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FAQs about Faviid Coral Feeding

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Diploastrea Feeding, Centropyge Suitability         3/2/15
Dear Bob (or other Crew),
I was wondering if you might be able to provide your opinion on a couple of questions I have.
<Let's see>
1) I have a Diploastrea, which has been in the tank for 2 months and is showing signs of what I assume is normal behaviour (polyp retraction/extension, light-sensitivity, eating behaviours, growth/polyp budding). However, I have also occasionally noticed it apparently "eating" fragments of various macroalgae pieces that have been floating around my tank.
<Mmm; most such corals... Faviid... now in a sep. family Diploastreidae?
Are nocturnal feeders... on zooplankton principally... can learn, do learn to open during daylight... not cultured as yet as far as I'm aware>
When doing this, the polyp involved appears to hold the algae in its mouth (at the centre of the polyp) in much the same way as it would do to its normal food when I target feed, and this hold appears quite strong as the local current can exceed 15cm/s. I have always assumed such corals are carnivorous, and I have never directly observed any polyp completely ingesting an algal fragment, so it could simply be a case of mistaken identity,
<Sure... there can be chemical cues on what appears to be "solely" algae et al.; that my contain other life>
and the algae is spat out later on, but polyps can sometimes hold onto the algae for at least an hour, which strikes me as rather deliberate behaviour. Is this normal behaviour, do you think, or could my coral be starving and thus desperate to eat
anything it can get its mouths on?
<I don't consider this behavior aberrant... i.e., I'd list it as normal>
2) I previously wrote to you about stocking my tank with a fish, and after hesitating, reading and re-reading what I could find on the subject, I think I have decided on a single Centropyge argi or aurantonotus for my tank. That said, I would like to run my proposal past you one final time, just to make sure my choice is actually suitable. Tank details as follows (apologies if some of it is superfluous):
My system is a stony coral reef tank of volume 240L (60gal) with a 0.5in SSB, and an upstream 80L refugium with a 4in DSB. The main tank (where the fish will reside) has a footprint of 48in*18in. The main tank contains about 25L of LR (estimated by measuring displacement), and I use a Tunze 9006 skimmer for nutrient export, although at 30% efficiency at present. I maintain tank temperature between 26 and 28 deg. C and water chemistry suitable for Scleractinians; from the fish's point of view, this is salinity 35-36ppt, nitrates consistently undetectable
<Cnidarians DO need some NO3>
and phosphates less than 0.03ppm (Salifert kits). Flow in the tank is somewhat chaotic with a total turnover exceeding 12000L/hr (i.e. 50x) provided by powerheads, and lighting is a DIY system sufficiently bright to support Acropora. The other intentional tank inhabitants are six Lysmata spp. shrimp,
<Keep your eyes on these... may be too many, walking over your stony corals>
various snails and a number of Scleractinians (Pocilloporids, Acroporids, Diploastrea and an unidentified, possibly Agariciid), and there will be no other fishes at any time apart from the dwarf angel. I have attempted to arrange the rockwork loosely, with caves and a couple of swim-throughs, but I didn't do it that well,
<Can be re-done; next time you get a hankering>
as most of these are quite cramped and I think will only just admit an adult-sized fish. There is, however, space to swim at the back and sides of the rock mounds. The LR itself was cured on purchase and 3-5 months old; it appears established with a fair amount of macroalgae (at least 20 species of which I hope at least some is edible) and a moderate coverage of sponges in the sheltered areas. The refugium (5 months old) also appears to be producing a fair number of Mysid shrimp in addition to other things and rocks placed in it will grow sponges in a number of weeks, so I can swap them out to provide extra grazing if necessary. I intend to feed the fish with what I feed my corals (DIY recipe, blended/frozen and mostly meaty = 30% fresh oysters, 30% other shellfish, 15% D-D clam/filter feeder powder, 10% reconstituted algae, remainder liquid vitamin mix), a pellet food (probably ON Formula Two) and dried algae sheets. I do not have a quarantine setup (I'm sorry to
say), but plan to dip the fish with freshwater/Methylene blue before introduction.
<Sounds good>
The reason why I would like a fish is primarily to provide some pollution to help feed my corals (I still can't increase nutrient levels above barely detectable despite regular feeding) and to graze some of my macroalgae, which I have only partially controlled in anticipation of it being a necessary food source. I expect the fish will also be interesting to observe, but to be brutally honest, I am more interested in corals/non-vertebrate life than fish, so this is only a secondary consideration. I understand that there is a risk with dwarf angels nipping or even consuming my corals, but I am willing to accept this (and to remove the fish if destructive) assuming the tank is otherwise suitable. The only negative thing I can think of is that the tank is on the smaller end of the acceptable range for small Centropyge species.
<Yes; the smaller-est>
So in total, do you think my tank is a suitable habitat for a C. argi or aurantonotus (or if not, any other dwarf angel species)?
Also, do you think it is reasonable to get one of these fishes mainly for the purposes of converting food/algae to waste in an otherwise low-nutrient reef tank?
<And yes>
If so, is my feeding plan sufficiently diverse for a dwarf angel?
<I do>
Many thanks for your assistance,
<A pleasure to share w/ you. Bob Fenner>
Re: Diploastrea Feeding         3/3/15

Dear Bob,
On 2015-03-02 15:44, WetWebMedia Crew wrote:
> I was wondering if you might be able to provide your opinion on a
> couple of questions I have.
> <Let's see>
Thanks for responding so fast (as usual).
> <Mmm; most such corals... Faviid... now in a sep. family
> Diploastreidae?
> Are nocturnal feeders... on zooplankton principally... can learn, do
> learn
> to open during daylight... not cultured as yet as far as I'm aware>
Heh. I didn't know about the reclassification of Diploastrea; thanks for letting me know about it. According to what I can find, it seems that Diploastraeidae was resurrected in 2012 in the following paper (Note: "Diploastreidae" without the extra "a" is used everywhere else including WoRMS, but it is not the spelling used by the following reference and by the authors in their works):
Budd A.F. et al. 2012. Taxonomic classification of the reef coral family Mussidae (Cnidaria: Anthozoa: Scleractinia). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 166(3):465-529
According to molecular analysis conducted in 2008 by this group, most traditional Scleractinian family classifications are not clades (i.e. the corals within such families are not all descended from a common ancestor) and so a lot of genera are likely to end up being reclassified. Diploastrea heliopora is apparently genetically distinct and diverged early on in evolutionary terms from most other Faviids.
Along with analysis of various morphological characteristics suggesting that the skeletal structure is also quite distinct from other Faviids, there is strong evidence that this particular genus deserves its own family, thus the suggestion of Diploastraeidae. Apparently, the closest relative to these corals based on molecular analysis is Montastrea cavernosa, which is suggested to be the sole member of its genus and also in a separate family, Montastraeidae (all other Montastrea species
have been moved out to different genera).
I suppose I should say that this sort of reclassification is not necessarily correct either, given our lack of understanding of both horizontal gene transfer (i.e. genetic material passing between otherwise apparently unrelated corals) and the assumptions we make about mutations accumulating in genomes over time and the mathematical models we use to construct such evolutionary trees, but it seems very interesting nonetheless.
<I follow your gist; and agree w/ you>
As for culturing, I had assumed my Diploastrea was propagated artificially, based on the assurances of my LFS, but I guess you might be right that it could be a frag originally broken from a larger wild colony and then rehabilitated in a tank before sale.
<Have never seen this genus cultured; Faviids period... not easy to frag and slow growers; poor sellers>
It appears at the moment to be growing at a rate of 4-8mm/yr so I guess I might be able to propagate it myself if it gets big enough. Polyps tend only to open after lights off (sweeper tentacles only come out in absolute pitch dark),
<Ah yes; in the hundreds of times I've seen underwater... the same>
and often retract if a bright light (e.g. a torch) is shone on them. The exception is when target fed, when the coral is very quick to gorge itself on whatever is stuck to its mucus net.
> I have always assumed such corals are carnivorous, and I have never
> directly observed
> any polyp completely ingesting an algal fragment, so it could simply be
> a case of mistaken identity,
> <Sure... there can be chemical cues on what appears to be "solely"
> algae et
> al.; that my contain other life>
Do you know, I had a D'oh moment shortly after I sent the email when I realised this could be the answer: I think you might very well be right. Perhaps my coral is enjoying the equivalent of a lollipop, sucking off whatever is on the surface and then discarding the algal "stick" later on.
> My system is a stony coral reef tank ... nitrates consistently
> undetectable
> <Cnidarians DO need some NO3>
Heh; I know. I'm trying, honest, but the amount of food I am putting in there scares me. Even when the tank was a moderately stocked FW community tank, I don't think I ever fed it with nearly as much food as I do now. I guess it just goes to show how "reef" tanks set up like this can have a large capacity to store and process biomatter and waste, and that if you provide food/nutrients of whatever form to excess, there is likely to be some organism around that will take advantage of it. I'm hoping the angel will help reduce some of the corals' competitors in the tank through grazing them and pooping them out as nutrients, but we'll see.
> The other intentional tank inhabitants are six
> Lysmata spp. shrimp,
> <Keep your eyes on these... may be too many, walking over your stony
> corals>
Hm, yes. Now that you mention it, the peppermints do particularly graze on my Pocilloporas although they have never actually killed any polyps as far as I can see. I'll certainly bear them in mind if my corals start to look unhappy.
> So in total, do you think my tank is a suitable habitat for a C. argi
> or
> aurantonotus (or if not, any other dwarf angel species)?
> <Yes>
> Also, do you
> think it is reasonable to get one of these fishes mainly for the
> purposes of converting food/algae to waste in an otherwise low-nutrient
> reef tank?
> <And yes>
> If so, is my feeding plan sufficiently diverse for a dwarf
> angel?
> <I do>
Thanks for your feedback.
<And you for your input. Cheers, BobF>

Candy Cane Coral/Feeding Corals 7/17/12
Hello crew,
<Hello Parker>
My candy cane coral is not eating at all. There is only a little bit of flesh at the top of the frag but it still shows the mouth. I have tried feeding it Mysis shrimp, krill, and pellet
<These foods are much too large for this coral to consume.>
it still inflates, my param.s are fine.  Should I stop feeding it and let it do what it wants. Please help.
<There are other factors that may affect the health or appearance of this coral; water flow, tankmates, magnesium/calcium levels, and lighting.  What other corals are you keeping,  you may have an allelopathy issue here.  And yes, I would stop feeding for a while and when feeding proper foods such as micro plankton, a weekly feeding is all that is necessary.  Most corals make 90% of their own food by way of photosynthesis if proper lighting and water parameters are provided.> 
 Thank you
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>

Feeding new Caulastrea    2/3/12
Hi wonderful experts.  Please excuse two dumb beginner's questions, but I searched this site and several others, as well as studied the feeding chapters in Anthony Calfo's and Eric Bourne's <Borneman> books and I cannot find answers to these questions.
I just bought two Caulastrea corals, curvata and furcata, two days now in QT with moderate light and water flow.  They look very clean and healthy, but I have two feeding questions.
1) I've read that they should be fed only when the feeder tentacles are extended.
<May have to be trained and prompted... with a bit of liquid, offered toward lights-out initially... In the wild open and feed during the dark... when there's MUCH more planktonic food available... but can/will learn to feed during the days>
  I've had them two days and peered at them round the clock, day and night.
 No feeder tentacles.  As an experiment I placed a tiny Mysis shrimp on top of a polyp.
<Mmm, a liquid prep. is better>
 Over the next ten minutes the edges of the polyp rose up and totally enclosed the Mysis, so I guess it 'ate' it.  Did I do any harm by feeding it without the tentacles extended?
<Only if food is not consumed, reduces water quality>
 Can I continue to feed it this way if no tentacles appear?
<You can try...>
2) Many of the polyps are horizontal or even partially upside-down, so I obviously cannot drop a Mysis onto them!  Does every polyp need to be fed, or will feeding just a few polyps effectively feed the entire colony?
<Not every polyp... they share>
<You have read here I take it: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/faviidfdgfaqs.htm
Bob Fenner>
Re: Feeding new Caulastrea    2/3/12

Bob - Thank you!  You folks are wonderful!
I do have a follow-up question if I may.  You said that it is better to train the Caulastrea with a 'liquid prep' food instead of Mysis shrimp. 
I've seen liquid phytoplankton, but my reading tells me that Caulastrea doesn't like phyto, just zoo, and I've never seen liquid zooplankton.
<Something meaty... even just brine shrimp (Artemia) or other meat-based foods... the liquid part of the product... or mashing up some frozen/defrosted, using the liquid from this... delivered via a pipette, baster... near/toward the surface of the coral>
I feed my Blastomussa wellsi a thin slurry of Two Little Fishies "ZoPlan zooplankton diet" via a gentle mist from a turkey baster.  (I hope that's a good thing to do.)
<Ah yes>
 Would this be a good thing for the Caulastreas? 
Alternatively, I have some little frozen cubes of Cyclops.
<Even better>
  Would a slurry of that be good?  Or do you have a better suggestion? 
<The slurry. Cheers, BobF>
Re: Feeding new Caulastrea     2/3/12

Bob - Thank you, thank you, thank you!  I will do what you suggest.  This is fun!
<Ah, yes. Thank you for sharing Tim. B>

Goniastrea 11/20/08
Hello crew,
I understand from reading through some of the posts that there are certain species of Goniastrea that require little to no feeding at all, only high light and good flow.
<Sorta, yeah, but they do much better if you do feed them... or rather, feed the system well in general.>
My question is, how does one determine which species falls into this category? I have two different colonies of Goniastrea, one with almost mint green centers and septa that is just a shade closer towards the brown end of the spectrum, but very little differentiation between the two, and another smaller colony with neon green centers and stark white septa (extremely beautiful). While I can clearly see feeding tentacles coming out of the smaller colony at night, the larger mint green colony send out SOOO many sweepers that you can't tell if there are any feeding tentacles under there or not.
As of now, I target feed both colonies, but would prefer not to add the extra food load to the tank if feeding one of them is not really necessary except perhaps on occasion.
<You don't really need to target feed these animals if you feed the tank (i.e. feed your fish and everything else) well. Target feeding is only absolutely necessary when the animal isn't readily putting out feeders. A healthy Faviidae should do just fine "catching" it's own food in a well fed system. I would still target feed them every once in awhile though (just to be sure they're getting enough).>
Jeremy Johnson
Seattle, WA
San Diego, CA>

BTA & Candy Cane Coral Concerns   9/11/07  Good Evening, <Hi Jackie, Mich with you.> I have what I would call a disastrous problem. <Well, let's not panic just yet.> About a week ago, my BTA decided to move from his location (of nine months) atop a large rock. He attempted to travel through the rock (why not over the rock??) <Heehee! Why did the chicken cross the road?> to the <get to the> other side. However, it appears that he is stuck. <Mmm, perhaps, but I'm doubtful.> A third of his body is on each side of the rock, and half is inside of the rock. I don't imagine that he can survive for very long in this position. It does not appear that he is doing anything to remedy this problem on his own. <I suspect he may be trying to divide. Anemones often disappear inside the rockwork during this process, yours just may be more visible.> What, if anything, should/could I do to remove him from the rock? <I would wait and see. It is unlikely that he is permanently stuck... think Jell-O.> On a different topic...what's the best way to feed (teeny tiny pieces of shrimp) a Candy Cane coral? It's such a slow eater that when I place food in its tiny tentacles, it's not long before one of my greedy shrimp manages to confiscate the food. <They can be buggers, can't they? I accidentally killed one of my cleaner shrimp one time by trying to scoot him away from a coral I was trying to feed. A little guilt there... The best thing I have found it to place the coral you are trying to feed in an isolation container while they feed. A floating breeder container works well. It's not the most convenient option but it does reduce the frustration levels you begin to have with the shrimp.> I'm afraid it will starve to death. <Your Caulastrea likely won't starve but will definitely benefit from supplemental feedings.> Sincerely, Jackie <Cheers, Mich>

Pump on or Pump Off, No Need to Feed for a Week Away.    5/21/07 <Hi Sue, Mich here.> Just a quick question.  I have looked through multiple postings concerning feeding, but have not found the answer to my question.  I have had two candy cane coral frags for about a month and have been feeding them during the day with the pump off.  They have been doing well and appear to be growing.  My question is this; is it totally necessary to leave the pump off while feeding?   <It is a good practice and I would encourage you to continue doing so when you can, but no, it is not necessary.> I need to be gone for a week, and my "fish sitter" is not familiar enough with fish husbandry to reset the protein skimmer if the pumps need to be off. Can these lovely creatures go a week with just filtering what is circulated in the tank if food is dumped in with the pumps on? <Yes. Most corals and fish in a generally well-maintained, healthy state can go for a week without food.  It is generally better for the livestock to have no food than to be in a system polluted with excess food from a well intending fish sitter.  Candy cane coral (Caulastrea) have Zooxanthellae and are photosynthetic.  They should thrive when being provided supplemental feeding as you are currently doing.  That being said they will do fine without any food for a week but will appreciate any they can grab while you are gone!  Thanks in advance for the advice and your wonderful site. <Thank you for your kind words!  Mich> Sue

Funny mushroom tentacles and feeding candy corals Hi I just set up a 26 gal reef tank about a month ago.  I went to my LFS and purchased a small mushroom coral and a small red mushroom which was attached to a very small candy coral.  Now the mushroom coral is doing ok and the little red mushroom looks good, but it appears to have some tentacles growing from underneath it!? << On a mushroom?  I wonder if it is spreading skin to propagate. >>  The tentacles are very thin white strands with a little black spot on each strand.  Is this part of the mushroom or a bonus critter that hitchhiked with him??  With my horrible description is there any chance that you know what it is?? << Well it isn't anything to worry about.  Do the strands move?  If so I'll say it is a hitchhiker, if not then I'll say it is part of the coral. >> My last question is I read that I should feed the candy coral a few times a week but I have a lot of little white bugs in the tank (copepods maybe??) would this be food for the candy or what could I feed it?? << Well mainly feed it lots of light.  I don't think micro shrimp will be consumed by candy corals, I think something like phytoplankton and Cyclop-Eeze are a better choice. >> Ok I lied one more question should I only feed the candy at night when its tentacle like things are out?? << I would feed it during the day.  It will get use to it and often times extend tentacles during the day. >> Thanks so much for all your help!! Tammy

Coral feeding 6/14/04 Hi guys hey if my coral is a zooplankton feeder can I just feed it mushed Mysis shrimp or do I still need to get a zooplankton food for it? Is this ok as a staple or should I aim for more variety? <Depends on the coral.  Please write back and let me know exactly what coral you are talking about.  As a general rule, the size of the polyps is a good indicator.  Larger polyps can accept larger food (although this is not universally true).  Best Regards.  Adam>
Coral feeding 6/15/04
Adam or whoever else my coral is some kind of brain coral I think, collected it myself. Has tan/brown ridges in a maze pattern, with in between valleys being fluor green. When ridges open the polyps are about 5mm in length and maybe 1.5mm in diameter. When I feed it mushed Mysis shrimp it seems to expand and close around them so the green valleys disappear and the brown ridges are all soft and greatly expanded and polyps have gone again. So should I just maintain this once a day or does it need other variety of zooplankton as well? << I believe that a variety is very important.  I would use something like Cyclops shrimp or rotifers weekly. >> Or anything else, other than calcium supplements? << In addition to calcium supplements, please check and watch your alkalinity.  That is every bit as important. >> <<  Adam Blundell  >>

Brain Food, and Other Coral Concerns! Hi Bob! <Actually, Scott F. in today!> I have looked thru a lot of your articles, but this problem I couldn't find. It may be me. <Yeap.. it's you! Hah- just kidding!> We have a 125 gal. tank with a wet/dry filter, protein skimmer, chiller, and even bought a r/o unit with deionizer. It is a starter reef tank with 120lbs. live Fiji rock, Yellow Tang, 3 Spot Domino, 2 Clarkii Clowns, Yellow Polyps, Orange Button Polyps, Open Brain, Red Mushrooms, one Ricordea, and misc. snails, starfish, crabs, and shrimp.  <Nice mix> The problem is, our Orange Button Polyp which has tripled its size and is gorgeous has developed white spots on the front part of the cluster. They are only on the "stem" of the polyp. The polyp is still beautiful and shows absolutely no signs of distress, actually it is still producing polyps. The polyps on the front do stand real tall compared to the others, where the ones on the back make a ball shape. The only time they close is when the lights go off at night. They open readily when the lights come on. All other corals are totally clean. Please help me. We have had this polyp for 6 months and it is my favorite. <Hard to be 100 % certain. Possibly just a migration of pigment, but it could be anything from flatworms to some other pest, too. If the coral is otherwise reacting well, and appears healthy, I would not be too concerned at this point. Just observe carefully and let us know if you notice a decline in the coral's health at any point> I know I am being a pain, but could you also tell me the best thing to feed our Brain Coral and amount. Everyone I talk to disagrees and I haven't had much luck with the internet or books. Thank you sooooo much!!! Julie <You're NOT a pain, Julie! As far as feeding the Brain Coral is concerned, I'd use fine zooplankton-based foodstuffs, such as minced Mysis, krill, or other "meaty" foods. The newly-available frozen "Cyclop-eeze" is a great food for these species! Good luck! Regards, Scott F> 

To Feed or Not to Feed Hello, <Hi, Bill... Anthony Calfo here answering Bob's mail while he travels across the great Midwest... and a fine time of year for it too!?> I recently purchased (2 weeks ago) a coral sold to me as "Platygyra" (spelled incorrectly I'm sure) <correct you are sir... Platygyra ... represented by more than a few species in the trade> and was told it did not need to be fed at all, that it would take its nutrients from the water.  <not even close to true...> When I was feeding my brown Scopas tang some brine shrimp as a treat yesterday, the Platygyra extended long tentacles from the neon green pores between its maze-brain like surface grabbing all the brine it could. I'm guessing I was told wrong, and this coral should be fed?  <most definitely... as they say, Form follows Function. Your observation and the evidence of responsive feeding tentacles indicates an animal that has evolved...to feed. Imagine that. And despite what the LFS said... apparently, this coral didn't read the same books that they did (smile). Feed finely shredded ocean meats in an attempt to deliver zooplankton substitutes. Fine krill or Mysid shrimp would be a good start. Please go easy on the brine shrimp. Frozen adult brine shrimp are nutritively hollow... rather like water made to look like shrimp...hehe> Just making sure I'm not doing something wrong for the coral..  <Your considerate information gathering gives me hope for this lil' fella in your care. Experiment carefully in acclimation of this animal to new light. Platygyra occur over a wide range, and various specimens of any given species may have drastically different tolerances for light and water movement> thanks in advance :) you're always so helpful! <with kind regards, Anthony>

Platygyra Follow-up Thank you for the quick response <quite welcome, Bill> I played around a bit with lighting yesterday, and while moving the coral it is rather large, almost 8" in diameter -its rather spherical, more like a brain shape) I noticed the undersides of it are degenerate.  <that's Ok... so are most of my friends> I can see the coral skeleton where it wraps to the bottom of the rock it is attached to. Should I be concerned?  <possibly a little, but a picture would help if possible> Or is this possibly a result of poor lighting?  <not in a short time in your tank/captivity. Any idea how long the LFS held it before your purchase or an educated guess on minimum time this coral has been held in total in captivity?> My reef tank has 96 watt smart lamp power compacts on it (36") and they illuminate the tank very well, <how deep is the tank and at what depth is the coral placed?> but just can't reach to beneath this coral due to its shape... the coral seems to love very high flow, as when placed in low flow it's neon green draws so far inside its hardly noticeable.. when placed with the output of my return pump nearly blasting the coral on the side, it is out and extended and offers tentacles from time to time trying for food... <interesting, astute and probably accurate observation about water flow for this animal> I've noticed every morning when the lights first click on its tentacles are out, is it possible it is nocturnal? (I'm still learning a lot about corals, <no apologies... we all start somewhere. The coral's feeding tentacles at night simply indicate a feeding preference leaning towards zooplankton most likely (when zooplankton is most prevalent). Quite natural and normal and the very best time to feed with substitutes like Mysid shrimp or very finely shredded meats. Feeding will help the receding tissue recover faster... but don't overdo it. Begin with 1-3 times weekly by deliberate target feeding of this animal> thanks again for the help :) <Best regards, Anthony> Bill
More on Platygyra
the store that had this coral before I purchased it said it was held captive for over three months. hope this helps- it's one reason I bought this particular coral, it was a "survivor" that had acclimated well to a captive system (the store, however, did have a multi thousand gallon reef system for livestock, I'm sure the water had to have been better than my 58 gal. ) <actually less likely... big systems are expensive to maintain (w/c's and the like)... plus the water quality (not clarity which falsely leads customers) is usually errant from straying over months of slight (or not so) neglect from a busy store to a slow lazy store> in the tank the coral is approx 4" from the top of the water level, which is a mere 2" above the water- the top is covered w/ glass from edge to edge, to prevent escape of my albino ribbon eel (captive for 4 months, eating live peppermint shrimp regularly !!!) <sounds like good placement> the lighting is a 96watt power compact SmartLamp half blue half full spec <way too little light for the long run, but with the coral centered and shallow... not a problem for now> hope this helps.. will try and gain access to a digital camera.. the degeneration seems to not have progressed any.. I purchased Mysid shrimp <excellent foodstuff> as well as silversides and other various nutrient soaked foods. would you recommend soaking the shrimp in Kent Zoe or like vitamins soaks? <highly recommend Selcon> what about a coral dip? <not necessary without evidence of necrosis or infection... described in my book if you are interested... www.readingtrees.com and in Eric Borneman's wonderful new Aquarium Corals book> thanks again!!! Bill Hammond <very welcome, Bill. Best of luck to you! Anthony>

Re: I don't think the brain Coral was pooping..... Thanks Anthony!, <very welcome, David my friend> I'll try moving the brain up closer to the light, I'm definitely going to have to get more LR for my tank, make the base higher.  <LR is always a good investment in the tank> I'll cut the cubes in 1/3s, problem with my feeding,  <remember...very fine/shredded food is necessary. Cube foods are often gelatin based and hold together in a large and hard to digest chunk.> is that the brain doesn't put out the feeder tentacles until about 1-2 hours after the light goes off, is there a way to convince it to do this earlier?  <yes, take the thawed pack juice from frozen meaty foods (that is generally discarded for fear of contributing to algae in the tank) and put a spoonful as an attractant into the aquarium prior to feeding. After 15 minutes or so, the feeding tentacles will usually come out. Shrimp type prey (cocktail, mysids, krill, etc) usually works best for this.> or, should I just concentrating on feeding twice a day, once for the fish and the yellow polyps, and then again once the feeder tentacles come out? how does that sound? Thanks!!! David. PS. yea every night when the lights go out more and more things come crawling out of their wholes, its rather amazing, I just can't get over all the brittle stars, is there a microscopic variety of them?  <yes... and livebearing/fast breeding> or are these really baby's of the bigger variety?  <nope...very unlikely> I'll tell you the Firefish is enjoying it, I caught him/her (that's why we named it Lola) trying to get down a leg yesterday! <hehe...got to love it. Tell Lola to crunch all he/she wants... they'll make more <wink>. Kindly, Anthony>

Feeding brain coral I am considering purchasing a brain coral and was interested in what is best to feed this type of coral.  <Hmmm... that depends on what type of Brain coral. Some closed Goniastrea brain corals need high light and no target feeding whatsoever (they are nearly autotrophic). Open brain corals (Trachyphyllia) however are fairly low light and require very regular feedings (minimum 3-5 times weekly). > I have read that it should be feed shredded pieces of shrimp and another source suggested zooplankton. What would you recommend, shrimp from local grocery cut up or zooplankton from fish store?  <a mixed and very finely minced variety of all/many: krill, cocktail shrimp (raw shell on), mysids, Pacifica plankton, Gammarus, etc> Also, I have read daily or weekly feedings?  <depends on light... very small almost daily feedings for best growth and health> How would you feed the coral, just squirt the food on top of the open areas? Thank you, Abby <make a slurry of food in saltwater... put a tiny bit in 15 minutes before feeding to get polyps open.. then gently baste food with a tube, pipette or turkey baster in the general direction of the animals but never blasting right on top (frightens polyps in). Best regards, Anthony>

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