How Long Should You Drip Acclimate Corals?

Any time you add a new coral or fish into your saltwater tank, it’s important to spend the time it takes and acclimate them properly.

Corals can undergo a lot of stress during it’s travels to a new home. You will want to minimize that stress as much as possible and acclimating them to your tank’s conditions will help. 

Some people don’t acclimate new corals but I recommend that you do. Not only will it reduce stress and get them used to their new conditions, but if you perform a pest control dip, you can reduce the chance of any unwanted pests entering your tank.

The process of drip acclimating corals is not difficult and doesn’t take a long time. 

You should drip acclimate corals for around 30-40 minutes. 

Even if you decide to acclimate the corals by using another method, it should take the same amount of time.

Is acclimating corals necessary?

All corals are sensitive to changes in water conditions. The water that they are in prior to going in the tank will be different than the water conditions of your tank. If they don’t have time to adjust to those new conditions, they will be stressed and may not live through the transition. 

Read: How soon can you add corals to a new tank?

Do you need to use the drip acclimation method?

Drip acclimation is just one way to acclimate new corals to your tank. It is the preferred method but you can also use the floating bag method and bucket method. Keep in mind that the drip acclimation method will make the transition more gradual which is always best providing you don’t spend excess time and take into consideration the temperature change associated with drip acclimation.

Water temperature, PH, salinity, nitrates, are all things that your new corals need to adjust to. Acclimating them properly will give them a better chance at a successful transition into their new aquarium. 

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Coral acclimation procedure – 5 easy steps

As mentioned, acclimating corals is straightforward and should only take 30-40 minutes. 

Follow these 5 steps:

Step 1. Turn off aquarium lighting

There is a good chance that your new corals have been in the dark for some time. If they have been shipped to you, they will have been sitting in a dark box for a day or so. 

It’s important to allow the corals to adjust to new lighting slowly over time. If your corals are subject to high lighting right away, they will be stressed and their overall health will suffer.

Step 2. Empty the new corals into a container or small bucket 

It’s a good idea to place them in the same container so you will have enough water for the pest control dip. This is not 100% necessary as you can place each coral into its own container if you choose. As you will be drip acclimating, using one container will be more convenient and efficient. 

Step 3. Start the drip acclimation

How Long Should You Drip Acclimate Corals? 2
Image: Marine Depot Drip acclimation

This can be done easily with a single piece of airline tubing which you can tie a knot in and start a siphon that allows a drip rate of about 2 drips per second or whatever rate will allow an acclimation time of 30 to 40 minutes to drip into the container. You can also use a drip acclimation kit which is very easy to use and affordable. 

* Note: If you are not using the drip acclimation method, you can slowly add ¼-½ cup of water to the container every 5 minutes for 30-40 minutes.

Step 4. Use coral dip for pest control

Dipping your corals is important to prevent pests from entering your aquarium. Depending on the coral dip that you use the instructions could be different so ensure that you follow the directions properly. Dipping your corals into a pest control solution does not guarantee that you eliminate all hitchhikers from entering your tank but it is very beneficial and highly recommended.

coral rx coral dip

Step 5. Add new corals to aquarium

After the acclimation process is complete, you can add the corals into the tank. It’s a good idea to place them in an area where they will receive the right amount of water flow with a lower light setting. Allow them to get used to your lights slowly over a few days and monitor how they are reacting. 

If you use a quarantine system, you can add the coral into that tank for a period of time then follow the steps to transfer them into the main tank. 

dipping saltwater corals
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More coral acclimation info

Don’t rush the acclimation process and be patient.

Corals can be very stressed during shipping and you may think they are dead on arrival. It is possible for corals to make a full recovery. Don’t give up on them!

It’s common for corals to take a few days to show any signs of stress relief. They are not all the same and some may open up right away. Don’t be alarmed if your corals stay closed for a few days.

How long should you wait before adding corals to a new tank?

If your tank is new, you should wait a period of time before adding corals. Once the tank is fully cycled and parameters are within limits, you can start to add corals. This can be anywhere from 4-8 weeks. Adding corals prior to this time can cause coral death as the water levels may be toxic for them. 

Summary

Allowing the proper time to acclimate corals (30-40 minutes) will give them the time they need to adjust to their new home water conditions. Corals can be very stressed during shipping and acclimating them will reduce this stress giving them a much better chance of surviving the transition and remaining healthy. Following the steps mentioned above gives you an easy way to complete the process.