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Aiptasia sp. anemones, also referred to as rock or glass anemones can be a real scourge on any marine tank. They multiply like rabbits, damage or kill other marine inhabitants, and are difficult to get rid of. Intense lighting is one reason these hardy pests to do so well in a captive environment. They also multiply significantly in aquariums with poor water quality and tanks that are over fed. If these anemones are not removed or destroyed, they will overrun an aquarium in a very short period of time. You cannot just pull or scrape them off because any little piece that is left behind will just re-grow. So what do you do?

What to do and what not to do.

I could write pages on this pest but here are the simple facts

I have seen these 12″ tall

DO NOT try to kill Aiptasia by crushing, grinding or smashing. This releases “babies” and speads the Aiptasia. The base will sprout a new Aiptasia.

Injecting them with various caustic compounds, sodium hydroxide or lemon juice, is difficult to do but usually works.  The aiptasia bodies fall apart and can foul up the tank. Use carbon and/or skimmers. Clean filters often.

When you aquire live rock with Aiptasia on it the only way to truly get rid of it is to put all the rock in a tub and soak it in graden hose water with a little bleach. Give it a week. Drain off the water, rinse the rock and air dry a couple days.  Mother Nature will turn it back into live rock. Aiptasia can survive a couple days out of water.

Copperband Butterflyfish

Copperband Butterflyfish rarely eat aiptasia and die easily.  They are not really reef and coral safe.


Adult Klein’s Butterflyfish

Klein’s Butterflyfish are much hardier than Copperband Butterflyfish and do a much better job, but when the aiptasia is gone then start eating corals.

Juvenile Klein’s Butterflyfish

Aiptasia Eating Filefish

Some eat aiptasia, some don’t. Some are reef safe, some are not. Once in a rare while you might find one that eats Majano anemones. If you have a lot of Aiptasia, it might be worth the risk.  When I can I’ll put a fish in with Aiptasia and see if they eat them before I sell them.

Berghia Nudibranchs

Berghia are about 1/2″ to 3/4″ full grown

Berghia nudibranchs are super at eating Aiptasia but they are expensive, do not ship or acclimate easily.  If you are lucky enough to get them to make it into your tank they will wipe out aiptasia then die.  They are 100% reef safe.

Peppermint Shrimp

Peppermint Shrimp are Reef Safe 
You can have dozens.

Wild Peppermint shrimp from Florida are super but they eat the littlest Aiptasia first and leave the big ones till last.  In the mean time the big Aiptasia keep pumping out little ones.  Avoid captive bred peppermints.

Red Sea Aiptasia-X

In an exciting development for reef-keepers Red Sea has developed a unique patent pending formula to treat the pest anemones Aiptasia sp., Anemonia majano and Boloceroides sp. Affecting almost every reef aquarium, Aiptasia (otherwise known as glass anemones), are often introduced via live rock or corals and can quickly reach plague proportions in marine aquaria, destroying corals and other marine livestock with devastating effect.

Existing treatments are often unsuccessful as when threatened Aiptasia quickly retract into holes in the rock and release planula (larvae) in to the aquarium which can rapidly develop in to full anemones. Additionally any part of the anemone`s body left attached to a rock can regenerate into a full anemone. Many treatments can therefore lead to a proliferation rather than the removal of Aiptasia.

Research and development work carried out by Red Sea has led to the development of Aiptasia-X, a product which overcomes the problems usually associated with Aiptasia treatments thanks to its unique formula.

Aiptasia-X consists of natural components which form a uniquely thick, adhesive material. Instead of causing the Aiptasia to feel threatened, the unique formula is sensed as food stimulating the anemone to expand and ingest the material. The adhesive form of the treatment makes both the application of the material easy as well as sealing the anemone`s mouth preventing any release of planula. Within minutes of applying the material the Aiptasia will implode, eradicating both the anemone and its planula.

Red Sea`s new treatment is completely reef-safe and any material not ingested by the Aiptasia is harmless to sessile invertebrates. Excess material will decay harmlessly over time without any adverse consequences.

Easy to use and highly effective, Aiptasia-X provides a solution long sought-after by almost every reef-keeper at one time or another in the life of their aquarium.

The Aiptasia-X kit includes a 60ml bottle of material plus an applicator set consisting of a syringe with 2 (straight and angled) lock-on applicator tips enabling treatment of even the most inaccessible of anemones. The 60ml provided in the kit should be sufficient to treat approximately 100 Aiptasia anemones. A 250ml refill is also available and is designed to be decanted in to the 60ml bottle for use with the applicator set.

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There isn’t a perfect way out.

If you have 1 Aiptasia take care of it ASAP or you will be in big trouble.

If you can use peppermint shrimp in numbers, this is the most effective for a reef system – without future harm.  Combine with Aiptasia-X to kill the big ones.

Use Aiptasia filefish or a Klein’s butterfly in fish only systems.



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