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All About Aiptasia: How to Remove and Prevent it

Aiptasia is a type of sea anemone that is basically the equivalent of a weed in the ocean. They can withstand a number of unfavorable water conditions and can reproduce very quickly. This allows them to out-compete other species of anemones, corals and even irritate fish. So if this species is present in your tank, it is not a good time for your fish and corals. If you are Luke Skywalker trying to defend your corals from pests, then Aiptasia is Darth Vader. It’s going to take you several attempts to rid your aquarium of this species.

There are lots of ways to do this. Here are a few of the most common natural remedies:

  • Peppermint Shrimp
  • Berghia Nudibranch
  • Bristletail Filefish
  • Copperband Butterflyfish
  • Sunburst Butterflyfish

With these species you have a 50/50 chance that they will actually even eat the Aiptasia.

Here’s why these things a such a pain in the ass:

Science Time

Aptiasia reproduction happens in one of 2 ways:

  1. They release gametes which then grow another Aiptaisa
  2. Through segmentation meaning a piece of them can grow into a new one

Irritating this species will result in one or 2 of those things which allow it to quickly reproduce. So as the species mentioned are eating them, they are doing one of the 2 in order to stick around.

On the conservation front, no one gets into the aquarium hobby because they want to lose fish or corals, they get into it to care for and appreciate them for a long time. Aiptasia outbreaks aside from being a pain in the ass, can decimate your tank’s inhabitants which then creates more demand for wild caught species that are not going to survive in a tank that is overcome with Aiptasia. Now this happens to pretty much every reef keeper at some point, so don’t feel bad if it happens to you. The good news is that I have found a way to remove it, maintain it and prevent it that I’m going to share with you so that you lose less corals and fish from it.

Now I don’t have a large reef tank myself but my uncle has a 300 gallon reef tank that he has maintained since the 90s. This system has survived every hurricane since then including hurricane Andrew. The bain of this system’s existence? Aiptasia outbreaks. I have helped him rid his aquarium of these pests several times since they sometime appear after he adds a new coral species. Don’t feel bad if this happens to you, it happens to all of us at some point unfortunately.

So here’s how to get rid of it and prevent it.

While the laser seemed to have helped to clear it up alot, the only thing that I have personally used in the past that works really well is taking the time to use Aiptasia-X by Red Sea. All you need to do is follow the instructions on the bottle, take the precautions that they recommend and it will help to get rid of these pests. The Aiptasia-x formula is 100% reef safe when used as directed. After a few days the solution will decompose, so all of this white stuff will be gone along with the Aiptsia’s tissue. You will have to do this several times in order to completely rid your system of them.

So now let’s talk about how to prevent them. Quarantine tanks work really well for this. After 30 days you will see if any hitchhiker Aiptasia appear on your new addition. At that point you can eliminate them with the Aiptasia-X and once they are 100% clear you can then add them to your main system. For any fish or inverts if you see any Aipastia form in your quarantine tank then you will need to repeat the same thing.

If you do have a quarantine tank, it’s also a good idea to use a dip like Coral RX for the corals. This helps to remove any hitchhikers or pests from your new coral additions. It won’t unfortunately prevent Aiptasia though.

And that’s a quick rundown of what Aiptasia is, how to eliminate it and how to prevent it.

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