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Aquarium Hitchhikers – Part I

Once you’ve seen enough of these “things” to give you nightmares for weeks, I’m sure you’ll have a quarantine system too. 

Zoanthid-Eating Spiders:  Not Reef Safe
The photo below is of a zoanthid-eating spider that came off a zoanthid colony during a dip in CoralRx.  It is in a water droplet on the top of a water test card for size reference.  To my knowledge there is no in-tank treatment other than manual removal.  Coral dips, such as CoralRx and Lugol’s iodine, both help dislodge the spider from the coral.

Polyclad Flatworm:  Not Reef Safe

This is a very large, very predatory flatworm known to feed on snails and sometimes mollusks. I had several of these come in on a coral, and it took about every chemical in my arsenal to kill them. Once they make it in to the aquarium, they’re nearly impossible to remove.
Spirorbid Snails – Reef Safe
These are like miniature hard-tube feather dusters that over cover glass in low-flow areas. They are harmless filter feeders.
Hydroids (Staurocladia oahuensis):  Reef Safe with Caution
These tiny hydroids are typically found on aquarium glass.  Their population tends to wax and wane with tank nutrient levels.  Although they do have some stinging potential, they do not appear to bother anything significantly.
Digitate Hydroid:  Arguably Reef Safe
Most aquarists have these (usually they look like little strings waving in the current when they are fully extended) and some aquarists claim coral damage from them.  However, I have never experience any issues with them.  Their population also waxes and wanes with nutrient levels.
Vermetid Snails:  Reef Safe with Caution
Vermetid snails are one of my worst enemies. They are stationary snails as adults and build permanent tube structures on the reef. To catch food, they extend a sticky mucus strand and reel it back in to eat the particles. They aren’t exactly harmful to a reef, but the mucus strands may annoy corals and detract from their physical appearance. And, while they may not be harmful to a reef, they are harmful to soft skin! Picking up a rock with these sharp tubes may cause significant pain/injury and even infection. Use caution when working around these hitchhikers.
Hydroid:  Arguably Reef Safe
These tiny hydroids are typically found on aquarium rocks and sometimes Acropora corals. Their population tends to wax and wane with tank nutrient levels. Although they do have some stinging potential, they do not appear to bother anything significantly.
Foraminiferan:  Reef Safe

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