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FAQs about Acroporid Eating Red/Black "Bugs" (Tegastes, Copepods)

Related Articles: Coral Pests and Disease; pests, predators, diseases and conditions by Sara Mavinkurve, Acroporids, SPS Corals,

Related FAQs: Acroporid Disease 1, Acroporid Disease 2, Acroporid Disease 3, Acroporid Disease 4, Acroporid Health 5, Acroporid Health 6, & Acroporids 1, Acroporids 2, Acroporid Identification, Acroporid Behavior, Acroporid Selection, Acroporid Compatibility, Acroporid Feeding, Acroporid Systems, Acroporid Reproduction, Stony/True Coral, Coral System Set-Up, Coral System Lighting, Stony Coral Identification, Stony Coral Selection, Coral Placement, Foods/Feeding/Nutrition, Disease/Health, Propagation, Growing Reef Corals, Stony Coral Behavior,

Black bugs from hell      10/19/16
Hi crew,
<Fahd>
Hope things are well with you all.
<Yes; thank you>
I'm hoping to get an I.d plus possibly some advice on treating these little buggers (pun intended).
I have included some pictures that I took, you can see how small they are on the rocks, and I was able to capture some and look at them under a microscope at my university.
They run around quite fast on the rocks, in random patterns, especially when a flashlight has been shone on them.
These bugs tend to target lps corals, and are leaving my sps alone. They seem to hit one or two coral at a time, rather than to infect all of them at once. For example I would see slow recession on one or two frags at a time.
<Mmm... infect? Nah... not even infest... >
Dipping frags in iodine had no effect. Dipping them in coral cleaner "revive" had no effect.

After much reading online, I found out that the drug interceptor, with active ingredient Melbemycine oxime seems to have worked for others in the past with similar pests.
<Yes... this appears to be a copepod/ite... the single eye....>

One large tablet of interceptor is meant to treat 380 gallons. My aquarium is roughly 85-95 gallons of water, therefore the first treatment consisted of .25 of a full tablet. This had no affect on the bugs and they were still running around on the live rock.
<Heeeee!>
Then I treated the aquarium (without water change or carbon to remove the first treatment) with 1 full tablet, knowing that overdosing is not known to cause any major issues. This yielded no ill effect on the bugs.
Finally, I got very annoyed and used all my remaining interceptor; 2.5 tablets, which came out to roughly 10x the suggested treatment strength.
This, finally, caused the bugs to seemingly die, as I no longer saw them running around on the rock.
The affected lps also looked much puffier and happier after the final treatment, with receding seeming to stop.
That was a week ago, and today I noticed that 2-3 bugs were running around on the rocks again (compared to seeing about 20 on the same spot of rock originally). I'm assuming that some eggs may have hatched or something.
These bugs have cost me a small fortune in coral frags
<Really? As in eating them?>
and treatment costs, and any advice with a possible i.d would be much appreciated. Any thoughts on alternative treatment options?
<A few... I'd use a predator...>
Is interceptor my best bet at this point? It's bizarre that they need such a strong treatment.
<Something/s absorbing the arthrocide here... Happens all too often... Chemical filtrants, "bio mass"... detritus>
Thank you for your time, enjoy your day.
Fahd.
<Let's have you read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_5/volume_5_2/copepods.htm
and the linked files at the bottom. Bob Fenner>


Re: Black bugs from hell.        10/20/16
Thanks, Bob. I saw your response and agree. Heeee - it's a cyclopepod!
Take care, Lynn
<Heeee! Thank you Lynn. BobF>

Re: Black bugs from hell.       10/21/16
Thanks, Bob. I saw your response and agree. Heeee - it's a cyclopepod!
Take care, Lynn
<Heeee! Thank you Lynn. BobF>
<<A pleasure, as always! Lynn>>

Acropora black bugs       5/4/16
Hey I was wondering if someone might possibly have some info about a problem I am having. I have black "bugs" on some Acropora.
<Happens>
I have treated my tank with interceptor and it didn't kill them.
<Interesting... might want to try a biological predator... some small wrasses, pipes...>
Killed off a lot of other stuff. Also I have dipped these corals in Coral Pro RX, Revive, Bayer at triple strength and nothing has worked.
<Strange... and frightening>

They seem indestructible. I am not considering drying everything out.
They only seem to affect the across. But I left the tank empty of those for a few weeks and when I place a frag in they have come right back. I am not sure if these bugs can survive on detritus or other food and maybe stick
around even for prolonged periods of time.
Any help you might be able to offer would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you, Brad V.Greensboro, NC
<I'd REALLY like you to collect some, take their pic under magnification... and send along for Identification.
Otherwise, re bio-controls, please read here:

http://www.wetwebmedia.com/AcroBugF.htm
Bob Fenner>
Re: Acropora black bugs       5/4/16
This is the best I have been able to get so far. Will keep trying though.
Also here's a video but not great quality. Acropora bugs! Not red bugs
<Mate.... these look like flatworms... BobF>

specks?

Re: Acropora black bugs       5/4/16
the grey spots?
did you see the video?
<No... the link doesn't work... practice sending it to yourself and re-send>
do they swim like that? I know the bites look the same as flatworm bites.
Thank you for your patience.
Re: Acropora black bugs       5/4/16

Acropora bugs! Not red bugs
<?>
Re: Acropora black bugs       5/4/16

I sent the link ... didn't get it? Here goes again
<... worthless. Do you make these blurry messes as copepods, amphipods. GET a scope mate>
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGq7j3k0zmw&feature=youtube_gdata_player
Re: Acropora black bugs       5/4/16

Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?
<Mmm; no; she passed on/croaked about a dozen years back>

Questions re: Acropora "red bugs" 8/15/12
Hi WWM,
<Hello Lee>
I have several questions relating to "red bugs" and their harm to SPS corals.  If it's Bob who's replying, I wish you well with your presentation at the DFW MACNA.  I just bought plane tickets and will be there.
<Best wishes to you as well.>
First, after searching the WWM posts re: red bugs, I've noticed that some of the information may be dated; for example, in 2004 it seems the consensus was that they are possibly commensal rather than parasitical. 
Has the consensus changed to agree that they are unhealthy for corals?
<My understanding is they are parasitical, actually miniature blood suckers.>
Second, which corals exactly do the Tegastes red bugs harm, if any?
<Seem to favor Acropora but will infest other smooth skin coral.>
Only Acropora, or do they feed on all branching SPS?  I see some on a coral of mine that's surely an Acro (I'm at work but I can upload a pic when I get home).  Do the red bugs eat Millepora corals? Birdsnest corals? (I'm unsure on the taxonomy there, please forgive me).
<Most reports indicate Acropora as their fave.>
The reason I ask about which kinds of corals they harm is that I was thinking of removing only those corals from my main SPS system, dipping them multiple times in Interceptor (which I managed to find, despite it no longer being manufactured), and adding them to my pristine 50g seahorse system under a Kessil 150 10k.  I'd leave them in there for six weeks until (hopefully) the red bugs in the SPS system hatch the next generation of eggs, they all starve to death, and I can add the Acroporas back to the SPS system with MH lighting.  Is this idea workable in your opinion, or is there a flaw in my reasoning?
<Works best if left in the Interceptor for one hour.  Read more on this process here.
http://www.melevsreef.com/redbugs.html>
If you can give me a limited universe of corals which they can survive on then I think I can do my "starve-out" option without nuking my whole DT with Interceptor.
<I don't think you will find that to be necessary after you do the above process to the corals that appear to be affected.>
I truly appreciate your help and advice.  I read through the website all the time; great stuff!
<Thank you.>
Thanks,
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)
Oh, delete your personal info in the future unless you want it posted on our site.>
Lee

Acropora turning white 5/8/10
I have attached two pictures of this coral that is turning white/yellowish.
I seems to be progressing quickly. I have read about what it could be, but not 100% on how to identify. Is it possible for you to look at these pictures and tell me what it is? Any help would be great. Thank you for
your time!
Zach Stamey
<Mmm, this is almost assuredly a case of Acro eating flatworms... you can/should read more widely re these on the Net,, and should have quarantined any new/incoming materials... there has been a steady rash of these/this on aquacultured Scleractinians... Treatments have included various Anthelminthics... esp. "Fluke Tabs", four tabs to five gallons of water for dips... You can hold the coral out of the water for a few minutes, and the worms themselves will likely become more obvious/transparent... Look for and remove (with a toothbrush or such) any egg cases. At any length, I almost just deleted your query, as you have NOT complied with our requirement to limit graphics... It's taken some fourteen minutes for me to download one of your images (here in Egypt)... Bob Fenner>

re: Acropora turning white 5/8/10
Thank you for the help. Sorry about the extra picture. Zach
<Welcome. Cranky Bob>
Re: Acropora turning white
Bob, I pulled it out and didn't see any worms or eggs. I put in a Lugol's dip and blew of with turkey baster and didn't see anything that looked like the flatworm pics online. Is there another possibility.
<Actually several... from the ME meaning "many">
Maybe Lugol's dip isn't the best way to get them off. That's all I had at home from the options I found online. Any thoughts? Thanks again for your help. Zach
<Oh yeah, for you to read; here: http://wetwebmedia.com/acrodisfaqs.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Re: Acropora turning white 5/12/10
Hey Bob,
<Big Z>
I finally found something on this Acropora. I used a Lugol's dip again and several very small "bugs" came floating off. I have since noticed them crawling around the bottom of the tank. The largest one may be close to 1/4", they seem to be a white/grey color, have antennas, and a lot of legs. I looked online and the closet thing I could find to what it looks like is some sort of amphipod. They are so small that I can't take a picture to send. They only seem to be eating this one Acropora. The others are fine. Could you send me a link to the site that addresses how to get rid of these
things. From my reading and what I have found so far it looks like I will have to trap them. Is that correct? Does anything eat them? Thanks again for your help. The website is a nice resource.
Thanks, Zach
<... am surprised you can't find the files yourself... Please scroll down here: http://wetwebmedia.com/CnidIndex2.htm to Acroporids... Disease/Pests... B>

Coral Disease 01/06/09 Dear Crew: Happy New Year! <To you and yours tambien!> I hope all is well on your end. Attached, please find two photographs of diseased corals. One is a Montipora Digitata and the other a Montipora Capricornis. Both have been doing well, for three years without incident. <Wow, well done.> This disease is spreading and from the photographs, you can possibly see some black specs forming in the area of dead coral. Do you have any ideas on what this is and how to combat it? <Can you look closer at these black specs and see if they are moving? Are they mobile things? To me, they look a bit like algae growing on dead coral right now... but I can't tell from the photos. I have heard "rumors" of something like "black red bugs"- parasitic copepods that are black, rather than red. But I don't know what they are or even if that's what's going on here.> No new specimens have been added to this tank for several years now. <Very strange. Have you changed anything at all with the system? New lights? New supplements? Anything?> Thank you for taking the time to look. Best regards, Brad in Basalt <Best,
Sara M.>

ID help 01/06/09 These are pictures I took, I'm being told they are not redbugs. But from what I can find they appear to be to me. So I'm turning to a pro. I apologize for picture quality but it's the clearest I could get. Thx. Paul <... could be Tegastes... can't tell from these images. Bob Fenner> <<Bob... should have referred the querior to more... at least the newly placed pitch for some of my pet-fish presentations... the next one coming up this month... re Hitchhiker Pros/Cons... will do so here: http://wetwebmedia.com/LR,LS/HH%20PPT%20Pitch%20Cells/HHProsConsart.htm>>

Red Acro Mites 2/10/06 Hey Crew, 2 of my Acro's have tiny red bugs on them. the polyps on the coral are in because they are probably stressed out. i have a fridmani, but he isn't interested. he prefers spaghetti and meatballs!! i am concerned. i did a google on wet web media and didn't find any real solutions. please advise... best regards, Jenna <Read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acrodisfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner
Red Acro Mites II - 02/11/06
Hey Bob, thanks for your help...... <<EricR here this morning...>> Well, I looked through the link you sent, and found that Interceptor will kill bugs, but all my crabs as well!! <<Indeed, as well as other beneficial life! (amphipods, mysids, etc....maybe even beneficial protozoa...)>> No good right? <<Not in my opinion, no.>> I love my critters... <<And your tank loves them too.>> I also did a Google search, but no info really. <<Agreed>> I assume it is not really known what to do right? <<As I am aware, there aren't any "scientific" studies on these critters and their impact in aquariums/captive systems.>> All my Acro's are infected now, and they are stressed out. Color is fading, and polyps are closed. They will probably die, if I don't fix this... <<Jenna...I have red bugs (Tegastes) in my reef tank for more than a year now, more likely more than two. I have not lost any corals due to them, and color/growth/vigor has not been affected by them...in my opinion. I have not and will not "nuke" my tank to get rid of them and quite honestly, don't give them a second thought (an attitude that admittedly, has drawn scorn and caused me to be shunned by the "fraggers" in my local reef club...but I digress...). My point is; and I'm not saying this is the case in your situation, I think many aquarists are quick to blame their own mistakes in choosing proper tank-mates or inadequacies in water quality/lighting/flow/feeding on the Tegastes. Just my humble opinion...no "proof" either way at the moment. But for your own peace of mind, if the corals in question can be removed from the display tank you do have a couple options you can try. You could place the affected corals in a bucket of tank water with a powerhead and heater and treat per instructions with the Interceptor...or...you could simply give the corals a 15 second bath in temperature and pH adjusted RO water...though the second option is harder on the coral. And do be aware, neither of these options guarantees the corals won't become "reinfected" once reintroduced to the display. I don't know that all this helps you much but as you've discovered for yourself, aside from anecdotal evidence or knee-jerk reaction, there's not much to go with. Regards, EricR>>

White bugs eating my Acro. - 03/22/06 WWM Crew, <DG> Thanks for your help with all our fishy needs. This morning I had a possible revelation on a very big mystery, Why my Acros were dying (RTN). I moved a rock in the tank and some sand fell on some of my corals, so once I placed the rock back I tried to clean my coral of any debris that might of fallen on them. When I came to the Acro in question ( a beautiful specimen that once had blue tips) I inverted the coral to allow gravity to clean off any debris, and I noticed that some "grains of sand" remained, being the persistent perfectionist I pretend to be, I placed the specimen in front of the return to allow the flow to take the sand off. Well upon, looking closer I realized that the "sand" wasn't sand at all, they are little white bugs all over the specimen. Now, I've read on WWM about red bugs that eat Acros, and of white nudis that eat Montis, but not white bugs that eat Acros?! <Come in all colors...> Can somebody lend advice? Is there any solution other than laying the coral in bleach and turning it into a very sadistic paperweight? <There are possible predators to try> I know for a fact that they will move on to other pieces. The specimen that has them now was fine and I'm suspecting they came on another specimen that already had bits of RTN. Your suggestions and advice are both greatly needed and appreciated. Sincerely yours, David Guzman Jr. <Do consider stocking some small wrasses... see WWM re other groups of fishes... Do quarantine future purchases... Bob Fenner>

Yellow with a red dot Acro bugs 5/3/04 Hi, I have some Acropora corals that are infested with little yellow oval shaped bug like things on them. I am afraid that they are hurting or eating the Acropora corals. How can I get rid of them? I have a yellow Coris wrasse and a mandarin fish but they are not eating the bugs. If I use SeaChem's coral dip, will it kill these pests? Thanks, Adam <Hi Adam. Adam here<g>. There is much debate about these critters and why they appear, what they feed on, if they are harmful, how to get rid of them, etc., etc. Some folks have had success with predators, commensal crabs or clown gobies, but none are 100% reliable. I never like to send anyone elsewhere for info, but I don't have any first hand experience and there is A LOT of discussion in the forums at www.reefcentral.com. Good luck! Adam>

Red bugs on SPS hi, Bob, how's going? << Blundell here as well. >> This is George in SDMAS. << Hey George, hope all is well. >> Got a question for you about red bugs. I am sure you probably read some posts online about it. Some ppl use a heart worm medication call "interceptor" to get rid of the red bug. Supposedly the only side effect known at this point is that the medication kills most if not all the crustaceans and everything else seems to do fine. << Wow, I wouldn't call that all successful. If it kills all the other crustaceans then I would stay clear of that method. >> Someone also said that pipe fish eats the red bugs. So I decided to do an experiment. I have Ron got me some dragon pipe fish. I put them in my refugium/frag tank. Saturday they feel comfortable enough, the male start to compete against each other to see who is most handsome and the female pipe fish just doing whatever they are doing like nothing is going on. So I dropped a SPS colony that has red bugs on it in the refugium/frag tank. So far I only observe 2 pipe fish swim onto the colony look around for food, but some how they didn't eat any of the bugs. SO they either don't realize those bugs are food, or perhaps not that hungry, or some how they can't see them. Since pipe fish aren't build for living in rough water, so I am more leaning toward they don't know what the red bugs are. <Me too> << Definite possibility. But with time, and hunger, they may go for it. Or, is possible that the red bugs aren't food at all for them. >> I am planning on feeding the pipe fish some Cyclops eeze tonight by squirt some into the SPS colony, hopping maybe the pipe fish will eventually associate the bug and food together. But of course they have to start eating the Cyclops eeze first. << Good idea, and just about everything will go for Cyclop-eeze. >> My question is that from all your dives and observations when you were diving. Do you know if any fish/shrimp/crab....etc that live in the reef that might eat these red bugs?? <I don't, but suspect there is definitely some predator/s> << I would think a wrasse would be the best choice. Probably trying a rock mover (dragon wrasse) or six line wrasse. >> If you do, I would appreciate if you let me know. I am sure I can spend money and try all the reef safe fish that I think might eat things like red bug, but don't have that kind money to throw around. << I wouldn't spend any money on chemical treatments. I would stick with fish (wrasse) or maybe even a Mithrax crab. >> Hope to hear from you soon. Have a great day! Sincerely, George <Hey George. Am sending your note/query to our Crew... as they are much more current on this issue. Be seeing you, Bob F> << Blundell >>

Acropora "mites" AKA 'Red Amphipods" I have a 10 gallon nano with some small SPS frags and I have notices small orange mites crawling around on a couple of the Acropora frags. <ahhh, yes... not uncommon at all. A curious little arthropod. AKA "red Amphipods"> They look like little fleas. They are very small but viewable to the naked eye. What can be done? <some say they are parasitic, but I and most aquarists do not believe this to be true. No proof yet. At best they flourish incidentally while SPS corals wane/die from other common denominators (water quality, lack of QT, etc)> Is there a safe dip or treatment I could give? <some have employed FW dips... I do not believe this is necessary> Are these parasitic or commensal? <the jury is still out... leaning towards commensal> I have searched and found no information on these. <do a keyword search on reefcentral.com and other large message boards for perspective (use "Red Acropora Mites", "Red Amphipods", etc.) to get a consensus. My advice is to simply watch carefully and do employ a natural predator if possible (Red Sea pseudochromid, small wrasse, etc)> Thank you ahead of time for any help. <best regards, Anthony>

Red bugs on SPS hi, Bob, how's going? << Blundell here as well. >> This is George in SDMAS. << Hey George, hope all is well. >>  Got a question for you about red bugs.  I am sure you probably read some posts online about it.   Some ppl use a heart worm medication call "interceptor" to get rid of the red bug.  Supposedly the only side effect known at this point is that the medication kills most if not all the crustaceans and everything else seems to do fine. << Wow, I wouldn't call that all successful.  If it kills all the other crustaceans then I would stay clear of that method. >> Someone also said that pipe fish eats the red bugs. So I decided to do an experiment.  I have Ron got me some dragon pipe fish.   I put them in my refugium/frag tank.  Saturday they feel comfortable enough, the male start to compete against each other to see who is most handsome and the female pipe fish just doing whatever they are doing like nothing is going on.  So I dropped a SPS colony that has red bugs on it in the refugium/frag tank.  So far I only observe 2 pipe fish swim onto the colony look around for food, but some how they didn't eat any of the bugs. SO they either don't realize those bugs are food, or perhaps not that hungry, or some how they can't see them.  Since pipe fish aren't build for living in rough water, so I am more leaning toward they don't know what the red bugs are. <Me too> << Definite possibility.  But with time, and hunger, they may go for it.  Or, is possible that the red bugs aren't food at all for them. >> I am planning on feeding the pipe fish some Cyclops Eeze tonight by squirt some into the SPS colony, hopping maybe the pipe fish will eventually associate the bug and food together.  But of course they have to start eating the Cyclops Eeze first. << Good idea, and just about everything will go for Cyclop-eeze. >> My question is that from all your dives and observations when you were diving.  Do you know if any fish/shrimp/crab....etc that live in the reef that might eat these red bugs?? <I don't, but suspect there is definitely some predator/s> <<  I would think a wrasse would be the best choice.  Probably trying a rock mover (dragon wrasse) or six line wrasse. >> If you do, I would appreciate if you let me know.  I am sure I can spend money and try all the reef safe fish that I think might eat things like red bug, but don't have that kind money to throw around. << I wouldn't spend any money on chemical treatments.  I would stick with fish (wrasse) or maybe even a Mithrax crab. >> Hope to hear from you soon.  Have a great day! Sincerely, George <Hey George. Am sending your note/query to our Crew... as they are much more current on this issue. Be seeing you, Bob F> <<  Blundell  >>

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