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Battling Acropora Eating Flat Worm ( AEFW )

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With the numbers of wild and cultured SPS shipment being so common nowadays, the dreadful Acropora eating Flat worm (AEFW) can be commonly found and spread among hobbyist if it is not taken care of . As the name suggest, the AEFW only affect Acropora SP and not any other kind of corals. However, due to the pest's ability to camouflage itself using the zooxanthellae of the corals, it is almost impossible to see it using our naked eye at time.

I hope this article is able to help everyone being aware of this dreadful pests ,and share their own experience in battling this nuisance pest.

A photo of the AEFW


** Photo credit; melevsreef.com

A photo of the coral with various bit mark by AEFW


** Photo credit ; tektite from RC

A close up photo of the AEFW eggs.


** Photo credit ; Joseph Weatherson

So how do i know if my corals is infected with AEFW ?

The most obvious clear sign is the bit mark being present on the coral itself. If you observe that your corals is losing it;s color and polyp is not opening up as often as it is before, take the coral out for a dip and check if any of the AEFW drop off.

What should i do if AEFW is found after the dip ?

Most likely the other acro found in your tank could be afected by AEFW as well, so it is advisable to take each and every pcs of it and dip it. Do also look out for any sign of AEFW egg on the rock or base of the corals where the SPS STN as that is where most of them will lay their eggs.

If it is possible, placed the affected corals in a separate QT tank to prevent it from infecting other corals in your tank. As a single dip will not remove the eggs and also might not remove all the AEFW from the SPS colony.The egg can take up to 28 days to hatch thus if is is possible, QT for 28 day or more before putting it back to your main tank .

What are the effect way to remove these pest ?

Start with preventing the pests from entering your tank by dipping all your newly purchase coral and visually inspecting for eggs . Having some natural predator in the tank for these pest will also helps keep these pest in control. While some reefer share that sixline wrasse and yellow wrasse can be an effective pest control keeping AEFW in check , maybe we could share more own experience on this.

It is every hobbyist own’s responsibly to check and dip all their corals be it from a local LFS or from a fellow hobbyist friend as you will never want to risk your whole tank being infected by this pest !

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Good write up at the right time. Seems like aefw have been a hot topic recently. Found some personally when i bought frags recently, so dip dip dip to be sure =D

Came across an article that mention, in your weekly maintenance, its good to give your corals a nice blow with a turkey baster or a small powerhead. This helps to dislodge the aefw from the coral, and will in turn be eaten up by the wrasse. Wrasse by themselves will not actively pick on the coral for aefw. Not sure how true, but had read couple of different forums about the same procedure.

Anyway, a good dip to invest in would be TLF revive, Or Bayer insecticide.

If your certain u have aefw, than its probably also worth considering getting a blue velvet slug. Its only food source is flatworms.

If your tank really fall victim to these pest, please please do not continue spreading them around. Its like a plague!!!!


I Love Stagsss

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Just to add:

The eggs itself is pretty obvious to the naked eyes. The problem is spotting the adults or babies, as mentioned, they camouflage very well, your best bet is to look for the bite marks. These bite marks are very uniform circles and form a poky dot pattern, usually on the underside of the coral. If your coral has these uniform white patches, than its likely to be infested and you should remove it right away and dip accordingly.

The lifecycle is interesting. Without any acropora coral, if I'm not mistaken, the adults only lives for 5 days, before they burn in hell. Its the eggs that are bothersome, and most cant be removed by our usual store coral dips. So check closely for those eggs!


I Love Stagsss

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Thanks tofubox for contribution !

Personal experience tell me that blue velvet nudi is not very effective against AEFW as i even try placing one of the flat worm in front of it and it just see and swim away.Maybe it only eat some of the AEFW as some of the article mention online.

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Thanks tofubox for contribution !

Personal experience tell me that blue velvet nudi is not very effective against AEFW as i even try placing one of the flat worm in front of it and it just see and swim away.Maybe it only eat some of the AEFW as some of the article mention online.

Oh wow, it just see it and swim away. Thats sad to know. Guess nth is 100% in the hobby. haha. Just like how its always hit n miss with many other livestocks.


I Love Stagsss

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The folks at zeovit swear by the camel shrimp method and at least one of our local reefers is using it with effective results. A word of caution though, it is imperative to place camel shrimps in a beta box or in the sump tank to isolate them from the main display tank as they are not reef safe and may take a liking to your corals. As for my own biological methods, my peppermint hogfish actively hunt for worms and critters on the sps corals themselves and touch wood, I have not been inflicted with any major flatworm outbreaks in my tank since I set it up.

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Sad but true, its only when u are really affected or assume to be affected that u really become serious over AEFW. Usually people don't really bother, but once u get hit with it....boy...its gonna be a nightmare for u and ur tank.

Strongly advise those purchasing new acropora sps to pay attention to the coral, do ur dips and necessary precautions.


I Love Stagsss

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The best is still quarantine for a month or longer......

To me inspection for aefw eggs is mandatory exercise. If any bite marks observed or poor PE near base area, the acro will go through my camel shrimps cleaning station follow by a short dip in coral rx for verification. The frag or colony will then be placed nearer to the front glass for observation.

The rest I leave it to my pest control platoon in my main tank.....melanurus pair, 4-line wrasse, cleaner n bicolour wrasse, mandarins and dragonets and acro crabs.....etc

So far so good for the past 2.5yrs....or I am just plain Lucky.





Reviving my reef tank :

Crystal glass 53" x 22" x 17" rimless (inclusive of 12"x22"x17" IOS)

Life Reef HVS3-24 with mazzei venturi

ATI Sunpower 8 x 39w T5 (4 x Blue plus, 2 x Aqua blue special, Coral plus)

ZET Light 3 x 3w LEDs moonlight

Arctica 1/3 Hp + 1/4 Hp back up

Vortech mp40w x 3 + Jebao wp25

Eheim 1264 x 3 + water blaster 5000

Vortech back up battery

TLF-150 + Rowaphos

Activated carbon

Kamoer 3 channel + CaCl2 + NaHCo3

150L Refugium with DSB, miracle mud, cheato

2ft T5 x 2 light tubes for refugium

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