For many years I used Bayer Advanced Complete Insect Killer as a dip to kill AEFW on SPS frags. Bayer is a garden insecticide and it will not only kill AEFW, but Red Bugs as well. But here is the thing, Bayer is hazardous to humans and, thus, you must be extremely careful when using the product as a dip. To be on the safe side it is a good idea to use latex gloves, a mask and protective eye wear.
Another downside to using Bayer is that the liquid is milky white. This makes it extremely difficult to spot any AEFW that may fall off a frag during the dipping process. Fortunately, other options besides Bayer exist. One is potassium chloride. If you own a water softener then you are already familiar with potassium chloride.
Potassium Chloride – A Safe & Economical Alternative
Potassium chloride for water softeners is a salt substitute and it removes hard water minerals just like salt. The brand I picked up contains 99.1% pure potassium chloride (KCL). It is sold in 40 lb bags and costs around $50. Essentially, you are getting a lifetime supply at a fraction of the cost of Bayer or other dips manufactured for AEFW. Potassium chloride is also not hazardous to humans.
One drawback with the potassium chloride used for water softeners is that it comes in large crystalized chunks. You can certainly use the chunks but it will take a long time for them to dissolve in tank water. I use a mortar and pestle to grind the chunks up into a fine powder.
How to Use KCL as a Dip
For the dip I add two teaspoons of the powder to one gallon of tank water. Frags stay in the dip for thirty minutes and every so often I will use a turkey baster to blow on the frags to see if any AEFW fly off. After the potassium chloride dip I soak the frags in a second container of tank water to help rinse off the dip. This is probably not necessary since potassium is an essential element in both the skeletal construction and coloration of certain corals (potassium chloride can be used to maintain or supplement potassium levels in a reef tank).
Similar to other AEFW dips, potassium chloride will not kill AEFW eggs. To prevent eggs from hitch hiking in on a frag, I cut the frag’s base off with a band saw (eggs are typically found at the base of SPS). As an additional safe guard I inspect each frag for eggs under a microscope.
How potent is potassium chloride as a dip? I have actually seen AEFW dissolve after being in the dip. I believe it is due to osmotic shock from the high concentration of potassium chloride. Under conditions of high concentrations of either salts, substrates or any solute in the supernatant water is drawn out of the cells through osmosis. This also inhibits the transport of substrates and cofactors into the cell thus “shocking” the cell1. Fortunately, the dip doesn’t seem to bother SPS.
If you would like some help with a new tank build, including help designing a custom aquarium, or help re-configuring your current setup then you can visit this page for more information. And if you are looking to add some equipment, I do sell GHL, Pax Bellum, Reef Octopus Calcium and Kalk Reactors and Royal Exclusiv products, including Dreamboxes, which is the equipment I use and recommend. I also sell Reef Brite metal halide and LED fixtures as well as Maxspect & IceCap Gyres.
As for additional insights and information, please explore my many other reef tank and SPS related articles as well as my YouTube channel. For an even deeper dive into reef tank care you can check out my Reef Keeping Master Class. This online course is an immersive and one of a kind educational tool designed to help reef aquarium hobbyists build and maintain a beautiful SPS reef tank. The course is a series of video presentations with some supplemental video from my YouTube channel. There are also quizzes to help students retain and understand the information presented in the course.
Need some frags…..I can help with that as well 🙂 Please visit my SPS Frag store to see what is available.