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Red Bugs - Inevitable?

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NaH2O

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There has been a lot of discussion on other boards about the Red Acro Bugs. So much discussion, in fact, that my brain is on overload. Between all the tried dips and subsequent treatments, should we resign to the fact that these teeny tiny bugs will inevitably be in our systems? They are so small, in fact, they are almost impossible to see with the naked eye. If a reefer is unaware of them on an Acropora sp. colony, and then trades frags with someone else, the new reefer would then have them in his system (provided no treatment or QT). With all the frag trades taking place in the hobby (which is great!), are these bugs certain to be on our Acros in the future? Should we learn to love the red bug?

In the information I have read, it seems that some people note issues with bugs on their Acros, and other people don’t have any problems. I also read that there may be 2 types of bug, but I don’t have any scientific evidence to note this. Eric Borneman had experimented with different strength dips, as well as hobbyists, but seems that sometimes the dips worked and sometimes they did not. He also experimented on a life cycle, and noted the bugs don’t survive without a host for around 5 days. (Granted, none of these experiments have been officially documented that I know of). Dustin Dorton had noted tanks Acropora sp. free for a couple of months become bug free.

What do you think? If it hasn’t been proven what these guys are actually doing on the coral, then should we really worry about them? Also, long term effects from the Interceptor treatment have not been noted, so is it wise to dump this drug into an established system? Is it possible that the red bug will eventually be comparable to the bristleworm? The bristleworm was once thought to be harmful to a system...killing off inhabitants, when they are simply cleaning up organisms that have already parished, or cleaning up detritus (granted there are exceptions, but I’m speaking on a general basis).

Here is a good link to microscopic images of the bug: Red Bugs

This is an article written by Greg Hiller, which I had the opportunity to listen to him speak at MACNA’s coral prop workshop, with mention of Red Bugs: An Aquarist’s Experiences with a Species of Acropora Parasites

For those interested in the current treatment method, here is a link: The "Cure" for Red Acro Bugs

Below is an image of red bugs I took on an Acropora spp. frag. You can see how tiny these guys are, as the photo is obviously zoomed in:

 

CarlaW

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Nikki, you raise a good point. Aside from losing the color on frags and colonies that have red bugs, what are the long term affects from having these in our systems??
The Interceptor treatment kills snails and crabs, from what I understand. For those of us that have large systems, this can be quite the expense. You are right in saying that no one has really checked out the long term problems that the treatment can have on our systems.
I don't really think that having ,"the bugs", is as detrimental to our systems as having, say, flatworms! When you treat a tank for flatworm you are risking everything. Is it the same with the red bug treatment? I myself am not a big fan of dumping something, (Interceptor), into my system that could possibly have some real bad long term effects.
I have a couple of frags that seem to have the red bugs on them, but when I inspect other frags, (with a microscope), there is no evidence of the bugs on them. I don't know, do the bugs favor certain types of colonies or species?
Interesting thread, I'll stick around and see what everybody else has to say.
 

NaH2O

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Charlie, the understanding I have on the effects of Interceptor treatment, are killing of crabs (acro, hermit, etc.), shrimp, and pods. As far as, favoring one type of Acro over another - I believe all are susceptible, however, some species like the Slimer, and mille.....hobbyists haven't found the bugs on these when there are infestations on neighboring corals.

Do you think someone with Red Bugs in their system, should share this fact when trading frags with another hobbyist? That way the person receiving the frag can make a decision, and not blame the other person for the introduction of bugs?
 

CarlaW

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Yes, I think that if you are trading frags with somebody, you should at least have the courtesy to tell them if there are any problems. It would be like giving a frag to somebody with aiptasia on it and not saying anything. You know darn well that somebody is gonna get PO'd if nothing is said, so better safe than sorry. It's only being honest, isn't it?
 

reedman

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The thing that sticks with me on this is that the "experts" are still looking into weather these bugs are all the same species, what their natural control in nature is, and what their impact on the coral are. Meantime people are putting a dog heartworm medication into their tanks (some not even measuring it accurately) then getting upset when there crabs and shrimp die. On the same note as Charlie, who knows what the long term effects are of this treatment? ORA has treated their tanks to rid the bugs. Will these corals be altered in some way by teh treatment? I don't know.

This is a very tough topic because not much is known. If there is one thing I have learned in this hobby, it's that if you don't know what the impact of what you are doing is, it will probably have bad long term ramifications. I don't mean to sound down on Dustin's work. He did a great job finding this "cure". But if you read up on it he found intercepter almost by accident (not exactly scientific).

I'm not fully conviced these bugs are as big a worry as some think. They may cause reduced polyp extension (we know that this is caused by many other things as well), and loss of coloration (also casued by many other factors). I think over time the full understanding of these creatures will come to fruition, but until then I wouldn't drop a dog medication into my reef tank to fix a percieved problem.

Good topic Nikki. I hope we can get some real discussion on these and move toward an understanding of what they do ,not just how to kill them.
 

CarlaW

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Good points Reed!!!
There has got to be someone on this board that has had or is now dealing with red bugs. I hope that they might respond. I think that Ed said that there was someone in Tri- Cities that dealt with this. HELLOOOOOOOOO ED!!! :D
 

Illusion

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Ok to start Off with I had the bugs for some time.. I got them for the LFS here in my area... I was a bit upset as I did not have them prior.. This was shortly after Dustin posted the treatment information.. I to was very skeptical of putting Heartworm medication in my tank as well... I pondered over the thought for several months and kinda waited around to see what went on with mass people using it... I read several locals around using the treatment Such as S. Weast and a few others... I then decided that It was time for me to give it a go... I have always had a 100x magnifying glass to eyeball things.. Before treating i dipped the corals occasionally in Seachems Reef Dip at double dose for 5-10mins... Was effective in removing any bugs that I could see... I did not dip them all at the same time or anything as it was just to keep the bugs in check... I finally decided to treat and Followed the Directions as close as I could but did not weigh it out exactly either... I figured I had 70g total water so I treated using 1/4 tablet ea time... Worked Great... First treatment Shrimp survived... Acro crabs died as well as the acro bugs... SEcond treatment shrimp still survived and still no Acro bugs to be seen... I stopped at 2 treatments... I ended up getting a new frag from a local reefer that somehow the bugs slipped back into his system and noticed it a few days after placing the frag into my system... Since the previous treatment I added a prop tank and ended up with about 100g total water... So I figured 1/3rd of the tablet.. WEll breaking it in thirds was a bit harder than I though So I ended up probably over treating... Killed my fire shrimp and forgot about my hermits as well.. Its been about 2 months since this and I have yet to see any bugs in my system at all... If anything the Corals in the tank went thru a major growth spurt and are coloring up better than ever... IMO I thank Dustin for the work he has done in finding the treatment as Its very Effective... I also look at it this way.. Since about 5yrs ago most medications that are being used on animals are safe to the environment and Its safe for the Dogs as well... I realize dogs and corals/fish are 2 different speccies but What goes in a dog in some form will come back out... So in effect Its got the same probabillity to end up in our water supply anyways... Now all these other people using banned Insecticides and other poisons are just asking for problems long term... There was a recent study about the Willamette River around here and they found low amounts of Codine and other sedatives in the water and concluded that there was such a low dosage it would not do any harm to anything... There is worse in the waters than the interceptor that some of us are putting into the tanks..

Its been almost a year now since Dustin publically released the treatment... Most of us that have used the treatment have done enough water changes and ran carbon that the drug is very unlikely to even be in the system anymore... With its minimal exposure to the corals and fish I doubt it would be any worse than a Fish swimming thru an area where some Kid just urinated in the water... It might have temporary effects but look at all the drugs/pollution we are being exposed to every day... Its impossible to avoid it... And with the EPA banning anything that might do harm such as aresols, Freon ect I feel interceptor has a low risk compared to whats floating out there in the area

My .02 cents
James
 

reedman

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Great points James! I'm glad to hear it worked for you. Dustin did a fantastic job documenting what he did to treat and I take nothing away from him there. I'd like to hear someone like Anthony Calfo or Randy Holmes-Farley say that this is the prefered treatment for red bugs...or even say that they are really harmful to corals. So far all I've heard is that they are an irritant (like a knat to a human).

Let's keep this going with more people that have experience with the bugs. I think Nikki is right in that if we are trading corals we will almost assuredly be exposed to these at some point.

The hindsight solution is to QT everything going into your tank. I can't/choose not to do this, so I am very interested to hear what others have to say.
 

Illusion

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What I would suggest that has been working out for several others is to just Dip the coral in Interceptor mix for 6hrs as if your were treating the tank... rinse in fresh ASW and place into the tank... Its not a 100% promise tha tou will get everything but IMO from personally using the stuff I see it as a very effective solution to the bugs..

James
 

CarlaW

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James, thanx for the input. When you say dip the new addition for 6 hours prior to introduction, do you aerate the dip solution? What is the dosage that you use?
 

Illusion

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Me I just guess with the dosage and try to match it as close to what dustin Recommends... Its never really bothered anything being this close... Yeah Aerate the solution just as you would in a mini tank.. Me personally I use a 5.5 gal tank and use 5g of the tank water... And just break off a crumb of interceptor.. I pull out the frag and check with the mag glass to make sure al the bugs are gone... I also ocassionally blow off the frag with a turkey baster to remove any bugs that may be hanging on with dear life LOL..

James
 

NaH2O

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James - I am glad to hear the treatment worked well for you. I think it's great that there is at least one method to treat a tank that seems to work. What concerns me about residual effects of the Interceptor, is we (maybe it is just me) don't know if this stuff binds with rock or sand in the tanks and have long term ramifications. I suppose people would already be reporting issues by now. The question is....perhaps these bugs aren't really doing anything. It could be the bugs are merely irritants, as stated prior. The red bugs certainly have me setting up a quarantine tank to house newly acquired corals in, and for treatment, if necessary. I just don't want to dump a prescribed medicine (you can't get interceptor anywhere except a licensed veterinarian) in my main tank without a full understanding of what the long term effects are, or why I'm even killing these guys.

The one thing that surprised me about the Interceptor treatment, is the measuring of the dosage. To me, the information requires pretty accurate measurements, yet the volume of water is an estimate (although some hobbyists may know the exact volume of their systems).

I do think if someone has redbugs, then they should share that info with fellow hobbyists when trading. Especially, if you have been through the treatment, then you probably don't ever want them again. The tough part is someone that doesn't have a clue what these are, and they are trading away. This is why I feel red bugs are an inevitablity to the hobby. Local fish stores, also are highly at risk. The local reefers bring in frags for credit, and now the store is full of red bugs, and selling frags.....another reason I see this as spreading these guys.

Good discussion guys!
 

Illusion

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WEll I know one of the LFs around here has them for sure... Its inevitable to avoid getting them all together... Its kinda like buying fish.. Ich is extremely common and It seems this year Velvet is getting more common... I htink if one were serious about not having them they would QT the specimen and either treat seperately with interceptor or another method (Iodine) for 4 weeks just as fish and call it good... With the LFS they are always going to have them and distribute them... I consider anything from the LFS to have them as they are getting weekly shipments as well as trading with other local Reefers... For them to treat it would be very costly and Time consuming... So in a lfs standpoint Why treat and dip 100's of corals a month when Liek you said Niklki we really dont see anything damaging by the bugs more of just a pest.. As from other reefers they should be responsible to either let others know if they have them or not... But as a responsibility to our corals we should still be atleast dipping them in Iodine or something... I really have no problem retreating my tank again if I get infested as during the entire treatment time nothing and I mean nothing looked any different... The shrimp and crabs which we already know about looked pretty dazed and confused but that was it... I have 5 cleaners in my tank now and I will not tank any chances on reintorducing the bugs back into the tank... What really convinced me to treat my tank is If ORA as well as Weast and others who have several thousand if not in the 10s of thousands of dollars worth of livestock is going to treat their tank and trust it Why should I not trust the meds with mine..

James
 

CarlaW

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Just a question, if ORA and S. Weast are treating their tanks, why wouldn't the LFS treat theirs, or at least "Q" their corals. It would seem to me that if the store has a decent rep, they would want to keep that rep. That to me, would be the most responsible thing to do! JMHO :D
 

Illusion

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well Most of the Online retailers have taken the precautions and are treating... However some places are in the standpoint such as one of my LFS here where they state they dont have them Swear up and down they dont have them even though they are in proportions that you can physically watch them running all over their acros in the frag tanks... Most of us locals know not to either buy from them or treat before putting them in our tanks... I think most of us here in Oregon have or is in the process of treating... Some LFS my my example above is too busy and have their noses way up in the air to give a rats ass about anything but money... It they aint going broke then why make a change... If people are still buying them infested or not why pay the few hundred or whatever to make our lives easier... They do get really good livestock in however they are there for the money not the hobby... Where as most of the online stores are hobbiests trying to support their habbit and actually care about others... Bottom line if you got what someone wants they will buy it weather or not it has the bugs... I have seen it time and time again in this area... Some of the LFS here can be the most ungrateful $#@ aorund and treat the customers like $#@# but most will go back just becuase they are closer and have nice corals and more exotic Fish... Even as bad as I hate that LFS due to sheer rudeness ect I still ocassionally go in there if I am close and look... Sometimes buying something most of the time not... Bottom line msot of the LFS are their for the money and why pay to treat when Us as customers if we cared would be QT or dipping them Either way...

James
 

CarlaW

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Well, now that you put it that way............... You are absolutly right!! I won't even go into my LFS. For one, he wouldn't know a red bug from a termite, and two, he's just a jerk. One of my buddies had to show him how to frag a sps. It is really to bad that they are that way :( . I guess it runs back to the old, money talks, BS walks huh?
What is good tho, is that WE, are trying to get things right. I think as we all know, frags are the only way that we can keep this hobby goin as we know it. If we can make a cleaner environment for our stuff, the better off we are gonna be.
 

NaH2O

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I suppose for some stores, the cost of treatment would raise prices considerably, and then corals may not sell. I can see that side of it, not to mention the cost of a store employee looking over every coral that is traded in, or putting in QT (some facilities may not have the room). Then, you get back to the same issue.....no one knows what these bugs are doing, so why should we (LFS) go through all the treatment, water changes, etc. in order to kill something that is an unknown? Move onto the hobbyist.....uninformed buys from the infested LFS, doesn't QT or do any preventative, infects the tank, and subsequently passes the bugs on. Cycle continues. I believe Greg Hiller noted in a thread somewhere that at MACNA last year he saw many corals with bugs, but this year he didn't notice very many (I think he said 1). So, it could be a downward turn in infected corals, but some hobbyists are just becoming aware of the problem (if it is a problem).

James, I know you were part of a thread that contained this information, but I wonder what others think of this. It is from Reef Farmers, and this is a Guarantee:

ReefFarmers.com guarantees that all stony corals are free of the following parasites and predators: Montipora eating Nudibranchs; Acropora eating Flatworms; and Acropora Red Bugs. During the months of June and July in 2004, Reeffarmers.com treated all of its systems with the Interceptor drug that kills the Acropora Red Bugs. We did three treatments on each tank and have completely eliminated the Acropora Red Bugs. At that time we only had a mild infestation due to a couple of corals that came from a local reeffarmer. We now guarantee, as of July 11th 2004, that all Reeffarmers Stony Corals are 100 % free of the Acropora Red Bugs. We have setup a captive quarantine system and all new captive grown corals we recieve from farmers will get a two week, triple treatment of the Interceptor Drug. No captive grown stony corals that we distribute will be sent out without getting a complete Interceptor Drug Treatment. Additionally, one of our systems is setup to hold imported corals. These imported corals are being examined as possible new Limited Edition corals and future Captive Farmed Corals. This entire import holding system will get a 2 week, triple treatment of the interceptor drug every time new imported corals are placed within this import holding system. So if you buy a stony coral from Reeffarmers.com, as of July 11th 2004, you are guaranteed that these corals will not have the Acropora Red Bugs. Thats a 100 % money back guarantee. Additionally, the systems we have at Reeffarmers.com have never had the Montipora eating Nudibranchs or the Acropora eating Flatworms. Reeffarmers.com guarantees that our stony corals will not have these two predators. Thats a 100 % money back guarantee.
 

Curtswearing

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There's still so much unknown about red bugs. Do they really harm corals? Maybe they are always there and the same set of conditions that allows them to reproduce substantially is also harmful to the corals. Maybe high nutrients or low alkalinity or any number of things. This might not even be a new thing...they are so small that maybe we've all had them for years but we are just aware of them now.
 

CarlaW

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I think that Reeffarmers is a company that "gets it". If they can guarantee a quality coral shipped to my door, more power to them. I will pay for the extra insurance, just in case these little guys are the worst thing since the common cold. :D
 
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