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Old 02-15-2005, 10:36 PM   #1
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I've been talking to the owners of 2 reputable fish stores in my area. Neither one do any type of acclimation other than temperature acclimation. They both float the new fish and inverts for about 15 minutes and then simply scoop them and let them loose. At first this alarmed me, but after talking with one of the owners, I can now understand why this is done.
The owner says that when the fish are shipped, naturally the ammonia in the bag increases and the pH decreases. As most of us know, the lower the pH, the less toxic the ammonia. As the pH decreases, the toxic NH3 molecules are converted to non toxic ammonium ions NH4+. For every decrease of 1 pH unit, the ammonium ions increase about a factor of 10.
So when the fish are shipped, the pH in the bag can reach a pH as low as 6.0 (according to the owner), however the fish are kept alive because the ammonia is mostly ammonium at this pH and not toxic.
When the fish or invert is drip acclimated, the pH is going to increase and the ammonia is going to be dissipated. However the pH increases faster than the ammonia is dissipated. As the pH increases, more and more ammonium ions convert back to ammonia. Ammonia is highly toxic to the fish and the owner says that if he drip acclimated the fish for 45 min, they would just be exposed to deadly ammonia with increasing concentration for 45 minutes (thus damaging the fish).
My question is: Does the pH of the water drop dramatically from the time I buy the fish from the LFS to the time I get it home? Any opinions?

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Old 02-15-2005, 10:48 PM   #2
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Not in nearly the way it is when retailers get them. Most fish retailers get have been traveling in their bags for several hours. It really depends how long it takes you to get home. Another factor with retailers is that when they get in their fish, more often there are several fish in the same bag which will cause a higher ammonia output in the bag. You should still acclimate the fish to the water and not just to the temps. The only fish and inverts we generally drip acclimate are saltwater inverts and any real sensitive fish. One way to protect a new fish from ammonia intoxication is to use Ammo-Lock or Prime water conditioner to seal the toxic molecules during water acclimation whether dripped or small amounts of water exchanged every few minutes.
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