Please visit our Sponsors

FAQs on Stinging-Celled Animals 1

Related Articles: Cnidarians, Water Flow, How Much is Enough,

Related FAQs: Cnidarians 2, Cnidarians 3, Cnidarian Identification, Cnidarian Behavior, Cnidarian Compatibility, Cnidarian Selection, Cnidarian Systems, Cnidarian Feeding, Cnidarian Disease, Cnidarian Reproduction, Acclimating Symbiotic Reef Invertebrates to Captive Lighting

Mystery Creatures/Macroalgae/Mysis! Dear Crew, <Scott F. here today> I've checked the 'hitchhiker' and other sites for this animal that appeared on some new live rock. I don't know if they are  polyps or an anemones. The center is hard (calcium?) from 4 to 6 mm. diameter surrounded by a number of 1 to 3 mm. points of hard material. Crystal clear, colorless tentacles about 7 to 10 mm. long emerge and detract from the periphery. At first I thought they were Aiptasia but they have no "neck" and the center portion does not retract when disturbed. I don't want any undesirable stuff in the refugium that could migrate to the rest of the system. Can you help? <Really hard to determine from here, especially without a picture, but I'll bet it's some kind of anemone-but don't hold me to that. Perhaps you could forward a pic that Anthony or Steve could review to help identify this animal They're working their collective butts off, along with Bob, on a new invertebrate book, and may have a good idea as to what these creatures might be!> By the way, the Gracilaria, Chaetomorpha, and Ulva are doing well but the Ochtodes (blue ball) disintegrated in a couple days. After only 3 weeks, the Mysis are very plentiful and already feeding the show tank. <That's terrific!> Should I be feeding the Mysis? They have lots of algae and some surplus food and detritus coming down from the show tank. Howard in Wisconsin <Yep- I'd let nature continue to do the job! Sounds like everything is going well. Keep up the good work!>

Anemone / Coral compatibility Hi Bob (or WetWebMedia crew), <cheers> I currently have a green carpet anemone in a 30-gallon tank.  <holy cow... a tight fit even in the short run. These anemones get a couple of feet across in diameter and are extremely aggressive. They need quite a lot of light (high intensity fluorescents or metal halide) and almost daily feedings to survive. Else they will hang in for a year or two before finally starving to death> Is it possible to add hardy soft corals to this setup (leather, colt, mushrooms, button Polyps, star polyps)?  <under no circumstance would this work in a 30 gallon. Quite frankly, anemones and corals are almost never to be recommended together... it is an unnatural mix in most cases and the ensuing chemical aggression in the water will cause great duress to all.> I've read that many of these animals will sting each other.  <absolutely... they are best kept in a species tank> Is there a way to tell if corals are compatible with each other?  <its best to group corals in tanks by family or group. Like... soft corals only... LPS only or SPS only. Mixing groups can be quite challenging... especially in a small tank like a 30 gallon. Be sure that you have a skimmer that produces dark skimmate every single day and that you change your carbon weekly> I've read that you should keep corals 8-12 inches apart,  <pretty good> yet a lot of pictures and pet stores have corals practically sitting on top of each other.  <most pet stores also have their tanks overstocked but do daily water changes to compensate... catch the drift :) > Is it safe to place members of the same genus closer together? <in some cases yes> Another question... should I avoid star polyps? I've read they can overtake an aquarium over time? Is there a species that won't spread so rapidly? <they can grow fast... but many species do. Almost any coral you pick will out grow a 30 gall in a year. Simply learn some good coral propagation techniques to control growth> One last unrelated question... is Hawaii the best state to live in to go scuba diving on a regular basis?  <beautiful... but the water is cool and coral development is not a good for this northernmost coral reef. Much good diving in the Caribbean from Florida. Better diving by simply traveling from your home randomly out to the Red Sea and Indonesia.> I'm currently land locked in Illinois, but would like to move to a place where I can scuba dive easily. The only other place I know of in the US with a coral reef is the Florida Keys, but I don't really want to live in Miami. <all depends on the kind of diving you seek. Sponges and gorg.s in Atlantic, many stonies in Hawaii but few soft... a plethora beyond that. What of living in Puerto Rico?> Thanks for your time and rapid response, Jeremy G. <best regards, Anthony>

Coral competition <Anthony Calfo in your service> I have a few questions regarding competition for space in my aquarium. Which coral will win out over all for the space between an SPS coral growing next to a colony of polyps?  <cannot be said in fairness categorically as each species is different. But in gross terms, Zoantharians (mushroom and zoanthid button polyps) are VERY aggressive and will often tame SPS corals. However, please do remember that corals forced to live close and combat are not necessarily win vs. lose. Sometimes both will suffer and or die after many weeks or months of being forced to compete> The polyps are zoanthids and the SPS coral is an Acropora that is growing branches. The Acropora is spreading out at the base as usual, but it is getting close to the polyps.  <hard to say for certain... the rule is that no coral should be allowed to touch. Please frag the Acro to tame its growth or consider a "firewall" of rock/rubble for control of either animal. More about this in my book on coral propagation. Please do advise me if you need excerpts> I also have 2 small SPS corals that I glued onto the same small rock. Well as you can imagine they have both grown into fine looking specimens;  <ah, yes... a common problem> however the base of one is growing onto the base of the other. They are both great looking corals and I do not want to break either of them off. What should I do?  <they need to be separated. Even when they appear to be getting along, one will die "mysteriously" after some months from the silent chemical warfare> One is a brown and white Acropora with a thick base and thick branches. It's base is being grown onto by a Montipora capricornis. The Montipora is growing into whorls and looks awesome. Which will win the fight?  <the Montipora is going to get smoked like salmon by the Acropora...heehee> Any advise?  <yep... buy a bigger tank, add a refugium for frags, place corals with consideration for long term growth/adult size and/or be more willing to frag corals to control growth of close specimens. Best regards my friend, Anthony Calfo>  Thanks!!

Oops a clarification on unknown life form email I noticed I messed up on the first picture I sent earlier today. Te branching structures are on the right, not the left...oopps. I only sent 1 picture this time, in case you already received the other email. I was wondering if someone could look at the attached pictures and see if they could identify the organism. In the first picture you can see the 'entire' organism, (that is, if it is one organism). What I am referring to is the red growth (reminds me of a lichen that you would find on a tree in the woods) and the small branching structures you can see to the RIGHT SIDE on the photo. <These are almost certainly an algae of some sort.> The second photo is of the red growth that is on the 'rock' (in this case actually a clam shell), I attached this one so you could see how the growth is flat along the surface (like a coralline algae would be) but, it grows 'edges' off of the surface around the perimeter. Any ideas? Thanks for your help! Ann <Might actually be a Blue Green Algae growth... you might take a closer look under a microscope or loupe. Bob Fenner>
Oops a clarification on unknown life form email Thank you for the lightning fast reply.  <Anthon Calfo with the follow-up> I don't think it's an algae but, I'll see if somehow I can check it out.  <I've seen the pic and agree, algae> The red surface actually 'peels' a clear film from time to time.  <hmmm... if true, the sloughing may indicate and animal> The branching structures are actually pretty small @ 2 cm or so and they are fuzzy. I was searching around the web today and I'm beginning to wonder if it is some type of encrusting Bryozoan.  <it doesn't look hard and you didn't mention a rough/stony/calcareous texture... I'm still banking on alga. Not clear from photo though... I'll trust your comparative eye. Do consult "Marine Plants of the Caribbean". It has many circumtropical algae and Bryozoan species Id.ed> Thanks for your time! Ann <best regards, Anthony>
Re: oops a clarification on unknown life form email Another speedy reply, you guys are great!  <we're bored and naked... what can I say. Er... that is to say... we're naked in the collective sense, not the literal group sense. We're strange... but we're not silly freaks> Hey, I decided to try to take another picture. This time with the lights out and I think it came out much better (why?...I don't know). <honestly still tough to tell my friend... but I do appreciate your attempts. If you were using your flash and took the picture at an angle, that's perhaps the best you can do with what you have> You can see the tannish/white branching structures. The red surface does slough off a clear film.  <are you looking for an ID on the two different organisms? The red species to the left does look like a red algae species. The tan branching specimen looks like a branching hydroid or perhaps a branching hydrozoan> I will consult the cited book ASAP. Thanks again! Ann <excellent... best of luck, it s a great little book. Anthony>
Re: oops a clarification on unknown life form email Another speedy reply, you guys are great! Hey, I decided to try to take another picture. This time with the lights out and I think it came out much better (why?...I don't know). You can see the tannish/white branching structures. The red surface does slough off a clear film. I will consult the cited book ASAP. Thanks again! Ann <Ahh! This is starting to look more like a Hydroid of some sort... a group of the stinging celled animals, phylum Cnidaria... that includes corals, jellyfishes... Please see here: http://www.WetWebMedia.com/cnidaria.htm and on the Net with your search engines and the term: "hydroid" Bob Fenner>

Reefing Hi Bob and experts, <Anthony Calfo in your service> Today I have two questions to ask. 1) Do the corals that we newly brought need to blow off the sand, or debris from the coral rock before we put in the main tank ? <rinsing in an acclimation bucket would be nice. It is critical though at all times/stages that detritus and sediment NEVER be allowed to settle on any coral that does not receive it naturally. And when in doubt, assume it needs to be removed. Sediment on many coral is theorized to dramatically reduce the already precarious level of oxygen in the micro layer of water surrounding all coral. If that layer is suffocated by poor water flow in an aquarium or shipping vessel... or is sediment lies atop too long... then local anoxia can quickly cause tissue death/necrosis. There is also concern for a rapid development of biotic activity (bacteria... even mostly non-pathogenic ones) which consume oxygen and can mitigate the situation> 2) I intending to purchase more algae for my refugium, what are the pro and con having lot of algae in a tank :? <I just don't know where to begin with this question. It really depends on the scope of your tank and the purpose of the system (coral growth, display, actual coral farming/fragging...etc). Still... I personally see far more harm then good from Caulerpas. I prefer Seagrasses and calcareous algae (like Halimeda)<<Not a coralline to be clear here. RMF>>. If you will try Caulerpa... fertilize and harvest it VERY systematically... else you will be a slave to the threat of it going vegetative <<Actually reproductive. RMF>> and causing serious problems n the system. Also sheds noxious compounds that impede coral growth especially in systems with poor/no skimming, lack of chemical media etc. A really complicated dynamic.> Thanks, Regard Danny <kindly, Anthony>

Compatibility Questions Greetings! I have a question about compatibility. Here are the following inverts & corals in my tanks -Open Brain -Frogspawn -Brown Star Polyp -Long Tentacle anemone -Finger Leather Do you see any conflict with the above? Obviously the LT Anemone could pose a threat if too close or begins to wander, but other than that, are there any chemistry/toxin issues to consider? <Basically, there are always chemical warfare concerns. Hence the need for good protein skimming, use of activated carbon, water changes, etc. Nothing out of the ordinary in your grouping.> Thanks for your response. P.s., my current plan is to add some more soft and LPS corals. Any problems there? -Adam <No, seems normal. -Steven Pro>

First Coral Follow-ups <Greetings, good sir... Anthony here again. Got both of your follow up messages and for convenience I'll reply to both with this one. With regards for Bob's recommendation for Tree corals... it is conditionally true. Alas... not all of the specifics on invertebrates could be included in one book volume...thus, the generalization. Specifically, the Nephtheids ("tree coral family") include some reasonably to very hardy animals and some of the most extremely difficult animals to keep alive across the board. The distinction is essentially drawn along the lines of symbiotic (photosynthetic) versus aposymbiotic (filter feeding tough guys). The hardy tree corals are usually brown with shades of green and usually Nephthea or Litophyton species. The difficult Tree corals are colored magnificently (Pink, White, orange, etc) and usually belong to the genus Dendronephthya and are called strawberry or cauliflower corals in the trade. Please look up this last genus on WWM at http://www.WetWebMedia.com/dendrofaqs.htm. If we are still talking about the same colored tree coral and not a brown Litophyton like Tree coral... my advice would be to save your money on your local consultant until he learns a bit more, and buy Eric's, Julian's or my book> Could make some recommendations- If were pick out some other mainly colorful corals myself to start with. please be specific if you don't mind. I was paying a guy who is studying to be a marine Biologist <probably a sincere and nice guy... just needs to learn more before he starts handing out advice... let alone charging for it> and the mushroom and the tree coral were the first things be brought out.  <one out of two was a great choice> He said they would be fine. He told me to move the tree coral out of the current. I don't think I'll be using him again. Thanks for the info! < I would love to recommend some corals for you but there are so many to pick from. If you want to, look on the net and through some references. I'd suggest you make a top twenty list of corals that attract you. Don't be surprised that most of the ones colored anything beyond brown, green or yellow will be temporarily out of your league or more work than you and I would probably care to do to keep them. No worries though...there are still hundreds of hardy and colorful ones left to pick from that are extremely low maintenance (lower than a freshwater aquarium!) Ballpark would include all colors of mushroom anemones, almost all leather corals and all colors of zoanthid. Avoid most LPS and SPS corals for 6-12 months. And don't take any non-photosynthetic ones even for free (especially your Strawberry coral)! heheh... looking forward to hearing from you. Kindly, Anthony>

Hi Bob (soft corals, more cnidarians in captive care) Hi Bob, it's that 14 year old kid again. <Hey, I'm a 48 year old kid!> I wanted to tell you that my fish (Centropyge argi and Cirrhilabrus lubbocki <not sure if I spelled those right!>) are finally in a balance and no compatibility issues. <Ah, good> Anyways, this Christmas I have decided to go reef and convert my FOWLR to keep corals. I have received an Icecap 660 for Christmas and I am going to keep two 36" 96 watt VHOs on my 38 gallon. My dad and I are making our own hood and it's almost done (just need to wire it and create a fan mount)!  <How nice!> I think I know quite a bit about fish but when it comes to corals I have no experience. Eric Borneman's Coral book has been informative but I still have a few questions. I am just planning on a leather and colt, mushroom, and zoanthid tank. First, what is the best way to feed corals like these? <Mmm, actually, these organisms will not likely need direct, specific feeding in a "going" established system... they do fine on "ancillary feeding" of fishes, other organisms... bits and dissolved organic carbon...> Do these corals need microscopic food to thrive, or can you just mash regular fish food? (remember I have no experience with corals). I am also a little concerned about the chemicals some soft corals can put out,  <You should be> and I don't want them to harm anything in the tank. I am interested in Sinularia and Sarcophyton species but I don't want them to harm other fish, coral, or inverts. Are they a threat to the inhabitants in my tank?  <Could be... hence the need for careful handling, acclimation/quarantine, starting with small colonies, regular maintenance (e.g. water changes, cleaning skimmers, changing out of activated carbon), careful placement in your system... Do introduce yourself to a friend, Anthony Calfo on our chatforum: http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/ he is very knowledgeable about such matters, and the nth in helpfulness> There wasn't much information on WetWebMedia about coral toxins. <Or many, many other important topics. I assure you, I am working on projects to my capacity...> Thanks Bob, Andy <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Shy for a Star... -polyp Hi, I have questioned you once before and *once again* am back with another question (thank you for your help!). <Today you get to talk to me, Steven Pro. Bob is out of town for the time being and Anthony Calfo and I are helping out.> I was reading your site (which is SO helpful) because among all the things there are to learn on it I am having trouble with my star polyps. They won't come out most of the time and it seems mostly to coincide with how good the quality of water is in the tank (I am just really a beginner and unfortunately sometimes I get a little nitrate/nitrite .05 to .10 ppm, try to keep it to a minimum but I think I tend to overfeed once in a while). Now the purple "carpet" under the polyps seems to be sort of wanting to fall of the original rock and is leaving empty spots on it. On your site I saw you mentioned to someone "There is likely a negative interaction between your Anemones and polyps... I would institute monthly use of a chemical filtrant (like activated carbon) in the filter flow path". I am not using any carbon in the Fluval 404 we have and we do have one approx. 6 in wide anemone and one that is small about 2 in wide maybe, plus two small what I believe are sand anemones (mushroom anemone?). Could there be some kind of reaction going on beside not having the best water quality always? <There are always chemical interactions/warfare going on between the corals we keep. Using carbon in the Fluval is a good idea. Be sure to clean once per month and change the carbon.> Also the sand anemones also seem to not maybe be liking everything, they have detached now from the rock they were on when I purchased them and have sort of fallen to the sandy/rocky bottom. The other anemones are doing well it seems. My tank is 55 gal with about 80 lbs rock and one actinic and one "power-Glo" light, <You seem pretty low in terms of lighting. I have a 55 too and I use four 40 watt lamps (double what you have) and I am too low for some corals and anemones.> a skimmer, bubble bar, power head and 404 Fluval. I do add iodine and other supplements sometimes (once every week?). <I hope you are feeding the anemones, too. Several times per week is best.> Yes I know I should have a set schedule but I'm still figuring out what it should be. I do a water change about 5 gal every other week. <There is much for you to read about anemones here http://www.WetWebMedia.com/anemones.htm> Also while I have you (just one more question I promise.. at least for a while!) what can you tell me about teddy bear crabs? The LFS had one and was going to throw it out but I took it home. I made a plexi-glass separate box with air holes for it as they said it would destroy reefs and eat fish (but it's SO cute). <A separate small tank is probably better.> Thank you so much!!! Melinda - pathetic at this point but hanging in there hobbyist

Freshwater tolerant Anemones and Corals Dear Sir, I am trying to find information on the above and in fact if they do exist -various publications have mentioned them with no further information etc... Can you assist Many thanks Andy Mawe <In scientific and hobbyist literature there are a few freshwater stinging-celled animals... small, transparent. None of interest to the trade. Bob Fenner>

Coral for a Fish/Reef Tank? Dear Bob, Thanks for the great website and just as importantly for your frank advice making use of all of your experience. I have had a fish only tank for 7 years and because of a leak, have converted from 80 gallons to 100. <Ah, a lucky leak> My goal is to cautiously move toward a biologically balanced fish/reef system. My philosophy thus far has been to under load the tank to maintain water quality, and minimize intervention, i.e. chemical addition etc and fish stress. It served me well so far. <Yes> Just recently I installed an Icecap 660 driving 3 x 48" NO full spectrum and 1 actinic. Big difference to my eyes. From what I have read and your previous advice on the subject I would categorize the amount/quality of light to be medium. I could transition to VHO bulbs but want to experiment with NO bulbs unless it becomes too limiting. I have read an article from FAMA (Cohen?) <Ah, good old (even more than I!) Merrill> that I believe successfully used this kind of setup. As a result of the better lighting I've added a Trachyphyllia geoffroyi (rose open brain). What else would you recommend given these tank particulars and my balanced approach philosophy? Snails, Brittlestars, etc. for detritus? What about other zooxanthellae. corals ? <All the above groups would do fine here> ~20lbs live rock massive growth of Halimeda sp (greener more finely branched version of discoidea) some Halimeda discoidea significant Caulerpa p. 1 yellow tang, 1 fox face, 1 cinnamon clown, 2 blue damsels ~1000 gph total circulation canister filter w/charcoal driving 2 BioWheels airstone driven Coralife skimmer (lots of contact time as there is no forced flow) monthly water changes ~ 5% No algae problems and chemistry seems fine given long term stability. One other question, are those BioWheels doing anything?  <Not much> There is some Bryopsis plumosa (grassy) kind of algae growing on the outlet which I suppose is doing some minimal algal filtration too. Being another San Diegan, do you ever speak in the area? Thanks!!!! <Oh yes... Maurice Bullock and the rest of the local Marine Club are friends, put up with me (have mercy!) quite often. Will cc Maurice here.> David A. Bidwell

Slow coral growth Mr. Fenner, First, I apologize for the length of this email in advance :) <No worries, take your time/bandwidth> I am writing because I am frankly stumped over why I have had mediocre luck with corals. First, my tank parameters: * 30 gallon system, 35# Fiji rock, 4" DSB, Prizm skimmer, occasional filtration w/activated carbon * 6.5 WPG of PC light, 6500K <Wowzah, this must be a bright tank> * Ammonia, nitrite, nitrate unreadable; SG 1.024; pH 8.4 (very alkaline tapwater!); Calcium 450ppm; Temp 78F <What is alkalinity reading?> * Caulerpa racemosa & Halimeda growth <Overpowering growth, or just a little?> * Corals: sm. Galaxea, sm. Favites, colt, sm. Sarcophyton, pagoda, bubble, sm. Sinularia, yellow polyps, star polyps, assorted mushrooms. <All in a thirty gallon system?> * Livestock: 1 sm. tomato clown, 1 blue damsel, 1 bicolor blenny, 1 six-line wrasse, 1 pacific cleaner shrimp, 1 peppermint shrimp, 1 sm. queen conch, 1 infernal sand-sifting star (thanks, LFS); several featherdusters, serpent stars, snails (Nassarius, Trochus, margarita), and a few blue leg hermits. The tank has been set up for 8 months, with corals for 6 months. I have observed negligible growth in several of my corals with reputations for fast growth, and I lost a beautiful red/green open brain that slowly receded over a period of 3 months. (After trying it 3 different locations with variable lighting to try to bring it back, it has been moved to my roommate's tank as a last-ditch effort). The Sarcophyton has not grown at all (3" diameter, 3" stalk), and is actually showing some degradation at its base. Honestly, if you've ever seen a tree that has been visited by a beaver, the Sarcophyton is beginning to look something like that. The bubble, Galaxea, and Favites have not grown at all, and the Galaxea is showing some tissue loss on the coenosteum. I've read that the pagoda grows slowly, so I'm not surprised to see a lack of growth from it. Happily, the colt has shown some growth, and the polyps and mushrooms are finally starting to reproduce, but I would like to see some growth from the others! I feed brine shrimp twice per week, and suspension feeder food once per week. I also feed the bubble a bit of shrimp once per week. The tank is set up such that aggressive corals cannot reach others - no necrotic tissue is evident on anything. Although this may be incidental, I have observed that coralline in my tank bleaches in direct light. Too intense? <Yes, likely... and/or a mismatch with too much biomineral (calcium) and too little alkaline reserve, or too little magnesium...> Thanks in advance for all your help, Jason <What is most likely is a incompatibility issue between some of your stinging-celled life... the mushrooms most likely are chemically, perhaps also physically interacting with the soft corals you have... and vice versa... the "chewed" appearance of the latter may also be due to some unwelcome predators... likely polychaetes or snails... I would check for these during the night with a focused bright small flashlight... or a baited trap in the front corner of the tank at night... Much more to postulate. Have you read over our site: www.WetWebMedia.com? Please peruse, perhaps using the Google search tool there for key terms... and we'll be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Re: how about those corals and sponges? 65 gallon tank w/ ecosystem.. all levels excellent The new fish are very happy ... only fish ... restocking after huge die off 2 Firefish Magnifica 3 Neon Gobies Oceanops 4 Chromis Viridis More live rock has introduced 2 more crabs (light brown and spotted). Already had 2 Mithrax, many snails, and hermit crabs The great Red Skunk Shrimp I ordered was DOE. Added Red Grape Kelp. Added GE Chromaline 50 bulbs Increased aeration Still have massive amounts of stringy thick brown algae on the substrate. Would like to add a Percula or 2 and a Paracanthurus Hepatus... maybe a flame angel? <I'd sub a different Tang for the Algae, hold at adding any more fishes with these. See the WetWebMedia.com site for Tang selection> Would like to add a coral, or sponge, or something to add color. I am staying away from anemones for fear of my inexperience per your advice. I have read extensively the site and don't see anything listed as easy for beginners as far as the corals or anything else that could add interest and color to the environment. <Mmm, will have to make up such a list... perhaps you will help in compiling same. Look at polyps, corallimorphs for now> My daughter is autistic and absolutely fascinated with this venture. If you can point me to a few items that I can try and maintain within my system I would like to read up and study them a bit so that I can try and decide on later additions. <Look to local sources, of people propagating soft and hard corals as your selection criterion here.> The great Red Skunk Shrimp I ordered was DOE. My daughter really liked him so we may try this again. Next time I will order the large one as I believe the crabs would have done it in anyway. Thank you Bob, Trisha Montez <Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

What is this? Bob, My tank is only a few months old and now my live rock is beginning to blossom with life. The problem is I have no idea what some of it is (and won't until Santa brings me some books). The attached picture shows a cluster of dark red growths. They are about 1/8th inch in dia.,1/4th inch in length with a white tip, and 1/2 inch hairs on top as well. I would like to know what they are so I can learn more about them. Thanks for your expert help. Thom Walters <Hmm, some sort of polypoid life... a big, important group in marine/reef keeping are the "stinging-celled animals" (corals, anemones, much more... this colony is some of this assemblage. Please read through this description: http://www.WetWebMedia.com/cnidaria.htm Bob Fenner>

Re: follow-up on new system questions Hi, how are you? I'm trying to study up on corals before I start stocking anything, but I ran into a taxonomy question that has me stumped. In Sprung's new book he divides all corals simply into hard and soft, but FFExpress and others have as separate categories: soft, polyps, mushrooms, and leathers. Another text (not sure which one) said that LPS & SPS are imprecise hobbyist terms that don't correspond to any real species or genera. So how's a beginner supposed to decode all these terms? <Size of polyps is indeed "misleading"... as a few of the now fifteen families of true/stony corals (Order Scleractinia) have both types in the same family... Think Jules is/was just doing something convenient in designating "corals" as hard/soft...> Is there a reference on your site or elsewhere you'd recommend?  <There is a rundown of the higher taxonomy of the cnidarians (the phylum of stinging-celled animals) placed on our principal site here: http://www.WetWebMedia.com/cnidaria.htm And much better ones in print in Fossa and Nilsen's "Modern Coral Reef Aquarium" v. 2, Robert Barnes six editions of "Invertebrate Zoology"... among others> I'm assuming that, as a novice, I should avoid aggressive/venomous corals as well as anemones and sea cucumbers; do you agree?  <Mmm, there's much more than this to consider... perhaps important to study a bit more, but not let this stall your initiation into actual set-up and stocking of more hardy, smaller colonies/species. Bob Fenner> Thanks and best wishes, Al Tribe

Coral placement Hi Bob, Hope you had a good weekend, or being the busy guy that you are, had enough free time to enjoy your weekend. :-) My question: Do corals from the same order wage chemical warfare amongst themselves. For example, could I place a toadstool leather, colt coral, and xenia relatively close together? I have them separated from the mushrooms and polyps, but was wondering if they needed to be separated from each other. Thanks in advance. <Closely related colonies of the same species seem to get along pretty well... A good idea to distance all others, start with small colonies, let them "get used to" each other... and of course keep a sharp eye on all. Bob Fenner>

My corals won't open? Hello, I recently purchased two corals.....Green Star and Pagoda They have yet to open their polyps... my tank levels are excellent.. any ideas? Also how do I keep my hermit crab away from the corals and live rock? <Please read over our site: www.WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner> Thanks Scott Ullemeyer

Jelly-fish things I have seen jelly-fish like things in my 50 gallon reef tank. What can these possibly be? <Hmm, could be scyphozoans (jellyfish), salps (pelagic tunicates), many others... take a look over the www.WetWebMedia.com invertebrate sections. Bob Fenner>

Coral id... reference works High Praise Mr. Fenner, You are quite a knowledgeable man of the trade and I have enjoyed reading what you offer in the various sources related to WetWeb and FFExpress. <Thank you for your kind words> My reef has been up for about 5 months and is charging hard. I have been doing fish only salty setups since I was twelve (now 24) so reefs were the natural progression and it's wide open. I do tons of homework on the subject as I am sure you do.  <Good for us> My question is this... where can I find coral references in regards to all their likes and needs. <A couple of recent works are exemplary: Eric Borneman's "Aquarium Corals", and Dr. Veron's three volume, "Corals of the World"... you must have seen these> like a notes type situation on all the corals in the FFExpress repertoire. Maybe I should give you specifics. (was trying to keep this short for your sake) I will wait for a reply and if you are not too busy I will write again. Thanks in advance. <No need for brevity. Use the space to make known what you are trying to. No real "notes" per se available... but there are enough in-print references, magazine articles to "make your own" which is what I advise (it's about the only thing TO DO...). Be chatting. Bob Fenner> Best Regards, Brady p.s. any links to your setup(s)?? <Yikes, like a plumber with bunk faucets at home, you wouldn't be impressed with what we have here...>

Lighting for corals <Hi Eric. Sorry it took so long to get back to you... Bob's mailbox is just crazy!> Hey Lorenzo I'm a 17 year old coral lover. I've been interested in corals and fish ever since I was 14 and I've spent lots of money on my studies (I want to have a job that deals with coral reefs and their inhabitants). Anyway I've got two questions for you that I've been debating with myself. I have a 10 gallon tank that is about 16 inches across and I'm currently using a 24 inch double fluorescent across it. I do need to replace the bulbs but my question for this is will 40 watts be enough even for a Xenia, mushroom, and Hairy Leather (Paralemnalia I think) propagation tank?  <If you use good tubes, this is likely adequate. Certainly for the Xenia, they're not real sensitive, and most common mushrooms prefer this sort of lighting anyway. I'd probably recommend reflectorized Trichromatics from Coralife.> Or should I get a 16 inch SmartLite 32 watts a 50/50 bulb? <That definitely would be quite a bit better, far more efficient (more usable light per watt consumed)> Also my second question deals with a 29 gallon tank which I'll be using 2 55watt power compacts to light. Would this be enough for Acropora Montipora and other SPS corals.  <In a 29, yes, I do think so, but the stonies will need to be nearer the surface. I think I'd go with a 7200 and a 10k, with killer reflectors. But beware, that small system will keep you on your toes, with pH/alkalinity and calcium dosing/testing necessary for the SPS. Still, you could also do a Derasa or Squamosa, if the corals do well...> BTW you're doing a great job of keeping up. I love corals, fish, and everything found on reefs and hopefully I can keep with studying and have a job that deals with my love. Thanks for the help and I'll keep studying. <Thanks for the kudos, though I can't wait for Bob to get back online! Talk to you again soon. In the meantime, check out www.AHSupply.com for ideas on affordable PC lighting, and www.tropicorium.com for killer mail-order coral. -Lorenzo> Eric

Guillard formula I've been putting some of f/2 Guillard (1tbsp/week in my 125gal tank) in my tank to induce algae blooms to feed my dwindling copepod population. I seem to have an interesting side effect however. since I've been using it I've noticed that some of my corals have become richer in color, perhaps due to stimulated growth of their symbiotic algae. now I haven't been logging any progress or doing any formal investigations but I'm sure that the f/2 is enriching these algae. here's the question, do you know of any work that has been done on this topic? maybe you know someone who does. regardless I could just be 'seeing' things. I hope I'm not, perhaps I could have stumbled onto something here.... <Am sure such works can be found through a computer bibliographic search... go to the college library and search with such key terms as "coral", "color"... Bob Fenner> Jon Trowbridge

Unidentified medusoids like swim-abouts Dear Bob I have recently discovered these tiny creatures in my marine tank, evidently they arrived on my live rock, and have as yet been unable to identify them. I was hoping you could perhaps shed some light on this mystery. The creatures in question are about 1 to 2 millimeters big. They look like little jellyfish. They have a round transparent top section with tentacles at the bottom and they swim all over the tank-during the day however they adhere to the glass-sticking to the glass with their tentacles. Any information would be appreciated. Thank you Jolene <This does sound like either some form of "jellyfish" or hydrozoan... either juveniles or intermediate reproductive forms... Please see the link on the various Invertebrate group articles posted on our website: www.WetWebMedia.com for the "Hitchhikers FAQ" on the Net which may provide more specific identification... tentacular, aboral, medusoids... yes scyphozoans or hydrozoans (maybe even ctenophorans...). Bob Fenner>

Coral information/classifications  Hello! My name is Joe. I am interested in obtaining some assistance from you.  <Pleased to make your acquaintance Joe> I have read many of your articles and have heard nothing but great things about the research you do as well as your credibility in the industry. <A reputation that I'm very proud of... have endeavored to do my best> I am in the process of establishing a web site for my coral propagation business and my intention is to provide hobbyists with pertinent information.  <Very good> My desire is to provide a pictorial representation of each coral I am offering along with care instructions, background information on the coral (it's origins), and a breakdown of the species name (gender, phylum, class, etc).  I believe this will yield very positive results for the hobbyist. The majority of suppliers are simply selling their corals (mostly wild caught) with the common name and there is no accompanying information. Our customer can then make an educated decision on the corals that will mostly likely thrive in their tank. We also plan on purchasing propagated corals from various hobbyists and research foundations, propagate! tie them and give them credit on our web site for that particular coral (example - this coral came from Joe's tank or name that particular research foundation). <Lots of time, effort in building and maintaining such a site... I salute you> Of course in dealing with the foundations we will donate some of the proceeds to help them with their further research. I think it's a great idea to get others involved with our propagation business. I've spoken with some friends involved with this and they love the idea of being able to share their prized corals with others and have their names associated with it. While we are not looking to save the world by ourselves here, we feel that coral  propagation is going to be our only alternative in the long term if we want the reefs of the world to survive. In the next few years serious restrictions may be enforced to protect the coral reefs from further destruction.  <Or even the casual, almost insignificant portion due to the ornamental industry> Also providing hobbyists with captive bred species we feel they will have better success with them as it is! known that most captive bred corals are much hardier than wild caught specimens.  <Absolutely in agreement> I thank you for your time in reading this email and I look forward to hearing from you....  Joe Zamalkany, Jr.  Vice President  Reef Splendor Inc.  866-286-8220  Email Joe@reefsplendor.com  Website http://reefsplendor.com/  <I look forward to our further involvement and the growth of your business. Bob Fenner>

Coral common names  Bob, I'm working on a field guide book to the corals of Hawaii. They tell me that dive guides there really prefer common names for species. But I haven't found anything with the common names to most of the Hawaiian corals. Do you know of any standard lists of common names for corals used in the aquarium trade? Many thanks! -Doug <Good question. The hobby side adopted the names used in "A Practical Guide to Corals" by Borneman and Puterbaugh a few years back... but it doesn't cover many species... A few wholesaler's have added a few more names... see Walt Smith's pages: www.wsi.com and then there are many, many, too many synonyms... Hopefully you can help "straighten us (the hobby and business) out". Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Re: cnidarians Hello, I am currently working towards a degree in marine biology at James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland. <Am on my way to Heron Island on Thursday!>  I had a random question that might sound a bit preposterous but I am curious and thought you might be able to help.  Has there ever been any test on the nematocysts cell of cnidarians.   <Actually, these many specialized stinging, sticky structures are intracellular elements> More specifically, pharmaceutical type studies or would this even be possible. <Am very sure there has been... and likely searchable through a computer based bibliographic system... though many new angles likely remain to be investigated>I can't find any information on the exact content of nematocyst and what they're capable of.<Try searching with the more common spelling, nematocyst, and more modern term, cnidocyst>I just had a random thought that I figured wouldn't hurt to pursue.  Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.  I also have another question for you.  Do you know about growing sponges and is this possible.  What would it take to grow them.  Thank you again. <These less-than tissue grade life forms (Poriferans) have many members that are cultured for ornamental and scientific purposes... Plug in the terms Porifera, culture... in a BIOSIS search... and at university, look up the references cited (mainly pet-fish) in the survey pieces on these groups posted on our site:  Home Page Bob Fenner>

In your opinion, which species of coral would be a good choice for a novice reef keeper? Also, if possible, can you give me information on how to take care of the coral. Another thing, I have on my live rock what I believe to be mushrooms. what should I do to keep them alive? Thank you >> >> Of true/stony corals (order Scleractinia)? The members of the genus Euphyllia are my faves... Like Anchor, Torch, Frogspawn (family Caryophylliidae). For the mushrooms (order Corallimorpharia), just watch water quality... no specialized feeding (in my opinion... they'll get incidental food from feeding others)... and keep a "break" of space between their colonies and your other stinging-celled life... as they can be dangerously territorial. Bob Fenner

Mushrooms & Polyps I have a standard 75 gal tank with (4) 110-watt VHO lights on it. (2) URI-Super Actinic, (1) URI "50/50", and (1) URI Super-daylight. I am starting to move more into the reef hobby and am wanting to start with the mushrooms and polyps because I think they are beautiful and easier to keep. Can you recommend a few species that would fair well under my lighting conditions? I know that some don't like high amounts of light. Thanks, Kevin >> The simple Actinodiscus/Discosoma's in the Mushrooms, and of the Star Polyps, most any of the clavulariids... the Clove Polyps are some of my faves... Bob Fenner

Just your opinion I have a 20 gal. aquarium that has a plenum unit, I placed slices of pvc pipe 1" tall on the bottom, then a piece of egg crate and screening over that, than I have a 1in layer of Florida crushed coral, then screen and then a 1 and  1/2" layer of aragonite sub. about 2-3mm. I have about 9lbs of Fiji LR, I have a BakPak sr2 which is a new unit, I have 72 watts of power compacts on a timer, 1:30-10:00 for the actinics and 2:00- 9:30 for the daylights. I have  about a 6in umbrella leather, a green striped mushroom colony, metallic green zoopolyps, a silver gorgonian, and as far as fish goes, a Firefish, small maroon clown, and a 1in twin spot goby. My question is do think this system  will do well? and will xenia do well in this tank? and lastly do u think I have the maximum amount of fish? As of now, all critters are doing extraordinary, calcium is at 450ppm and ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate are all at zero.  thank you, {I am only 13}~kurt Baldwin >> Thank you for writing... For being such a small system, it sounds like you've got this tank wired. You might try some Xenia... but I think, if it were me, I'd be more inclined to start trading out some of my growing invertebrates for small "frags" of colonies of other soft and hard corals... than risk overcrowding the tank fish-wise. Bob Fenner, who is only 47!

Reef Corals Bob- I have set up a 55 gal. tank with 95 lb. of live rock, 50 lb. of live sand, 320 watts of compact lighting (combo of blue actinic and daylight), canister filter, power protein skimmer, and 3 power heads at 160 gph each.  The water conditions have been stable for about a week, but I'm waiting a couple more weeks (just to be safe). I want to keep a variety of corals along with 2 clowns (perculas), a royal Gramma and a few blue-green cosmos.  My question: What types of corals are easy to maintain for a beginner and will thrive with these fish? And: Do I add the fish first or corals first?  I have a couple books on corals, but I want a variety of colors and textures. Any suggestions? Carla  >> Go with some of the simpler to keep soft corals and related organisms to start with... Some leathers, Lemnalia, pulsing corals (Xeniids), maybe a zoanthid, some "polyps" (Star, Clove...)... and we'll chat in a couple of months. They should go in after the initial fishes... after the system/rock is thoroughly cycled. Bob Fenner

Polyp trouble Hi Bob, recently within the last two weeks I have noticed some trouble with some of my polyps mainly my green button polyps, some zoanthids and some Palythoa. I also had a yellow finger leather die. The polyps while some are open and looking healthy some are closed and appear to be shedding or dissolving. I also had a pink and green cucumber die apparently of starvation. Are all these things related? I have heard that the cucumbers can poison the tank and the leather can also put off toxins. I have a good skimmer and the water tested OK except for a little high reading on nitrate ~ 40ppm. I have some yellow button polyps that are thriving, and a toadstool that is also doing well. Rick >> Thank you for writing... And these loss-events may well be related... If not from some original "cause", than consequent bio-poisoning as you mention... At any length, we don't have test kits (as yet, for soft coral terpenoids and short chain fatty acids) that might be implicated. However, I would do the usual: a large water change (maybe half), change out your carbon... and hold off on any livestock installation for a month or more. The nitrate, at 40ppm is not a difficulty for the mix of organisms you have now, but it may be indicative (as a view of other nutrient levels) of other substances present... not removed by filtration, biological action in your system. Bob Fenner 

Corals Selection (please let me know if I am using your service too much - I don't want to monopolize your time). I would like to begin adding corals to my tank.? What specie(s) do you recommend starting with.? I believe I have enough light (350 watts - full spectrum covered) and the tank appears to be very stable. Also, I know that minimal to no detectable nitrate levels are suggested for corals.? What is realistic in my 75 gallon world.? It seems that keeping it down to around 4ppm is pretty reasonable (and attainable). Thanks again!? And, do let me know if I'm "monopolizing". Scot >> No to the monopolizing (one of my fave board games btw). Have time (it is one of my principal jobs...) and an acute interest in these queries. Now onto the question itself... Kind of depends on two answers to further questions: 1) What do you consider a coral? and 2) Have you experience with these animals? And with the small amount of space/time allotted to me on this planet and forum, allow me to explain a bit: It's taken me quite a while to get used to the broader definition, but the hobby and business of ornamental aquatics refers to a wide swath of organisms as "corals"... Some not even Anthozoans... (e.g. the Hydrozoans which are "Fire Corals", Milleporina)... and so, if you consider the colonial anemones (Zoanthids/"Polyps",,,, there are other "polyp" groups, have mercy), mushroom or false anemones (aka, corallimorpharians), and soft corals (Order Alcyonacea... like the leather, colt, devil's fingers, pulsing ...) as "corals", then I would start there, with them... rather than diving into the harder to keep true, or "stony" corals (Order Scleractinia)... especially if the answer to 2) above is "No, this is my first foray into trying to keep these organisms". If the answer is "Yes", then I definitely do have good, better, dismal choice selections to offer for the "real" corals as well. A bunch of all this (expanded blather) info. can be found in articles I've placed on the www.WetWebMedia.com site...  Bob Fenner

Coral acclimation I have a 150 gallon reef tank, with a hospital tank set up. I know to put new fish in hospital tank that I run with copper. what do you recommend for corals before intro. into my tank. >> A slightly smaller spg, a ppm of iodine and a tsp per gallon of a hexose sugar for about ten minutes. This is the SOP protocol I help soft and hard coral (and gorgonians) collectors implement all over the planet. Bob Fenner 

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: