Why cant I have a successful reef?


New member
Im devastated with this hobby, I started in October of 08 and the tank and fish were fine. There were no pests in the tank and everything was swell. I got bit by the coral bug and sought after some softies and some zoas. Enter mistake 1 as a newbie. Bought frags and was given free aiptasia. It took about 6 months til the tank had millions of these things that I couldnt get rid of.

I decided to upgrade and start over in hopes to rid the aiptasia. Like a moron I used the same water not knowing that would produce more aiptasia, I started trying to kalk them as one would pop up here then there. This turned 1 into 5 and now its popping up all over again.

I bought frag after frag after frag and recieved red bugs, sadly I was dipping all coral and what I was using didnt kill redbugs. The coral really looked fine but you could visually see the redbugs on multiple corals. I treated interceptor and lost a few inverts but there are no sign of redbugs.

Two weeks later I had massive amounts of rtn and stn going on. I believe I now have AEFW, which I have lost about all my acros, which was about 90% of my coral. Really the only thing in my tank that hasnt died is 4 montiporas, acans, and zoas. I spent about $1000 in february in sps all of which has rtn'd. All parameters are spot on and check religously as you can visually see all is not happy.

How can I successfully get rid of aiptasia. I have a peppermint shrimp that is worthless, kalk past doesnt work when you have marco rock, I would buy a copperbanded butterfly but the chances of it working are...

AEFW in the display lovely. Yeah my wife isnt going to let me buy coral ever again. I dont even know where to start.

This hobby is so depressing why cant I find success in this, I try to do things right but still get plagued by anything possible. It makes me want to get out.

Hoosier daddy

New member

Sorry to hear about that. I thought everything was going pretty good. This hobby can do that to you in so many ways. Anything from a power failure to a pump going out..or look what happened to Leif. What a bummer. Sometimes you just have to work things out and have patience. I would not buy any corals before you take care of your nuisance/pests first. Even after you handle it I would be patient and watch the tank. I know its hard to refrain from buying new corals, but its more frustrating to watch them die. I used to have redbugs back when I had my 220g tank. Back than I would just buy anything and put it in my tank and not make sure it was pest free. QT those bad boys first. I always say what do you have more of time or $$$. I will hook you up with a couple frags when you are ready. Good luck!!! Hang in there.


New member
This is one reason why I got out of the hobby. At this point, I don't think I will return for a long time, if ever.


New member
Ouch, sorry to hear that. I've been lucky enough to never have to deal with them, but from what I've read AEFW can be a real PITA. If you've already lost all of your acros, you could just keep only motipora, lps and softies for a few months. The AEFW will die out without a food source.

Another option is to pull acros out of your tank and individually treat in an iodine based dip like TPMCC or coral revive. It can be hard to account for encrusting growth though.

Finally, I've read that some people in the SPS forum have been successful with living with AEFW. I'm not sure how this is accomplished without losing acros, maybe only certain colonies are targeted like tri-colors. Perhaps they rely on wrasses or other fish to keep the populations low. I've read that wrasses will eat the AEFW if they are in the water column and some people blow them off an infected coral with a turkey baster.

I'm sure dealing with the aptasia outbreak is extremely frustrating :( The only advice I can offer is to pre-thaw, rinse and strain all frozen food to remove the liquid and small particulate that comes in the package. Also, reduce your feedings if possible. This will slow the explosive growth of the aptasia although you'll still have to rely on a predator or many hours with the syringe manually zapping them to get them under control.

Hope things take a turn for the better soon.


Premium Member
Sorry to hear about your frustration.

As for the Aiptasia....

Anyone who thinks that you cannot tolerate ANY of the pests hasnt been in the hobby very long.
It is inevitable that you will get them.
If they are taking over the tank in plauge proportions, then you must be overfeeding or under-skimming.'
If I get VERY big ones right next to a favorite coral, I will hit it with Kalk paste to knock it back, but it never goes away.

IMO - If you want to feed a lot ( some corals require this ), then you need to invest in a good skimmer.

The other option ( which I have heard success & experimented with myself when my skimmer was down ) is - Dont feed the tank at all.

Unless you have certain fish ( anthias ), then feeding the fish in a well stocked reef tank may not be required.

Also when mentioning your pest problems ( other than the aiptasia ), I am curious how this happens I have been trading ( sparsely ) with many people on these threads for 7 years and never gotten red bugs or flat worms...

Dont give up!



New member
Hey Steve, give Liquid Kingdom a call for a copperband. I've gotten 2 from them and both have had a healthy appetite for aiptasia.

the first one we bought would only eat aiptasia, so after a month he had cleared any trace of the stuff, but wouldn't eat anyting else so we had to give it away. We still have the second one and not a trace of aiptasia in the tank (although there are plenty in the overflow and refugium), we figure it gives him a little treat now and then when one pops up in the tank.

Stu is right though, we all have one pest or another in our tanks. It's impossible to keep them out forever. It's simply natural.

I agree that peppermint shrimp are worthless if you have a ton of aiptasia and only one little peppermint shrimp. They won't bother with the really big ones, but it is helpful to have like 6 or 8 of them in there. They will graze the smaller ones and keep them from getting big, but they turn lazy really easy and will ignore the harder to eat things like aiptasia and go for the frozen or pellet food you're feeding the tank.

I suggest Liquid Kingdom because like you (not to be taken as an insult ;-), they have tons of aiptasia in thier tanks, and the copperbands that they get in typically have a healthy appetite for the stuff when you get them home. They also take a lot of care to quantine and monitor fish when they get them in and will only sell them if they are healthy (coral is another story there).

Anyway, let me know if there's anything Joey or I can do to help you guys out. I'm really sorry to see you're getting frustrated. I think we've all had those points in time, especially after investing tons of money into this hobby. Just remember, if you bail, YOU WILL BE BACK!!! Muha ha ha.

~ Chad


New member
Here's a suggestion for AEFW. Fill a turkey baster with RO/DI and blast them off the corals. If you do this often enough, the fish will figure out what you are doing and they will feast on the flatworms as you blast them off.


New member
I've had great success with a six line wrasse eating fw when I had them. My copperband worked wonders on aptasia then got himself stuck in a powerhead face first after they were gone. Now I have aptasia again. It's never ending.

I really need to get a new copperband.


In Memoriam
I am going to disagree that LK will only sell you healthy fish, I have seen them sell a number of unhealthy fish including to me when I was newer.


New member
Stu is right about the Aiptasia. It is a good sign that you need a better skimmer. One that I am lacking at this point in time and do not have the money to go out and buy. So I get plague portions of Aiptasia.

Michael Wanecek


Premium Member
It is a pain sometimes, I've had all the same pests and more including monti eating nudis. I've beat them with natural control (wrasses) and throwing a few badly infected corals in the trash.

Aiptasia are tough, I've had them for 14 years or so LOL its a tough one to avoid and so I just kalk juice them to keep them in check.

If I was you I'd lay low for a while, let the tank mature, let the pests run their course and then when everything is stable in maybe 6 month or so then add more corals but consider a small frag tank that they go into first before the display so you can observe them and treat for pests and stuff before its a big problem.


New member
I think we all go through this point:- like hoosier said what do you have more of time or $? If its $ invest in thing that will help keep your reef alive! Always know where your corals, rock, fish are coming from and if they have been dipped or qted. I am a total aiptasia notzie i hve NO aiptasia in my tank a few hydro ids but they are being dealt W/ . Patience will get you over the head ache! Good Luck C


New member
Let us know if there is anything you need. I've got a small cube you can borrow to move some stuff into if ya need to borrow it for a little while. How big of a skimmer are you running right now?

And i agree with everyone else we all have gone through pests in one way or the other and you too will get through it in time. Let me know mike


New member
Sorry about all the bad luck. This is why I am such a big QT fan. I used to put everything into my 40 before it went to my 75. Now i have my 40 lightly stocked and I wont add anything new because I dont have room for a third system. I also buy small frags so they are much easier to find problems on. I never add a plug that has been in someone elses tank(I dry them out and reuse them). There are lots of things you can do to prevent problems, the problem is you learn most of them through experience, or lots of reading(NOT forums....Books, articles & journals).


New member
Sorry to hear about our aiptasia i had it all over my tank 8 months ago i dont have the experience as the other reefers on this thread but i had the same fight due to buying rock from liquid kindom. I tried all the chemicals and 6 pepermint shrimp it only made them multiply. So i took all of my live rock out of the tank put it in a garbage can and put an entire 20 pounds of salt and ran powerheads for a week then perf a 70 percent water change siphoning sand. some may disagree but it worked for me good luck !


Premium Member
To be honest, it sounds like you need to take a break for a little bit. This hobby is like a marriage and it is not good to go to bed mad :). You would be surprised how a 6 month break can give you renewed excitement again. In the mean time, let your live rock die off and start from scratch....



New member
That is why I keep pretty much sofities only. SPS are very prone to everything RTN'ing with one little mistake. In my case, an eyelet holding the light cord dripped a little rust in the tank and I lost a ton of SPS; that was 3 years ago now. I have a few monti's and LPS but mostly softies. Every time I have tried to throw in another acro or branching SPS, it does great for several months and then dies in a day all of a sudden. I decided not to care what anyone else thinks and go with stuff that I like and that doesn't die on me.

I battle flatworms (the relatively harmless kind), mojanos and aiptasia regularly.

Flatworms: got them from a guy whose been in the hobby a long time, has had them forever, and they don't seem to bother him at all. He babysat my corals before I really knew anything about flatworms. I use Flatworm Exit whenever they get to the point of starting to irritate my leathers, or before. If I do a couple treatments in a row I don't see them for several months. I do freshwater dips or recommend that the buyer do so whenever I trade corals. This type of flatworms doesn't actually kill anything, but its better not to introduce them! I plan to do several rounds of massive amounts of FWE on my live rock when moving tanks later this year and only put the fish from my current system into the larger setup. Hopefully this will keep them out of the new system and kill them off in the old.

Aiptasia: Peppermint shrimp like to hunt in groups, one is pretty much useless. The copperband also keeps them in check, but when I moved some rock to my small tank, the aiptasia came back in there and so I got some peppermints. They usually leave one aiptasia to continually seed their food source. This is OK with me as their seed subject is away from other corals it could sting.

Mojanos: Still haven't figured out a better method of control than just going through the tank and Kalking them every few weeks. As long as they don't sting my favorite corals, I have learned to live with them.

I guess you just have to find a level that's sustainable to you. Find a setup that works for the maintenance level you want and the pest level that you can stand that doesn't hurt your livestock.

It IS incredibly frustrating at times, but I have always just scaled back, let the tank stabilize and then moved forward again when I was ready.

Hope that helps!

If you can think of anything I can do, let me know!
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