Day 4: The Beast is getting bigger, I may have to break off the rock it's attached to at this rate. Of all the Aiptasia I have been keeping an eye on none have been touched yet. The egg spirals laid on the small piece of rock have vanished so something probably ate them over night, I'm feeling pretty gutted about that.
Day 5: No change in Aiptasia but I can confirm that one of the nudibranchs is still alive, how do I know this? Well, I discovered one sitting on the silicone bead at top left corner of the tank first thing in the morning. Err, no there aren't any anemones to eat up there!
The nudibranch stayed there all day along, at least it didn't get eaten.
Day 6: No change and the Berghia is still in the same spot on the silicone, is it on hunger strike?
I moved the small rock a little so that I could take a photo of some odd looking polyps that seem to have sprung up from nowhere (more on this later) but as I did that I discovered some more eggs spirals had been laid inside a hole. Hopefully these will be more protected from predation unless mini brittlestars have a taste for nudibranch eggs in which case they will be toast.
Day 7 (today): The Berghia has vanished from the silicone, hopefully it's gone in search of a snack. No visible change in Aiptasia, well they did say it could take a while...
Day 8: Nothing new to report. I can't see if the egg spirals are still intact or not. I just wish that one tiny Aiptasia would vanish offering me at least some hope for the future control. Oh well I guess need to be patient a little longer.
Despite my very best efforts, Aiptasia anemones have taken a hold in my tank. I tried killing any that I discovered with Red Sea Aiptasia-X but more often than not they just bounced back. I moved on to NT Labs Anti-Aiptasia, that proved equally useless. Some would say that the problem lies with me but no matter how carefully/stealthily I approached the anemones to apply the killing solution they would hunker down and reappear a couple of days later. I also tried covering them with putty but no matter how carefully and forcefully I squished the putty down around the Aiptasia they would manage to find a way around it. As things stand I have one rather large Aiptasia (aka The Beast; it looks massive to me) and more than a fair few tiny ones. In fact the more I look with a magnifying glass, the more I find. So basically I've come to the conclusion that they are everywhere and if I don't do something soon it's going to get a lot, lot worse. It's time to get serious about this.
Plan A: Berghia nudibranch. These tiny sea slugs eat Aiptasia and only Aiptasia so are guaranteed to do the job if they survive long enough. The recommended number to add is 1 Berghia per 50l of water with a minimum of 3. My system is approximately 380l so I would need 8. Also there is a risk that wrasse might try and eat them even though they taste bad so it's also recommended to add an extra one in case one gets sampled. Now I have 3 wrasse, I can't imagine that the Pink Striped or Possum wrasse would eat them but the Yellow wrasse certainly might. I opted to order 10 to cover all bases.
The little guys were delivered on Tuesday 19th January from Berghiaonline, they were packed in a box with a heat pack which was still toasty on arrival and they all looked to be in good condition. Somehow I expected them to be bigger but in reality they are quite small.
I took extra care with acclimation because firstly, I wanted to maximise my chances of them surviving and secondly, I wanted to wait till the Yellow wrasse went to bed before introducing them. When transferring them from the pot to tank it's important not to scrape them off as this can damage them, instead it's recommended to use a pipette to dislodge them before sucking them up and depositing them in the tank. However the best and easiest way of adding them is to just place the whole pot in the tank and let them move out when they're ready. Naturally I chose the easiest and safest option, these babies are precious there was no way I was going to risk death by pipette. If I could have, I would have placed the pot with the open end right next to The Beast, lol. Come and get it guys, dinner is served! However that proved impossible to do so I had to make do with placing the pot on the sand and leaning it against the bottom of the rockwork. I was concerned that the pot would become dislodged overnight by a hermit or snail and end up rolling around the tank in the flow so I had the brainwave to weigh it down with a small rock and I had the perfect rock in mind. It came equipped with at least 3 tiny Aiptasia snacks, so if they felt peckish before moving out they could have one for the road so to speak.
Day 1: I rushed down to see if The Beast was gone but darn it! It was still alive and healthy. As far as I could ascertain all the Berghia were still mooching about in the pot. As the lights became brighter the nudibranchs took refuge in small holes in the rock or hid underneath it. OK, out of prying eyes of hungry wrasse at least. Disappointingly the tiny Aiptasia growing on the rock in the pot appeared untouched. To my very great surprise during the course of the day one of the Berghia laid a spiral of eggs on the small rock,
I have to say I was pretty chuffed with this, more recruits for my Aiptasia munching army assuming they managed to survive to hatching.
Day 2: The Beast still remains untouched. The pot appeared devoid of nudibranchs but they could be out of view in or under the rock. I opted to leave the pot where it was for a little while longer mainly to protect the newly laid eggs. I feared that my hermit crabs might find them an irresistible snack given the chance. By the afternoon however a hermit had managed to find its way into the pot and had no way of escaping. It was unconcernedly picking 'food' off the small rock. This forced me to take action, I removed the pot, liberated the hermit crab and placed the small rock on the sand next to the rockwork. As I was placing the rock I discovered the nudibranchs had laid another two spirals of eggs (on the opposite side of the rock to the first batch). Pretty cool huh! I hope that they don't all get eaten now that they are exposed to fish/crabs etc.
Day 3: The Beast is thriving dammit! In fact I don't see that any Aiptasia have been touched even some really tiny ones, that's not to say some haven't, just none that I can tell. There's no sign of any Berghia, hopefully sitting tight, hidden in the rockwork and building up an appetite. The eggs have survived the first night in the tank, maybe they are not very appetising to hermit crabs? Fingers crossed.
That's it for now, I hope and pray that these little nudibranchs do the trick and rid my tank of Aiptasia. Time will tell I guess. If they don't make it then I'll have to move on to plan B....
The Montipora, despite my best efforts to kill these frags, have all survived and are showing signs of growth. :o)
As for Acropora #2, there are no signs of any remaining red bugs (yet!), the remaining piece of encrusted coral looks like it may well survive to fight another day. The polyps are out at least, indestructible or what! I don't know what I will do if the bugs reappear, there are not many options left to me now other than just living with them or trying a pipefish for biological control.
Acropora #3 continues to make a slow recovery from the blistering issue.
The Plexaurella gorgonian has made an amazing recovery since it was moved to a different location. The damaged areas of branches have grown over already and it's pretty much back to its previous fluffy splendour.
I'd like to say that everything is on the up but just as one set of problems looks to be solved another rears its head. I've noticed that the Red Tuxedo zoas have not been expanding as they used to and some actually appear to be shrinking. Nudibranchs I wonder? Sigh, there's always something I find to worry about, lol!
Anyway today I got my camera out and snapped some top down coral shots. I really want to get some new photos of the the fish, especially the wrasse but they are so very camera shy.
For the most part the tank is doing OK. There is very little in the way of nuisance algae, the furry stuff that was coating the rocks seems to be fading away without any intervention on my part. The zoanthids are opening up nicely and looking good, so I think the nudibranch problem is solved. The LPS expand nicely during the day and are always ready to eat whenever they sense food in the tank.
Most of the SPS corals are doing well, showing good growth or at the very least basing out. Colouration however is not great for some of them, I'm hoping that with time and stability the colours will improve. Maybe it's a nutrient issue?
There is one Acropora sp. (#3) that does not look good. I have noticed recently that there appears to be blistering to the flesh. This is a new one on me so I did a bit of searching on the web and others have reported this ailment. Unfortunately no one really knows what causes it. Some say that it's due to an imbalance with the big three, i.e. KH, Ca and Mg but in my case I have those parameters well within recommended levels and they haven't fluctuated much either. The only suspect I can think of at this stage is KZ Sponge Power, I began dosing this on the 11th February (1 drop every other day). It may have nothing to do with the problem but I think I'm going to stop using it for a while and see if the Acro improves.
I nuked the tiny Aiptasia that sneaked into the tank on the clam shell with Aiptasia-X and didn't feel bad about it at all. Now I just have to be vigilant for more Pyramid snails. My list of hitchhikers found in this tank is growing ever longer.
I'm happy to report that the fish are all doing fine. It's been just over a month since I added the Pink Streaked wrasse and I'm thinking that the time might be right to introduce some more soon. This time I definitely want fish that will swim out in the open. I have fish that hug the rockwork, that sit on the sand and one that hides in a hole in the sand, I really need some bold fishies that aren't shy!
A new month and a new FTS. Besides a few new corals not that much has changed really. The Stylophora is showing some nice growth, the Lobophyllia and Acanthastrea look good, the zoanthids are, err, surviving. I think that all the nudibranchs have gone now and the remaining heads are opening up once again, I did lose a few of the orange ones that were on top of the rock, they simply melted away. Too much light/too little light/too much flow/too little flow? Who knows?? To be honest I've never really been that successful with zoas, perhaps the water is too clean? I'm considering feeding some coral foods to see if it helps them at all.
Acro #1 looks the same, it was knocked off the rockwork by a naughty hermit crab and when I stuck it back down it was in a slightly different orientation so it's difficult to tell if there has been any growth or not. Acro #2 has shown a tiny bit of growth and the damaged tips on the lower left-hand branches have regrown. I do think that they have lost a little colour though, another reason to try feeding perhaps, plus the nitrates and phosphates are still undetectable which according to current thinking is not ideal for SPS these days.
Since the Pink Streaked wrasse was added the Nudus gobies and Red Striped goby have moved to the front right of the tank. I get to see a lot more of them now which is really great. The tank has settled down nicely again. I need to relocate the Lobophyllia as Lurch the conch keeps knocking it to the left in his quest to clean the lower rocks. I am also thinking of adding a plating coral to the rock that sits above the pistol shrimp and Whitecap's home (I've seen them again today btw, two days on the trot I think that's a record, lol!) in order to give the entrance to the burrow a bit of shade, I think that will help them to feel more comfortable and hopefully they will become more visible. At the moment the lighting is really too bright for them.
I've been trying to get some shots of the Possum and Pink Streaked wrasse but it's proving difficult as they don't sit still like the gobies do. I will keep trying. Oh and last but not least Crystal the Bruun's cleaner shrimp shed her exoskeleton again last night so she seems fine too.
Lets start with the bad, it seems I didn't locate and remove all of the nudibranchs from the zoanthid rock last week, I can't say that I'm really that surprised to be honest. So, yesterday out came the rock again (it's good job it's not stuck down!) for another thorough inspection. This time 3 of the little blighters were flushed off. If I discover any more at a later date then I'm going to have to break out the Reef Primer and dip the rock. I know that I should probably have done this as soon as they were first discovered or, even better, as preventative measure but I really hate killing the cool harmless stuff just to nuke the (possible) bad hitchhikers.
Now for the good news. :o) As soon as I knew that I was setting up another reef tank I knew that I HAD to have a pistol shrimp and goby pair. I have never tried keeping a symbiotic pair before and would really wanted to observe the interactions between the fish and shrimp and, most particularly, admire the shrimp hard at work digging. Anyway to my very great surprise my wonderful better half came home yesterday with a Whitecap Goby and Red Spotted pistol shrimp pair. I had tried to purchase a pair before but on the day before I was due to visit the shop the shrimp went missing from the tank in which it was being kept in, I was so gutted as they are not commonly available. Luckily for me the shop was able to obtain another pair and unbeknownst to me, my husband drove over and picked them up. The pair are absolutely beautiful! Upon introduction, the shrimp separated from the goby and headed for the back left-hand corner of the tank whereupon it promptly started digging a hole in the sand. The goby however remained in the open water at the top of the tank which is not a good place to be considering the size of the fish (tiny!!) and the strength of the water flow from the Tunze Nanostream pumps, but more worryingly it is small enough to take a dive through the weir comb to the depths below. I decided to switch off the circulation pumps for the time being to give the little fish a fighting chance to settle but there’s not much I could do with the size of the gaps between the comb. Will I still have a goby/shrimp pair tomorrow who knows? I expect a sleepless night ahead for me worrying about the poor things.
To dip or not to dip, that is the question?
I'm a big fan of biodiversity in a reef tank so when it came to adding my first corals last weekend I found it hard to decide if I should dip them or not. I had the Reef Primer at the ready but in the end I chose not to this time. I mean how unlucky can I be to introduce something nasty on the very first introduction? Ha, was I wrong, wrong, wrong! Today whilst checking the tank, I discovered some tentacles that I'd not seen before. Out came the magnifying glass to confirm what I already knew I was seeing, a zoanthid eating nudibranch! My first thought was quick get the camera out followed closely by darn it, I suppose that needs to go asap.
I removed the rock to a separate container of tank water and attacked it with a pipette. Two of the pesky blighters floated off, there may be more and there might be eggs too, only time will tell. They are amazing looking creatures, really beautifully camouflaged but sorry, I can't have them chowing down on my zoanthids. It's such a pity, my kids have been wanting me to get a nudibranch for the tank (as if!), little did they know that we already had some, lol!
Hi, my name is Lisa and I live in Derby, UK. I am a self-confessed reefaholic!