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FAQs about Sea Mat, Star Polyps 1

Related Articles: Blue, Pipe Organ Corals, Mat/Star Polyps

Related FAQs: Polyps 2Polyps 3Polyp Identification, Polyp Behavior, Polyp Compatibility, Polyp Selection, Polyp Systems, Polyp Feeding, Polyp Disease, Polyp Reproduction/Propagation,

A colony of Green Polyps in Fiji

Nudibranch on star polyps Bob, First of all, I am grateful for the wealth of information the WWM group provides on a daily basis.  I found two Nudibranchs on my Starpolyps which can be seen while the lights are either on or off.  Found a picture of them on the web which labels them as a soft coral eating Nudibranch or Dendronotacean. See following link http://rshimek.com/rogue's_gallery.htm  Should I just pull of this pest off with tweezers/wash off ... please advise...I also read in Sprung's Vol 2 of specific harmless Nudibranchs which co-exist with star polyps .. they looked quite similar in appearance. Please help Thanks again, Joe Velazquez <The link did not come through for Shimek's ID. In general though... predatory nudi.s do severe damage fast. If more than a week has gone by... I'm thinking you are likely safe.  Do cut and paste or attach a picture if you need to follow up. Best regards, Anthony>

Nudibranch on star polyps Bob, thanks for the reply, pulled both Nudi's off of Starpolyps last night with tweezers (they held on for dear life)... polyps have not opened since yesterday morning, hermit crab seemed to be working on polyps this morning ... hope this is the reason for no polyps.  <quite possibly... they are tripped easily> Should have taken pictures prior to ... Great to have someone to communicate with about our hobby/passion ... owe you a beer .... Joe <agreed... do look up a local aquarium society as well... perhaps the best place for fellowship and information with enthusiasts> While I have your attention ... any feeling on coral feeding with "Aqualine Plancto". Recommended Feeding daily (roughly 8 drops for 120 gallon reef. Concerned will eventually encounter diatom bloom. <as with any nutritive supplement, experiment judiciously. Maintain regular water changes and good nutrient export processes (skimming, chemical media, water changes) and you will likely be fine. There certainly are no miracle additives out there> thanks again <always welcome, Anthony Calfo>

Yellow polyps Hello again.  <Cheers, Anthony Calfo in your service> Just wondering about my yellow polyps/anemone colony. They are budding often, and quite quickly.  <delighted to hear it!> Is it hard to keep these guys under control? I really enjoy them because of how easy they are to care for.  <agreed...and yes, they do grow well when given good current and food. Without such they grow slowly and some may wane/starve. You may control their growth by placing rubble around the main colony and replacing as the pieces become covered. Do trade, give away or sell the pieces locally to LFS, aquarium society friends, etc. That means less "coral" that will be collected wild for having done it> When one animal that is part of a group, or buds that are all attached, catches some food, does the entire group benefit?  <very good question. No...they are not interconnected so intimately but rather they are colonial. You may cut away any number of individuals without harming the rest of the colony. I should be placing an article on such coral propagation or an excerpt from my book on our site here soon> Thanks lots! -Becky <best regards, Anthony>

Barely Hanging On, Please Help!...Brown Button Polyps Hello everyone, I need you all right now to cure my poor Brown Button Polyps (Zoanthus sociatus), pleeeeeeease!!!! As I told you last time, I have been feeding them red worms, not even aware of the fresh water that I was 'injecting' into their gullets. They haven't looked good for about 2 week now, and for three days they have been totally closed! I did another water change, only 1 week after I did a large change of 20 gallons (in my 55 gallon). This time I did a 15 gallon change and still, the polyps look bad. Please tell me what I can do to save them. <I remember your previous email and Anthony's response and at this point there is nothing you can do but wait. Polyps are pretty tough and if they are still alive at this point you have a good shot at them pulling through. I would just try to be patient.> I've had so many problems losing all my plant life, then fish, and now the polyps? Ahhhhhh. I am starting to think something is in my water. I'm not trying to cop out and not take responsibility, but I just can't see why a few off numbers, (saline too low, water too acid) and then feeding worms can wreak so much havoc! <Inverts are very sensitive to low salinity and pH. A little low for either is very bad.> I do have my banded shrimp and 2 camel shrimp still alive. Plus all my crabs and snails have survived. Would they not also be affected like the others? <If it was something in the water, they would be affected too. I think it is/was a reaction to the worms.> I hope you get this email in time to save my favorite inhabitants! Thank you! Pam <Good luck, Steven Pro>

Star Polyps  Hi guys, <cheers, mate... Anthony Calfo in your service>  Got a question for you on controlling Star Polyp growth... how do you do it? I started with a small colony, but it has since spread over 3 pieces of rock and I can see it's pink mat growing more everyday!!! Is there a way to control it's growth, or should I just prune?  <yes... simply prune and share frags with other aquarists, LFS, aquarium societies, etc.> Will pruning damage the rest of the colony?  <not if you cut cleanly... tearing on the other hand is risky for all coral. Incise a portion with a scalpel or razor blade for a clean line of demarcation/termination. Then lift cleanly and firmly with tweezers> Coincidently, my Sarcophyton has looked terrible lately (starting to drop, polyps not extending).  <Starpolyps are very noxious and aggressive (shedding "toxins" into water).. could be contributing a little> One of my clowns has adopted it as a surrogate anemone host. Could that be the reason?  <some leathers don't seem to mind this... others seem to be quite irritated. I personally don't like it or encourage such repetitious stimulation> Or maybe a combination of that and the huge growth of star polyps waging some chemical warfare???  <agreed> Is there a way to discourage the clown fish from bothering the Sarcophyton? <nothing predictable... I really don't recommend clowns for most reefs for this reason... they may even try to take residence in a long tentacled LPS coral (Goniopora, Caryophylliid, etc) which is almost sure to kill it. I'd pull the clowns in the long run or resist LPS corals if they shuffle hosts. Best regards, Anthony>

Star polyps <cheers, my friend... Anthony here. Bob hasn't got rid of me yet <wink>> Is there anything in particular that would make green star polyps stay retracted and not come out? Thanks. Ron <many causes for extended polyp retraction on Star Polyp. Common causes, lack of string random turbulent flow or too much linear flow, diatom algae or like nuisance coating the stolon mat (scrub off with a toothbrush and don't be shy about it), sudden change in light or salinity (bulb change, carbon change after long period without which cause sudden increase in water clarity in tank <yellow to clear water>, some say excess iodine supplements, perching fishes (new Hawkfish to the tank or like species without swim bladder, OK... now I'm stretching <VBG>. Water flow and Lighting changes really are most common. Best regards, Anthony> 

Brown button polyps Hello Bob and crew I hope all is well I have some brown button polyps that don't seem to be doing well. There color hasn't been good for a while and they don't open all the way, from what I read about them they don't need strong light so here are my specs. I have a 55 gal with about 75 lbs. of LR 2 false perc, 1 yellow tang, 1 banner fish, 1 flame angel, 1 cleaner shrimp, 1 blood shrimp, about 7 hermits and 9 Turbos 3 feather dusters. 110w daylight power compact magnum hot w/ bio-wheel pro 60 skimmer went down new one on the way 10 gal sump with siphon overflow Rio 2500 return pump my most recent test results are as follows am 0, rite 0, rate 10, pH 8.1, phosphate 4 down from 8, <Stop! Is this four parts per million? Not 0.4, 0.04 ppm? Four is way too much> calcium 400 I change 15 gal every 2 weeks with aged Ro water mixed with Coralife salt. my temp is kept at 75. Any advice is appreciated thanks again for all your help Dela Yazzie <Could be a few possibilities that are mal-affecting your polyps... the shrimp might even be picking on them... But the one glaring item is your phosphate measure. Do read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/po4faqs.htm and elsewhere on WetWebMedia.com re filtration, maintenance... and develop and implement a system for improving your water quality... as measured by your phosphate level, which should be near zero. Bob Fenner>

Brown Button Polyps Follow-up Hello again Yes My phosphates are high this is a battle that I'm starting to win though. When I first set up my tank my newbie self didn't realize how important keeping track of the phosphates were, boy do I know better now. I looked into getting an RO unit after discovering the source was from my tap water, it's not in my budget yet so I found a place to buy RO water by the gallon at only 50 cents a gallon. I've done 2 water changes so far with this water and am doing another this weekend. Is doing 15 gal a week to get them down too much? <No, just fine.> I have a sump being built which will replace my existing one that I'm housing mangroves in. Thank you for the link and I hope to continue with the water changes to bring the phosphates down to 0 if you say it's safe. I've been having a problem with BGA which is clearing up too and I think this next water change will make all the difference.....well that and to have a skimmer running again. <Yes, agreed on both counts.> thanks again and I'll be in touch again next week to let you know how it's going Dela Yazzie <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Compact Florescent Lighting For Green Star Polyps Hi, Anthony, Steve or Bob <Steven here today.> I have a question on lighting for you guys. Right now I have 4Watts/Gallon of PC lights (50% at 10000K white, 50% at 17000K blue) over my tank. Is it ok if I place my green star polyps in a position such that they are about (vertically) 6 inches of air and 24 inches of water away from the lights? <That seems a little deep, but these are widely variable/adaptable animals. Mine only grow in the shade of other corals. They are in about 12 inches of water, under 4-40 watt lamps of normal output fluorescents, crammed over my 55 gallon tank. The lights sit 1" over the water with nothing shielding them. All in all, I do not have bright lights and yet this particular coral seems bothered by them.> There is also a thin 3mm acrylic sheet between the lights and the polyps, which I am unable to remove due to water splash. Also, I can change any of the above tubes to 7000K white tubes. Should I change the combination? <If you are getting good growth from these lamps, I would leave them. Much of the nomenclature with this degree of Kelvin lighting versus that degree of Kelvin is shear marketing.> I read somewhere that star polyps need 5-7.5 W/gal florescent and I was wondering how those translate to PC light terminology and my water depth. <I would read over Anthony's piece on lighting acclimation found here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acclimcoralslight.htm Generally, best to leave corals alone for a while and only make moderate shifts.> Many, many thanks in advance, Edwin Lam <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Green Star Polyps Hello WWM crew! <Anthony Calfo in your service> (I am looking forward to meeting Bob at the DMS meeting in Arizona on the 25th of April.) <yes... friendship aside, he is one of my very favorite speakers in ten years of conferences/club meetings. A great personality!> My question today is in regards to a green star polyp. First the required information: (we upsized our 55g tank two weeks ago to) 125g reef, 30g sump with 4+ in of live sand, 120lbs Fiji LR (this is increasing weekly to 150 lbs total),  <yes... more the better> over 120 lbs of live sand. Lighting is 4 96watt PC (2 10,000K daylight and 2 actinics 36") with dawn/dusk controls.  <doesn't have to be so blue, although I like it myself> We invested in a RO system for this tank and had previously used tap water which, unknown to us, contained approx. 20ppm of nitrates when we tested it.  <yeeha!> (No wonder my nitrates never seemed to get below 20ppm) Water chemistry is as follows; Temp 76, Sp. Grav. 1.022, pH 8.3, Ammonia- 0, Nitrites- 0, Nitrates <2.0ppm, Calcium 400, Alk - Norm. (my test kit doesn't give a number, just low, normal, high). I supplement with Kent Marine concentrated iodine, (according to the directions), 1 gal Reef Pure Kalkwasser plus is dripped once a week. We use a 15 watt UV sterilizer, and a DIY protein skimmer that makes really great foam and about 1/2 in to 1in of dark green skimmate(?) a day.  <excellent> We feed brine shrimp and flake (every other day), and phytoplankton twice weekly.  <skip the brine (nutrient poor) and sub a better assortment of ocean meats (Mysid, Pacifica plankton, krill, etc).> We have 3 different types of mushroom corals, brown, green metallic, and green fuzzy. 1 colony of yellow polyps. For fish we have 5 green Chromis, 1 gold stripe maroon clown, and 1 mandarin goby. Crustaceans include, 1 lg coral banded shrimp, 2 sally-light foot crabs, 4 Mithrax crabs, several hermit crabs. Snails galore (about 35), and many different varieties :). The green star polyp was doing very well in the 55g and for about the first week in the 125g. We noticed that after the first week there were fewer and fewer polyps emerging. I read on your site about the iodine,  <yes...necessary for soft corals especially. Bob favors weekly doses, I believe. But I strongly prefer small daily doses> proximity of the mushrooms,  <indeed a very serious aggressor... most all corallimorphs> lighting, and water flow. I have since moved all the mushrooms to the opposite end of the tank, moved the polyps to the top of the tank, and made sure they have plenty of flow over them.  <I'd say that strong random turbulent flow is the most common problem/deficiency> I am planning on placing activated carbon into the filter system to get rid of any bio toxins.  <cool... one ounce weekly per 50 gallons rather than 4 ounces monthly is better> We also have Caulerpa growing in the main tank to keep the nitrates down.  <can be irritating to some coral... just keep it in check> Any other suggestions you might have for the health of the polyps would be greatly appreciated.  <you have all of the bases covered nicely. And remember with this coral that it does not feed organismally (no particles)... it is mostly symbiotic and believed to make up the est by absorptive feeding> Thanks a bunch. <best regards, Anthony>

Green star polyps again. Thanks Anthony for the quick response.  <always welcome> One item that I forgot to mention, I have not seen any polyps emerge for two days now. I read on your site that they can retract for up to a week. If it goes any longer than that are they going to be in real danger of dying off?  <yes...possibly. Do protect against nuisance algae encroaching in the meantime. Use a soft toothbrush if necessary.> The mat has not changed color, it is still very purple.  <very good sign> (About the iodine, the bottle suggests a large dose once a week and then smaller doses daily. We never used it in the 55g however.) Is it possible that the polyps were feeding on or being fed by the nitrates in the 55g and now that we have reduced the amount they are not getting the nutrition they need? <very unlikely... the transition was enough to disturb this hardy but finicky tube coral> Thanks again. <with kind regards, Anthony>

Iodine and Star Polyps Hi Bob/Steve/Anthony: <Bob at this point/time> I noticed some recent postings regarding Iodine and Green Star Polyps. Apparently, everyone has a different thought on the amount and frequency of the dosage required. <Yes> I certainly don't want to just dump chemicals in my tank if they are not needed, so I'm wondering if you have some thoughts as to how much, how often, and when to dose? <Many... not easy to elaborate here though... need for many pages of "stipulations" and suggested "if this, then..." types of statements necessarily. Not much NEEDs to be added to a "going" system... other than water changes, foods...> Craig Bingham spoke at my local club last week and made the interesting (although controversial) statement that many of the chemicals we as hobbyists feel compelled to dose may be maintained at appropriate levels simply by using natural sea water specific gravity, as opposed to more diluted specific gravities. I found this interesting and wonder if you have any thoughts on this. <I am in total agreement. One important note I'd like to place here is the "western" mentality re testing, presence and adding/worrying about chemicals... Many "bio-useful materials" are rapidly "changed" in ways that test-kits don't record (because they are designed, intended to only register certain valence states, or can't discern "bound" materials... The too-typical response to such "non-registering measures" is to "pour more in"... Almost always w/o appreciation for the seemingly unending consequences, interactions with other materials, life, effects of thermal, density, dissolved gas, light penetration... interactions...> I would think that his contention certainly supports the practice of regular water changes to maintain desired levels of some chemicals, although I suppose some things are used up quicker by animals, skimming, and filter media. Do you agree? <YES! Thank you for this> Thanks for your insights! <And yours. Bob Fenner, who will leave this thought-provoking query, email for Anthony and/or Steven's input as well>

Green Star Polyp Compatibility WWM Crew: Are green star polyps incompatible with herbivores, i.e. yellow tang or fox face? My LFS said the tang would pick at it. <although some tangs can be problematic nibblers, most are categorically VERY "reef safe". Most reef keepers have little or no problems with tangs and star polyps. Maybe your LFS has a problem with nuisance algae in the tank (growing on Starpolyps) that entices the tangs to graze <wink> Best regards, Anthony> David

Re: Green Star Polyp Compatibility Anthony, Thanks for the rapid reply (you must've just started the shift)! <in fact... I think I have given up on sleep instead> A short follow up question (please!?): is iodine supplements important to this species' long term health -  <important if not critical> I currently don't test for it?  <Seachem is one of several manufacturers of a test kit, but it is somewhat moot. Iodine dosed as per manufacturers recommendations only stays in solution for hours. That is why it is so important in reef tanks to dose small amounts daily. If you test... please don't obsess about not being able to keep iodine levels up. Simply begin with a safe small dose and increase slowly over weeks/months until you notice that the brown diatom algae flares (indicating a slight excess on the dose). Skim hard and back up to the last known safe dose> I searched the site and noticed comments about iodine being important for some critters. Couldn't find it spelled out. Thanks David <it is critical for most every reef invertebrate in particular. Best regards, Anthony>

Harmful chemicals? Hi Robert,  <Anthony Calfo in your service> Two quick questions about recent happenings in my tank. 1) I recently bought a dwarf angel for my tank, and he has caused the worms in my Porites rock to hide all day. He actually hasn't really been picking at it, but I believe that his continues presence has scared them.  <hmmmmm... don't bet on it unless you have been peeping at night/early AM>> The rock used to be on the sand floor, but is now on the upper shelf, away from the angel most of the time.  <wow... be careful about moving the living Porites so suddenly (light shock).. a good way to bleach or kill it> I know that at night the worms come out to feed, but they used to come out all day and night.  <faIr enough> Is this still adequate for the worms to survive?  <depends on available and appropriate foodstuffs> I am going to be getting a new tank in 2 months, but I need these worms to survive until then. Should I increase my planktonic feedings at night (phytoplankton and Black Powder)? <may not be necessary... but do review your use of Black Powder in light of scientific research and an intelligent consensus of such phyto substitutes efficacy. Some brands have been demonstrated to be useful and some useless. Look for Dr Rob Toonen's comparative study on the web about such substitutes and also look in the archives here at WWM for how best to apply phyto subs (must always be refrigerated, must be fish (less than six months old) and must be mechanically blended (blender) prior to each feeding for optimal particle size...else limited usefulness)> 2) Also, a rock fragment that had a xenia on it had recently fallen from its' perch and onto my green star polyp rock. The Star polyp rock has ever since been closed up completely. This has been for about a 36 hour period. I have raised the rock up closer to the light as well as in a good high current area underneath my skimmer spout. I am not sure if the xenia had exuded some kind of chemical compound to bother the rock, or if perhaps the angel is bothering it.  <absolutely no question that the fallen rock or Xenia had nothing to do with its retraction (Xenia are weakly aggressive). Dwarf angels are very often predatory on coral... rather nibblers> However, the angel had been in the tank for a couple of days without the polyp rock ever closing up. It only began to fully close after the xenia incident.  <unrelated... the star polyp may simply need better current, but now having been moved to a new light level it may take a little longer to open. Please review the article" Acclimatizing Symbiotic Reef Invertebrates" in the archives of WWM> Please help! Should I dip the rock in a Lugol's dip? Or should I just wait?  <Yikes... easy there fella! If you don't see an infection...lets not medicate.> And if I do wait, how long should I wait before I begin more drastic measures of curing the star polyps? I had taken a look this morning, and none of the polyps had come out. I am very concerned...Paullee <no worries my friend... this is an incredibly hardy animal. Test your water chemistry for peace of mind...watch the angle closer and let the coral adjust if you feel that the current is sufficient (random turbulent). Many stay closed under stress for more than a week. Kindly, Anthony>

Questions about Star Polyps Hello Bob, <<Not Bob actually, but JasonC filling in while Bob is away diving.>> When I have a problem I like to bounce it of a few sources, then if/when necessary I come to your FAQ (or ask you directly) for the final word. I have a 40 gal reef tank composed of soft corals & peaceful inhabitants (mixed inverts, a rock pool blenny, and a mandarin dragonet). One of my first coral additions (green star polyp) had what I believed and now confirm to be a bristleworm on it. Ok, big deal. <<is this a long, skinny bristle worm, or a short, fat one? Long, thin ones are no cause for concern and are beneficial.>> Well, about a week and a half ago the polyps remained closed at daylight which does happen from time to time so I wasn't worried. they have since remained in seclusion and I have obviously become concerned. <<ok>> Upon closer examination I saw a few bristle worms and some spaghetti worms (?) scattered about the coral. <<about the coral, but not on it?>> So that's why those little hermits have been hanging out on the polyps at night!!! <<probably one of the reasons, sure.>> Do you suppose the polyps have closed due to irritation/harassment by worms? <<irritation from those or from the hermit crabs is one possible answer. Water chemistry is another, have you run all the usual suspects? [tests]>> If so what would be the best natural or painless way to rid myself of them? I have heard that traps are futile and I know from experience that tweezers are useless too. <<if these are the long, skinny ones, leave them be.>> Also my peaceful little neighborhood just wouldn't be the same if I introduced some bruiser into it (not to mention the size constraints of a 40 gallon high). <<fair enough>> As for my inverts I have 20-30 dwarf red and blue legged hermits, 3 or so scarlet hermits, 2 Mithrax emerald crabs, 20 margarita snails, and a sand-sifting starfish. <<With that many crabs, I'd imagine they can't help but irritate your star polyps from time to time, and often if this goes on long enough, the polyp loses so you might want to trim your heard of hermits.>> Anything come to mind that is light on the bioload and easy to get along with? <<A royal Gramma perhaps?>> Lastly, what can I do to help my star polyp? <<lose some hermit crabs, check your water chemistry>> It is such a beautiful species and I would hate to lose it. <<indeed. Cheers, J -- >>

Brown polyps Bob, <Anthony Calfo... in your service> I have masses of puddy looking polyps. I have cut pieces off, and glued them on to other rock some are out, but the majority don't come out.  <Do be very careful... if they are common button polyps, they will have palytoxin (slimy brown ink observed with cuts?) which have varying degrees of toxicity up to fatal if ingested. I wrote a little about the poison in my Book of Coral Propagation, and Eric Borneman (Aquarium Corals book) is versed in many of the toxins of cnidarians. As to why they didn't come out... many possible reasons, but slash and burn isn't the friendliest technique for propagating Zoantharians if not conducted carefully between the stoloniferous webs of the polyps> I have other coral, fungal, very large elegance, lg. clam they are out to far. <very different animals with very different needs than your brown polyps... not a good indicator of overall tank health> The elegance looks like it is coming off the shell its so full,  <usually a bad sign with this species... but looks good to us. Often a sign of low light or aged bulbs (over 10 months)> the clam is wide open this has always been.  <excellent> I add calcium, I drip Kalkwasser, and trace elements. <you do add SeaBuffer regularly in addition to the Kalkwasser, no?> Could this have anything to do with mushrooms reproducing?  <Nope... available nutrients (feeding/overfeeding) grows corallimorphs> PH is 8.1 help? <scary low pH, my friend. Peak daytime pH should be 8.4-8.6...night time not below 8.3 in captive systems. Sounds like you haven't been adding enough/any buffers. Could be contributing to the brown polyps irritation/slow healing. Kindly, Anthony>

Re: Brown polyps Light:2@ MH 5600k over a 150 gal. I did not just cut them I only told you to let you know that things have had some success in my tank. Would a picture help? Plus the 1/2 of the cut ones are coming out.  <I'm sorry, my friend.. but I do not understand the above sentences... were the polyps cut or not? I may be able to identify the animal from a picture if you like> the clam being stretched complete open in good?  <yes...very good> What could I do (besides the PH) to help the elegance and the overall water quality? <2-3 times weekly feedings, consistent water quality (your good calcium levels as stared and follow up with alkalinity (10-12 dKH target). Best regards, Anthony>

Re: Brown polyps I did cut them. It has been 1 or 2 months. I glue them onto another rock. They are spreading five times as fast as they were.  <agreed...but your question was about polyps not opening up. Are you saying that they are not often/ever open but are still growing?> My lack of experience makes me believe this is a good sign. Sorry for my lack of clear explanation. <no worries...best regards. Anthony>

Star Polyps Robert, I recently purchased a small star polyp cluster. Within days of placing it in my tank, they have all closed and are growing what looks like a slime. <Not a good sign> I have had this tank for four months. However all of the contents were from a previous tank I owned for 4 years. I have approximately 35 pounds of live rock, blue legged crabs ( aprox. 24), one ghost crab, 1 red banded Coral Shrimp, and 6 snails. As for fish I have a Maroon Clown and a Banggai Cardinal (both in tank for past 4 years), a Mandarin ( in tank for 3 years). In addition, my mushroom have begun to thrive since my switch to the new tank. Tank Information: 75 gallon, with overflow wet dry system. Lighting: Top Aquarium series with 2- 55 watt blues and 2- 55 watt whites * These lights are set on automatic timers, With Blues on at 10a.m. and Whites on at 10:30 a.m.. Whites off at 7:00 p.m. and Blues off at 7:30 p.m. Do you have any suggestion that may assist me in helping my polyps grow. This is the second time I have tried to keep polyps. My fish store tells me that if mushrooms grow in my tank that polyps should. <Much to state, relate. Please read through all the FAQs on stinging celled life posted on WetWebMedia.com and the links therein. You may have just received a doomed colony of polyps, but likely your alkalinity and/or biomineral content of your water is off... Or other life is negatively impacting this patch of cnidarians... or perhaps you have too much nutrient in your water, insufficient filtration, a missing trace material like iodide, a predatory snail, worm that has gone undetected... Study my friend. Bob Fenner> Your assistance an knowledge would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance for your help. Richard

Button Polyps Joe, Anthony Calfo here... Bob Fenner passed along your invertebrate query to share an opinion. <Yes, thank you Anthony> Kudos, first of all, on the longevity of your charge. Although seven years old may not constitute old age for most inverts/coral, it is a delight to see nonetheless and complimentary to your husbandry. Secondly, I believe you are right on with some of your suspicions regarding the zooanthids symptoms. Although quite durable, as you know, zooanthids are hardly indestructible... close, but not entirely. Attrition is definitely a strong possibility as we are beginning to appreciate and understand this concern ever more in reef aquariology. In part, it has been brought to light by the circumstance of aquarists in positions such as you are. We are no longer struggling to keep most invertebrates for a couple of years and are know faced with the challenge of realizing full life spans in captivity. To do that, satisfying an animals daily needs by say 98% sounds good but really means that there is a 2% net daily deficit. And so, it will catch up at some point in time... perhaps seven years for a certain zoanthid colony <wink>. If only it were that simple or literal...hehe. Still, you get the idea. Slow starvation is still starvation. I'd like to hear more about deliberate or passive feeding opportunities for your invertebrates and coral... just the basics (roughly what kind of foods and how often, any incidental matter from a good fish load, etc.). In gross terms, symbiotic corals that will feed organismally (particles, so to speak) should be fed at least weekly and more often in many cases. Two to three times weekly for your Palythoa type would be fine with matter no large than adult brine shrimp (although I'd use something more nutritious than adult frozen brine... which are actually water made to look like shrimp in my opinion <smile>). Finely shredded ocean meats (krill, squid, shrimp, etc.) and mysids are pretty tasty... and good for coral too... hehe. I totally agree with Bob's suggestions for dividing the colony (stimulating for growth, isolates healthy tissue), discarding the mucusy section if it appears necrotic (decay), and carefully adding more/some iodine (nutritive<?>, antiseptic, increases Redox, etc.). E-mail a picture or describe the mucus a little more if you can. There are several things it could really be (decay, expelled zooxanthellae, palytoxin <yikes! careful>, etc.). As far as the possibility of old age... unlikely. Although some reef invertebrates are believed to have short life cycles, more can be measured in decades. I honestly do not have any idea what the expected lifespan of a Zoantharian such as your might be. I'm curious and will look into it. But ultimately think that it is not only unlikely, but cannot attribute anything that you have said or not said to it. Often times, an invertebrate nearing the end of its life cycle (like with some Anthelia sp. in less than three years) will strategically self destruct... a sort of selective asexual fragmentation (self-destruction of the parent colony) that sends fragments of the colony into the drift to re-establish possibly elsewhere. It just doesn't sound like your colony is that dire. Bottom line: fragmentation, improved feeding and water quality if necessary. Praying, dancing and Italian love songs wouldn't hurt either <smile>. Kind regards, Anthony www.readingtrees.com anthonycalfo@readingtrees.com <Chat with you soon my friend. Bob Fenner>

Button polyps Hey Bob I hope all is well with you. Once again thanks for your advice and expertise. My question concerns a colony of brown button polyps that I've had for about seven years. It seems that in the past year it has stopped opening except for the outer fringes. The piece doesn't seem to be growing anymore, and seems to have some kind of mucus in the center. Could this be a pruning problem? <Perhaps... or more likely some aspect of nutrient deprivation... or just senescence... "old age"...> Any advice you could give me would be greatly appreciated. By the way the daily pic's are great. Great Column Joe G. <Ah, will endeavor to "keep them coming". Do consider switching out, replacing some live rock, a weekly large/r dose of iodide, breaking the colony in two... tossing the "mucusy" part. Will send your message to Anthony.C for his input. Bob Fenner>

Coral vs. Caulerpa Question Bob, I recently purchased a piece of coral which had quite a few Protopalythoa vestitus (green zoanthids) on it and the piece also had Caulerpa serrulata (Sawblade Caulerpa) on it (at least I think this is the type of Caulerpa that it is). My question is this - all the polyps in the coral seem to be fine except the ones which are in contact with the Caulerpa. The polyps which are in contact with the Caulerpa seemed to be closed up and turning white (it seems to be killing them). Is this the possible cause of the polyps demise. <Yes> Like I said, any polyp which has no contact with the Caulerpa seems to be thriving. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your help, Phil in San Diego <Conditions may otherwise just favor the algae in your system. Bob Fenner>

Basic Star Polyp Question Bob, Once again, great website and great book. Tonight I finally bought my first Coral, a Star Polyp. Looked great at the store but after I got it home all it looked like was a piece of live rock!! No sign of any polyps. I assume that they are just hiding?? How long to they typically hide?  <Yes, please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/polypfaqs.htm and the FAQs, links beyond> I know I'm worrying too much and should just wait until morning, but you can only imagine what my wife thought when I pulled what basically looked like a piece of live rock out of the cooler after I told her how cool the coral I bought was!! Thanks for your help again. Phil in San Diego (by the way Octopus's Garden seems to be a great little store) <Fabulous. The owner/mgr/chief clerk, Ron Elander is a good friend. Bob Fenner>

Green Star Polyps New, not improved! I recently  <How recently?> purchased some green star polyps as well as some large button polyps from my LFS. I have other corals in my system such as a large colt coral, assorted mushrooms, pulsating xenia, several anemones, a gorgonian, and other small button polyps. All other corals are doing good with the exception of the green star polyps. After purchasing both the star polyps and the button polyps I had them placed near the top of the tank. The button polyps began to open but seemed to be squinting so I moved them further down towards the bottom where they fully opened and look great. <Good idea to start most all "light sensitive" organisms near the bottom> I have tried moving the star polyps from higher to lower and back again. I have taken them out of the current flow and put them back in. Presently they are at the top of the tank in a strong current flow but still do not seem to be opening. It has been about 4 days since I have seem them open. I am running under normal fluorescents (160 watts total - 55 gallon tank - 50/50 and daylight bulbs). All other corals are doing well as is everything else. My anemones are actually reproducing all over the tank. Is this coral dead and if so when will I know to remove it from the tank. The polyps are still bright purple and are sticking up about a half inch from the rock that they are attached to but no polyps is protruding from the top. All water parameters are acceptable and I dose with iodine about once a week. The star polyps are isolated from everything else and since I observe the tank more than the TV I haven't seen anything bothering them. Any clue what may be wrong with them. Thanks T.J. Sylvester <Good descriptions here... Likely what you and your green star polyps are experiencing is a negative chemical interaction... Much like having a Eucalyptus tree overhead with leaves, chemicals influencing the non-germinating plants below... your Polyps are losing out to some other stinging-celled life in your system... If possible I would move this colony to a different system... If not, trade them back in at the LFS... or wait it out and see if they can gain chemical ground. Adding a sump, volume of water, placing activated carbon in your filter flow path, more live rock, macro-algae all might help if they are to stay or not. Bob Fenner>

Polyps I am having a problem with certain polyps in my tank. I have a 150 gallon reef tank that has been running about 8 months. I use MH lighting (10 hr/day) Actinic Blue florescent (9 hours/day), protein skimmer (24/7). I dose Kalkwasser, Strontium/molybdenum, and iodine. Temp 78 degrees. All my water tests are great. I change 5 gallons of water a week. I use DT phytoplankton about twice a week. I put in a colony of yellow polyps and a colony of waving hand Anthelia Polyps, among other things 5 months ago. Everything did great. The anthelia polyps multiplied and were very expanded. The yellow polyps also did great. I added several different button polyps, sun polyps, etc. I have about 8 different soft corals ( including a small flower pot coral)  <This is a Scleractinian, a true or stony coral... the others are in different Orders> and about 10 assorted mushroom corals. All are doing fabulous and growing except for the Anthelia Polyps, yellow polyps and flowerpot coral. They were growing unbelievably fast for 4 months then all of a sudden they started to fade. They were not open and expanded and the colony seems to be shrinking. The other polyps are spreading and fully expanded. The mushrooms and soft corals are doing great. I haven't changed anything, yet the yellow and anthelia polyps continue to decline. They did so great initially, that I don't think moving them in the tank would help. <No not likely...> They get plenty of light and current and as I said before, they were growing like crazy for the first 4 months I had them. About the only thing that has changed is I added a 10 gal planted refugium about 3 months ago and my nitrates have dropped from the 15 to 20 range (normal for a 5 month old tank) down to less than 5. Do these polyps need nitrates to do well ????  <Yes, to some degree.> The frustrating part is I see Flower pot, yellow polyps and waving hand anthelia advertised as "very hardy, great for beginners" Got any ideas? Thanks, Frank <What you are observing and relating so well is to be expected... there are dynamics going on in your system of competition (chemical and physical) with some groups "winning", others losing... Next time you have the opportunity, look closely at underwater reef images... you will see the same sorts of things... overgrowing, digestive dominance... "demilitarized zones" between many types of sessile invertebrate life... You can "help" your various types of livestock here by careful maintenance (including water changes), the periodic use of activated carbon in the filter flow path... and not crowding them... and reading/studying about their needs, discussing same on chatforums on the Web. Bob Fenner>

Dying polyps? Robert, You've done a great job helping me in the past. So if you don't mind, I have another question for you. <Okay> I have some yellow polyps and some sand polyps that seem to be dying off. They retract their cap / head into their stems (basically implode on themselves). I seem to lose a couple a week and a once flourishing patch has now lost about 1/3 of it's members. They are in moderate to heavy current, are getting plenty of light (i.e. near top of tank in 175W halide setup). All water parameters appear to be fine: Calcium 400 Phosphates .2 Nitrites < 10 Nitrites < 10 Salinity 1.024 PH approx 8.6 Alk 3.2-3.6 Ammonia 0 I just recently started feeding them once I started to notice the die-off. Any thoughts on what could be causing this? <Hmm, could be a simple lack of biomineral like Magnesium, even just iodide (iodine)... do you do regular water changes? Perhaps a negative interaction with other stinging-celled life in the system... maybe a predator that's hard to see or only comes out at night...> Everything else in the tank is flourishing (i.e. Xenia, green stars, mushrooms, leathers, donuts, brain, maze). Do you think they'll bounce back? <Hopefully. Any chance of separating these organisms out... as in out to another system? Bob Fenner> TIA...Steve

Re: Dying polyps? Actually, I supplement iodine as well as magnesium. <Well, there go those possibilities... Mg about three times the concentration of Ca++?, some detectable iodide/ine?> I use a 5-gallon pale with a tiny siphon as part of my automatic top-up. In the 5-gallons of top-up water I put: 1 capful of SeaChem iodine 4 capfuls of magnesium (1/2 per recommended dose) 2 ml SeaChem calcium 1 tspn baking soda 1 capful of SeaChem water conditioner <Actually, I would not do this... the baking soda and alkaline earth materials may well be precipitating each other out... have you tested this mix to see what's still in solution?> This mix seems to keep the levels in check, although my iodine test kit sucks I've been dosing as suggested by SeaChem. Is it okay to mix all the supplements like this together in my top-up water? <Ah, there's the question. No, not really> As far as predators go, there is nothing too obvious in contact with these except for blue-legged hermits. However, at one time I closely examined one of the polyps and seen something that may have been a tiny red/brown worm...like a blood worm but smaller (1/8") on one of the polyps. It may have been nothing. I'll keep a closer eye on them and see if I can see it again. <Ah ha! Yes to this being a real possible cause of loss... a biological control for such polychaete worms is likely a good idea> Water changes I have been doing on occasion (every 3 months), but will now start more frequently (monthly 15-20%). <Five percent a week, or twice that in twice as much time is advised> Even if parameters are all good do you still suggest water changes? <Yes... there are many important types of materials the hobby has no tests for that are best diluted through such changes, and many small concentration compounds made up by water switching> I cut down my stocking to 5 fish (from 8)...now about 10" per 70 gallon. I've also been leaving a small sack of carbon in my canister filter at all times. Could this cause this much of an effect on the livestock? <The carbon? Not likely. More beneficial to change it out once a month than not run/have it> The only other thing I can think of now is that I'm still tinkering with the automatic top-up and sometimes the water level fluctuates +/- 3/4" over a 1 day period in a 48" long 70 gallon. Could this be a result of too much freshwater and/or supplements too fast? <A potential problem, yes> As fast as separating them out goes, I only have a small 10 gallon FO tank without LR. I'm not too comfortable taking a chance at killing the rest of them off. <I understand. I would go with adding calcium, magnesium together, in pre-treated freshwater or synthetic, and add the other materials separately, and get a Pseudocheilinus wrasse or other worm predator.> Thanks again for the prompt reply. Sorry about the million new questions, but you got me thinking ! <Ah, my intent exactly!> As always, a great help. <Okay, this too. Bob Fenner> ...Steve

Green/brown star or clove polyps? I bought a piece of live rock with the star polyps you guys call clove. I bought them last November and they have now just in the past month or two started to-well almost just disappear of the rock and the red skin or whatever the outer layer off them disappears too? its like they just melt away? <Yes, this can happen> all my other mushrooms, some kind of coral, green colonial polyps, green anemones are growing like weeds!! do they after away in captivity just die off, I put reef complete in every week.. the tank is packed maybe they are fighting for space and are losing but nothing is growing really on top of them. I have bristle worms in the tank that come from the rocks and they aren't the problem because they don't bother anything. I have A LOT of tiny like shrimp in the tank I doubt they are the problem-please help me save my other rock before its starts- thanks -Jeff <What you describe is a case/scenario of "succession" in a small captive system... conditions favoring some groups of organisms over others... resulting in a loss of diversity, abundance of some species in lieu of others. You can slow this overall process down by inspiring "dynamic", punctuated habitat and bio-diversity by having a larger system with "micro" climates in it, periodically disrupting chemical and physical stasis (by changing water chemistry for instance), best accomplished by the periodic change out/replacement of live rock, use of attached refugiums, plenums. Bob Fenner>

Clavularia sp. damage Dear Robert, Recently, I have watched my once blooming waving hand anthelia (I think it's your common brown Clavularia sp.) in my 30 gal. tank recede into its tight fisted polyps never to open up again. I first thought it was due to some water condition issue. However, I noticed at night, when all the lights are out, that there are small worm like creatures (perhaps 1/4in. in length, white and smooth, tiny pair of antennas) all over the Clavularia. These worms are proliferating and systematically attacking the Clavularia. It seems as if there is no hope of salvaging the Clavularia.  <Not so fast... do look into a Pseudocheilinus wrasse here... a four or six stripe if it were my choice. Please read over the coverage of this Wrasse genus on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com and get one soon... the end of these worm pests> However, in an effort to successfully introduce another Clavularia into my tank, I would like to know what these worms are and where they came from.  <Likely some sort of errantiate polychaete ("bristle worm", there are thousands of species)... and likely from your live rock> More importantly, is there a biological means of controlling them - i.e., introducing some type of shrimp? Final note, these worms do not seem interested in my other corals, soft or hard. I would appreciate any feedback and/or thoughts. Best regards. Joe. <Try the Pseudocheilinus first here> Joe Hayashi <Bob Fenner

Question on polyps/mushrooms... Hello Mr. Fenner! I am sorry to bother you with this question, but I couldn't seem to find an exactly similar situation on your "WetWebMedia" web site, and I thought your expertise just might be able to recognize a problem that I am unaware of.... <Okay> I have a 7 month old, 60-gallon hex. (high) with 50 lbs. live rock, 5 green Chromis and 1 yellow damsel. I'd like to start a "beginners" reef setup so, about 2 months ago, I bought a baseball-size rock of yellow polyps (seemed to be healthy and flowing) that I placed near the top of my rock since they were situated near the top of the dealers tank by the light. <So far, sounds good> In a months time, the yellow polyps were nearly gone and "stalkier" brown polyps and green mat-like polyps started to quickly replace them.  <Yes... this happens... best to keep these "green star polyps" isolated on their own rock/s... can be very "adventitious"> So, I thought things were balancing, working their way out, and I bought a small purple mushroom fragment. However, the mushrooms seem to open each day for a short time and mostly remain shriveled. I've tried putting them in high AND low light places, but to no avail. <Mmm, could be a few things here... lack of biomineral or alkalinity... perhaps lack of feeding...> After initially growing very well (and multiplying), the brown and green polyps now seem to be a bit less in number (the brown have lightened in color too) and they don't always open completely. What am I doing wrong? I have no signs of ammonia, nitrites, nitrate. PH is 8.1. Temp. is 81F. Specific gravity is .023 I add 20 drops of Combisan almost every other day and keep the calcium over 450ppm. Other animals: Sally lightfoot, hermits and turbo grazers. Filtration consists of a wet/dry, AquaClear. I just got a protein skimmer but haven't hooked it up yet. Also, I have 3 powerheads for water movement. Lighting is a 250 watt/10,000 K pendant (Due to algae on glass, I just cut it down to 5 hours per day). Tank is also near window which gets 45 minutes of scattered early morning sunlight. Thanks for any advice you can give! (I'm sure you are very busy and I appreciate it!) <We all have exactly the same amount of time my friend... focus, organization (and some small influences of heritage, development and chance otherwise neglected) determines how we utilize it... I would try adding a dilute "mash" of something meaty, administered via a plastic turkey baster... sprayed in the direction of these animals... with the filter pumps cycled off for fifteen minutes (on timers) two, three times a week... maybe with a bit of vitamin prep. (like Selcon) mixed in ahead of "squirting"... to see if this doesn't engender some positive response. Bob Fenner> -Declan Procaccini

Green Star Polyp not extending anymore Hi Bob, First of all I want to thank you for the great website that you have. I'm new to the Reef aquarium (but one year) and your site has helped me tremendously. Also, your book "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" is very informative and enjoyable to read which can not be said for many books on this subject. <Ah, very gratifying to find ones work well received, useful> I have a new 125 Gallon tank that I started about 4 months ago (upgraded from a 30 Gallon). I have 175 pounds of live rock and 50 pounds of Aragonite sand. I have a cleanup crew that consists of 100 mixed snails, 50 Hermits crabs, 2 Peppermint shrimp, 1 Sally Lightfoot, 1 Emerald crab, and a Serpent Star. The fish that I have include one Yellow Tang, one Clown Fish, one Australia Flame Hawk, and one Lawnmower Blenny. For coral I have 2 yellow finger Gorgonians, I purple ribbon Gorgonian, 2 leather corals, 1 Sarcophyton, 1 blue Capnella, 1 Bali Xenia, 1 Sinularia, Brown and Green Star Polyps, Zooanthids, and one Christmas Tree rock. I purchased the Brown and Green Star Polyps about a month ago. The Green Star Polyps have almost doubled in size since adding them to my aquarium. The polyps were fully extended since the day after I got them but the last 3 days I have not seen the polyps at all. The water conditions are within expectable limits and stable: PH 8.0 (morning) to 8.2 (Evening), Temp. 76 (Morning) to 79 (Mid-day), Ammonia 0.0, Nitrate 0.0, Nitrite 0.0, PO4 0.1, ALK 3.2, Calcium 500, and Salinity 1.023. The Brown Star Polyps are in the same location and are still fully extended. What should/can I do? <I would continue with your regular maintenance, operation... possibly add a vitamin preparation and blended food together... perhaps a dose of iodide> I don't think that it is a predator since there was not a decrease in the number of polyps extended but instead all polyps were extended one evening and the next morning (and since) none of the polyps have returned. <I agree> Thank you again for all the help your website has provided me! <You are welcome my friend. It is exactly the adding to your success and enjoyment that WWM, indeed all my pet-fish efforts are directed towards. Bob Fenner> Mike Streifel

Re: Green Star Polyp not extending anymore Bob, Thank you for the quick response. Here are the additives that I'm currently adding (all SeaChem products): Reef Complete - 2Tbs on Wednesday and Saturday Reef Plus - 2Tbs on Wednesday and Saturday Reef Builder - 1Tbs per gallon of makeup water every other week (approximately 5-7 gallons) Reef Advantage Calcium - 1Tbs per gallon of makeup water every other week (approximately 5-7 gallons) on opposite weeks from Reef Builder additives. <I would cut back on this last till your calcium is closer to 450ppm> Is there something that you would recommend that I add in addition/replacement to these? <These are all fine, and miscible products. You may have a magnesium imbalance... this biomineral should register about three times the concentration of your calcium... if you have a friend, friendly LFS with a Mg test kit I would have this checked out... Otherwise, you are a prime candidate for giving up the above supplements entirely and going with a calcium reactor instead... Bob Fenner> Mike Streifel

Coral polyps question Hi Bob - First of all let me thank you for your answers to my questions (and those of other aquarists) in the past. You single-handedly manage to help out half the aquarist community, I think! <An honor! Thank you for your kind acknowledgement> I am pretty new to reef keeping, but have kept marine fishes for several years. I purchased a piece of coral called simply as 'polyps' (brown star polyps?) about two weeks ago from the LFS. When I took it home, all of the many polyps were expanded. Now only very, very few show themselves. I have determined that the calcium in my tank was way too low, but now have it at an acceptable level, about 425 (Alk is about 3.2). Do the polyps have a chance of getting back to normal now that the water parameters are ok?  <Yes indeed... these are amongst the most resilient of stinging-celled animals> How long will this take?  <A few days to weeks> Everything else in the tank (from fish to crustaceans to mushroom rock), is doing fine. <Ahh, and they are located a ways from the Mushrooms I trust...> Thanks a million! Andre, (an aspiring conscientious marine aquarist) <"Nothing is decided (or named in truth) till it is done". By acting as one, you are. Bob Fenner>

Starpolyps Hi Bob  The polyps are disappearing and the rock grows barer day after day. I need help fast!  <Hmm, wonder "who did it"?> Fish inhabitants include: 1 yellow tang, 1 royal Gramma, 1 coral  beauty, 1 blue damsel , 1 tomato clown and a mandarin  <Okay...> Other critters: 1 chocolate chip star fish ( doesn't bother my  inverts and I've never seen him on the star polyp rock), assorted snails  and hermit crabs (red leg and left handed)  <Maybe the Hermits...> Supplements are: Seachem's Reef Builder and Calcium Advantage,  Iodide and iron  <Maybe the iron, or iodide... or excess alkalinity or too little biomineral... like calcium... Umm, what are your test kit readings?>  Thanks for your time, Mike  <Bob Fenner, www.WetWebMedia.com>

Star Polyps Hello Bob, I have read a great deal, and asked many people about the feeding habits of star polyps. I keep hearing that star polyps do not eat, but are photosynthetic. <I do suspect/advocate that these are "nanoplanktivores"...> My star polyps reproduced ( in some manner) and the young took up residence in many areas, including some dark areas of the tank. If they require light, why would they not attach in light areas?  <More "luck of the draw" here... Likely other chemical cues at play in "deciding" (as in nothing is decided till it's done) where these recruits settled> Also it appears to me as if their tentacles have ridges on them. <Keen observation> What would be the purpose of this if not for catching food. If you tell me they do not eat plankton etc...I will be satisfied and move on. Thanks, Steve Collins

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