Embracing a plug and play aquarium for personal coral reefs

How to control Acropora Eating Flatworms (AEFW)

Acropora Eating Flatworms (AEFW) almost destroyed my tank. My fight against those sly AEFW’s began about a month ago in this post.

Since then I have been periodically blasting my corals in the tank with a pipette/turkey baster as a test and haven’t seen any AEFW come off of the corals. If there are any AEFW’s they usually come off of the coral because of the pressure from the turkey baster. Also all coral polyps are out, corals are growing and coloring up again and I can’t see any AEFW eggs. I don’t see any bite marks either! Once you see these things in your tank they are so easy to recognize again. It seems like I am winning the battle against AEFW’s.

Below I have outlined my procedure to help you in case AEFW’s are affecting your tank. If I can do it, anyone can. Don’t give up. I’ll update if I see changes.

1. Removed all Acropora corals from rocks including encrusted ones and scraped off encrusted left over coral parts on the rocks. Inspected each coral with a flashlight for 2 minutes outside of tank and water (a bit of air drying allows eggs to be  easier to identify) and scraped any off eggs. I even cut the base off of one coral and threw out a couple of other corals that had many eggs.

2. Dipped in diluted Revive solution (according to instructions) for 8-10 minutes for hardy Acroporas but 5 minutes for deep water Acroporas and other sensitive corals. Swirled corals initially in Revive solution then blasted them with a turkey baster 5-10 times while dipping.

Be careful with deep water Acropora corals and others.  Pearlberry, Ice Fire, and Hawkins Eechidna corals are especially sensitive as you can blast the skin off of them if you are too harsh.

3. Swirled and let sit in fresh saltwater after Revive dip for 10 minutes. Blasted with turkey baster 3-4 times every few minutes. Returned to tank but on sandbed.

4. Repeated weekly for 2 additional weeks.

5. Glued corals to small rock bases and reattached to live rock. Now every time I look at my tank for I check corals for bitemarks and AEFW’s that may come off by blasting, etc. Use common sense.

3. I added a Yellow Wrasse, scientific name Halichoeres chrysus, to form a biological AEFW control team with my Six Line Wrasse. These guys like to eat small pests from corals.

That’s it! It required much patience and diligence but seemed to have worked so far.

Additionally after the third dip, I removed a lot of live rock to get rid of the wall of rock look since I really didn’t have any corals on most of the rocks at this point. I was really worried that by removing about 50% of my live rock I would see adverse negative reactions. The ancient but still prevalent 1-1.75 pounds of live rock to 1 gallon of water rule embedded in my brain was hard to break. However it is clear that I worried unnecessarily. Now I have about 25-30 pounds of live rock in a 65 gallon tank. I still have 9 fish who are fed well and tank parameters are fine as judged by health of fish and corals. I did do two 15% water changes within the first week of removing the rocks to prevent a massive cycle, especially since I disturbed so much detritus under the rocks.

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