Corals can harbor such a wide variety of different pests and parasites, that learning about and controlling all of them is a hobby unto itself. This is especially true of live coral dealers who are at the front lines of importing wild and maricultured corals, many of which can harbor a dizzying diversity of unwanted organisms.
During our residency at Unique Corals, we experienced first hand how paramount it is to inspect virtually all the corals and remove unwanted hitchhikers. Acros have their flatworms, Montis can get nudis, Clams might have rice snails, but no group of corals has more ‘koodies’ than zoanthids.
Between the crowded polyps of zoanthids hides a whole ecosystem of undesirables, from sundials snails to sea spiders, pest anemones and especially nudibranch. Thankfully, most of these are easy to remove mechanically, and the tough nature of zoanthids makes dipping and handling no problem.
Although we don’t want them in our tanks, we have to stop and appreciate the rainbow of nudibranch species and types which can perfectly match their zoanthid host. If the polyp has green tentacles or red tentacles, the nudibranch found on them will match accordingly. Setting aside the harm that these pests do to our precious corals, it’s hard not to appreciate how beautiful they are. Thankfully, there’s plenty of zoanthids in the wild for them to feed on, but not in our tanks.