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JonW
06/13/2006, 06:05 PM
Hi there

I'm from the UK and have just started marine reefkeeping. I found a small crustacean thing the other day in my newly established tank and I'm getting very worried that it might be a cirolanid isopod. A search of the web showed me a superb article you wrote on your ongoing battle with these little SOBs.

I've posted a couple of pictures of my suspected demon below. Do you think this is one of them or another less dangerous type?

Thanks!

Jonathan (Bristol, UK)

http://reefcentral.com/gallery/data/500/127420uso3.jpg

http://reefcentral.com/gallery/data/500/127420USO2.jpg

BrianPlankis
06/13/2006, 08:38 PM
Jonathan,

This looks like it could be a Cirolanid isopod, but the pictures are a little blurry so hard to be certain. But the BEST way to tell if it is a Cirolanid (if it is still alive) is to see if it can roll up into a COMPLETE ball.

You can't do this test on a dead Cirolanid as they can be rolled up into a ball, but ones that are alive cannot. Let me know if you can do this test and post the results in this thread and we can chat some more.

Brian

JonW
06/14/2006, 02:31 AM
Thanks Brian

Unfortunately it is dead now so I can't do that test. I found it when I was introducing my first 6 hermit crabs into the tank. One of them seemed to die very quickly while the others have been fine. I waited a couple of days with that one to make sure and then took it out. The isopod thing was on it when it came out, so I guess either the isopod was what killed it (in which case it might have come from the tank of the shop where I bought the crabs) or it was scavenging.

I took some of the advice in your article last night and waited until half an hour after lights out. Then went back into the room with the tank and studied the inside with a torch covered with red cellophane. Whoa the things that were swimming about!! But I couldn't see anything resembling that isopod.

I did put my first two clownfish in there yesterday because I didn't realise the significance of the isopod thing. It's got me quite worried about them now. Do you think I ought to wait and see if they get attacked? I understand that some of these isopods are just scavengers...

By the way - great to be chatting with you all the way over in Houston. Somewhere I'd like to visit someday...

Thanks for your help.

Jonathan

BrianPlankis
06/14/2006, 08:45 AM
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=7557339#post7557339 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by JonW
Thanks Brian

Unfortunately it is dead now so I can't do that test. I found it when I was introducing my first 6 hermit crabs into the tank. One of them seemed to die very quickly while the others have been fine. I waited a couple of days with that one to make sure and then took it out. The isopod thing was on it when it came out, so I guess either the isopod was what killed it (in which case it might have come from the tank of the shop where I bought the crabs) or it was scavenging.


I think it is unlikely the isopod killed the crab, probably just scavenging on the dead crab. Mine completely ignored live crabs.


I took some of the advice in your article last night and waited until half an hour after lights out. Then went back into the room with the tank and studied the inside with a torch covered with red cellophane. Whoa the things that were swimming about!! But I couldn't see anything resembling that isopod.


A half hour probably isn't enough time, I would wait until at least 1 or preferably 2 hours after lights out to look around. In my months of hunting I rarely saw them 1/2 hour after lights out.


I did put my first two clownfish in there yesterday because I didn't realise the significance of the isopod thing. It's got me quite worried about them now. Do you think I ought to wait and see if they get attacked? I understand that some of these isopods are just scavengers...


It is possible you have the scavenger type, but personally I don't like to wait and see if things get attacked. I would recommend you construct a stinky water trap and see if you attract any Cirolanids that way. If you don't want to do that then I would recommend checking on the clownfish a couple times a night after lights out and also watch their health very closely and look for any sores or pimples on their skin that would possibly indicate a Cirolanid had been attached.


By the way - great to be chatting with you all the way over in Houston. Somewhere I'd like to visit someday...

Thanks for your help.

Jonathan

Your welcome! That is one of my favorite aspects of this community is I get to talk to people all over the world :) Houston is a fun city to visit for a week or so. You could come in September this year when we are hosting MACNA ;)

I just thought of another benefit of making the stinky water trap, you could buy a jar of jam so you can have tea and biscuits! I went to the UK once and one of my favorite things was afternoon tea and biscuits! :D

Cheers,

Brian

JonW
06/16/2006, 01:53 PM
Hi Brian

Been away for a couple of days but back now and catching up on messages. Thanks for the further advice. I'll try the stinky water trap. Wanna try and catch some more of these things to see if they roll up when prodded.

I guess the other option apart from keeping the tank fallow for 6 months is the 'nuclear' option - rip everything out and put all of the live rock out in the sun for a month to dry out. I challenge the isopods to survive that. It will mean killing all of the good stuff too though. I'll be left with dead reef bones. I wonder if you can set up a tank with those and just add the good things you want later?

Shame when I could have started with reef bones anyway and wouldn't have had these problems (and saved lots of money in the process - since reef bones are half the price of live rock over here in the UK).

This is a bad experience for my first stab at marine aquatics. Did you also encounter these things with your first marine tank or had you already kept marines successfully before then ? It's hard not to get really disheartened when it's taken so much time and money just to get here and find that you can't go any further for a long long time.

Jonathan

BrianPlankis
06/16/2006, 02:39 PM
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=7573307#post7573307 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by JonW
Hi Brian

I guess the other option apart from keeping the tank fallow for 6 months is the 'nuclear' option - rip everything out and put all of the live rock out in the sun for a month to dry out. I challenge the isopods to survive that. It will mean killing all of the good stuff too though. I'll be left with dead reef bones. I wonder if you can set up a tank with those and just add the good things you want later?

Shame when I could have started with reef bones anyway and wouldn't have had these problems (and saved lots of money in the process - since reef bones are half the price of live rock over here in the UK).

This is a bad experience for my first stab at marine aquatics. Did you also encounter these things with your first marine tank or had you already kept marines successfully before then ? It's hard not to get really disheartened when it's taken so much time and money just to get here and find that you can't go any further for a long long time.

Jonathan

Jonathan,

I can sympathize with being disheartened. There were MANY times when I was capturing all these Cirolanids before I thought of the stinky water trap that I considered doing the exact same thing you suggested. I was going to throw my LR out on my back patio and IF I felt like it I would start up a tank again months later. Lucikly I resisted that urge. My tank has been Cirolanid free for over a half year now :D

I would urge you to try the stinky water trap several times and see how it works for you. I know of several other people trying the trap right now and it looks to be reducing their Cirolanid population and one of them is starting to get excited they may be gone.

Personally, I think live rock is WAY better for long term stability than the dry reef bones. I don't think you could add the biodiversity later as the vast majority of organisms on live rock are not sold separately. I would suggest reading Dr Shimek's excellent article about live rock:
http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2004-05/rs/feature/index.php

I encountered these Cirolanids in my 3rd marine tank. My first tank was a 29 and it did OK once I replaced the worthless Seaclone skimmer :) My second tank was a 55 gallon and I actually had a number of problems with that tank that eventually forced me out of the hobby for a while.

But I can understand being frustrated with your first tank encountering these bugs. While I was waiting to be able to add fish I spent my spare time planning out the tank inhabitants, reading a ton of articles online and adding coral. Were you planning on adding corals? You can still add coral that don't require a lot of feeding such as mushrooms or some easier to keep softies.

I would also suggest that you read this wonderful little thread by Eric Borneman:
http://forums.marinedepot.com/Topic23945-9-1.aspx

Patience is the key in this hobby and hopefully the stinky water trap will allow you to see if you have any more and get them out.

Hope that isn't too preachy, just trying to help out ;)

Keep in touch.

Brian

JonW
06/16/2006, 05:04 PM
Thanks for those words of encouragement Brian.

A quick update - I have just captured another isopod. Despite some furious prodding from me he hasn't rolled up into a ball so I guess that confirms it.

I have put him into a container and filled it up with freshwater from the tap (faucet). He's been in there for 5 minutes swimming around quite happily and is only now showing signs of discomfort. I guess the freshwater dip for removing them from fish wouldn't work then.

Incidentally - I think this hobby really has it in for me. Just found one of my hermits crabs torn limb from limb. The culprit seems to be another unwelcome guest - some sort of predatory crab. At least I've got him cornered on a now isolated piece of live rock!! Just need to figure out how to get him out of his bolthole...

If there are any bad hitch-hikers to get I seem to have them!!

Jonathan

BrianPlankis
06/16/2006, 05:53 PM
Jonathan,

At least you know what your dealing with now. Have you noticed any on your fish?

Are you sure your hermit crab was torn up or was it just a molt? If you do have a bad crab and you know which one is the "den" or hidey hole, you can squirt in Magnesium Chloride. It will cause the crab to come out real fast and do minimal damage to the good guys on your live rock. Here is a thread discussing it more:

http://forum.marinedepot.com/Topic24280-13-1.aspx

Brian

JonW
06/16/2006, 06:08 PM
Well I was wondering about a molt. But when I took him out for a closer inspection that's when I caught the isopod crawling out of the shell. So I guess that's a bit of a giveaway?

Don't know if I can get magnesium chloride over here but maybe I could try squirting freshwater into his hole?...

Jonathan

BrianPlankis
06/16/2006, 06:25 PM
Yes, freshwater usually has the same effect, it just kills more of the desirable animals on the live rock. But if you hold the live rock to where the crab and water fall straight down, you minimize the dieoff caused by the freshwater.

Brian

JonW
06/17/2006, 09:05 AM
Hi again Brian

Have you ever tried using copper against these cirolanids? I was just talking this through with my local aquatics dealer. He said that since it is a new tank I could dose it with cupramine. It would kill a lot of other stuff as well as the cirolanids but would have no long-term adverse effects on the tank's ability to sustain all types of life. At least it would get rid of the isopods once and for all.

I guess if I'm gonna do that then now's the time when there isn't much other life in there. I know I'd need to rehome the hermits and snails somewhere else during treatment.

Jonathan

BrianPlankis
06/17/2006, 04:21 PM
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=7577491#post7577491 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by JonW
Hi again Brian

Have you ever tried using copper against these cirolanids? I was just talking this through with my local aquatics dealer. He said that since it is a new tank I could dose it with cupramine. It would kill a lot of other stuff as well as the cirolanids but would have no long-term adverse effects on the tank's ability to sustain all types of life. At least it would get rid of the isopods once and for all.

I guess if I'm gonna do that then now's the time when there isn't much other life in there. I know I'd need to rehome the hermits and snails somewhere else during treatment.

Jonathan

Jonathan,

I have not tried copper against the cirolanids. Now I am not very familiar with cupramine, but I've always been told to NEVER put anything copper in a SW tank.

Your local aquatics dealer was only right about one thing: It will kill a LOT of other stuff in your tank. Basically you would be nuking your live rock and turning it into dead rock as the vast majority of the large animals that make up your live rock are invertebrates.

Now, since I'm not an expert on cupramine I would suggest you consult an expert before trying it. I would suggest Anthony Calfo, Dr Shimek over at Marine Depot or Dr Randy Holmes Farley at RC since he is a chemistry guru!

I can understand wanting to get rid of them quickly, but I think you will lose a large percentage of your food web in the tank with copper. I suggest trying the stinky water trap first (it is very easy to make) and if if succeeds you will leave a lot of your aquarium's food web intact. Ask yourself, which tank will be able to handle problems better in the future, one with a chemically weakend food web, or one that only removed the target species you wanted removed?

Everyone (including me), likes to hear advice that is a quick fix (pouring in chemicals one time), especially the people selling said chemicals (ie your local aquatics dealer). Personally, I think the advice from your dealer was terrible and I would make sure to get at least 2 or 3 other opinions from other sources before listening to him/her in the future.

I hope this doesn't come off as angry (and I'm not angry at you or the dealer), it is just frustrating to hear advice that ends up killing a lot of beneficial animals when we are only trying to remove a few bad ones. Have you tried the stinky water trap yet?

Brian

JonW
06/17/2006, 04:46 PM
OK thanks Brian. I hear you loud and clear! Cupramine claims to be different to other copper remedies but I guess they would say that wouldn't they.

I'm going to try the stinky water trap tonight actually to see how many of these things I can catch. I've left a cocktail shrimp in a cup full of tank water all night and all today out in full sun. Trouble is that it isn't very stinky!! What the hell do they treat these things with?:eek:

But I'll give it a go anyway.

Just to clarify what you said in your article about the six months of fallow tank - this means no crabs, no shrimps - nothing at all right? So the algae takes over the place then? Wouldn't a lot of the other good critters also die of starvation in that time?...

Jonathan

BrianPlankis
06/17/2006, 06:23 PM
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=7579114#post7579114 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by JonW
I'm going to try the stinky water trap tonight actually to see how many of these things I can catch. I've left a cocktail shrimp in a cup full of tank water all night and all today out in full sun. Trouble is that it isn't very stinky!! What the hell do they treat these things with?:eek:

But I'll give it a go anyway.

Just to clarify what you said in your article about the six months of fallow tank - this means no crabs, no shrimps - nothing at all right? So the algae takes over the place then? Wouldn't a lot of the other good critters also die of starvation in that time?...

Jonathan

Jonathan,

Did you put the shrimp in a cup of tank water (SW)? Putting it in freshwater seems to take a LOT longer to get stinky. That is probably one of the changes I'll have them make to the article because that isn't clear.

Well, the recommend of fallow for six months is somewhat of an old suggestion. I definitely would wait at least 60-90 days though, because some literature suggested that pregnant Cirolanids would avoid traps and you need some time for them to be on the hunt for food again.

Personally, I let my tank sit fallow for 70 days, doing 8 stinky water attempts with no captures during that time, and then I put fish into the tank. No problems.

I only pulled the crabs out (and my 1 shrimp died) because of the feeding tests, but I think it is minor compared to having the fish out. If it is easy to remove the crabs and shrimp I would do it, if it is difficult, I would try the trapping first.

My Cirolanids didn't bother snails, so I think snails will be fine and they will help control the algae. Phytoplankton should be fine to add. Also, running your lights a little longer so the corals and algae and bacteria get more food from light would be good too. Many of the good critters should be able to survive of bacteria, algae and detritus from the food web in your tank :)

I would avoid meaty food and DEFINITELY flake food, flake food was like crack to my Cirolanids, strongest feeding response of any food offered.

Please report back to this thread the results of your trapping. The more people that report the success or failure of the trap, the better we can figure out how effective it is and how long tanks really need to remain fallow. I would suspect we can do less than 6 months with trapping, but until we have many reports of success, I can't start to recommend that.

Boy, I really need to be shorter in my responses :)

Brian

JonW
06/18/2006, 12:02 PM
Hi Brian

I tried the stinky water trap last night. Put the stinky shrimp in a trap (actually used an AquaMedic Trapest). 1 1/2 hours after lights out and I was there with my red flashlight and turkey baster squirting the stinky water in. Waited for about half an hour but saw nothing. This morning the trap was empty.

I'll try again tonight (and by now the water is incredibly stinky!).

You'll probably say that I'm not waiting for long enough but the fact is I just can't be up all night watching a fish tank. This fish tank has been an all-consuming thing for me over the past few months. Everything else has suffered (even my job) because of all the time I've spent on it. After all that time and money spent I face a problem with only difficult and more time-consuming treatments. You'll probably guess that I'm really losing heart.

Even that crab that I've cornered in a piece of live rock just isn't playing ball. He just won't come out and squirting RO water at him had absolutely no effect apart from making him go even deeper.

Jonathan

BrianPlankis
06/18/2006, 11:21 PM
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=7582545#post7582545 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by JonW
Hi Brian

I tried the stinky water trap last night. Put the stinky shrimp in a trap (actually used an AquaMedic Trapest). 1 1/2 hours after lights out and I was there with my red flashlight and turkey baster squirting the stinky water in. Waited for about half an hour but saw nothing. This morning the trap was empty.

I'll try again tonight (and by now the water is incredibly stinky!).

You'll probably say that I'm not waiting for long enough but the fact is I just can't be up all night watching a fish tank. This fish tank has been an all-consuming thing for me over the past few months. Everything else has suffered (even my job) because of all the time I've spent on it. After all that time and money spent I face a problem with only difficult and more time-consuming treatments. You'll probably guess that I'm really losing heart.

Even that crab that I've cornered in a piece of live rock just isn't playing ball. He just won't come out and squirting RO water at him had absolutely no effect apart from making him go even deeper.

Jonathan

Jonathan,

I'm not familiar with the trappest, just make sure it is hard for them to leave like my inverted bottle trap. Hey man, good to hear nothing showed up, that is positive! I understand things suffering because of the fish tank.

I think 1.5 hours after lights out is plenty late enough, no need to stay up into the wee hours. In fact the stinky water method allowed me to start capturing Cirolanids as little as 2 minutes after lights out (but half hour was better).

I can tell you are losing heart a little, but don't give up, the start is the hardest part of this hobby!

Cheers,

Brian

JonW
06/19/2006, 02:33 PM
Hi again Brian

The trapest is a multi-purpose trap but one side has tubes going in that taper to a small hole. So hopefully things will find it a lot harder to get out than in.

Anyway - tried the test again last night with some seriously stinky water. Still saw nothing and caught nothing. Do you think that's a good sign?

I'm feeling a bit more positive today as well. Sorry about my last message - the whole thing was getting to me I think!

I reckon the best thing to do now might be just to leave things settle for a few weeks and maybe try the stinky water trap again every week or so. I'll also keep a close eye on the clownfish that are in there. Very cute little guys so I hope nothing bad happens to them!

Thanks for your help with this - really appreciate it! I'll keep you posted with how things develop.

Jonathan

BrianPlankis
06/19/2006, 02:57 PM
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=7588845#post7588845 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by JonW
Hi again Brian

The trapest is a multi-purpose trap but one side has tubes going in that taper to a small hole. So hopefully things will find it a lot harder to get out than in.

Anyway - tried the test again last night with some seriously stinky water. Still saw nothing and caught nothing. Do you think that's a good sign?

I'm feeling a bit more positive today as well. Sorry about my last message - the whole thing was getting to me I think!

I reckon the best thing to do now might be just to leave things settle for a few weeks and maybe try the stinky water trap again every week or so. I'll also keep a close eye on the clownfish that are in there. Very cute little guys so I hope nothing bad happens to them!

Thanks for your help with this - really appreciate it! I'll keep you posted with how things develop.

Jonathan

I think two capture attempts with no captures is a good sign, just keep a very close eye on the fish after lights out. It is possible you just got a couple of Cirolanids that were the same sex and now that you've removed them that should be it for them. Of course it is also possible they are feeding off the fish and are not interested in the trap. But as long as your fish look healthy, fat and responsive with no sores, hopefully it is the first scenario and not the second one.

No need to apologize for the last message :) I COMPLETELY understand getting down from having them in your tank. I was VERY close to junking my LR several times during my experience. But if I had done that I would have never thought of the trap and stinky water method that appears to be helping other people now :)

I would keep trapping once a week for a few weeks and keep a close eye on the fish. If you don't see any for 60-90 days I would say you are pretty safe to feel "cured". Please report back either way.

Brian

BrianPlankis
09/08/2006, 12:48 AM
Jon,

Hey man, just thought I would ask, how are thing going in the tank?

Brian

JonW
09/08/2006, 01:43 PM
Hey Brian

How are things with you? Hope the tank is going well.

Well the cirolanids have never made another appearance since our discussions back in June. Don't think it's enough time to say I'm completely in the clear but it's looking favourable I suppose. Thanks so much for all your previous advice on this.

I must say that I haven't been able to resist the temptation to add more fish. I have been keeping a very close eye on them for skin damage or attached bugs after dark but nothing so far.

However that's not to say that things have been going smoothly. Particularly I had a scare recently with a possible whitespot outbreak. I haven't been quarantining new fish (mistake I know now). Got a couple of tangs two weeks ago and then they started getting spots on their pectoral fins (only one fish to start with). Bit of a long story, but at first I panicked and got that fish out into a separate hospital tank. He didn't make it - worst thing is my intervention probably killed him with stress more than whatever he was suffering from. The other fish got the same spots the next day in the main tank and that's the way it's been for nearly two weeks now. Hardly noticeable unless you look very closely, hasn't got any worse and has probably got a bit better actually. I'm annoyed with myself for letting this happen and take it as a stern warning to quarantine from now on.

Worse still I got home from work two days ago to find my favorite Midas Blenny missing. Searched all round the tank and then found him - dead on the floor behind that tank. I normally have the tank covered but it had been hot so I took the cover off to let the evaporation cool it down. Was so gutted at that.

Still, two days later and I'm pulling myself together and working out how I can correct the mistakes I've made and move forward. That's all you can do I guess!

How's life in Houston?

Jonathan