A picture of Aiptasia anemones in a reef aquarium.

Aiptasia

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Aiptasia anemones are a common pest in reef aquariums.
They will take over any free surface and likely kill other corals in the process.

A picture of Aiptasia anemones in a reef aquarium.

Aiptasia anemones in a reef aquarium.

People in the marine aquarium hobby tend to try almost anything to get rid of aiptasia, with varying degrees of success.

Aiptasia anemones are nearly impossible to kill, and they will survive nearly any attempt to get rid of them. Even trying to physically pick them off rocks can be futile as any aiptasia fragment left behind will grow into a whole animal. So will free floating aiptasia pieces that were torn off the animal in an attempt to remove it from a piece of rock.

Berghia nudibranchs will eat aiptasia — but they don’t eat anything else. They are hard to keep, especially once they eat all the aiptasia anemones in the tank and then starve to death.

Some fish such as the Copperband Butterfly fish and the Filefish Acreichthys tomentosus will eat Aiptasia, as well as other fish food, thus they can be kept long term in a reef tank as a biological defence against Aiptasia anemones. They do in fact eat Aiptasia, but they do tend to eat a lot of other small sessile animals, such as feather duster worms, thus they aren’t really ideal if one wants to keep those little critters.

Peppermint shrimps supposed to like them, but I had very little luck with that.

One can try to get some coral with a strong sting to sting the aiptasia to death — in particular the Elegance Coral (Catalaphyllia jardinei) has been used for that purpose.

People have also tried “Kalkwasser” (Calcium Hydroxide) paste, vinegar, and all sorts of commercial concoctions.

Other methods include zapping Aiptasias with lasers and zapping them with electricity.

And so the fight continues…

Last updated: July 3, 2014

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