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|05-09-2008, 1:45 AM||#1|
Hitchhikers guide for reef tanks
I thought I would start this to help with some of the common identification threads out there. I did some searching online and compiled some of the information I found here and among other forums to make it handy for everyone when trying to find an ID on hitchhikers or the unknown critters that sometimes pop up that seem like they belong in the x-files.
I will start off with harmless critters first. My comments here are partly based on my experiance and part from researching online. If anyone sees any corrections that need to be made, please PM me or post your own experiences in the thread. At least you can hopefully put a name to what you see in your reef. My purpose is not to provide you information on how to get rid of the hitchhikers, but only to ID them and then it up to you to search and find more information on how to remove them.
Most reef tanks have these in the LR or running around on the sand. Size is from a few millimeters to 1/4 of an inch generally. I see them most often at night. In the absence of predators they will be bold enough to come out during the day. If you search your tank at night with a flashlight, the eyes even reflect light much the same way cats eyes do.
Again very common reef "bugs". They are usually less than 1mm in size and people often say they look like little white dots on the glass or LR.
Feather duster type worms in the Annelid family. They usually grow in darker areas but I have found them on the back wall of my tank. They are a good sign that your reef tank is well established and in balance if they start to appear. They are filter feeders.
There are many types of these found commonly in or on live rock. Some live in the rock themselves or some make tubes. The colors vary greatly. On my LR I have a few different kinds, some having red feeding tentacles, some having white. Another beneficial filter feeder.
Commonly called asternia stars. Usually the size of a dime or smaller. I have included them in the harmless section due to the fact that mine have never bothered my corals. I have many of them in my tank. I have found them to be grazers, mostly feeding on algae on the side of my tanks. There is a harmful species of this star that looks very similar to these that will eat corals. The ones commonly found on LR are USUALLY the harmless ones. They usually have an abnormal number of arms and reproduce fast by splitting. I do have a few that look like normal starfish with five arms, but I have found that to be uncommon. Keep an eye on them if you see them in your reef tank just to make sure they behave and dont bother any corals.
Algae grazers. Sometimes found on live rock in many sizes. Many different species most oval in shape with the shell coming to a point on top.
Spaghetti worm and Hair worms
Usually considered harmless. Sizes can vary. You usually spot these at night when they extend their feeding tentacles to scavange for food. Upon occasion they can bother some corals when hunting for food. Hair worms are similar in appearance but only have 2 feeding arms that extend to search for food.
Nocturnal worms that feed on detritus and left over tidbits of food. Rarely seen during the day, they are a beneficial member of CUC (clean up crews) Normally quite ugly lil guys, some have been seen with banded patters.
Bristle worms (not fireworms, those are listed under harmful creatures)
Bristle worms are found in almost every reef tank. Most people consider them pests but I find them to be beneficial members of the CUC. They eat leftover food, and scavenge for other meaty meals. Caution should be used as the actual bristles of this worm can cause severe irritation, pain, redness and swelling if touched with bare hands.
These little guys are VERY fast lol. You will almost always see them in your fuge, sump or in the live rock at night. At night with a flashlight their eyes will reflect light as well. They also make great treats for your fish so as they reproduce net em and feed em!
These guys are harmless grazers. They look like a snail with half a shell. They are mainly nocturnal but I do see them from time to time during the day. They spawn often in reef tanks. The male will stand up almost vertical and release his sperm at which time the females will rise up and release eggs. My clownfish loves the eggs as a tasty treat. Usually if you use a flashlight at night, you will see many of them.
Vermetid snails are often mistaken for feather duster tubes or tube worms. These reef critters are actually snails that secrete a feeding mucus (pic 3) to catch passing particles in the water column. I have seen ones in my tank catch and reel in adult brine shrimp. Usually harmless but the feeding mucus can bother or smother some sensitive corals.
Hydroids are very small and hard to spot. Most people say they look like tiny clear or white jellyfish attached to the glass.
Micro Serpent Stars
Small detrivore often found in live rock or in the sand bed. I have some red and white ones that live in the live rock. They can often be seen with only the arms waving out of the LR trying to catch food drifing in the current. (pic 3) When I see them doing this I usually try to feed them a brine shrimp or something similar on occasion. Most aquarists will usually encounter them during water changes after siponing the sandbed. The ones found in the sandbed are white/grey in color. I always just scoop them out and put them back in the display as they are beneficial.
These are the harmless kind and have been known to be nocturnal algae grazers.
Now we will move on to the harmful creatures.
|05-09-2008, 1:49 AM||#2|
Continued from post 1
Mantis shrimp are often identified in reef tanks when you hear a clicking or popping noise coming from the tank. They are generally harmless to corals but will quickly eat any member of your CUC such as hermits, snails, shrimp, or anything else it takes a liking to. Extreme care should be taken when you suspect you have a mantis and are trying to remove it. They have an extremely powerful hit from the second pair of limbs, which are modified or enlarged the same way as the praying mantis insect. They have been known to split open the fingers of un-suspecting aquarists. Some people actually like mantis shrimp and keep them in an aquarium specially devoted to them.
I put pistol shrimp under harmful because the the ones that hitchhike into your tanks with live rock are usually not known about and someone has noticed fish missing or hearing strange noises from the tank. Pistol shrimp are sometimes kept in reef aquariums as welcome additions, usually along with certain species of goby. This relationship is quite unique and cool to see in aquariums. The two will actually care for eachother. Care should be taken when trying to identify whether or not you have a pistol shrimp or mantis shrimp. One of the two shrimp claws is greatly enlarged and when the shrimp triggers the claw, it can be loud enough to stun fish and other invertebrates so the shrimp can get a meal.
Rock crabs can be hard to spot due to their nocturnal nature. They will eat anything they can catch. If one cant be spotted at night, sometimes you will find the shed of these crabs.
These guys are predatory like rock crabs. Most people find them to be "cute" but are harmful to reef tanks.
These guys commonly hitchhike in on LR. They multiply fast and can be very hard to get rid of. A google search of acoel flatworms can return some results. Care should be taken when getting rid of them by chemical means such as Flatworm exit or FWE (be sure to read and follow instructions that come with the product) as these flatwroms do release toxins when they die.
These have to be the creepiest things I have ever seen and I like spiders!!! If you have zoa colonies that look unhealthy or not opening, inspect them (these guys are tiny and hard to see) to see if this is a cause. Manually remove any you see and quarantine the colony. Some people may have different methods for removing them so its advised to seek the advice of experts.
These will feed on your corals and inflict a very painful sting if accidently touched. Sometimes fire worms can be hard to distinguish from common bristle worms but by comparing the pics you can make the distinction between the two. Several commercial and DIY traps are very successful in removing them.
|05-09-2008, 1:52 AM||#3|
Now for some other IDs that come up quite frequently. I am just posting the names and pics of the algae that come up in tanks from time to time. There are many different methods in removing or controlling algae so be sure to seek advice again after making the ID of what type you have. I am including micro, macro cyano, and others in the IDs.
Chaetomorpha or cheato
Micro algae and bacterial
Cyanobacteria or cyano
Coralline can be found in many different colors such as reds, pinks, purple, green and teal
I have been compiling this for a couple of days now. If I did miss anything please let me know and I will add it, or feel free to add something I missed by replying to the thread. I hope this helps some of the newbies out there just coming into the hobby.
|05-09-2008, 6:53 AM||#5|
This thread needs to be stickied somewhere or put in the ARCapedia...very informative and the pics are very helpful and appreciated. A few of the harmless creatures are in my sump and I have been trying to identify them. Now I know what they are and I don't have to worry about them. Cool Beans!
FLboy, thanks for putting this together!
|05-09-2008, 2:33 PM||#8|
Thanks guys. I hope this could be of use to some people who need to ID those odd critters we find. Also mods pls PM me and let me know how to edit my posts. It says I may edit under posting rules. I have new info to add to my harmful section. Thanks!!
|05-09-2008, 3:16 PM||#9|
Ahhh I just found out I cant edit a section after 15 min of being posted, but new posts can be edited. I will just add the new harmful creatures here and mods if you can please move them to the above post if possible.
Zoanthid eating nudibranch
Zoanthid nudibranch eggs on zoanthids
As the name states, this species of nudibranch eats zoanthids. If you have zoa that are not opening, looking sick, or dying, inspect the colony to see if you can spot the nubi or its eggs. Some people dip the colony to kill the nudibranchs, but again, please seek the advice of other zoanthid keepers who have had experiance with this pest.
Parasitic Isopod or Creoland Isopod
These guys are like ticks almost. Removal is somewhat tricky but I have seen people get rid of them. They can be hard to spot if hiding in the fish's mouth as in pics 3 and 4.
Aiptasia and Majano Anemonies
These guys are the real PIA of the reef world! Their potent stings quickly kill other corals and inverts. Their reproductive rates are very high to say the least. One aptasia can become many in no time at all. There are various methods of removing them, some being commercially available chemicals such as Joe's Juice and others more home made such as lemon juice and water. Both of those being physically injected into the pest anemones. Some reefers prefer to go with the more natural approach such as adding peppermint shrimp which are known to eat them but can be hit or miss. Please research and decide which will be the best method for you depending on the level of infestation.
|05-09-2008, 4:52 PM||#11|
|05-27-2008, 12:56 PM||#12|
Atlanta Reef Club Member
Join Date: Apr 2008
Other Interests: Guns,cars,fishing, hunting, anything outdoors and gaming
wow that just heled me a ton i was seeing alot of that stuff and thought i needed to get it out but all the stuff i seen was good stuff so far
|05-27-2008, 1:37 PM||#13|
Atlanta Reef Club Member
Join Date: Sep 2003
Other Interests: Skydiving, Scuba Diving Instructor, Wake Boarding, Cars, Bikes, Old School NES, Working Out.
Great write up!
|12-20-2008, 12:32 PM||#15|
Wow, I'm really new to the hobby compared to most, and at my work we were having a problem with "bugs" on the glass. Not sure if i had lice or what I have been freaking out. Sal from SWC said they were probably Amphipods, and seeing that picture you have definitely confirmed it for me.
This is a great thread, very imformative!
|12-20-2008, 12:53 PM||#16|
You just answered 40% of the questions people ask on this site. Very well done!
|12-20-2008, 8:49 PM||#17|
Join Date: Apr 2008
Other Interests: Dogs(Abby&Bella),Cats(5),Koi(29),10 Saltwater Tanks
Real Name: Holley & Hal Barrett
Thank You!!! I would like to have this where I can get to it quickly
|12-20-2008, 10:09 PM||#18|
Atlanta Reef Club Member
Join Date: Nov 2008
Other Interests: God, My wife, Being successful
Great job at composing this and....THANK YOU!
If your still in control, your not driving fast enough ...1983 280ZX
|12-21-2008, 8:37 AM||#19|
Join Date: Sep 2008
Occupation: Currently unemployed construction superintendent
Other Interests: R/C helicopters, NASCAR, cars and golf
Thanks for spending the time to put this together. I have wondered what some of those critters were in our tank and now I know!!
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