An Aiptasia Predator

Marine aquarists, generally, have all the pleasure and little grief, with high seawater quality and a happy mix of livestock. True, on occasion there can be some trouble – with algae for example, but generally it’s a peaceful and pleasurable hobby. It is with me.

There is one thing wrong though, which doesn’t really harm the pleasure but is irritating nevertheless. There is an ongoing battle with the aiptasia anemone and this is happening in many aquariums, particularly reefs. I control the little blighters with Joe’s Juice, a commercial application that kills the anemone it is applied to. There are other commercial formulations available. Unfortunately, as I understand it, when the anemone is attacked it releases emergency spores, so though the parent is doomed the babies are going to grow for the next round. In addition, in a reef system there are many caves and crevices and all the aiptasia cannot be eliminated.

There are natural controls such as the copperband butterfly fish (Chelmon rostratus). This fish is a beauty in itself and is recommended by some respected authorities. However, not all aquarium systems are suitable and the fish is not suitable to a beginner.

There is another predator that is hitting the headlines, and it is a nudibranch. These creatures are like snails without a shell. Some of them are really lovely and others not. The one of interest here is fairly small and quite good looking. Its proper name is Berghia verrucicornis.

The natural diet of the nudibranch is aiptasia. They are otherwise reef safe and could breed in the aquarium, all conditions being acceptable. They are sociable with each other so more than one can be kept. What a discovery! Aiptasia, the writing is on the wall!

These little creatures are already being commercially bred and can be purchased for home delivery. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell European aquarists may have to wait a while for supplies to materialize. Aquarists in the United States are more fortunate as they are currently available.

The nudibranchs need to be acclimatized carefully and information is provided about this. Once settled they are reported to be hardy.

It is of course important that there isn’t anything in the aquarium which will harm the nudibranchs and checks will need to be made.

There are two links following that are concerned with the nudibranch. Anyone wishing to find out more has only to go into Google and type in the nudibranch’s proper name and further links will be found.

  1. Our nudi was with us only a short time before he was [presumably] sucked into one of our powerheads. His lifeless body clung helplessly to a Hydor Koralia Nano when we arrived in the office one morning. Perhaps a deeper/larger tank than our 24-gallon AquaPod is more suitable. That is why we haven’t tried it again … I don’t want to risk another loss.

  2. A good point, the danger from power intakes, and not just for nudibranchs. It goes to show that they need to have a mesh on, with mesh size suitable to what might get sucked in……..
    May mean a bit more maintenance cleaning the mesh from time to time.

Comments are closed.