Coral Acclimation Guide: How To Properly Acclimate Coral
Shipping coral is always stressful on the animal even those times when it looks fantastic right out of the box. Because of this stress we always recommend acclimating your new coral properly and it really shouldn’t take longer than half an hour. The process we follow is listed below.
Step 1: Turn Aquarium lights down
Your new coral has been shut in a dark box for the last 14-24 hours disrupting its normal light schedule. This can cause additional stress throwing it directly under intense lighting. The main reason however is that it’s highly likely your lights/settings are different than what it has been under. Adjusting to your lights is important. We typically turn down our lights and set them on an acclimation schedule to slowly raise back up over the course of a few days to a week. Alternatively, you can place your new coral in a darker spot of the tank and slowly move it to the spot you want it over the course of a few days to a week.
Step 2: Empty shipping container into a small tub
Put your new coral and the water it’s in into a new container. We use various tubs and containers based on the quantity of coral that came in. Any clean sterile container will work just fine, you’ll want to have enough space to add more water than what came in the shipping container.
Step 3: Add water from your aquarium slowly
We recommend pouring 1/4 – 1/2 cup of water into the container your coral is in. Acclimating coral to salinity and ph differences helps to reduce stress. The reason we like to do this versus drip acclimating is to reduce temperature fluctuations. If you want to drip acclimate, I suggest doing a faster drip than you might do for a fish. Usually, 15-30 minutes for this.
Step 4: Pest Control Dips
A lot of people skip this, we highly recommend you don’t. We believe pest control dips are important for coral acclimation. No matter where you get the coral or how diligently the vendor works at preventing pests there is still a chance that something unwanted is hanging around. We use numerous dips, but the main ones are Coral RX, Revive, and Lugol’s Iodine. Follow the directions for whichever brand of dip you decide to use as they all vary.
Step 5: Rinse in fresh (un-dipped) aquarium water and place in the aquarium.
Always rinse the coral off in some aquarium that didn’t have any of the coral dips in it. Find wherever you are going to place the coral and put it in. This also brings us back around to Step 1 above since lighting is both the beginning and the end of the process.
Coral stress is high during shipping. As resilient as these incredible animals are this is still one of the hardest things we put them through. Including running them through a bandsaw. It can take time for your new coral to not only open up but also regain the look it should have. Proper coral acclimation has a much higher success rate than just plopping them in a new aquarium. Stress however is not death, if you believe your coral has died, please get in touch with us. You can read our D.O.A Policy here.