New acropora pest or something else?

JPMagyar

New member
So for the last couple weeks I have been inspecting my tank with a Oogles Mesoscope on account of the fact that I had AEFWs and treated my tank by taking it apart, dipping all my corals in Bayer insecticide and then putting the corals back with new live rock, but all that is secondary.

As part of my routine inspection I noticed a small white filamentous "thing" hanging off my Oregon Tort frag 3 days ago on Jan. 20th. First I tried using a turkey baster to blow it off the coral thinking that it was just a piece of detritus. It would not come off with gentle basting. I then used tweezers to remove it and an eraser to gently scrub off the little white bits that were left. The area where it had been attached had a small hole in the surface of the coral. With the naked eye it appeared as a tiny white dot on the frag. Under the mesoscope it was a filament hanging on to an are of damage. I thought maybe the coral had been bumped and damaged the day prior when I was fragging my Purple Monster the day earlier so at first when I saw that it wasn't simple detritus I was thinking perhaps it some sort of coral "bleeding" or self repair mechanism. Anyways, after I removed the white filament I rechecked the coral the following day. The hole or damaged area was completely healed.

Since then I have been scouring my tank for similar filaments and I have identified at least two others. One is too far away to get a good look, but one is on a frag close to the side so I got a picture. It's very small but you can clearly see that there is an area of damage surrounding this filamentous thing.

Has anyone seen this before? Does anyone have any idea what it is?

Thanks!

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JPMagyar

New member
Thanks Stacy, but trust me I am intimately familiar with every variation in age, size, egg, and larvae of flatworms. I'm actually culturing them in a 10 gallon tank. My macro lens is not as powerful as my mesoscope so I can't give a better shot, but this thing is the filamentous white string like creature that is shown in the picture. Not to say it isn't possible there is also a flatworm, but I did not see any evidence of flatworms on this frag especially none of the tell-tale "bit marks" or eggs at the base.



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JPMagyar

New member
The power of the mighty iPhone. Just used it with my mesoscope to get a short video of the wormy thing.

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JPMagyar

New member
Found another one . . .

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and then after removal this is what I saw the other day on the OT that healed over night . . .



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JPMagyar

New member
Hey Joe, what makes you think they are anything other than mesenterial filaments?

The pictures I can get at the moment are just not showing the creatures well. These things are not in the polyp, but on the skin of the acropora, and when you remove them there is a clear crater of damaged area with the underlying skeletal area showing but these things are the size of a pencil tip and the hole the leave is equally small. Also the with all my years of macro photos I have never encountered these before. Lastly I have found them on 5 different corals now and they are all identical. It's almost like mesenterial filaments that live on their own and hunt for a victim. What really concerns me is the thought that maybe these things bore inside a coral and disappear and then eat the coral from the inside out. When I lost my OT colony it became very brittle and easy to break and the insides were very porous. I may be way jumping the gun on this, but I have a sneaky suspicion this is some kind of burrowing parasitic acropora worm.


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JPMagyar

New member
So I have been studying this thing for a few days. I'm fairly certain I know which colony had the first infection. It's the one in the photo below. That colony seems to be covered with these things. I have had this colony for over a year and I believe it has always had the parasite. It has barely grown over that year, but neither has it died. It seems to cause cancerous bumps on the coral body and I think it lives inside the coral skeleton and bores holes through to the outside where it extends some type of filament. I have tried treating with Coral Revive and it had no effect. Today I am trying a dip in Levamisole. At the moment it appears some of the filaments are breaking up after the Levamisole dip. I'll keep an eye on the frag during the coming hours to see if there is any further change. It was a harsh dip so I just hope the frag survives. I have a scary sneaky suspicion that my OT is infected as well because I found two more filaments on the OT this morning. I removed them using suction from a turkey baster and there were no visible holes, but I don't think this is coming from external eggs as I see no evidence of anything "egg like".

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JPMagyar

New member
It's definitely extending the filaments more, but I can't tell if it's laughing at me and is healthy or it's trying to get out and escape. . .

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Peter Eichler

New member
Joe, those look exactly like mesenterial filaments. I would bet large sums of money that it's all they are... It's often a stress reaction, and I have issues with them when nitrogen and phosphorous get too low.
 

JPMagyar

New member
Joe, those look exactly like mesenterial filaments. I would bet large sums of money that it's all they are... It's often a stress reaction, and I have issues with them when nitrogen and phosphorous get too low.

Pete,

I thought Mesenterial filaments only came out from the intestines of the polyps and not the sidewall of the coral body. Is it possible for them to come out the sides of the coral and not from the polyps?
 

JPMagyar

New member
I just found a reference saying they can in fact come out the side body of a coral so it looks like you are right. I still don't feel they are a good sign as so far they have been associated with areas of damage on my OT and Copps Hulk frag and the colony that has the most has had them for a long time and isn't growing. I'll keep an eye on them and try to document their appearance of disappearance on my OT. When I first took one off the OT there was a large crater where it had been and that crater healed over by the next afternoon. I'd love to see if one appears on the OT again if it becomes associated with an area of damage.

Thanks for being patient with me and guiding me in the right direction. I'll go find as much as I can on these things now :beer:
 

Peter Eichler

New member
I just found a reference saying they can in fact come out the side body of a coral so it looks like you are right. I still don't feel they are a good sign as so far they have been associated with areas of damage on my OT and Copps Hulk frag and the colony that has the most has had them for a long time and isn't growing. I'll keep an eye on them and try to document their appearance of disappearance on my OT. When I first took one off the OT there was a large crater where it had been and that crater healed over by the next afternoon. I'd love to see if one appears on the OT again if it becomes associated with an area of damage.

Thanks for being patient with me and guiding me in the right direction. I'll go find as much as I can on these things now :beer:

No worries, just happy you're on the right path!

IME they can lead to long term damage and growth issues though the growth issue may also be a result of the cause of the mesenterial filaments rather than the filaments themselves. Examine closely what your phosphate and nitrate levels are and make sure they're at least detectable. If you notice this more during feeding I feel that is another indicator that it's lack of nutrients. If you're using GFO and GAC regularly I'd suggest rethinking that as well.

Good luck!

Peter
 

Peter Eichler

New member
Joe, just read some of your tank thread... I feel the carbon dosing is contributing to this. I was an early adopter and in the early states had some nice improvements in color in my tank at the time, but as time went on it was difficult to keep nutrients measurable and corals suffered mightily. There were a couple colonies in particular that were basically destroyed from driving nutrients too low and carbon dosing. In additiona, this could possibly be partially caused by how the carbon dosing changes the bacterial colonies (both good and bad) normally associated with a coral as well. Dumping a carbon source in a tank doesn't mean only the bacterial strains you want will proliferate and thrive...
 

JPMagyar

New member
Joe, just read some of your tank thread... I feel the carbon dosing is contributing to this. I was an early adopter and in the early states had some nice improvements in color in my tank at the time, but as time went on it was difficult to keep nutrients measurable and corals suffered mightily. There were a couple colonies in particular that were basically destroyed from driving nutrients too low and carbon dosing. In additiona, this could possibly be partially caused by how the carbon dosing changes the bacterial colonies (both good and bad) normally associated with a coral as well. Dumping a carbon source in a tank doesn't mean only the bacterial strains you want will proliferate and thrive...

Peter,

I am definitely with you on being extremely cautious with the carbon dosing and also being concerned about the long term ramifications. The flip side for me is Krzysztof's tank. He has been carbon dosing through the use of bio-balls for quite some time with no ill effect. Perhaps it's the source of carbon that matters, but in any case I am proceeding very slowly. At the moment I'm down to a dosage of 10 ml per day of NOPOX in my 750 gallon system. With that amount I can see a steady rise in phosphate from day to day, but when I up the dosage to 30 ml I can knock the phosphates back to zero. Maybe I will back off the NOPOX for a week and see what happens. At the moment the filaments are all gone

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences!
 

Barry

New member
Hydroids

Hydroids

Hi Joe,

I think the filaments you are seeing are hydroids, I've seen them quite a few times before! They do sting the local area of coral and I imagine a large infestation would cause the coral stress!

Barry.
 

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