How I Drip Acclimate Shrimp and Why

How I Drip Acclimate Shrimp

Today I will describe to you how I acclimate the dwarf shrimp. Since they are quite sensitive to even slight changes in water parameters, we have to acclimate them properly before adding them to the aquarium.  I will show you the drip method of acclimation, which is the best method for sensitive specimens as shrimp.

I am going to tell you step-by-step what works for me. In addition, I will explain every step why I do things the way I do. Moreover, I will mention some practical details, which people often forget or simply do not know.

Before I started using this method of acclimation, I Initially gathered all this information from experience of professional shrimp breeders. As a result, the mortality rate of my shrimp has been cut at least in half.

My application can be a little bit different from the average hobbyist. Nonetheless, this is how I recommend my friends to acclimate as well. It is very simple. It is relatively quick and it is not stressful even to the berried shrimp, so they will not lose eggs. I find that they adjust the quickest doing things this way.

Without further ado let’s start.

You will need:Airline tubing for acclimation

Visual inspection.

Before opening the shipping box, dim the lights in the room. Also, dim the aquarium lights. It is important to never open the shipping box in bright light since this sudden exposure can cause severe stress or trauma to your shrimp.

The first thing I do is a visual inspection of the shrimp before I take them out of the bag. There are a few reasons for this. Most live arrival guarantees are dependent on you getting photographs of the shrimp before you remove them from the bag.

Therefore, I will take a close look at the shrimp (maybe they have parasites like Vorticella or Scutariella Japonica and you need to quarantine them).

If I see any dead then I will photograph it from different angles or even make a short video about it. The seller must see dead shrimp in the bag before you open it.

Important: If you have the dead shrimp in the bag, it is important to get the dead ones out of the bag and out of the old water and add a water conditioner (see below) to detoxify ammonia as soon as possible! In this event, acclimation can actually cause more harm. Otherwise, acclimation can actually cause more harm. You need to ensure that the temperature of the aquarium and bag are similar. Once confirmed, it is okay to add the shrimp to the aquarium.

Temperature acclimation

If there are no problems with shrimp, the next step is temperature acclimation. When it comes to acclimation to your room or tank temperature. Most of the times people start talking about different types of bags, for example.

  • If you got the shrimp in ordinary Non-breathing bags, you can place the bag into the tank and let the water warm it up to the same temperature as the aquarium. It can take 15-20 minutes.
  • If your shrimp are in Breathing Bags, do not float the bags in your aquarium! You do not want to put bags in contact with water because it will deplete the oxygen in the bag causing a lot of stress and potential die-offs with your shrimp. As long as there is a breathable atmosphere outside the Breathing Bag, the shrimp inside will not run out of oxygen. These bags cannot breathe in the water, only in the air.

Therefore, you can simply leave the bag for 30-60 minutes in a dim room.

Note: The plastic of Breathing bags has gaps so small that water molecules cannot pass through – yet gas molecules can move freely. This provides a true “breathing” bag in place of a non-porous “barrier” bag as is used in traditional plastic polyethylene bags. There will be no air in the Breathing bags and they will have writing on them that says they are Breathing Bags.

Nonetheless, I would not advise putting in the aquarium Non-breathing bags as well. You have no idea what type of residue is present on the bags. They can be toxic to the aquarium. Overall, it is better to play safe.

Bottle cutTip: Actually, there is a way to acclimate Breathing Bags in the tank if you want to. Cut 1/3 of the 2-liter bottle. Reverse it and place into the bottle. Add some water (1/3) so it will not turn over. Carefully place the breathing bag into the bottle. Clip it to the side of the tank.

That will allow you to acclimate the temperature in the bag without depleting any oxygen. It is a loophole in order to be able to float your bag even though you are not making direct contact with the bag.

Putting shrimp into a container

Cut the bag with the shrimp (below the knot) and pure it into a separate container. Keep the moss as well. It will reduce the stress for the shrimp if they can cling to the moss.

The container or a bucket should be at least 3-5 times bigger than the bag. First of all, because shrimp are prone to jump all over the place. Second, you will need it for siphoning.

Carefully empty the contents of the bag including water into the bucket. Take care not to expose shrimp to the air. If there is no much water in the bag, you may have to prop the bucket at a 45-degree angle to keep the shrimp submerged.

Tip # 1: sometimes the non-breathing bags can be big and heavy. If you want to have a better grip, so the bag will not slip out of the hand, you can make a hole in it to release some air. It will be easier to hold the bag now.

Tip # 2: Now it is time to do the second visual inspection. The goal of the second inspection is to establish if they need treatment isolation before you put them into your aquarium. Actually, flashlights can be really handy for this. It is better to do it quickly to reduce the stress level.

Adding Seachem Prime

ConditionerDrip acclimation can give a false sense of security. People usually forget about ammonia in the bag, especially in non-breathing bag. It will likely be rendered harmless through low pH from dissolved exhaled CO2.

When you open the bag, the CO2 starts to gas out, pH rises and the ammonia toxicity increases exponentially based on pH/hardness. Also, when you add in more alkaline tank water (i.e. low CO2) and the same thing happens.

That is why if shrimp are in the polybag, opening it will require the addition of an ammonia detoxifier. Shorter and faster acclimation is recommended in this case to evade GH or pH shock.

Therefore, it would be a good idea to check the water parameter in a bag and add 1 or 2 drops of Prime if it is necessary.
Seachem Prime – link to check the price on Amazon

Starting acclimation. Dripping.

I use the tied knot air tube method. Using your acclamation kit or airline tubing you are going to set up a siphon drip line from the main aquarium into the bucket. Hang the rigid tubing over the tank so that it is submerged in the water. The control valve and flexible tubing should dangle on the outside of the aquarium.

If you are using airline tubing you can tie a few loose knots in the tubing to regulate the water flow from the aquarium. If you are having trouble using the knot to regulate the drip rate, any type of strong clip or airline valve should work. Vice-grips (locking pliers) or c-clamps would work as well.

Begin to siphon. When water begins flowing through the tubing adjust the drip rate with the valve or by tightening your knot to achieve 1 to 2 drips per second.

Now you can only wait until the water volume in the bucket triples.

This will take from 1 to 3 hours, the longer the better. In some cases, people do it up to 24 hours but this is just too much. Once there is triple the water that you had originally begun with, the shrimp are ready to your aquarium.

The main reason for this step is to avoid TDS and pH shock for your shrimp. TDS shock is one of the main killers of shrimp especially as they acclimate to the tank. They might not die right away. It might be in the first month, the first month is the red zone. That is when you are going to have the majority of your losses.

Note: Some people even tried to make a formula. Frankly saying, this is overkill but you can try it.

Time Required (h) = (TDS Change/2) + 2.5*(PH Change/0.1)

Tip # 1: Do not submerge in the tank more the 2 inches (5 cm) of the air tube. In case you get busy or simply forget about it, it will not drain your tank completely and flood your home.

You can also use an air stone. Attach it to your airline tubing. When you put it in your tank, it is actually going to provide some weight to the bottom and keep it anchored. In addition, it will prevent from sucking in shrimplets.

Tip # 2: Use clips or duct tape to hold the tube.

Putting shrimp into the aquarium

At this point, the shrimp can be transferred to your aquarium water. Take a small net, scoop the shrimp out of the bucket and place them into the aquarium. Of course, it is possible to use scoops or spoons.

There are many videos on Youtube where people do that. Nevertheless, shrimp can start jumping all over the place making this task really difficult and dangerous for them. Thus, I use only the net.

Another thing, which I would like to mention, is the water in the bucket. Some people do not mind to pure the water from the bucket back into the aquarium. They usually say that the water is less dangerous now anyway because it has been seriously diluted with the water from the tank.

Personally, I do not do that and never use that water again. It is very important not to put any of the dirty shipping water into your aquarium. You want to make sure you are getting rid of any potential pathogens like that.  You do not want to add that ammonia that has been created to your aquarium or your quarantine.

When you finished transferring all your new shrimp, keep the aquarium lights off for another four hours to allow them to further adjust.

Tip #1: If you have fish in the aquarium, DO NOT put shrimp in a daytime. They can take them for food. So turn off the lights completely for 2-3 hours or release them in the night when the fish are sleeping.

Tip #2: Do not feed shrimp immediately, wait 12-24 hours. Let them get accustomed to a new home.

20 thoughts on “How I Drip Acclimate Shrimp and Why

  1. what if they arent shipped shrimp can i pour the water in

    1. Personally, I wouldn’t do that anyway. You have no idea what can be in this water. There is no need to risk.

  2. Great information, I have used this method twice with excellent results?

  3. Thank you very much for all the helpful information you provide in this website! I’ve read about 10 articles on shrimp here and I’ve learned a lot!!!

    1. Hi Margarita,

      I am glad that my blog can help you 🙂
      Best regards,

  4. This is a great article with an excellent method of safely acclimating new tank animals. My wife bought a tiny betta tank, so I ordered a 10 gallon and set it up today. I was wondering how I would acclimate to the new water given that it isn’t a new fish in a bag, and this method is far better than the bag method anyway. I have absolute control over the flow of new water into the old tank and can set this up easily, watch a video or two on Netflix, then move him over. Thanks!

  5. Hi Michael, thanks for all the tips, your website’s been a great help!

    I did run into an issue when I was drip acclimating. My room is about 10 degrees colder than the water, and when I was done drip acclimating in the bucket I think the bucket had gotten cold again. What’s the best way to prevent that?

    1. Hi John,
      I’ll be Captain Obvious – you will have to find a way to keep the temperature.
      For example, use heat mats under the basket or a quarantine tank with a small heater.
      Best regards,

  6. Thank you so much for this article! I just put four decent size amano shrimp in my 10 gallon betta tank. It went super smooth thanks to this. My tank is finally cycled and I had a small algae bloom so I figured it was time for some amano shrimp. I’m very excited to see these shrimp get to work!

    1. Hi BettaLover89,
      That is great!
      I hope that your Betta and Amano shrimp will become friends 🙂
      Best regards,

  7. Thanks – do you do drip when you do water changes?
    I’ve got a 29G and prefer very small but more frequent water changes, I literally change like 2G and I’ll take 3G out of tank, dispose of 2G then add 2G fresh water to existing 1G, add conditioner and slowly pour back in by hand.
    (syphon 3G out -2G dispose + 1G fresh + conditioner, then slow pour 3G back to tank)
    It’s a slow pour, but not a drip. Is that ok?

    1. Hi Heather,
      No, I stopped doing it.
      It is not like I have something against it. On the contrary, I believe that it will be an excellent way to minimize any risks.
      It is just … in my opinion, there is a good reason to do drip water changes only when there is a difference in water parameters and temperature.
      Luckily, I do not have such problems.
      Best regards,

  8. Hi, we did twice this method. And both times my shrimps died 🙁 and now again. After acclimating and going every thing step by step, after putting them in the water they start to act weird and the day after they died 🥺
    Any tips?

    1. Hi Gamze,
      Sorry to hear that.
      Is your tank cycled? What are your water parameters? Have you checked water parameters of the water from the seller?

      Although drip acclimation is the safest way to introduce shrimp into a new environment (we can’t just plop and drop them), we can still be problems that are beyond out abilities.
      For example, too much shipment stress, too weak speciments, long period of starvation, etc. In addition, the first month is the most important in shrimp keeping. This is the red zone – even if you do everything right – your shrimp can still die because of previous stress, underfeeding, etc. All these things have an accumulative effect. Unfortunately, you can’t do anything about it.
      Personally, I would try another seller and make sure that your water parameters are good enough.
      Best regards,

  9. Hi!
    Thank you for this very comprehensive advice.
    My query is this, in order to ensure the temperature in the, non breathable, bag is the same as the tank, float the bag in the tank. Later you say this is not a good idea because of bacteria etc. You go on to explain about the use of a bucket. So how do you reach the optimum temperature of the water in the bucket? It’s bound to be different from the tank.
    Many thanks for your further guidance on this. Lynne x

    1. Hi Lynne Chester,
      It is true, there will be the difference.
      Nonetheless, in most cases, it will be in acceptable range.
      Unless, you have a heater in the tank or your tank is located very high.
      Generally, the vertical gradient of temperature in a room between the floor and ceiling is about 5°F (~2°C).
      If your difference is higher, you will require to heat it up.
      Best regards,

    2. Coz I have heated tanks (And cold rooms) I often put a container (those plastic cooking measuring cans with a handle that can slide over the side of the tank) inside the tank, pour the shrimp into the container and then just pour tank water in there every few mins. small amounts at the start more frequently (eg. 1/16th cup every minute) and after half an hour, about half a cup every 5 mins. after an hour about 1 cup every 5 mins, till the container is full, pour out half of the water (I just pour it into my tanks, because I get my shrimp from a local seller and whenever they get their stock, they already quarantine them before selling, so I trust them and their water 😉 ) and keep going with about a cup of water till thecontainer is full again, after which i float the container sideways in the tank, so the shrimp (or fish for that matter) can swim out on their own.
      Do note that I don’t fully fill up my tank and have about 2 inches of room below the rim of my tank, so this does avoid a lot of spillage when hanging stuff on the rim of my tank like that.
      It’s a bit more work than drip, as i have to manually pour the water, but i don’t do it all that often, so i don’t mind spending some time initially with any new fish or shrimp i get hahaha

      1. Hi Laly,
        Thank you for sharing your way of doing it.
        Very interesting!
        Best regards,

  10. Thank you for this very comprehensive advice
    I wondering if oxygen needs to be added to the bucket while dripping ?

    1. Hi Nguyen Khoa,
      I’m glad you liked the article. As for the question, in most cases, aeration is not necessary. Firstly, the acclimation process is not typically prolonged, and secondly, the water level in the container where you’re acclimating the shrimp is much lower than in the aquarium. With a lower water level, oxygen levels are higher because of natural diffusion.
      Best regards,

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