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FAQs about Soft Coral Compatibility

Related Articles: Soft Coral 'Coral' Compatibility: On Reducing Captive Negative Interactions Cnidarians  by Bob Fenner, ppt. vers: Cnidarian Compatibility: On Reducing Negative Cnidarian Interaction Parts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,  by Bob Fenner

Related FAQs: Cnidarian Compatibility, Soft Corals 1, Soft Corals 2, Soft Coral ID, Soft Coral Behavior, Soft Coral Selection, Soft Coral Systems, Soft Coral Feeding, Soft Coral Health, Soft Coral Propagation, Alcyoniids, Nephtheids, Dendronephthya, Paralcyoniids, Nidaliids, Xeniids

With crabs? Ah, no.

Allelopathy: Sinularia+toadstool+Kenya tree = Too much?     5/9/17
Hi WWM Team:
Thank you for a brilliant website. I wish I had found your site earlier.
I've read through many of your pages on Allelopathy and believe I have identified that as the cause of significant LPS loss in my 108 gal tank.
I realize there is no quantifiable answer as to how much soft coral is too much.
<There is if you have a convenient mass spec.>
However, I wanted to get your reaction to the amount of soft coral shown in a photo of my tank attached, in particular the green Sinularia back left, the Kenya tree front left and toadstool in the center. There are also a number of mushrooms that are harder to see in the photo. I have no SPS but am interested in keeping LPS.
If this were your tank, how much of the soft coral would you eliminate?
<Maybe none here... IF you carefully introduce, acclimate new additions>
I would start with the Sinularia; would that be enough?
<From your pic; I'd leave all as is for now>
Thank you very much for any advice!
<Let's have you read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/cnidcompppt.htm
Do you utilize ozone? Chemical filtrants? Bob Fenner>

Stocking a 375 Gallon Soft Coral Reef Tank/Stocking Level/Compatibility 9/20/10
Hi Crew,
<Hello Rick>
In the process of planning a 96x96x30
<Yowsah, James is jealous again.>
Soft Coral (noxious variety) Reef Tank (currently have a 90 gallon reef tank that I've been able to
learn/experience/make a few mistakes with/but most importantly enjoy).
My DREAM occupants of the proposed 375 gallon tank would include a Majestic Angelfish - Euxiphipops Navarchus and a Regal Angelfish - Pygoplites diacanthus ... but honestly (and after literally hundreds and hundreds of "hours of reading / research") I'm probably more confused (or afraid of attempting) now than 2 years ago when I started planning the bigger tank. My research simply tells me, "if" you look long enough, someone will give you the answer/info you are hoping for ... albeit not often correct or accurate. Here's my wish-list, in order of introduction into the tank ... please provide your wisdom in regards to my chances of success within a soft coral tank.
<I'll give you my input, see below.>
Greatly, greatly appreciated,
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
20 Yellowtail Damselfishes - Chrysiptera parasema
<Good choice, one of the least aggressive Damselfish and a great splash of color.>
1 Coral Beauty Angel - Centropyge bispinosus (could I house a harem of Coral Beauties - say 5?)
<They are usually found in small groups of 3-7 in the wild so in a 375 gallon tank with those dimensions, it should work out.
If you are looking for a fish that will always be in full view during the day, this is not the one to choose.
Have one myself and I'd say it is in and among the rock more than it is out and about in full view.>
1 Flame Angelfish - Centropyge loriculus
<If you choose to have 5 Coral Beauties, then I would omit this guy.
Problems likely to arise.
One of each would be a better way to go.>
2 Golden Butterflies - Chaetodon semilarvatus
<Caution here as these fish will feed on benthic invertebrates, Zoanthids, and some soft corals.>
1 Regal Angel (Red Sea) - Pygoplites diacanthus
<It's a dice roll with these fish. Most rarely live more than a month in captivity. With your size tank, the odds may be a little more in your favor, but still no guarantee. And if you decide to roll the dice, do
wait until your tank has aged at least 6 months. They are pricey, so the choice is yours to make.>
1 Majestic Angel - Pomacanthus Navarchus
<This fish is much easier to keep than the Regal but is prone to nip at stony and soft corals (sessile invertebrates)
and clam mantles. It generally will not harm small-polyped stony corals and somewhat noxious soft corals.>
5 Blue Hippo Tangs -Paracanthurus hepatus
<A good choice, very colorful indeed, but five may be a bit too much for your tank as they can grow up to
a foot in length, captive systems likely to 10 inches.>
1 Purple Tang - Zebrasoma xanthurum
<Another attractive species that should fit in well with the previous choices/selections.>

Chemical Reactions Between SPS and Soft Corals - 08/13/08 Thanks for all of your exceptional help. <<Happy to share>> As I recall I have read about chemical reactions between SPS and soft coral neighbors. <<Mmm, yes…is referred to as allelopathy…and more commonly known to/referred to among those keeping terrestrial plants. But the basics of the definition serve the same here…"the inhibition of growth by chemicals produced by another species"... Though I think this can be expanded for aquarists to include more than limiting growth but also causing the "demise" of organisms…and that such negative interactions can even be between individuals of the "same species" in some cases>> I have a 330g tank with quite a few frags of SPS corals. I have made somewhat of an attempt to put SPS corals on one side of my tank and soft corals, polyps on the other. <<I want to note here that these organisms can detect substances in parts-per-million, even parts-per-billion ratios. If you have disparate organisms in the same tank, you can be sure they are aware of each other's presence (and doing battle); regardless of how far apart they are positioned. I'm not saying the physical separation isn't a good thing or isn't warranted as it may help reduce the "level" of aggression…I just want to make it clear that physical separation does not stop aggression, and that chemical fighting has no "boundaries" within closed systems as all is reached and affected as the elements are moved/carried through the water column>> However, we do have a few areas of overlap in which polyps/soft corals come within 4-8" of a SPS coral. <<This physical separation is fine…what needs to be considered is the overall "volume" of disparate species. In other words, a large volume of chemically noxious polyps and soft corals will have a greater overall effect on a small volume of much less noxious Acropora species than if the volume/bio-mass were reversed>> These polyps/soft corals do not have full tentacle extension and have never looked great. My SPS corals all look fantastic and growing. <<Hmm…it is highly unlikely in my estimation that the polyps/soft corals are being malaffected by the SPS directly (generally the case is just the opposite). I think it likely that either the polyps and soft corals are too close to/malaffecting each other…or there is an environmental condition like water flow or lighting that is not to their liking>> Water params are excellent, <<This tells me nothing mate>> lighting is within 18-20" of 1600watts metal halides. <<Mmm, a lot of light... Do review your placement of your organisms re>> Could this be because of interactions between the corals or is the fact they are close to each other a coincidence? <<It's impossible to say without more than the very general organism descriptions of "polyps and soft corals" along with more descriptive data about your system (water flow, water chemistry, et al) and the placement of these organisms from each other and within the tank in relation to the other environmental elements. My best guess here is that the malaffected organisms are too close/physically touching, or there are issues with water flow or lighting. From what you describe, I don't believe the SPS corals themselves to be a factor>> Best, Bryan <<Regards, EricR>>

Emerald Mithrax Crab, Mithrax sculptus, Eating Soft Coral - 12/5/07 Hello there! <Hello, Brenda here> Very helpful site! <Thank you!> But I have a quick question for you. Is it possible for an Emerald Crab to start eating soft corals? <Absolutely!> I have lost one all ready, and was trying to think what could have caused it. It had tear marks on the edges and middle. I have recently had a Toadstool Leather Coral and it has never really opened its polyps out fully, but today I found the Emerald crab sitting on it picking at the flesh of it. Could he be the cause? <Yep!> Odd as in my 50 gallon tank there is a fair amount of algae to eat. Please shed some light I've managed to catch him and I'm keeping him separated from the rest of the tank for the moment. <All crabs are opportunistic feeders, and potentially predators. They can kill small fish, snails, and coral. Please find it a happy home. More information here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mithraxfaqs.htm. Brenda>

Mushroom Anemone and Soft Coral Help   11/24/06 Hi again Justin, <Hello again, Ben, hope this evening finds you well.> Thank you for the quick reply and for your help. <Anytime, is what we're here for.> If chemical warfare is at play here do you recommend removing certain corals? Or is there a way I can prevent it or minimize it? <Short of removing the leathers, your best bet would be chemical filtration such as ChemiPure somewhere in a flow path.> The Mushroom anemones are not cupped upward, its just the stems that seem to be reaching upwards, does this seem right? <I'm not sure I understand here... do you mean that they are stretching their base towards the light, but still extending normally? Still sounds like they're struggling for light here...> I have looked at the Commodity Axis website who are the manufactures of my tank and the lighting output is one 18watt PC actinic bulb and one 18watt PC 7,100k Daylight bulb are these sufficient for the corals that I have? If they are not what would you recommend? <Mmm, is borderline at best, in my opinion in the case of the mushrooms, definitely lacking for the leathers... Doubling up the lighting would likely be sufficient for what you wish to keep.> In regard to the water current the powerhead is attached to the undergravel filter. The actual powerhead sits at the bottom of the tank and has a tube that goes up towards the surface, I have placed a wave maker to the tube which moves via a gyro that turns when the water is pumped through and deflects the water current around the whole tank. I could send a picture of this device if that would help? <Good description, I don't think a picture will be necessary> Would you recommend removing the undergravel filter? Once a week I hover the gravel and do a 10% - 15% water change with water that I have purchased from the fish store. <Mmm, if it were me/mine, I would. Your husbandry methods sound adequate for the setup though.> Lastly the test kit I used for the carbonate and alkalinity was a Salifert carbonate/alkalinity test are you familiar with these test kits? <Am familiar, but have never used one personally unfortunately. Does this test describe them as different? As I understand it, the carbonate hardness of water is a measure of the alkalinity of the water.> Thank you again for your help, I look forward to hearing back from you. Hopefully I can fix this problem before its gets too bad. Kind regards Ben     <Before you start rushing out to get rid of the leathers, I would try employing some form of chemical filtration as mentioned previously, and consider removing the undergravel filter. Aside from the lighting issue, I remember that you stated your nitrate reading is stable at 20ppm. This could also be lending to the degrading appearance of your corals. Out of curiosity, do you employ a protein skimmer, or any external forms of filtration, aside from the undergravel filter? Glad to be of help! -JustinN> Soft Coral Lighting/Allelopathy - 03/30/06 Hi crew, <<Hello Mohamed> I am having problems with my soft coral.  My SPS has tripled in size in the past year and LPS opens to amazing sizes.  All my test results are positive meaning nitrates 0, calcium 400ppm, dKH 9, etc.  My tank size is 250cm L x 35cm H x 75cm W, the light are 4foot T5's 20cm above the tank. (3 x 10K and 2 x blue on the left of the tank and the same on the right of the tank).  My SPS and LPS are placed higher than the soft corals. (On plastic pipes).  All soft corals are at the bottom, 50% opens and 50% opens once a week. My light reading at the bottom of my tank is 40 to 50. ((PAR) Quantum light meter)  I have taken a reading of some LFS where I buy my corals and the readings are from 15 to 30 but some of the lights are 4 months old. <<Indeed...would expect these to be higher...may be using NO fluorescent lighting here.>> Soft corals:  Helioporidae caerulea, <<Heliopora caerulea?  This is a "stony" coral.>> Cladiella, Lobophytum, Sarcophyton, Sinularia, Nephthea, Xenia, Zoanthidea and mushrooms.  From each species some opens and others not.  What PAR reading do you get from your light meter on the placement of your soft corals? <<Have never checked...but would expect something in the area of 175+ microEinstiens (?E) to be adequate.>> Must I raise my light or increase my light? <<I would place the lights closer to the water (6cm-8cm) to start...but this may not be a matter of lighting at all, it may be more an issue of allelopathy...you list some pretty noxious organisms.  I recommend adding some carbon and/or Poly-Filter to your filter path and make sure your corals are spaced adequately apart (minimum 6" separation), and that you have vigorous water flow/movement.>> Please advise; your input will be appreciated. Thanks Mohamed. <<Regards, EricR>>

Feather Duster worms and chemical warfare   3/18/06 Hello WetWebMedia crew.  Can Hawaiian feather duster worms affected by chemical warfare of neighboring soft corals such as Sinularia flexibis?  If so, what sort of reaction could I expect from the worms? Thanks. Brett <Do think this is possible... though more such attacks would be directed to more deleterious groups of organisms... Might poison outright though, or somehow delimit reproduction, growth. Bob Fenner> Inappropriate Anemone Mix, Actually Just Mix In General - 12/15/2005 Hi guys/gals, <Ground control to...I mean Hi Tom.> I have a 2.5 x 2 x 1.5 foot marine tank, I know this is quite small in comparison with other hobbyists tanks, but so far doing  well, (been running for about 7 months.) <Good.> I have a large piece of Xenia, Sun Coral (which I'm feeding Liquid Life marine plankton). I have had him for about a month and never seen him out to feed? <Please do search our FAQ's on this. There's much you'll need to do/attempt to begin this process. Also does not help to have the unnatural mix (Soft and Stony).> 2 Black Clowns a Mandarin, Boxing  Crab, Large Blue Leg Hermit (who is a pain in the ass) and a brittle star. All parameters are fine. I have recently purchased a Bubble Tip, a bit disappointed that the Clowns still ignore him after a week, he did move to a different place after a day but has not moved since, which I take as a good sign. <Maybe. This REALLY doesn't help your unnatural mix. Hard enough to keep in small tanks, throw in the other corals and you're asking for trouble.> He comes out big in the day, but his mouth opens up large, and hangs out every other day? <OK, take this as a bad sign. The mouth "gaping" is stress related.> Can you enlighten me on this, and is there anyway to get the clowns to notice him, the lights I'm running are twin ballast Interpet T5's, daylight and triplus, (is this enough?) Also can't get bubble tip to eat, is he using light? <OK, you've broken a few "rules" here and it seems you are starting to see why they exist. Aside from compatibility, you've not researched what these animals need, how they need it and what you should/shouldn't expect. The Clowns will probably ignore the anemone (not even the natural wild relationship), but at this point, hope they don't try. This will make things worse on the anemone. I advise you to return the anemone and focus your effort on the Dendrophylliid. The Mandarin would also be better off else where, likely a very short life in your tank.> Many thanks, Tom. <You should find all the clarification you need in the FAQ's. Whoever is selling you these should not be trusted on their advice. Sorry I don't have better news. Best of luck. - Josh> Soft Corals With A Heniochus chrysostomus - 11/05/05 Crew, <<Hello>> I recently bought a Heniochus chrysostomus, and found out the hard way that it dines on some types of coral. <<Yes, as do all in this genus...even Heniochus diphreutes, which is considered moderately reef-safe by some.>> I have only recently converted my tank to a reef tank and only had two corals, a finger leather that I bought to start with, and a small Galaxea coral that was a freebie on a piece of live rock I bought. <<Love those freebies!>> It was still a small coral, but I had dubbed it "the little coral that could" as it was starting to spread and thrive in my tank. But in less than a week of being picked at by the Heniochus, it was gone. <<bummer>> Very sad. However, the Heni leaves the leather alone, as I have read on your site is often the case. <<Yes, though really still a "crap-shoot" as to what they will bother.>> What I'm wondering is what other types of soft corals might I have luck with as I add to my tank that would coexist with the Heniochus? <<Impossible to say really. You can try adding specimens and watching them closely for predation, but my best advice is to remove the Heniochus if you really want to keep a reef tank.>> My wife really likes the corals that "flow" in the current. <<Mine too!>> Prior to adding the Heni, I was planning on adding a pulsing xenia and daisy polyp (not sure of the proper name). <<Mmm...could be Pachyclavularia or Alveopora maybe?>> Any chance for either of these two? <<Likely these will become fish food...>> Others that would work and "go with the flow"? <<Nothing I'm certain of, I've seen these fish even eat noxious Zoanthids. This will have to be trial and error on your part...or get rid of the fish.>> Thanks <<Regards, EricR>>

Devil's hand turning white  9/28/05 Good morning, Sorry to bother you again.  Last week I emailed asking what to do with my devil's hand turning white.  I believe it was from an anemone that was beside it for a few days.  The white is spreading and I was hoping by sending you the attached picture you can better inform me.  Any suggestions would be helpful.  Thanks so much. <... please read on WWM re Alcyoniid health, compatibility with anemones. Bob Fenner>

Soft Corals...Where To Put'em? - 07/07/05 Hello, <<Greetings>> I am currently constructing my 72 gallon reef tank and I have some concerns about placement of corals. <<A subject worth consideration...>> I keep all soft corals, with the exception of some hammers, and some bubbles, but I am running out of room. <<Ha!...join the crowd <G>.>> My question is, how close can soft corals be placed together? <<Depends on the coral, but 6-10 inches apart is a good rule of thumb.>> I recently placed a leather frag next to a colt and the colt shrunk up, and did not reopen until I moved the leather. <<Leather corals (as you have discovered) are among the most noxious corals in your system.>> I just bought a Capnella (right spelling?) <<Capnella>> and placed it near the colt and the colt was fine, these two experiences leaves me wondering how can I know which corals can be placed near each other, is there a chart or something like that I can look at? <<No chart I'm afraid.  Not sure what you mean by "close", but 6-10 inches is usually sufficient.  The allelopathy present in your system can also be tempered a bit with carbon filtration/poly filters and frequent partial water changes.>> Thank you for your time, and everyone there is doing a great job... <<Eric R.>> Coral Compatibility 07/01/05 Hi, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> I have a 2.5 year old 55g reef tank, w 80lbs LR and 260w PC lighting. I also have the AquaC Remora skimmer and a 4" deep sand bed and use only RO/DI water. For the most part everything has gone well, with this site to thank! <We're glad to be a part of it!> To keep nitrates in control, I just added a refugium w/miracle mud and Chaetomorpha and a new detritivore kit from Inland aquatics, which has been up and running for about a month.  Water parameters are very good and things look much better but some corals are still closed up, specifically the Pagoda, Finger Leather and Star burst Polyp.  The only left that I can figure is that I must have a chemical fight going on with the corals. <Very likely...> Are there any problems with the following co-existing? Finger Leather Coral, Pagoda Coral, Star burst Polyp, Torch Coral, Brain Coral, Bubble Coral, Hammer Coral, Mushroom Coral, and Acropora.  Not sure what else to do here. <Well, this is a pretty interesting mix! The Torch and Leather Corals are extremely aggressive. The Mushroom Corals really have no place in this mix, coming from much deeper on the reef than Acropora. Also, rethink the Acropora in this tank. The allelopathic compounds being produced by the other corals will create great problems in the long run, particularly in a tank of this volume. Study the corals that you really want to keep, and develop a stocking plan that incorporates corals that come from similar environmental niches and conditions.> Any suggestions? Thanks <As above- I'd think about the corals that are "must haves" in your book, and figure out which of the other corals you like will work with them. Do check out the resources here on WWM, and in books like Anthony Calfo's excellent "Book of Coral Propagation", or Eric Borneman's "Aquarium Corals". Both are excellent guides to identification, selection, and care of corals. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Soft coral, Zoanthid compatibility 30 Jun 2005 Hello again.  Thanks in advance for all of your support in my reef keeping.  I have a colony of Zoanthid polyps that are absolutely exploding.  I did not buy the colony, it grew on a piece of my Bali live rock.  It definitely pays to buy quality LR!  I have hundreds!  I have been attempting to share my wealth with my reef friends by cutting the polyps and supergluing them to LR rubble with limited success.   <It may be better to place a ring of rubble around the base for settlement> They seem to come unglued after a couple weeks.  Placing small rocks next to the colony seems to be the way to go.  My question is; I have placed a Kenya tree coral next to the colony and was worried about their compatibility.  Will my thriving polyps overtake my Kenya? <They are very aggressive, they (Zoanthids) will likely destroy the Kenya tree eventually> Are there any corals that come to your mind that I should avoid attaching Zoanthids near?  They are great for filling in bare spots in the tank! Thank you, Corey <best regards, Anthony>

Corals At War! (An Unnatural Mix of Coral) Hello all, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> First off, thanks for your website... it rocks!!! <Excellent! Glad that you like it!> I am asking about my 55 gallon reef tank.  It is in very good health for a 2 year old tank and everything is well (for the most part).  I have 4x65W PC lighting, 2 Dual Daylight and 2 Dual Actinic that I run for about 11 hours per day.  I change the bulbs about every 9 months or so. <A good habit to have..> I have healthy fish (2 Tangs, a Blenny, a few gobies, 2 mated clowns and a few Chromis).  Most of my fish are over a year old and I do not intend to add any more since they are happy (very little aggression - a quasi-peaceful tank if you will).  I have slowly added specimens and my protein skimmer is fully functional so this patience and water clarity I hold responsible for their health.  I have been diligent not to overstock my tank and do frequent water changes (~10% every 2 or 3 weeks) because I realize my bioload is heavy (I have many corals). <You're doing okay!> I have many soft corals and 5 LPS and 2 SPS.  My Galaxea, Trumpet, Tongue, and Hydnophora are all healthy and growing like crazy.  My tank looks great! <Great to hear...That is a potentially problematic mix of corals in a relatively small tank. Allelopathic compounds are no doubt being released by these corals, which is problematic in this sized tank if you don't keep at your diligent water change/maintenance/protein skimming schedule.> (I also have 4 other reef tanks that are doing awesome).  By the way, I have about 90+ lbs of live rock and about 2 inches of live sand as my biological filter). I don't use a trickle filter. I have a few questions: 1) I have a piece that I got from a friend that has a Spaghetti Finger Leather on a sort of conical rock.  Around the perimeter, was the light brown version of Goniopora which COMPLETELY died off several months after I got it. <Not an uncommon occurrence with this coral, unfortunately> I let the leather keep growing where it was and 5 months later, the Goniopora came back!!! It is growing like mad. I was very surprised to see it come from "nowhere." <Cool!> My first question is twofold. a) My Leather has never grown large.  The fingers are small and extend only a fraction of a cm.  I have had this coral for over a year and it's size has not changed.  I want it to expand.  Now that the Goniopora is growing around the leather (again) will it kill the leather? <It is possible, as these are strongly aggressive corals. Of course, Sinularia species are very aggressive, as well. To be quite honest, I think that you need to really re-think your overall stocking plan of corals for the long term in this tank. A smaller tank like this is tough to manage with an unnatural mix of aggressive corals like this...Specialize!> b) What can I do to get the Leather to expand?  It has looked the same with and without the Goniopora present. <Well, you actually answered your own question. You can't have 'em all in this tank. You really need to think about what kind of corals you want to keep, especially in a smaller system such as this. Someone needs to go.> I have been waiting for it to grow but it doesn't;  it looks healthy, but does not grow large.  I have thought about cutting the Leather like a pizza pie and let it heal for a while and then take the frags and rubber band them to small rocks, hoping the frags will grow better than the "mother." <Not in this situation. The "chemical warfare" occurring in this tank will not go away if you keep this mix. These are corals that are not found together in nature in such proximity, so the odds of success with this mix in captivity are really small.> HOWEVER, I like the rock as it is with the Goniopora circling the leather. I really want the leather to grow with longer fingers and have better polyp expansion with everything else the same.  Also, my Devil's Hand Leather is small and behaving the same way (without the Goniopora). <But with the Hydnophora, etc...Do rethink this mix again!> Both are about midway in the tank... I want my Leathers to grow.  Can you advise me on this? <Again, I'd "specialize" in one type of coral: soft corals, LPS, etc. In this sized tank, an unnatural mix such as this is a real problem.> 2) My Pagoda Cup has two strange air bubbles.  Everything else is fine; the polyps are healthy.  How can I make these bubbles go away and are they a problem?  What should I do? <If they are somewhere on the surface of the coral, you could gently brush them a way.> 3) I have a Hammer coral that has 4 branches/polyps (the pink variety). One polyp got damaged in transportation and is dead.  A second polyp is not looking good;  it is not expanding and the tissue seems to be receding.  My question is two fold again (sorry): a) Should I remove the dead polyp branch or should I leave it - a healthy polyp is right next to it - could it grow back,  I mean could the healthy polyp spread to the dead one? <Do watch for the dreaded "Brown Jelly" infections for which these corals are known. If it makes you feel better, you could remove the dying branch for isolation/observation.>   b)  As far as the "sick" polyp, it still expands somewhat during the day but the adjacent polyp which is very health seems to be over crowding it.  Should I cut the branch off or treat it some how for the recession? <If you're only talking about a single polyp, it may not be too problematic. If it's an entire branch of polyps, then it's far more serious.> I realize I am asking a lot of questions, so thanks for listening. Cheers, Karlo <My pleasure, Karlo. Again, I think if you try to keep more compatible species together...The real recipe for long-term success, IMO. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Invasive Xenia-like Softie 6/15/05 Hello WWM Crew! I have a client with an ever-spreading invasive type of soft coral. It spreads much like Green Star Polyps. It's actually quite pretty and I don't want to harm it, but I need to be able to control it naturally. I've attached a picture. If any of you know what it is, and how to  control the spread, I'll be grateful. By the way, the polyps are quite small, perhaps 1/2 the size of Green Stars. This is the only tank I've ever seen it in.  Thanks In Advance, Bob Hartline <It is hard to tell for sure from your pic, but here are some guidelines...  If the polyps arise from and can retract (completely pull into) the mat, it is probably Briareum or Erythropodium.  If the "stem" of the polyps have a distinct base into which the polyps retract, the coral is Clavularia.  If the polyps don't retract at all (but maybe deflate a bit when disturbed), it is probably Anthelia or Sansibia.  This looks very much like a colony of Sansibia that I have in my tank.  You can confirm the ID of Sansibia if you can see iridescent sclerites through the tissue.  Best Regards.  AdamC.>

Invasive Xenia-like Softie part 2 6/15/05 Any idea about slowing it down? It spreads mighty fast. I've tried placing LPS corals in it's midst, but it seems impervious. Maybe a Chocolate Chip Star on a leash? Hehe...Please advise if you have any other ideas.  Bob <About the only thing you can do is try to corral it with rocks and rubble.  This will also create frags to trade!  Covering it up will also shade it and slow it down.  HTH  AdamC.> Sweeper tentacles, soft corals, cabbage question Dear crew, <Richard> I have two separate cabbage corals in my tank, and both have recently been seen extending long, filamentous tentacles. In each case, the point of origin appears to be a pore-like opening on the very edge of the body. The tentacles resemble spider web in their size and appearance, and consist of a central thread, with numerous, regularly spaced threads coming off at a right angle to the main one. At the longest, I estimate them to be 22 inches long. <Yikes> My wife and I witnessed one of the cabbages snagging a ghost shrimp, and the shrimp was rapidly entangled in the tentacle, which retracted to draw the shrimp to the edge of the cabbage body. When we returned some four hours later, the shrimp had vanished. <Yes> The resident SW manager at the LFS told me quite definitively that such things don't happen in soft corals. After extensive Googling [if that's a verb] here and elsewhere, I have found no definitive information. Can you please shed some light here?  Thanks, Rick <Yes... in the hobby press, these structures are broadly called "sweeper tentacles" and serve as both a defensive and feeding mechanism... Please read here: Marine Depot Newsletter - Aggression. Bob Fenner> 

Re: cabbage question Bob, Thanks for the reference---an excellent article. I was aware of sweeper tentacles, particularly in stony corals, but had been under the misimpression that they were for combative purposes. <Mostly, yes... resource partitioning> It didn't occur to me that they might be applied to a hunting purpose. I find it somewhat disappointing that I could be told so emphatically that such behaviour didn't exist. I have been well-served in this respect, though: another source of information has revealed itself to be one on which I should not depend. At least in this instance, it did not cost me money, or a creature its life. As always, a doffing of the snorkel, and my sincere thanks. Rick <Welcome. Bob Fenner> 

SPS and soft corals I am planning to upgrade my 55 gal reef to 155 gal. The 155 gal will be 72'x28'x18'. I already have good success with pc lighting, my soft corals are doing great, had them for 1 year. Will it be possible to have some SPS corals together with the soft corals ?  <Not a problem> A couple of questions here, I purchased 3 HQI Giesemann, 250 watts, 13000 k, 1 bulb per 2 feet. Will that be sufficient?  <Excellent choice of lighting>  Will that affect the growth of the soft corals?  <You will want to gradually introduce them to the more intense lighting by gradually increasing (daily) the photoperiod. Start with a hour and add 1/2 hour daily till you reach your desired photoperiod.>  Where shall I place the soft corals, probably towards the lower part of the tank ? <I believe they prefer the lower third of the tank.>   How will I acclimatize them to the new lights ?  <As above> My collection includes : mushrooms & 2 finger leathers (planning to get rid of if I will keep SPS )  <Why?> 2 Favia brains 1 plate coral 2 star polyps 1 sun polyp (I heard they release some toxins, is that right ? ) <Not to my knowledge, they do not like direct light though.> 1 clove coral 1 Huge colt coral 1 Xenia Please tell me your opinion about any incompatibilities between my collection and SPS. Thank you. Ramy Banoub <I don't see any compatibility problems, just use normal care allowing them not to touch each other. James (Salty Dog)> Lysmata are NOT reef aquarium safe 2/3/05 I was given some nice soft coral frags from some other salt water enthusiasts at work (some mushrooms and some branching corals).  The other day, I noted one of the soft corals was withdrawn and looking rather "leathery" rather than "frilly" (not exactly technical terms, but I'm guessing you get the idea).   <yes... no worries> It stayed that way for a couple of days, but started to return to its normal shape. Today, another friend and I noticed that my pregnant Lysmata amboinensis was picking away at the coral that was looking withdrawn.  The coral has withdrawn again.  This same shrimp was picking away at algae on my live rock and even looked like it was eating some of the patches of Cerith snail eggs that recently got laid down (I'm pretty sure it was munching, but it was moving its legs so fast that I couldn't see what it was putting in its mouth). Is this normal behavior for this shrimp? <yes... although often sold for reef aquaria, species of Lysmata are categorically NOT reef safe. They are not that dreadful either... usually just picking away. Really only a problem in small tanks and with LPS corals> Is "she" having food cravings (protein)?   <heehee... no. Er, well... sort of. Just indiscriminate> I've got a single A. ocellaris and a pair of Lysmata amboinensis in the tank (3 month old tank) and I've cut back the feeding of spectrum A to every other day (phosphate and algae issues). Should remove the shrimp and put her in my QT tank and generously stock it with pickles and Ben & Jerry's Ice cream? (Mmmm ice cream) David <put it into QT, but send me the pickles and ice-cream. I'll eat  them separately :) Anthony>

Lysmata amboinensis eating my soft corals 2/6/2005 Thanks for the heads up on the reef safeness of my Cleaner shrimp. <It's a small but persistent risk with the genus> By the way, we finally figured out what happened, apparently the soft coral made a comment that the eggs made the cleaner shrimp's telson look fat. Can we really blame the shrimp for its reaction? I think not.  <Heheeeeeeeeeee... agreed> And, frankly, if I don't supply the pickles and B&J ice cream, I doubt "she" will go into the QT tank (willingly). I'll just keep an eye on things. Again, thanks for the heads up. David <Always welcome my friend :) Keep smiling. Anthony>

Anemone Substitution Greetings <Hi! Ryan with you today> This site is SO informative and has helped me in many areas. <Great news> I have a question concerning clownfish, particularly Ocellaris. I was interested in  getting a bubble tip anemone to host for a Ocellaris I have yet to purchase. <Good...Anemones need well established tanks, with high water quality.> My  concern is that I want a lot of corals in my tank (not yet added any) but several stores have related that bubbles don't wander as much as other anemones do. <Crapshoot> One has gone on to say that anemones and corals are a bad mix and that I can   substitute a <Soft> coral for an anemone and that the Ocellaris wont really mind. Is  this in fact true? <Yes, Octocorals of the genus Sarcophyton make great, hardy substitutes in many cases.> Because corals don't wander the way anemones do, would it be safer for all tank members concerned to just get a surrogate coral to make the Ocellaris happy without risking the other corals in the tank? <Yes...Wonderful idea!  Anthelia can also host clowns.>  If so what would be  a good species to substitute. Thanks in advance for your help.  <No problem!  And good luck setting up that blind date!> Doug

Emerald Crab I purchased a emerald crab a week ago and every night since, he has decided to set up camp in my leather tree..  I don't think he is hurting any thing because it continues to open .any thoughts >>>No worries, it shouldn't bother the coral Jim<<< -Killer corals?!- Ok I have two soft corals that have spread to the same rock, by the end of the month I will have two pieces of coral for a friend.  I was planning to contribute to his aquarium but am wondering how a Green Colony Polyp and a Starburst Polyp Coral are going to react when they reach each other.  I just don't want either to kill the other. <You likely won't notice anything unless one begins to overgrow the other. Not a big deal, happens all the time!> I don't feed either Coral ever, in act the only food they could come by is when I stir up the sand in my aquarium (every other day I clean the glass and stir up lots of sand).  I am guessing the light plus the detritus that I stir up is feeding everyone as much as they need since they are spreading rapidly. <Sounds like it> I placed the two near the center of my 75g aquarium and well now they are moving close to each other.  I added both corals about 6 months ago and they took off quickly, and have been loving my tank since entering it. <Excellent!> Both are supposed to be peaceful but now that they are getting so close I am wondering what they are going to do to each other.  Any input would be greatly appreciated. <No worries> About my tank.... weekly 2-5% water changes... add water every other day... input chemicals monthly... change filters monthly... FISH : I have a wrasse (the 1 inch one with a false eye on its back pink and green with horizontal stripes), Clark clown, damsel (that I haven't been able to catch from when I cycled the tank a year ago), and a bicolor blenny... lighting I have a Compact Fluorescent and the normal florescent light that came with the tank..  skimmer on always produces small amounts of sludge daily emptied weekly...  Testing is all within proper ranges... If you would like pictures I can take some... let me know if it would help.. <I think you're in good shape, don't worry about it. Good luck! -Kevin> Thanks, Greg

A Clown Who Loves His 'Stool! >Hello to all! >>Greetings! >I have an ocellaris clown which occupies the long polyps of my toadstool. >>Not at all uncommon. >All day he stays in the polyps and rubs on the 'stool, even bringing it back food like it is an anemone.   >>He/she'd make someone a great husband/wife someday, eh? >Will this hurt my toadstool over time?   >>Highly unlikely, probably will help it when it needs to slough.   >This has been going on for about 7 months and the polyps still extends fully and no visual damage yet on the 'stool.  Thanks, Jason -Surfs Up! >>(So I hear!  We got a severe marine alert out here - Astronomical high tides!)  Likely no harm at all.  If it were "unhappy" it WOULD show it.  Marina Location and a sick coral 1/1/04 Hello there, <Hi Eric, Happy New Year!> I have been making use of the info on your site for close to a year now and  have found it to be very helpful.  I have 2 issues which I was hoping to get  your assistance with. <Glad you have found the site useful.  Lets see what we come up with....> 1.  I know that corals are not supposed to touch one another, however, I have a Sarcophyton that is now surrounded by mushrooms (due to growth) some of  which are in direct contact with the Sarco's stalk.  Everyone has been doing fine  for the past several months (all of the aforementioned corals have been in  the tank for at least 7 months - touching for about 2). Should I move the Sarcophyton? <As a general rule, corals should not touch, but if they have grown this way, and the interaction isn't harming either coral, I would leave it.  Do watch both parties for any bad reactions.  Also... Either coral may look fine, but the interaction may be causing a heightened chemical response.  Observe these and other corals in the tank for other wise unexplainable poor health.  Be prepared to move one or the other if things decline.> 2.  I had a mishap with my Goniopora (a sponge fell on it and was there for  most of a day while I was at work).  The Goniopora now has what appears to be a  brown slime infection.  I'm worried about doing a dip with Lugol's.  Would a  freshwater dip be advisable?  Have you ever used a product called Ruby Reef  HydroPlex and if so what did you think of it? <I have not used the Ruby Reef product, and am wary of any product that is not clearly labeled with ingredients and a description of what it does.  Freshwater dips are usually as or more deadly to corals than to infections.  A proper Lugol's dip is probably a good idea, but brown jelly usually proceeds so fast that by the time you get this and do the dip, it may be too late.  Try 10 drops Lugol's per quart of aquarium water for 15 minutes.> Thank you for your time and any answers that you may provide. <hope this helps, and good luck!  Adam> Sincerely, Eric Baker

Soft Corals Hi guys have a question regarding soft corals. Starting a reef tank and going with mainly soft corals. <excellent! You will have far greater long term success by keeping more specific groups of coral like this. Mixing Mushroom anemones, Small polyp stonies, Large polyp stonies and soft corals in the display is very challenging in the long run... not to mention unnatural> Have been reading and researching and came across in "Corals a quick reference guide" by J. Sprung a group of corals referred to Finger Leathers, but of the Paralemnalia species. I can not find much info on these, can find about Sinularia but not Paralemnalia. Would like to find more out on these corals b/c they look interesting. Please lead me in the right direction. Thanks, Bryan <You can find better information about corals at large in Eric Borneman's "Aquarium Corals" book. But the short story on Paralemnalia is that it is categorically not recommended for beginners or young aquariums. They are difficult to keep by any measure. They are weakly symbiotic at best and require a lot of food. The problem is that we don't fully understand what they eat and what we do know (nanoplankton) is quite difficult to produce. If you intend to keep Paralemnalia, my advice is to set up an upstream fishless refugium (likely unlit in cryptic zone fashion) and let the  system mature for a year or more before attempting this species. When you are ready to propagate it... give me a call <G>. Best regards, Anthony Calfo>

Devil's Hand and Sea fan: Cnidarian contact 5/30/03 Howdy! <Howdy back atcha, Cathy!> A quick question - can a Devil's hand and a Sea Fan be close to each other? <alas no... no stinging animals (cnidarians- corals, anemones, gorgonians, etc) can touch at all. And most cannot be allowed to stay within close range (less than 10 inches) without responding to allelopathy in Tim> Right now, about 3" away, but if they grow, they may even touch. <they are too close even now... the leather in this case will likely kill the gorgonian after some months or a year or two> I can move the Devil's hand, but it is in a great spot, as is the sea fan, where the circulation is best for both. <alas... it is the difficulty in our home aquariums (space). The leather grows so fast and large in the 3 year picture, that it gets my vote to be moved> Thanks!-Cathy in Texas <>< <ciao, babe :) Antoine>

Leather & Colt corals I have had a beautiful leather coral in my tank for 9 months. It has grown to about 10 inches long with a "top" that is about 6 inches in diameter. The top is covered with polyps that look like little straws. Each polyp is about 3/4 of an inch long and they are tightly packed over the entire surface of the "top". I have a Midas Blenny that regularly perches on this coral. When it does, the polyps withdraw, and then re-extend when the Midas swims away. The fish doesn't seem to bother the leather at all. This week I added a Colt coral to my 50 gallon reef tank. It is in the opposite corner from my Leather coral. The Colt fully extends in the light and all of it's polyps come out. It seems to be doing very well. Three days after introducing the Colt to my tank, I noticed that the Leather coral was starting to look less healthy. It's polyps are more withdrawn and not fully extended. I have not changed the supplements to my tank and the water conditions are excellent with plenty of current and light. My questions: Even though separated by 20 inches, could the Colt coral be putting out mucus or chemicals (into the water) that the Leather coral is having an adverse reaction to? Will the Leather become accustomed to the Colt coral? Do I need to remove one of the corals? Thanks for your help, R. Marsh >> Very perceptive, and useful observations. Yes to the chemical interaction... and probably no to having to move the animal. I would place a unit of activated carbon in the filter flow path at this point and "hope for the best"... in all likelihood, an equilibrium/truce will be struck between these two soft corals (order Alcyonacea), with the Leather re-opening within a few weeks. Bob Fenner

Corals with an angel Hi Bob, Filtration upgrade is underway.  I enquired specifically about Walt Smith's LR, and apparently that is where my Rock is coming from, via TMC. Thanks for the tip. <Ah good... Good folks, good rock> Well, you may not remember my system but, basically it is 120 gals, 84" x 18" x 18", and is being converted to a FOWLR set up. I am hoping to achieve a system where nitrates will be less than 5 or 10 ppm, with 15% water changes every 2 weeks. Well, my prized fish is an Emperor angel. I wouldn't part with it for the world. But I would dearly love to add some corals. Just a few ....... say about 5. The whole idea would to be give the tank a more natural look, and break down the bare look. I will be upgrading my lights to reef standard anyway for the benefit of the LR and viewing. It will either be MH or 6 NO output tubes running the length of the tank (well actually 12 x 4' tubes). < I might try a few soft corals to start, like a Sarcophyton/leather, Lemnalia...and see what happens... then maybe a hardy stony, like a Euphyllia... They live with these in the wild...> Could you recommend any corals in particular, which are unlikely to be molested by the Emperor ? He is well fed, and never appears to be interested in browsing on the rocks like the other fish do ....... he just waits for feeding time instead. It has been suggested that I get a couple of xenia colonies, the common type. The guy who said this reckons that in his tank he has to remove it regularly because it over grows the tank, and when his fish nibble at it, the tiny bits that break away form new colonies all over the place. This would be ideal, exactly what I am hoping for. Do you think this sounds likely to be possible in my tank. I would be happy to have 3 or 4 xenia colonies and a nice big leather coral. <I'd try the xenias later> The only reef eating fish I have is my Emperor angel. He is 4.5", and in the very early stages of changing. All the others are typical reef fish. Thanks for reading, Regards, Matt >> Be chatting, Bob Fenner

Deadly Leather Coral Bob--Another question regarding my finger leather coral that seems to attack anything I put near it. I've identified it as a Sinularia sp. It had seemed to mount an attack on the Goniopora, which we discussed earlier this week. I found this description of the finger leather coral on the Petwarehouse website: "Finger Leather coral is not normally considered a threat by hard corals and does not provoke an aggressive attack. Can usually be placed in proximity to other corals." <"...generally..."> I KNOW this is not the case! When I moved the Goniopora away from the Sinularia, it took the place of a moon coral near the top of the tank. I moved the moon coral over to the same side of the tank as the Sinularia. It was not as close to the leather as the Goniopora was. It was a good 8 inches away from the Sinularia laterally and several inches vertically below the base of the leather. For a couple of days, the leather behaved and stood up straight. When I got home from work tonight, the leather was "drooping" close to the moon coral--it's fingers were less than one inch from the top of the moon coral! The moon coral was closed up--so this leather was clearly mounting another "attack." I have since moved the moon coral back to its original location on the other side of the tank--which became available when the Goniopora went to the bottom of the tank--and the moon coral opened right back up shortly thereafter. <Yes.> Also, my pagoda coral, which has NEVER closed up since I've had it, had its polyps retracted tonight as well and looked irritated and was emitting slime around its edges. It's about 12 inches from the Sinularia and at the same height in the water column. Question--is this specimen too close to the Sinularia for long-term success with the pagoda? Or is it just upset at the moment because the Sinularia had been mounting another attack today and released toxins into the water? <Likely the latter... and/or a reaction in concert with other stinging-celled animals reactions/releases> I've read that Sinularia sp. will grow to 12 inches in captivity--this one started out about 5" tall and is now around 8" tall when fully extended. Another question--is there anything that can go within a foot of the Sinularia without causing it to go on another toxic rampage? Is there anything that is innocuous enough so as not to attract its "attention?" For now, it's got about 1/4 of the tank to itself, because anything that gets near it draws its wrath. However, that's a lot of space in a 115 for one specimen. <You likely have heard of, know that many folks suggest keeping Alcyonaceans (Soft Corals) and Scleractinians (Hard, Stony, "True" Corals) in separate systems, or not very many/much of the former with the latter, OR starting with very small specimens of the former, OR being very diligent on water changes, spacing, using chemical filtrants.... with mixing the two groups...> Thought you might find that description of this coral as misleading as it is interesting, and that these observations might make good material for the FAQs on leather corals. Thanks again! --James D <Well, actually... don't find the description "that" misleading. Do find your well-written, thought-out observations very worthwhile. Bob Fenner>

Soft coral questions Hi Bob, I have your book and it is one of my favorites. I have 3 reef tanks: 1 45 gal tank for crustaceans and Condy anemones (been running for 2 years), one 55 gal 3 mo old tank with assorted softies and one 55 gal tank that will be a frag tank. <Okay> My question is about the second tank listed. This tank is lit with four 65 watt PCs (two 8800 K ColorQuest and two Ultra Actinic). Its water quality stats are: temp 78 degrees pH 8.3 dKH 12 Ca 475 P 0 NO2 0 NO3 25 This tank houses an assortment of mushroom anemones, including Pleniastraea urvillei, Rhodactis sp., Ricordea, and Discosoma sp. I also have a pink star Sarcophyton and a pink rabbits foot (Lobophytum?).  <Perhaps> Nearly all corals have doubled in either size or number in the past month. This week the Lobophytum (which had grown a second "hand" and had increased the number of "fingers" from 24 to 37) is shredding at its base (below 2 attached Ricordea). I really don't want to lose this beautiful soft coral. Should I frag some of the fingers into the frag tank?  <Hmm, a tough call... I might do so.> Are the 2 attached Ricordea poisoning it and if so should I slice out the chunk where they are attached and move them to the frag tank, leaving the Lobophytum where it is?  <A likely scenario... or perhaps some of the other Corallimorphs influence... and another possibility... I'm more inclined to move, frag the Lobophytum> I read your mushroom faq page and am also wondering if the many mushrooms are too many for this size tank. (Total number of 'Shrooms: 24 Ricordea, 8 Pleniastraea, 12 Rhodactis, 33 Discosoma). <Yikes... yes... In places where this concentration of these species are found... not many other hard or soft corals about...> Enclosed are some pictures to help you get an idea about this tank. Thank you for your time! <You're welcome my friend. Bob Fenner> Peggy Drechsler, North Carolina

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