If you have been keeping a reef aquarium for some time now, there’s no doubt you’ve had some run in with Nudibranchs and Aiptasia. Are both a nuisance? Yes and no. I would like to take a moment to talk about natural methods of handling Aiptasia and shed some light on one that every day people may not even consider.
Everyone deals with Aiptasia in their own way… Joe’s Juice, Aiptasia X, Majano Wands, Peppermint Shrimp and many other methods. Let’s talk about these quick fixes for a moment. Chemical additives work, but they often alter some of the water parameters in your tank which can lead to unnecessary stress on your fish and corals, and if overdosed can harm livestock just the same. Majano Wands work by using a tiny needle and an electric shock to get to the base of the pest Anemone and electrocute it, thus killing it. Effective, but a pain to use – especially if you have a lot of Aiptasia! And then you have the Peppermint Shrimp. Some local stores swear by this method as being a sure thing when it comes to ridding the rocks of Aiptasia. Okay, maybe. I have seen this work flawlessly, but I have also had Peppermint Shrimp that want nothing to do with Aiptasia, so it seems to be a hit or miss.
An often overlooked method, due to the reputation of the little slugs I think, is using Nudibranchs. If you search for Nudibranchs, Google will litter your results with posts about Nudibranchs eating Zoanthids and Mushrooms and Corals and so on, but if you know what to look for you can find a lot of beneficial Nudibranchs. The best form of natural Aiptasia control, or the one with the highest success rate so far, would be using a Berghia Nudibranch or two. These Nudibranchs are a natural predator of Aiptasia, and that’s all that they eat. If there are no Aiptasia present, this specific species of Nudibranch will starve before it changes its diet. Pretty cool, huh? Since these guys are pretty small, they have the ability to crawl into the smallest spaces in the aquascaping and eat even the smallest Aiptasia that you haven’t even seen yet. They are harmless to fish and will not compete for food which makes them a very good candidate for Aiptasia control.
If you’re a fan of all-natural methods in a reef aquarium, try some of these wonderful little Nudibranchs next time you have a problem and you might be surprised with the results.