I just realized that one thing I didn’t cover enough in my “You Really Want a Pet Piranha?” series, was the fact that when you buy your little fellas, you can’t just dump them in your aquarium and walk away, even though your aquarium went through the cycling process. If you do that, you are asking for trouble. You have to make sure that you ease them into their new home slowly to make sure they survive the journey. The proper term for this is “acclimation”. Here are a few ways you can do it.
The Traditional Way
This one works great for smaller to medium sized fish. Here you go:
- Set the proper mood by dimming the lights in the room and turning off the light to the aquarium. (This is supposed to reduce the chances of your existing guys bullying the new kid.)
- Place your fish (still in its plastic bag) in your aquarium and let him float around for a while. 20-30 minutes should do the trick. (Reduces the shock of changing the water temperature too quickly).
- Cut a hole in the top of the bag and every 5-10 minutes put a little bit of the aquarium water into the bag using a small cup or ladle. (This makes sure that your new guy gets used to the new water chemistry in a slow and controlled manner.)
- Important – If there is already too much water in the bag, empty some before starting step 3. Just don’t empty the water in the tank, empty it in a sink instead. You never know what kind of chemicals or diseases are in the water.
- After about 45-60 minutes of doing step 3, you can take the fish out of the bag using a net and put it in the aquarium. Again, don’t empty any of the water from the bag into the aquarium!
The Bucket Way
If your new pet piranhas are big suckers, then going through the steps above might get a little tricky. Instead you are better off using a bucket to acclimatize them. All you have to do is pour some of the aquarium water into a bucket and then follow the steps above. For step 3, you can even take the piranha about of the bag if it’s easier and let him swim around in the bucket while you finish up. If you are careful with step 4, none of the water will get into your aquarium.
The Drip Way
The idea behind this one is to use the bucket method, except when it comes to step 3 (introducing your aquarium water to your piranha), you do it over 2-3 hours using a “drip” system. Some aquarists use this one for highly-sensitive fish that need a longer acclimation time. I haven’t used this one so I can’t really comment whether it works any better than the bucket method or not, but a lot of people seem to think so.
The “drip” system is basically just a piece of aquarium airline tubing that starts from your aquarium and goes to the bucket. Once the drips starts, you can slow it down by pinching the tube with your fingers and stand there for 2-3 hours while it drips… or just tie a piece of string around the tube and tighten it until the drips slows down. I’ll leave that up to you! Here’s a video that shows you how the drip method works:
Final words of wisdom
One last thing you can do when adding territorial fish like piranhas is to rearrange the aquarium. It keeps the aggression down and makes everyone happy as they all get territory instead of the new guy not having his own place.
Your piranha might look a little freaked out in his new home and might not eat for the first couple of days or even up to a week. Relax! Give it time to adjust. It’ll eat when it’s ready.
Do you like one way more than another? Did you have any problems that I didn’t cover? If so, let me know!
(Includes audio version!)
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