Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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Shawn 12-29-2007 12:06 AM

Aiptasia Issue
I have a huge breakout of Aiptasia. I've tried Joe's Juice and while it does kill them instantly, others grow. And the new ones seem to reproduce 100 times faster than I kill them.

What is the cause of this breakout? Any suggestions as to how to get rid of this?

Here is the info on my tank:

125 Gallon saltwater. Lots of live rock, Leather corals, pulsing xenias, star polyps, mushrooms, anemones.

Tomato clown, Maroon clown, 2 damsils, snowflake eel, Brittle Star, Sea Urchin, Cucumber.

Lots of snails and crabs.

I have had the tank for just over a year. I bought the tank from someone who had it for 3 years. The tank never had any Aiptasia - or at least none that I could see. Since I bought the aquarium, I've added about 50 pounds of live rock and lots of snails and crabs. A month after I bought the aquarium, I bought the rock from Premium Aquatics. Shortly after the rock addition did I see only 2, yes 2, Aiptasia. In the last 10-11 months, the Aiptasia have grown out of control. I can have about 75 Aiptasia at a time.

Due to the tank being upstairs (heat rising) and in the same room as a 65 inch TV, I have a chiller which keeps the water at 80. The lights stay on for 12 hours. I have an Octopus Skimmer - just bought it last month. I have a wavemaster with 4 pumps. I never test the water - only because the previous owner never did and said he never had any problems. Should I test the water for something to determine the cause of the Aiptasia?

I feed the snowflake eel and anemones: frozen krill - 2 pieces every 2-3 days. I feed the fish: one piece of frozen brine shrimp and one piece of frozen blood worms - every 2-3 days. Does this sound like I am feeding them too often? When I say "pieces", I am referring to the gum drop sizes that come in a pack.

Thanks for any input.

SKAustin 12-29-2007 05:43 AM

While Ive never really looked into the "optimal" conditions for aiptasia, I do know that improperly trying to remove an aiptasia anemone can cause a population explosion. Chances are, someone at the LFS may have unintentionally squished one of then in their LR tank. Or an uninformed employee heard that they were bad and simply tried to destroy it. Whatever the case may be, I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that they came in on the rock you just purchased. Not sure what I would do with all the doughnuts, but you get the point. At this point, It's apparrent that you have more aiptasia than you can control. My recommendation is to seek out any natural predators to the aiptasia, and see what works with your current set-up. I know that a few folks believe that peppermint shrimp are a craps shoot, but I've had great (and quick) success in ridding both of my tanks of the aiptasia simply by adding a few peppermint shrimp. A few other options include Berghia Nudibranch Sea Slugs, and Copperband butterfly. While other Butterflyfish are also known predators of the Aiptasia, they are also know to prey upon corals and small inverts. The Copperband is one that is considered to be "Reef Safe", but also very difficult to care for.

Hope that helps

caferacermike 12-29-2007 11:20 AM

SK pretty much outlined it for you. Switch from Joe's Juice to Kalk paste. Joe's is basically Kalk paste and a touch of lemon juice. Mix the Kalk powder with a few drops of water to make a paste. As with the Joe's use a syringe to get it in the anemones mouth, I use an eye dropper. The when it shrivels back, MAKE SUE TO COAT IT COMPLETELY with your paste. Typically as the anemone dies from injecting it into the mouth, the body melts away and many new anemones will form from the pieces of the "parent" that break off. Coating it destroys the entire anemone.

bettababy 01-06-2008 04:17 PM

Both great answers, but I think I agree with SK about the peppermint shrimp. The problem with Joe's Juice and Kalk is that you have to be able to reach the aiptasa in order for that to work, and you have to be able to destroy all of them before they have a chance to spread. The best method of this is going to be a natural preditor, and the peppermint shirmp are about the easiest of them to keep, and the shrimp can get into places where most others can't... including you. Aiptasia has a unique ability to get into the smallest of cracks and crevices, and even into filtration and sump units, very easily. I've used the shrimp to control them in numerous situations over the years, and of anything I tried, the shrimp always did the best job of not just getting rid of it, but in keeping it gone and thriving in the tank even afer the aiptasia was gone.
Be careful with the copperband butterfly fishes. Not only are they extremely difficult to keep, as caferacermike mentioned, but they also tend to eat corals more so than the aiptasia, and if it should start chewing corals, it would be extremely difficult to catch and get out of the tank. Again, I say this from experience with numerous different fish and situations. I also would say the nudibranch is a 50/50 shot... if you can find one, once it kills off all of the aiptasia, it may have a difficult time in finding appropriate food there after. Nudibranchs can all be hard to keep because of the difficulty in providing a long term food supply. Each species of nudibranch has a very specific diet, many of which are hard or impossible to provide in an aquarium. With the Berghia, if you wanted to keep it in the tank long term you'd actually have to keep adding aiptasia to keep it from starving. The peppermint shrimp will take other foods, they just prefer the aiptasia over others, so again, remain the easiest natural form of control for a reef tank.

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