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A Warning about Red Bugs

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Macbeth417

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Oct 18, 2003
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Hey folks,

After having red bugs appear in my tank in the last few months, I have taken great interest in checking coral before I purchase them and have found redbugs on frags at two different stores locally. Today I quietly brought it to the attention of one of these store's employees, but they didn't seem to know what they were, nor did they seem care even after I pointed them out on one of their frags. I am not going to mention the names of either establishment because I do not wish to harm their business in any way. However, I must stress that people check frags thoroughly before they purchase them and if possible, dip them in interceptor before adding them to thier tanks.
I have come across three sources of these bugs in less than two months. The problem is two-fold in that the bugs are so small and that most people never realize they are present and secondly, because they are non-lethal. The bugs are smaller than a grain of pepper and appear as a small reddish-black specks (to the naked eye) on the coral. Chances are once you spot one on a coral you will be able to make out more. In most cases I have noticed a reduced if not total loss of polyps extension, browning and loss/reduction of growth.
If you find you have them you can treat them with interceptor as described by Dustin of ORA. http://www.reefs.org/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?p=439155#439155

Please be on the lookout for these bugs. It is much larger problem than most people realize and chances are many of you have them and do not yet realize it.

If you have any questions or want to hash this over in private feel free to pm me.

-Erik
 

Elmo18

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I do have them also, on one acropora frag. I have been looking closely at my corals, and I haven't witnessed any other bugs on them. They do not seem to like slimers, milles, but we just would really never know...

Will treat soon......

Look hard...and you may find out you too have them ;)

- Elmo
 

big t

tankless
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Oct 21, 2003
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Ack! Red bugs! I am going to get rid of mine when I get back. I am already working getting some of the intecepter from a horse vet friend.
 

reedman

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Can't say I'm surprised Erik. The red bugs are everywhere. I think most people have or have had them recently and they are spreading quickly through frag swapping and coral purchases without QT. I think you have the right idea if you want a red bug free tank. Check new aquasitions carefully and treat appropriatly. As Anthony suggests, setup a QT so that you can observe your new additions before they introduce something you don't want into the main system.

Good luck to all those that are treating. I won't be trading for a while either since I seem to have picked up the bugs somewhere along the line. I'm going to ride it out without treating since I haven't seen the ill effects that others are seeing and don't want to risk my tank on a dog pill.
 

Macbeth417

Reef Monkey
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Oct 18, 2003
Messages
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Seattle, WA
Reed, for what it is worth I have spoken to many people that have used the Interceptor to treat their tanks as well as monitored threads on RC and RDO where people treating posted their experiences and have yet to hear a horror story. I set up a ten gal tank to put my crabs and shrimp in for a few weeks while I go through the paces of treating. After reading Dustin’s posts and speaking to him a few times about the treatment I am not concerned about the pill. As far as leaving them untreated, they will not go away, though their population does fluctuate, and you WILL see effects in the long run, not death, but certainly not optimal color and growth.

Thanks for the threads Nikki, I have read a great deal on these little bastards and spoken to Dustin a few times about them. All in all I can't wait to get rid of them and will be dipping most of my incoming Acros from now on unless I am certain that the seller has already done so.

Tom, let me know when you get back if you need some as I will have enough for you to treat your tank as well mine and Elmo's.

-Erik
 

reedman

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Macbeth417 said:
As far as leaving them untreated, they will not go away, though their population does fluctuate, and you WILL see effects in the long run, not death, but certainly not optimal color and growth.
Although, I appreciate your comments and opinions on this, I will wait and see. I am not thoroughly conviced of this and I posed the question to Anthony over in the coral forum here and his opinion is that with good husbandry the corals and the tank as a whole can be plenty heathy without treating with the interceptor.

I am just the oddball on this one. I know lots and lots of people have treated per Dustin's recipe and seem to be elated. Maybe I will see the negative impacts eventually. But until then I will enjoy my tank in living color and polyp extension with the bugs.

Good luck to you Erik, Elmo, and Tom. I hope it all turns out well and your tanks look better than ever.
 

Donovan

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Jan 23, 2004
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62
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Everett
Im sorry I don't have any interceptor left Erik.

I used it in my old 240 with no negative effects - well aside from losing most of my hermit crabs.

The corals looked better with better polyp extension literally hours later.
 

mattseattle

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After reading all these threads I decided to look at my acro. Low and behold I saw little red bugs running across it. I recently ordered it from one of our online sponsors so it wasn't done through a trade of a frag or anything. I'll be contacting that sponsor to let them know of my find. Right now I don't think I'm going to treat my tank. It looks a little scarey to me.
 

Donovan

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You are gonna have to Matt - they aren't just going to go away. They probably won't kill anything but you aren't going to have the polyp extension like you should...
 

mattseattle

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Donovan said:
You are gonna have to Matt - they aren't just going to go away. They probably won't kill anything but you aren't going to have the polyp extension like you should...
I know you are right. I'll probably do it after the first of the year when I can dedicate a whole day to doing the treatment as well as doing the water change. I'll also have to find someone with a scale so I can measure out the interceptor. As well as I'll have to find some of the tablets. If anyone has a scale or any extra pills they'd sell, please let me know.
 

reedman

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Here's a little reading for all those that are saying that you HAVE TO TREAT. I'm not saying that they will go away or that they are not harmful, but it is a different view and that's what we are all about her at RF, Right?

From this thread:
http://www.reeffrontiers.com/forums/showthread.php?t=5638

There are more than a few species that garner the name "red bugs"

Most seem to be quite harmless to me. And in cases when they are thought to be harming coral, I think they are more likely a symptom of the real problem (stress, water quality, allelopathy, etc) that is weakening the coral and not the problem itself.

... much like acoel flatworms in tanks with inadequate water flow/higher nutrients.

And like Aiptasia, "Anemonia", Myrionema (hydroids) etc, they are not rampant in the wild but rather exploit conditions in captivity that favor them (just like nuisance algae).

Nobody "gets infected" by someone elses coral, too... we "infect" our own systems by poor or absent QT procedure.
- there are at least several species of "red bug" currently observed in the hobby trade. Some are surely harmless and some are likely harmful
- red bugs are not rampant in healthy ecosystems (wild or aquaria)
- coral suffering/losses are more likely due to a principal stress/problem in the system that also causes the red bugs to flourish... the red bugs themselves are merely a response IMO
-any/all such creatures can easily be seen and screened in Quarantine to prevent them from ever entering the main system or display.
I do feel that once infected they can easily be reduced and managed.

I use the term "infected" loosely too as most of our aquariums have a long list of nasties that are unseen or not dominant that could boom in population if/when conditions are right.

With good aquarium husbandry though... aiptasia simply do not flourish, nuisance algae lingers indefinitely in small patches, etc. Some aquarists understand and appreciate this without getting worries/upset when they see it. Truly so, it all can be controlled easily.

Indeed, I would not use dog tick insecticides in tank full of (desirable) arthropods no more than I'd use an anti-biotic (definition: "against-life") to "cure" cyanobacteria. You will(!) kill far more good things than bad. Its treating the symptom and not the problem too, after all.

I'd recommend increased water flow, aggressive skimming (you can literally skim things as large as acoel flatworms out of the system if they are blasted/kept in suspension long enough... just look at the rust-brown color of your skimmate in infected tanks).

And I would gently manually siphon them off with a concerted, temporary increase in water changes. Say... weekly 25% or greater for a month.

Definitely no need to tear a tank down for any such pest! no worries.
 

NaH2O

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I thought this quote by Anthony says it all:

Nobody "gets infected" by someone elses coral, too... we "infect" our own systems by poor or absent QT procedure.
 

Macbeth417

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Oct 18, 2003
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Seattle, WA
Nikki,

That was the whole intention of this thread to raise people's awareness. I don't particularly care who is going to treat and who is not. That is very much a personal choice. Another reason I did not mention the names of the store is because I would never assume the well being of my tank is anyone's responsibility but my own. Anthony stated that he has never had these particular arthropods in his tank and has no first hand experience with them. I respect his opinion as well as the rest of yours and was simply sharing my experience with you. I didn't mean to spring a debate of fault or treatment, just wanted to raise awareness a bit. You can quarantine for a year, but if you are not aware of the threat, you may still unwittingly introduce it into your tank. I was hoping to eliminate this situation for some of my fellow reefers.

-Erik
 
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NaH2O

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I didn't mean to spring a debate of fault or treatment, just wanted to raise awareness a bit. You can quarantine for a year, but if you are not aware of the threat, you may still unwittingly introduce it into your tank. I was hoping to eliminate this situation for some of my fellow reefers.
IMO, debate is good because it allows people to see both sides then make a decision for themselves. Take a look at the Red Bugs inevitibility thread in the Advanced Topic forum.....the whole reason I started that thread was based on the fact that I don't feel people are aware of these things. Are we inevitibly going to introduce these to our tanks with all the frag swaps going on? I agree, Erik, there needs to be more of an awareness. As with the treatment, that is up to the individual for sure - and again - understanding the hows and whats of it is important....to make an educated choice. There are probably a bunch of stores out there that have these, especially if they are taking in corals from hobbyists (a lot of times with a quick turn over rate) - I don't know if the majority of stores have the means to inspect every frag they take in, let alone justify the cost of treating an entire store (#of pills, water changes, loss of crabs, etc) for an acro bug that we aren't sure of what it does. Discussion is good.....
 

Donovan

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Everett
Yeah you can't blame the stores - they are in the business of bringing in corals and making money - you can't expect them to inspect every frag/colony and treat it.

IMO, they have to be treated. I had them for over a year. Most SPS are immune - but I had REALLY slow growth and little polyp extension on acros like my blue torts. Once I finally got the nerve to do it I realized it was well worth it. I lost a few hermits. I should have just took em out. In reality treating for red bugs is 1% of the effort of dealing with other things like ick or aiptasia.

And to quarantine a coral is easier said than done. Seriously, how many of you have quarantined a coral? Who has a quarantine tank set up with halides, filters, etc, to handle SPS?

If really not sure, set up a small quarantine tank with a single halide, treat a single coral and decide wether you think it is worth it to treat your whole tank.
 

NaH2O

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Donovan - here is a thread I started on Coral Quarantine in Anthony's Forum. MH lighting isn't necessary in a QT situation. IMO, QT is important - I didn't understand how important it was until I kept reading threads and talking with other hobbyists about getting flatworms, red bugs, etc. from trading. Puchasing online is another issue - you can't see the tanks the livestock comes from - the best thing in my mind to do is QT....that way you are fully aware of what goes into the display.
 

Donovan

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Everett
thanks for the link.

I gotta tell ya though when I buy that 100 dollar blue tort I won't be quarantining it without halides for 4 weeks!

This is just another reason why I went to a FO tank. I love reef tanks but man are they hard! I will miss the corals and the clams. I won't miss red bugs, aiptaisia, bryopsis, flatworms, monti eating nudis, etc!
 
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