Ways of eliminating Aiptasia

June 2012
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Ways of eliminating Aiptasia

By Aquaristic Team

Aiptasia or commonly known as glass anemone is commonly found in most reef aquariums. These hitchhikers are a type of Cnidaria with powerful stinging cells that is even more powerful compared to those in corals. They reproduce very quickly and will soon takeover the entire tank if left unchecked. No matter how careful you are when purchasing your live rock and corals, most of the time these nasty little pest will find its way into your setup and left unattended without its natural predator, it will grow amongst your corals. Corals will show signs of distress and will closed up, recede and eventually waste away.
Fortunately, there are ways of eliminating these pesky aiptasia. I will explain the methods some aquarists swears by and the pros and cons of each method:

Spot dosing using hot water in a syringe Very troublesome to administer as the hot water cools down very quickly. Aiptasia will retract quicky once it senses the danger.
Spot dosing with bleach or copper sulfate Yepp...Aiptasia may die but so will your pecious corals.
Spot dosing with calcium hydroxide This method is actually the most commonly employed. Calcium Hydroxide or Kalkwasser will kill aiptasia quickly but it need to be a direct hit into the mouth of the aiptasia (easier said than done as they retract quickly). The other downside  to using concentrated kalkwasser solution is that you cannot overdo it otherwise the pH, kH as well as Calcium level in the tank will spike. Care should also be excercise as if excess solution falls and lands on coral flesh, it can burn them severely.
Spot dosing with lemon juice solution Works well and cost effective. The only problem is it will affect the chemistry of the water a little.
Spot dosing with sodium hydroxide                       Very powerful solution which if administered correctly will kill aiptasia quickly. It is however a very dangerous solution which can burn your skin.
Spot dosing with hydrogen peroxide Very effective method to kill aiptasia quickly but may burn the coral flesh when it landed upon them.
Introducing shrimp Peppermint shrimp (lysmata wudermanni) is a great natural predator of aiptasia but can sometimes fall prey to wrasses and mantis shrimp.
Introducing butterflyfish Copperband Butterfly (Chelmon rostratus), Auriga Butterfly (Chaetodon auriga), Long Nose Butterfly (Genus Forcipiger species) and Klein (Chaetodon kleini) are great predators of aiptasia. However, butterflies can sometime have a habbit of nibbling on your coral polyps. Copperband and long nose butterfly are two of the safer ones amongst corals. One word of caution though, butterflies need a lot of food and starve easily once their natural snack of aiptasia have been depleted so always make sure alternative food should be readily given once their great task has been acomplished.
Spot dosing with Red Sea Aiptasia X® May cost more but it is very effective as the aiptasia does not close up quickly upon contact with the solution but will retract gracefully and die. Based on our experience in the shop, it has not burn any corals that comes in contact with the solution.

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