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Acclimating Tropical Fish

by | Jan 18, 2017 | 15 comments

7 Steps To Acclimating Tropical Fish Shipped By Wattley Discus (also see video below)

Step One: Do Not Open Your Box Until You Are In Front Of Your Tank

Your Wattley Discus shipment of tropical fish is designed to last 24+ hours before opening if it remains sealed. When you receive your box of tropical fish, keep it from direct sunlight or Ice and snow covered ground.

Step Two: Unseal your box and remove the Styrofome lid, heat or cold packs, newspaper, and free products from SeaChem.

There is an inner styrofome box inside the cardboard box for  added protection. With a scissor or knife, cut the side and middle tape to break the seal. Don’t worry, the styrofome box will keep you from cutting open any tropical fish air bags.

Also, cutting the big plastic liner in all four corners and folding them down will make a nice work area (as shown in the video).

Step Three: Cut open the plastic bags that contain the fish

Each discus fish has three stapled bags and one dark liner to keep the fish safe and minimize stress during transport. Keep the tropical fish bags upright while cutting the tops off all three bags. Do this for all the tropical fish bags you have purchased.

Step Four: Pour about 1/8 Cup from your fish tank every 20 minutes into each bag to acclimate them to your pH. Do this for one hour or three times twenty minutes apart.

When acclimating fish that have been shipped, it is very important they have time to adjust to your tanks pH. While the temperature difference between your tank and the water in the bag is important, the difference in pH is more important. Pouring 1/8 cup of from your tank in to each bag every twenty minutes will help them with both temperature and pH differences. Allowing one hour is the best for acclimating tropical fish.

Please Note: If you pH is very high (over 7.0) pour water from your tank every 15 minutes for one hour.

Step Five: After one hour, pour out the water in the bag and let the discus fish slide out into your tank. Add a cap of Stress Guard from SeaChem

If you have a bucket pour the water from the bag into it, then let the discus fish slide into your tank from the empty bag. Do not pour the water from the bag into your tank.  Now is a good time to add some of the Stress Guard that came as your free gift.

Another option is to reach into the bag with your hand and place the discus fish into your tank. You can use a rubber glove or barehanded (as shown in the video).

Step Six: Wait for 5 hours to feed your new tropical fish.

When acclimating tropical fish, waiting until they acclimate to their new environment is important as digestion is affected by stress.

Step Seven: Keep your tank temperature at  86-88F degrees for the first month to stimulate their appetite and immune system. After one month bring the temperature back down to 84F.

Enjoy your discus fish!


Oh…and don’t forget to stop by our Shop Page to view our inventory at the Florida hatchery.

author avatar
Wattley Discus Admin


  1. gonzalez

    Llama 7876049937 puerto rico

  2. Charles Walsh

    Do you ship to the Bakersfield, Ca. Airport known as Meadows Field?

    • Wattley Discus Admin

      Yes… We do airline Cargo and FedEx door to door.
      We can ship both American and United.

  3. Scott

    Does this acclimation work the same when ordering wild discus? My PH is on the higher end of the scale. I want to get some heckels but cant get my ph down. Or should I wait & get an RO unit first.

    • Wattley Discus Admin

      Yes…. In our blog we have another client using this acclimation process for a large group of wilds.
      We keep our hatchery at 7.0 pH for both Wilds Discus and Hybrid Discus.
      You should not need a special RO unit.

  4. Carol Heath

    What do you feed your discus and how will I know when to go to airport for my shipment.

    • Wattley Discus Admin

      Hello Carol,
      You will receive an email with air bill number for your airport.
      That email will also have a recipe for making Beefheart discus food.
      You can also feed them live black worms or freeze dried black worms, discus pellets, and discus flakes.
      They grow fastest with Beefheart mix but will do fine on other foods.

      Feel free to call the hatchery as well 305-758-7848 and ask for Gabe.

  5. Thomas MacDonald

    I have a 75 gallon tank. I’m looking for reccomendations on how to stock it. I am wanting discus, tetra and altiums. Not sure how many of each to get. And is there a recommended bottom feeder that do well with discus?

  6. Damon Cash

    Hello,I haven’t had a fish tank in mini years as I get older ,I’m wanting to get back in the hobby again.do you think discus is a good first fish?

    • Wattley Discus Admin

      Many people think Discus are difficult to keep. While Cichlids in general are a bit more challenging than other tropical fish, they are more difficult keep than other Cichlids. Cichlids usually demand more feeding times with protein based foods (tank cleaning is needed a bit more often). Also Cichlids will often create a pecking order of dominance with the other Cichlids.

      Tetras and other tropical fish are less aggressive and have a much easier feeding cycle and less of a protein based diet (tank cleaning is easier).
      But Discus are no more difficult than other Cichlids and a very rewarding experience for the hobbyist.

  7. Alberto Ramos

    In my planted 75 gallon what’s the minimum temperature that the discus will do fine without melting the swords and crypts I have. Thank you.

    • Alfredo Iglesias

      Hello any idea when the wild tefe discus packs will be available?

  8. Stan

    Thanks for taking the time to answer my question about sodium bicarbonate and sodium carbonate. Now I understand a lot better how they differ and their effect on RO water. Looking forward to your next video about the Discus.


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