When receiving marine fish from overseas, you can expect that some of the fish will be breathing heavily or lying in the bottom of the bag looking dead. This is no cause for panic. You should also expect that temperature and salinity could be different from your receiving water; and, while the fish have been in the bag for over a day, pH has dropped and ammonia has built up in the bags.
Marine fish are very sensitive to water changes and any drastic change in pH, temperature and salinity can be fatal. Although the priority is to to get the fish out of the polluted water in the shipping bags as quickly as possible, the process should be done carefully. Please do your best to follow our recommendations. Go over our article on proper acclimation procedures.
It’s time for you to check for disease and injuries so that they can be treated.
Marine fish to be shipped undergo a pre-pack check for imperfections and health. Then, they are bagged individually. But no matter how much care is given in the screening process, some injuries are hard to see with the naked eye or overlooked and they magnify after hours in a bag of deteriorated water. This can also be aggravated by a case of ammonia burn.
Survey your fish carefully for the problems mentioned above. Any open wounds, sores or abrasions can preempt infection. A therapeutant treatment to prevent and cure bacterial and fungal disease will be a good start for this. Isolate the affected fish and dispense prophylaxis or treatment in the prescribed dose.
Note: Take care when dispensing medicine that carry a formula for the treatment of parasites when fish have open wounds and sores. Some may aggravate tissue damage and dehydrate the fish, causing more harm than good.
When ammonia in the shipping bag water reaches toxic levels, the surface areas of the fish are chemically burned and the natural mucus is removed from its body exposing him to infection. This will immediately leave some reddening, commonly on the fins, where there is less mucus for protection, and eventually the affected area turns black if the cells were damaged enough.
Ammonia burns should be treated in the same way as injuries. Isolate the affected fish in a hospital tank and dispense medication for the the general prophylaxis of surface abrasions, wounds and lesions.