Red Sea Max 250 reef destroyed!
Before the destruction of the Red Sea Max 250 reef
Before: destruction of Red Sea Max 250
After the destruction of the Red Sea Max 250 reef
After: destruction Red Sea Max 250
A terrible thing has happened: Acropora Eating Flatworm (AEFW) invasion. After the Interceptor treatment for the Red Bugs pests, these AEFW have increased in numbers to the point that my Six Line Wrasse (normally a great biological control for pests) can’t help much. I see bite marks on almost all of my Acropora corals, similar to the bite marks pointed out earlier on the Bellina coral in this post. The Acroporas are dying. It’s so painful to watch. I have read the horror stories, seen the disasters and home reef death with only a few successes in handling AEFW. Corals are so sensitive. There is such an amazing balance in the natural reef ecosystem that this doesn’t happen except in a closed tank. It is likely that my system is missing their natural predators.
I removed a few severely infected corals and dipped in Revive, a chemical (smells like PineSol) that is commonly used to dip corals to remove pests, diluted with salt water and many AEFW fell off. They were white, elongated and almost transparent at about half a centimeter in length. This was confirmation that I definitely had AEFW. I tried Flatworm Exit another chemical known to kill flatworms at 1.5X the recommended concentration in the tank. Stupidly, I didn’t know Flatworm Exit only works on the less destructive brown flatworms, not AEFW. A week later, more bite marks. I have quite a number of Acroporas and even threw out a few that weren’t encrusted on rocks. However, today, I decided I was going to shut down my Red Sea Max 250 reef and quit the hobby. I have dealt with so many issues including the Red bugs and now these guys with no known treatment to eradicated them completely. But…that would mean they would win so after a few hours I decided to fight on.
I unpacked the Dremel, hammer and chisel and did a partial tear down of the tank. I removed all Acropora corals including those heavily encrusted on rocks, dipped in Revive, checked for eggs, cut off the base with eggs (and tossed, but should have burned!) of what I believe to be patient Zero since it was so heavily infected. The flatworms on patient Zero, the coral known as Hairy Monster, were unbelievable large, 5-10 times the size of any average AEFW I have seen. I don’t want to throw away patient zero. For Acropora corals that were encrusted on rocks, I scraped off and siphoned coral tissue that was left on rocks and after dipping, re-glued to small pieces of dead rock, something I should do with every coral I get before putting in my tank. The corals will encrust on these small rocks and they can be glued to the rock scape in the Red Sea Max 25o tank. Corals can now be moved around without chiseling and scraping.
I don’t have a quarantine tank or even a real sump so all of the Acroporas are currently on the sand bed or temporarily wresting higher up on rocks. I hope to dip in Revive after one week and repeat every week for 4-8 weeks to make sure that all eggs have been hatched, remaining flatworms are removed and hopefully they will be flatworm free or manageable by my wrasses (wrasses are fish that are inquisitive fish that eat tiny bugs and pests on corals). I am hoping for the flatworm free option. I have also ordered a Golden Wrasse to help as a biological control to assist my already hard working Six Line Wrasse fish.
I felt terrible ripping out my beautiful and delicate corals. I have watched, nurtured and worried about these guys from when they were tiny frags (WTH is wrong with me!) The worst was my favorite, the big Red Planet Acropora…that hurts deep down inside somewhere. I may lose a few or all of these affected corals. However, I have to do this. I know many marine reef aquarists have dealt with this or may even have completely torn down their tanks and I am really sorry. I think I know how you feel or must have felt.
On the positive side:
1. My tank will hopefully be flatworm free.
2. I can re-aquascape my tank after the treatments.
3. I have now glued all Acropora corals that were never on a base to small pieces of dead rock, something everyone should do.
4. I either win or lose completely in a few months, nothing in between.
5. I have the time to deal with it.
6. If all fails, I’ll ask Adelle how she sets fire to the rain and set fire to my H2O.