6 Ways To Get Rid of Aiptasia (Best To Worst)

6 Ways To Get Rid Of Aiptasia, From Best To Worst

In this post we are going to discuss 6 different commonly used methods for getting rid of Aiptasia, some are more effective than others, and some arguably make the infestation worse! 

Why it is so Important to Eliminate Aiptasia

Before we begin it’s important to understand the reason why getting rid of any Aiptasia in your tank is so important. Unfortunately, for many, when they see one or two Aiptasia in their tank, they don’t understand what they are, they may even think they are a ‘cool’ new addition and want them to stay. However, it is when they start to multiply, that reefkeepers begin to realise the problem they have had right in front of them all this time. 

The Multiplication is brought on by several factors: Stress, reaching a certain size, attempted removal or simply because they feel like it. Once the Aiptasia have multiplied in your tank you have a big task of attempting to remove them. Removal is essential, Aiptasia will sting and kill or force corals to move, they will sting and potentially kill fish, and could even eat them afterwards. Yep they are that terrifying. They will reproduce to extreme levels, will detach and reattach wherever they please and will become so unsightly that not only will they take over your aquarium but your dreams…. Ok hopefully it doesn’t reach this last stage, and if you have recognise the problem early there is something you can do. If you have just one or two Aiptasia on a piece of live rock take that rock out and throw it in the bin. Sounds extreme, but honestly its worth it! 

However, if your infestation is more advanced, then another method is needed to get rid of them. Read on, to learn about different ways of removing Aiptasia and take back control over your beloved reef tank.  

1. Berghia Nudibranch

Call us biased but Berghia Nudibranch are without doubt the best solution to eliminating Aiptasia, let us explain why. The reason that they are so effective comes down to one thing, these wonderful creatures will ONLY eat Aiptasia. They will literally starve to death rather than eat something else if Aiptasia is not available. This means that not only will they be fully focused on devouring your Aiptasia population but they are 100% reef safe. The idea is that you purchase enough Berghia Nudibranch for your size of tank (recomended at 1 per 50-100 litres depending on the severity of your infestation, with a minimum of 3 Berghia). You place these Berghia Nudibranch into your tank and then you simply wait. The Berghia will not only eat your aiptasia but they will lay eggs, and from these eggs an army of Berghia will appear that will go on to eat your aiptasia and lay more eggs, until there becomes so much Berghia that they exhaust your food supply entirely resulting in the complete eradication of the aiptasia in your tank.

Pros
  • • The most effective way at eliminating Aiptasia with the best probability of success

    • A simple method that takes up very little of your time

    • We have them available for sale here (if we are not in stock as is often the case due to demand please request notification when stock comes back in)

    • 100% reef safe

    • Low cost in comparison to other methods, and it being a one off cost due to its high probability of success

    •  Will eat Aiptasia so small you can not even see it, thus truly eliminating all traces from your tank

    • Can get into hard to reach places bigger animals can not

Cons
  • • Difficult to find available

    • Can be a large one time cost if you have a big tank

    • Can take some time to fully work due to needing population expansion from eggs hatching and growing

2. Peppermint Shrimp

These little guys have been known to be helpful in fighting the battle against Aiptasia. It is important, however, to make sure you are getting true peppermint shrimp as some  similar looking close relatives are not interested in eating Aiptasia. Even still, not all true peppermint shrimp will eat Aiptasia, some wont even touch it. The issue with peppermint shrimp is that they eat many different varieties of food including detritus, uneaten food and other organic material. This is an issue as eating Aiptasia is a choice, even if they choose to do so they normally will not eat a lot. In most cases the amount they eat is not enough to eliminate all the Aiptasia and it will grow back as quick or quicker than it is being eaten. They are however a good, well rounded addition to most reef tanks that will hopefully mitigate the foothold that Aiptasia can take.

Pros
  • •  Relatively cheap

    • Can help control the Aiptasia population

    • May be able to eliminate the problem if there is a small amount of Aiptasia

    • Helps with other parts of the aquarium ‘clean up’

Cons
  • •  Sometimes will not touch Aiptasia at all

    •  Will rarely eradicate Aiptasia from a tank where it has taken a strong foothold

    •  Is not compatible with all corals/fish 

3. Copperhead Butterflyfishes

These beautiful fish that are known to sometimes eat Aiptasia. Whilst they can be known to be effective at eliminating Aiptasia you should not get one purely for the hope that they will. Aiptasia is their least preferred food from what is available in the aquarium and so will first eat all tube and substrate worms, any clams and molluscs before they will begin to consider eating Aiptasia. These fish are also difficult to keep and require near-perfect conditions to survive; with a minimum of 300 litres water volume. They are considered not reef-safe and are complicated to feed. You should choose this fish for your tank not just because of your Aiptasia infestation but because you have the capacity to house it, are prepared to care for it and want to do so even if it does not touch your Aiptasia.

Pros
  •  • If they get a taste for Aiptasia they can be effective at eliminating them 

    • They are beautiful fish

Cons
  • • They do not always eat Aiptasia

    • Require 300 litre minimum water volume

    • Require near-perfect conditions to survive

    • Are difficult feeders and require a lot of time to care for

    • Not reef-safe

    • Should not be bought simply to eat Aiptasia!

4. Breaking Your Tank Down

We have chosen this as our 4th choice as it is the next best thing after Berghia Nudibranch for giving you the best chance at completely getting rid of Aiptasia. However, it comes with some serious drawbacks. In order to do this you will need to be able to place your fish in quarantine on a temporary basis and start again. You should remove all of your equipment and thoroughly clean and sterilise them. Remove and dispose of all live rock and sand, or attempt to sterilise; however there is a high chance the Aiptasia will return if you reuse them. You will need to pay very close attention to all of your equipment when placed back in and remove immediately on sight of any Aiptasia.

Pros
  • • A reasonably good chance of eliminating the aiptasia

Cons
  • • Extremely time consuming

    • A reasonable chance of it not working

    • Expensive!

    • Requires suitable temporary housing for your fish

    • Places your fish at additional stress and risk of harm due to temporary relocation

5. Aiptasia X, Joes Juice ETC

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A product such as Aiptasia-X or Joes Juice is essentially a liquid that you target feed Aiptasia that causes them to implode. That might sound great, but quite often not all parts of the Aiptasia are killed, considering Aiptasia can reproduce from a singular cell having lots of potentially live cells sent around your tank through an implosion, is not such a great idea. It is essentially a band aid that when taken off, has caused a much more significant injury. Some people have had some luck with it when faced with a minor infestation (one or two); for others, it is an exercise that creates a temporary culling of the visible Aiptasia that will be replaced two fold within a week. If you  are thinking about trying this method, consider the fact that you would have to find and treat every single Aiptasia in your tank (including the ones too small to see or hiding) at the same time and each one would have to be 100% killed else they are going to go ahead and replicate again. Due tot his, this method becomes a very expensive, time consuming daily chore. There is also a risk of these products harming certain other corals if accidentally ingested.

Pros
  • • Can create a temporary relief

    •  Can target specific Aiptasia for immediate (albeit temporary) results

    • Works in minor cases with very low levels of infestation

Cons
  • • Extremely time consuming

    •Becomes expensive over a long period of time

    • Only eliminates them all in very rare cases, for others it becomes weekly ‘maintenance’

    • Could potentially harm nearby corals

6. Electrical Aiptasia Zapper

Yes that’s right, this is a thing. There are different types of these around, many of which appear to be DIY made. The principle is that the needle is hooked up to a portable power supply, you touch the needle to the Aiptasia, press a button and a current flows through the Aiptasia, killing it. This may sound innovative and great but in reality it is not so practical. Its downfalls are similar to Aiptasia X, whereby it causes the Aiptasia you are killing to release lots of cells that develop into more Aiptasia. It is extremely difficult to get to all of them because they are too small to see or can be hidden away, due to the bulkiness of these things it is even harder to apply to each Aiptasia. Finally there is an obvious concern of combining electricity and water, particularly when using a DIY zapper which is likely to be less safe. 

Pros
  • •  Cool to do/see

    •  Can target eliminate Aiptasia for immediate (albeit temporary) results

    • Works in minor cases with very low levels of infestation 

    • One off cost

Cons
  • • Extremely time consuming

    • Official ones are expensive

    •Difficult to reach some Aiptasia even if you can see them due to bulkiness of the instrument

    •Safety concerns, especially with DIY zappers

    • Only eliminates them all in very rare cases, for others it becomes weekly ‘maintenance’

Summary

If you have a significant AIptasia infestation, then there is only one real choice to go for Berghia Nudibranch. There is no method that has such a high success rate with extremely low risk. If you have a small tank it is a reasonably cheap solution and if you do have a larger tank need a decent amount of Berghia, whilst it may cost a more initially; you will receive amazing value from this by of saving many hours of your time, and giving you the best chance of reclaiming control of your expensive reef tank. 

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