Pests & unwanted hitchhikers

Aiptasia sp.

Aiptasia is a genus of anemones commonly referred to as glass or rock anemones because of their colouration and benthic lifestyle; typically being found attached to mangrove roots or rocky substrates. They are widely distributed in tropical seas around the world and are typical hitchhikers on wild harvested or ocean aquacultured live rock.

Once introduced into your tank, through asexual reproduction (in this case growing an individual from a single adult cell) they can quickly take over. Why are they a pest? Not only do they take over very quickly but they are very aggressive towards other corals, actively moving around and stinging (and killing) other desirable corals and even fish.

They are hard to eradicate but can be controlled chemically and biologically. Chemical controls include injection with a strong base (eg: calcium hydroxide) or acid (eg: vinegar). There are also a number of products in the aquarium industry that target Aiptasia species. Alternatively, biological control can be effective and add life to your tank. Some organisms known to consume Aiptasia sp. will also munch on your other corals, so you need to choose well. Some reef safe options include peppermint shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni), the nudibranch Berghia verrucicornis, and the red-legged hermit crab (Clibanarius digueti). Butterflyfish and other fishes in the genus Chaetodon as well as various species of puffer fish and angelfishare also know to consume this unwanted anemone, but will also nibble on other corals.

(?)Source: Jodi Schwarz, Vassar College
(?)Source: Gemma May, University of Buffalo

Mantis Shrimp (stomatopods)

(?)Source: Joseph Napolitano,
Mantis shrimp are neither mantid nor shrimp. They are predatory marine crustacean that get their name because they resemble a terrestrial preying mantis and a shrimp. There are over 400 described species of mantis shrimp found worldwide and are known for their powerful claws that they use to spear, stun or dismember their prey. In the wild stomatopods are thought to be among the most important shallow tropical and sub-tropical marine predators, but not much is known about them because they spend most of their time hiding in rock formations or burrowing in the seabed. They are very aggressive sit-and-wait predators; hiding in their burrow, waiting for an unsuspecting crabs, fish or other livestock to pass by. They strike with lightning speed and larger individuals have in some cases been known to break aquarium glass with a single strike. They come in many colours from brown to neon, they are beautiful but their voracious appetite make them unwanted in most marine aquariums.

Mantis shrimp possess the most complicated eyes in the animal kingdom. They are capable of distinguishing between 100,000 colors, which is 10 times as many as humans and are the only creatures currently known that can see circular polarized light. So before you extract them from your system take the time to appreciate one of evolution's marvels.

Mantis Shrimp preying on other crustaceans

Valonia sp. aka: Bubble Algae