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Old 09/14/2019, 02:08 PM   #1
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Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Richmond, VA
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filefish vs aptasia

For about a year I have been fighting a losing battle against aptasia.
I keep it from becoming a plague but cant get rid of same for any extended period of time.
My weekly routine consists of killing off visable anemones with a thick mixture of Kalkwasser. It works well -- all treated buggers bite the dust. But there are obviously some left as a week later I find some more to kill off (different ones) . etc etc etc. month after month.
So I bought a copper band butterfly (very attractive fish) which actually did the job and no visable apt were seen for 3 weeks -- however, w/o the apt, the CBB eventually starved to death (I tried feeding it MANY types of foods).
Went back to the kalk.
Now I am trying a mottled filefish. I've been told that they may take a few weeks before they go after the apt. So far, no luck (just finished getting my hand out of the tank kalking the latest groups of apt). Its eating something as it does not look emaciated at all.
Do you think it will ever eat them? What has been your experience with using a filefish to control aptasia?

(p.s.: To keep chemistry WNL, I have found that adding some Mg and strontium helps the corals utilize the extra Ca. I only add approx 1/2 tsp of Kalk per treatment). pH stays at about 8.2.
Even if I could afford nutibrancks, they would not be compatible with my fish --> powder brown tang, blue head wrasse, 6 line wrasse, gold band maroon clown, pj cardinal, blue green chromis, and a coral beauty angel, all of which eat inverts.

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Old 09/14/2019, 02:15 PM   #2
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Hey there!! I'm in the same boat however we have a zoa heavy reef tank, so were scared to add a filefish or butterfly fish. Weve been using aiptaisa X, which gets rid of them for about a month, until they pop back up. Doing my current research, were looking into getting a few berghia nudibranches, which I was actually just coming here to post about when I saw your thread! I've heard a lot of first hand mixed experiences with the different fish said to eat them. Just like some that are reef safe with caution will never touch your corals, some fish that are said to eat apt, just wont. It depends on the fish, and I figure with my luck, the one I get will eat my zoas and not the demon anemones!

Anyway, sorry to side track. Following this thread cause I'm curious on answers too!

120 gal established 15+ years, Home to a pair of clowns, Professor Khaos (the diamond goby), Oscar (green mandarin dragonette), and Larry the (purple reef) Lobster.
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Old 09/14/2019, 04:25 PM   #3
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Location: Reseda, Ca.
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get an army of pep shrimp from here

the're out of stock now but they'll be in stock eventually. put them in at night after lights out so the fish don't eat them (wrasses) and leave the lights off as many days as you can. If they survive for several days and the apt are not too big, they will do the job.

Please don't feed the bears because the bears will become dependent on free handouts and forget how to take care of themselves ...

Current Tank Info: 75 Gal. Mixed reef mostly sps
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Old 09/14/2019, 06:31 PM   #4
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I got 2 biota bristletail files, put one in each 120g tank.
It took one about 4 weeks to start mowing down apt. The other took about 8-10 weeks.
Dont kill the apts, just let the file see it all and start munching.
I can never find even one apt anywhere---maybe in sump.
Mine now eat nyos pellets and frozen mysis and blood worms.

OK, but where does the meat go!

120g SPS, 125g mix, 56g FOWLR, 20g qt
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Old 09/14/2019, 07:07 PM   #5
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I think the only biological way to exterminate Aptasia in a system is to introduce a few Berghia snails. They eat Aptasia and nothing else. The only drawback is that you need to have a lot of Aptasia for the snails to build up their numbers first and no fish or inverts who eat them.

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Pairs: 4 percula, 3 P. kauderni, 3 D. excisus, 1 ea of P. diacanthus, S. splendidus, C. altivelis O. rosenblatti, D. janssi, S. yasha & a Gramma loreto trio
3 P. diacanthus. 2 C. starcki

Current Tank Info: 200 gal 4 tank system (40x28x24 + 40B + 40B sump tank + 20g refugium) + 30x18x18 mixed reef + 20g East Pacific biotop + 20g FW +...
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Old 09/14/2019, 07:32 PM   #6
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I had a Bristle Tail FF and it decimated 150+ AP in less than 1 mo... HOWEVER it will also eat Hammers, and any Frog Spawn. I re-homed the FF and it cleaned the next tank as well. Efficient AP predator.

120g DT 100lbs LR / 200 lbs LS, 45g fuge, VectraM1 Return, Herbie drain, 4x RW-8, 2x AI Hydra 26 w AWM, ASM G2, Apex controller, Apex BoB w floats ATO
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Old 09/14/2019, 08:38 PM   #7
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This is what took care of aiptasia for me and it still with me for 4 plus years .

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Old 09/15/2019, 05:22 AM   #8
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I've had a couple of file fish. Both ate aiptasia. They also both loved rock flower anemones. Not sure they bother my zoas but, I don't pay too much attention to my zoas.


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Old 09/15/2019, 10:59 AM   #9
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Location: Richmond, VA
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filefish vs aptasia

1. I tried 2 peppermint shrimp and two days later found 2 empty husks in the tank. Too expensive to try this again. (As they say.... good try but no banana).
2. I am concerned about letting the apt population get too severe while waiting for my filefish to start munching. Obviously/unfortunately, I must have some hiding behind rockwork -- of which I have a lot, otherwise where would all the new ones be coming from.
3. Have not seen the filefish eating any of the softies or leathers in tank, and it actually stays away from my torch.
Still interested in hearing others experiences with the FF. Thanks.

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Old 09/16/2019, 02:27 PM   #10
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I added a filefish to eat the aptasia and majona anemones that I have. It did a great job of ridding the tank of them. It does not bother my zoas, hammers, frogspawn, and rbta's. The one thing it did eat where my rock anemones. That's my experience with the filefish yours may vary.

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Old 09/16/2019, 06:18 PM   #11
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You can try starving the tank for a couple of days, but if you've killed all the apts what do you expect it to start eating?

OK, but where does the meat go!

120g SPS, 125g mix, 56g FOWLR, 20g qt
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Old 09/17/2019, 08:08 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by RA View Post
I added a filefish to eat the aptasia and majona anemones that I have. It did a great job of ridding the tank of them. It does not bother my zoas, hammers, frogspawn, and rbta's. The one thing it did eat where my rock anemones. That's my experience with the filefish yours may vary.
Same experience here. Still have mine in the tank, to keep it in check as they really never go away.

Beware of recommendations by those who don't actually use their recommendation!!

The search function actually works quite well!!

Tanks:Planet Aquarium 150g LPS, Planet Aquarium 90g Softie
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Old 09/18/2019, 12:32 PM   #13
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My peppermint shrimp were close to cleaning it all up, but for some reason theyre reappearing and no signs of the shrimp anymore. I've been keeping the aptasia as bay with aptasia x, but i may need to get the peppermint shrimp back.

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Old 09/21/2019, 03:27 PM   #14
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Assuming you prefer not to use the natural way............ May I suggest this option it works also if you only have a few and I have used it...... Napalm them.

2004 Post:
OK, here is my sure fire way, 100% success rate, never to return again method.

Use a saturated solution of Sodium Hydroxide (Drain Away, Draino, Red Lye, whatever you like to call it) and water. Using a syringe, squirt about 0.5 mL into the mouth of each aiptasia. This will kill even the stubborn foot tissue.

I initially used kalk paste like pies, by found that the success rate wasn't that great. Sodium Hydroxide is much more soluble than Calcium Hydroxide, and is more alkaline, completely nuking the aiptasia.

Again don't dose too much at one time. It is not harmful to your reef, unless you directly squirt it onto corals. Just a warning that Sodium Hydroxide will cause sever chemical burns if handled, you can tell if you have it on your hands 'cause they will feel "soapy" and slippery. If you feel your hands becoming slippery, wash with a LOT of cold water. Preferably wear gloves when handling.

As dangerous as the chemical sounds, it is really quite safe for your reef.

Draino is surprisingly pure sodium hydroxide, and is really no more dangerous to your tank than calcium hydroxide (kalk). Any tank with a reasonable alkalinity (greater than 2.6) should have no problems adding it. The hydroxide ion reacts relativly quickly with dissolved carbon dioxide producing, there are also other mechanisms for the neutralisation of the free hydroxide. Which reaction is most significant is determined by the pH.

2(OH)- + 2CO2 ---> H20 + 2(CO3)2-

The only difference between this and the kalk method is the spectator ion (Ca2+ as opposed to Na+).
Kalk will do the same thing to your hand as sodium hydroxide, at a much much slower rate.

If anything this method is easier on the fish, I had problems with fish eating, or trying to eat the white kalk paste. I for one wouldn't like a mouth full of kalk. The sodium hydroxide method is much safer in that it is completely soluble, such that any solution which doesn't make it into the aiptasia, is quikly neutralized by surrounding water by the above reaction, and no solid remains to be eaten by fish.

Keep it simple. Take it slow. Long Term Hobby.

Current Tank Info: 210g w/Eshopps RS-200 sump, Reef Octopus Classic 150 SSS, Inline Ocean Clear Filter, 2 Kessel 360W, Jebao DC-8000, & 2 Jebao WP40 Wavemakers
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