First thing to note: These are not welcome in your tank, if you see them, time to take action!
Flatworms come in a range of colours, species, threat levels, swimming varieties, and some can look so exotic that you may secretly wish for an infestation. The Acropora Eating Flatworm (AEFW), is not a species you would wish for in your aquarium.
There are many types of flatworm that can be found in the marine world, but the Acropora eating Flatworm will do exactly as it’s name says, eat your Acropora corals.
Acropora eating flatworms survive by eating the coral’s tissue and laying their eggs around the base of their skeleton. They can be difficult to distinguish from your coral’s tissue especially because your corals will probably turn brown when stressed with AEFW.
The worm can grow to several millimetres in size and are often seen as brown-clear flat bodies on the coral. The eggs are reddish brown dots with the white dead tissue around them on the coral.
Use of medication inside the display tank is not advised because when exposed to chemical treatments, they may release toxins into the water that harm corals and fish.
How do you control the numbers?
The offence is a good defence when it comes to AEFW. Dip all corals before putting them into your aquarium, and where possible, quarantine them and monitor them for at least three weeks before putting them into your main display.
If you have found them in your main display, remove the coral, dip it, inspect it for eggs, then quarantine the coral. While the coral is in quarantine, repeat the dipping and inspection process every three days for at least 3 weeks, or until you are sure there are no eggs or adults left on the coral.
Do they have any predators?
Some of the smaller Wrasse species, such as the Six Line Wrasse are known for helping keep pests at bay.
Care should be taken when adding livestock to take care of a pest problem. Once they have eaten all of the pests, they will need supplementing with other foods, or they will need to be re-homed. It is for this reason that using a predator to take care of a pest problem, should be your last resort.
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