Keeping a healthy and thriving reef tank is dependent on a lot of variables, including the prevention of pests. Thats right, just like in our natural oceans, parasites do make their way into our living room reefs. The most well known pests among those who keep SPS are Red Bugs and AEFW (Acro Eating Flatworms). Red Bugs are a nuisance and do impact SPS health but they are pretty easy to eradicate. AEFW, on the other hand, are a different story.

 

An untreated infestation of AEFW can devastate a tank. There are a few options to treat a tank when the little buggers are discovered so it is certainly not a death sentence. You can opt for a more aggressive approach or a more passive, less invasive method, which I prefer.

 

Ideally, the best way to keep these bad guys from entering a tank is to dip them in something that will kill them and not the coral. I use Bayer Advanced Complete Insect Killer. Yep, a garden insecticide! Believe it or not, this product will kill both Red Bugs and the dreaded AEFW. This method will work best for frags and not SPS colonies since AEFW eggs are more likely to be attached to a colony. Unfortunately, the Bayer dip will not kill the eggs.


 

To prevent eggs from hitchhiking in on a frag, I recommend cutting the frag off its plug and doing a close visual inspection to make sure it is egg free.

 

Steps to Prevent Red Bugs and AEFW

I then follow this dipping procedure:

  • Acclimate bags containing frags in sump for 15 minutes to equalize the water temperature in the bags.
  • Place frags in Bucket 1 and slowly add tank water for 20 minutes to acclimate frags to tank water. When done remove frag plugs.
  • Put on gloves and wear protective eye gear. Bayer insect killer is hazardous to humans.
  • Place frags in Bucket 2 with Bayer for 10 minutes. I use a 4% diluted solution, which equates to 10ml of Bayer for 1 cup (237ml) of tank water. I use a small bucket for the dip so in total I use 100ml of Bayer in 10 cups (2,370ml) of tank water.
  • Place frags in Bucket 3 with 10 cups of tank water for 15 minutes. Use turkey baster to blow on frags when removing from bucket.
  • Place frags in Bucket 4 with 10 cups of tank water for 15 minutes. Use turkey baster to blow on frags when removing from bucket.
  • Place frags in Bucket 5 with 10 cups of tank water and glue frags to plugs.
  • Place frags in display tank.

Check out this video of the routine.

 

 

This process has worked for me and I do believe it is safe. However, I do need to include this disclaimer: I am not responsible for any harm to you are your reef if you follow these steps…..so do this at your own risk.




 

Anyway, as the the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

 

 

If you are looking for additional insights and information, please explore my many other reef tank and SPS related articles as well as my book, A ReefBum’s Guide To Keeping an SPS Reef Tank: A Blueprint For Success. And you can see all of my reef tank videos online now as well as my Live HD Webcam.

 

Happy reef keeping!