How safe are Peppermint Shrimp?

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flfish

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Hi all,
Currently planning my first reef and had thought that peppermint shrimp were a very good and safe option for cleanup crew, but am now seeing more and more stuff about them eating corals. Are they not as safe as I had thought they were?
 
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You’re going to get a lot of very different answers.

I personally think they’re safe, but they need to be fed often. If not, they can sometimes attack corals and anemones for food. As long as I fed mine often and kept him munching on a piece of shrimp and watched him as I fed all corals and anemones until they fully ‘swallowed’ their food I had no problems. The only problem with them is they’re gluttons... they steal food. Often at the expense of whatever was originally eating.
 

Mikedawg

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I think six different species have been identified and some seem to be reef safe, others not so much and so common wisdom is there is a 50/50 chance any particular one will bother corals. Personally, I have 7 that have wiped out aiptasia and haven't bothered any coral that i can tell.
 
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vetteguy53081

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I trust a politician more than i do peppermint shrimps which seem to favor annoying and/or picking at corals instead.
 
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Tony Thompson

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The fact that they consume aiptasia is the clue. In my opinion, only animals that are obligatory aiptasia eaters , such as Aeolidiella stephanieae (Berghia nudibranch) can be trusted as coral safe and not aiptasia safe.

Just like the tomentosus file fish, with peppermints you take a chance. IME, peppermints (all species commonly called peppermints) prefer to eat long polyp corals like Euphylliidae.

Whether they are captive bred or not should make no difference, just more sustainable.

Research data, collected by means of DNA sampling has shown that Peppermint shrimps in the trade are very commonly miss identified when it comes to species label.
 
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flfish

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Are there any alternatives? I was attracted to them due to having some sort of last line of protection from aiptasia just in case I ever missed one.
 

Mikedawg

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Are there any alternatives? I was attracted to them due to having some sort of last line of protection from aiptasia just in case I ever missed one.
You may be one of the lucky few who never get aiptasia, lol. For cuc members, lot of attractive cleaner shrimp, hermits, snails, etc you'll find by searching R2R. A favorite of mine is the tiger fighting conch for sifting sandbed and eating low growing algae.
 
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flfish

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For what its worth, my complete CUC plan was some astrea and trochus snails, hermits, fighting conch and a pair of blood red shrimp to go along with the peppermints so I think I can go without them if I need to. It was my understanding the blood red shrimps were a type of cleaner shrimp, is that correct? Would be neat to see if they actually help out my fish :)
 
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OlderManSea

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For what its worth, my complete CUC plan was some astrea and trochus snails, hermits, fighting conch and a pair of blood red shrimp to go along with the peppermints so I think I can go without them if I need to. It was my understanding the blood red shrimps were a type of cleaner shrimp, is that correct? Would be neat to see if they actually help out my fish :)
I certainly agree that peppermint shrimp are hit or miss. I have seen them tear up corals in neighbors' tanks before. I have had them twice. The first time, I had managed to introduce aiptasia in a Nuvo 10 gallon filled with zoa's, ricordea's, a couple of the small red carpet anemones and a variety of acans and euphyllia. I had only a small number of aiptasia and hit them with kalk paste every week or so which kept them at bay. Eventually, almost overnight there were literally 100s. I purchased some Berghia but they could not dent the large population (and I should not be surprised, a flame hawkfish can eat $60 of Berghia in one meal, even after ignoring them for two weeks first (cant eat just one!). I asked at the LFS and in one of their frag tanks they had a large peppermint that they swore was a bona fide aiptasia eater that had never touched a coral. I was reluctant but took it home and in only two days time the peppermint had consumed every visible aiptasia. I kept it in the tank for 6 months and never had another aiptasia visible. The shrimp stayed pretty hungry since I didnt feed it well (I dont think it would have been possible to satisfy it as it ate huge quantities when I fed it) but it never once touched a coral. I took it back to the store since I felt sorry for it. Three years later and the tank has never had another aiptasia.

About three months ago my 70 gallon suddenly had a breakout of aiptasia. The LFS was out of peppermints so I ordered 4 from Biota. They came in quite healthy but they were TINY. The tank had no fish in it but many LPS and soft corals so I added them. Some of the aiptasia were larger than the peppermints. I didnt see any progress with elimination but clearly they were chowing down since nearly every morning there were molted shells - I think the shrimp quadrupled in size in a bit over a week. Once they got some size, they quickly rid the tank of aiptasia, one rock at a time. I have three bommies and they cleared the one on the left side of the tank, then the one in the middle, and then the one on the right side of the tank. For the past two months there have been no visible aiptasia. The shrimp eat heavily when I add food to the tank and have not touched any of the corals. Since I am not too intelligent, last week the LFS had a small rock with a beautiful Blastomussa colony - and an even bigger colony of very large aiptasia. I figured that I have some hungry peppermints so why not get the Blasto colony and have the peppermints take care of the aiptasia. In two days the aiptasia have completely disappeared so the experiment in applied silliness has worked out - so far.

So, I have been fortunate to have had several peppermints that are exceedingly well-behaved. Why they dont touch zoas or rock flower anemones, or even juicy trachyphyllia or acanthophyllia when they are very hungry, but will eat uncountable numbers of tiny and huge aiptasia seems unlikely, but so far true. I should note that the Biota web site says that they add aiptasia covered rocks to their peppermint growout tanks as food so buyer beware about that. But I love my aiptasia - until the day they chew on a coral, then they will be fed to the acanthophyllia, which can eat all of them in one meal.
 

Uncle99

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Only Berghia are safe and can work.
All else may or may not work and there’s a potential for these other eaters to taste other things.
QT like your doing is the best line of defense.
It you find one....F-Aptasia, expoxy, or both.
 

Rjramos

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I have 2 60 gal frag tanks and aiptasias have recently started to multiply to the point that I can’t control myself. I just picked up 25 peppermints and need to remove some predatory fish before adding them. The tanks have LPS, some SPS, and lots of zoanthids and yellow polyps that are similar and as nuisance as the aiptasias. I will see what they do. In my past experiences they haven’t eaten my corals. If they do, the wrasses will be re-introduced.
 
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flfish

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I have 2 60 gal frag tanks and aiptasias have recently started to multiply to the point that I can’t control myself. I just picked up 25 peppermints and need to remove some predatory fish before adding them. The tanks have LPS, some SPS, and lots of zoanthids and yellow polyps that are similar and as nuisance as the aiptasias. I will see what they do. In my past experiences they haven’t eaten my corals. If they do, the wrasses will be re-introduced.
Please update after they have been in for a bit!
 
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