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FAQs about Acroporid Coral Disease/Health, Parasites, Pests 8

FAQs on Acroporid Disease: Acroporid Disease 1, Acroporid Disease 2, Acroporid Disease 3, Acroporid Disease/Pests/Predators 4, Acroporid Health 5, Acroporid Health 6, Acroporid Health 7, Acroporid Hlth. 9, Acroporid Hlth. 10,
FAQs on Acroporid Disease by Category: Diagnosing, Environmental (Pollution/Poisoning, Lighting...), Nutritional, Social (Allelopathy), Trauma, Pathogenic (Infectious, Parasitic, Viral) Predatory/Pest (see below), Treatments 
FAQs on Pests of Acroporids: Montipora Munching Nudibranchs, Flatworms, Red/Black "Bugs" Acropora Munching Copepods,

Related Articles: Coral Pests and Disease; pests, predators, diseases and conditions by Sara Mavinkurve, Acroporids, SPS Corals

FAQs on Stony Coral Disease by Type: Brown Jelly Disease, RTN,

White spots on Montipora capricornis: RTN\Brown Jelly Disease. 4/9/2010
<Hi Tom.>
I have attached an image of my orange Montipora capricornis.
<I had one similar, as well as a purple rimmed variety.>
It has been doing wonderfully since I got it a few months ago, and has grown to about 6 times the original size.
<Mine were growing well also.>
In the past 2 or 3 days, it has begun to develop white spots on it that are spreading fairly rapidly and now appearing in other locations on its top surface.
<Same thing that happened to mine. It isn't bleaching, that is tissue death\Brown Jelly Disease.>
I have inspected for Nudibranchs but have found none.
<Not Nudibranchs.>
This is the only coral in the tank that appears to be having any kind of problem.
<All of my LPS and Softies were not affected.>
All other SPS, LPS and soft corals are doing very well. Even two Goniopora have been rapidly growing for over 3 years. (Funny... I refused to buy them at the LFS, but a co-worker persisted so I reluctantly agreed as long as they paid for them. Its now years later and they are at least 10 times the size and have encrusted onto multiple other rocks. No idea why, but I have had great luck with these, but back to the matter at hand...)
<Congratulations, Goniopora are not easily kept.>
The tank is 135g with 40g refugium/sump.
Fish load is light. 3 damsels, 1 Blue tang (4"), 1 Scopas tang (3"), 1 Banded Cardinalfish,
1 Watchman goby, 1 Blue-spotted blenny, 1 Ocellaris clownfish, 1 Six-line wrasse.
<No culprit there>
I do 25% water changes monthly like its a religion (last change was exactly two weeks ago), and I run 3 bags of charcoal in direct flow in my refugium to combat allelopathy, changing one at a time. Skimmer is an AquaC EV120 that skims about a gallon of skimmate a week. Also running is a phosphate reactor. I grow and harvest Chaeto in the refugium.
<All sounds good there as well.>
In short, everything is going wonderfully beyond my wildest dreams. And now this problem just popped up in this one coral.
<This took out a large number of Montis in my local reef club>
Do you think that it is a Nudibranch infestation that I'm not seeing?
The only other thing I can think of is that its close to time to change my bulbs.
I run two 250w MH lights and change the bulbs every year.
Its been a year and a week. Would such a rapid development of these white spots seem like it would be caused by
old bulbs?
<No, Old bulbs or the wrong light would show bleaching all over, not in spots. and you would see a reaction in your other corals as well.>
Please let me know if you would like any more info from me.
<Water parameters are always helpful. However, if everything else is going well, I'm sure yours would not reveal any 'smoking guns'. >
<Do read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/corldisart.html
and do a Google search on the site for Brown Jelly Disease. This 'disease' kills and it kills quickly. It seems to start by a small, insignificant injury and spreads rapidly from there. As it spreads, you will start to see a brown or tan goo floating above the coral. I was able to save a piece of each of my colony by fragging a healthy part of the coral furthest away from the infection and keeping it in another tank. You can try sucking up the goo with a turkey baster and getting it out of your system. Unfortunately, it did not work for me. I also tried applying a dilute Lugol's solution directly on the coral using a pipette. About the only thing I did not try, as it was impractical, was removing he rock the coral was attached to a hospital tank and treating with antibiotics, though that could kill the coral just as quickly as the disease can.>
I appreciate the work you guys do there immensely, and I can certainly say that the point when I found wetwebmedia.com was the turning point in the hobby for me.
Thank you for being you.
<Thank you for the kind words and the best of luck in treating this.>

Acro Crab? Possible Trapeziid or Juvenile of Undetermined Family -- 3/28/10
<Hi Mike, Lynn here today.>
Just found this little crab on a new shipment I just received.
<Neat! What kind of shipment -- coral (Acropora, Pocillopora, Stylophora, etc.?), rock, or something else? Where was the shipment from? What's the size of the crab (carapace width)?>
Hoping you can confirm whether of not it's an Acro crab?
<That's a tall order! Did it hitchhike in on an Acropora colony? It could be a coral crab, or it could simply be a juvenile of some other variety. It has the same large eyes, roughly triangular carapace, and claw length/shape that you see in many Trapeziid crabs (family Trapeziidae -- aka 'coral crabs' or 'coral guard crabs'), but the color/pattern of the carapace is atypical. That is, it doesn't fit with what photos I've seen of Trapeziid crabs. The problem is that there are an awful lot of crab species out there, not all of which are available as photos on the web or in my research books. What you have may be a coral crab that in its juvenile phase has a completely different, more cryptic coloration, than its adult counterpart. This is not at all unusual in crabs, or other animals for that matter. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find any photos of juvenile Trapeziid crabs for comparison. Again, there's the distinct possibility that this little crab could simply be a juvenile from any number of other families. Juvenile crabs typically have the same large eyes that you see in Trapeziids. The bottom line here is that unfortunately, all I can offer are a whole lot of maybes and no concrete answers. Time and behavior will tell with this little fellow. I can tell you one thing though. Trapeziids are generally found in the Pacific, either the Indo-West or tropical Eastern regions. If this little crab came in on a shipment from say Florida or the Caribbean, chances are it's not a Trapeziid. Please see the following link for an example of a juvenile Callinectes sapidus, aka 'blue crab' (see last photo). This is definitely not what you have (and not a variety of coral crab), but you can see the similarities: http://www.serc.si.edu/education/resources/bluecrab/lifecycle.aspx
Here are some examples of coral crabs, along with more info (see bottom of page): http://www.chucksaddiction.com/hitchcrabs.html
More info at WWM: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Arthropoda/CrustaceanPIX/SWCrabs/Crab%20IDs/SWCrabs3.htm >
And good/bad?
<Time will tell. This could be a relatively harmless coral crab, or something else entirely. Since I can't confirm either way, I'll offer the standard crab warning. That is, crabs are omnivorous opportunists and scavengers that, if hungry enough, can and will eat pretty much anything they can grab with their claws. You have the choice of keeping, observing, and removing if/when the crab becomes a problem or playing it safe and putting it elsewhere until you have a better idea what it is and how much risk it poses to other livestock. Either way, do be sure to keep it well-fed with meaty scraps of marine origin (shrimp, clam, squid, fish, etc.) or perhaps sinking pellets.>
Attached a pic for ID.
<Thanks, he/she certainly appears to be an itty-bitty thing!>
<You're welcome!>
<Take care, LynnZ>
Re: Acro Crab? Possible Trapeziid or Juvenile of Undetermined Family -- 3/28/10
<Hi Mike>
Thank you for the response.
<You're very welcome.>
He was attached to a "purple monster Acro" from either the Solomon Islands or Fiji, my supplier only specified vaguely where all our corals came from, one or the other.
<Thanks, that helps. I just wish that it was enough to be able to offer you a positive ID! As it stands right now, I'm not sure what type of crab this is. As was evident in the photo of the blue crab (see link in previous response), appearance can change significantly from juvenile to adult. We should know more as this little fellow matures. Honestly, it could be one of many different genera (not just in the family Trapeziidae) that are associated with Acroporids. It could also be an accidental hitchhiker; that is, not a coral crab at all. Perhaps it was ousted from its normal habitat during collection and simply took refuge within the coral's branches.>
I've attached a not so macro pic for a naked eye view as well. He is tiny, maybe 3-4 mm.
<Yep, that is one small crab!>
Thanks again!
<It was a pleasure! I'm just sorry that I couldn't give you a more definitive answer.>
<Take care, LynnZ>

Acro Damage - Need a second set of eyes 1/5/10
Good Morning,
<... what is it about asking people to limit their attached file size that isn't clear? Perhaps the request isn't sufficiently prominent?>

Noticed this unfortunate damage last night when I got home from work...
I have had this piece for over a year, since it was a little frag about 1/2". My first thought when I saw the discoloration and splotchiness, was OH NO AEFW!
<Don't think so>
After calming down and taking closer examination, I realized two things, this damage occurred in less than a 24hr period, the piece was perfect on Sunday when I did tank maintenance, and second I always dip all new arrivals religiously and observe with a magnifying glass.
<Good technique>
I think it would be extremely aggressive for a pest to do this much damage in a single day, but stranger things have happened. I also remembered I changed my lighting schedule on Sunday and increased the MH by 1.5 hours (accidental, intended to only increase 30 minutes!)... This piece was high up on my rock and just off the axis of one of my XM10K bulbs.
Sorry the pictures aren't better, I removed it, dipped it in TMPCC
<Won't help>
and put it in my frag tank before taking this picture, hence the sliming. I observed in a white bowl after dipping for 10mins, and didn't find anything, but it's easy to miss things. Looking for more opinions. The light colored discoloration, seems to overlap in alot
<... no such word>
of places and be much larger than bite marks that I have seen from FW's.
What does everyone think? Lighting Cycle Damage/Bleaching or Pests?
Thanks so Much,
<Something direly amiss; and not the last. Am almost tempted to ask you to CAREFULLY turn off your MHs, take the lamps out and examine them for a crack... Bob Fenner>
Re: Acro Damage - Need a second set of eyes 1/5/10
A little further information for consideration...
Went home at lunch and did further examination. No signs of eggs, FW's, or anything else. I took the coral out of the frag tank and examined it under direct sunlight with a magnifying glass, and I flushed it with a turkey baster again.. Nothing showed up!
I did discover that my Alk is very low at 6.5-7 for some reason, and I am wondering if the reason for the discoloration is stress related from the Alk combined with the lighting change.
<Might somehow be related events... the bleaching "eating up" the Alk.
BobF, soon B>

Re: Acro Damage - Need a second set of eyes 1/6/10
Thanks so much for the reply! Sorry about the size of the attachments, meant to send the scaled down "internet versions" and ended up attaching the full resolution...
<Ahh! Though our mail-server of the last few years has bigger "storage", we do come close some days to overwhelming it... and having incoming mail bounced... Hence the concern>
I followed your advice and checked the bulb directly above it, and the one to the side of it. Unfortunately didn't find anything that I can see with the naked eye, also there were no signs of condensation in the bulb. Will keep a close eye on it.
<Please do>
I agree, something is amiss, I have since moved it to my frag tank for further examination.
<Good move>
All water parameters are spot on with the exception of Alk, I don't know if there is anything else I can do other than keep a very close eye on things and wait. If this isn't pest related, at least I can breathe a little easier.
<There are a "myriad" (large, diverse, even unknown) of "chemical, physical and biological" factors for which there are no tests, little known, that can/do affect aquatic life...>
Also, I think I remember this site had a Donate button just below the "Admin Index" and "Cover Images" links, does this still exist?
<Oh yes>
Will look further, maybe I overlooked it somewhere. This team is a phenomenal source of information, and deserves all the support and funds it can get.
<Thank you for your kind words. Happily, no one on the Crew works for money here (there is little to go about); the funds being spent about half on our on-line magazine (for adding content), helping/subsidizing folks to get dive-certified, dive-travel, attend hobby, business and some scientific conferences. Cheers! BobF>

Need your help with new Montipora 12/23/09
Folks, I am hopeful, but scared.
I bought a small Montipora frag online - the coral came on time, about 16 hours after being mailed, packed very well in Styrofoam box, with heater pack, etc. It looked great in the bag (see picture Monti 1).
I acclimated it the best way I know how - floated the bag in the tank and poured tank water into the bag at regular intervals over approximately 45 minutes.
<Umm, wait... Did you measure the pH of the shipping/bag water and adjust the acclimation water to it/this? Mistake otherwise>

The tank water I put in the bag was dosed with Coral dip at the usual dosage. The coral seemed to tolerate the acclimation in the bag just fine.
What I did not do is check the pH or salinity of the water in the bag before putting my tank water in.
<A problem>
At the end of the 30-45 minute acclimation process I took the coral out of the bag and placed it gently at the bottom of the tank. It bleached immediately, and has not a bit of color since (see photo Monti 2).
<Is dead>
Is it dead? What could I have done differently? Is there any way to save it? Its' been almost 24 hours since I put it into the tank and it remains completely white.
Here is my setup: 6 gallon Nano tank - 11 inches deep with 36 watts of 50/50 PC bulbs.
Water parameters at the time I put the coral in yesterday:
Salinity: 35 ppt
pH 8.2
Ammonia 0
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 0

Alkalinity 3 mEq/L
Calcium 460
Magnesium 1395
Phosphate 0

As you can see, I put the Montipora at the very bottom of the tank, thinking I would move it up to the very top rock (which is about 3-4 inches away from the lights) over a couple of days. Should I move it to the top now? Again, it bleached immediately after being put in the tank (seconds).
All of my other corals are OK, including the Birdsnest you see in the top right corner. The tank has been up and running for 2 months and has been very stable. The other inhabitants are:
A few snails and a red-legged hermit as CUC
Acan lord (1) head
Candy cane (1 head)
(Moseleya (1 head)
Birdsnest (3 inch piece)
One 1.5 inch purple Dottyback
All the other tank inhabitants have been in there for one week or longer (tank stocked in stages).
Please help - I really like the little Monti... BTW, I am new to the hobby, in case you can't tell.
<Small volumes/systems are hard to keep viable... Please read here re acclimating:
in particular, the second piece on "Guerilla Acclimation" (or acclimating for the business, and organisms that have been "bagged" for long durations.
Bob Fenner>

Re: Need your help with new Montipora 12/23/2009
Thanks for the response and the link, Mr. Fenner. Lesson(s) learned about correct acclimating.
<Ah good>
The coral certainly appears dead, doesn't it. I did not see any flesh floating away, but it is a very small frag. I am hoping against hope, so I will leave it in the tank for a month or so.
<Good idea... no harm otherwise at this point, and one never knows... if even just a bit of tissue is alive, it might well regenerate>
In case there are any live cells left in the rock that may decide to replicate, would it be better to move the piece close to the lights now, or will that just introduce more stress (to the otherwise dead) animal?
<No worries. BobF>

AEFW Problem... they said our flatworms were no fun -- 11/27/09
I discovered my 1" Lokani frag had been decimated by a few AEFW.
<Acroporid eaters>
I was trying to figure out why it was losing so much color, checked water param.s, Alk/cal. lighting scheme, all was fine...had no idea what was going on. Didn't suspect AEFW at first because I didn't see anything. After a second closer look a couple weeks later, light brown patches, used a pair of tweezers to see if they would move, they sure did and confirmed that they are indeed aefw. Read up on it, not any known cures....
<Mmm, actually>
was wondering if you know if Salifert's Flatworm eXIT stuff works?
<I do and it does>
I have some on hand, I bet it works for regular Planaria, will it kill AEFW too?
I added a Sixline wrasse I had in a holding tank in hopes of at least putting a predator in there, doubt he will really solve or even reduce the problem. The flatworms have not overwhelmed tank yet, but my one Lokani
frag is a goner, and starting to see a couple of my solitariness pieces lose color at the bases, tell tale signs they are laying eggs there and starting to create a stronghold in the tank.
so let me know if there are ways to treat the whole tank. I would hate to clip out and quarantine every Acro to see one flatworm creep out from the liverock and reinfest all the quarantined pieces again.
Let me know,
<There are Anthelminthics... Levamisol is a fave... Prazi/quantel... just got to make sure that the chemical aftermath of kill off doesn't take all else with it... Lots of new water pre-made to switch out, chemical
filtrants (GAC, PolyFilter...) to add. Bob Fenner>

Live Rock - Montipora Digitata 9/16/09
Hi crew,
I am just starting up my first marine system, and the live rock has been placed in the system about two weeks. Since the tank is cycling with normal lighting cycle I am experiencing quite some algae growth. Mainly some fine Green Hair Algae but also some Bryopsis. The live rock was collected from the coast in south China and shipped by air directly to me (in Beijing). I washed the live rock before placing it in the tank, but did not brush aggressively, merely shake and blow of detritus with a powerhead. Two large pieces of live rock are apparently dead pieces of Montipora Digitata, with three or four tips of about 0.5 to 1 inch of live coral, colored blue-brown and with polyp extension. My question is: do I need to do anything if I would like to keep this coral alive, or will the fact that it is connected to the dead coral (partly overgrown with algae currently) not affect its chances or survival?
<Possibly either way...>
The tank is still cycling. This is a system of 150 gallon with two metal halides of 250W as lighting. During the cycling, I am doing water changes weekly of about 10%. The skimmer is a Bubble Magus 200E2 (local Chinese brand, rated for systems up to 390 gallon) with Eheim Pump 1264 and circulation is provided with an Atman return pump of 5000L/H and 2 Tunze 6105 pumps on a multicontroller. I have not tested the water yet since I suppose the tank is still cycling, but will do so soon.
<I would... Likely you could use some chemical filtration, and possibly larger water change outs, some supplementation for biominerals and alkalinity for sure>
Any advise would be appreciated. I have been reading for a long time on your site before setting up this tank, and have found it to be of great help, and my first and major reference for any question regarding marine or freshwater systems.
Henk Naert
<Do search on WWM for the terms mentioned for more background, direction.
Bob Fenner>

Reef Tank: Need an ID weird tube structure 8/29/2009
Hey guys I keep getting this tube like formation around my Montiporas.
It has a consistency of super glue, mixed with sand. I tear it apart in hopes of catching something inside but to no avail. Any chance you guys know what it is and how to catch it?
<I suspect this is a type of tumour caused by pathogenic bacteria...>
It's annoying, it eats/erodes the side of the Montipora it attaches to build its tube structure.
Also the structure is built on the live rock. I attached some photos to see if you can ID it.
<Please read here:
Bob Fenner>

Struggling with SPS 7/21/2009
I am a long time SPS keeper and have a great deal of success over the years - until now. I setup a 1000L tank approximately 9 months ago (from the stock in my 4x2x2) and have seen a progressive slide in the health of my corals over recent months. I have provided my tank details at the bottom of the message and also attached a photo showing one of my corals. It is hard to describe but the corals are showing signs of mucus production, minor recession of the tissue, a mould/fungus like covering. This appears to be affecting older parts of the colonies more than new growth. None of my LPS are showing any signs of stress in fact a recent bit of damage to an elegance healed up nicely in two weeks without an issue.
<Perhaps a clue>

I am at a loss. I thought I had a fairly well setup tank but I am now considering pulling it down as I cant get on top of the issue. Thank you for any help you can provide.
System Type: Mixed Reef
Display System:
Strike up Date: Oct 2008
Display Tank: 6 x 3 x 26inch. Cross braced and euro braced
Display Lighting: 3 x 250w MH. IceCap Electronic ballasts and Lumen Bright reflectors 20k bulbs
Stand: 50x50 Galv Steel
Hood: 50x50 RHS
Sump: 110x60x45 cm Sump
Refugium: Compartmentalized in sump
Refugium Lighting: 2 x Double HO-T5's 10k bulbs
Support systems:
System Water: NSW
<Another set of possibilities>
Display Water circulation: 2 x Iwaki MD70's driving eductors in closed loop format, 1 x 15000 LPH closed loop pump through base of tank, Tunze Wavebox, 2 x 6000 LPH Koralia copies plus waiting to order a Vortech Return Pump: Laguna 11000 LPH
Skimmer: Turbo 1200mm Tall Recirculating Beckett Skimmer driven by a 7200
LPH pump
Evaporation Top Up: Iwaki dosing pump controlled by Aquatronica
System Control: Aquatronica. Controls:
Auto water change (15 L per day)
Metal halides
HO-T5 lighting
Calcium reactor
Top Off
Water leak sensor
Monitors - RedOx and pH
Chemical Support:
Calcium Addition: Turbo Single Stage Calcium Reactor
Alkalinity Addition: Turbo Single Stage Calcium Reactor
Other Chemical Maintenance: Minor additions for calcium and Alk where there is an imbalance
Current Water Chemistry: Stable, very little variation
pH: 8:00 - 8.3
Alk: 8.5 - 9 dKH
Nitrates/Nitrites: 0
Calcium: 425 - 440ppm
Magnesium: 1200 - 1300ppm
Phosphates: <0.03
Temp: 26 degrees C
<Nothing "jumps out" on your list of gear, measures... The best guess, and this has no real level of confidence, is maybe some sort of "cascade event" from/twixt your Cnidarians... Read here:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Bleaching Acropora Troubles -- 06/10/09
Hello Crew,
<<Greetings Dave>>
I am in need of some trouble shooting assistance.
Over the past several weeks I have had several of my Acropora corals bleaching at the base of the coral.
On most, the tops of the corals still appear to be showing new growth.
<<Several possibilities... An Acro predator maybe'¦aggressive stinging corals (sweeper tentacles) positioned too closely'¦or maybe lighting, etc.>>
I have lost a small blue Acropora and another small frag of Montipora appears to be almost completely bleached. I have had most of these Acropora for about a year.
<<Hmm'¦ Perhaps you have inadvertently introduced a problem organism. Or maybe this is the culmination of a building problem (e.g. -- allelopathy)>>
I propagated the colony of Acropora that had the most damage a few weeks ago and they seemed fine for about two weeks. Then the tissue at the base started to recede again.
<<Not uncommon in my experience'¦ It can be difficult to save such colonies that have begun to decline>>
The bleaching appears to be spreading to other SPS corals now such as my green and pink birds nest. Please advise, I don't want to lose all of my SPS!
<<Mmm'¦ If not a predator (e.g. -- fish, Nudibranch, crustacean) then perhaps this is a bacterial/microbial complaint. A prophylactic dip and movement to a quarantine tank may be in order>>
I have looked for some type of predator and have not seen any red bugs, flat worms, etc. There is also no brown slime from any of the effected corals.
<<A predator can be difficult to espy'¦especially if nocturnal>>
I am puzzled because I have not changed my weekly husbandry of the tank and the colony that has the worst bleaching, has actually grown onto the glass.
<<But have you tested your water param.s to exclude a buildup of nitrogenous compounds as the culprit?>>
I have several large LPS corals including a seven inch maze brain that have been in my tank for over 7 years with no problems.
<<Unfortunately with this hobby, sooner or later something begins to tip/upset the 'balance.' Obviously 'something' is different/has changes in your system>>
I also have two healthy clams, Whisker, Trumpet, Frog Spawn, Acan, Bubble, Favia, Scolymia, and Dendrophyllia corals that are doing great
<<Bacterial infestations among corals can often be Family/Genus/Species specific'¦as are many coral predators>>
I hand feed most of the LPS corals and have been using Oyster Eggs the last few days to see if it helps with the SPS bleaching. My 125 gallon reef has been established for nine years now.
<<Ah, excellent'¦and congrats!>>
I have 6 six-foot VHO bulbs, three Actinic (454 bulbs) and three AquaSun.
<<This likely isn't the issue'¦and a change isn't going to save your corals at this point'¦but I think your 'shallower' species of coral would benefit from change to a 2 -- 4 ratio respectively here, to increase the amount of 'usable' light>>
The actinic lights come on an hour before and after the main lights. Temp is between 78
- 80 degrees. Water flow is handled by two main pumps 1800 and 1200 GPH. They are controlled via two SCWDs and four returns. I also have two other powerheads for dead spots, 800 GPH and 300 GPH. I don't think water flow is an issue here.
<<Does not seem so, no>>
I have a 45 gallon ADHI refugium with some Chaeto and Halimeda algae and a Red Mangrove plant. 30 gallon water changes are done weekly. I am using an Aqua FX RO/DI system for RO water.
<<Have you tested the output lately? Perhaps a pre-filter/membrane/DI resin change is in order>>
I always premix and pre heat the saltwater days in advance.
<<Very good>>
Salinity level is at 1.025; pH 7.8;
<<Not 'bad''¦but I would increase this above 8.0 for some added 'wiggle room.' Any drop from this point would be dangerous'¦and could be happening at night when the lights are off, even with the refugium>>
Nitrates and Nitrites are at 0.
<<Ammonia? And'¦have you validated/used fresh test kits?>>
Alkalinity is a little on the low side. I have been using baking soda to bring it up by adding to a high flow area in the sump.
I am also using activated carbon via a Magnum filter and use a Berlin XL skimmer.
<<I would suggest the addition (at least for a while) of some Poly-Filter to the Magnum>>
I also have automatic fresh water top off for evaporation.
<<Do check that RO/DI filter>>
The only change I can think of is that I replaced my bulbs about three months ago. I changed the actinic lighting from super actinic to the 454 actinic which has a more blue spectrum rather than purple.
<<I don't think this is an issue'¦ The Actinic lighting is more for you/you sense of aesthetics anyway. Any good full-spectrum or Daylight or 10,000K bulb will provide plenty of short-wave lighting for the corals needs. Utilizing Actinic lighting is not a problem'¦just be sure to provide enough full-spectrum light. Hence my suggestion to increase the number of AquaSun bulbs vs. Actinic bulbs here>>
Should I try to cut back on the lighting?
<<if you are thinking photo-shock could be the problem'¦I think it is a moot point after three months. Keep providing 12-14 hours of light per day>>
Other than that, I have been doing my weekly maintenance as always.
<<If an imbalance of the system is not the issue, then you have likely 'introduced' a pathogen or predator>>
Water change, clean pre filters, change carbon and trim up the Chaeto algae in the refugium when needed. Please let me know if there is something I am missing or should try. Your time is always appreciated.
<<You sound like you have a handle on the maintenance, and are very familiar with your system (should be after nine years, eh). I'm afraid, I don't have a silver-bullet for you here. These issues do just turn up sometimes. A small change/imbalance may have tipped the scale in a pathogens' favor'¦and they are usually swift and severe with often little to be done other than watch and wait. If the affected corals are small enough and/or not encrusted on large rocks you might be able to save some with a proprietary coral dip (Tropic Marin has a pretty good one) or maybe just an iodine dip...along with a move to a clean quarantine system>>
<<Happy to share'¦ EricR>
Re: Bleaching Acropora Troubles (More than Acro woes now) -- 07/27/09

Hello Again Crew,
<<Hi Dave'¦Eric here again>>
It appears that the dying coral issue is a pathogen.
<<And how have you determined this?>>
The issue has now affected just about every coral in my tank.
Just about all of my Zoanthids are closed up and shrinking off the live rock, including some species that were spreading across the rock at a very fast rate. My Lobophyllia has receded along with my Scolymia. The two types of branching Hammer coral are also closed up. Every coral in the tank looks as if it has lost significant color and the tissue is flat instead of raised and meaty. Before the corals die, they all seem to start off with a thin brown diatom looking film on a small part of the coral and then spreads till it eventually kills the corals. The fish seem to be unaffected and healthy. I have tried surfing the web for info on tank wipeout, but they all seem to reference the fish all dying and not the corals.
<<I suppose it possible that a very high concentration of some type of bacterium could be the problem. Though I'm not sure I'm convinced that this is a pathogen'¦affecting ALL your different coral species but not your fishes. The 'film' you mention may also simply be an opportunistic organism/alga that is feeding/replacing necrotic tissue caused by some Allelopathic/water quality issue(s)>>
In my 12 years of reef keeping, I have never seen anything like this.
<<Indeed'¦ Most diseases complaints are specific to a genus/species'¦in my experience>>
I have corals in the tank that I have had for over 7 years. I'm at a loss here.
<<Perhaps that maturity/growth among a mix of noxious species is what is at play here>>
I have checked every water parameter that I can think of; ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, pH, ALK, phosphate, TDS...none of which are out of range.
<<There are many aspects of water quality we don't, as hobbyists, have the ability to test>>
The tank, make up, and fresh water top off are all well within range. I have been doing 40 gallon water changes weekly and have even done a 70 gallon change last week, none of which help the matter.
<<I wonder if something has changed with your source water that you are not aware of. A couple decades ago I lived in the UK for a few years. I experienced a couple of whole-tank wipeouts with my budding reef system. Come to find out the local council was treating the tap water every few months with a compound (supposedly non-toxic to humans) to kill freshwater shrimp living/breeding in the water lines (yeah'¦taught me to filter my source water). I'm not saying someone is poisoning your water'¦just pointed out that you don't/can't always know what is or is not in it>>
I have replaced all the RO filters except the membrane.
<<I think this too may be warranted/worth a try here. If this is a bacterium issue, it could well be growing on/introduced via the membrane>>
The digital TDS meter on the RO system showed zero before and after I swapped the filters.
<<Remember, such readings are only a general guide>>
I have been cleaning the skimmer daily and swapping out the carbon weekly with no help either. I have not strayed from my weekly regimen that I have been doing for 9 years now. Is there anything I can do here?
<<Short of removing, dipping, and placing the corals in a new/fresh environment'¦likely very little. You could consider Iodine dosing (Lugol's Solution) as an attempt to hinder the pathogen, though used in this manner it may have little to no effect t be honest'¦and has its own dangers if mis-applied/abused>>
At this point I can't afford to lose all my corals.
<<I do sympathize>>
The quarantine tank is only ten gallons and will not hold a third of my corals. If I need to setup a new tank to save them, I will... please advise.
<<Perhaps you need to weigh the cost of the corals (replacement) versus the cost of a large enough quarantine system. Do also be aware'¦ If this is indeed an incidental introduction of a virulent pathogen, just removing (temporarily) and treating the livestock may not be enough'¦you may be faced with breaking down the display, discarding sand and rock, and cleaning/sterilizing tank and equipment. Drastic measures for sure'¦ And I will ask Bob if he sees this to add his take here>>
If the issue is a pathogen, where does the pathogen reside?...in the water, on the rock, on the coral itself, in the sand?
<<Maybe all the above>>
I don't believe that it resides in the water judging by the water changes I have been doing.
<<What leads you to this conclusion I wonder'¦ You are not changing out 'all' the water at once (and even if you did, bacteria would still be present), and if the source of the contamination (again, if indeed this is the issue) is your source water or storage vessel'¦well then'¦>>
I also have an outbreak of Asterina star fish that has gotten out of control.
<<Hmm'¦perhaps a clue here>>
If I have to break the tank down, I would like to get rid of these hitch hikers at that time. Their numbers are far too great for manual extraction. I have been pulling them out with tweezers for months. I have found that could tap water seems to kill them within a few minutes.
<<As it would most any marine invertebrate>>
If I had to break down the reef, my plan of action would be to relocate the original tank to another room first. Then set up the new tank in its place. I would then give all live rock a cold fresh water dip to hopefully rid the rock of the star fish and any pathogens.
<<If a pathogen is involved'¦this may not be enough to kill it. It's up to you to decide how much of a gamble you're willing to take, but in such an instance I would be incline to 'replace' the rock/substrate with new>>
I also realize that I would lose most, if not all beneficial bacteria as well, but I cannot afford a repeat of the same problem.
<<Then reference my previous statement>>
I would let the rock cycle in the old tank
<<To be reinfected?>>
and put the corals in the new tank after an iodine dip with just a glass bottom for the time being. My question to you is, can I use all new makeup water and none of the original tank water?
<<Not without maturing/seeding heavily from another 'healthy' system>>
I don't want to use the old water for fear of contamination.
I wanted to add my existing 45 gallon refugium to the new tank...will there be enough biological matter from the refugium to avoid the new tank cycling?
<<If a pathogen is present then this too is contaminated. Everything must be either thoroughly cleaned, treated and quarantined (as in the coral dips), or discarded'¦no exceptions>>
The current tank is a 125 and I was looking at a 210 gallon.
<<A nice upgrade'¦and the 125 would make an excellent sump or refugium re'¦once all cleaned up>>
Please let me know what the best plan of action would be to setup a new tank and if you think I should salvage the old tank, or setup a new one.
<<The old system 'is' salvageable as discussed re cleaning (with bleach) and replacement of rock and substrate, macroalgae, etc. (based on the assumption of a pathogenic complaint)'¦ A 'new' system may seem like the best way to go, but it will still need to be cycled'¦something that can be done while the livestock is in quarantine for observation of the problem's continuance>>
<<Happy to share'¦ Good luck, and please do keep me posted of the outcome. EricR>>
R2: Bleaching Acropora Troubles (More than Acro woes now) -- 07/28/09

Hi Eric,
<<Hiya Dave>>
Just a few more questions.
I most likely will upgrade to a newer tank if going to all the trouble of breaking it down and cleaning it.
<<I see>>
The word "bleach", when associated with a reef tank scares me =)
<<A normal reaction'¦ Just be sure to use "pure' bleach'¦as in without added scents or other modifiers. Rinse everything with copious amounts of clean water. And where possible, soak bleached gear in a container of water and add a dechlorinator like Sodium Thiosulfate, then rinse again afterwards>>
You mentioned to discard the sand and rock...can the rock be bleached/disinfected and reused?
<<As a last ditch effort, perhaps'¦but better to just let it dry 'completely' if you are determined to reuse it>>
...or even left out in the sun?
I have about 200 pounds of live rock and some really nice pieces that I would like to keep if possible.
<<Final decision is up to you>>
Also, will the snails and crabs I have in there be an issue?
<<A good question'¦ I suppose they could be carriers/transporters of bacteria just like anything else>>
...should I iodine dip them and quarantine as well?
<<A short dip in a mild Iodine solution may work'¦be sure to use clean saltwater rather than freshwater here'¦else they likely won't survive the dip for sure>>
Lastly, if I place the existing corals in a quarantine tank with all new makeup water, will this have an ill effect on the corals?
<<As in fresh from the make-up barrel? Indeed it can'¦ Fresh-made seawater is very aggressive and still chemically active. Give it a day (good) or two (better) to mature a bit'¦also, adding some 'seed water' from a 'good' established system can give it a bit of a jump-start>>
As far as the water source goes, I have well water and don't think the parameters would fluctuate like public water.
<<Ah but I beg to differ'¦ Something as seemingly harmless and beneficial as a heavy rainfall can indeed affect the quality of your well water depending on the activities/industries around your area. If you're not doing so already, I urge you to add deionization as a last stage to the RO filter you use to filter water for your reef system>>
I had it tested last year for everything they could test for and all was well.
<<That was then'¦ Do consider the problems you are experiencing with your reef may stem from your well water if your water treatment equipment/protocol is not up to snuff>>
The Aqua FX RO system is not even a year old yet, but I will replace the membrane on the RO system for arguments sake.
<<On most municipally treated water systems a good RO membrane (if flushed periodically) should indeed last for years. But on a well system this can be more variable and harder to judge. The TDS meter is a good 'guide' for this, but only measures the amount of solids'¦not the composition. There may also be compounds present that don't register on the meter. If/when in doubt'¦replace the membrane>>
I'm just trying to figure out the best way to go about the move. If I setup the new tank with new live rock and sand in the display as well as the refugium, this will take a few weeks to cycle.
Mean while, I would discard or bleach the rock and place the corals in a quarantine tank with all new makeup water.
When the new tank is finished cycling, I would then put the corals back in as long as they appear healthy. Does this seem to be a feasible plan to you?
<<It does>>
Thanks again for all your help!
<<Happy to assist'¦ Good luck mate, EricR>>

Cyanobacteria 5/25/09
Dear Bob, Mr. Calfo,
<Hello, Scott V. with you today.>
I have big problem with Cyanobacteria which has spread out on my Acropora on peaks, I am trying to blow them with turkey baster everyday, but it seems it will not want to leave. When I am blowing Acropora's peaks-end also some part of tissue is damaged and coral is losing Zooxanthellae. I have tried to bath coral in tropic Marin pro cure but Cyano is retrieving back.
<This will not do it.>
Cyano was caused by my mistake that I have put china MH bulbs instead good ones. Please help!
<Well, in the end there are other fueling factors behind the BGA besides the light, see: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm
There are other factors at play. As for your corals, you will need to figure out what is causing the BGA to be so competitive. Until then keep blowing off what you can.>

Re: Cyanobacteria 5/26/09
Ok, thank you so much, I will keep trying.
<Welcome, this battle can be won! This is a mild case, you have caught it early. Scott V.>

Pistol Shrimp Hitchhiker: Coral Commensal -- Coralliocaris spp. 5/24/09
Hi Guys, Janet here.
<Hi Janet, Lynn here today>
I bought a colony of Acropora last week and have found 2 hitchhikers in it.
I know that Acropora generally will come with an Acro crab, but these little guys are shrimps.
<They sure are. They're small coral commensals, in the genus Coralliocaris (only around 8-9 species recognized at this time). Unfortunately, I was unable to find photos of each species for comparison, but I did find one that looks similar enough to be a definite possibility. This species, Coralliocaris graminea, varies in color, but has the same thin, longitudinal lines on the body, as well as orange-ish tipped legs and claws. Please see the following links for comparison/more info:
Also, if you happen to have Helmut Debelius' book, Crustacea Guide Of The World (2nd edition), see page 189. Reportedly, this Acropora commensal reaches about 1cm in length and is indigenous to the Indo-West Pacific region.>
They were inside the Acropora colony, and I managed to "spook" them out and get them into a container for a picture and to make sure they were reef safe etc. I am attaching a picture of one of the two.
<Super, thanks>
The other one has no claws, but is identical other than that. The 2 of them must have had a tussle and one ended up with no claws out of the deal?
<Perhaps yes, or it could have been due to rough transit/handling when collected, shipped, etc.>
I currently have them in a 10g emergency tank. Do these guys eat Acro?
<Not according to what I've read. They're commensals that likely have little negative impact on the colony.>
It is even a pistol shrimp?
<No. Although these shrimps do use their claws to make clicking/snapping noises, they're not actually what we consider pistol shrimps (family Alpheidae). They belong to another family: Palaemonidae, subfamily Pontoniidae. This group of shrimps doesn't have the same formidable snapping ability of the Alpheids. Also of note is that the claws of Coralliocaris species are matched in size, whereas those of the Alpheids are markedly different. For more in-depth info on snapping claws, please see this pdf file: http://decapoda.nhm.org/pdfs/27238/27238.pdf . It's probably more than you ever wanted to know, but it's interesting!>
The Acro colony has had some die off which occurred after getting it home a few days later.
<Can happen sometimes>
I have another smaller colony of Acropora, but this piece is fine.
Because of the die off I started taking a look at the colony to see if I could determine what may be happening to it. This is when I noticed these little guys. I actually managed to nab both of them in my 75 gallon tank without losing them and then moved them to the 10 gallon tank. As you can see by the picture of the shrimp in my hand, they are very tiny.
<Yep, that's typical for these guys. The genus as a whole generally ranges in size from 1-2cm.>
This is a picture of the larger one too. Can you provide any information as to what they are, and if they are reef safe or not. Do they prey on Acropora only or any Sps coral?
<I haven't come across anything indicating that they're parasitic, or harmful to corals at all, so you should be okay.>
Thanks, Janet
<You're very welcome. Take care, LynnZ>

Re: Pistol Shrimp Hitchhiker: Coral Commensal -- Coralliocaris spp. 5/25/09
<Hi Janet>
Well, thanks for the great info on my little shrimps.
<You're very welcome.>
I have left them in the 10 gallon as I don't think they will keep up with my 75 gallon crew of fish and crustaceans. I have a maroon clown, with a rose bubble anemone and she is rather a misery and huge! I love her though and would not part with her.
<I can sure understand. I used to have a tomato clown with all the charm of a rabid wolverine but I loved her anyway.>
Also a Yellow Tang, tiny Hippo Tang, 1 Coral Perch and 2 Chromis, 2 blood shrimp, 1 coral banded,
<Watch out for this guy. They've been known to kill other shrimps, hermits and the like.>
..and 1 cleaner shrimp as well as the regular snails, hermits, serpent stars (also finding baby serpent stars by the dozen, and also moving them too), and last, 2 sand sifting stars.
<These are neat creatures, but don't do well in most systems. Unfortunately, they wipe out the sandbed fauna then starve.>
I also have a Yellow Watchman Goby, and he is paired with a tiger pistol shrimp.
<Love this combination>
That's another reason why I questioned if these 2 were in fact pistol shrimps. I did notice that the little guys' claws were the same size each, but had what looks like the little snapper.
<Yep, the claws look just like a pistol shrimp's.>
I don't think that whoever shipped this colony of Acropora would have known they were in there do you think?
<I seriously doubt it. Those shrimps are small, cryptically colored, and know how to hide within the coral's branches.>
Sadly there has been more die off and I don't see the Acropora crab in there anymore.
<Oh? I didn't realize you had a crab hitchhiker as well - neat.>
Do the Acropora crabs leave the colony if it's not doing well, or do they die?
<I imagine they stick with the coral until it's pretty well dead, then move on to another.>
This particular piece was large and nice. It may have been in rough shape when I bought it, hence the "sale" price.
<Yep, that's usually a clue that's something's not quite right.>
I may be able to salvage some by fragging it. Does this make sense
<Yes, that is if you can't return it for a refund/credit. Be sure to look over the "Coral Pests and Disease" page (link below) so you can get a better idea of what's going on with the coral. If it's rapidly turning white/losing tissue, it could be RTN (rapid tissue necrosis) or 'white band disease'. If that's the case, you'll want to remove the coral and frag it immediately. In the case of pests, follow the instructions given for each: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/corldisart.html
More info on Acropora selection, issues, here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acropt3.htm
Good site with a key for diagnosing coral disease: http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/mccarty_and_peters/coral/Stonyq0.htm >
..and how should I frag it?
<If it's RTN/WBD, break off healthy pieces well away from any white areas.>
I have a 30 gallon tall seahorse tank too, but there is also a blue pistol shrimp in with them. What is your suggestion about where I could keep these guys?
<Optimally, I'd recommend keeping them with an Acropora colony. I wasn't able to find any information regarding the exact diet of these shrimps. They may be like some commensal crabs in that they feed, at least partially, on the mucus produced by the coral. I honestly just don't know.>
What about feeding?
<I would try offering a variety of foods and see what they like, including small meaty bits of marine origin (Mysis shrimp, silverside, etc), along with some good quality sinking pellets or even flake food.>
I can just leave them in the 10 gallon as there is nothing detrimental to them in there. If they are fine in the tank I don't want to part with them. Did I end up with a rare find!!???
<Well, it's not something you see every day, but I have run across other reports of hobbyists finding these shrimps within their corals. I do believe however, that this is the first time we've ID'd them here at WWM!>
If the Acropora doesn't make it should I give the skeleton to them for cover?
<Sure, as long as there's no lingering disease or pests that might be introduced to any other resident corals.>
It would be a shame to have the entire colony die, I hope to salvage what I can.
<I sure hope you can too.>
You see when I got it home from the store, I obviously dripped it and then added it to the large tank. Sometimes I take a turkey baster and clean the rock of detritus and such. When I did this around that colony, a lot of the "flesh" pretty much just blew away exposing the white skeleton.
<Ouch, not good>
I'd only had it a few days. I have a T5 HO lighting system. Are these sufficient for this type of coral,
<Given enough bulbs and good placement, sure.>
..because I don't want to buy something that won't survive in my tank, until I can change the lighting system if required.
<Good thinking. For more information on SPS system requirements, please see this link: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acropt3.htm >
This is a great site! And thank you so much for the extremely quick response.
Thanks LynnZ
<You're very welcome. It's always nice to chat with fellow hobbyists about such neat little creatures! Take care, LynnZ>

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