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Hitchhiker's Guide to the Marine Tank

Bristleworm

Your marine aquarium is finally up and running. It took you some time to get it ready, you thoroughly researched everything, sought advice from aquatics specialists and took the time to ensure that your water levels were perfect before you introduced any fish. Your marine tank has been a massive learning curve, and just when you thought you had everything under control, you have started to suspect that there may be a few inhabitants in there that you hadn’t factored into the equation.

While you were concentrating on the set up, purchasing the marine aquarium supplies, fish, and corals, you didn’t notice that some ‘hitchhikers’ found their way into the tank. What are these hitchhikers, you might ask. Well, it sometimes happens that when live rock, corals or plants are added into the fish tank, there are some extra creatures living in the hollows, or eggs attached to leaves.

These hitchhikers to your marine fish tank are not just going to add to the number of organisms in your tank’s ecosystem, they also have the potential to cause real and serious issues. Some might cause damage to your corals, while some might simply overwhelm you by overproducing. There are even some species that can just make your fish their source of food and you definitely wouldn’t want that.

Here are some common hitchhikers:

Shrimps

- Asterina Starfish breed like crazy, and within a short space of time they can completely overrun your tank. Some small groups of this starfish will also eat corals. Asterina starfish can be controlled by adding Harlequin Shrimps to the aquarium. These unusual looking little shrimps feed on starfish. Once your tank is clear though, you will either need to purchase starfish to feed to them, or pass them on to another tank owner that is experiencing an Asterina outbreak as they only feed on starfish. You can usually find several people willing to take one from you through aquatics stores or online fishkeeping groups.

- Bristleworms can vary in size from under an inch to at least 2 feet long. Again, they can experience population explosions. You should be careful not to touch them with your bare hands as the bristles can get stuck in your skin, larger ones can also bite. In some rarer cases, larger Bristleworms can also be predatory and prey on other tank inhabitants. Arrow Crabs and Coral Banded Shrimp have been reported to eat Bristleworms. You can also opt for Bristleworm traps or create your own by adding bait such as a piece of shrimp to a rock with a hollow, leaving it overnight and then removing it in the morning along with (hopefully) the Bristleworm.

- Aiptasia Anemone are not generally welcomed in an aquarium as they can quickly multiply and overwhelm your system. They also have a powerful sting which can kill corals and clams in the tank. You can either control them chemically, or if you prefer biologically through the introduction of Aiptasia eating fish and inverts. Examples of these are Butterflyfish, Peppermint Shrimps and certain Nudibranch.- Flat Worms or Planaria, are another rapid over-populator. They can reach such levels that they cover corals, blocking the light and damaging or even killing them. To control a Flat Worm outbreak, you can add Blue Velvet Nudibranch or fish such as Wrasse. If you’re purchasing a blue velvet nudibranch, you will need to ensure that you monitor the pest level as they only feed on flat worms, so you will need to find a new, suitable home for it once your tank is clear.

We are Aquacadabra and we offer fish keeping with a little touch of magic. As the UK’s leading online aquatic retailer, you can expect no less than the best and latest products for coldwater, tropical, and marine fish. Our various products come from suppliers who are fully experienced and have been in the industry for years.

You can rely on us for information regarding things like the hitchhikers mentioned above. Please feel free to contact us on 01322 520 989 if you have any aquatics related questions, or you can visit our Kent based shop. You can also buy directly from us through our online store.