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Learn more about the zoa eating nudibranch, what it looks like, how to get rid of it, and a lot more in this exhaustive guide that will give you a deeper insight into this saltwater aquarium pest.
The chances are that if you stay long enough in this hobby, sooner or later, you will encounter a lot of different aquarium pests.
Some of them are easy to get rid of, others you wish you never got them in the first place. In what category the zoa eating nudibranch belongs, you might ask?
Unfortunately, it’s the latter.
However, you don’t need to worry because, in this article, you will learn what the zoa eating nudibranch looks like, how it behaves, and how to get rid of your system.
Feel free to skip to the section on how to get rid of the zoa eating nudibranch, but I highly recommend reading the whole article. You will get to know these organisms and better understand their behavior.
Without furder ado, let’s get into it.
What is zoa eating nudibranch?
Nudibranchs, commonly referred to as sea slugs, are soft-bodied marine organisms within the phylum Mollusca. There are over 3000 known species of nudibranchs living in seas worldwide at virtually all depths.
Nudibranchs have lost their shells throughout their evolution but developed alternative defense mechanisms.
Most species, including the zoa eating nudibranch, mimic their surroundings to blend into the environment and avoid predators.
That’s why it is so difficult to spot a nudibranch on your zoanthids until it’s too late.
What the zoanthid eating nudibranch looks like?
Most nudibranchs have a similar appearance, and it’s challenging to distinguish them. The zoa eating nudibranch is a dull brown nudibranch that often matches the color of the zoas they are predating.
Zoa eating nudibranch diet
All known nudibranchs are carnivorous and feed on different organisms such as sponges, hydroids, and in some cases, members of their species. The zoa eating nudibranch primarily feeds on zoanthids.
Zoa eating nudibranch life cycle
All species of nudibranchs are hermaphroditic, which means every individual has a set of reproductive organs for both sexes, although they can’t reproduce asexually. They deposit eggs, which is the most challenging part of getting rid of these pests in your system.
What eats zoa eating nudibranch?
I am a big fan of creating an ecosystem in my reef tank where every organism has its role. I always try to find a natural solution for every aquarium pest I encounter.
Granted, it’s not always possible because sometimes introducing new specimens can create new problems. However, in this case, it shouldn’t be a problem.
Wrasses are known as great natural pest control. Six line wrasse, Melanurus wrasse, and Coris wrasse are known to eat zoa eating nudibranch in reef tanks, but nothing is guaranteed.
How to get rid of zoa eating nudibranch?
If you plan to keep zoanthids, you must eliminate all the nudibranchs in your reef tank, including their eggs.
You can take several approaches, which we will discuss in this section.
Keep in mind that these methods are not 100% successful, and they don’t give the same results for everyone.
Treatment 1: Prevention
The best treatment for eradicating the zoanthid eating nudibranch is not to introduce it in the first place. Easier said than done. Prevention requires a quarantine tank which many hobbyists don’t have.
However, if you have a quarantine system, add the zoas there and let them settle for a couple of months while monitoring daily. In that period, you should know if the zoanthids are infected or not. If you notice nudibranchs proceed with the next treatment.
Treatment 2: Manual Removal & Coral Dipping
Manual removal and coral dipping are great ways to remove the nudibranchs, but only for adults. The coral dipping won’t remove the eggs, which in essence, is the most important part we want to eradicate.
You need to repeat this treatment regularly until no nudibranch is detected. Remember never to introduce the zoas in your display tank until all the zoa eating nudibranchs are eliminated. Otherwise, you are risking compromising your main system.
Alternatively, you can use flatworm exit, a product designed to eliminate flatworms. I have never used that product, so I can’t personally recommend it. Do your research before using unknown products on your tank.
Treatment 3: Natural Predators
Wrasses are great natural pest control and are known to eat small invertebrates in the ocean and our reef tanks. There are a lot of different variates of wrasses in the saltwater aquarium hobby you can choose for your aquarium.
Keep in mind that these are aggressive species and cannot be kept with every fish. You need to consider the tank size these fish need because they come in different sizes.
In general, wrasses are an excellent solution for long-term control of the zoa eating nudibranch.
There aren’t definitive solutions for eliminating this aquarium pest.
The best you can do is quarantine your zoas and inspect them before introducing them to your display tank.
Manual removal and coral dipping are still the best solutions for fighting these pests.
Of course, introducing predators such as wrasses is always a great way to control the zoanthid eating nudibranchs naturally.