AEFW experiments and study

Discussion in 'General SPS Discussion' started by tektite, Nov 11, 2013.

  1. tektite

    tektite Active Member R2R Supporter Photo of the Month Award

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    I think this thread might be of interest to some people here, so I'll post it :) Got it on a few other forums as well.

    Awhile back I took in some frags from a fellow hobbyist that weren't doing good for them. Turns out some of them had Acropora eating flatworms (AEFW). I did what research I could to find out more, but there's not much scientific information out there.

    A big thanks goes to an LFS who gave me their entire collection of Acropora when they discovered a customer had given AEFW to them. While eradicating the AEFW for the LFS, I became quite interested in the little guys. Even found a dip that kills the embryos inside the eggs, but more study is needed on that (will be a later experiment).

    I was able to clean the LFS frags of AEFW and returned them, but left AEFW on my own personal SPS. I don't have many, but what I have are now hosts to a deliberate population of AEFW. Hopefully I can keep most of them alive while infected over time. I contacted Dr. Kate Rawlinson, who's done the only real scientific study on AEFW I could find. After a number of emails, we will now be working together to do some more research on them.

    Any information we discover I'll post in this thread. It won't be a fast process, but I hope over time we can find some valuable information to help hobbyists against this common SPS pest.


    Few quick pics:

    Adult AEFW:
    [​IMG]

    Large AEFW moving over SPS polyps. Its mottled appearance makes it blend in extremely well to the host acro:
    [​IMG]

    Badly infested acro showing bite marks and eggs:
    [​IMG]


    Short video, sped up 4x. The flatworm wasn't happy with the compartment, it had just been moved from its host acro, and was holding itself up trying to find something other than the plastic to grab onto:

    AEFW closeup - YouTube
     
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  2. tektite

    tektite Active Member R2R Supporter Photo of the Month Award

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    This is my current list of question I want to eventually answer:

    Top 3:
    How long it takes adult AEFW to die with no host
    How long it takes eggs to hatch
    How long it takes AEFW to go from hatch to adults capable of egg-laying

    More involved questions, that will be harder to experiment with so will take more time:
    Natural length of life with full access to food
    How frequently can an AEFW lay batches of eggs?
    Does temperature affect any of the Top 3 time periods?
    Is AEFW health/strength/capability to lay eggs affected by how sick their host coral is?
    Which Acropora species are most likely to be heavily infested?
    Are some species of acro capable of remaining healthy when heavily infested?
    Does the species of host acro affect any of the Top 3 question results?
    Natural predators of AEFW and effectiveness – acro crabs, wrasses, etc.
    Is there more than one kind of AEFW, are some more hardier than others?
    As they are nocturnal, how does an extended or constant light period affect their life cycle?
    How frequently can a healthy adult AEFW lay eggs?

    Control and eradication:
    Different dip efficacy on AEFW, of ones hobbyists commonly use – Bayer Advanced insecticide, CoralRx, Revive, Lugol's, prazi, maybe RPS All Out (very curious to scientifically prove or disprove their claims it kills AEFW eggs, as they seem incapable of providing any of their own study's data).


    If anyone has other questions they're interested in, please post them and I'll add them to my list!
     
  3. tektite

    tektite Active Member R2R Supporter Photo of the Month Award

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    Experiment 1:

    Survival period for hatched AEFW of all sizes with no access to Acropora hosts.

    Questions to be answered:
    Length of time from removal from food source to death?
    Do smaller AEFW die sooner than larger ones? Or do the smallest ones not die as fast as they still have yolk reserves post-hatch?

    Side questions:
    Will gravid AEFW lay eggs in the compartments away from Acropora?
    Are AEFW more active during the day or night?


    I built an acrylic container to hold the AEFW. It has 5 compartments, 4â€x4â€x4†each. It is watertight, so even the tiniest AEFW will not be able to get out. The AEFW will be sorted in each compartment by size, and obviously gravid AEFW will be in a compartment of their own. Macro pictures will be taken every day of each compartment's inhabitants. The container will be floating in the main display tank, so the AEFW will have the exact same conditions as when they were on the acros. Same temp, lighting cycle, water parameters. 80-90% waterchanges will be done once a day in each compartment, and the container will be partly covered to keep evaporation down.
     
  4. tektite

    tektite Active Member R2R Supporter Photo of the Month Award

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    Day 1 of experiment 1 (Nov 5th), start 12pm:

    Container being used:
    [​IMG]

    Adult AEFW harvested off of several various species of Acropora. Removed from the acros by directed water jet, as gently as possible. Sorted by size in the 5 compartments of the container. Each compartment is 4â€x4â€, water 3†deep. Container is hooked to the side of the aquarium the AEFW came from, giving them the same temperature, light cycle, and water conditions as they came from. Partially covered with a translucent white acrylic lid, to help cut down evaporation and a little light as they are closer to the light in the container than they were on the corals.

    Compartment 1: 6 AEFW, ranging from 8-12mm
    Compartment 2: 10 AEFW, ranging from 6-10mm
    Compartment 3: 10 AEFW, ranging from 4-6mm
    Compartment 4: 10 AEFW, ranging from 2-4mm
    Compartment 5: 10 AEFW, ranging from 1-2mm


    AEFW may be more active at night. Many AEFW taken from corals were observed either underneath the branches of the corals, or tucked into forks of branches.
     
  5. tektite

    tektite Active Member R2R Supporter Photo of the Month Award

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    Day 2, Experiment 1 (Nov 6th):

    Compartment 1: One cluster of eggs observed on bottom of container
    Compartment 2: 3 AEFW found on surface of water in morning, eggs observed laid in 3 separate sections in a straight line along the edge of the bottom.
    Compartment 3: 6 AEFW found on surface of water in morning, otherwise no change
    Compartment 4: No change, all AEFW present
    Compartment 5: No change, all AEFW present


    Notes:

    AEFW can crawl out on the surface of the water. May need to adjust the experiment container for a second test run that has running water of some kind to help prevent this.

    Compartments 1 and 2 had eggs present this morning that were laid overnight.

    90% waterchange at 9:30am.
    80% waterchange at 8:00pm.
     
  6. tektite

    tektite Active Member R2R Supporter Photo of the Month Award

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    AEFW confirmed as nocturnal, are almost motionless during the day in the test compartments, but moving around freely after lights-out. All eggs laid to date were done so during the night.


    Day 3, Experiment 1 (Nov 7th)

    Compartment 1: 3 new egg clusters (4 clusters total to date), 1 AEFW dying
    Compartment 2: 2 new egg clusters (3 clusters to date), 1 AEFW dead, 1 AEFW missing, 8 present
    Compartment 3: 5 new egg clusters
    Compartment 4: No change, all AEFW present
    Compartment 5: No change, all AEFW present


    Notes:

    All eggs were laid overnight, observed in the morning

    Starting to lose a few large AEFW. It is possible because of their size that they sustained more damage from the directed water jet used to remove them from the acro originally than the smaller AEFW, or egg-laying shortened their lifespan with no access to food

    80% waterchanges performed 9am and 9pm
     
  7. tektite

    tektite Active Member R2R Supporter Photo of the Month Award

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    Day 4, Experiment 1 (Nov 8th)

    Compartment 1: 3 new egg clusters (7 clusters total to date), 1 AEFW dead, 5 AEFW present
    Compartment 2: 2 new egg clusters (5 clusters total to date), 1 AEFW missing, 7 AEFW present
    Compartment 3: No change (5 clusters of eggs to date), all AEFW present
    Compartment 4: 1 small cluster of eggs (~7 eggs), all 10 AEFW present
    Compartment 5: 1 AEFW missing, 9 AEFW alive

    Notes:

    All eggs were laid overnight, observed in the morning

    Especially with only 6 AEFW in compartment 1, since it now has 7 clusters of eggs, at least one worm has laid more than one batch of eggs at this point

    Compartment 4 had eggs this morning. That is the 2-4mm size range compartment. Knowing it is possible for them to lay eggs that small is helpful for future experiments, especially figuring out how long it takes to grow from hatch to egg-laying sexual maturity.

    80% waterchanges performed 9am and 9pm
     
  8. tektite

    tektite Active Member R2R Supporter Photo of the Month Award

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    Day 5, Experiment 1 (Nov 9th)

    Compartment 1: 2 new egg clusters (9 to date), all remaining 5 AEFW present
    Compartment 2: 2 new egg clusters (7 to date), all remaining 7 AEFW present
    Compartment 3: 1 new egg cluster (6 to date), all 10 AEFW present
    Compartment 4: No change, all 10 AEFW present
    Compartment 5: All remaining 9 AEFW present

    Notes:

    All eggs were laid overnight, observed in the morning

    Waterchange performed at 7pm
     
  9. tektite

    tektite Active Member R2R Supporter Photo of the Month Award

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    Day 6, Experiment 1 (Nov 10th)

    Compartment 1: 3 new egg clusters (2 very small, 12 total to date), all remaining 5 AEFW present
    Compartment 2: 2 new egg clusters (9 to date), 1 AEFW dead, 6 AEFW present
    Compartment 3: 3 new egg clusters (9 to date), all 10 AEFW present
    Compartment 4: No change, all 10 AEFW present
    Compartment 5: No change, all remaining 9 AEFW present

    Notes:

    All eggs were laid overnight, observed in the morning. Egg clusters are much smaller now than when they were first removed from the Acropora, 1/2 – 1/3 the number of eggs.

    Waterchange performed at 12pm and 9pm
     
  10. tektite

    tektite Active Member R2R Supporter Photo of the Month Award

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    Pics

    Container in aquarium:
    [​IMG]

    Top of container:
    [​IMG]

    Compartments 1 and 2:
    [​IMG]

    Compartments 4 and 5:
    [​IMG]
     
  11. tektite

    tektite Active Member R2R Supporter Photo of the Month Award

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    Will update this thread with further findings. It is amazing that on day 6 of no food, 40 of the original 46 are still alive, and some 31 clusters of eggs have been laid.
     
  12. Jing_xoxo

    Jing_xoxo Active Member

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    I think this is really interesting, thank you for sharing your continuing experiment !
     
  13. ritter6788

    ritter6788 Coral Fraud Private Eye Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Photo of the Month Award Reef Spotlight Award

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    I was hoping you'd post this here. :) Thanks and following.
     
  14. Dashiki

    Dashiki Valuable Member

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    following...

    very interesting.
     
  15. Dashiki

    Dashiki Valuable Member

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    following...<br><br>very interesting.

    can you share how you controlled the aefw from the lfs infestation.
     
  16. tektite

    tektite Active Member R2R Supporter Photo of the Month Award

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    Day 7, Experiment 1 (Nov 11th)

    Compartment 1: 2 new egg clusters (14 total to date), all remaining 5 AEFW present
    Compartment 2: No change (9 total egg clusters to date), all remaining 6 AEFW present
    Compartment 3: 1 new egg cluster (10 total to date), all 10 AEFW present
    Compartment 4: No change (1 egg cluster to date), all 10 AEFW present
    Compartment 5: No change, all remaining 9 AEFW present


    Notes:

    Egg laying slowing down

    Waterchange performed at 10am and 10pm
     
  17. tektite

    tektite Active Member R2R Supporter Photo of the Month Award

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    Day 8, Experiment 1 (Nov 12th)

    Compartment 1: No change (14 total egg clusters to date), all remaining 5 AEFW present
    Compartment 2: 1 new egg cluster (10 total egg clusters to date), all remaining 6 AEFW present
    Compartment 3: No change (10 total egg clusters to date), all 10 AEFW present
    Compartment 4: No change (1 egg cluster to date), all 10 AEFW present
    Compartment 5: No change, all remaining 9 AEFW present


    Notes:

    No deaths of AEFW of any size for the last 3 days

    Waterchange performed at 10am and 10pm
     
  18. tektite

    tektite Active Member R2R Supporter Photo of the Month Award

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    All the acros were kept in a simple 40B separate quarantine tank, taken out and dipped at least once a week in Bayer advanced insecticide. All corals were closely inspected, eggs scraped off. I think I did this for 5-6 weeks, no new egg clusters were laid after week 1 dip cycle as that killed off any egg-laying adults. The remainder of the weeks was waiting on any possible eggs to hatch that I might have missed, and insurance against any stragglers :)
     
  19. tektite

    tektite Active Member R2R Supporter Photo of the Month Award

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    Day 9, Experiment 1 (Nov 13th)

    Compartment 1: 2 new egg clusters (16 total egg clusters to date), all remaining 5 AEFW present
    Compartment 2: No change (10 total egg clusters to date), all remaining 6 AEFW present
    Compartment 3: No change (10 total egg clusters to date), all 10 AEFW present
    Compartment 4: 3 AEFW dead (1 egg cluster to date), 7 remaining AEFW
    Compartment 5: 4 AEFW dead, 5 remaining AEFW


    Notes:

    Smaller AEFW hit a wall today, many dead, the remaining hardly moving at all

    Waterchange performed at 10am and 10pm
     
  20. nonstopfish

    nonstopfish Active Member Photo of the Month Award

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    This is an awesome thread. Cool work you are doing!! Keep it up!
     
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