Aiptasia anemones can overpopulate a reef tank in a very short space of time. Most Aiptasia is introduced to the aquarium on live rock. Manually removing Aiptasia results in a population explosion as the leftover fragments can grow into new anemones. There are a variety of getting rid of Aiptasia, the following article will explain the major methods.
Liquid and Chemical Solutions
One way of killing Aiptasia is to inject them with one of the following chemical solutions; lemon juice, calcium hydroxide, sodium hydroxide or hydrogen peroxide. When using this method, it is best to inject the solution directly into the stem of the anemone with a needle and syringe. It is wise to wear gloves and goggles/glasses while dealing with these chemicals.
Bottled Lemon Juice Concentrate: This is a relatively inexpensive solution which delivers immediate results. Give lemon juice injections of 0.5 ml to the base of each anemone using a syringe.
Calcium Hydroxide: Injecting Aiptasia with calcium hydroxide in a concentrated solution is one of the most common methods of destroying Aiptasia. However, it should be noted that the kill rate is low unless the calcium hydroxide is injected directly into the stem of the Aiptasia. It should also be noted that killing too many Aiptasia at once with calcium hydroxide can cause a problem with the pH level as calcium hydroxide will cause the pH level to rise.
Sodium Hydroxide: It must be noted that this chemical is capable of removing the skin from your hands, so gloves are a must. Removing Aiptasia infested rock from the tank and pouring Sodium hydroxide over it using a syringe will almost guarantee the death of all Aiptasia.
Hydrogen Peroxide: When injected directly into the Aiptasia, hydrogen peroxide will kill the Aiptasia relatively quickly.
While a variety of marine creatures will actively eat Aiptasia, it should be noted that many of these will also pick at and eat soft and stony corals, zoanthids, sea mats and polyps. Additionally, many of these animals will feed on various types of both sessile and motile invertebrates, such as other sea anemones, feather dusters, and other tube worms, clams, sea urchins, and crustaceans.
Also, keep in mind that animals have minds of their own and will not always act as you want them too. While an individual animal may consume Aiptasia it may only eat certain sizes of Aiptasia. For example, a Copperband Butterfly may consume small Aiptasia but leave the larger ones alone.
Butterflyfish: Auriga (Chaetodon auriga), Raccoon (Chaetodon lunula), Klein’s (Chaetodon kleini), Long-nosed (genus Forcipiger species), Teardrop (Chaetodon unimaculatus), and Copperband (Chelmon rostratus) butterflyfish all consume Aiptasia.
Filefishes: There are four species of genus Acreichthys filefishes, but the bristle-tail filefish (Acreichthys tomentosus) from the Indo-Pacific region is said to be the ultimate choice Aiptasia eater.
Puffers: The brown white-spotted or guinea fowl puffer (Arothron meleagris) may eat Aiptasia but it grows to a very large size. Therefore, the tobies or sharp-nosed species of the Canthigastrinae sub-family might be more suitable.
Shrimps: The “true” peppermint shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni) is by far the top choice of aquarists for eating Aiptasia anemones. However, make sure that it is the right species. The camelback shrimp (Rhynchocienetes uritai) is very often misrepresented and sold as a true peppermint shrimp, however unlike true peppermint shrimp they will not eat aiptasia. It should also be noted that the Lysmata californica which is also called the peppermint shrimp, but is endemic to the west coast of North America, does not consume Aiptasia.
Hermit crabs: Almost always reef safe, and beneficial algae eaters as well, in particular, one or two of the more common red-legged or white-spotted hermit crab (Dardanus megistos) might do the trick.
Nudibranches: Berghia sea slugs are by far the most popular choice, because they are 100 percent safe and effective when used and cared for properly. These nudibranches solely eat aiptasia, and will die without them present, which means you have to take steps to ensure their survival.
Over the counter remedies
There are many over the counter products that can be purchased to rid the aquarium of Aiptasia. These are perhaps the easiest way to rid a tank of Aiptasia, however, any experienced hobbyist will know that you pay for convenience.
Methods that are NOT recommended
The use of hot water, bleach or copper sulphate is not recommended, as they do not produce great results and the latter two may prove harmful to other tank inhabitants.
This article was sponsored by Nature at Work.