February 28, 2013

So I had a hitchhiker anemone in my saltwater aquarium. Using the SeeMore Explorers Observation Log, I finally figured out that the hitchhiker was named an Aiptasia anemone, also known as a Rock, Tube or Glass Rose Anemone. It’s called a pest not because it keeps asking questions you can’t answer (only kidding), but because it can multiply rapidly, grow quickly and more-or-less take over the aquarium from other invertebrates.

The Aiptasia Anemone looks like a tiny palm tree, with a long, thin body and miniature, waving tentacles on top. Like many other anemones, Aiptasia uses its tentacles to sting enemies and food animals that come too close. The tentacles have stinging cells called nematocysts that can sting fish, crabs, shrimp, coral and anything else (like your fingers) that come too close. An Aiptasia also withdraws into a tiny hole in the rock if threatened.

It’s hard to get rid of a colony of Aiptasia in an aquarium. If you try to rip it out, each tiny torn piece that you leave behind grows into a new animal. This results in more animals than you originally started with. BAD IDEA! So what do you do?


In doing research to find the answer, I searched on the Internet using these terms: "control unwanted Aiptasia Aquarium." You could have used many similar words and come up with suggestions about what to do. And here’s one simple solution I discovered: Purchase a small, colorful animal called a peppermint shrimp. A peppermint shrimp in an aquarium is part of what’s called "the cleanup crew." It likes to eat leftover food that you feed to the fish. It also has an interesting taste for…guess what?? It eats Aiptasia anemones!

And that’s exactly what I did. I purchased two peppermint shrimp and put them in my small reef aquarium. The next morning I looked in and the Aiptasia was gone. It worked exactly as I had read. The peppermint shrimp ate the Aiptasia and I have two new colorful members of the new cleanup crew, my new heroes, peppermint shrimp.



Posted by: Seymour Simon

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