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How I got rid of flatworms...and almost killed my tank in the process.

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by DangerJ, Jun 18, 2018.

  1. DangerJ Well-Known ReefKeeper Board of Directors Leadership Team GIRS Member

    Des Moines, IA
    +305 / 4 / -0
    A series of errors on my part led to a very unpleasant Father's day morning. Learn or laugh at my story that follows!

    I have been spending 5-6 hours every day moving stuff between our houses. Saturday was our "big" day for the team lift items, and my running BC29.

    Well, as with buying houses and moving, I had a lot on my plate and routine maintenance of my tank was not a high priority. It wasn't even on my radar.

    There has been a flatworm infestation in my tank for over a year. I siphon them out, things are good for a while, then they come back. Tried a sixline wrasse, it didn't eat them. At a certain point I just learned to live with it.

    Due to negligence, the flatworms really bloomed right before the move. In my rush, and probably also due to my total fatigue and my brain being fried, I did not clean my tank before moving. First event in a series of cataclysmic errors.

    Corals got put in buckets of clean water, live rock got put in tank water buckets. Left about two inches of water in the tank for buried inverts and such.

    Rushed to the new house and set the tank up, filling with clean water again and a little top off of old tank water just for the goods inside. Everything got put back in and aside from 'move stress' they appeared to be fine, just angry.


    Sunday morning as I'm walking out to check on the brisket that had been smoking all night I'm hit with an awful, spoiled raw chicken smell coming from the basement. Worry sets in and I go downstairs to find all snails at the top rim of the tank, my giant brittle star moving all over the place, and all corals closed up and sliming. The water's turned a green/brown.

    Rush, rush, rush to set up a hospital tank with clean water and start moving frags over. I'm out of salt. Call the wife who was running errands and ask for more - another big error on my part that I overlooked during the move.

    I get almost everything living moved over and there's dozens of dead bristle worms, brittle stars, and I think I lost all of my pocillipora. Frogspawn might not make it, not sure at this point.

    The flatworms all died and secreted their toxins into the water. The mass die-off from the move started poisoning my tank and everything alive was panicking. At this point, I believe it's stabilized and I'll save most of the livestock. I have no fish at this time. Interestingly, my two BTAs in the tank were acting like nothing happened.

    So, silver lining...I no longer have flatworms.

    Lessons learned:

    Clean your tank before moving.
    Make sure you have enough salt or clean water for the whole setup/acclimation process
    Flatworm die-off is highly toxic
    Don't leave your main siphon at the old house when you need it at the new
    24 hours is the magic amount of time smoking for a 15lb brisket.
    • Uh oh! Not good! Uh oh! Not good! x 1
    • List
  2. beckerj3 Expert Reefkeeper Board of Directors Leadership Team GIRS Member

    West Des Moines, IA
    +343 / 2 / -0
    Glad to hear that you saved most of the livestock!
  3. DangerJ Well-Known ReefKeeper Board of Directors Leadership Team GIRS Member

    Des Moines, IA
    +305 / 4 / -0
    Yep. Just disappointed in myself for not being more cautious about the move. I've moved tanks many times before and I got careless.

    Another silver lining - I'm going to really have to get going now on my copepod cultures, because I'm certain I don't have any anymore!
  4. Reef Medic Clay Well-Known ReefKeeper Leadership Team GIRS Member

    Des Moines, IA
    +92 / 0 / -0
    I've taken notes from this! Lol since I'm having my own, fun battle with flat worms, I'm going to keep all you've said in mind! I'm also glad you were able to save most of the livestock!
  5. DangerJ Well-Known ReefKeeper Board of Directors Leadership Team GIRS Member

    Des Moines, IA
    +305 / 4 / -0
    If you deploy Flatworm Exit, just follow the instructions to the T. You also cannot hurt your tank with over-carbon filtration.

    Flatworms are funny things. They were entirely harmless to my tank from what I could tell, just a visual nuisance. But as soon as you try to get them out, they nuke everything!

    Update on corals in order of healthy to not healthy:
    Favia corals are fine
    Maxi Mini carpet nem happy
    BTAs are mostly happy now (I really can't figure this one out, I marked them as goners)
    Zoas are all mostly open
    Duncan has half of the heads open, color is still in the closed heads
    Digi isn't looking too hot
    Frogspawn isn't looking too hot
    Montis aren't going to make it

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