Flatworms are a very small organism which are normally a brownish red color. Even though they are very small, they can quickly become a huge nightmare. If you have flatworms, you need to deal with them quickly. Below I have outlined my experience with flatworms and have included a Salifert Flatworm eXit Review to my blog.
If you do not take proper steps to quarantine new corals or if you’re really unlucky and a flatworm hitchhiker makes it through your quarantine steps, seeing flatworms in your reef will surely scare you. It’s not fully understood if flatworms will actually eat on your corals but this is almost irrelevant. If you have them, you have to take steps to eradicate them. Flatworms can reproduce out of control and eventually they will perch on your corals, blocking the light and eventually smothering your corals to death.
Assume you look into your tank and observe one on a piece of live rock or on your glass. Don’t make the mistake of assuming you have “a flatworm.” There could very possibly be hundreds or thousands hiding inside your live rock. It’s been my experience that flatworms are not noticed until they populate to large numbers because just a few flat worms do a very good job of blending onto your live rock and going unnoticed. I had let flatworms slip through into one of my display tanks years ago and it was a huge headache getting rid of them.
Recently, while visiting a friend and his neglected tank, I was shocked at the flatworm population which had infested his tank. Overfeeding and having high nitrates is what I believe allowed this flatworm population to explode. Having his tank to use as an example of how out of control flatworms can get, I decided to snap a few pictures and observe the effectiveness of the product and do a Salifert’s Flatworm eXit review.
As you can see from the pictures posted in this article, the flatworm population is out of control. Here is the dilemma: if massive amounts of flatworms die at once they turn the water toxic and can kill your fish and corals. Here are the steps we took to ensure total flatworm eradication while doing our best to insure no loss of livestock.
1. Have a large batch of fresh saltwater made up and ready.
2. Using an aquarium gravel vacuum, we sucked up as many flatworms as we could get ahold of. The ones which are found sticking to the sand bed are relatively easy to get out of the tank. The ones hiding in the live rock and on the corals though are much more difficult to remove with the vacuum. However, removing as many worms as possible with the vacuum is key to ensuring the survival of your tank livestock.
3. Once we removed as many flatworms as we could with the vacuum, we treated the tank with the recommended dosage of Salifert Flatworm eXit. Almost instantly we saw the flatworms begin to literally explode. You will see the dead flatworms start to rise off the live rock, sometimes just floating dead in the water, other times being anchored only by some stringy substance. You could see the livestock being effected by the release of the toxins into the water. We observed that his Acans were extremely unhappy! The sps also started to immediately brown out.
4. Thirty to forty-five minutes later, we began running activated carbon on the tank and did a 25% water change.
A few days later all the LPS corals had bounced back to full extension and health. It took the SPS corals a few weeks to fully color up and regain their original health. Unfortunately, the flatworms came back as well after a few months.
The first round of Salifert Flatworm eXit did work to some degree; it obviously just didn’t get them all. We repeated the same steps as above but we doubled the recommended dosage. This did the trick and the flatworms have not been seen again.
During my personal battle with flatworms, I had an observation. The flatworms were never found in the “display” section of the tank which housed a six line wrasse and a yellow pencil wrasse. I have never personally seen the wrasses eat the flatworms but something in the display tank was definitely eating them. That being said though, if you are battling a huge flatworm population as my friend was, a wrasse is not going to fix the problem.
In the end if you take the time to vacuum as many flatworms as you can from your tank, do a water change and run carbon. Your corals and livestock should be safe. Salifert Flatworm eXit does work, it just seems like in my experience, the recommended dosage was not nearly enough and we had to double it.
ADDED – 01/21/2013
No new corals were added to my friends aquarium since this review was created. Weeks later flatworms were discovered again. Not in the same amount of numbers but they were still around. After further research it appears that even though the chemical does work it most likely will not kill them all, and its even been suggested that the flatworm eggs survive the treatment. To test this theory out we did a large dosage on the tank (double the amount) and then after four days did another round of flatworm exit to kill any new hatched flatworms. It took several weeks of watching the tank but sadly they were found again. Using this chemical you can clearly see it destroys a huge hunk of the flatworm population, however and unfortunately somehow a small amount of the population can manage to live and reproduce.
I am currently looking for a different solution to this problem.
ADDED – 04/22/2013
Sine the very large dosing in January 2013 the few flatworms that were discovered seem to have died off or are at least a very small population. They cannot be found , its possible that the Salifert Flatworm eXit overdose did knock them down to a population level that the wrasses were able to finish the rest off.