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ORA Aiptasia Eating Filefish

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How to Care for Aiptasia Eating Filefish

written by Dave Burr

Behavior:One of the best options for clearing an aquarium of invasive Aiptasia or Glass Anemones is the ORA Aiptasia-Eating Filefish (also known as the Matted Leatherjacket or Bristletail Filefish.)  In the wild, the Aiptasia-Eating Filefish can be found in shallow seagrass beds, where its camouflage pattern disguises it from both predators and prey. Naturally occurring in shades of green, tan or brown it can quickly shift its mottled pattern depending on its environment or mood. They reach a maximum size of 3.5 to 4 inches and are peaceful with other fish.  Males possess a distinct patch of bristles at the base of the tail, making sex determination quite easy.

Feeding: Most Aiptasia-Eating Filefish readily consume nuisance Aiptasia, making them a fascinating and beneficial addition to the home aquarium.  Fortunately, they are not specialized feeders and Aiptasia anemones are not their sole food source.  They will eagerly consume just about any common aquarium fish food.  It may take a few days or weeks before they start eating Aiptasia and in rare cases a particular individual may not have a taste for them at all.  Some hobbyists report that they will even eat Bristleworms, a behavior we have not yet witnessed.

Feeding Tips: At ORA, they have long kept the Aiptasia-Eating Filefish in their coral greenhouse to control nuisance Aiptasia anemones.  While this is a tremendous benefit, they are not always reef safe and it is not uncommon for them to nip a both hard and soft corals.  For this reason, some hobbyists will keep these fish in a refugium and offer them Aiptasia covered rocks separate from their main display.

Maximum Length: 4"
Care Level: Moderate
Family: Acreichtys Tomentosus
Reef Compatibility: Add with caution
Minimum Aquarium Size: 40 gal.
Range: Indo Pacific, Indian Ocean
Diet: Carnivore
Water Conditions: 75-80° F; sg 1.024-1.026 (1.025 is ideal); pH 8.1-8.4 Ca 420-440 ppm, Alk 8-9.5 dKH, Mg 1260-1350, Nitrates <10ppm, Phosphates, < .10ppm

Water Chemistry: Maintaining Ammonia at 0 ppm, Nitrites at 0 ppm, and Nitrates below 10ppm will help to keep your Filefish happy and healthy. We recommend doing a water change soon after Nitrates rise above 10 ppm. Maintaining proper calcium (420-440 ppm), alkalinity (8-9.5 dkh - run it 7-8 if you are carbon dosing), and magnesium levels (1260-1350 ppm) will help to keep pH stable in the 8.1-8.4 range. We recommend a specific gravity of 1.024-1.026 with 1.025 being ideal for fish. Temperature should remain stable as well and should stay within a 2 degree range.