How to Acclimate Corals in a Reef Tank

When acclimating a new coral make sure you keep it in a separate container from fish and invertebrates that you acclimate at the same time.

This slow acclimation method will slowly raise the pH; drip acclimation alters the bucket water to match the aquarium water parameters. Remember to always acclimate in a shaded or dark area as corals are sensitive to sudden light changes.

Time needed: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Acclimate Corals Steps

  1. Turn off the aquarium light

    Turn off the aquarium light to avoid stressing the corals and dim room lights.Reef Lighting

  2. Float sealed bag

    Float a sealed bag of corals in the aquarium or sump water for 15 to 30 minutes. The salesperson should have filled at least half the bag with air, enabling the bag to float in your aquarium. Floating the bag allows the water in the bag to gradually adjust to the same temperature as the aquarium water.Float sealed bag

  3. Put a clean bucket in front of the aquarium

    Put a clean, nontoxic, or food-grade container or bucket in front of the aquarium. The number and size of the corals you are adding to your aquarium determine the size of the bucket you will need. Generally, a three to five-gallon container will do.

  4. Pour the water into the bucket and add the corals

    Once the temperature of the water in the plastic bag is the same as the water in the aquarium, open the bag and pour the water into the bucket. Gently place the coral in the water you just poured. Hard coral needs to be carried by its stony part without touching the flesh.
    It is advisable to wear disposable sterile rubber gloves since some people are allergic to the toxins that corals release; gloves ensure that nothing on your hands affects the corals and can prevent being stung by aggressive corals. If there is not enough water to cover the corals, place something under one side of the bucket to make a pocket of deep water inside.Pour the water

  5. Add an ammonia neutralizing product

    Add an ammonia neutralizing product to the bucket of water with the corals. There are several products available at aquarium stores that will quickly neutralize ammonia.ammonia neutralizing

  6. Drip water from your aquarium into the container

    Start a siphon to slowly drip water from your aquarium into the container. The siphon is a section of airline tubing, generally four to six feet long, with an adjustable valve on one end. Place the end of the tubing without the valve in your aquarium; suck on the valve end to begin water flow. Place the tubing in the bucket and slowly open and close the valve until it drips two to four drops per second.

  7. Keep corals in the dark

    Cover the bucket to keep corals in the dark.

  8. Dip out about half of the water

    When the water in the bucket has doubled, dip out about half of the water and discard.

  9. Add more water

    Let the water level double again.

  10. Test the pH of the water in the bucket

    Test the pH of the water in the bucket. If it matches the water of the reef aquarium acclimation is complete. If not continue the drip method until the pH of the bucket matches your reef.

  11. Place corals in a clean container

    Once acclimation is complete place corals in a clean container with a premixed commercial coral dip. Follow the manufacturer’s directions on the coral dip; remove the desired amount of water from your reef and mix it with the recommended dip dosage.
    Gently place acclimated corals into this container for the manufacturer’s specified time, usually ten to fifteen minutes. Every few minutes, use a turkey baster to gently blast water at the corals to help circulate the water as well as to knock most pests off the coral.Coral dip

  12. Add the coral to the aquarium

    Next, transfer the coral to the aquarium. Some dips recommend a final rinsing of the coral in new water from your aquarium. Place the coral in the lower to the middle of your aquarium for the first week to allow the coral to slowly adjust to the intensity of the reef light. After the first week, move the coral to a more ideal spot in your aquarium.

  13. Add premixed saltwater to the aquarium

    Add premixed saltwater to the aquarium to replace the water that was removed during the acclimation process.

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