Drip acclimation for your new shrimps - written by Ros Shackleton
Why is it necessary?
Hopefully this article will encourage the move completely away from just floating bags in the recipient tank for half an hour to match temperatures to the more shrimp-safe method of drip-acclimation.
Shrimp become acclimatised to their water parameters and changing these parameters suddenly can lead to death. Many people think acclimating shrimp (and even fish) just means floating the bag in the receiving tank for the temps to equalise or matching pH which is actually nowhere near as important as TDS and temperature although generally speaking it is safer for the shrimp to go into slightly higher TDS and slightly cooler temp than the other way round.
You can measure the TDS by using a TDS pen. You’ll need to research what your particular breed of shrimp require in terms of GH/KH, TDS, pH and temperature and try to match it as near as possible in the tank you’ll be eventually placing the shrimp. Ideally this should match with the tank the shrimp are coming from so you could get those details from the person you are getting the shrimp from. Try match as far as possible your main tank or quarantine tank with these however it is not always possible (sometimes what the seller says they are in and what they actually arrive in is quite different) which makes drip-acclimation even more important. If you already have shrimp or fish in the main tank it is good practice to quarantine any newcomers for 2-3 weeks in case they have infections or are infested with parasites.
TDS 3 pen if possible or simple TDS pen and thermometer
Small container at least 4 times the volume of shrimp transport water,
2 clips to hold air-line in place both ends (plastic clothes pegs work just as well as long as they don’t occlude the line. Sellotape can be used at a push if clips/pegs not available)
Air-line valve (or modify flow using loose knots or a roller-clamp if you have one)
Top-up water matched to the donating tank for when that level goes down,
Thick towel for covering the shrimp container to reduce light and minimise stress
Fish-net – this is the one time a net is preferable to a glass shrimp catcher as you don’t want to transfer any transport water into the receiving tank once the shrimp are fully acclimatised.
Gently release the shrimp into the small container with their transport water and discard the transport bag. Place the container lower than the donating tank to allow syphoning to occur. If there was moss or netting transported with the shrimp, put that in the container too so that they feel they have somewhere to hide and something to cling to. If not add some of your own.
Test the TDS and temp of both the shrimp container and donating tank. If they are relatively close i.e. within 100ppm it should take about an hour or so – if they aren’t closely matched then it will and should take quite a few hours. So make sure that no children or pets (or nosy adults!) can disturb the process.
Place one end of the air-line well down into the donating tank so that it always below the water level and secure into place. Get the syphoning going by whatever means you have – if it’s a clean piece of air-line you might wish to create a vacuum by mouth or use a suitably sized syringe to get the water moving. Adjust the flow to about 1 drop per second using loose knots, a line valve or roller clamp and once that is achieved, secure the now dripping air-line into the shrimp container preferably so the end of the air-line is under water to prevent splashing and stress. Reduce the room lighting if you can and cover the container with the towel to reduce the amount of light and stress.
Every 10-15 minutes for the first hour, test the shrimp container TDS and temp. After an hour you may have an idea how long the whole process will be. Be prepared for several hours depending on the original mismatch of parameters and don’t try to rush the process. Keep testing the TDS and temp every so often and when the TDS is within 100ppm you can increase the drop frequency to 2-3 drops per second. Make sure you top up the donating tank as you go along so that the process isn’t interrupted and the air-line is always under water. This will also make sure that the filter isn’t compromised by low water level.
If the shrimp container looks like it is getting full - remove no more than one third of the water and discard after checking there aren’t any shrimp in there. When the container TDS is within 10 ppm of the tank and the temps are less than 1° apart then the shrimp should be acclimatised to their new tank parameters and you can gently transfer only the shrimp by net into their new home after turning the tank lights out. Always double check the net to make sure there aren’t any trapped in the netting. Do not feed until the next day. If they are going into a quarantine tank you will have to repeat the process at the end of the quarantine period when transferring to the main tank, but it probably won’t take as long as they should be closely matched anyway.