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Anyone Use Social Acclimation Boxes For New Fish


TheClark
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We have been struggling adding new fish lately, they get pummeled by one fish or another that does not like them.  

 

It's not that the fish that incompatible on paper, it almost seems that a pecking order has been established and all new comers are easy game.  There is no single bully, different fish get irritated depending on what is introduced.

 

Have tried re-arranging rocks etc, introducing at night, mirrors, making more hiding places / territories in the rockwork, but ultimately one fish or another is rubbed wrong and gets moved (usually very beat up) to the frag tank.  I have only lost one fish out of four attempts, but the frag tank is filling up and it would be nice to get some fish into the display.  Its no fun to try to see them in a 12" deep tank!

 

So I ran across some 'social acclimation box' threads.

 

The concept is that fish can see each other in the same tank, but not kill each other.  Sometimes newcomers are kept for 24 hours, sometimes for a week in the box.

 

It is exactly the method I used as a kid in the 80s to breed betas.  The box then was a jar, or perhaps a livebearer trap.  The female had to show off for the male for a bit before I would dare let her in the tank. Worked great, but betas are not reef fish  :rolleyes:

 

I don't want to turn this into a 'this fix cannot mix with that fish thread', as I trust people such as CnC and TPA when discussing compatibility.  

 

So please share your experiences, how you have had luck introducing new fish into a 'tough crowd' that should otherwise be compatible.

Edited by theclark
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Yes, I've been using one recently. I introduced a smaller leopard wrasse into my tank of leopards and saw some aggression. It was multiple leopards bullying the newcomer. I went out and got a critter keeper ($5-$10) and drilled holes through it. I put some sand and a rock in it, so the new wrasse had a place to hide, as well as sleep at night. It gave me a chance to really target feed the new wrasse and get him comfortable to the tank and lighting schedule, meanwhile the other leopards got used to their new tank member. I tried releasing it after a week and still saw a little bit of aggression, so I put him back in for two more weeks. When I released him this time, there was a touch of territorial behavior, but the aggression was gone. He did end up going missing about 3 weeks later, but reappeared after 2.5 weeks in the sand. He's been coming out and eating happily ever since. He's definitely still at the bottom of the pecking order, but is no longer being bullied. I will absolutely use this method again if I run into aggression issues in the future. The main cautionary advice I would give is to make sure your acclimation box is large enough for the fish you're putting in it. Even the large ones offered in the hobby seem to only be for smaller species.

Edited by Dragon
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+1 to the critter keeper, I have found it is almost a must with dwarf angels and most wrasses of the same genus.  If you have an old mag float you can use it to hold the critter keeper to the glass and position it anywhere you want in the tank.

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Awesome, thanks guys!  I was hoping a critter keeper could do the job as the price is sooooo much better.  

 

Dragon, I was wondering how long to leave the fish there, never would have guessed two weeks, good to know.

 

Earthbound, thanks for the mag float tip.

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I was going to have one built since I needed a little bigger (22x15x10) but then figured why not get a plastic tote from HD-so 10.00 later vs some other amount it's a done deal.

I zip tie mine between two of the top cross pieces and the screen I cover that section with cover the tote. Key is adding the PVC or something for the fish to hide in-

 

It's not as pretty but at 1/10 (or mor) less money I can live with it for the short time it's there

Edited by reefnjunkie
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I was going to have one built since I needed a little bigger (22x15x10) but then figured why not get a plastic tote from HD-so 10.00 later vs some other amount it's a done deal.

I zip tie mine between two of the top cross pieces and the screen I cover that section with cover the tote. Key is adding the PVC or something for the fish to hide in-

 

It's not as pretty but at 1/10 (or mor) less money I can live with it for the short time it's there

 

Excellent!  How clear is the tote, can you snap a pic?  That sounds promising a bigger one would be nice.

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Dragon, I was wondering how long to leave the fish there, never would have guessed two weeks, good to know.

 

Also keep in mind he added sand & Live rock giving the fish a place to hide, If keeping confined is such a small space for so long I think this would definitely bring down stress levels in comparison of just being trapped in a box with no where to hide

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  • 2 weeks later...

Picked up a critter keeper. Drilled it out. Note I used too big of a drill bit, cracked it. Still works.

 

Acclimation starting. All the fish are quite interested in the newcomer, yet not shredding him to bits.

 

2428abaaf57f10e78d50f56a069ea95e.jpg

 

Note to self - Did not scrape algae due to Sunday meeting :)

Edited by theclark
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glad you found something to work out.. and looks like its doing a good job

 

Thanks Sasquatch.  

 

The foxface is very much relaxed in it.  No stress at all.  

 

Good flow through between the holes and the lid.  Seems to be working ok.  

 

Planning on leaving him in there quite a while but excited there is a path forward.

 

Bonus, drilled a couple of holes in the lid the size of the turkey baster.  Easy to inject food right into the box, he eats like a pig and no one can touch him.

Edited by theclark
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Two more days and I plan on letting the magnificent foxface out.

 

The box seems to be working. Day 1, it was on. Fish were threatening, foxface was frightened. Now, when someone comes to bug him, venemous fins go up and color brighten.

 

Good hope that this guy will be able to hold his own once released.

 

6b40549c76060b78aa624086af97720a.jpg

Edited by theclark
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Update:

 

Good news. Yesterday I opened the lid of the critter keeper.

 

The Foxface did not come out at first. However, the nosy pink tail trigger came in. It was chaos for a few seconds, but the new fish came out and so did the trigger once he figured it out.

 

At first I was thinking 'epic fail' as the other fish were all over the new comer again.

 

But once the newcomer made it back to the part of the tank where the acclimation box was located, all was well. He could hold his ground in this now familiar corner of the tank.

 

As a result, I plan to leave the acclimation box in the tank another week, as it is familiar to him and he seems to have an advantage there. I even catch him ducking in it from time to time, voluntarily.

 

Here is a pic of the new dynamics in play.

 

2f622dd298dd30a476e4a51b1d68f362.jpg

Edited by theclark
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That's his box!. no one else gets to play in his box.. 

but he doesn't get to come play outside either the bullies.. 

Someday we must all give up our box and step into the big wide ocean of a world.. 

But until that day comes for me, I'm gunna sit right here in my cozy box

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That's his box!. no one else gets to play in his box.. 

 

but he doesn't get to come play outside either the bullies.. 

 

Someday we must all give up our box and step into the big wide ocean of a world.. 

 

But until that day comes for me, I'm gunna sit right here in my cozy box

 

So cozy, so happy, such a good description.

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