Coral Dipping and Dips
Dipping newly purchased coral is something that should be done from the very start of a marine tank. Its makes for good husbandry and helps avoid problems down the line. Unfortunately combinations of excitement, lack of knowledge and inexperience mean many people don't and may never do unless they have a problem. We, and hopefully most coral retailers, dip all new arrivals and redip whenever we do a coral tray clean down and we also stock all our coral bays with a six line wrasse and scopas tang to aid with pest/algae removal. As thorough as this is it unfortunately does not mean that our corals are guaranteed to be pest free as the eggs of most coral predators are immune to coral dips. In an ideal world everyone would have a quarantine tank to monitor corals/fish before they go into a main display but this isnt always an option so the best alternative is to give new arrivals a dip.
After new corals have been dipped it is still worth monitoring them and ideally redipping a couple more times over the next week to eradicate any newly hatched pests.
Some of the reasons we dip coral include Zoanthid eating Nudibranchs, Montipora eating Nudibranchs, Acropora eating Flatworms, Bristlworms, Zoanthid eating Spiders, Red Flatworms, Filamentous Hair Algae, Rapid Tissue Necrosis, Slow Tissue Necrosis and Bacterial Infections.
Some pests cannot be controlled through dipping such as sundial snails. These pests eat zoas but have a trap door they can close when under threat which means they are effected by the dip. Regular manual removal is the best way to eradicate these pests and adding a fish that is likely to eat them. Many wrasse such as silver bellies, yellow cories and sixlines are great for controlling unwanted hitchhikers along with many others. There is usually at least one that is compatible in most aquaria so if you are in doubt feel free to ask.
Dips come under various branding but this is a overview/review of our tried and tested favourites!
Seachem Reef Dip
This is a iodine complex based dip improving on standard iodine as it applies itselfs as a coat of the coral working after the dip has finished. If treating damage or infection it can be directly applied to the affected area. The general way of using the dip is to add 5 - 10 ml to 4 litres of aquarium water in a clean container or bucket then leave the coral to soak for 15-30 minutes. If there is heavy infection or it does not seem to have an impact you can use up to double the dose. Give the coral a swish to dislodge any pests that have been dazed on the coral and replace to the tank. It is recommended you watch the coral to see if there is any adverse reactions, if the start producing excessive slime coat or blistering then removes and rinse off in tank water and return them to the aquarium. We have found that the higher recommended doses are required for some pests with this particular dip and they can require some extra persusion to remove such a a blast off with a turkey baster.
- Relatively cheap per dose, great if you frequently purchase new frags.
- Can be directly applied to tissue damage as a quick treatment.
- Great disinfectant for newly fragged corals.
- Takes a little longer to dip te corals.
- Corals tend to sulk a while after the dip
- No algae removal potential
Adding a small powerhead to provide flow and circulate dips seems to increase effectiveness. Failing that using a pippette/turkey baster to stir and blast around the coral frequently thoughout the dip works well.
If the dip is going to take a while and you are in a cold enviroment, you can use a small heater to stabilise the temperature. Some dips are harsh enough so temperature swings will not help.
Polyp lab Reef Primer
A little different to most dips as it is potassium salt based. We have been very impressed with this dip, it does seem to do what it suggests. It suggests using 45g per 4 liters of aquarium water. Mix until completely dissolved and dip the corals for up to 5 minutes while keeping the water agitated either manually stirring or using a powerhead. Remove the coral and return to the aquarium.
- This dip work impressively fast on most coral pests and i have seen them fall from the coral within seconds of going into the dip.
- Corals really do not sulk as a consequence of the dip and do not show any stress response.
- Harsh on pests but easy on the coral
- Expensive per treatment (see our tips for this dip)
- Can not comment on the efficacy of hair algae removal as we have had mixed results although it claims to remove.
As well as this dip works it does costs a lot there is no denying that. If you are not dipping a lot of coral just divide the dosage by 4 so about 11grams and use it in one litre of aquarium water. The coral does have to be fully submerged so bare that in mind and you are unlikely to be able to use a powerhead in such a small volume of water so manual agitation is recommended.
Hydrogen Peroxide 9%
This obviously isnt a backed or branded dip but something that some people use across the hobby. Please if you choose to use this be extra careful and wear appropriate safety gear as it is bleach after all. The main use we have for this dip is hair algae removal and it works brilliantly on soft corals and in particular zoas. The dose we use is 10ml of 9% peroxide per litre of water, leave the coral for 5-10 minutes, and the algae should start vigorously bubbling. Once the dip is finished, remove the coral and replace in the aquarium. If it is a small aquarium it may be worth rinsing the coral first. This dip can also be used on lps but i would use a lower dose. The algae will not immediatley fall off but will turn grey over a day or so and either be eaten by cuc or fall off within a couple of days. It is recommended that you watch the coral to see there is no adverse reaction and if there is then remove the coral immediately.
- Works wonders on algae and some pests
- Cheaper than some branded dips
- Saves frags and zoas being smothered and killed from algae
- Little Margin for error! overdoses can be catastrophic on dipped corals.
- Harsh on coral, they can take a while to open back up when returned to the aquarium.
- Gloves and ideally goggles should be worn
- Harder to source and they chemist may not think its a viable reason to purchase peroxide......
if you are not sure of the dose to use then you can work your way up gradually, adding maybe 5ml every 30 seconds or so. Once the Algae starts to bubble leave it a few more minutes without adding more and remove.
Bare in mind their are different concentrations of peroxide available so if it is different use the above method to work out a dosage.
Once again if you are not sure or confident doing this then please dont.