FAQs on Identifying Aiptasia Anemones
Aiptasia ID 1, Aiptasia ID 2,
Aiptasia ID 5, Aiptasia ID 6, & Cnidarian Identification, Anemone
Anemones in General, Eradication by: Berghia Nudibranchs, Peppermint
Impressions of Methods to Eliminate Pest Anemones by Steven
Pro, Aquarium Culture of the Aeolid
nudibranch Berghia, Predator on the nuisance anemone
Aiptasia By Anthony Calfo, Anemones, Cnidarians
New Print and
eBook on Amazon:
Doing what it takes to keep Anemones healthy long-term
by Robert (Bob) Fenner
Long time reader, first-time question asker here!
<Come on down!>
I have had my 16-gallon aquarium going for about 9 months and I
came across these tentacled creatures today. It would seem that I
had a few aiptasia anemones in my tank, but I am hoping they
might be something different.
<Mmm, no... are Glass Anemones of one sort or
The peppermint shrimp in the tank got rid of the anemones that
came with my live rock soon after the shrimps were introduced.
The tentacles on these animals seem to be attached to a hard base
zigzag-edged shape. Any thoughts?
<I need to buy a better brand of instant coffee... or get a
roomie that likes drip... or... maybe a better deal on Diet
Coke... but then again...
"& the linked files above">
<Velkommen! Bob Fenner>
Aiptasia? Please Help 4/20/09
I am sending a picture, it is not very clear. Can anyone tell me
what these things are, and what I can do to get rid of it. I was
told Berghia Nudibranchs would help.
<Not aiptasia, picture a little blurry, but they appear to be
fan worms, Bispira. I call them cluster dusters, and are safe, no
need to get rid of them, desirable. James (Salty Dog)>
After discovering this anemone in my tank I read everything on
your website about aiptasia. It does look a lot like how you
describe it and it looks like some of the pictures of aiptasia on
your website. I just want to be totally sure it is your
"least favorite anemone" before I have to get rid of it
using Stop Aiptasia from Chem-Marin. Thank you
for your help identifying this anemone.
< Looks like one to me as well.
Please remember to use any chemicals in moderation.....Adam
Aiptasia? Please Tell Me It Isn't So! --
I hope everyone there is having a great weekend so far.
<<Can only speak for myself but yes, not so bad>>
I absolutely love WWM and have found it extremely helpful.
<<Ahh'¦is redeeming to know>>
I was looking in my tank tonight and noticed these creatures. The
first thing that popped into my head was ahhh no is this the
<<Hmm'¦looking at the picture, I'm not
I just started my tank about 5 weeks or so ago and have been
working on getting the stuff together slowly. I only have around
20 lbs. of live rock that I purchased from my LFS. There are
around 5 or 6 of these on the rock so far. I looked at as many
pictures as I could in the archives and in books. From what I
have seen there are tons of different aiptasia "types"
and couldn't find the exact picture of mine.
<<The photo provided is not really close enough or sharp
enough for me to tell for sure. These 'could' be Aiptasia
but I don't think so. They could also be Anemonia Majano, or
a Hydroid; which some folks consider to be a worse scourge than
Aiptasia (try some keyword searches on those names and see what
you think). But to me, these polyps look to be Scleractinian
rather than Actinarian (hard corals vs. anemones/similar animals)
as it appears there is a 'skeletal structure' surrounding
each (or maybe it's just the photo). I'll ask Bob to
comment re if he sees this>>
<Mmm, is a Scleractinian... perhaps solitary Caryophylliid...
I'd leave alone.RMF>
I was sort of hoping it would be something else like possibly
some sort of worm?
<<Not a worm'¦but quite possibly a
I fear I am wrong though and wanted an expert opinion.
<<I can't be sure without a better resolved close-up
I thought I had taken precautions against these pests.
<<These may not be the 'pest' you
fear'¦though it is essentially impossible to keep
Aiptasia from eventually showing up in a system, in my opinion.
Best to be vigilant'¦and to have a plan>>
I have 3 peppermint shrimp, and some red legged hermits,
apparently mine don't eat these so hopefully it will be
<<I have always found such 'biological controls'
for Aiptasia to be unreliable and of little use. For
Aiptasia/pest anemone control I very much recommend the use of
Red Sea's Aiptasia-X>>
I have read emerald crabs eat these too.
<<Not in my experience>>
Maybe I'll be buying one of those?
<<The money will be better spent on the
I planned on changing my CC substrate to a DSB in the morning but
now am unsure of what to do. I read a lot of posts where people
get these epidemics and can't seem to get rid of them.
<<Based on the photo, you hardly have an
Should I remove the rock and let everything die off and never buy
rock from this LFS again?
<<Mmm, no'¦a bit drastic and unnecessary in my
Please tell me it isn't aiptasia.
<<Can't say for sure. Get a bottle of the Aiptasia-X
and if they continue to spread or if it just makes you feel
better, you can get rid of them. Otherwise, I would be inclined
to watch/enjoy them for a while and see what develops>>
Thank you very much for your time and help.
I don't have any friends in this hobby yet and don't
trust the guys at my LFS after selling me the CC substrate and
now this ugh.
<<The local fish stores (or anyone for that matter)
don't always have all the right answers or provide the
'best' advice'¦and don't forget they also
need to make a buck. Some stores are certainly better than
others, but regardless of which is available to you; do your
research ahead of time and learn to rely upon yourself and your
own good judgment>>
| Caryophylliids. B
Aiptasia on my purchased coral frag? --
03/07/09 Good evening, <And you, now Sat. AM> I
bought some Fiji LR for my tank a few months back. Over time,
I've been spotting what is /obviously/ Aiptasia. <Mmmm>
They're white'ish, opaque, with jelly-looking clear
tentacles, pop up like weeds randomly, never larger than the head
of a thumbtack. Once in a while I get a brown-hued one. I
lemon-juice them and they never come out of the same hole again
(hurray!) but a new one will pop up from time to time somewhere
else. <There are better chemical remedies than citrus... My
current fave: AiptasiaX by Red Sea> I have a Coral Banded
Shrimp, or I'd have already assaulted the aiptasia with a
couple peppermint shrimp. If (when) I upgrade and purchase a
larger tank, I think the CBS will stay in the current tank, and
some peppermints will be hired for control duty in the main
display. <Okay> ... anyway ... I purchased a nice looking
Dendrophyllia recently (my first official coral - and its fun to
watch it eat when I feed him). I noticed, though, when I got it
home, that there was a funny grey polyp-looking thing on the base
of the rock my Dendro was attached to. I thought maybe I got a
freebie hitchhiker coral of some kind. I directed a little
current at it with a turkey-baster, and it retreated into a
lil' ball, looking like a grey-tinted plastic trash bag.
("Hefty! Hefty! Hefty!") <Heee! We're
indoctrinated... okay, brain-washed> Since then, though,
I've seen it actually walk AROUND the base of the rock it is
attached to, but never setting foot on the sand. Totally not a
coral ... obviously an anemone? <Mmm, yes...> Because it is
unattractive and grey could it be a "large" and
different species of aiptasia I haven't come in contact with
on my Fiji LR? <Possibly> Should I eradicate the lil guy?
<I would not... just in case this is something you might well
consider valuable later...> I'd rather not kill it if it
/isn't/ aiptasia, obviously, but I don't want it killing
my Dendro (which has seemed pouty the last couple days and
refused to come out - but I blamed it on my fish knocking the
rock over and covering it in sand) or causing an explosion of
evil bigger aiptasia in my tank. <This would do it> This
thing is maybe dime-sized when fully expanded, and it seems to
LOVE poofing out and expanding. I'm attaching cruddy pictures
taken with my camera-phone. I'd love to get you better ones,
but my friend's digital camera gets drown out by the T5s, and
my own is so old it doesn't focus through glass. lol To kill
... or not to kill ... ~J.
<Not in my opinion. Bob Fenner>
Horrible Aiptasia outbreak... summat else likely
2/22/09 Hello crew. Let me start by saying I have been using
your site for 4 years now. I have also recently purchased one of your
books. I truly believe what you are doing is a great service to all
marine hobbyists. Now on to the problem. I recently set up my first
reef tank. 90 gallons with 150lbs of live rock. The tank is thriving
all levels at zero. Calcium and alkalinity are balanced and being
maintained. One of the rocks that I purchased from my LFS had some
yellow button polyps on it which drew me to purchase it. After adding
the rock to my tank i noticed some brown aiptasia growing all around
the button polyps. Trying to be proactive I took the rock out of my
display and split off the part of the rock that had aiptasia. i saved
the button poly portion of the rock and put it back into my display.
This is when the problem started. Days after dividing the rock I saw
one clear glass anemone on the side of my tank. <Oooh> Because it
was only one i choose not to cause a stir, and gave it a few more days.
Days later they were about 25 of these pin sized clearish white glass
anemone. I then began doing all my research and found out that this was
indeed glass anemone. During this time i did one water change and
decided to clean the front glass. At this point there were only maybe
25 -30 of these small creatures. After the water change a week went by
and literally hundreds more popped up. My entire front glass in covered
with them not to mention the back and sides. <Mmm... might be summat
else> They are very small and not noticeable until you get up close
to the glass. The first one is larger that all the rest and growing.
OK.....so i introduced 2 Berghia Nudibranch. I continue seeing them on
just one rock in the tank then disappearing for days. My questions are
with so many anemones on the glass how will i get rid of them all?
<Don't know that these are Aiptasia... could you send a
well-resolved pic?> The Nudibranch have been in the tank for about 2
weeks and i have yet to see them on the glass where the majority of the
problem is. Should i be worried about this? <Worried? No...>
Should I just wait for them to make there way? <I wouldn't,
no> I would like to introduce peppermint shrimp, however I do not
for see them eating anemone off the glass. <They can
"swim" if interested...> I have 5 LPS and a cleaner crew
with emeralds, red legs, and blue banded crabs. NO fish yet as this
tank has only been up for 2 months. What do you think is my best bet?
<The image...> I can not clean the glass anymore. I have already
read Bob Fenner's article on them. What should I do? Please help?
<I'll gladly take a look at that photo now... At the very worst,
you might be self-compelled to remove your desired livestock, bleach
the system, go the "do-over" route... But let's see the
close up pic. Bob Fenner>
Aiptasia On Decorator Crab? 1/27/09 <Hello
Danny> Attached are two pictures of an anemone located on the
head of my decorator crab. After researching WWM I am still
having trouble determining if this is aiptasia. The mouth of this
anemone is pink and the pattern on the "disc" part of
the anemone resembles that of those pictured on the website, but
seems to have some differences. The outer white ring is segmented
by the same dark brown color as the next ring, inward. Also, the
base of this anemone is nearly as wide as the "disc"
part, in the pictures I've seen as far as I could tell the
bases were skinnier. Is this decorator crab's
"Mohawk" really just a glass anemone? <Your pictures
do not provide enough detail to ID. The first pic, (47KB) is much
too small and after zooming in provides little to go on. The
second pic, a little better (101KB) isn't clear enough. In
fact, I really couldn't detect an anemone. The anemone on the
crab could be most any, as decorator crabs are opportunistic as
far as what they place on them. They are known to place sponges,
algae, Zoanthid polyps, soft corals, etc. When sending pics, it
is best to downsize to 200-300KB and send clear/detailed
pics.> Thanks for your time, <You're welcome. James
Another question on Aiptasia 9/13/08 Howdy,
Like many others I have spent quite a bit of time on your website
trying to figure out if the new critters in my tank are aiptasia,
or just cool hitch hikers. <Mmm, both apparently> I have
attached a couple of pix of the critters, what are they? The full
size images, and a couple of others, can be found at
(Taking pictures of the little critters is no easy task)
<Glass anemones> Our tank is about 6 months old. It is
30gal with Tunze Nano Reef Pack skimmer and Nano Stream 6055 and
controller, 70 Watt Metal Halide. We have some 'Shrooms,
torch, bubble, clove, and Zoanthus corals. <Mmm, these are not
all corals...> We also have a cleaner shrimp, serpent star,
goby and mated tiger pistol shrimp (this is our favorite part of
the tank), and a bangi cardinal. Ammonia - 0ppm Nitrite - 0ppm
Nitrate - ~8 to 12 ppm Salinity - 1.024 pH - 8.0 - 8.2 dKH - 8
Temp ~76 I do weekly water changes of 15 to 20 percent. We feed
Arcti-pods and DTs plankton every 3rd day. So far our critters
are only on the one rock and the oyster. The rock they are on is
one of our base rocks and we cannot remove it from the tank for
treatments. I do not like using chemicals in my tanks. <Mmm,
this universe is only made out of such, energy and space>
Since I will never be rid of them I am going to try and control
the nutrient levels. <Mmm, do look into Red Sea's new
product for... Aiptasia X... really does work> I have been
doing freshwater tanks for about 5 years. I currently have a
planted 90g tank. We started our SW tank 6 months ago, this is
amazing!! <Ahh!> Once we become successful with the small
SW we plan on moving to a 185 to 215g SW tank. We will turn our
formal living room into a fish room. <Yeeikes! You've got
the bug!> Thanks for your help and wonderful website. -
William P.S. Here is a link to some additional pictures of our
tanks. http://william1034.smugmug.com/Aquariums <Thank you for
sharing. Bob Fenner>
|Glass anemone? Aiptasia? 07/02/08 hi - just
wondering if you thought this was aiptasia? <It looks like it to
me.> I know the angle is tough but I could take another photo if
need be... http://spial.org/photos/20080701-3.jpg So far I only
have this "one" anemone in the tank that I can find. I
have a peppermint shrimp in my 29 gallon tank - perhaps that one
little shrimp (I got a small shrimp under the guise it might live
longer than one that is big and halfway through its life) is taking
care of new anemones and they never get off the ground. <The
Aiptasia will thrive, I assure you! ;-)> For a 29 gallon tank
would 1 shrimp suffice? <For killing the Aiptasia, I would not
rely on the shrimp. Do try to kill it yourself (with Kalk paste or
lemon juice or whatever works). Please see:
I'd rather not have the shrimp eating up my corals.
<unlikely> I have 5 tiny blue legged hermit crabs and 1 red
legged hermit crab. My tank is roughly 2 months old - my refugium
has a very healthy crop of Chaetomorpha (tripled in size in 1
month) - there's some fine hairs of algae clinging to the back
glass of the tank but mostly just single strands about an inch
long. I'm hoping that the Chaetomorpha will starve out the
algae over time. I have no fish and the only thing that goes into
the tank is water. I have considered trying to find some Berghia
but the perils of shipping these things during the hot summer
months <not worth it for just a few Aiptasia> makes me think
twice - but living in Boston the cold winters probably aren't
so great for them either. Do you think I should pursue Berghia or
just let the peppermint shrimp patrol the waters and get Berghia if
I suffer an outbreak of aiptasia? <If you just have this one (or
possible a couple/few) of these things, I would first try simply
killing them yourself before resorting to more drastic
A very nice pic. RMF
Re: LPS or Aptasia??
5/16/08 I will be adding new pictures every few days if you
want to keep on eye on things, Monday will probably be my next batch
after today's. I have seriously busy weekends Bridget
http://www.drekster.com/myrescues/whatamI.htm <Ok, thanks. I do
think it's Aiptasia or some other type of "pest"
anemone.. -Sara M.>
An adequate test for aiptasia? ID 4/7/08 hi crew,
<<Hello, Andrew today>> thanks for such a wonderful site.
<<Thanks for the kind comments>> I just have a quick
question regarding some new developments in my tank. I noticed the
other day that there were a few small polyps starting to grow on a rock
that is about as inaccessible as possible. It is almost impossible to
get a picture of them, but they are small brownish polyps that look
quite a bit like baby palys or maybe zoas. they could also look like
some baby rock anemones... <<Sounds feasible>> I can't
get a really close look without tearing apart my rock work, so I came
up with a little test that i just wanted to run by you guys.
<<Ahhhhh...here comes the science part...he he he>> To make
a long story short, I kind of poked one of them with the end of a
chopstick (the only thing I had that would fit in between the rocks) to
see what they would do. <<Ok>> The theory here is that rock
anemones will retreat into a crevice in a rock, and zoas or palys will
just curl up the skirt, but the stalk will not retract into a hole.
Anyway, the mystery polyp in question curled up its skirt, rather than
retreat into a rock, indicating that is most likely is not a pest
anemone (at least according to my highly unscientific test). <<I
would agree>> In you opinion is this sufficient, or should i pull
apart the rock work to get a closer look? <<Personally, i would
prefer to have a better look, and do confer with our online
photo's, linked articles and FAQ's here
>> thanks again, Jon <<Thanks for the questions, hope this
helps. A Nixon>.
Uh-Oh! Is this Aiptasia? 2/22/08 Hi Bob and
Crew. <<G'Morning, Andrew here>> I was wondering
if you might be able to tell me whether or not this is aiptasia?
I couldn't get a very good picture because it is so small -
about 3/4 inch total. There is only one that I can see. It is to
the right of the little polyp rock. I have had this live rock for
almost a year now - and this thing has just shown up now. I'd
like to make sure it is aiptasia because I do not want to harm it
if it is not a problem. <<Yes, that is an aiptasia you have
there. Suggest removal. Please review here in the links articles
and FAQ's for more information.
>> Thanks so much for everything you guys do here! We need
you! <<Thanks for the questions. A Nixon>>