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, since the fish have been in the bag for over a day, pH will be low and there will be a degree of ammonia present in the bags.

The first thing you will want to do is to get the fish out of the polluted water as quickly as possible without killing them in the process.

This has to be done carefully and with an understanding of how the fish will react to changes in chemistry. Please do your best to follow our recommendations.

  1. Open the boxes as quickly as you can.
  2. Open the bags to release the excess carbon dioxide and bring in fresh oxygen. Do not aerate the bags. Any sudden rise of pH at this point will shock the fish and turn the ammonia into a sure-kill poison.
  3. Immediately put in an ammonia neutralizer in the bags to arrest the build up and toxicity.
  4. Measure the temperature, salinity and pH of the bag water and adjust your receiving water to the same parameters. There are several techniques to do this. Many references are available over the internet.
  5. Once you have adjusted your receiving water to the same parameters as the shipping bag water, you can safely release the fish. Do not handle them with your bare hands. Use a glove. You are warm-blooded while the fish are not.
  6. With all your fishes now in your quarantine tanks, you can slowly adjust water parameters to normal levels. We recommend that pH be adjusted at the rate of 0.5 per hour.

We can’t stress enough that a very big part of your success as a marine fish importer will depend on proper acclimation procedures. Proper acclimation eliminates the disappointment of having otherwise healthy fish die. It helps the fish adjust to the relocation with minimal stress and reduces the chances of stress-induced diseases. It will certainly make a big difference on the health and beauty of the fish your customers will be receiving from you.

For more information and other useful tips, go to our FAQS page.

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