Aiptasia pallida Depletion in Tank 120 with Help from Natural Predators By Megan Fricke and Sade Sims
Background Information • We had no idea where to start in Tank 120 • Clownfish Reproduction? • Fish Behavior? • Noticed the population of Aiptasia that was covering the majority of the tank • Especially the right side of the tank • Decided to focus on finding a natural solution to this problem
Getting Started • Researched predators of Aiptasia • Nudibranches: a type of sea slug that lives on Aiptasia • Noticed that the fish did not swim in the far right section of the tank due to the Aiptasia population • While waiting for the nudibranches—observed fish behavior and swimming patterns
Proposal • Wiki
Hypothesis If Aeolidiellia stephanieae and Lysmata wudemanni are added to tank 120, then the natural predators will decrease the Aiptasia pallida population, but will live completely separate and independent lives of the already existent fish in the tank.
Questions 1) How soon after the addition of the natural predators will the A. pallida population begin to decrease? 2) Will the Berghia nudibranch reproduce on their own, and if so how long would it take? 3) If A. pallida is almost completely removed from a part of the tank, would the fish inhabit or visit that part of the tank more often? 4) Would the Lysmata wudemanni eat the coral and if so, which species? 5) Would the nudibranch and the peppermint shrimp have any interaction or would they just live separately in the same tank?
Question 1 • Nudibranches were added to the tank on January 12th, 2012 • Acclimation Process: very complicated! • Began to see a small decrease in the Aiptasia population in March • Compare pictures 9 and 12 on Wiki • Area surrounding the release location of the nudibranch • Back of the tank remained unchanged • Compare pictures 3 and 10 on Wiki • Decided that perhaps we needed more nudibranches • 120 gallons -9 recommended (we had 12)
Comparison of Aiptasia population in the side of E February March
Comparison of Aiptasia Oct Feb
Question 2 • Added the 12 nudibranch into the tank in mid January • Kept the tupperware container in the tank for a month • See pictures 6-8 on the Wiki • Egg strands in the tupperware in February • Eggs disappeared after a few days • Lay many eggs as most don't make it past incubation, which takes up to 50 days • Removed the tupperware at the end of February • Made observing the nudibranches more difficult • Although these eggs might not have made it, we think that reproduction is continuing • Nocturnal creatures--rarely seen
Question 3 • While waiting on Nudibranch arrival, we observed the fish behavior • Understand their habits before and after the new addition • Labeled the tank into 5 sections (A,B,C,D,E)- observed behavior • See in picture 1 on Wiki • Observed that after the addition of the nudibranches, the fish began to spend more time in part E of the tank--had been rare • Aiptasia are known to painfully sting passing fish (see source 2) • See picture 11 on Wiki • Supports our hypothesis • Saw a change of habit within the fish
Problems • Quite a few problems--kept our project interesting! • Often had snails in the overflow box and pumps connecting to the sump • Required unplugging the electrical system, wires, and interns! • Bleaching incident--Friday, October 21st, 2011 • We think that the polypad addition blocked the pump • Real cause remains unknown-perhaps the charcoal? • Killed the Xenia sp. and bleached the corals • Focused also on maintaining the tank habitat before the addition of the nudibranchs • Reacclimated the corals once the tank was stable • Very familiar with the acclimation process!
Questions 4 and 5 • Decided to not add theLysmata wudemanni (peppermint shrimp) • Focus on the nudibranch as a potential addition to all of the tanks in the Lovett Aquariums • We read that peppermint shrimp will eat corals (see source 6) • After the bleaching incident, we wanted to ensure that the corals returned easily to the tank 120 environment • Many other projects included peppermint shrimp, not nudibranches
Conclusions • Our research supports our hypothesis: • Aiptasia was reduced • Pictures shows a population decrease in front right of the tank • Fish spent more time in Part E • Nudibranches are nocturnal • No real interactions were observed between the fish and the nudibranches • Do not consume the corals, as we feared the peppermint shrimp would • Nudibranches can be added to other tanks without fear of harming the tank environment