water behind
  5. Feed them a couple hours later

If you follow these simple tips to acclimate fish to their new home, you have done your best.


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    • Night Magic profile image

      Night Magic 5 years ago from Canada

      Congrats on the Hub of the Day. I find it so relaxing to watch fish swim in an aquarium. Thanks for the tips. I never seem to be able to keep fish alive for long so I am going to follow some of your points next time and see what happens.

    • CZCZCZ profile image

      CZCZCZ 5 years ago from Oregon

      Excellent tips for acclimating fish to a new tank. Congrats on getting hub of the day honors.

    • Dreamhowl profile image

      Jessica Marello 5 years ago from United States

      Congratulations on earning Hub of the Day, by the way!

    • NornsMercy profile image

      Chace 5 years ago from Charlotte, NC

      Yay! I love fish and aquariums. I've been doing all these things properly except the not dumping the pet store water into my tank... 'cause I sorta figured that the pet store water was better than mine...? Eww.. won't be doing that anymore. Voted up and more!

    • lisawondoloski profile image

      Lisa Wondoloski 5 years ago from Maryland

      Congratulations HOTD! Great info and great photos!

    • ComfortB profile image

      Comfort Babatola 5 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

      Wow! I got to see what the happy face of a fish look like. What an interesting read!

      Thanks, and congrats on winning the HOTD award.

    • profile image

      gfcampbell 5 years ago

      Love the good info especially the review..Good job!

    • profile image

      ignugent17 5 years ago

      Congratulations Hub of the day!

    • Junaid Ghani profile image

      Junaid Ghani Durrani 5 years ago from Karachi, Pakistan

      Very nice and interesting hub. I like it really. Great work!

    • Dreamhowl profile image

      Jessica Marello 5 years ago from United States

      Good advice! So many people are uninformed about how to properly introduce new fish to an aquarium. Voted up and useful.