Reef aquarium pests

Article by Peter Cunningham

As with most hobbies there are some things that are definitely undesirable. Keeping a saltwater reef aquarium or saltwater fish only aquarium is a most fulfilling hobby, but irritating problems can occur.

For example, outbreaks of filamentous green algae, brown/black/red smear algae, glass anemones and bubble algae (sailor’s eyeball algae) are four of the major culprits. These problems can develop into major headaches if proper action during setting-up and the following care and maintenance are not taken.

The really annoying part is that glass anemones and bubble algae can be decorative at first. In fact, an unwary and inexperienced aquarist might be pleased with his new additions.

These problems usually arrive with new corals, or, rather, on the rocks the new corals are attached to. Live rock can also introduce them.

A major cause of algae problems is low water quality, that is, water that has too high levels of nitrate and phosphate. It has been reported that filamentous green algae, smear algae, and glass anemones do well in the presence of nitrate and phosphate.

To make bubble algae (sailor’s eyeball algae) even more annoying, it is said that to do well it needs high quality water. So if they appear in your tank, definitely take control action, but at least be pleased that your water is good.

I have dealt with bubble algae successfully. I have also waged war with glass anemones, but have found that, once the war is generally won, occasionally control action is needed when another pops its unwelcome head up.

The answer to these problems is the proper setting up of a tank from the start, and ongoing care and maintenance.

These reef aquarium pests may never invade your tank at all, but it is probable that one or the other will appear. Be aware, and be prepared with the necessary knowledge to take remedial action.

Peter Cunningham and John Cunningham combined have been keeping salt water aquarium’s for nearly 35 years. Visit their site ‘The Salt Water Aquarium’ if you are interested in starting a marine aquarium reef tank.










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