No, no, I haven’t finally flipped despite my wife’s worries. This has nothing to do with refreshments, but is to do with marine aquariums, fish only or reef, though reef systems are most likely to be concerned.
Occasionally, aquarists are faced with a problem. Usually the problem can be fixed – a broken pump, a failed light, even a sick fish. In this case, though, we are faced with a potential invasion. A serious invasion and it could end up as a continuing battle.
So what is being talked about? Aiptasia, commonly known as glass anemones or rock anemones. One or two may appear in the aquarium having come in with live rock or coral rock. They are opaque, and grow at quite a fast rate. Left alone, they can spread alarmingly, and to such an extent that they are everywhere. Though they could be an interesting addition to the aquarium, this spreading ability makes early action a necessity.
The worst thing that the aquarist can do is to squash them or chop them, as it is more than likely that some of the bits will develop into new anemones making the situation worse than in the first place.
What is Joe’s Juice? This is a commercial application that can be used to kill the anemones. A small bottle is supplied with a syringe. Circulation pumps have to be turned off, then the liquid is dropped onto the anemones. The reaction of the anemone is swift as the liquid is lethal. The application does not hurt any other livestock, but the aquarist needs to be careful that the liquid does not get onto any polyps etc that are wanted.
Joe’s Juice is not the only anti-aiptasia product available, but it is possibly the best known and easily available at local retailers, or failing that on the internet from websites such as Marine Depot.
Some aquarists worry about adding liquids to their aquarium as some of the liquid unavoidably dissipates into the seawater. Heavily instilled into them is the requirement for high quality seawater and this is the reason for the worry. I seem to have constant skirmishes with aiptasia and the liquid has never had any effect other than to the aiptasia anemones.
Marine aquariums have moved towards more natural methods, for example live rock and deep sand beds (DSB’s). Is there a way that Mother Nature can assist with removal of the anemones without resorting to man-made preparations? Nature usually has a predator or two available.
In the case of the anemones, two possibilities come to mind. The first is a fish, the second a shrimp.
The fish is the lovely copper-band butterfly (Chelmon rostratus). This really is a super fish for an aquarium in its own right. If the aquarist wants to try one of these, then the normal guidelines for purchasing and compatibility with other tank inmates apply. They are reported as ‘safe’ in a reef system, but will destroy fan-worms and the like. They are most likely to be happy in an aged system as there are likely to be more tiny shrimps etc living in the rocks. As can be seen from the nose of the fish, the long snout is designed for poking in crevices and holes to dig food out. The aquarist should also be aware that the fish can feed quite reasonably, but there are many cases where aquarists have had trouble, and struggled to keep the fish healthy because of difficult feeding.
Anyway, back to the anemones. Quite a number of aquarists have reported success with anemones and the fish. After introduction, the anemones have reduced or disappeared. There is discussion whether this is because the fish is actually eating them, or just biting them causing damage. I don’t think aquarists will care as long as there is positive reduction in the numbers, and hopefully ongoing control. Pretty good so far.
Right, here it comes. There are aquarists who have followed this route and the fish have shown no interest in the anemones at all – not a bit. So these aquarists are left with the anemone problem, but at least have gained a beautiful fish.
The second possibility is the shrimp commonly known as the peppermint shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni). This follows the pattern laid down for the copper-band butterfly, in that some aquarists have found them highly effective and others of no use at all (as far as the anemones go). However, again the shrimp is well worth keeping in a reef system, as long as there are plenty of hiding places and there isn’t anything that will view them as a tasty morsel.
So the aquarist has the option to try and control the aiptasia anemones with either one of the alternatives. It could be, if the first effort fails, that the other could be tried if compatible. Failing that, the alternative is Joe’s Juice or a similar commercial application.
I feel that there must be something that nature has that feeds directly on aiptasia anemones, something that definitely includes the little blighters on its regular menu. Maybe a snail, or a worm or a nudibranch. I for one would be delighted if the name of such a useful life form could be made available.
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