Euphyllia (and Fimbriaphyllia) are unquestionably some of the most beautiful and popular aquarium corals and they are unlikely to get unseated any time soon. These fleshy, flowy, colorful corals are fast growing and incredibly hardy in the aquarium but there’s only one affliction that sometimes takes them down without any apparent cause or explanation – brown jelly disease.
The actual direct cause of brown jelly outbreaks in Euphyllia corals is not known, but microscopic examination of coral tissue that had turned into this brown jelly has often revealed the presence of ciliates in vast numbers. Again we don’t know what triggers the coral tissue to break down in the first place, but having huge numbers of opportunistic ciliates certainly isn’t helping the coral to survive this condition.
Reef aquarists have tried treating Euphyllia corals affected by brown jelly outbreaks with a number of antiseptic dips but nothing really seems to help and the standard advice is to frag off and throw away the diseased parts. However one curious aquarist Leon Tan recently decided to use microscopic observation to test whether any of these dips actually did anything, but aside from the mechanical process of removing slime, all but one of the products tested had any effects on the outbreak of ciliates.
Polyp Lab Reef Primer is a different kind of coral dip described simply as ‘potassium salts’ which are known to have bacteriacidal, virucidal, and general disinfecting properties which lines up with Mr. Logan’s observation of Reef Primer murderating ciliates. The simple experiments are well documented on My Slice of Nature and represent some of the best evidence we’ve yet seen for a general treatment of brown jelly disease in precious Euphyllia corals.
It’s important to reiterate that the actual cause of brown jelly disease isn’t known and the gelatinous mass is usually made up of bacteria and many protozoan of which ciliates are simply the most abundant and the most visible under a microscope. Nevertheless, if Reef Primer’s effect on these ciliate outbreaks is repeatable we could have one more tool in our treatment of brown jelly disease and other pests we’ll certainly be giving Reef Primer more consideration when dealing with corals struggling with pests, infections, and other maladies.