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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After dealing with a red bug infestation last week, I found out that these little things are a big problem among all of us who keep SPS corals. I did some research and ended up treating my corals in a QT tank. I wanted to provide some information for everyone who may have had red bugs (or are going to get red bugs) to help them through it.

Red bugs are a common parasitic crustacean that infects only Acropora species of SPS corals. They are quite common in our hobby and can infect an entire aquarium after hitchhiking on a new coral or frag. They are very small (0.5 mm) and appear yellow with a red dot. Common signs of a red bug infection include color fading, poor polyp extension, and slow death of colonies. You may have to use a magnifying glass to see them, and make sure you check all sides of the coral.

Prevention

The best method of avoiding an infection is to quarantine every new frag coming into your tank. That will give you a chance to examine it for a while before introducing it into the display tank. I have also heard of using Tropic Marin Coral Cure or iodine as a dip, which also helps prevent Acropora eating flatworms (AEFW) and nudibranches - I think. (Be warned, many people do not consider the dips to be effective for all these parasites or their eggs.) Some people will also do a treatment with "Interceptor" before placing a coral into their system.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Treatment

Once you find an infection, it becomes necessary to treat the tank or all the acros in a QT tank. Since acropora species are the only corals affected, you can remove all the acros to a small QT tank and treat them there instead of treating the entire display tank. The drug of choice is a dog and cat heartworm medication called Interceptor. The active ingredient "Milbemycin" is a very effective antibiotic that will specifically target crustaceans including the red bugs. Prior to treating, you should remove all crabs and shrimps that you want to save. See the following link for detailed instructions on how to use Interceptor: http://www.reefs.org/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=45859.

Dosing

Interceptor comes in several different doses, the one that is used is the pill for large dogs (50-100 pounds). Place the pill in a plastic container and crush it into a powder with the back of a spoon. If you have a sensitive scale, the dose is 25 mg of powder per 10 gallons. This is an estimate and it's not common to have a scale that sensitive. The entire pill weighs 1000 mg so some people just estimate - for example, a 100 gallon system would require 250 mg of powder, or 1/4 of a pill. The exact dose doesn't seem to be that important. In a conversation with TDWyatt, he explained that acroporas seem to be free of any side effects from the Milbemycin (but don't go dosing at 100X the recommended!).

Before dosing your tank, be sure to remove any crabs or shrimps that you want to save. Although some people have not lost any desirable crustaceans from a treatment, it's still a good idea.

Duration

The orginal treatment was supposed to last for 6 hours and then a 25% water change was done and carbon was added to the system. 3 total treatments were done one week apart. There is newer information about red bugs now. It seems that they have a 5 day life cycle and a 3 week treatment cycle may not be necessary. Eric Borneman (don’t laugh) has some observations about treating red bugs and recommends a much longer treatment period - 12-24 hours instead of just 6. His observation is that longer treatment times and not higher doses are more effective in eliminating red bugs. (http://www.ericborneman.com/Tegastes-content/Treatment.html) I have treated my acroporas for 24 hours without any negative results. If you were to use a QT tank for treatment, keep the acroporas out of your display for at least 5 days (to allow all the existing red bugs to die from the lack of a host).

Storage

TDWyatt recommends keeping the unused powder in an opaque medicine bottle (clearly labelled) in the fridge. That should keep it good for a while.

Good luck everyone, and I hope you never get the dreaded red bugs :D
 

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Just some guy, you know?
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I had Red Bugs in my 125 SPS tank, because it is an SPS tank I didn't have the ability to QT my corals, so I had to dose interceptor to the main tank. I killed the air into my skimmer but left water running through it, this shuts the skimmer down, but doesn't potentially leave some bugs un-treated within the skimmer body.

I did 3 treatments, one per week, 6 hours after the first 2 I just started the skimmer back up, as the skimmer should remove the meds, after the last treatment I did a 25% water change, ran carbon, and re-started the skimmer.

These are pics of the corals before I got red bugs.



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Whiskey
 

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My corals during red bugs, this was just before I decided the corals looked bad enough that I HAD to do something,.. a couple of days before my first treatment.

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Whiskey
 

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These are the same corals 2 months after the first treatment for Red Bugs





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As you can see the corals still have some time to go before there fully colored up again,.. but their health looks far better than during the red bug spell. These in particular were on death's door, some of my corals were not effected at all however; and some were barely effected. I showed the best examples of the red bugs here of course.

Whiskey
 

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Wiskey, is the second picture in your first post a A. granulosa? I don't quatantine SPS colonies or frags, I soak them in Interceptor for 3 hours before going into my tank. I had to treat ONE time, and THAT was ENOUGH! I've never had any flatworms, so I have no experience with them. Very beautiful coral shots! I Like ALOT!

Phil
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
salt rookie, you should probably treat for longer than that to be as effective as possible in removing red bugs. I mean, if you already have the stuff mixed up, why not go ahead and treat for 6 hours.
 

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Wiskey, is the second picture in your first post a A. granulosa? I don't quatantine SPS colonies or frags, I soak them in Interceptor for 3 hours before going into my tank. I had to treat ONE time, and THAT was ENOUGH! I've never had any flatworms, so I have no experience with them. Very beautiful coral shots! I Like ALOT!

Phil
This one?


No,.. I don't think so,.. We call it the RBS (red bug special) it's reaction to red bugs in phoniminal, see how it went from deep color to light tan, back to deep color? It was the most effected coral in the tank,.. the bugs swarm to it, it's my canary coral for red bugs.

If I had to take a guess,.. I'd say some kind of tricolor. But I've never looked into an ID on it.

I also agree with dipping your corals for longer,.. 3 hours might not be enough.

Thanks!
Whiskey
 

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I've successfully gotten rid of red bugs with TMPCC. The corals all sat in a QT for five days while anything left in the tank died. The TMPCC easily kills the bugs.

This was recommended to me by the guy that recommended Intercepter to Duston. He doesn't recommend it. I can see if you have to do the whole tank, you have no choice. But if you can remove the corals there are other options.
 

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I Have Red Bug!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ok .. so my display has red bug .. I am going to treat bolth my frag tank and my display just for sound of mind ... but I have a few questions ...

1) I know it kills your herms, crabs and shrimp ... what about clams and a cucumber? ... I have 4 really nice clams .. 2 I can remove the other 2 I cant as they are attached to rock ... the cucumber is HUGE 4+ foot and I have no place to put him ...

2) how long before I am able to put herms back into the tank? .. and when can I seed pods again?

3) is there any type of amm, nitrite or nitrate spikes that I should be aware of? ... I am kinda scared to add any mediacations to my tank that I have well over 10 grand into ...

Thanks for any information!

Steve
 

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If I remove my two cleaner shrimp before using interceptor to kill off a coral banded shrimp, when would it be safe for me to put them back in?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
David, I wouldn't recommend using Interceptor as a shrimp killer. Seems like using a sledge hammer to nail in a thumb tack. But to answer your question, I would wait until the next day after you return carbon to your system.
 

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If I remove my two cleaner shrimp before using interceptor to kill off a coral banded shrimp, when would it be safe for me to put them back in?

Get a BIG hunk of shrimp...cover it in super glue and quickly throw it near him......

grab him

Ive never done this...but i bet it would work :funny:

it would take a pretty healthy dose of interceptor to kill a CB i think
 

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My coral banded shrimp and all my white knuckle hermits made it threw the 3 treatments ...
As did mine. Though some of my hermits really showed stress, none died immediately from this treatment, while all the redbugs were eliminated after three treatments performed.
 

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This still the best way to treat?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
This still the best way to treat?
As far as I know, it's still the best and easiest way to treat red bugs. I haven't seen anything else new for quite some time now. Interceptor works so well, is so easy to use, and safe that people aren't trying real hard to find other treatments. I do have to say that I read about someone using another heartworm medication over in Europe that worked well, but I don't remember the name.
 

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Looks like I will be talking with my cat's vet on Friday.
 

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spaceman spiff
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Yep, I did it just a few months back. Check out my build thread for some of the specifics, but I followed this plan almost to the letter. Here's a shot of the most affected coral from today and from about 4 months ago.

 
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