Aiptasia is a group of pest anemones that all aquarists will invariably have to deal with. Whether you have a FOWLR (fish only with live rock) or a full blown reef tank, these troublesome anemones seem to pop up out of nowhere.
Sometimes it seems we have no chance against these plague like pests. Most aquarists are not successful on the first attempt to eliminate them, so we will discuss several methods to rid your delicate tank of these anemones.
First, is the traditional syringe method where you inject kalkwasser, a concentrated solution of water and Calcium Hydroxide (pickling lime) into the mouth of the anemone. The Aiptasia then shrinks much like a salted slug. However, if the single anemone is not completely eliminated the remaining tissue can regenerate resulting in many young anemones.
This method seems to work on the Aiptasia you are trying to kill but could lead to the addition of several more. You could possibly remove them all if you kill them as soon as they pop up but this takes great discipline to abolish them consistently.
There is also an Aiptasia lazer and zapper which seems to have the same effect as the syringe method. A safer way to eliminate any new Aiptasia is to take the rock out that the anemone is on and perform the syringe or your favorite method in a separate container. After the Aiptasia is completely dead you may return the rock back to your tank.
Next, is my favorite method, this ensures that no harm is done to the Aiptasia until it is out of the tank. Simply, cut around the Aiptasia with coral cutters and siphon it to prevent it from falling into a crevice. If the Aiptasia is on the glass you may use a razor blade to scrape it off and siphon it.
Finally, if there are still Aiptasia you cannot manually remove, you can opt for an animal to eat the pests. Sometimes these animals are not always compatible with your tank mates especially if you own wrasses.
Personal trials in a twenty gallon nano tank proved berghia nudibranchs can work wonders. They even began to multiply and they completely eradicated all Aiptasia in a tank over the course of a few months.
Many people have success with peppermint shrimp but these can also be a tasty snack for some wrasses. Copperband butterflies, Aiptasia/ Matted filefish, and Molly Miller blennies are known to eat Aiptasia but it is not guaranteed that each individual will have an affinity for them and there’s a risk they may take a liking to your coral instead!
It frequently takes time, effort, and sometimes a combination of these methods to eliminate Aiptasia from your tank but it can be done! These pests are unappealing and they sting your coral and even some fish like seahorses! So do your coral a favor and start your Aiptasia killing rampage.