Invertebrate Problems

Thankfully, few parasite and disease problems plague invertebrates. About the only commonplace ones are parasitic snails and predatory flatworms.

Parasitic snails in the family Pyramidellidae often infest giant clams. The snails feed on the clam's mantle. Usually, the parasites are brought in on the clams themselves. The best way to rid a tank of these pests is to place a neon wrasse in it. Two species are available, Pseudocheilinus tetrataenia, the four-lined neon wrasse, and P. hexataenia, the six-lined version. Besides performing a valuable service, these little wrasses are colorful, harmless to other fish, and small in size. Keeping one in any tank with clams is a good precautionary measure. Placing new clams in a quarantine tank with a wrasse avoids adding the pests to your display aquarium.

The flatworm pest is Convolutriloba. It feeds on the soft tissues of various kinds of corals, reproducing to plague proportions if left unchecked. Readily identified by the distinctive three-pointed tail, each worm is about a quarter of an inch in length and reddish brown in color. Remove the specimen that the worms are feeding on immediately, as they often enter the aquarium on the coral itself. Transfer the specimen to a quarantine tank. A small butterflyfish can be added to the quarantine aquarium to feed on the flatworms, or the coral can be dipped momentarily in fresh water. Use distilled water to which enough alkalinity supplement has been added to raise the pH to that of the aquarium. Make sure the water is close to the same temperature as the tank. Return the specimen to the display tank only after no further sign of flatworms is present.

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