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FAQs about Nutritional Disease of Soft Corals of the Family Alcyoniidae  

FAQs on Alcyoniid Disease: Alcyoniid Health 1, Alcyoniid Disease 2, Alcyoniid Disease 3, Alcyoniid Disease 4, Alcyoniid Disease 5, Alcyoniid Disease 6, Alcyoniid Disease 7, Alcyoniid Disease 8, Alcyoniid Disease 9, Alcyoniid Health 10, Alcyoniid Disease 11, Alcyoniid Health 12, Alcyoniid Disease 13, Alcyoniid Disease 14, Alcyoniid Disease 15,
FAQs on Alcyoniid Disease by Category: Diagnosis, Environment, Pathogenic (Infectious, parasitic), Predator/Pests, Social, Trauma, Treatments

Related Articles: Soft Corals of the Family Alcyoniidae

Related FAQs: Soft Corals of the Family Alcyoniidae, Alcyoniids 2, Alcyoniids 3, Alcyoniids 4, Alcyoniid ID, Alcyoniid Selection, Alcyoniid Compatibility, Alcyoniid Systems, Alcyoniid Behavior, Alcyoniid Feeding, Alcyoniid Propagation, Soft Coral PropagationSoft Coral HealthDyed CoralsSoft Coral Propagation, Nephtheids, Dendronephthya, Paralcyoniids, Nidaliids, Xeniids, Dyed Corals

NEED measurable NO3 and HPO4... NOT ZERO

The polyps are hardly necessary for feeding... they do not feed organismally... most all food is derived from light and absorption

Degrading Corals 1/3/11
Dear WWM crew,
<... Nick... we ask people to limit image file size... to a few hundred Kbytes... you, 10 megs... 20% of our mail capacity...>
Happy New Year! I have a 90 gallon reef system that has been running for nearly a year now with no problems. Last week my water began to get more cloudy than usual, so I did a 15% water change (RO water, of course), which cleared up my problem. Since completing the water change however, I have a much larger crisis; some of my corals are looking pretty bad!
<I see this>
I have had (what I believe to be) a colt coral (picture attached), a (confirmed) flower pot coral, and two Ricordea for almost eight months with no problems; they all have been healthy and thriving. In fact, the 'colt' coral has more than doubled in size in that time and my two Ocellaris clowns have been hosting the Goniopora since its introduction. Since the water change, the flower pot only partially opens ('blooms') my colt coral - once perky and spread out - is drooped over and clumped together, and the Ricordea is about 1/3 its typical size. When I introduced the new water during the water change, I made sure to pre-mix the salt and PH buffer in a bucket to be sure it matched what is in the tank and ran a pump for a few minutes to mix everything together.
<Fair to good, but much better to pre-mix, let sit, recirculate for a few days ahead of use>
My SG is 1.024, temp is 79-81, calcium is 490ppm,
<Really too high... and in relation to Mg, alkalinity?>
oxygen is fine (I forget the exact numbers), nitrates are 0,
<... an essential nutrient. Your corals need some>
nitrites are 0, phosphates are 0,
<And this>

ammonia is 0. I know the problem is not salt burn because the water was put into the tank with a hose (stayed in one spot) and the affected corals are spread over different sections of the tank. My lighting is a 6 -- bulb H.O T-5 setup with 3 actinic and 3 white; 354 watts total. My system also contains an open brain coral, a Derasa clam (2.5 -- 3'), two purple flat blade gorgonians, a host of green mushrooms, Zoanthus, an anemone -- unknown species - (brown with pink tips; about 3' in diameter), a green bubble
tip, a flame scallop,
<Hard to keep... Along with the Goniopora; you must be doing much right>
a feather duster, a Strawberry Conch, a Red Sea Star, and a few fish; all thriving and all present during the water change. I'm worried I am going to lose the corals in question and any advice would be much appreciated!
Thank you,
~ Nick
<Likely a combo. of disproportionate Ca conc. w/ Mg, Alk... and def. a starvation issue with a lack of NO3 and HPO4... Could be quite a few "other things"... You would likely do well to read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/CnidDisF3.htm
and the linked files above for background, as well as investigating (the search tool, indices on WWM) the central issues mentioned. Bob Fenner>

Leather Toadstool base 5/10/10
I have a problem with my Toadstool Leather which doesn't seem to want to extend its polyps anymore, looking on here and the net it doesn't seem to be going through a state of shedding a layer. It used to extend and have a diameter of around 6 inch. The only thing that has changed in my system since this started happening is I added a canister filter with Live Rock Rubble, Seachem Matrix Carbon and Salifert Phosphate Killer
<A mistake... these and other chemosynthetic life need some soluble phosphate to live>
and a UV Sterilizer. I also moved my powerheads from the side of my tank glass to the back but have not changed the direction of flow it was merely to move them more from sight. My parameters are Ammonia 0.0, Nitrite 0.0, Nitrate 0.0,
<And NO3... these are essential nutrients>

PH 8.2,
Phosphate 0.00, S.G. 1.022.
<Too low...>
I add Salifert All In One once a week and do 40% water changes monthly.
All my other corals are flourishing which includes 2 types of mushrooms which are multiplying, Green Star Polyps, Clove Polyps, Button Polyps, Zoanthids and Mouse's Ear Coral.
<Some of these are too likely poisoning the Sarcophyton as well... Read
here: http://wetwebmedia.com/cnidcompppt.htm
and the linked files above>
That's it for the background now to the full extent of the problem. As I said it doesn't seem to want to reveal it polyps anymore although it does rise up and isn't drooping. The main worry is that it has a ring/band of brown around the bottom of it from where its attached to the rock to about 1/2 an inch up. To describe the brown ring is quite difficult, its browny
green reddish and seems as if its kind of flaking or could possibly be rubbed off. Like I said other than it not extending and this problem around its base it looks very healthy. I just want to rejuvenate it as it is my main attraction and I would hate to lose it. Thanks for hearing me out and any help would be appreciated.
Thanks in advance.
<Read, soon... be ready to remove this animal. Bob Fenner>
Leeds, England.

Colt Coral... hlth.... w/ an Anemone in a smallish system... no phosphate in solution...  5/29/07 Hi guys, <Jim> Here is a picture of my colt coral. I have had it for about 2 months and it seemed to be doing very well. I had to go out of town for work and my family were away for 2 days. I haven't returned yet but my son sent me this picture of the colt. The stalk is wrinkled with spots and he is only out about half of what he is normally. The "spots" seem to be somewhat indented. I am looking for some ideas and hopefully solutions. 55 gallon with 50 pounds LR Water parameters are Ph 8.2, temperature 80, nitrate, nitrite, ammonia and phosphate are all zero. Calcium is 450 ppm. <Alkalinity, Magnesium?> Tank Mates: 1 cleaner shrimp, 1 peppermint shrimp, 2 false clowns 1.5", 1 niger trigger 3", <This fish is mis-placed here> 1 fox coral, 1 golden goddess Nudibranch, 4 blue legged hermits, 2 scarlet legged hermits, 1 small LTA (8" from corals) <Ding, ding, ding... We have a winnah!> and a couple of polyp colonies. The only thing new is the fox coral which is about eight inches from the colt. the rest were there before the colt arrived. I put about 1 tablespoon of Seachem PhosGuard <... and here. The cnidarians all need some phosphate... essential nutrient> in the filter system about a week ago to take out a bit of silica that seems to get through the RO system. I have done this for a couple of months to control the small diatom bloom I seem to get at bi-weekly water changes. That is about all I can think of. Sorry about the huge file size but it is what my son sent and I have no editing software on this computer. Your help and advice is greatly appreciated. Jim <Umm, see WWM re the LTAnemone... Compatibility... and the role of Phosphate... Bob Fenner>

Yellow patches on toadstool mushroom    1/25/06 Mr. Fenner I've noticed this problem several years ago while using phosphate binding media, and have noticed it again under the same condition.  Is this at all related to the phosphate binders (Kent media and sponge)? <Too likely so, yes> It's not a waxy film.  The best I can describe it is that is looks like patches of thick brown-yellow adherent paste, usually no bigger than the tip of a pencil eraser, numerous and not localized to any one part of the leather.  All water parameters are in normal range. Thanks L.Splitter <I'd pre-mix, add these sorts of supplements to new water to be mixed in slowly during water changes. Bob Fenner>  

Yellow Sarcophyton not looking good - 4/16/03 I am at a lost as to why this coral is not doing well in my tank. <Lots of reasons... not the least of which may not be your tank at all but something that occurs with Sarcophytons Let's take a look.....> Any advice is appreciated. <I will do my best. Paul at your service> My tank is a 20 gallon micro reef that has been running for about 3 months. I've been in the hobby on and off for quite some time. The lighting for this tank consists of 100 watts of 5500k metal halide and 40 watts of actinic. Water parameters are as follows: salinity 1.023-1.024 at 77 degrees F. PH 8.0-8.1 Alkalinity 3.0-3.5 meq/l. Calcium 410-430 ppm. Ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, phosphate levels at '0'. Water circulation is good. <Well, I'll take good as meaning that there is a slight moderate flow over it. Hehheh =)> The tank has about a 3 inch layer of substrate on the bottom , 25 lbs. of live rock and a good protein skimmer. The other corals in the tank; pulsing xenia, green star polyp, Blastomussa, Ricordea mushroom, and 3 clams are all doing very well. <Sounds like an awesome tank> I've had this yellow leather for about 3 weeks. <Yellow corals are sometimes known to be the least hardy in the Sarcophyton species but still a pretty hardy coral in my experience> The 1st week it was doing well, but since then it has not been a happy camper. During the day it is not extended, instead it is shriveled and blotchy looking, and appears to be shedding. <this is very normal for a Sarcophyton to not open and extend its polyps, then shed a mucous coat. This shedding is thought to help keep contaminants and detritus from building up on the crown as well is sometimes related to growth.> I've tried various lighting intensities and played around with water current. I also recently ran carbon for about 24 hours. <Not a bad idea to run carbon most of the time in my opinion. I am thinking just "let it be" "let it be" (great song) Let it go through the shedding process and give it up to two weeks to a month in some cases to come around. Use a soft tooth brush occasionally to keep nuisance algae growth from taking over the coral and to help with the shedding.> Nothing so far has made a difference. I should also add that 10 percent weekly water changes ( natural sea water) from local pet shop, are performed on tank. <Wonderful!> This coral is not being harassed by any of the other inhabitants. <Sounds like you are a very observant and a very Conscientious Marine Aquarist. I have many of the various Sarcophytons in my tanks and have noticed this behavior a great many times and I employ the same technique of waiting and lightly scrubbing the crown occasionally. Usually my corals will come around about a week or two later. Sometimes less sometimes more. If everything you tell me is true, I think your coral will be fine provided the coral itself is just not stressed from collection but even with that it will probably recover. Give it time, that is what I would do. I would do my best to not move or muck with it any further as you could be stressing the coral further. These are very hardy corals for the most part. (especially the captive bred/propagated type.)> I think I've covered everything. Any suggestions would be helpful. Thanks, Chris. <Leave it be and keep me informed of any changes, mate. Paul> --- Chris Reynders

Colt coral ?'s Hello Mr. Fenner, I hope today finds you well rested, fed, and lively. Oops, I'm talking like you're one of my many pets, or children, or something. <Woof!> My colt coral is weird (for lack of a better term). Let me start off by saying I love this coral. It is tall and proud, and I thought ready for some propagation. I think I jinxed it though b-cuz as soon as I started trying to decide where to cut, I noticed an area that was turning whitish. This area comprises about 5% or less of the entire animal, and does not appear to be sloughing off. Also, it does not appear to bother the animal as it is still looking quite majestic and has full polyp extension. <Might be worthwhile to go ahead with the propagation exercise and discard the apparently mal-affected area.> My H2O tests OK, the only number I'm not sure of is the alkalinity. It is about 9dKH. <This is fine... would be better at 12-15... but no problem> I added some super buffer (alkalinity booster) to bring it back up to acceptable levels (I was told it should be 12-15 dKH) <Oh!> Is this something that commonly happens with colt corals, or should I be concerned for the animals health.  <Happens, but I would be concerned...> Also, should I be doing any concentrated feedings for this animal. <Yes... at least once a week, twice is better> I was told by the LFS that it got most nutrition from the PC lighting. On that note, I've got 4X55w PC. I think this is enough. <Mmm, I suggest whoever told you this try to get all their nutrition from standing underneath 4X55 watt PC's> On a different note, I'd like to culture some purposeful macro-algae in my tank but am having a bear of a time locating any locally (Sacramento, CA area).  <What? There's a few great stores around there. Do you participate with the local marine club? Here's their link: http://www.marineaquarist.org/ Contact them, ask for names, addresses, directions, advice... there are folks who have a bunch of Macroalgae going themselves in their membership... Mention my name (ho boy!)... as they put up with my visits regularly> If there is anyone in the area who has an abundance I'd love to take a little off their hands. I remember on previous systems having to prune that stuff back weekly. Thank you very much for your feedback. You're a true asset to the marine/FW hobby. <Glad to be here. Bob Fenner> Jason Harris

Leather coral Mr. Fenner, I started building a reef setup about a year and a half ago. I only started stocking my coral in the last six months. I tried to learn to create a stable environment before I took a stab at stocking the coral I want. <A wise move> I have a 125 gallon reef w/ 40gallon refugium and 25 gallon sump, AquaC skimmer and four MJ powerheads on a wave/light timer. All is going well. My water is doing wonderful with the help of my Knop Ca reactor. Ammo. NO2 & NO3 are all zero. I have 150lbs of live rock and a 4" DSB that is very active. <Outstanding> I have as of right now a frogspawn, hammer (no where near each other), red and blue mushrooms (no where near anything that they could sting) two open brains and some pulsing xenia. My next move up was keeping some leathers. I bought a finger leather as well as a toadstool. I have heard how it can take quite some time for them to acclimate to a system after transport. The two I have mentioned I have kept for two months now. They are mid way in the rock work, getting a moderate to strong (at times) water flow. I do make sure to have a good food source for them, and dose with DT often. They are under 384watt PC lights on 12hrs a day. To be blunt they look like death warmed over. I have attached a picture of my toadstool leather. I have been told not to move them because it will cause it to have to acclimate all over again. It made sense so I stepped back and let them get use to the tank. I am feeling like a failure at giving the care these corals need to do well. Could just suggest any course of action I could take to help these leathers? Or should I sit back and let them be. <Mmm, two months is way long enough for these soft corals to "recover" from shipping. Do you add iodide to your water at all? You mention phytoplankton, but do you feed any meaty foods to these two? I would.> Thank you for your time and consideration. I hope the attachment will be clear enough for you to decipher. Take care <Please do read through the scant materials posted on WetWebMedia.com re Alcyoniids (including the FAQs) and respond re the feeding and Iodide questions. Be chatting. Bob Fenner>
Re: Leather coral
<Hmm, actually your photo/Sarcophyton looks okay. Please refer your situation to our Chatforum: http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/ Anthony, are you here? Bob Fenner>

Sick looking leather Hi, thanks for answering my previous question on lighting my 54 G tank. The article really helped and I have decided to go with more lighting to be on the safe side <with leathers this is usually fine is done gradually> but anyways about my question during the move for the 20 gallon tank my leather coral has been acting up even though my water quality is great.  <although they are very hardy, many leathers are quite finicky after a move. Some don't extend polyps for 2 months or more even! The polyps are hardly necessary for feeding... they do not feed organismally... most all food is derived from light and absorption. No worries here... the important thing is to have put it in a good place and be patient: don't touch or move it. Maintain good water flow and be patient> It started off looking fine and would flower during the day but recently it has been slowly shrinking lower to the sand bed and also will during the morning and early afternoon develops these black lines that you will be able to see it the attached jpg. <not very clear from image unfortunately> I was wondering if you have an insight as to what the problem may be and how I may possibly deal with it. Thanks for you time, Dave and Callie <regular water changes and iodine supplements are stimulating as well... time may be all you need here. Kindly>
Re: Sick Sarcophyton
Hi Anthony: I think I finally found the problem.  <hot dog... no really... I could go for one of those "Nathan's" Coney Island hot dogs> I found a 2 inch bristle worm at the base of the mushroom coral and promptly threw it away.  <should have had fun with it and rolled/rubbed it all along your nekid torso> Hole count on the coral is now up to about 7 or 8,  <that's gonna leave a mark...ouch> most of which are the diameter of a pencil in size. Two holes are large, like the size of a quarter. Is there anything else I can do  <you mean, like spackling?> help nurse this coral back to health other than providing patience and good water?  <in all seriousness... you are correct. Mostly patience and good water quality. Good random turbulent water flow on the holes for a quick heal... cutting out any necrotic areas if they develop... aggressive skimming... maybe a tiny bit extra iodine to tweak RedOx and perhaps be antiseptic> I would like to set up a reef q-tank someday, but I'm at a loss over proper yet inexpensive lighting for a reef-quality q-tank. <actually... shape is no problem. Shallow tanks (16" or less like low 30 gallons or smaller) will be fine with standard output fluorescents! The problem is in display tanks of 24" and deeper when the same fluorescent lights only penetrate 12" at best.> Thanks again for all of your help and wisdom. And might I add that you diagnosed the problem correctly right off the bat. Impressive. I wish I had a strawberry blonde nymphomaniac to offer as payment! <that makes two of us!> Well, I'm off to the store to get a bristle worm trap. Better safe than sorry... Thanks, Jim <actually, bud... don't drive yourself too crazy. Some small bristle worms are very beneficial to the live sand. Its just the big beefy ones that you need to keep an eye out for. Really... they rarely cause much damage and are slow at that. No hurry and do leave some... seriously. Anthony>

Re: Sick Sarcophyton Anthony: <yessah> Here's the photo I promised you. (Yes, the ruler is on the outside of the tank!  <a very thoughtful and helpful "measure"...heehee> Note my humongous cool clam on the right.)  <since you have felt compelled to mention the size of your clam unsolicited I must warn you of any future temptations to buy a red sports car <G>> You know what? I think you might be right about the predator thing. I will have to check in the wee hours of the night. I have checked casually before, but saw nothing.  <not surefire, but rather common with the very edible species (all the rage with the predators for its super buzz sarcophenes)> Then it dawned on me that the coral did tip over one day last week laying in the substrate and I straightened it out when I got back in town. It is attached to a small piece of live rock but the coral is now huge -- very top heavy. It's possible something went munching on it then because the timing is about right.  <or could have sustained a small wound or suffocated (anoxic) patch that turned to a slight infection after the fall>  I can't imagine my Mithrax ate it but maybe they did; they do sometimes hang out on top of it although I haven't seen them use it as a recliner for over two months now.  <These "emerald" crabs are VERY omnivorous like most crabs as they get older. Even catching and killing fishes. Harmless when small though> At any rate, the holes have stopped spreading! No more flakes of tissue hanging! The wounds now look like they are scarring over. If the problem is a hungry critter and I remove the critter, how long until my coral heals itself?  <more likely to pinch off fragments (cool) on its own for the trauma as seen in your photo (called "branchlet dropping") foreground. A matter of just a few weeks before polyps cover over new> Hopefully looking at the photo you don't think its necrosis. <indeed... it does not look necrotic or infectious at all. For the size of the coral, it could even be natural branchlet dropping> Lastly, what do you recommend for feeding practices (you only wrote "Hmmm.....")? Continue on soaking with the Reef Solution?  <if I don't have something good to say... sometimes I say nothing at all. But more specifically, I'm not sold on such supplements as a rule. Even when compositionally accurate... freshness & potency are often issues over fresh made or naturally cultured foods (as with zooplankton in an upstream refugium)> I live in an area with poor quality LFSs; they don't carry much in the way of food. Eventually, I'd like to get to the point where I grow my own live food in a refugium. <yes, exactly!> I'm definitely going to buy your book, my friend. One, to thank you for your help but also because I need a good coral book.  I am truly appreciative... please pass what you learn on to others in kind> I am forever grateful for your articulate advice, and I really enjoy your wittiness. You and Steven Pro have both helped me a lot over the past four months when I found you. Like I said, the LFSs around here are weak, so I am very thankful for this cyber group and forum. Your response times are awesome!  <its easy to reply fast... what else is there to do sitting naked answering e-mail?> What else can I do to help? <send strawberry blonde, pale completed nymphomaniacs please> Jim
<Anthony Calfo, truly in your service>

Sick Sarcophyton Me again, <I'm still me too... how cool is that!> As hard as I try to wean myself away from bugging you guys so much, I find your advice indispensable and value your expertise much more than any of my local LFS's. or even a lot of the stuff I read in print, for that matter. <we can be very convincing I hear... lets hope at least half of it is true <G>> My reef tank has been doing great, water quality was good, and everybody was happy, but it came to my attention that my food selection was poor (SFBB Marine Cuisine, algae). In an effort to prevent poor nutrition problems in my animals that never appeared to exist (you read that right !), like a dummy I started soaking the food in Ecosystems Reef Solution in the recommended dosage on the bottle -- one capful daily per 50 gallons of water. (The Reef Solution was recommended by my LFS). <Hmmm....> It's one and a half weeks later, and my mushroom coral has developed holes in it.  <quite possibly/likely unrelated> When the first hole developed about four days ago, I thought it was starting to propagate. I couldn't be that lucky. Two more holes then appeared. The holes are pretty much clean around the edges, i.e., no discoloration with very slight tissue decay. The first hole is now about the size of a dime, the other two about the diameter of a pencil eraser.  <spotty sounds like predation for sure. Many possibilities: crabs or snails brought in small now large and burrowing from the inside out of the leather, a fish that has suddenly taken to nipping and causing wounds, indeed others...> I'm afraid it looks like necrosis, what do you think?  <dissolving tissue? yes> I'm going to try and send you a picture later today once I get my digital camera. <very helpful> I did a 20% water change this morning. All water chemistry is good: KH 11, Ca 450, pH 8.2, NO3 0, PO4 0.1, Temp 78F. Lighting is still good quality; MH and actinic lamps are only 5 months old. Tank has a six line wrasse to eat predators.  <six-lines eat some small predators like worms and tiny snails... but even then not all predatory species. They also don't eat hydroids, crabs, larger pests etc. Please don't rest too easy with only a six-line> I normally do a 10-15% water change once a week using good techniques that you blessed before. <yes, excellent!> What do I do now to cure it? Change water again in several days?  <weekly is more than enough> Cut away around the hole/affected parts?  <quite possibly> Be patient and hope for the best?  <definitely not> Fresh water dip? Medicine and what type?  <probably not either... but stringer water flow would be nice as long as it is not laminar. Do provide strong random turbulent flow> Quarantine? I don't have a q-tank; it's on my to do list.  <always the best choice> All of my other corals look great (hammerhead, finger leather, bubble, star and button polyps, mushrooms) -- are they in danger from the Sarcophytons condition? <hard to say, but some necrotic infections can spread easily. That's why QT is best> I feel awful. The Reef Solution treatment is the only thing I've done differently, so that has to be the cause. <not at all.. can be coincidence with the occurrence/expression of something else (like a predator imported small and now grown to damaging size> Thanks, Jim <lets see that picture, and do look for predatory activity in dark night on this animal. Best regards, Anthony>

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