Toadstool recovery following Rapa Rapa removal



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Apr 28, 2021
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Does anyone have experience with Rapa Rapa snails and Sarcophyton?

I have a toadstool coral that I added to my tank back in the middle of March. I purchased it from a LFS I was unfamiliar with so I did dip it prior to adding it to my tank with Seachem Reef Dip. It went through a fairly rapid shed following this (something I also attributed to mixing sand into my existing bed at the same time). Two weeks later it looked much better.

(April 1st)
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A little over a week later, it began to sulk, then shed again.
(April 11th - 15th)
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The leather continued to do this, never fully extending. Sulk, shed, sulk, shed. Rapidly, from what I understand is typical of Toadstools.

Finally, on the 24th I decided to take the leather out to examine it. It had a frag plate attached to it at a slight angle from where the coral had grown that way at the store. I examined the attached rock/plate for hitchhikers, and the surface of the toadstool for possible signs of nudibranch. Nothing. Till I flipped it over and caught a glimpse of shell visible through the leather’s skin. A small tube of shell was protruding out of the coral’s base along the frag plate. I was able to push the leather’s flesh away from the plate and see a line of shell beneath the flesh, about an inch long. It was not adhered to it. I was able to make out spiraling so I began to research.

Finally I found the Rapa Rapa. I double checked the image against what was visible through the leather’s flesh. It appeared to be a match, so I made a gut call and got out my scalpel. I cut enough of the base away to remove the shell (larger than I realized from what was visible), which tugged free of the leather easily. It was dead, the shell was empty. I inspected the cavity and was able to identify another small snail imbedded in the tissue, the surface flush with the flesh. It was definitely alive. I removed this one as well, and checked the rest of the cavity for other snails.

I didn’t want to frag out the leather, and I know this is what is recommended in this situation. I felt the entire inside of the cavity, pressing into the flesh and wasn’t able to feel anything. So, I decided to make an incision along the inside of the cavity in three places to allow for the iodine to get in, and I redipped the coral. (I have no idea if the extra incisions were wise or not, I was simply trying to ensure that the dip would get to any snails I may have missed.)

(Photos of the rapa rapa after removal. I didn’t take any photos of the shell prior to removal. Hands were shaking and this was my first experience cutting into a leather. The middle of the green part of the large shell is what was visible through the toadstool’s flesh.)
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What I would like to know is if the toadstool needs to be fragged? Am I doomed to repeat this process in the future if I don’t? How was the smaller rapa rapa able to survive my initial dip? I am assuming the dip wasn’t able to reach the snail because it was protected by the leather and the other shell, or that I didn’t dip long enough the first time. Thoughts? Feel free to tell me anything I did wrong, this is a learning process for sure.

Btw; the toadstool pepped up after about three days, shed for a longer period of time (over a week) and is now fully recovered from what I can tell.

Edit: Both dips were for 15 minutes.
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