View Full Version : Bagged Fish & Ammonia?

Reef Frog
03/20/2013, 04:43 PM
I was at a LFS near closing time as the staff was unpacking & acclimating a new shipment of fish. I asked about buying a still bagged basslet before putting it in his tanks, figuring one less tank transfer for the fish would be a good thing.

The owner agreed but said I'd need to add Prime or another ammonia buster. He said ammonia builds up in the bag water (ok reasonable) but when opened a chemical reaction occurs whereby the ammonia spikes dramatically or somehow becomes more toxic when the bag is opened & water is exposed to fresh air.

Does this ring true? I've never heard of it or read about it in the posted acclimation procedures from fish sellers like LA. I've only ever bought local though so was wondering if this info is correct. The owner is a good guy but he sometimes clings to some odd motions and old school hobby info that has been thoroughly debunked in the modern era. I understand ammonia could rise during shipment but this idea of it becoming more toxic somehow leaves me skeptical.

So is ammonia toxicity a factor here? Interesting to note his shipment was packed well & had Asian newspapers as filler in the foam boxes. Is it possible a shipment went direct from Asia to the East Coast USA instead of an intermediate wholesaler? In that case I can see how ammonia levels would be high.

03/20/2013, 05:06 PM
Yes ..it is true. When they get a fish they should just temp acclimate it then open the bag and dump the fish in. Most likely that is what he does sense prime and all the ammonia chem will cost him some money.

The fish is fine in the bag until its open and exposed to air. That is when the ammonia becomes toxic. He was telling you to use the prime etc b/c most likley you will drip the fish at home. If you did that without the prime this would most likely kill this fish once you put it in your tank.

03/20/2013, 05:08 PM
What he said is true. When the bag is opened, aeration starts happening. While the fish is in the bag, the carbon dioxide level builds up, reducing the pH, which reduces the toxicity of the ammonia. Aeration reverses that pH drop. You could add some Prime or Amquel, or measure the salinity and make a reasonably close match and transfer the fish without salinity acclimation, maybe just floating the bag for a bit to equalize the temperature. FWIW, it's not clear that fish actually need any acclimation.

Reef Frog
03/20/2013, 06:20 PM
Thanks for the info above - I learned a great deal. So I'm assuming the use of Prime or Amquel is not beneficial or needed after a 1 - 2 hour ride home from the LFS & drip aclomation @ home? I never have, should I?

I thought most shippers dosed the bag prior to shipment but maybe it's exhausted upon arrival? So do most of you add Prime Amquel after receiving fish shipped to you overnight from LA etc.?

Side notes: I often ask for oxygen in the bag even for a short 1/2 hour ride home. Good idea, bad or doesn't do anything?

This LFS does indeed just dump the new stock in their tanks as described above.

03/21/2013, 10:05 AM
I don't think an hour or two is long enough to require Prime, Amquel, or oxygen.

Fish are osmoregulators, so I probably will do only temperature acclimation in the future. If I were going to do an SG adjustment, I'd measure the SG in the bag, and make some fresh water at that SG, and move the fish after temperature adjustment but before opening the bag, to ditch whatever's in the water in the bag.

03/21/2013, 11:06 AM
If you buy fish online and they are sujected to 24+hours in the bag. Then a lights off temperature acclimation in the unopened bag for 15 minutes and then open and straight in the tank is best. But I do not put the bag water in my tank.

But you know I stopped buying fish online and let my LFS do that for me. He will find whatever i want if i am just alittle patient.