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/The Conscientious Reef Aquarist

The Pros & Cons of Hitchhikers in the Reef Aquarium, part 3

To: Part 1, Part 2, Part 4,


By Bob Fenner



Red and more clear small pest flatworms on hard (Scleractinian) and soft corals can be debilitating if your livestock is otherwise compromised or if theyre in too great a number (Waminoa here on a Plerogyra in the wild, the brownish one in captivity is said to be Convolutriloba retrogemma). Another clearish species infests the genus Acropora. Both cause damage by shading out light and likely feeding on the corals endosymbiotic algae (zooxanthellae). Look for tissue loss and brownish egg masses.

    Best avoided through quarantine, possible pH-adjusted freshwater Dips/Baths. Biological controls possibly include some small wrasses of the genera Pseudocheilinus, Halichoeres and Macropharyngodon; Callionymids/Psychedelic gobies, and Headshield Slugs of the genus Chelidonura.

Nudibranchs of small (barely visible) to quite large (an inch or two) size, often VERY similarly colored to the animals theyre found feeding on.
      Soft corals ( Toadstool and Leather Corals, Xeniids) Zoanthids (Palythoa, Zoanthus) and stonies of the genera Montipora and Anacropora are infested the most often.
     Treatment options include Physical removal (with tweezers), finding and scrubbing off eggs (may be on prey or laid on rock), Predatory fishes  (e.g. the Threadfin Butterflyfish, genus Coris and Thalassoma wrasses, and Chemicals ( Baths/dips involving iodine/iodide: Lugols Solution, and antihelminthic/de-worming drugs like Levamisole.

At right: Nice if they can fit both size and possible cross-over predation wise, a Bluehead or Coris wrasse can be gainfully employed in keeping reef livestock Nudibranch (and other pest Mollusk) free.  




Pyramidellid snails, as their name implies are conically shaped usually white and only a few millimetres in length. These are principally problems with Giant Clams, Tridacnid species, feeding on their mantles by night, hiding out around their bases/byssus by day. Detection is easy with a sharp eye and a flashlight during the evening, and your Clam/s may show evidence of damage, not-opening during the day. Removal and brushing of the entire shell (outside the system of course) is the suggested means of controlling these pests. The Banana and Green Wrasses of the genus Halichoeres (H. hortulanus and H. chloropterus), and smaller lined wrasses (genus Pseudocheilinus are good predators of Pyramidellids.
     Right: An infested Clam and the Eight Line Wrasse (P. octotaenia).

Box snails, Tulip Snails, Limpets and so many more predatory snails are generally large enough to be seen and best removed physically if/when detected if causing trouble. Do be on the look-out for their egg masses and remove these promptly as well.

Shown: At left a really big Limpet, Lottia gigantea off the coast in San Diego, Calif.

Below: A Sundial Snail common predator hitchhiker on Zoanthids.


To: Part 1, Part 2, Part 4,

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