One thing that I've always been bad about is acclimating new purchases when I bring them home. I tend to rush things a little bit, so when I saw the Acclimate by Reef Gently booth at MACNA 2011 I asked them to show me how it works (I ended up buying one at MACNA). The basic principle behind the Acclimate is to slowly exchange the water that the fish/coral/invert came in with water from your tank. This exchange of water gets the new animal acclimated to the water in your system, which in most cases is probably different (pH, salinity, temp, ext) then the water from the fish store. This process is like using a bucket and a drip hose but there are several benefits the acclimate has over the bucket method.
First off with the bucket method you are just adding tank water to the fish store (lfs) water with the idea that the tank water will dillude the lfs water until they both match what you have in your tank. The Acclimate uses what they call a duel siphon. One siphon pulls water out of your tank and in to the Acclimate, the other siphon pulls water out of the Acclimate. With the output of the first siphon at the top of the Acclimate and the input of the second siphon near the bottom the idea is that the lfs water will drain away as it is replaced by the tank water. Since both siphons (should) flow at the same rate the water exchange is equal between the lfs water and the tank water.
Another advantage that the Acclimate has over using a bucket is there isn't any need to use a net. With a bucket you will eventually have to get the fish out, usually with a net. The Acclimate is designed with an inner chamber that you can remove. So when the time comes all you have to do is lift the inner chamber, the water in the Acclimate drains away through several holes, and then sink the inner chamber in to your tank to release the fish.
The last big advantage that I can see with using the Acclimate is that there are several things you can use it for. Reef Gently provides tubing, suction cups for the inner chamber and even some fishing line to attach to the lid (when using it as a trap). According to the directions you can use the Acclimate to introduce new fish, trap fish, transport them home from the lfs and even as an isolation tank.
So the big question, "how well does it work?" To find out I took my new Acclimate to a lfs and purchace a new fish. Since Reef Gently advertises that you can use it as a transport tank to and from a lfs I thought I would give that a try. I think it worked ok, but I used a plastic sack around the outside of the Acclimate. Even with the lid I think some water would spill out from the motion of driving.
After I got home I stuck the Acclimate to my tank to start the acclimation process:
At first I was a little worried about the suction cups but they seem to hold pretty strong, plus there are pegs on the back side of the Acclimate to keep it level which I think takes some of the pressure off of the suction cups. On problem I ran in to was the rim of my canopy. The Acclimate is suppose to be mounted about a half inch below the water line in the tank, since my canopy covers the plastic trim I wasn't able to do that:
I also noticed that I didn't come home with enough lfs water in the Acclimate so I had to start the first siphon and drip it directly in to the Acclimate until the water level was high enough to move the tank siphon over to where it goes to start exchanging water. My new fish and crab didn't seem to mind their time in the Acclimate at all:
Once the water level inside the Acclimate was high enough I moved the tank siphon over to where it flows in to the Acclimate. I should explain that there are two positions for the tank siphon; the first one is used to start the siphon going (it connects the two hoses together so you start both siphons at the same time), the second is to keep the siphon going, but to seperate it from the second siphon so there is an exchange of water. Here are a couple of photos of the Acclimate doing its job:
I didn't mention it before, but you do need to have a bucket or something for the Acclimate to drain in to. After 50mins I decided to move my new animals in to the display tank. The process was very simple; pull the inner chamber out and lower them in to the tank:
All in all I think the Acclimate was pretty slick! I did notice that if the drip rate was too slow the Acclimate got close to over flowing. I think that was mainly due to the fact I couldn't position the Acclimate like the direction said. For me I think the Acclimate will help me introduce new fish correctly and with out adding lfs water to my tank. If you have any questions feel free to ask!