Why quarantine and dip?
Because there is an ocean of potential problems you could introduce into
your tiny reef ecosystem.
Here is some info on what pests you should look out for and what to do.
Having reef aquaria since 1994 I have seen and experienced
Here is a recipe I use as
a general dip for Acropora, Montipora and even Polyps.
This dip will take 30 minutes but no longer than
50 min and will kill
just about everything that is on or in the coral, however it
will not kill the eggs.
with a container of tank water with a known volume, to this you
will add 10ml of MelaFix per gallon, if you are using the
concentrated version of MelaFix(comes in the one gallon jugs) this would be 2ml per gallon. It is best to have a small
circulation pump or air stone to gently mix the water, you may
also need a small heater to maintain temperature. A small piece
of egg-crate plastic on the bottom of the container would also be
useful to allow an area for the slime and junk to settle. You
should also have an old clean tooth brush to clean areas where
there is no living coral tissue, or even better, take a dremel
tool and cut off or shave off the surface of any dead areas
within 1 inch of the living tissue. Pay close attention to the
joints in the branches of the coral for any dead areas, if
needed break a few branches in the center to get a better view.
Removing these inner branches will also help bring better flow
into the coral. After the 30minuts are up gently shake swirl any
excess slime and debris from the coral then you should let the
coral sit for a minute or two in a separate container of tank
water to remove/dilute excess medicated water that is stuck to
the coral. Also it is normal for the coral to have the odor of
the melafix. Now it is safe to place coral into the tank. If it
was a coral that has been growing for some time in the system
then it is best to fit it back exactly where it came from. If
you are planning on re-aquascaping it is best to wait a week or
two for the coral to fully regain its energy.
* Do not dip in a location such that the solution can
drip or accidentally dump into the main system!
* If you are going to be dipping many pieces it is good idea to
* Most Acropora and Montipora will recover just fine however
special care should be given to fine branching corals like
echinata and Turaki, and all other corals where the branches are
1/8" or thinner. I would not dip these species for longer than
* If a day or two after the dip you notice the coral tissue starting to peel
off the skeleton it is best to move the coral to a lower light,
lower flow area till the tissue loss stops.
Red spot Acropora feeding amphipod, (AKA
red bugs, red butt bugs) to
the naked eye they look like a red speck or a cluster of red specks on the tip
of an Acropora branch. They only affect Acropora species and in my option they
are not life threatening to the coral but they do affect its growth and
often its color. Do not confuse them with the other larger copepods
swimming in your system, these ones are about the size of a hair follicle, or
sharp pencil dot. They can swim if disturbed, so simply dipping the coral in an
Iodine solution (coral dip) will only kill the ones that were on the coral. The only way I have rid my system of these pests was by using
Interceptor. I found this link
The Treatment that
describes the procedure. I would also add some new cured live rock to
re-establish the natural plankton. although this does not seem to be
absolutely necessary and this medication doesn't seem to affect all the
natural beneficial copepods. It is also wise to increase your usage of
phosphate binders after treatment due to the nutrient release of killing
off of these amphipods.
* after this dip there will be many affected crustaceans
dying and decaying in the system, if you choose not do the large water
changes it would be wise to monitor you phosphate as well as the
potassium levels in the weeks to follow. From my observations in stony
coral dominated reef tanks most corals will darken or loose color (brown
out). During this time the coral is using up stored energy to make more
zooxanthellae, this causes them to temporality brown out. The main thing
to worry about is if the phosphate continues to rise or stay at higher
than normal levels this can cause a deficiency in potassium. If
potassium levels were to drop below 250ppm (NSW 390ppm) you may start to
see some corals loose there tissue much like R.T.N.
Black spot Montipora feeding amphipod, to the naked eye
they look like a black speck. They only affect Montipora species and in
my option they are not life threatening to the coral but they do affect
its growth and often its color. Do not confuse them with the other
larger copepods swimming in your system, these ones are about the size
of a hair follicle, or sharp pencil dot. They can swim if disturbed.
Dipping the coral in an Iodine solution seems to not affect them at all.
The only way to get rid of them is by using Interceptor, just like for
the red bug treatment except you will need to double or triple the
Very bad if unchecked
nudibranch are quite
a pest if not found early on. They eat the living flesh of
Montipora species and can wipe out all your Montipora corals if left
unchecked, commonly first seen on the underside of Montipora capricornis but you must
check all species of Montipora for they can be found even on Montipora
digitata. They look like white, off-white, or brown fluffy spots up to 3/8"
long and the best place to look for them is at the base and undersides
of the Montipora corals. A tell tale sign of there presence is the
appearance white dead areas on the coral. The only sure way to avoid
them is to quarantine the new coral for two weeks to allow any
eggs to hatch and check for there
presence. If you find them you can remove them by picking them off
or even better use a turkey baster to blast them off (in a separate
container), and then scrub the base rock and all dead areas with a tooth
brush to remove any possible eggs. You should then fallow this with the
dip described above.
Very bad and can destroy allot of Acropora very
Acropora eating flat worms (AEFW) Don't confuse
these with the common red planaria, unlike the red or rust colored
flatworms these worms have no problem climbing onto Acropora branches.
The adults are oval in shape, up to 1/2" from front to back and about
Here they feed on the flesh of the Acropora coral and the
inside. The tell tale signs of these worms are the white holes left
behind as they feed. The
is very well camouflaged against the surface of the coral and during the
daytime they usually hide
in the folds between branches. When it comes time to lay eggs the adult AEFW will eat a section from the base of a colony
upon which it will lay its
eggs. There are
some coral dips that will kill the worm but not the eggs, but there so far
in my experience is no 100% reef safe in tank treatment like there is for the red bugs. So far the
best remedy for removal is through a series of dips or to set up a QT
system and treat it with Levamisole (an over the counter pig de-wormer).
Still others recommend the use of small species of Reef-safe wrasses
or the use of small comical crabs that naturally live in the acropora.