12 months have passed since setting up your tank, fish are healthy and many of the new corals you added are flourishing and beginning to grow. You get home from work one day, take a gander at the tank and you see what looks like little bugs crawling on your corals leaving behind tiny bite marks in the tissue. If left alone, these little critters may consume coral tissue and polyps leading to a quick demise of the entire coral colony.
As hobbyists, this is a position you never want to be in. Having a fully stocked and thriving aquarium only to find out you have introduced some kind of parasite, pesky organism, or disease that will be almost impossible to kill completely and will slowly kill off many of the corals you have invested so much time and energy into.
Here is a list of common coral pests that you might encounter on corals.
- Red Bugs
- Red Flatworms
- Acropora Eating Flat Worms
- Montipora Eating Nudibranchs
- Zooanthid Eating Nudibranchs
- Zooanthid Eating Spiders
- Sundial Snails
- Nuisance Algae
How do you prevent introducing parasites, unwanted coral pests, and disease into our aquariums? Dip your corals before they enter your aquarium of course. This way you will eradicate the pests before they even enter your tank and infest other corals. This is how you do it.
- Two Small buckets or containers, large enough to hold at least one gallon each of aquarium water.
- Rubber Gloves, especially when dealing with Palythoa and Zooanthids.
- Coral Dip – Two Little Fishies Coral Revive, Seachem Reef Dip, Brightwell MediCoral, Tropic Marin Pro Coral Cure, Aqua Vision Coral Dip Solution.
- Kitchen Timer
What to do:
- First, float the coral in the bag for 15-20 minutes in your aquarium in order to acclimate for temperature. This is only necessary for new coral additions. If dipping corals that are already in your tank, this step is not necessary.
- Fill both containers with 1 gallon of aquarium water each.
- Add the chosen Coral Dip to one of the containers of aquarium water and mix to the concentration specified in the directions. It is also safe to make homemade coral dips with Iodine or even plain freshwater. Be careful when using homemade solutions and do your research first. While it might be safe to dip Zooanthids into freshwater, it is certainly not safe for most SPS corals
- Put on rubber gloves – not absolutely necessary but recommended.
- Remove the coral from the bags or your aquarium and place immediately into the mixed coral dip solution.
- Set your timer based on the coral dip instructions and watch the little buggers fall off your coral. It may be necessary to agitate the water using a turkey baster or air stone in order to help remove dead organisms. Dipping time can vary depending on the type of coral, severity of infestation, and type of coral dip solution being used. Anywhere from 5-20 minutes is typical dipping time. Be sure to observe the coral for any obvious signs of severe stress during the dip (i.e. tissue loss, extreme slime excretion, etc.). Remove the coral immediately from the dip solution if severe stress is observed.
- Remove the coral from the dip solution and place into the 2nd bucket of aquarium water in order to rinse off any residual coral dip solution.
- Place coral immediately into your aquarium and observe closely for the 5-7 days. If any kind of parasites or pest is noticed, the process can be repeated.
While dipping corals is a common and fairly safe practice, it is important to read the labels of the coral dip you are using thoroughly. Furthermore, some coral dips are known to be more effective at attacking certain types of pests over others. It is not un-common for hobbyists to come up with a regiment of multiple dip solutions in order to cover the entire basis.