Investigating “Bugs” Crawling On Our Coral

Recently, we noticed that our Chocolate Mint Chip Zoanthid Coral had seemed agitated and had been closed more often than open over the past few days. We have found that when the aquarium lights go out for the night is the best time look for any pests in the tank. Using flashlights, we noticed little “bugs” crawling on the coral. We decided to remove the coral and perform a coral dip to get a closer look at these “bugs”.

Corals can be dipped in solutions to help remove algae as well as any bad creatures that are hitch-hiking onto the coral, such as a Xenia eating worm we once found on our Pulsing Xenia. From reading forums, some aquarists always dip after purchasing a new coral before placing in their display tank, and some dip only when there is a problem with the coral. There are many types of dips ranging from home-made solutions to specific manufactured products. There are lots of opinions about both, but what everyone can agree on is that you need to be careful because corals can be damaged from dips if exposed for too long. We did some reading about dips for this type of coral, (I should note it is not recommended for all types of coral so make sure you do your research) and found that some aquarists use a 4:1 mix of RO/DI water to hydrogen peroxide to help remove nuisance algae. This is perfect if you need a dip right away as hydrogen peroxide can be found in almost everyone’s medicine cabinet. A 3-5 minute duration seemed to be what most people use, so we decided to give it a try.

As the coral was sitting in the dip, a few tiny “bugs” came crawling off the coral. The hydrogen peroxide didn’t kill them right away as I would have suspected. They were crawling all over the container. We used our microscope to capture some photos on this little guy to help us determine what he was.

We believe he is a Sand Skater, a type of Crustacean that runs around eating organic matter from the sand. We were glad to know he wasn’t another pest, but rather a good thing to have in your aquarium.

We also captured a video of him moving his legs around. Not the best video, but interesting to see how his anatomy works. Click the link below.

This is another fun aspect of keeping a marine aquarium. Things like this pop up regularly. We have learned to not freak out and to just take it in stride as the whole process is a learning experience.


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