When you buy corals, no matter where you get them, there are always concerns. One of the problems with new corals that few hobbyists take into account is the presence of pests. From red bugs to nudibranchs, flatworms to whelks, there are all sorts of unwanted creatures that can take up residence in your tank and cause harm to your corals new and old. It’s time for you to invest in some coral dip.
There are many options for coral dip, but we have two that we use primarily at Murfreesboro Aquatics. Coral RX is a standard across the hobby, but we like to use Bayer Advanced Complete Insect Control. We have found Bayer to be one of the most gentle dips to use on corals and the low price of using Bayer to dip corals is a welcome change.
Supplies You’ll Need
- Bayer Advanced Complete Insect Killer (Found at most local hardware stores, in the garden section).
- 3 containers for the water (we use 5 gallon buckets, but you can use smaller containers if you’re dipping smaller corals or small amounts).
- Gloves (Always wear gloves when dipping corals to avoid getting Bayer onto your hands or in your mouth).
- Eye protection.
- Measuring cup or other container that is graduated in milliliters.
- Heaters (You’ll want to maintain proper temperature in your water containers).
- 3 small powerheads (or a turkey baster if you’re using small containers).
- Premixed saltwater (mixed to the same salinity as your display tank).
- A timer (not required, but handy).
- Your corals!
Now that you’ve gathered your coral dipping supplies, it’s time to do the dip!
Start by acclimating your corals to temperature. We float new shipment bags for 20-30 minutes while we prepare our buckets.
Toss on your safety glasses and gloves, then gather all of your containers. If you’re using 5 gallon buckets, fill each of them with about 2.5 gallons of saltwater. If you have it available, use a 50/50 mix of existing tank water and new saltwater. Now place those powerheads into the buckets and get the water flowing. Add your heaters and wait for the water to get up to temperature.
Now it’s time to measure your Bayer. We like to use 1.5 milliliter of Bayer for every 1 ounce of water. So for 2.5 gallons of water you’ll need 480 mL of Bayer. This may seem like a lot, but a 1 quart (946 milliliter) bottle of Bayer is only $13 at Home Depot. As compared to Coral Rx at $18 for 8 ounces, Bayer is quite the bargain.
Once everything is mixed and heated, add your corals to your first bucket, containing Bayer. You can add as many as will comfortably fit without setting them on top of one another. Start your timer for 15 minutes.
When your 15 minutes is done, remove the corals from the first bucket and place them into the second, containing clean saltwater with no Bayer. Let the corals soak for 15 more minutes in the clean water. As you’re pulling the corals from the bucket, use the powerhead to blow off any hitchhikers.
After soaking for 15 minutes in the 2nd bucket, blow them off with a powerhead (or turkey baster) again and then move them to the third bucket for a final rinse in clean saltwater.
You’re done! Put your corals in the tank!
We like to use 3 buckets, cleaning them with vinegar after each time that we dip. This might be overkill but we’d rather play things safe.
This is a very simple process that can be used to dip SPS corals, dip LPS corals or even dip soft corals and mushrooms. You can also use this process to dip corals that are already in your tank if you find unwanted pests. If you’re having a pest problem in your tank, we suggest dipping your corals 3-5 times per week for 4 weeks to ensure that you’ve removed all unwanted visitors.
A few notes:
- While this might seem dangerous, we’ve never had problems dipping corals (even in the more severe, 3-5 times per week method). So don’t stress out. Bayer is very gentle on your corals.
- If your coral is attached to a rock, we highly recommend removing the coral from the base rock. The pores of the rock will soak up the Bayer and could cause issues when you put the coral into your display tank.
- Bayer isn’t a miracle cure for sick corals. Healthy corals do very well when being dipped, but a sick coral won’t look better after being dipped. A healthy coral, however, may even show polyp extension while being dipped.
- While we assure you that every coral that we get is dipped, we can not speak for other shops. If you have any doubt, dip!
Disclaimer: While we believe this method to be extremely safe, we can not be held liable for any damages to yourself, your equipment, your system or anything else by following this guide. In other words, use this process at your own risk.