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Unread 02/20/2005, 09:58 PM   #1
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Nudibranchs No More

*****This is a very long read, my apologies.******

It was shortly after Christmas 2004, I was sitting in front of my reef tank watching the actinic glitter lines rippling in my system. I thought back to everything that each of you had posted regarding those dreaded consumers of our zooanthids, yes....Nudibranchs. Knowing the destruction and devastation they can cause, and remembering the damaged they caused in my own system on two separate occasions, I could only hope that someday there would be a cure, a predator, something, anything. I had lost my Honey Mustard zoos which were my favorites, and all I could do was watch and hope. The Dip has indeed worked wonders, but it isn't fool-proof. It is a definite proactive means of prevention, as well as a reactionary method of removing them, yet it requires an awful lot of time if you have a substantial number of colonies.

Knowing that I had no chance of finding a way to truly eradicate nudibranch since it is not my field of study. I have no formal training in anyway in the field of Marine Biology or the like. I'm just a reefer like each of you who loves Zooanthids. I knew there was a way, there had to be. There was no known predator, no chemical, nothing. I had experimented with a few things which I don't want to mention, but each of them failed. That's when I set my sight on a potential predator. If there was one, I knew in my heart that it had to be a Wrasse.

For several weeks, I begin to read up on them. I started visiting as many stores as I could to watch their behavior. Some were constant swimmers, some were stalkers and some would just hide. Then it hit me, I remembered purchasing a Dragon Wrasse several years ago. I remembered how it would perch and watch from the top of the reef for anything that moved. It was at this time that I began to purchase only the Wrasses that would hover and stalk as the Dragon Wrasse did. I'd purchased one at a time and placed them in a 20 gallon system that I had set up to see how they would react to Nudibranchs. Knowing that I had nothing but time, and a local supplier of as many nudibranchs as I wanted, the search was on. I lost count, but I think it was after the 5 wrasse that I came across what I considered to be the most beautiful fish that I had ever seen. It was an electric neon kiwi green colored wrasse. My first thought was that it was a Green Coris, but it couldn't be. The color was far more intense then that of the Coris, and it had distinct markings which a Coris doesn't have. But there was more, I watched it for almost a full hour. I had never witness, heard or read of such behavior. This fish would hover almost motionless, it remined me of a Pointer ( you know, the dog that runs ahead of a hunter and stops and points when it senses a bird in a bush. ) The fish seldom swam, it merely hovered and perched. I knew it was one that I had to buy, bring home and see.

Measuring just under 3 inches in lenght, I placed it in the 20 gallon test tank. I gave it some time to acclimate and adjust to its new enviroment as I did with the others. Making sure that I introduce no food into this system, I place a 3 x 4 inch rock into the tank. He swam around the rock a few times and to my surprise, and I never expected to see this in a million years, but he locked on to the rock from just 2 inches away. Almost completely verticle, he saw something move. I counted at least 7 nudis before introducing him and I was sure he saw a pod or something moving about the rock, and then it happened, he made a sudden thrust at the rock between several polyps and quickly backed away. I didn't see what it was, but I know he had eaten something. He began to slowly cover the entire rock, row by row, searching for that which he had just consumed. As he made his way to the front of the tank, as I stood at least 4 feet away, he made a sudden thrust again. Still too far away, as I didn't want to startle him, I turned all of the house lights off and moved in within inches of the front glass. I could clearly see an adult nudibranch on the front side of the rock and so could he. That's when it happened again, and this time I had a front row seat. I felt a sudden rush inside as my jaw dropped in shear and total disbelief, I had just witnessed a wrasse consuming a nudibranch. Within 3 minutes, the rock was cleaned of all nudis. I removed the rock and placed it in a dip for a full 5 minutes. Upon removal, there wasn't a single nudi in the bottom of the bowl. That's when I caught a knot in my stomach and started laughing. I had to laugh, this had to be a fluke, it had to be.

After collecting my thoughts I said to myself, ok, but can he do it again. Maybe he didn't realize what he ate, maybe I didn't really see what I saw. So I placed a second rock with nudis into the tank, and it happened again. " Well slap me around and call me Susan", this fish is crazy. I wanted to tell someone, but who would believe me. Would I dare come to RC and say that I have a predator that eats Nudibranchs, come on. Besides, there were still a few egg sacks on a couple of the polyps. Wanting to be doubly sure, three days later, I placed the fish in my sump. Being extra careful with this fish, I made sure that everything was identical. I'd use substrate and water from my main system with the 20 gallon therefore the parameters in the sump would be identical. I placed the fish in first and then another rock infested with Nudis. You guessed it, the results were the same.

Still shaking in disbelief, I went to RC, I wanted to post what had happened twice right before my eyes, but how could I. No one would believe a single word of it. I began to read of the many stories of how they were slowly destroying many of your prized collections. That's when I posted the thread below. I knew there was hope and I couldn't contain it any longer.

Ok, it has happened twice, but I had to be sure. Just because it happened twice, does that make it fact. How many tanks do I have to set up to be sure? So I set up another tank, this time I placed the nudi filled rocks in the system and I allowed them to multiply for about 2 weeks. I knew that I had more than one type of Nudi in this batch of rocks from the shape of their bodies, some short and fat, some long and skinny. Heck, I couldn't even identify them by name, but I knew I had them. Finally the day had come, this fish is very easy to net, I often work in my tank and as long as I don't make any sudden quick movements, he won't dart away. I placed him in the third system and he didn't touch a thing. He didn't even venture near them and I couldn't figure out why. After 10 minutes or so, he locked on something on the rock like a heat seeking missle. Before I knew it, it was dinner time and he began to hover and stalk every single zoo in the tank. This time I placed actinics over the tank to see if he would only eat them during the daylight. "Mikey", that's what I call him because he will eat anything, was now considered a predator for nudis and he was in my tank. But again, who would believe me.

Then the bad news, or as I thought it was, the wrasse began to morph. It changed from a stunning neon lime, to a very dark almost black color. Using my flashlight, I could see that the new color was a very deep dark Evergreen color. My assumption was that he'd consumed so much toxins that it caused a color shift. Or, this was his adult coloration. He was still healthy and showed signs of growth as well.

How could I post these results, again, sure it happened on a small scale with just a few colonies, but if this was the real deal, the predator we have all hoped for, THE TERMINATOR, then I had to have more proof, but who could I tell and what else could I do. I told a friend about it and I told him what I was going to do, he said I was crazy. I decided to infect my own system. If I couldn't eradicate a full tank loaded with nudis, then how could I tell any of you that it would work on your system. At least I knew that I had defeated them twice before with nightime plucking and dipping over a 30 day period. I counted my zoos, I added up the cost, some I knew I could never replace, and yes, I was a fool for doing it, but I knew this fish was the real thing. I added a few rocks that I had purchased and placed them along the front of my tank. I waited 10 days, I could have waited longer, but by now many of you knew that I had something brewing from my post. I have several thousand dollars worth of zoos and coral in my tank. I assigned a value of at least $ 30 to each coral, knowing many of them cost me a lot more than that. Then I began to notice many of my colonies retracting. Now was the time, I took Mikey and placed him in my main system. Immediately after acclimation, we went on a stalking rampage for 13 days. It was at that time that every single colony was once again fully expanding. I even dipped a few rocks to see if I could find a nudi and I found nothing. He consumed the adults and juvis first, then he waited until the newly hatched sacks presented him with another meal. I never saw him eat the eggs sacks, but the system was restored and back to what it once was. To this day, I have not lost a single polyp and I continue to dip periodically and I can't find a single nudi. I had my proof and I wanted to share it because i just couldn't keep it to myself any longer.

Not wanting to stop now, was it possible that he would consume Monti Nudis as well. I recieved a small frag just this morning with a few Monti Nudis on them. I had never seen them since I am not an SPS reefer, but in they went to the 20 gallon tank. It was only a 3 inch frag and yes, Mikey mowed them down. There were only a few and it was quicker than with the zoos, my assumption was that they were more visable. This fish is unlike anything I have ever witnessed in my life. He seldom swims, he simply glides in the current until he sees something moving. I have witnessed him stalking every single colony in my tank, inch by inch until he finds something to consume.

So what's the name of this Fish?

(pictured again, the SAME fish, mimicing a Wasp Fish)

I spent several days looking through every book I could find to ID this wrasse. It wasn't until I stopped by Border's book store that I found something that looked a lot like Mikey. Using my magnifying glass, I came across the Sea Grass Wrasse. It was close, but I wasn't convinced. That's when Nagel, ( one of the Zooanthid forum Mods) came to my rescue. His assitance and direction was the key in helping ID Mikey. He had the contacts and the connections that I needed. I had waited on some other contacts to come through for me, but they didn't. Nagel's timing was perfect and I want to thank him publicly for his intervention. Nagel forwarded the pics to Dr. John Randall, the man who recently re-classified the species, Dr. Randall positively ID this fish. To my surprise, it was indeed the Sea Grass Wrasse ( Novaculichthys Macrolepidotus ). I had viewed the more common (Halichorus Papilonaceus ). The Novaculichthys, according to Dr. Randall, is a more recently described species. I want to take a moment to also thank Dr. John Randall and Mr. Anthony Calfo for their assitance and professional opinion. It appears that this fish is not rare and yet commonly found in the wild, just seldom collected for resale.

Now the downside, I had at least 50 new baby snails that would migrate to the front glass every night. He ate every single one of them. He also killed every single copepod in my tank and a few small crabs, but my corals are all healthy and vibrantly expanding.

There is one major caveat to all of this. It is very possible that this particular Sea Grass Wrasses wil consume nudis, and others like it won't. Yes, it is highly possible. Mr. Calfo has suggested this and I agree completely. However, I refuse to believe that I am that lucky, I mean truly lucky enough to have the one Novaculichthys Macrolepidotus that will consume nudis. I don't believe that for a minute, it was a hunch and just dumb luck to find this. In my heart, I believe that this is the FISH people. I am in the process of securing 2 more of them with hopes of proving that theory. That is where each of you can help. This is our discovery, and you can play a vital role in this by finding this fish and doing the exact same thing. Please post your results to confirm that Mikey has relatives.

Sorry for the delay in posting this, but I wanted to be sure. Again, I want to thank Nagel, Mr. Schultz, Dr. Randall and Mr. Calfo for their assistance.

Safe reefing everyone.


Last edited by Nagel; 02/21/2005 at 05:29 PM.
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Unread 02/20/2005, 10:15 PM   #2
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Fantastic Post...

I guess the rush is on for the Sea Grass Wrasse.

Anyone know a good retailer who will have these? Like to order mine before the price goes through the roof

Mucho, thanks for the hard work, be happy to report my findings if I can get my hands on one.

The Zen philosopher Basha once wrote, 'A flute with no holes, is not a flute. A donut with no hole, is a Danish.' He was a funny guy.

Current Tank Info: round and shallow japanese spot light absurdity
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Unread 02/20/2005, 10:20 PM   #3
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I will also be searching for the Novaculichthys Macrolepidotus. I have not had any luck finding them online yet!

Dan from Orlando
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Unread 02/20/2005, 10:21 PM   #4
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great study mucho, hopefully this works for the rest of us.

keep up the struggle

is this the little guy?

or is it this guy?

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Unread 02/20/2005, 10:22 PM   #5
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hehe, and the race is on

I already dropped a note to a buddy who works at an LFS, hopefully he can get one ordered in for me. I didn't find any at the usual online places...


The Zen philosopher Basha once wrote, 'A flute with no holes, is not a flute. A donut with no hole, is a Danish.' He was a funny guy.

Current Tank Info: round and shallow japanese spot light absurdity
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Unread 02/20/2005, 10:23 PM   #6
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first off.
THANKS to Mucho for taking the time and devotion to go through this ordeal, putting your own tank and its inhabitants under the danger of these little devils just to help out other reefers is a great contribution.
thank you.
ill be lookin for this wrasse too.

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Unread 02/20/2005, 10:26 PM   #7
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Awesome - thank you so much Mucho !
I found this....this is the guy...right ?


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Unread 02/20/2005, 10:33 PM   #8
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or this guy

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Unread 02/20/2005, 10:35 PM   #9
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thx for the post mucho!

do u have shrimp in your tank w/ him?

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet."

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Unread 02/20/2005, 10:44 PM   #10
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Mucho....dude your my idol I guess I can get my turkey baster surgicaly removed from my hand now


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Unread 02/20/2005, 10:56 PM   #11
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Originally posted by SuperFishy
first off.
THANKS to Mucho for taking the time and devotion to go through this ordeal, putting your own tank and its inhabitants under the danger of these little devils just to help out other reefers is a great contribution.
thank you.
I couldn't say it any better

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Unread 02/20/2005, 11:07 PM   #12
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Here he is "Mikey" (Mucho asked me to upload this for him)

I'm going to call him Mucho's Miracle

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Unread 02/20/2005, 11:39 PM   #13
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Thank you for posting this, I do appreciate it. But there was one thing that kept flashing through my mind the whole time...."This is it?". I mean, I guess I figured if it was going to be a fish, that the reason it took so long for the results was you were trying with more than one fish. I appreciate the time and effort, and this could very well be "the cure", but as of right now, it's really just speculation. For example, if I run up to my tank right now and drop some flake food in and one of my fish eats it, and the other doesn't I'm not going to claim he's a flake predator now am I? LOL I'd like to see more results from other reefers(which is what I thought we were waiting on) before I try to seek out one of these guys.

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Unread 02/21/2005, 12:12 AM   #14
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Thanks Mucho,
Hope that it work in tank. By the way, do the wrasse eat small acro crabs and shrimp, wonder whether it will eat them?
High Five to Mucho!!!!!!!!!!!

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Unread 02/21/2005, 03:55 AM   #15
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Pictures available for Novaculichthys macrolepidotus

A slender species, usually bright green. Juveniles vary from brown to green

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Unread 02/21/2005, 07:39 AM   #16
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Thanks MUCHO for your keen and dedicated work. RESPECT!!!!

Here is another link with info on this fish;

I have a question should anyone have any advise. I note MUCHOs advise that this fish also eats pods as well. I have a well established Mandirin Dragonet in my tank. He's been in for well over a year and seems to get enough food (pods) with no problems. This is the only thing he eats as far as I can tell. I also have a sixline Wrasse that eats everything I put into the tank. I know they can also eat Pods too and assume he does. He has been in for a good 6 months and I added him to help with a flat worm out-break. This he sorted out for me. I know if I were to add this new Sea Grass Wrasse I would have to re-home the six-line, but think it would be well worth the swap. Do you think this Sea Grass Wrasse would effect the pod population anymore than my sixline does? Don't want to starve my Mandarin. I realise that answering this at this stage might be difficult but opinions would be welcome.

Good luck everyone on the experiment and hunt for this new and exciting development.

Thanks again to MUCHO!


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Unread 02/21/2005, 09:40 AM   #17
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now thats a post great work and thanks for all the time and dedication you have spent on this. My your zoanthids blossom with MIKEY.

Life is to short to buy frags ! But for FREE I'LL take them
`.. , . .`.. >((((>

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Unread 02/21/2005, 09:51 AM   #18
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Mucho, what a great find. I am now wondering if my leopard wrasse may have the same abilities. I have never had any nudis in my system, but I only have a few zoas as well.

Wady I sent you a PM so as to keep this thread on topic.

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Unread 02/21/2005, 10:50 AM   #19
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Hey, good work Mucho!

According to the link that wady has, it's not an overly friendly fish to other fish and can be very aggressive.

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Unread 02/21/2005, 11:09 AM   #20
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Wow this is going to be the thread of the month
Great work

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Unread 02/21/2005, 12:37 PM   #21
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Thanks MUCHO for being so detailed and taking the time to repeatedly check Mikey out. I may want to rent him, if something goes wrong in my tank.

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Unread 02/21/2005, 01:34 PM   #22
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Thanks for the post. I think I eradicated all the nudis in my tank already but I'll throw one of those fish in just so I can sleep better at night. I know all too well what its like loosing your prized colony.

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Unread 02/21/2005, 02:59 PM   #23
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HAHAHA...MUCHO you should definatly rent out "mikey" I bet he would get more an hour than most of us get at work!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.
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Unread 02/21/2005, 03:03 PM   #24
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This is great information.

I like many others have a few questions on the above mentioned Sea Grass Wrasse. It seems that many who are reading this are finding out about him for the first time, so I doubt there is much personal first hand knowledge about them yet, but if anyone does have some info, please feel free to chime in.

1. Mucho mentioned that he does not have SPS. I would like to know if this wrasse is going to be SPS safe or are my acros in jeopordy.

2. I too am also concerned about the pod population. I have a 240g that I would like to add a Mandarin Dragonet to. That being said, I wouldn't want to starve the poor fellow.

3. It was mentioned that this wrasse may be aggressive. I also would like to know if there are any inhabitants that are not compatible with this wrasse.

I know the answers to my questions are not simple as there are so many variables that can affect the outcome, but when someone has experience with this Sea Grass Wrasse, please comment on these if possible.

Nice discovery Mucho Reef. I sense some legendary status occuring if this turns out to be what it looks like it could be.


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Unread 02/21/2005, 04:34 PM   #25
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Great post. Thanks for taking all the time and effort doing the research.

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