Experimental evaluation of vinegar (acetic acid) for control of invasive corals (Tubastraea spp.) and a review of knowledge for other aquatic pests

  • Joel C. CreedEmail author
  • Bruno Pereira Masi
  • Marcelo Checoli Mantelatto
Original Paper


Vinegar/acetic acid (V/AA) has been used to control unwanted marine and freshwater species. As a naturally occurring, available and ubiquitous substance most countries’ legislations do not consider V/AA as harmful to the environment. We investigated the toxicity of household vinegar for the invasive corals Tubastraea coccinea and T. tagusensis (Dendrophylliidae), using injection (1, 2 or 4 of 10, 20 or 40 ml of vinegar) and immersion (full and half concentration; periods of 15, 30, 45, 60 or 120 min) treatments. For Tubastraea spp., immersion treatment always resulted in the death of the corals. In contrast, the lethality of injected vinegar depended on the number and volume of injections per coral colony; partially damaged colonies may be able to recover after vinegar injection. We also carried out a critical review and analysis regarding the use of V/AA in other aquatic species. V/AA has been tested and used as a biocide from virus and bacteria to fish; as for Tubastraea spp., three quarters of studies investigated the positive effects of V/AA as a biocide, the rest negative collateral effects on non-target species. We conclude that V/AA is an effective agent for killing Tubastraea spp. and most other aquatic organisms, can be applied using different methods and in different environments for controlling: (1) invasive or outbreak species; and (2) biofouling by native or invasive species on aquaculture systems and vectors. V/AA may be used applied pre-border to shipping vectors potentially transporting non-indigenous marine biofouling species such as Tubastraea spp.


Biological invasion Eradication Invasive species management Mortality trials Review 



We would like to thank JC Gomes that helped in the field and Elite Dive Center that supported with SCUBA diving equipment. This work was supported by Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES; Ciências do Mar 1137/2010), Fundação Carlos Chagas Filho de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (FAPERJ; E-26/111.574/2014 and E26/201.286/2014) and Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq; 305330/2010-1). MCM acknowledges a PhD scholarship provided by CAPES; BMP a fellowship provided by FAPERJ and CAPES. This study was carried out under license numbers INEA004/2012 and ICMBio19606-1. This article is no. 29 from the Projeto Coral-Sol.

Supplementary material

10530_2018_1895_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (22 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (XLSX 21 kb)


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratório de Ecologia Marinha Bêntica, Departamento de Ecologia, IBRAGUniversidade do Estado do Rio de JaneiroMaracanã, Rio de JaneiroBrazil
  2. 2.Projeto Coral-Sol, Instituto Brasileiro de Biodiversidade – BrBio BrasilCentro, Rio de JaneiroBrazil
  3. 3.Programa de Pós Graduação em Ecologia e EvoluçãoUniversidade do Estado do Rio de JaneiroMaracanã, Rio de JaneiroBrazil

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