May 6, 2002
From: Vincent Prasil
Thanks for all your comments. I have had a look at the other links, plus searched on the net about all the ways we should apply to fight Aiptasia. I know it's not a Forum about anemones here and we all know here that biological control is a frightening concept, with a history of many disasters. I will explain why we are thinking about importing Berghia verrucicornis, or whatever the sea slug is that eats Aiptasia..
The infection is occurring because:
• Aiptasia (pallida, pulchella?) is naturally present in French Polynesia.
• It's population is normally controlled by some fishes, and some Hermit Crabs, and perhaps other crustaceans.
• Pearl oysters are in open water, where no fish nor predator can reach them (only big fishes, which should eat them, but that's another story).
• When they are near coral reef or little depth, they stay clean, because of the fish cleaning system.
• These artificial supports – ie pearl oyster – are millions and millions, without predation
• Cleaning practice is mechanical, using high pressure water, which leaves a perfect place for new colonisation (again and again).
• all cleaning waste is returned back in the lagoon, with eggs and all living fragments ! (we are fighting against this)
Your suggestion of attracting anemone-eating fish will be soon tested, using artificial structures as protection. Hoping they won't follow the line (!) to the lagoon ground, which is about 30 to 50 meters deep.
PS : Any further information or ideas are welcome !!
email@example.comPrasil, V., 2002 (May 6) More information: fighting Aiptasia. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/6894
I guessed from your message that Aiptasia was only a problem when the pearl oysters were away from the reef. I thought Aiptasia became a problem in aquaria because of its 'vegetative' reproductive strategy. Is this also the case 'in the wild' or do they also reproduce sexually and have a planktonic larval stage? If they only reproduce vegetatively it would seem that the 'seedling' oysters are infested with Aiptasia before they are put in the open sea. Which would suggest it might be an idea to find a way of cleaning them before they are put in open water.
I'm sure you have thought of all these possibilites. My feeling is that some how you should try and make use of the natural Tahitian predators. I hope you have success in making some artificial 'homes' for anemone-eating fish.
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