How do I acclimate new fish to my system?

Prior to adding fish to your system, it is important to go through an acclimation process. This makes it less stressful for the fish while providing you a greater level of bio-security. The goal of the acclimation process is to ensure that your fish are healthy and free of disease and to reduce the stress of the move and new water quality conditions.

Since you want to avoid fish disease and parasites in your system, be sure to start with a quality source of fish that you are confident is healthy.  Responsible fish suppliers can provide a fish health certificate and will demonstrate to you that they have strict bio-security protocol within their facility.  Even with the knowledge that you have an excellent supplier, you still need to inspect the fish upon arrival, prior to bringing them into your facility, and to acclimate them to your water quality.

Once you’ve inspected the fish and are confident that there are no obvious health issues, bring them into the facility and begin the acclimation process.  Many growers add the step of quarantining the incoming fish in a separate system prior to introducing them into the aquaponic system.  Either way, the acclimation process needs to be done.  Essentially, you want to acclimate them to your water by adding small amounts of your system water to the bag or container the incoming fish are in.  This results in a slow dilution of the water from the supplier as you add your water.  As more and more of your water is added, the fish are slowly acclimated to your pH, temperature and other water quality factors.  Once you have diluted enough so the pH in the bag matches that of your water, you can gently net the fish from the bag and place them in your tank.  Do not add the water from the bag to your system water, or you could be inadvertently be adding snails, parasites or bacteria that could be harmful.