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FAQs about Trachyphylliid Coral Predators, Pests

FAQs on Open Brain Disease: Trachyphylliid Disease 1, Trachyphyllia Disease 2, Trachyphyllia Disease 3, Trachyphyllia Disease 4, Trachyphyllia Disease 5,
FAQs on Open Brain Disease by Category: Diagnosing, Environmental (Pollution/Poisoning, Lighting...), Nutritional, Social (Allelopathy), Trauma, Pathogenic (Infectious, Parasitic, Viral) Treatments 

Related Articles: Coral Pests and Disease; pests, predators, diseases and conditions by Sara Mavinkurve, Trachyphylliid Corals, Trachyphyllia Reproduction Report,

FAQs on Stony Coral Disease by Category: Diagnosing: Environmental (Pollution/Poisoning, Lighting...), Nutritional, Social (Allelopathy), Trauma, Pathogenic (Infectious, Parasitic, Viral) Predatory/Pest, Treatments 
FAQs on Stony Coral Disease by Type: Brown Jelly Disease,

Other Cnidarians of course; including Hydrozoans

Hermits; Not usually sponges or algae; unless the specimen/s is/are damaged;

Several fishes chewing, spitting sand... 

Feather-like Filaments on Trachyphyllia    10/2/11
Hi WWM Crew! I have an Australian Trachyphyllia at the LFS I currently work at which has some type of feather filaments attached to the outer part of its tissue, toward the skeleton.
<I see these... Hydrozoans/Hydropolyps>
I have never seen this before and would like some assistance in identifying it. I believe it is some sort of worm or other hitchhiker that extends feather-like tentacles for capturing microfauna (similar to Feather Dusters and Porcelain Crabs).
<Similar, but more deadly... not just physical, but stinging, agglutinant>
The long feathers stretch out then will quickly retract to its point of origin and will then slowly extend again. I have attached some pictures and a link to a short video to help explain in better detail.
http://s351.photobucket.com/albums/q449/MarineScene/trachy%20video/?action=view&current=MVI_9342.mp4,  sorry for having to turn your head to properly view the video, I forgot that I can not rotate video from my PowerShot camera. Any help is appreciated and thank you for a great and informative website that I use quite frequently!
Thank you,
<Let's have you start reading here:
Perhaps the linked files above. Then write me/us back if you have further concerns, questions. Bob Fenner>

White worms on open brain  5/8/10
Hi Crew,
I have had an open brain coral for close to 2 years now and have had no problems with it, in fact it has grown from 2 inches to well over 5 and even grew a new mouth. I just recently moved and after getting settled finally I noticed that it had 4 small holes in its flesh and upon further investigation I noticed those holes were filled with little with spiral worms if that's what you want to call them. I am not familiar with these and
am hoping you guys can help, I would really hate to lose this guy for he is my first coral and has been with me the longest. Is there anything I can do or should I brace myself for the worst?
Thank you
<Well, w/o knowing, seeing much more, I'd be extremely conservative here, at this point... What you are seeing may be "nothing", not deleterious...
If you'd like, please send along well-resolved pix/photos of what concerns you. IF these were determined to be "worms" of some sort, were trouble, they can/could be treated more or less selectively w/ an anthelminthic.
These are covered on WWM in a few places... I'd treat such ONLY in a separate system (not the main display)... For now, I'd do nothing. Bob Fenner> 

brain coral, hlth.  -- 01/03/10
I have had a brain coral for 10 years in one tank. I t is 3 -4 inches in diameter. I transferred it to another similar tank
<... similar>
overnight and it went into shock and emitted a cloudy white material and an some of its tissue is dying ... I put it back in its original tank
<Good move>
and I am wondering what his chances are for growing back more tissue and recovering. was it correct of
me to put it back in the tank he was in for 10 years?
<Yes. I would have done the same>
I think it has less toxins in it. Cleaner shrimp has been picking at him.
<Do keep an eye on this shrimp... In fact, if it were mine, I'd cover the Brain with a "strawberry basket" (inverted/upside down) to keep the shrimp off/out... it may well be causing more damage here. Bob Fenner>
Michelle Grangetto

Open Brain Question, pred.?    08/19/09
Hello, I have recently been given a very established saltwater aquarium with some live rocks, a couple of clown fish, and Damsels, Blennies, and an Open Brain. The Open Brain seems to be doing great. He swells up when I feed him and seems content. Although, on the edge of it there is what looks like a "blackhead" on/in it. It looks like poop or algae sticking out of him. I thought maybe he was pooping but it has been there for a couple weeks now and I don't know if it is bad. I cannot find anything online about it. It looks like something brownish is coming out of a "pore". There is some sticking out and some that penetrates deeper inside the brain. Any idea what this could be? Should I try to pull it out with tweezers or something? I test the water every couple days and keep it right where it is supposed to be.
<Without a picture, it's hard to say for sure. But this sounds a bit like a gall crab. This thread here has some good pictures of the hole they make: http://www.manhattanreefs.com/forum/identification/27215-gall-crab.html
If this isn't it, please do send in some pictures if you can.>
Thank you, Jessie
<De nada,
Sara M.>

Crab eating open brain?? 01/04/09
Hi there!
I have been spending a lot of time on your site and it has helped me tons!
I have also listened to Bob (just bought your conscientious book) Bluezoo Radio which I listen to and love! I have a question I needed to write in for...
I have a 29g mini- reef, running now for 3mos. Ph 8.2, 78 degrees. N , No2, and No3 all 0. Ca 380, KH 8. I am running a Current Satellite 30" 60w SunPaq dual daylight, dual actinic, w/moon for lighting. I am also using a hob filter using foam, and carbon, an AquaC remora skimmer, both hung on the back of tank, and 2 powerheads placed in the top front corners of the tank pointed to the opposite lower back corners of the tank.
My tankmates are: 1 turbo, 1 trochus, 1 emerald crab, 1 peppermint shrimp, 1 blue knuckle hermit, and around 8 mini hermits. I have a few small Seastars that hitchhiked into my tank as well.
I acquired 2 colonies of Zoanthids, a sponge, some tube (feather dusters?)
worms, and some mushrooms on my live rock.
The corals I purchased, were acquired from the same LFS; Euphyllia Frogspawn, Dendrophyllia (my favorite) , Caulastrea Candycane, Xenia, Nephthea, Diaseris, and a Trachyphyllia g. (pink and green). All seem to be doing great, (with the exception of my Trach, which brings me to write to you) expanding fully and eating.
<This is a lot of different types of corals for such a small tank. I would expect some chemical warfare problems... if not now, then in the near future.>
My question is about my open brain. He's been in my tank about 5 weeks .
I originally had him up on a rock, just an inch above the sand, but my pesky blue knuckle hermit kept mowing him over into the sand, along with everyone else! I have since used Aquastik to glue all my corals to the live rock, and put my brain onto the sand as I've read is better on your site.
<Ah, good.>
He seemed to settle in, expanding during the day, after having what seemed to be a tough few days. He did still eat a small mash of raw shrimp 3 days ago. I tried to feed him yesterday, and a puff of brown 'smoke' came out of one of his mouths. Good/bad??
<It is likely expelling waste (maybe even expelling Zooxanthellae-- judging from how it looks a little pale, this could be "bad").>
Tonight, after my actinic lights shut off, I found my Blue knuckle hermit on the edge of my open brain. The hermit looked like it was shoving his legs and claws into the edge where the pink outside, meets the green inner side (where the brains mouths are) kneading it like a cat. I tried to move it away from my brain , but it grabbed hold, and wouldn't let go. I tried luring it off my brain with a piece of krill, but it was more interested in pawing at my brain for a bit longer until the brain was totally drawn into its skeleton. It finally lost interest and moved on . Was my Hermit eating my Open Brain coral??
<This is a bad sign. Hermits are mostly opportunistic eaters. It was likely either trying to steal food from the coral, or picking at weak tissue.>
Is my Trach dying? Should I remove my Hermit?
<Possibly, unfortunately-- but the good news is that it's far from dead just yet. Yes, I would remove the hermit and target feed the coral.>
2 last questions; What other corals do you think would be a compatible next purchase to go with the corals I already have? I would love to buy 3 or 4 fish. Any suggestions??
<IMO, you have too many different types of corals already. As for fish... keep them small and few, gobies, Chromis, maybe Perculas... please read, research thoroughly before purchasing.>
I have attached a picture of my Trach that I took just yesterday, and a pic of where things are set up in my tank. Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions!!
<Good luck>
- Nancy
Sara M.>

There's a crab living in my brain! 11/26/08 Crew - In the picture below you will see my green open brain (Trachyphyllia geoffroyi) coral that I've had for about a year now. As will see there is a very dark, black in fact, spot on the tissue of the brain. In the center, if you look real close, you will see a raised almost circular disk. That "disk" if you will is the shell of a very small what I presume to be hermit crab (I can actually see tiny claws emerge from behind the disk when I feed the brain!). <Mmm, not likely a "Hermit", but other animal... perhaps a Squat Lobster: http://wetwebmedia.com/galatheids.htm> The crab has inhabited the brain since I purchased the coral but at that point I had no clue that it'd be a crab actually living within the tissue of the animal as I thought the disk to be a natural part of the coral (it was not black when I bought the animal). Ok, so where do go from here? <"Which is the way to beer?"> I can tell you that the coral does not appear to be stressed (but who really knows) about the ordeal but I have to imagine that there could be a down side here at some point. Or maybe I am wrong and there is a natural symbiotic relationship between the two living beings and life goes on. <This is the route I would go> So, there you have it; your response much appreciated for sure. [IMG]http://i127.photobucket.com/albums/p151/gdevine_photo/OpenBrainwithHerm it.jpg[/IMG] <There are many types and degrees of "living together"... that can be more deleterious to the host than what one might desire... But in this case... you've had both of these animals for "about a year now"... I'd keep both and enjoy them... Perhaps the Galatheid "does things" for the Trachyphylliid... keeps out other, more harmful predators perchance. Bob Fenner>

Trachyphyllia Health Question/Help  7/9/08 Dear Crew, <Mike Maddox here with you this afternoon> I have a Trachyphyllia geoffroyi (sold to me as a Wellsophyllia) that I've had for about 8 months. <Cool corals> I fear that it has started to deteriorate and/or die. <Hardy specimens as a rule, just need lots of food> When I first purchased it, it was beautiful - red and tan striped and always puffed up at night with very sticky tentacles out and ready for food. It has slowly started to fade - its red coloration is now very faded, and it looks very retracted most of the time (I can see the ridges of its skeleton through its flesh), although it does puff up a bit at night. I have been feeding each "mouth" pieces of silverside soaked in Selcon about once per week, and I also squirt Cyclop-eeze around it with a turkey baster when I'm feeding my Capnella. Unfortunately, however, my Cleaner Shrimps tend to sneak in while I'm not looking and steal the silversides. From time to time, I have tried to cover the Open Brain to protect its food, but, and I'm sorry to say, I know I've fallen down on the job with this coral and not paid enough attention to ensure that it is healthy. I take the blame for its demise but I am committed to bringing this animal back from the dead. More troubling, however, is that I noticed last night that a portion of its skeleton is showing and there is some tissue recession. My Copper Band Butterfly was picking at this area. I immediately got it out of my tank (a 110g), dabbed the exposed skeleton/tissue with Lugol's, and placed it in my 30g cube with no shrimps (other than a Pistol Shrimp - the water parameters between my two tanks are pretty much identical). I then fed each of its 3 mouths a piece of Selcon-soaked silverside, and it did eat them. This morning when I checked on it, it had puffed up nicely, as it used to do after a nice meal. The lighting in my 110g is 2x250W HQI (14,000K). <Waaay too much lighting for this species! It's depressingly common for aquarists (especially for the "fad" aquarists frequenting RC and the like - those types literally put halides on their nano tanks!) to greatly 'over-light' their reef tanks these days. This is an "LPS" coral that in the wild lives on sandy bottoms in less-than-clear water> The lighting in my 30g (which is 17" or 18" deep, but I have a 4" DSB) is 2 x 10,000K 24W HO T5s and 2 x 420nm 24W T5s. <Much more appropriate lighting for this coral. I normally would warn you against moving an already deteriorating animal, but in this case I think it's a good thing> I know this is probably not enough light for this coral, but I would rather it be in the 30g until it can recover. <Sounds like the ideal environment, actually - I'd keep it there permanently> My plan is to feed this coral every night with Selcon-soaked silversides. Is there anything else I can do to help it recover? <Feed every day, and introduce a bit of variety as well. Any minced, meaty seafood will work. Once it's recovered (and it likely will) feed 3x a week> Once it recovers, I am considering trading it back to my LFS because I don't want to keep it in my 30g and I think my 110g is just not hospitable. <You're right about the 110 not being ideal> As always, thank you for your help. <Anytime> Andy <M. Maddox>

Re: Trachyphyllia Health Question/Help 7/9/08 Mike, thanks for the quick response. <Gone back studying. BobF here> Just for the record, the Open Brain was positioned in a relatively shaded area of my tank, not directly under either of the halides. My tank is 30" deep, and the lights sit up another 6 or 7". <Mmm, I would position this animal/colony more in direct light at this depth> I would love to keep this coral once it recovers, but it is just too big for my little 30g. Moreover, I have a Yellow Watchman Goby/Pistol Shrimp and a Pearly Jawfish in the 30g, which are constantly reorganizing things and tossing sand everywhere. Would that irritate the coral? Andy <Possibly so... Perhaps it can be set up a bit higher, raised on a bowl shaped rock, above the bottom a few inches. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/trachysysfaqs.htm  and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Trachyphyllia geoffroyi - Follow Up for Mike M./Bob F  7/12/08 Hey Crew. I always like to update you guys/gals on issues with which you've helped me. Unfortunately, I've deleted the correspondence that I sent/received last week and can't for the life of me find it on WWM by searching, so I apologize . . . Hopefully, you remember that I wrote to WWM about my Open Brain that wasn't doing so well in my 110g under 500W of HQI. It was shriveled and had some tissue recession--my Copper Band Butterfly was picking at it. I moved it to my 30g tank with 2x24W 10,000K and 2x420nm T5s. Mike Maddox/Bob F answered some questions for me. Anyway . . I've been feeding it silversides and/or raw oyster soaked in Selcon every night, and wouldn't you know it . . . the injured portion of the Open Brain has healed and the coral looks better than it has ever looked (other than the bleached color). It opens up way more than it ever did in my 110g. What a difference 5 days, attention and good conditions can make . . . I've attached a picture of what it looks like now. I wish I had a picture of the "before" so you could see the difference. Thanks for your guidance. I think I'm going to keep this animal in my 30g even though it takes up a lot of space--I hope to bring back it's beautiful red/brown coloration. Cheers! Andy <Ahh! Thank you for this follow-up. Congratulations on your success. BobF>

Hitchhiking Polyps On Trachyphyllia Skeletal Base...Remove Or Not? -- 04/11/07 Dear Crew, <<George>> Have had an open brain Trachyphyllia for several weeks now.  Feeding daily finely minced fresh raw shrimp, clam, and oyster.  Keeping Alk and Ca2+ levels up without any hitches.  No real problems.  But, I have just noticed 3-4 baby polyps, maybe an eighth the size of an eraser head.  Seems to me to be a Zoanthid or Palythoa or similar polyp. <<Likely, yes>> They are attached just underneath on the side of its base (and are barely visible under Actinic, but fluoresces bright green-yellow when the 460nm night LEDs are on).  I thought I heard/read someone posting like this before, but can't seem to find it again.   <<Indeed, there is a very good possibility someone has gone down this road before here...but it doesn't ring any bells with me>> How should (or, should I not) remove these? <<Well George, normally I would be inclined to say "leave them be" until they pose an obvious problem...but, what will become "obvious" will likely be tissue recession of the brain coral in the vicinity of the polyps.  Unfortunately, this indicates the "beginning of the end" for these corals in most captive systems.  I recommend you use something like an old carpenter's chisel and carefully "shave" these polyps off the Trachyphillias base.  Gently "touch" the coral to make it recede before removing it from the water (doing so helps prevent tearing the heavy water-filled flesh).  Handle the coral gingerly so as not to damage the tissue of the brain coral on its own sharp skeletal structure, and be careful not to gouge the skeleton (or yourself!) too deeply with the chisel.  Once you've removed the polyps give the spot a scrub with a small stiff bristle-brush, give the coral a dunk and swirl in a container of clean tank water (to be disposed of afterwards), and return the coral to the display tank>> Best Regards! George <<Be chatting.  EricR>>
Re: Hitchhiking Polyps On Trachyphyllia Skeletal Base...Remove Or Not? -   4/12/07
04/12/07 Hi Eric, <<Hello George>> Thank you!! <<Quite welcome>> I think that once I have a rested mind and am focused in another day or so, I'll follow your suggestions and repost if I run into any issues, but I think I can handle this OK.   <<Ahh, excellent>> Am I correct to assume that regardless of how easily/badly the 'surgery' goes that a local swab-like application of iodine or dip is in order? <<Mmm, no...scraping the polyps from the brain coral's exterior skeletal base won't require treating/disinfecting the site afterwards.  However, swabbing the site with a strong iodine solution for a minute or two before rinsing the coral prior to replacing in the tank may kill/prevent the regeneration of any missed bits of polyp tissue left on the skeleton>> I don't have Lugol's handy, but I do have OTC surgical iodine and can look up recommended dilution for use in such a case.   <<The swabbing won't require any dilution.  The iodine you have will work just fine, and this 'surgical' iodine may well be Lugol's Solution (also known as Iodine Potassium-Iodide; Iodine, Strong solution; and Aqueous Iodine Solution)>> Thanks again for the fast advice. The forum is probably more valuable to me than anything (and thankfully makes lunchtime at the office more interesting and useful!) ;) Best Regards George <<Happy to assist.  Eric Russell>>

Small Crabs Embedded in a Rose Trachyphyllia  2/1/07 Hi, <Greetings Sai, Mich here.> I just purchased a rose Trachyphyllia. <A beauty.> I noticed two small dark spots, 2-3 mm.  Upon closer inspection at night with a flashlight, it appears that the spots each house a tiny crab! <Cool!> During the day, the coral tissue doe not fully expand to cover up the spots.   <OK, but the tissue does expand?.> The coral is otherwise happy, with feeding tentacles fully out at night and feeding. <Very good.>   Any suggestions, should I dig them out? <No.  Would most likely do more harm than good.  As long as the flesh of the coral seems intact I would allow this relationship to continue.  Most likely both the crab and the coral do or did benefit in someway.>   Thanks, <You're welcome,  -Mich> Sai

Black Slime and Sick Trachyphyllia Geoffroyi    8/7/06 Thanks in advance for your help. <Welcome in real time> My problem in my 55 gallon is two fold: black slime algae and a sick Trachyphyllia geoffroyi. I have been battling black slime for about 2 months now and have done everything I know short of using some sort of chemical.  My water parameters are as follows: Ammonia and nitrites are at 0 Salinity at 1.025 Temp ranges from 79 to 82 Nitrates range from 10 to 25 About 3 weeks ago, I added the largest hang on refugium I had room for (only 2.5 gal) and started with 2 lbs of Chaeto which seems to be growing well.  I have not   noticed any drop in nitrates. <Good... takes a while... weeks to a few months to really "kick in"> I changed my actinic bulbs 3 days ago (they were 6 months old) but the slime still seems to be multiplying. <Can be a real bug-a-boo>   I use RO water and Tropic Marine reef salt and do a 3 to 5 gallon water change weekly. I have about 40 lbs live rock, 2 inches of live sand, a sump/trickle filter (with bioballs), <Oh... I would ix-nay on the bioballs nay... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/bioballfaqs.htm and the linked files above> and skimmer. My inhabitants are 3 Chromis 1 small yellow wrasse 1 black and white ocellaris 1 flame angel 1 scarlet skunk cleaner 1 peppermint various snails and hermits <... how big is this system?> I have reduced feeding and now alternate feeding small amounts of frozen or flake on alternate days occasionally skipping a day. I am really getting discouraged.  My Trachyphyllia geoffroyi has been slowing declining and fading in color, and now has several black spots on the skeleton that are visible when it is all shrunken up (which is has been doing a lot more lately). <Yes... looks like Cyano growing on some portions of the exposed septa... very bad> I have read your FAQs but nothing sounds like my case.  The coral is on the bottom away from other corals and nothing has been picking on it.  My ocellaris hosts it, however, <Mmm, the likely original source of tissue loss, septal exposure here> and I am wondering if his sleeping in/wiggling on it may be the cause. <Initially, yes> I have some Lugol's Iodine and wonder if an iodine dip might be helpful. <I'd add this directly to the water... weekly, with water changes>   I usually do not dose iodine because of the weekly water changes. <Mmm, best to do immediately following> I have recently reduced my lighting schedule to 8 hours actinic and 6 hours MH trying to get rid of the slime. I have read that leaving the lights off for 3 days with get rid of   the slime, but I am afraid it would mean the end for my Trachyphyllia geoffroyi. <Maybe so... there are other avenues...> I would greatly appreciate any advice you can give me. I am attaching 2 photos of the Trachyphyllia geoffroyi. Thanks again, Angela Collison <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nutrientcontrol.htm and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm and the linked files above... and consider (seriously) removing your bioballs, possibly modifying the wet-dry. Fix the environment here and the Cyano will be gone, your Brain/s recovered. Bob Fenner>

Trachyphyllia health mainly 7/19/05 Hello...Your site is wonderful!  I have an open brain (Trachyphyllia). I received many corals from a man who was going to throw them away.... some were in great condition however my brain was not too great. I've had it now for about a month.  At first it didn't go through a normal cycle, then for about a week it started to... I had two large hermits <Predaceous...> (I took them to a new home last week) that were picking on the brain, needless to say the brain quit going through its cycles because these crabs were picking at it.  Now the brain's tissue is ripped, has holes in it, and about half of it's skeleton is visible.  The color in the tissue is still good, there is some algae growing on the outer rim of the skeleton. <Not good>   I'm very concerned, and I'm not too sure that it is going to recoup.  It hasn't been going through it's cycles, it's like it can't because it is so filled with holes (if that is a possible reasoning?), How do I go about making sure it is getting food so it can regain it's life, etc? <Iodide treatments, fine food offerings...>   Is there anything else I could do to help it's recovery move along quickly? Is it possibly hurting anything in my tank by being so decrepit? <Possibly... I would watch your water quality, other livestock> Sorry for so many questions!  I've searched your site and you have so so much info on Trachyphyllia (so much wonderful info about a lot of things!) but I can't seem to find what I should do about my situation.  Please help :) Thank you so much! Codie S. <Keep reading my friend. Clarity is pleasurable. Bob Fenner>
Re: Trachyphyllia.. nutrition, health... RMF career 7/22/05
Good day Bob or whoever I may be speaking to today....I hope all is going great today... I have several things to throw your way today...I'm sorry if I've got a repeat question thrown in here. In regards to my Trachyphyllia: When food is offered to it, the mouths close up.  Except when I offered plankton. I haven't ever seen sweeper tentacles come out (even when it was doing normal cycles), Do you think it may be getting the nutrients it needs by me taking a plastic syringe and gently directing fine meaty foods at it... even without the presence of the tentacles? <Possibly, yes> The algae that is forming on small parts of the skeleton... could I try to gently remove it somehow or would this be advised against? <Directing a stream of water... as with a powerhead or small submersible pump is all I would do... don't physically touch> Is Iodide harmful to any marine animals or corals if used properly (that you are aware of)? <Not unless overdosed> I've got a rock that had several mushroom corals growing, a piece of the rock broke off leaving one of the mushrooms attached to the original rock as well as the broken off piece.  Is it best to let it be (it is hanging, I've propped it back up but it wont stay) or someone recommended I should just tear it off the original rock :( sounds painful but I'm not sure it feels pain like that? :) <I would "tear it off", move it to someplace safe, stable> Thank you in helping me on my journey, I swear I'm not trying to be hand fed... I just need a little help with this predicament (the brain). And the other questions are just thrown in there... my main concern is my brain though! On a bit of a more social level...what is your favorite dive location? <Mmm, there's a bunch... overall, the Red Sea likely> Bob... do you go and speak at seminars <Almost every month... for the last few decades... to hobby groups mainly, in the pet-fish and dive/adventure interests> or am I interpreting some info wrong.... at one point in one of your responses to someone's questions it sounded like you do seminars, if you do...have you ever found yourself in Indiana? <I think so...>   One more personal/social question... what is your career... How do you make it possible to go on all these wonderful diving journeys? Thanks guys!!! Codie S. <Good, friendly questions... I do five "things" for money, including two that are petfish related... am a content provider, selling writing and photography... But really, am retired in terms of having to "do" work... invested a part of what I earned, in stocks in good companies, real property... so I can/do travel about half the year. And I do encourage you to take up the dive, travel habit as well! Thank you for asking, sharing. Bob Fenner>

Sponge taking over open brain coral 5/31/03 I have an open brain coral (Trachyphyllia geoffroyi) that has a sponge grow on it.  I first noticed the sponge about 5-months ago and about 3-months ago it split into two sponges.  Both sponge are approximately equal size. I left it alone as it was not hurting the open brain coral.   <actually, most all sponges are quite noxious... the warfare between most invertebrates is slow (weeks/months)> Recently, I noticed the open brain receding in the area near the sponge, as the sponge is growing larger.  I have attached some picts.  Do you know what type of sponge this may be?   <it appears to be a common yellow/green calcareous species that we often see in aquaria. Perhaps a Clathrina sp> Would it be possible to cut the sponge off along with some of the skeleton of the coral?   <yes... very good> I really like the look of the sponge and want to keep it, but I also don't want to lose my open brain.  Any other suggestions would be appreciated. <you have the right idea, my friend> I have a 46-gallon bow front tank and the open brain is approximately 6" by 5" shape.  All the water parameters are good; ph 8.2, calcium ~430, phosphate 0.3, no detectable amounts of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. Thanks, Alex <all good, best regards, Anthony>

Trachyphyllia gone wild!!!! - 6/23/03 My favorite coral has not been doing well for a few weeks. <Sorry to hear> This afternoon I took the turkey baster to blow off the sand that the sand-sifting goby threw on top of the open brain. <Not good, my friend> I was going to move the brain away from the fish's den and when I lifted the brain to get a look at the bottom of the brain I discovered that the skeleton was showing. <I saw that in the picture. In need of TLC for sure> I decided to lift it off the sand with a piece of PVC. <Very good idea and I pray you moved it away from the goby's den?> I also noticed that there are hard tubes growing on the sides of the skeleton, like the ones that feather dusters build. <I have that on mine as well. Normal.... and as far as I can see, no harm no foul. Just opportunistic space requiring tube worms.> What should I do to help my brain??? Well, first be sure to move it away from the goby's den. Elevating is good. No algae blooms! Keep water clean through a frequent water change regime. Feed the coral if it will extend it's tentacles for feeding. Maybe even coax it by spraying a little Mysid juice before feeding. If not already, stabilize your lighting scheme, and lastly, be sure that if the brain were to expand, that it does not scrape against rocks or other corals. Even a healthy specimen can have a hard time with that. Good luck> Thanks in advance. By the way, if this pictures are helpful to you, you may keep and publish. <We'll do! thanks> -RY

The Tang That Ate His Brain! (Brain Coral In Trouble?) I have a brain coral (Trachyphyllia) and over the last few days I have noticed a white cotton like substance on it, a little smaller than the size of a pencil eraser.  It seems to be getting larger. The interesting thing is that when the lights come on it seems to suck into the brain coral and vanishes. Could there be a bite in the coral caused by my yellow tang taking a nip at it once in awhile or is this some sort of sponge? Thank you so much for your help! <Well, for whatever reason, these corals seem to be especially "tasty" to many fishes. I suspect that, as you surmised, this may be some localized trauma to the coral as a result of someone "munching". The abscess or traumatized area probably seems to "retract" into the animal when the tissue expands in response to "lights up"...Keep a close eye on the animal, and consider removing it if it is continuously harassed by the tang, or declines in health...Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Trachyphyllia Health Hi Crew, (re-sending without attachment.  For some reason all my emails sent to 'crew@wetwebmedia.com' bounce back if I include an attachment -- even though the size is minimal [25kB]) I am a bit concerned about my Trachyphyllia.  I think I have a T. Radiata but, from the attached photo, maybe you can help me to verify this as well (it has a flat base -- not conical and it does appear to have more 'folds' than what I have observed in most photos of T. geoffroyi).  My concern is that I can see the skeleton nearly penetrating through the coral's tissue in many places.  This occurs during the day but the coral inflates to nearly round after the lights turn off and it appears 'normal' at this time. << I wouldn't be surprised if it is eating at night, and therefore expanding. >> I have had this coral for about a month now and it does seem that the skeleton has become more visible during this time. This coral sits on the aragonite substrate of my 180g tank, with 520W of PC lighting (50% actinic / 50% 10,000K) and 3,000 gph flow (1,200 gph via alternating-flow manifold).  Water parameters: Temp=79-81 F, pH=8.1-8.2, Alk=4meq, Ammonia=0, Nitrite=0, Nitrate<5ppm, Ca=400ppm.  I noticed my pygmy angel nipping at this coral for the first several days after adding the Trachyphyllia to the tank but, with over 200 pounds of live rock, I have been unable to catch this fish (I am open to any suggestions).  I am moving in six weeks so I will remove all such 'nuisance fish' when I drain the tank at that time.  I am just concerned that this coral might not make it that long. My second concern is that I have never been able to see any feeder tentacles or polyps on this coral.  I had read that these corals are very hardy and that they require no external food so I had not been concerned about feeding it.  Tonight I read that these corals require feedings about three times weekly, with meaty foods and that they should only be fed when their tentacles are out. << The coral may not "need" to be fed, but feeding can certainly help them grow.  I would recommend weekly feeding. >> So now I am worried that I have been starving the coral and that I do not know how to feed it (since there appear to be no tentacles).  I have used a dim flashlight to check for tentacles on several occasions (after the tank lights have been out for a few hours and the brain coral was inflated). << You can directly target feed these types of corals.  You can use any type of small shrimp or even krill.  Simply feed your tank (the coral can tell when there is food around) and wait a few minutes.  Then, with your fingers take a piece of shrimp and hold it on the coral (near any mouth opening).  It may take a few minutes, but it will open up and ingest the food. Go to www.utahreefs.com and under Presentations you will find a PowerPoint on Feeding A Reef.  It has video clips of feeding brain corals. >> I have Eric Borneman's book 'Aquarium Corals', in which I have read everything I could find about this coral.  Unfortunately, I feel that I am still missing something.  I have tried feeding zooplankton, phytoplankton, marine snow and Mysids but I have never noticed any feeding response from this coral. << They are not the easiest corals to feed.  Unfortunately indirect feeding, and even semi direct feeding don't work well for them.  You really have to hold the food right on them. >>  I have even used a turkey baster to quirt these foods directly onto the surface of the coral but my cleaner shrimp always picks the food off the coral before the coral has a chance to react.  I have tried this during the day and at night, with the same results. Please advise how I should attempt to feed this coral and what might be causing the appearance of the exposed skeleton.  I am assuming this is not health appearance. << I would also see what other's are doing to keep these corals.  You may be able to pick up some advice from some friends in similar situations.  I for one like to have these corals in areas of high lighting. >> Thank you, --Greg
<<  Adam Blundell  >>

Follow-up: Trachyphyllia Health Adam (or crew member of the day), <Hi Greg, MacL here> Since my emailed photos are no longer being received via WWM email, I put the photo of my Trachyphyllia on a web page for you to view ( http://home.comcast.net/~greg.wyatt/trachy.htm). <Sorry you are having to do this. Some type of technical difficulties.> Hopefully this will help to clear-up my concerns. Since this is my first brain coral, I am unsure whether the white, nearly exposed skeletal areas around the mouths should be considered "normal". <Have you been to the website and looked at the section on these types of corals? http://www.wetwebmedia.com/trachyphlliidae.htm. This looks very similar to the ones pictured on this page. I can't see very well around the mouth because of the angle but you should be able to tell if its similar or not.> The pygmy angel that appears to think this coral is an appetizer and the apparent lack of feeder tentacles has me concerned. <I'm sure and pygmy's can be terrible pests to this type of coral. You might need to consider removing the pygmy. But let me ask? If you haven't seen him nibble on it why do you think he's the pest for it? Like Adam, I think you need to feed this coral. Is there anyway to keep the shrimp off of it? Perhaps even putting it in something to feed it? I hate to disturb them but I really feel you need to feed it some. I am a bit concerned that you are seeing through to the stony coral below. Although the fact that it is swelling at night does mean usually that it is feeding. I know that my brains feed much better at night.>If you have any additional input after viewing this photo, please advise. Thank you! <Hope this helped Greg, MacL.> --Greg
Trachyphyllia Problem II Hi MacL, <Hi Greg, got a little help from a friend to help you as well.> I wish I could remove the pygmy angel but, as I mentioned below, I have a 180 gallon tank with over 200 pounds of live rock. So, although I have tried many methods of capturing this fish, I have had no luck.<Well I know people who have gone so far as to try to catch them with a hook.> I certainly welcome any suggestion you might have for catching this fish! Otherwise, I do plan on removing it, my damsels and an eyelash blenny when I move to my new house in six weeks.  I must drain the tank at that time so I should be able to catch everything them. I am just concerned the Trachyphyllia will not last that long. <Well I've heard of an acrylic cage over them.  With lots of openings that water and light can go through but not the angel.> The reason I am concerned about the pygmy angel is because it nips at the brain coral daily.  Although I have never noticed it removing tissue from the coral directly, I am sure this nipping must cause some amount of coral stress.  <The Trachyphyllia is pulling it's flesh in so often that it's exposing areas of skeleton.  Trachyphyllia retract due to declining water parameters or some other form of irritation, usually nipping by fish or chemical warfare from other organisms.  Since this coral is not in the close proximity to other corals and (assumably) the water parameters are in check, the angel seems to be the culprit.> I tried again to feed the coral tonight.  I soaked freeze-dried krill in tank water and Selcon for 30 minutes.  I then cut the softened krill into small pieces and held one piece over the oral cavity of the Trachyphyllia. The coral did expand slightly but, even after 20 minutes, sweeper tentacles never appeared and it never ate the krill. <Maybe something smaller? like Mysis?> There are two openings on this coral.  I assumed both are oral openings.  Is this the case or is one an "entrance and the other an "exit"?  If so, I think I might heed to apologize to my coral! ;-)  Maybe re-hydrated, freeze dried foods will not be consumed by corals. My fish love them so I expected to at least get some response from the Trachyphyllia. Do you have any other suggestions? <You have got to find a way to protect that coral?  or perhaps a friend to keep it until you get the fish moved?  Good luck Greg, MacL> --Greg P.S. Please forward the issue about the file attachment to your ISP.  This was a problem a few weeks ago also but I was eventually able to get an email through.  For the past week I have been unable to get any email through if it contained attachments (even very small attachments). <Done>
Follow-up on Trachyphyllia Hi Crew!<Hi Greg> Good news today!!!  Regarding the problem with my Trachyphyllia, mentioned below - I moved this coral to my refugium and in only one day it looks like a completely different coral! <Wonderful to hear>  It is now inflated at all times, all tears appear to have mended and it has vibrant color.  [ I tried to attach "before" and "after" photos to this email but, once again, WWM email bounced the email with these small attachments.  You can view the photos at: http://home.comcast.net/~greg.wyatt/trachy.htm ] I guess the pygmy angel's nipping must have been irritating the coral to the point where it was declining rapidly.  The refugium lighting is closer to the coral and there is also an ample supply of Mysid shrimp, amphipods and copepods in the refugium as well, so maybe the coral is finally eating also. Whatever the cause, the Trachyphyllia has nearly made an instant recovery. My plan now is to just wait-out the next six weeks until I move to my new house.  At that time I will drain my 180g tank and remove the nuisance fish (the pygmy angel, three damsels and an "attack" eyelash blenny).  Then I hope the Trachyphyllia will find the tank a much better place to live. <Sounds like it!> Of course, the move presents challenges of its own - having several tangs, other fish, 200+ pounds of live rock, live sand and some corals! Anyway, I just wanted to follow-up with the good news!  As always, thank you for maintaining such a truly beneficial service in WetWebMedia.com! <Glad we could help.> --Greg

Trachyphyllia geoffroyi with worms Dear Bob, I recently received an open brain coral and noticed several small holes in the skeleton. At night small worms emerge from these holes. The coral has not expanded since it arrived a week ago. Are these worms damaging to the coral? <Possibly... particularly if their other sources of foods have been removed, and/or their host substrate damaged otherwise> I have not seen holes in other LPS corals before and have several very healthy ones. <This happens... some specimens, same species are very different> I put the new coral in quarantine awaiting your response. I have added the flame angel as the last fish in my 150 gallon system. The community is doing very well: blue damsel, true percula clown, yellow Hawaiian tang, royal Gramma, sleeper goby, 3 neon gobies, flame angel, and 3 convicts. I plan (hope) <Me too... two nets... a friend helping...> to remove one or two of the convicts as they are now about 4 inches long. Both the show tank and refugium are loaded with amphipods and copepods. I assume they provide a great deal of natural food so I feed very little flake daily and live brine shrimp once a week. <Yes> It has now been a year since I started into this great hobby with the help of your book and website. <Ah, glad to help> I guess that no matter how much macro algae and no matter how "perfect" the water chemistry, filtration, and u/v are I still have to clean the glass twice a week. Is this done so frequently in the crystal clear tanks I see in restaurants, dealers, and city aquariums? <Yes my friend... and/or the folks stoop to using chemical filtrants, algae controls... which are destructive to the livestock...  Howard

Decline of open brain coral Dear Bob, I purchased two open brain corals that looked in perfect health. After about 5 days one a nice lime green variety began to decline. Tissue recession, eroding flesh etc. I noticed a small worm(?) looking organism coming out of a whole in the coral. The organism has a feathery looking head (barnacle)?  <More likely some sort of "feather duster worm" (Sedentariate Polychaete, see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/feather.htm) and not likely involved in the loss of health of your coral> Could this be the reason for the decline? <Probably not> Any help appreciated. All other corals doing fine. Thanks, Mario <Five days is too short a period of time to "judge" whether these corals are just suffering from "moving shock"... do check you alkalinity, biomineral concentrations... and consider an exceptional dose of iodide. Otherwise I would wait, try a small "wash feeding". Bob Fenner>
Sudden decline of brain corals
Dear Bob, I recently e mailed you about a sudden decline of a newly purchased open brain. Not only has it died but the other one is doing the same thing and my Candycanes which were in close proximity to the first brain are dead. All smell foul I removed all and did a 20% water change. So far the other corals fish etc. are fine. Water parameters are fine. What did you think ? <Yikes... think it's time to pay close attention to your water quality... DO mix up, have more reserve synthetic water ready to go... keep an eye on alkalinity, pH, biomineral content of your water... perhaps render a dose of iodide. Do contact the supplier of the Open-Brain/Trachyphyllia corals. Bob Fenner> Mario

Red Open Brain being eaten Guys, My reef tank is just shy of a year old.  It is loaded with small gray shrimp-like crustaceans.  I call them "critters". About three weeks ago some of these damned critters decided that my Red Open Brain was an all night smorgasbord. They have eaten the red colored outer flesh down to the skeleton on a section that is now fully 3/8" wide.  I am angry beyond words.  I had an Eiblii Angel do the same thing, but I simply removed him from the tank. I can't remove hundreds upon hundreds of critters.  I even purchased a Mandarin Goby about a month ago to help control the critters, but he can't eat all of them. The Red Open Brain, along with my three other LPS's, all eat 4 times per week (clam, squid, shrimp, krill). Before I lose this coral, what do I need to try? <Time to "raise the bar". Will your system, other livestock tolerate a small wrasse species? Please read through www.WetWebMedia.com marine section re Pseudocheilinus choices: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pseudocheilinus.htm Bob Fenner> NOTE:  The brain is located on the substrate right in the middle of the tank. Sincerely, Mark Schwartz
Red Open Brain being eaten? Not by amphipods
Mr. Fenner, <Anthony Calfo with the follow-up> The tank also counts among its inhabitants a 6 line wrasse.  He has been there about 10 weeks. I have 13 fish total, all quite small, all about 1.75 - 2 inches in length, except for the Mandarin, who is maybe 3 inches, and two (Ptereleotris zebra) bar gobies who are about 2.5 inches long. 7 damsels, 2 clowns, 3 gobies, 1 wrasse. I have room for more.   <OK> If you have a "critter eradicator" of choice you would like to see me try, please let me know. <A Pseudochromis would work very well> This coral has suffered enough.  It is a beautiful pink/red color, which is why it occupies the center position in my tank.  I'll be damned if I'm going to lose it to a bunch of micro-shrimp. <you are very mistaken here Mark. The shrimp (amphipods) are not carnivorous.. they are merely scavenging the dead and dying tissue... and they are of tremendous benefit to the tank. People set up refugiums to culture as many of these micro-crustaceans as possible, and there are businesses dedicated to farming and selling these creatures to aquarists! Your brain is dying for another reason and they are just doing their job. Common causes of death with red open brains include excess light (metal halides over this VERY deep water coral... sometimes found at 80')... also feeding with chunks of food that are too large and cause an internal tear (krill, chunk shrimp, etc)... or a complete lack of feeding (this coral is one of the most food dependant requiring feeding of 3-5 times weekly, and some need daily. Dude... consider these possibilities and please enjoy or ignore the natural plankton that you have been blessed with. They are partly food for your other corals at night!> Thank you for your assistance. Sincerely, Mark Schwartz <best regards, Anthony>
Red Open Brain being eaten
Anthony, if the coral were dying for another reason, wouldn't the flesh look necrotic in some way? <not at all... if the coral was merely suffering from attrition there would be no pathogenic species to create a necrotic symptom> My lighting is PC fluorescent.   <if that means normal output... OK. Low light for most coral, but fine for the brain if the tank is less than 20" deep> I feed all four LPS corals four times per week.   <excellent! Finely minced I hope (nothing bigger than 1/4"? Else a tear is inevitable like with anemones)> They all eat every time. (One red brain, one green brain, one tongue, and one Favia brain).  Oh yeah, I also want a red lobo and a Favites brain.  I like brain corals :-) The Favia is well off by himself  (10 inches to the nearest coral -- the tongue, plus, the Favia is up on a rock, while the brains and the tongue are on the substrate). <all good> The red brain is downstream from a tongue coral (6 inches separation).  The tongue has been in the tank the longest (10+ months).  It has also clearly grown (in width, anyway). Chemical warfare from the tongue against the red brain? <possible... but not so severe as to be primary. Bigger concerns would be a weak water change schedule (less than 25% monthly), poor skimmer performance, lack of chemical media (monthly carbon or better), aged lamps (over 6 months old)> Sincerely, Mark Schwartz <Anthony>

Hermit Shell fell inside of Open Brain coral Anthony and or Crew, <whassup> Sorry about using the old e-mail, but I could not get my browser to work for some reason.   <OK> I have just started to read "Book of Coral Propagation" and both this web site, Bob's, and yours books have been very helpful but I have not found anything about this particular problem.  I just noticed after feeding the fish tonight that a hermit shell is inside of my Rose Brain (Trachyphyllia geoffroyi), <Hmmm... minor correction: a Rose Brain is an illegal Atlantic genus of Manicina... you can a regular Open Brain Coral from Indo likely> I sure hope the coral had a nice meal?   <agreed... but more like an appetizer> The hermit crab probably fell from the rock that is close by into the coral if I take my best guess.  My question is should I go ahead an gently try and remove the shell <yes please... it could hurt this LPS in time> or should I let the coral try and push it out?   <perhaps... try fresh figs> I know Anthony I left the door open on that last part LOL. <took a soft pass at it <G>> I have also attached two pictures for your viewing pleasure. <thanks kindly... it is indeed the deepwater (as red) Open Brain from Indonesia likely> Thanks for your help. be Smiling <will do... I'm gassy> TTFN Sean <best regards, Anthony>
Re: Hermit Shell inside of Rose Brain
Thanks Anthony for the reply, I put the gloves on and was able to remove it without any problems.   <did the coral sing "Lone River"? Reminds me of a scene from "Fletch".> You can still tell where the shell was, but everything looks closed up and on the mend. <good to hear> Sorry about the wrong name on the open Brain coral.   <no worries at all... you did use the correct scientific name which is all that matters!> I used Julian Sprung's book "Corals a quick reference Guide" to ID this guy, <understood... and Julian mentions it as a misnomer. Look on the next page at the True Rose coral (Manicina)> It look like a 97% match from the pictures.   <agreed... it is simply a red T. geoffroyi> The LFS recommended the book, nice coffee table picture book, with some very abstract and general info on coral husbandry. <correct... very fine as a quick reference as it was intended. Do consider Eric Borneman's Aquarium Corals for a more in depth coverage of corals> So a deep water Open Brain from Indonesia.   <yes... quite common. Keep on san bottom only... and it needs to feed 3-5 times weekly on very finely minced meats or it will die within a year or 2> I can't seem to find a match in Sprung's books.   <you were on the right page the first time bud, for Trachyphyllia. See our coverage here at WetWebMedia on Trachyphyllia too... I have a co-authored article posted here about your coral budding asexually in an aquarium. Very cool> Thanks for the help in correctly IDing this guy.  Everyone who sees the tank always ask what it is, and to think I have been telling them I have a illegal coral.   <again... not correct bud. Your coral is beautiful, very legal, and rather common. Retails for $30-50 across the country. It is the Atlantic Manicina that is protected> I guess there is more to IDing a coral then a pretty picture.  Will continue to search to properly ID the LPS.  Any more clues would be great? Thanks again for your help. TTFN, Sean
<best regards, bud. Anthony>

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