Coral Pests

Treating Coral Pests

This article probably is bad news for most aquarists, but it is something you should know. Whenever you buy a new coral, you should treat it with a coral conditioner to kill any pests that hitchhiker along with the coral. If you have not been treating your corals, you are most likely infected with coral flatworms or some other pest. Treating with conditioners can help prevent brown flatworms, acropora eating flatworms, montipora eating nudibranchs, zoanthid eating nudibranchs, little red bugs, sundial snails and sea spiders.

Signs of pest infestation include brownish red or yellow worms on the glass, polyps no longer opening and acropora and montipora receding from the base and turning white.

1. Acclimate your coral as you normally would and then place it into a clean bucket of saltwater from your aquarium.

Coral Dip

2. In this demonstration, Revive Coral Cleaner is used. Other popular cleaners include Tropic Marin Pro Coral Cleaner and Seachem Reef Dip. Read the directions and add the necessary amount of treatment to the water. Do not overdose. Be careful not to spill the iodine solution as it will leave a stain. Let the coral sit in the dip for the specified time. Don’t dip fish as this will kill them!


3. Shake the coral to remove any debris and then place it into the aquarium. The dip should have killed 99% of the pests, including some flatworms. You should notice little critters falling off the coral. If you have a coral quarantine system, place the coral in this system and monitor for at least one month.

Revive Coral Cleaner

Coral Pest Treatments

If you have been in the hobby for a while, there is a good chance that you have already been infected but don’t even know it. The most common pest is red/brown flatworms. They look like little brown specs on the glass and move quite rapidly. Flatworms should not be confused with clear copepods or amphipods, which are actually beneficial to your aquarium. Other common pests include acropora eating flatworms, zoanthid eating nudibranchs, montipora eating nudibranchs, little red bugs, sundial snails, sea spiders and pyramid snails. The Six Line Wrasse and Melanurus/ Hoeven’s Wrasse have been known to eat flatworms and are also good prevention against other pests. In general, the best in-tank treatment against flatworms is Flatworm Exit.

Revive Coral Cleaner

Revive Coral Cleaner is a product developed by Julian Sprung, author of ”The Reef Aquarium.” Revive is relatively inexpensive to buy. Think of Revive as an insurance policy for your aquarium. If you are already spending hundreds of dollars on coral, what is a few extra dollars to prevent pests from ruining it? Revive can also be used to treat corals that were damaged during routine maintenance, accidentally fell onto another coral or appear to be receding.