Did you know pests, predators or diseases don’t actually cause most of the common problems with corals?
In fact pests, predators and diseases are usually not the reason your polyps wont expand, your corals stop growing and your prized coral is starting to turn to slime…
Before I tell you what is, I want to take the opportunity to let you know about my 4 ebook super- bundle called the “Saltwater Success System”. This is 4 of my top aquarium titles which together make up the ultimate saltwater aquarium guide package.
I wrote these books because If you don’t know exactly how to create the perfect tank environment for your marine life, you are extremely unlikely to succeed at the saltwater aquarium hobby, in fact 90% of people fail at saltwater aquarium keeping within a year, the most common reason for failure is not being able to create a consistent, pristine water quality environment necessary for marine life. My books provide the tools I use to succeed.
The top issues with corals are caused by poor quality water and/or poor lighting…
These two factors are responsible for the huge majority of problems coral keepers can experience.
BUT, remember the tricky thing is you may see disease-like symptoms such as tissue recession, bleaching or polyps turning into slime, which may cause you to think you have a disease to battle…. But, only explore this avenue of thought if you have ruled out all the potential water quality issues FIRST.
If you think you have a coral disease check all your water parameters over a couple of days to rule out any fluctuating parameters BEFORE you medicate your corals.
Coral pests, parasites and predators
In nature there are many pests, predators and parasites of corals that can be unwittingly introduced to saltwater aquariums, in the unlikely event you think you have one attacking your coral, this blog post will help you figure out what it is and how to go about stopping it.
The difference between a corals’ predator and a parasite is that the parasite needs to keep the coral alive to continue to feed from its host, whereas the predator (like a fireworm for example) will indiscriminately attack the coral, usually until it dies.
Symptoms of a parasite infection require good observation to detect (taking a photo then using your digital zoom to zoom in and identify the culprit helps a lot) but generally loss of bright coloration; poor polyp extension and loss of zooxanthellae are telltale signs of an infestation of a parasite like copepods, this change can happen gradually over time. Many times you may also be able to see the pests on the coral tissue, especially at night.
The most common predators you are likely to encounter are nudibranchs, flatworms and snails. Predators usually prey on a single species of coral (or a few closely related species). So that means thankfully they will only be able to destroy a single specimen in your aquarium and not all your corals! The best way to get rid of these predators is to quarantine the afflicted coral and treat it by trying to remove as much of the predator and its eggs as you can.
How to stop coral pests before they enter your system
As with all saltwater aquarium pests and predators the best defense is to prevent them from entering your system altogether, especially because many of them are so difficult to eradicate once they are introduced. Believe me on this one, if you do this you can save yourself a whole lot of money, stress and hard work!
Prophylactic dipping and quarantining your corals will remove the vast majority of the hitchhiking pests and prevent them being introduced into your system as well as ensuring your corals are disease free before they go into the display tank.
A very popular effective commercially available iodine solution dip is known as Lugols solution. It is far easier to purchase an iodine solution than make one yourself.
However if you do want to have a go at making this effective anti-microbial dip that can be used for both corals and fish try this out!
Home made Lugols Dip – The most common recipe is 10g potassium iodide dissolved in 100ml distilled (or RO) water, add 5g iodine crystals till dissolved. Don’t touch the crystals themselves they are caustic so will burn you. Store it in a dark or amber glass bottle away from light. You don’t need to refrigerate the solution.
Here’s the best method to dip and quarantine your corals:
1. Get your coral or frag home and gradually acclimate it to your display tank water conditions using the “drip by drip” method.
2. After acclimation perform a dip in aquarium water treated with Lugols solution (see above) or hydrogen peroxide, reef dip or similar for at least 5 minutes. Prepare the dip as per the manufacturers instructions.
3. Rinse off dipping solution and quarantine coral for at least 2 weeks (30 days is better) in a stand alone quarantine tank.
4. After this time, thoroughly inspect coral for pests, then when its gets a clean bill of health attach pest and disease free coral into its new placement in the display tank!
If you want to learn more about my Saltwater Success System to succeeding with corals and the rest of your tank without all the hassles, you can learn more about it here.