The Acclimation Box: Can This Thing Really Work?

Acclimation boxes are an essential tool for adding new fish to an existing tank, but a tool which is often overlooked or disregarded. I was once...
  1. evolved

    evolved The Wrasse Guy Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Partner Member 2019 Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor AZ FRAG Member Expert Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2010
    Messages:
    8,080
    Likes Received:
    5,661
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    The Acclimation Box: Can This Thing Really Work?


    Elite Aquatic’s Acclimation Box
    Acclimation boxes are an essential tool for adding new fish to an existing tank, but a tool which is often overlooked or disregarded. I was once a skeptic myself, and I have a feeling many reading this are far from convinced. After all, how could this little clear box do much of anything? Let’s find out!

    The general idea here is to place the acclimation box into the tank, and then place the new fish into the box. One or two PVC pieces in the box provide some cover for the fish, and the box allows you to feed the fish directly at feeding time. Then after 2-3 days or so (we will explore this timing in a bit), you let the new guy or gal out to swim freely among the established tank mates. The goal here is to diffuse potential aggression while removing the risk of injuries. By giving the established fish a chance to “check out” the new guy/gal with a safety barrier, social roles can be expressed without either the established or new fish being able to physically touch (injure) each other.


    A young Cirrhilabrus earlei in an acclimation box with PVC pieces

    Now let me be clear; this is not a miracle tool! It will not permit you to add two species of fish which are conventionally incompatible with each other! However, it is a great tool for mixing similar species which may not always get along well. Personally, I am a devoted wrasse-keeper and I religiously use an acclimation box when adding new wrasses to my system. I am also an advocate of proper quarantine (QT) and urge you to do the same prior to adding new fish to your display tank.

    When choosing an acclimation box, you may find there are a lot of choices on the market today. However, think function over form when making a selection. Be mindful of the mechanism the lid uses (hinged, sliding, or other), how the box attaches to the tank (suction cups v. hanging clips), etc. I cannot say I know of any one box on the market which is universal for every tank; you will have to decide which is best suited for you. My personal favorite is the Elite Aquatics box shown at the top of this article, and the reason it is my favorite is simple: the white acrylic bottom. I have another box which has a clear bottom, and sometimes fish stress out trying to escape through the bottom. A piece of plastic starboard on the bottom of a clear box could be just as effective as the white acrylic bottom.

    Using an acclimation box is simple, but the important thing about using an acclimation box is vigilant observation from the aquarist. After the new fish is placed into the box, give them some time to settle down and for the established fish to take some interest in the new arrival. I like to take a seat across the room and watch from a distance; it becomes obvious very quickly when an established fish takes issue with the new addition. Watch for fish to approach the box and flash or display towards the new guy – this is fairly normal and expected to some degree – do not panic. If a fish “sees red” towards the new one, you will witness them trying to attack/nip the new fish through the acrylic. It is this latter situation where you are witnessing signs of incompatibility and must be patient over the next several days. Take a bit of time each day to observe from a distance; you are waiting for this type of behavior to cease. Under no circumstance should you release the new addition if these clear signs of incompatibility continue. Ideally, I like to leave the new addition in the box for 2-3 days to allow enough time to observe the existing fish but not unduly prolong any stress the box may cause on the new fish. If after 1 full day (including one night) all interactions look mild, then I may release the new fish, but I typically wait at least 2 days. If there are signs of aggression after 3 days, I continue to wait (watching for the aggression levels to drop daily). If by day 5 the situation does not improve, you should have a contingency plan in place for the new addition. This plan should not involve adding the new addition unless the aggressor is removed. If a week passes with the new fish in the box and there are still high levels of aggression, it’s time to abort the effort and accept the incompatibility. It’s worthwhile to leave the QT system operational during this time period, as it offers a convenient fallback/contingency plan for the new fish or the aggressor (assuming you can catch it!).

    With wrasses, I seldom have the need to continue using the box past day 3. I continue to be amazed how much of a difference the box can make. I have seen very aggressive posturing and even nipping towards the new addition the first day and then nearly complete disinterest by day 3. I do not wish to imagine what would have happened without the box!

    Give an acclimation box a try! I bet you will find your next experience of adding a new fish to your system a lot less stressful for you and for the fish!


    If you love wrasse check out the Wrasse Lovers Thread.

    For more information on all types of fish check out our fish discussion forum here.
     
    cracker, mmw64, reefndude and 3 others like this.
    Tags:

  2. dbl

    dbl It Takes Less Energy to be Nice Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Leader Partner Member 2019 Reef Tank 365 Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Hospitality Award

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2014
    Messages:
    11,015
    Likes Received:
    40,964
    Location:
    SW Florida
    Nice article.
     
  3. Keenan

    Keenan TCMAS Member R2R Supporter Reef Tank 365 Build Thread Contributor

    Joined:
    May 13, 2016
    Messages:
    212
    Likes Received:
    269
    Location:
    MN
    Very well written article, Hunter. I was turned into a believer myself once I was convinced to buy one. I now will never introduce another fish without one. The white acrylic bottom is also a great idea
     
  4. yellojello

    yellojello Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2010
    Messages:
    317
    Likes Received:
    151
    Location:
    San Jose
    Nice article! I have the Same Elite Aquatics box. Built well but some gripes. The slits on the side are sharp, so be careful when wiping with hands or applying force. I cut myself.

    Also, suction cups are strong, but difficult to remove since they are too small and behind the box to get fingernail in. I used a credit card instead.

    If you have a plastic rim on top of tank, the lid won't open or close, so you have to be careful putting in fish without it getting out.

    I add some chaeto in addition to pvc pipes. Provides more natural shelter and also may have some pods for snacking.

    For extra security if you move the box down into the tank, I use an extra mag float cleaner on top of the lid to lock it down.

    Pellets and food can be fed through the slits on top and side by placing under my autofeeder, or use turkey baster.
     
  5. Ocelaris

    Ocelaris Valuable Member R2R Excellence Award Build Thread Contributor NJRC Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2016
    Messages:
    1,412
    Likes Received:
    819
    They're finally back in Stock, so perfect timing!
     
  6. powers2001

    powers2001 started reefing 1999 R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

    Joined:
    May 2, 2013
    Messages:
    2,812
    Likes Received:
    712
    Location:
    MONTANA^^^Big Sky Country
    evolved likes this.
  7. Oceanreef

    Oceanreef Member

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2018
    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    California
    Hi Hunter! Great thread!
    My new melanurus is done with QT, he’s in acclimation meet and greet, my multicolor Lubbock’s wrasse flashed him a couple of times and since has ignored him as has my leopard wrasse. He’s been in the acclimation box 1 day. How can I tell if the melanurus will be aggressive toward my established fish? He’s pretty bold, no hiding out in the open since day one ....not the typical hiding x 3-4 days lol
     
  8. locito277

    locito277 Valuable Member

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2016
    Messages:
    1,757
    Likes Received:
    1,056
    Acclimation boxes make all the difference I. The world
     
    Oceanreef likes this.
  9. Greenstreet.1

    Greenstreet.1 Valuable Member

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2013
    Messages:
    5,649
    Likes Received:
    2,954
    Location:
    Li New York
    It’s a must for me when I add any fish to my reef.
     
  10. mitch91175

    mitch91175 Valuable Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2014
    Messages:
    1,678
    Likes Received:
    886
    Location:
    Rowlett, TX
    Sucks that the one the OP is using is discontinued. I am looking for something big enough to acclimate tangs.
     
  11. mitch91175

    mitch91175 Valuable Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2014
    Messages:
    1,678
    Likes Received:
    886
    Location:
    Rowlett, TX

    I have this fish trap, but would rather have something with suction cups. Tang I want to acclimate is an Achilles Tang so want to be very careful. May have to make my own if I cannot find one I like.
     
  12. Greenstreet.1

    Greenstreet.1 Valuable Member

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2013
    Messages:
    5,649
    Likes Received:
    2,954
    Location:
    Li New York
    Turn a large one of these into one you can use a mag cleaner to hold it to the tank. I use the medium one as my acc box I just drilled some holes in it and use an old aqua mag that I had laying around.

    [​IMG]
     
    Kactai and mitch91175 like this.
  13. mitch91175

    mitch91175 Valuable Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2014
    Messages:
    1,678
    Likes Received:
    886
    Location:
    Rowlett, TX
    Large one of what @Greenstreet.1?
     
  14. Greenstreet.1

    Greenstreet.1 Valuable Member

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2013
    Messages:
    5,649
    Likes Received:
    2,954
    Location:
    Li New York
    Don’t know what happened there but pic should show now
     
  15. mitch91175

    mitch91175 Valuable Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2014
    Messages:
    1,678
    Likes Received:
    886
    Location:
    Rowlett, TX

    Did you drill holes in it?
     
  16. Greenstreet.1

    Greenstreet.1 Valuable Member

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2013
    Messages:
    5,649
    Likes Received:
    2,954
    Location:
    Li New York
    Yes I did all around and a few in the bottom.
     
  17. Greenstreet.1

    Greenstreet.1 Valuable Member

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2013
    Messages:
    5,649
    Likes Received:
    2,954
    Location:
    Li New York
    Petco always have them in stock and you may be able to get a magnet there also if you don’t already have one.
     
  18. reef lover

    reef lover It's a reef thing.... R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Reef Tank 365 Build Thread Contributor Hospitality Award Hudson Valley Reef Keepers

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2013
    Messages:
    6,402
    Likes Received:
    20,463
    Location:
    new york
    Octoaquatics sells some nice ones...
     
    Savage338 likes this.
  19. drtrash

    drtrash Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2010
    Messages:
    964
    Likes Received:
    361
    Location:
    scottsdale, AZ
    I have a couple of octoaquatics, great for fish and inverts acclimation
     
  20. ca1ore

    ca1ore Valuable Member R2R Supporter CTARS Member R2R Excellence Award R2R TV Featured Reef Tank 365 Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2014
    Messages:
    5,750
    Likes Received:
    6,899
    Location:
    Stamford, CT
    Totally agree that an acclimation (more socialization) box is an essential tool in the fish-introduction-toolbox. It doesn't always work, but usually helps. I keep a new fish in mine for 3 days at minimum, even if the residents appear to be ignoring the newcomer. Ended up making mine because couldn't find one large enough for my purposes and they lacked 'features' I coveted.
     
    Kactai and evolved like this.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page

Loading...