When we buy coral frags, we invariably look forward to the day that they reach a mature size and are eventually ready for making more frags but in the case of Palythoa grandis, you may be waiting a very long time. As we recently highlighted, Sun Polyps are hands down our favorite species of zoanthid, followed closely by Isaurus snake polyps, and while these zoanthids may grow large, they take a really long time to grow into an appreciable colony.
We’ve been sitting on half a dozen colonies of Palythoa grandis for literally years, allowing them to grow and duplicate and during that time the polyps have become increasingly crowded on the limited size of their basal rocks. We’ve been waiting a long time to propagate these giant polyp colonies but made it a special occasion by cutting up a few of these on video in preparation for sprucing up our nano reef tank with a little bit more variety.
Coincidentally the same day we decided to propagate our legacy P. grandis colonies we also received a couple new colonies of Sun Polyps from Reef Pro with different colors and patterns than we previously had. While we were ‘reproducing’ some of our favorite aquarium polyps, we also decided to eradicate the polyps of an unwelcome pest, the Aiptasia rock anemones with a special method we also shared in the video.
The technique of injecting the unwanted Aiptasia anemones is pretty much the same as with kalkwasser and other injectables but instead we used sodium hydroxide aka drain cleaner aka lye. NaOH is a very caustic chemical with a very high pH that can literally dissolve organic matter, hence its usefulness in cleaning and unclogging household plumbing. Interestingly, the highly reactive nature of Lye which makes it so dangerous on its own also makes it an incredible Aiptasia sniping chemical.
When slowly added to seawater the concentrated NaOH solution immediately forms a gel-like precipitate that engulfs unwanted pests in a cocoon of extremely high pH that no Aiptasia can survive, no matter how tough they are. We’ve also used this method of applying NaOH gel on unwanted hydroids, clusters of pest eggs, and even ‘cauterized’ isolated coral infections but we really urge reefers not to use it!
NaOH is extremely caustic, there are too many pitfalls and hazards that can happen around an aquarium for us to list, and it’s just not the type of chemical you want to have around your house, either dry or in a solution. Please don’t try this at home unless you really, REALLY know what you’re doing and have a good understanding of fundamental chemistry and lab experience handling these types of chemicals.