The Iodine Dip

Recently the Acan in colonies began receding rapidly in the aquarium. This is obviously an unfortunate problem, however there is a hopeful remedy.

After extensive water testing and maintenance review,
the problem was narrowed down to a probable LPS bacteria infection. After a few hours of reading, it was identified that the exposed skeletons of the Acans all had a similar pink tinge, meaning a bacterial infection was most likely the problem. When the colonies were purchased 6 months ago they were in poor condition and were nursed back to health. Perhaps the infection was dormant for this period as nothing was added to the aquarium that may have introduced a new infection. The exact origin is unclear at this time but is apparently common in LPS corals and can do rapid damage out of nowhere.

To quickly fight the infection an Iodine Dip solution was prepared. This is the second Iodine dip these corals have received in the past week and a half. The first dip garnered amazing results on the smaller frags, but the larger colonies did not bounce back 100 percent. Hopefully this second dip does the trick or the larger Acan colony may be lost.

The Process:

Step 1: Purchase Iodine solution. The prefered choice is Lugol's solution which is available at most local fish stores, however I chose to use Tincture of Iodine 2.5% which is available over the counter at almost any drug store in the first aid section.

Step 2: Gather tools/supplies. Collect, two very clean large glass dishes, the Iodine, a towel, a timer, a turkey baster, and finally 1.5 Litres of water directly from the tank (this ensures the corals will not be shocked by different water parameters when dipped). The baster is very important because it helps to clean the corals in an unobtrusive fashion.

Step 3: Mix solution. Fill the larger dish with exactly 1 Litre of Tank water, then added 20 drops of Iodine. 20 drops/Litre is the most widely accepted iodine dip ratio using 2.5% Tincture. At this time fill the second dish with tank water only, this will be used to rinse the dipped corals.

Step 4: Dip the coral. In this case three Acan frags, and two Acan colonies were dipped. Gently place the corals into the dish
fully submerging entirely in the solution. Set a timer for 20 minutes and wait. During the 20 minutes periodically rinse the corals with the baster which will blow off any bacteria, parasites, bugs, hitchhikers, etc.

Anywhere from 15 - 25 minutes is recommended for LPS corals in an Iodine dip so naturally 20 minutes is a simple middle ground. You should see a lot of debris, pods, brittle stars, and other life falling off the rock into the dip.

Step 5: Rinse the colonies/frags. After the 20 minute dip period, the corals need to be rinsed to prevent any iodine solution or dead parasites from making it back into the aquarium. Use the turkey baster one last time in the dip solution then move the corals into the second dish. Swish the corals around for about 30 seconds to a minute and then place them back into the aquarium or quarantine tank.

Only time will tell if this second dip will save the infected colonies, in this case the first dip was apparently very effective on the smaller frags as they were growing again, but the larger colonies did not show any improvement after round one. Remember that this method is only recommended for LPS and SPS corals. It is great for ridding your colonies from red acro bugs, parasites, bacterial infections, invasive nudibranchs and other unwanted pests. Good luck and hopefully you never need to do this to save a coral.

- A.


  1. Thank you so much for a great blog, this is the most relevant material i have been able to find anywhere. I have a 14 gallon biocube assembly and recently purchased a large acan frag, after 3-4 weeks of doing good in the tank its health has rapidly declined. Im going to try this iodine dip, and force feeding. Im hoping this will make it turn back around, and its not suffering from lack of light or somthing. The 14 gallon biocubes have almost 5 watts per gallon, and I have mine upgraded with a protein skimmer, UV sterilizer, and a Koralia nano pump.

  2. Thanks for the clear and informative blog. I've just tried it on my decaying brain coral and found it promising as I found some parasites and managed to clean the coral. The coral look brighter now and hope it would recover soon.

  3. Thanks so much for your informative blog! I have two hammer colonies that haven't opened up fully since we bought them over a month ago. We tried a freshwater dip a week ago and they opened up slightly but not as full as they should be. I'm currently dipping the one colony in the prescription you listed above, but, I added a couple drops of generic Tea Tree Oil as I read that it is a component in a lot of coral dip solutions, and a natural antiseptic. Hopefully this works as we really love our hammers! Thanks again!

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