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Flatworm advice

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Kevin View Drop Down
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    Posted: December 01 2017 at 5:31pm
Looking for advice on the best way to rid my tank of flatworms.    I got the Flatworms from buying some live lock from the fish store (A Reef Oasis?) in orem before it closed down.   I should have looked closer.

This is a 30 gallon JbJ nano tank.
I assume they are the typical red flatworms, though they seem to stay small and and brown.

I have tried once already to kill them off using FlatWorm exit.   It didn't go well.   I started with a triple recommended dose and watched the flatworms squirm.   Each day I would check to see if there were any living flatworms and would repeat the dose (at the end I was dosing 9x the recommended amount).   This lasted for about a week.   After a week I noticed all the snails had died and the tank was not doing well.   I removed the the snails, and did a couple large water changes.   Almost all the corals were dead/dying. I had heard that having no light might kill them and at this point I figured since everything else was dying I might as well try it.    So I blacked out the entire tank with trash bags and left it for a week.

After all that I still have flatworms.    All the snails died, all but 3 corals died, everything else lived (crabs, coco worm, fish).

This was probably 8 months ago.   I bought a yellow coris wrasse to see if it might eat them all. I think it eats the larger ones, but it does not eradicate them. The tank looks pretty good, but I still have the stupid flat worms.   

What is my best bet for getting rid of this pest?   Throw all the rock away and dip all the coral? I simply would like to be able to trade/sell/give away coral again without the fear of passing this pest on.

Thanks.
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speyside712 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote speyside712 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 05 2017 at 8:29am
I recently eradicated mine, however I had a very small amount of them (less than about 25 visible, maybe only 100 in the whole tank).

I dosed flatworm exit immediately upon site of the first flatworm.  I believe some eggs came in on a zoa frag I bought, because all the flatworms were congregating in this area, and all of them were small and not full grown yet.

Before dosing, I changed the carbon in my reactor and installed 2 additional carbon HOB filters right on the front of the display tank.  You want to get carbon running immediately when the flatworms start dying.  The medication itself doesn't hurt anything in your tank (other than flatworms of course), but the flat worm bodies release toxins that bother everything, not to mention the ammonia spike that occurs from a mass die off.

Getting multiple carbons filters all going at the same time seemed to help a lot.  Within about half an hour after dosing my male occelaris clown was acting funny, swimming all over the tank in the dark and never settling down for the night.  Normally it sleeps in an anemone with its mate.  I was a bit worried at this strange behavior.  But by the next day it had calmed down, and everything was back to normal.  My corals started opening up again and I haven't seen a flatworm since.

I believe the key in this case was the early detection, so that their numbers hadn't already grown to plague proportions.


If yours have already grown to plague proportions you don't have a lot of options.  The best things you can do are:

reduce your photo period and intensity, this will slow their reproduction.
build a flatworm vacuum and start using it dailly
to do this, attach a plastic straw to some flexible tubing and put a mesh bag on the end of the tubing.  Place the bag in your sump (or in a bucket if you don't have a sump).  Start a siphon out of the display tank and suck up all the flatworms you can see.  They will get caught in the bag and you don't lose any water because it flows right back into your sump (or into the bucket).  Rinse out the bag and repeat again the next day.

After vacuuming as many as possible out day after day, you can consider using flatworm exit again, but only after you have removed as many as physically possible.  many of them will still be living in the rock and out of site.

When you use flatworm exit, just use the recommended dosage.  The goal isn't to kill all of them at once, but just to reduce their numbers.  You'll want to dose the recommended dosage every other week or so for maybe 3 or 4 doses.  Killing about 50% of them with each dose.

Once you have their numbers drastically reduced, then you are safe to use a bit higher dosage, maybe 2 times the recommended to get all of them.  Using 9X the recommended dose like you mentioned above is just asking for trouble in my opinion.

After dosing, be sure to run fresh carbon and do some water changes.  Nothing drastic, just 15-20% at a time.  Its better to do 3 or 4 20% water changes than to do 1 50% change.


Edited by speyside712 - December 05 2017 at 8:33am
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fishyman19 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fishyman19 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 07 2017 at 12:13pm
I'm kinda dealing with the same thing in my tank I have set up at work. I've been sucking them out every week when I do a water change but it's only making a dent.

There are a few fish that eat them, blue damsel, scooter blenny's and a couple of the wrasses do. A melanarus wrasse will go to town on them. I unfortunately have a tiny tank and most of the real small wrasses won't touch them. I had a red scooter blenny and he went to town on them before he decided to jump and I just haven't been able to get another one yet. I was told that royal gramma's will eat them too, so maybe give one of the fish a try?
90 Gallon mixed reef. Wife's 12 gallon nano cube mixed reef!
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kevin.st View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote kevin.st Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 07 2017 at 2:03pm
If you have a small tank, its ok to throw a smaller melanarus or coris wrasse in there temporarily.
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Kevin View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Kevin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 07 2017 at 4:47pm
I have had someone else suggest a melanarus wrasse before.   I opted for the corris wrasse since they didn't have a melanarus at the time.   Will a melanarus wrasse eat anything else (such as a coco worm?)
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Echidna09 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Echidna09 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 07 2017 at 10:25pm
Melanarus may eat tubeworms, shrimp, crabs, and snails.
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