Pests in the Marine Aquarium
When playing with the wild creatures and critters that we do with marine aquariums it is inevitable that sooner or later we will all come across some undesirables that find their way into our tanks through one source or another.
Most commonly introduced with the addition of healthy live rock, a lot of these pests quickly become extremely unhealthy to the aquarium and its inhabitants.
From the beautiful Mantis Shrimp to the not so visually appealing Bristle and Fire Worms, this article will highlight the problem pest and a few steps you can take to eradicate them from your system.
Mantis shrimp have long been the annoyance of almost every marine aquarist utilizing natural Live Rock. If you’ve ever heard those telltale “clicks” in your tank after lights out then there is every chance that you are the owner of one of these fantastic little predatory shrimp. Their size ranges from juveniles at 1cm up to adults at around 30cm with various species displaying the most amazing colours available in the marine aquarium hobby. Ironically, this is all for nothing as they are rarely seen free swimming around the tank as they call sand and rock burrows home and only leave after lights out in search of prey which generally consists of small fish, shrimp, snails and clams.
An often used method of catching the pesky Mantis is by utilizing one of the many pest traps available on the market including this one from Aqua Medic. Designed with a one way trapdoor entrance, a fishy bait is used to lure the shrimp from its burrow and into the trap where it can be safely removed from the aquarium
The name Bristleworm refers to a group of elongated, segmented worm-like creatures that occur in a variety of shapes and sizes in our tanks. Another passenger that is often found nestled within fresh Live Rock, these polychaete worms can also be found living under the substrate and in some cases, burrowing into the base of substrate living invertebrates. The worst of these worms have been known to extend their burrowing activities into the silicone joins that hold the tank walls together, often with disastrous consequences. Another called the Fireworm, is lined with long and numerous fleshy appendages that can inflict a painful sting should you come into contact with them.
A manual remedy for the removal of pest Bristleworms is a humble pair a tweezers and a little bit of patience. Waiting after lights out with some bait and some long handled tweezers will usually result in the Bristleworms rearing their heads in search of food where they can be caught and removed. If you are after more biological methods of removal, several Wrasse and Dottyback species are effective Bristle hunters as is the Coral Banded Shrimp Stenopus hispidus.
Anemones of the family Aiptasia and Majano are generally considered as pests in the aquarium due to their ability to rapidly reproduce and relocate themselves to all corners of the tank and sting almost all that lie in their way. Some people purposely cultivate these anemones to use as food for certain species of fish and shrimp but in the right conditions, they can easily over run a system.
Similar to some of the other pests that have been covered, these pest anemones can be removed by use of tweezers but this can be quite fiddly and if the anemone’s foot is torn in the process, it can be left behind to regenerate. Other methods include using a syringe to inject liquids like lemon juice, vinegar, dissolved lime water or a commercially available product called Joes Juice which destroys the anemone from the inside out. Natural methods include the addition of fish and shrimp species such as Copperband Butterflys (Chelmon rostratus) and Peppermint Shrimp (Lysmata vittata).