Aiptasia is a common pest of marine aquaria, typically being introduced into a system as a hitchhiker on liverock or on rock that corals are attached to. The problem with these anemones is the fact that they have very aggressive stings and can multiply very rapidly if left unchecked. They do host zooxanthellae and therefore can derive sustenance from light. However, primary nutrition is obtained from capture of prey. Systems which are broadcast feed will have a greater struggle to contain these as any wayward food is easily captured by the anemones.
If any of these are detected within a system, it is best to promptly remove / eliminate these as soon as possible. Waiting can make the removal much more time consuming and difficult.
Common control methods include:
- injection into the anemone's body using an intravenous syringe containing vinegar, hot water, kalkwasser (calcium hydroxide solution), hydrochloric acid or sodium hydroxide solution. Any solution with extreme pH will be sufficient, with the ones listed here being the "safer" or more readily available options.
- covering the anemone with a calcium hydroxide paste
- injection with commercial products such as Joes Juice and Aiptasia-X.
- natural predation by a Copperband Butterflyfish (Chelmon rostratus), Klein's Butterflyfish (Chaetodon kleinii) and some people have had success with Peppermint Shrimp (Lysmata vittata).
- Berghia verrucicornis, a species of nudibranch that eats only Aiptasia, and nothing else. Not available in Australia, however more than likely they are present on our reefs.
- removal of rock that the anemones are attached to, entirely and permanently.
- removal of rock that they are attached to and torching them using a small blow torch. Very satisfying ;)
It is never recommended to introduce a species just to solve a problem, but with prolific pests sometimes its the only answer.
- Aiptasia FAQ - Reefs.org
- Hot Tips: Aiptasia Control - Advanced Aquarist's Online Magazine
- Aiptasia Biology - Berghia Net
- Aiptasia: a Method of Control
- Inland Aquatics' Guide to Controlling Aiptasia Anemones
- Aiptasia - WetWebMedia
- Aiptasia - Tree of Life