An expanded dipping regimen your input helps!!!

Discussion in 'Propagation' started by tuberider, Jan 28, 2010.

  1. tuberider

    tuberider Guest

    In light of the upcoming swap, I'd like to open some dialogue about techniques and tips to help you keep your tank free of pests. Bear in mind that trading corals is like engaging in unsafe sex practices, you're going to get cooties ;)

    There have been posts in the past outlining different dipping methods and chemicals to dip with, in fact if you've been to a meeting or swap you may have picked up free BAR Povidone and the sheet that outlines methods including working with different corals (thanks Mr. Ugly!). I'd like to share some of my experiences as well as hear what you folks are doing out there that do not have the capacity to QT every single frag that hits your system.

    Let's start with corals shall we? What do they potentially carry and how can we help to prevent the spread of said critters.

    •Softies (excluding Zoas, Palys, Protopalys, etc.). Softies aside from various extremely specific nudibranchs, typically only suffer from one pest, acoel flatworms, this is especially the case with mushrooms and toadstools. While not a flesh eater like many other pests, they do rob the corals of light, occasionally to the point where it is to the corals detriment. Tanks with certain wrasses and dragonettes can remain free of the pesky flatworms even if they are introduced, they are tasty treats to many of those fish. Also, dipping and basting can also help in an infested tank. Another major issue with softies is necrosis, whether it is from poor shipping practices, fragging, or an overall unhappy coral, IME necrosis is a tough thing to eliminate with when dealing with softies and needs to be treated aggressively.

    Luckily softies are pretty resilient and don't mind being dipped when compared to other corals, even using strong iodine based dips like Lugols, Povidone, and Tropic Marin Pro Coral Cure (TMPCC). During your dipping session refrain from blasting your corals with a baster, rather use short soft pulses to avoid tearing the corals tissue. If you do see a necrotic area, that is the area you don't want to be afraid to give a good blast, especially with colt corals, devils hands, cabbages etc. you want to clear out all of the protozoal and bacterial matter you can, just like if you as a human were to have a severe infection. Otherwise you risk spreading the pathogen, even in cases where it is the relatively ubiquitous Aeromonas bacteria.

    •Zoas when it comes to "button polyps", I'm the wrong guy to ask about dipping other than general cleaning up and easy pest removal. I do know that like softies zoas are fairly resilient when it comes to iodine based dips and actually seem to benefit from it prior to being placed in the aquarium. Pests can include, Sundail Snails, Nudis, Zoa Pox, and god knows what else :D

    Dip and blast away, zoas can contract up tight and expose a lot of mung that is ripe for the turkey baster blast. Don't be afraid if your corals aren't opening up right away, sometimes it can take over a week for you zoas to open up and be happy. Feel free to add anything (furan-2 for pox etc) as you see fit, again, I have a limited amount of experience with the Zoa/Paly family.

    •LPS I don't really want to get into a taxonomic debate here, so I'll use LPS as a generic term as we all pretty much agree on what is what except in a few cases.
    For the most part LPS do not suffer from the multitude of pests one encounters in the world of Acroporas and Montiporas. I’ve personally witnessed acoel flatworms on Trachyphyllias, and have seen certain Asterinas munching on LPS tissue, but that’s about it. Does that mean your out of the woods with a quick dip? No way! The achilles heel of most LPS is they have lots of tissue and a skeleton, and in the world of transporting corals that means that unless you are super, super careful, tissue becomes damaged and as a result can become infected. That’s where the dipping comes into play, a good LPS dip involves the delicate juggling act of cleaning the coral, especially the damaged tissue, while keeping the damage from the process to a minimum. I recommend using a turkey baster that has had the tip cut off a little so that the opening is ~1/2” wide. That disperses the flow so a laminar jet of water is not being forced at the coral. Short light pulses will ensure that you are cleaning the coral, but not obliterating the tissue. One quick note on “chalice” corals, they do not like change, with that in mind be extra careful when dipping and acclimating, once they find a happy spot in your tank they are good to go, but IME sometimes dipping can stress them to the point where they do not make the acclimation, handle them with kid gloves.

    •SPS Everyone in the SPS world fears the dreaded Montipora eating nudibranchs (Monti nudis), Acropora eating flatworms (AEFW), or Red Bugs (RBs), and with good reason, Monti nudis and AEFW can be stubborn once introduced into an aquarium, with the eggs very difficult to remove and treat, and in the case of AEFW, the animal itself is nearly invisible aside from the damage it leaves in its wake. Red Bugs are not considered as much of a problem as they are easy to treat in tank, however, the treatment can have effects on the tank for weeks after treatment.

    How do you avoid introducing these pests into your tank? Quarantine. Not all of us can do that in the real world we live in. In the case of Monti nudis, and AEFW, dipping can go a long way, especially if you do repeated dips. You generally want to use the repeated dips in cases where the first dip shows signs of pests. Every third day pull the coral out and do a light dip leaving the coral in for a longer duration, IME that not only helps remove the pests, it is not as stressful as full blown (strong) dips, make sure to use your baster. The dipping should be done no more than three times to avoid stressing your coral. During your initial dip look at the bottom of your dipping container, do you see anything? Little white fluffy nudis? Little squirming tan flatworms? If you do chances are it’s time to grab a toothbrush and go at it. Usually the egg masses are found in out of the way places where the tissue meets the frag plug, or in between the scrolls of plating corals. Both animals have eggs that are incapsulated in a tenacious slime that needs to be carefully brushed away without harming the surrounding tissue. The process needs to be repeated every three days like the dipping, not only will that help to eliminate pests, it will give you visual cues so you can monitor your progress. I will say when I saw AEFWs in my qt tank in the past, I threw out all of the Acroporas in that tank, they are that difficult to treat for.

    Red Bugs are difficult to prevent with conventional dips, they have serrated appendages that dig into the flesh of corals, so much so that even if the animal is stunned in the dipping process they will still hang tenaciously even when being hit with a baster. Lots of reefers use Interceptor dips in conjunction with conventional dipping methods to avoid introduction, IME they work well, that is if you can get interceptor... I don’t have a hard fast rule regarding Interceptor dipping, I simply crush up a portion of a pill and add a pinch to a gallon of water in a bucket with an airstone. After about 2 hours your coral should be RB free, I used this method several times and it has worked 100% (so far), there are many more specific dipping techniques to be found online, again feel free to add anything you know regarding dipping for RBs.

    •Dips and methods There are many different types of coral dips on the market, heck you can go down to your local drug store and purchase Povidone it makes a great coral dip. Most dips are iodine based, Lugols solution, Kent Tech-D, Tropic Marin Pro Coral Cure (TMPCC), SeaChem, all use iodine in one form or another. They are quick and efficient when it comes to pest removal, however, IME some corals don’t like them very much. For example Montiporas can brown out quickly from dips, especially at higher concentrations, always keep that in mind when using iodine in dips and err on the side of caution. Personally I use Two Little Fishes Coral Revive, not only does it seem less harsh, I’ve noticed that the pests overall do not like Revive as it irritates them strongly causing them to remove themselves from the coral rapidly. This can be a huge benefit when dealing with animals like RBs that have a tight grip and need a little encouragement in leaving their hosts.

    •”The Plug” Most corals you get will be mounted to a plug, disk, rubble, that is a huge vector when it comes to spreading pests, not just mean little critters that like to snack on corals, but planaria, pest algae (Asparagopsis), Asterina stars, Aiptasia etc. I’ve been thinking for a while on how to eliminate the ecosystem that surrounds “The Plug” and stumbled across a random post on RC that got me thinking. The entire coral is not on the plug normally, so that leaves the rest of the plug exposed to be cleaned up. Of course the easiest way is to lop the frag off the plug and be done with it, that is a common practice in my home and saves some time. If you do not feel like doing that for one reason or another, you can take a tupperware type container and mount a piece of eggcrate in the container so that frag plugs can sit upright like normal, and disks can sit on the surface of the eggcrate. Fill the vessel just to the point where the frag plug or disk is immersed to the rim (for lack of a better term) with limewater, yes limewater... Place the frag in the container with the coral exposed for a couple of minutes, don’t stress out the coral by letting it remain exposed for too long. This technique works very well with stony corals, with softies there is a strong likely hood that the coral will come in contact with the limewater which is a worst case scenario type situation.

    O.K. now that I'm sick of writing, please share your experiences and if you feel like it your input can really help the club!!!!
  2. JAR

    JAR Supporting Member

    That is such good information!!!
    Kudos to Jeremy for taking the time to post this.
    I have had Red Bugs, Montipora Eating Nudibranchs, and Acropora Eating Flatworms. All of these pests are almost invisible to the naked eye. Especially if you have never seen them before. I would also suggest getting some .99 cent store reading glasses like 1.5- 2.0 magnification and inspect your frags under different lighting conditions until you are satisfied that they are clean. Any imperfection should be scrutinized.
  3. seminolecpa

    seminolecpa Past President

    When in doubt..... throw it out.
  4. Eight

    Eight Guest

    As painful as this is... this is what I do too.
  5. seminolecpa

    seminolecpa Past President

    I am by no means advocating the useless waste of corals but if upon visual inspection it looks suspicious, I would in no way take a chance with the rest of my tank.
  6. tuberider

    tuberider Guest

    "I will say when I saw AEFWs in my qt tank in the past, I threw out all of the Acroporas in that tank, they are that difficult to treat for."

    Me too, it's for the greater good :)
  7. Eight

    Eight Guest

    I did the same thing with monti eating nudibranchs. Those things still give me nightmares. Amazing how every little bit of white detritus looks like a nudi when you are up late with a flashlight and paranoid about that little spot of STN on your monti colony... :p
  8. Euphyllia

    Euphyllia Guest

    Do they have nems or fish at the swap ever? :D
  9. seminolecpa

    seminolecpa Past President

    This is not a ask swap questions thread, it is a how to dip your frag thread.
  10. Euphyllia

    Euphyllia Guest

    Ooops my bad.... :~
    Just curious, but where can I get coral dip if I need to dip frags I get? I'll probably be getting zoas and softies and stuff like that.
  11. seminolecpa

    seminolecpa Past President

    Many LFS's carry Revive and Tropic Marin Pro Coral Cure. The club also has Povidone dip for free.
  12. Gomer

    Gomer Honorary Member

    BAR will have Povidone (like at every meeting/event). You can also go to your local sponsor if you want something else. There is also a fair bit of people who like to use Revive (I got it at Neptune)
  13. Jbon

    Jbon Guest

    I've had acoel flatworms on torch and elegance coral and put them and other susceptible SPS, individually, in a bowl with a quart or two of tank water and a drop or two of Salifert flatworm exit for 20-30 minutes. They seem to clean up well. A dip like this might be good for SPS going to the swap. I don't know about eggs.

    And yes, thanks Jeremy. Your words benefit many.
  14. seminolecpa

    seminolecpa Past President


    Torches and Elegances are LPS (i.e. not acros) and to my knowledge are't suceptible to AEFW.
  15. Jbon

    Jbon Guest

    Oops - I intended to say LPS.
  16. 99sf

    99sf Guest

    I just ordered a bottle of Revive, based upon BAR members' recommendations. Do any of you recommend a freshwater dip in RODI water to kill flatworms, in addition to the chemical dips?
  17. tuberider

    tuberider Guest

    I no longer do any freshwater dips unless I'm in a bind, at home that never happens, it's just too stressful IME.

    Thanks for all of the comments folks, keep them coming.
  18. Reef Keeper

    Reef Keeper Supporting Member

    Thanks for taking the time to post detailed and useful info. H) Much appreciated. I'm adding this to my knowledge base file. Makes a terrific reference.

    I'd love to see a link that shows pictures of these pests. Fortunately, I haven't had to search for pictures as I seem to be pest free at the time of this writing. If anyone has a good link to aquarium pest pictures, I loved to see them. Tonight, surfing the site, I saw a picture of a zoa spider or something like that. It looked interesting and deadly too.

    Thanks again for 411.
  19. cwolfus

    cwolfus Past President

  20. cwolfus

    cwolfus Past President

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