How to Dip Coral and Keep Pests Out of Your Tank

If you are an enthusiast aquarist just like I am, you have probably heard about the importance of dipping coral. Providing a safe environment for your aquarium is a must, and this process can help you achieve that!

Dipping coral is the process used to remove any pest from the coral by submerging it in chemicals. For an effective dip: use a clean container with a gallon of water from your tank, add the coral dip and mix it, dip the coral following the manufacturer’s specifications, and then rinse it.

There are some other factors to take into consideration when it comes to dipping coral. In this article, I present you with some relevant tips for the safety of your aquarium!

How To Effectively Dip Coral

To successfully dip coral you need to:

  • Use a clean container with a gallon of water from your tank
  • Add the preferred coral dip to the container and mix it
  • Dip the coral in the container following the manufacturer’s specifications
  • Rinse the coral in a different container
  • Return the clean coral to your tank

Dipping coral is a necessary process for the safety of your aquarium. The coral could have come from reliable sources such as friends, fellow aquarists, family, or a local store, but that does not ensure there won’t be any parasites in it. 

Some aquarists even prefer to have a coral quarantine in a different tank for some time. Not everybody is in the capacity of maintaining this type of tank. Therefore, coral dipping becomes a practical and very satisfactory solution. 

Let’s look at the steps in more detail.

Use a clean container with a gallon of water from your tank

Using a clean container ensures that you will not bring more unwanted pests to the coral. If the container were contaminated, you could be more harmful than helpful. 

Using water from your tank helps the coral start acclimating to its new environment. It is an efficient way to introduce the specimen to the conditions it will live in from then onwards. 

Remember to replace the gallon of water in your tank! If you don’t have an automatic system, do it manually. 

Add the coral dip to the water and mix it

Nowadays, there are many coral dips with different formulas that you can use. The possibilities are limitless, and it is up to you to decide which one fits you better. 

Mixing the coral dip with the water helps it become a more homogenous solution. A well-mixed solution will better serve its purpose. For this process, you can even use a powerhead.

Dip the coral in the container following the manufacturer’s specifications

Every coral dip has its own specifications and instructions. You must follow these instructions in order to enjoy all the advantages of the product you decide to use. Some coral dips require at least 10 minutes of submerging; some others need more time.

Remember that coral dip is designed to eradicate living organisms, so avoid at all costs pouring it directly into your tank. If you do so, you risk killing your snails, crabs, and other creatures in general.

You might want to handle the coral and make sure the water reaches all the surface, killing all the pests in it. Some parasites and critters might be hidden or harder to remove, so moving water all around the coral can improve the dipping quality.

Rinse the coral in a different container

In a different container with tank water, rinse the coral to remove all the remaining coral dip and the dead pests there might be still stuck to it. Rinsing is a necessary step to ensure that the coral does not represent any harm to your reef tank.

After dipping coral, you need to discard all the water used for the process. The water in the container can have pests and contaminants you don’t want anywhere near your tank. Once empty, clean the containers carefully so that they are ready for the next dip.

Return the clean coral to your tank

When you have finished all the process, your new coral is ready to join your tank. Since it has already been liberated from all the harmful living creatures in it, your tank should be completely safe.

If you have a quarantine tank for your coral, you can keep the coral there for a 30 days. During this time, you could even repeat the dipping process to be extra sure of the cleanness of the coral. 

Does a Coral Dip Work?

Coral dips are designed to remove and kill critters such as nudibranchs and flatworms. They are a great way to preserve the ecosystem of your aquarium without damaging other specimens. Due to the significance of coral to the microbiology of your tank, using a coral dip can make the tank safer.

There are many products on the market that can help suffice different needs. However, the bottom line is that coral dips are there to kill pests. For some parasites, you might need to use tweezers or snips, accompanied by the dip.

As the name implies, coral dips are meant to be used for corals, which means they are safe to use. Don’t be afraid of this solution harming your coral. That won’t be the case. During the dipping, the coral dip will only attack parasites. 

Once you dip the coral in the solution, you will start watching the parasites move around. Nudibranchs and flatworms will crawl off the coral and fall to the bottom of the container. That is another reason not to add the dip to your tank.

Unfortunately, coral dips also kill amphipods and copepod, which are good critters. Yet, the process will be beneficial and cost-effective in the long run.

Why Is It So Important To Dip Coral

The integrity of the ecosystem of an aquarium is one of the central pillars of its success. Introducing unwanted pests could cause the living organisms of the tank to suffer. It is necessary to get rid of all those parasites, and dip coral is the most effective method to do so.

When you are a devoted aquarium owner, you have probably spent a lot of time making the environment as hospitable as possible. You would not want to disrupt the equilibrium you have accomplished by introducing pests by mistake.

Some coral structures take a long time to develop in your reef tank. With enough time and space to grow, your ecosystem can become something to be marveled at. Placing coral in your tank without dipping it first puts all your hard work at risk.

The spread of pests in your tank would have nothing to do with the quality of your water tank. Even if you have a perfectly balanced tank, these parasites could take over your coral and other living organisms. As you know, coral and fish could be stressed and killed by parasites.

If pests and parasites were to invade your tank, this would represent a substantial loss to your ecosystem. Trying to save sick coral is a difficult task to take on. In the long run, it would also represent a significant money increase in the care of your tank.

For these reasons, it is better to stay on the safe side and dip your corals before placing them in your tank.

Other Necessary Tools for Dipping Coral

There are many tools used to ensure the quality of the dip. You need tools to prepare the solution, carefully check and review all the corals to dip, remove the pests, and also protect your hands and eyes.

Flashlight and magnifying glass

You can use these two utensils to intently revise the surface of the coral. With the flashlight, you can better spot the changes of color, which are probably caused by pests. Furthermore, you can create shadows to better evaluate the surface.

The magnifying glass can give you a helping hand when looking for tiny pests. The magnifying glass can also provide a better image of the texture of the coral. You will probably find hidden parasites in the little rugs, nooks, and crannies of the coral.

Tweezers and toothpicks

Both items are used for the same purpose: manually removing pests. With the tweezers, you can lift and remove parts of your coral that contain pests and parasites. They come in handy when dealing with flatworms and nudibranchs. 

As with the tweezers, toothpicks are also great for lifting and poking. You can use the sharp end to scrape the surface of the coral, getting rid of any pest stuck to it.

Measuring cups and syringes

Making the solution following the manufacturer’s instructions of the coral dip is one of the keys to success. To correctly mix the coral dip, you will need to measure the quantities. Here is where measuring utensils such as measuring cups and syringes come in handy.

Goggles and gloves

Some coral species can have toxins and substances that can enter your body through your hands and eyes. It is better to protect yourself from any harm. Using goggles and gloves are a great way to stay on the safe side while doing this necessary process.

Bart Sprenkels

I have been keeping multiple aquariums since I was 18 years old. Just like many of you, I started with two goldfish but quickly learned they were not suitable for aquariums. Later, I switched to a tropical community tank and I also have two pet musk-turtles in a bigger aquarium. You can read more about me here.

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