Aiptasia Anemones – This Means War!

The reef aquarium is beautiful and the aquarist is delighted. Corals are open and swaying in the seawater current. Fish flit about busily hoping to find some food. The rocks of the reef look good and settled. No problems. Lovely!

One day the aquarist sits and views his/her aquarium feeling calm and satisfied. Then something is noticed that hasn’t been seen before, it’s a small anemone. Having seen that one another is noticed on a nearby rock poking out of a crevice. The aquarist is delighted, new growth that he didn’t introduce.

Quite rightly the aquarist does some research on the internet and in his hobby book. He compares pictures with the anemones in the aquarium and identifies them as Aiptasia, common name glass anemones. He learns that these anemones need dealing with, meaning they need destroying or they will spread and spoil the aquarium. They have a potent sting that might hurt corals or fish. More research shows that there are ways of destroying the anemones naturally or by the use of chemicals. One natural way is to use a Peppermint shrimp (Lysmata wurdamanni). It’s also discovered that some aquarists who have tried this find that the shrimp ignores the anemones. Did they have the correct shrimp? Did the dealer really know the type? It’s decided to use chemicals to be more sure of the destruction of the anemones.

There are two main products specifically designed for the purpose. The first is called ‘Joes Juice’ and the second ‘Aiptasia X’.

Read the instructions to ensure proper and safe use of the products. The products cannot be described as cheap though they are reasonably priced. They are both stated to be aquarium safe, that is they will not adversely effect the reef if used properly.

‘Joes Juice’ comes in a 20ml screw-top bottle. Included is a syringe and a plastic application nozzle to fit on the end. The bottle is shaken and the syringe filled. The output end of the syringe is placed near to the anemone (don’t touch it or it will shrink away) and chemical squeezed onto the anemone. The anemone will shrink down and hopefully be destroyed. The procedure is repeated for each anemone. The anemones should be targeted not generally sprayed as this is a waste of the chemical and the anemone could be missed. After a little time attacking the anemones the aquarist’s skill improves and the targeting becomes more accurate.

‘Aiptasia X’ is produced by Red Sea. The amount supplied in a smaller carton is 60ml, again it’s in a screw top bottle. Supplied is a syringe and two metal applicator tubes to go on the end of the syringe, one is straight and the other angled. The applicator tubes are longer than the Joes Juice ones. Again, the fluid is shaken in the bottle and the syringe filled. The longer applicators make it a little easier to reach and target the anemones.

I have had a war with Aiptasia. The first very necessary requirement, one that should be available to all marine aquarists, is patience and discipline. Why? The Aiptasia are likely not to be destroyed in one or two sessions and repeated attacks are necessary. In addition to other requirements the aquarist should be prepared to routinely and regularly check the aquarium for the anemones, on and between the rocks, everywhere. This might sound a bit much but if this isn’t done then the battle could be lost. The Aiptasia could be easily seen or could be very small and partially hidden. Get them all as far as possible!

I have used both products and they work (of course they do!). The one preferred is ‘Aiptasia X’. The syringe with this system is smoother and easier to use, and the applicators that go on the end of the syringe are also better. My war with Aiptasia is not yet won but the appearance of the anemones has greatly decreased. I continue to carefully check for new anemones regularly, it’s become part of my maintenance cycle.

‘Joes Juice’ and ‘Aiptasia X’ are readily available. My only question is – Why do the manufacturers put syringes in each and every packet? They could leave them out of some so that the purchaser could choose. The ones without a syringe could have an identifying mark on the box and be a little cheaper. Just a thought.

New growth in the reef aquarium is usually welcome. Not welcome is ‘yukky’ algae, the ugly stuff, and life that could spread detrimentally such as Aiptasia. ‘Identify and deal with’ is the best procedure.

(Photo: commons.wikimedia.org)

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Aiptasia Anemones – This Means War!
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2 Comments
  1. Thank you so much for this post! So far I have been lucky and didn’t Aiptasia in my coral reef aqaurium but if I should discover them one day, I definitely know what to do right away!

  2. Hello Lisa. Glad you found the info useful and at the same time I hope you never have to use it. Enjoy your reef!

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