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FAQs about SPS Corals 1

Related Articles: SPS Corals, Acroporid Corals, Dyed Corals,

Related FAQs: SPS 2, SPS Identification, SPS Behavior, SPS Compatibility, SPS Selection, SPS Systems, SPS Lighting, SPS Feeding, SPS Disease, SPS Reproduction, Acroporid Corals, Agariciid Corals, Astrocoeniid CoralsMerulinid Corals, Pectiniid Corals, Pocilloporid Corals, Siderastreid CoralsStony Coral Behavior, Coral System Set-Up, Coral System Lighting, Stony Coral Identification, Stony Coral Selection, Coral PlacementFoods/Feeding/Nutrition, Disease/Health, Propagation, Growing Reef CoralsStony Coral Behavior,

Kalkwasser Automation...Coral Feeding - 12/28/05 Hey Crew, <<Hey Jennifer!>> Happy Holidays! <<And to you...>> My 50 Gallon SPS reef tank is doing well.  I dose B-Ionic 2 part   DAILY!!  I drip ESV Kalk nightly for evaporated water...  This has been becoming difficult, as I am a touring musician. <<Mmm, you could possibly get by on the drip only...and even do this "'round the clock"...thus eliminating the need to have to start the drip nightly.>> Should I get a reactor or Kalk reactor on such a small reef tank,   or can you suggest other options so as to minimize the daily   maintenance to the system??? <<Maintenance is part of the hobby.  Automation can be helpful to a point, but is no substitute for your own daily observation of the system to ensure all is well.  But saying that, if you have an automated top-off system you could easily add a Kalk-reactor to facilitate leaving the tank for a couple days at a time.  Anything more than a couple days and I suggest you find/orient someone to come check on the tank to perform necessary maintenance/feedings...or resetting that tripped breaker <grin>. >> Thanks for your time.  Also, SPS doing ok, but growing slowly.  I understand many factors are involved.  Besides water motion/quality, lighting, what else helps??  Feeding? <<Feeding is very important in my opinion.>> If I feed I get phosphates and brown stuff on the sand.  My Phosphates are generally around .03-.04... <<Don't be so afraid of a bit of algae that you are depriving your tank by not feeding.  There are measure you can take to limit this (all found on WWM) while still providing the nutritional requirements of your charges.  Very few, if any, corals are truly and completely autotrophic...SPS corals need to feed...>> Thanks! Jennifer  NYC <<Regards, EricR>> Re: Kalkwasser Automation...Coral Feeding - 12/29/05 Hey Eric. <<Hey Jenna>> Will my ALK go to high if I drip Kalk all day? <<Mmm, not so much a concern for Alkalinity as for pH...you will need to experiment/start out slow until you can determine the maximum you can drip without boosting your pH too high.>> If I do, do I still need to dose B Ionic? <<If you are performing frequent partial water changes (20% bi-weekly) I think you can do away with the supplements.>> What should I feed the SPS and clams? <<Do you have any fish?  One of the best foods for SPS corals in my opinion is the food you feed your fish...after it is processed by the fish.  I also like Cyclop-Eeze (the frozen offering), Selcon, and vitamin supplements (Boyd's is my fav), as well as the pack juices from the frozen cubed fish foods...though the latter is feared by some aquarists as rocket fuel for algae growth.  Another food which I have yet to try but hear very good things about are the oyster eggs offered by DT's.>> I have gotten so many answers to this question, but I trust you guys! <<We appreciate the vote of confidence!>> Thanks, Jenna <<Regards, EricR>>

SPS/Frags/Mother Colonies/Captive Generations…  10/6/05 Greetings Oh Great Fish God's, <Are you sure? I swear I caught my Sailfin mouthing off the other day…> Kudos for the exemplary work you guys and gals do on this site to provide the vast knowledge base that you do and for sharing your experiences with the rest of us wanabe reefers. It truly must be a thankless task. <It's not so bad.> Question: Is a frag a frag and will it always be a frag? <Not if it grows up, but I suppose there is a lot of gray area in there.> I now have 2, 80gal tanks that are brimming with assorted SPS corals and frags. I had initially purchased mother colonies and after some time I began to frag them. I am now at the point where I am fragging the frags into frags. <Awesome.> Although all of the frags and the frags of the frags are doing great but as they mature and grow they never seem to look like the mother colony in density, color, or number of appendages/bushiness.  <Well unless they are placed in the exact same conditions (noticed I said conditions not tank) a Frag will never grow up to look exactly like its mother.  There are so many factors playing into this, nutrients, water flow, light, relation to light, temperature of light among many others.>  What constitutes a mother colony? <In my opinion a colony large enough to be fragged itself.> Size, age, it's density? <Probably all of the above.> Or, must a mother colony come from the wild where it has been naturally reproduced.  <Not in my opinion. I have a large Sinularia that I consider to be a mother colony. It was purchased over 5 years ago as a captive propagated frag and is now a monstrous size. I now make frags from it, so I consider it to be a mother colony. Honestly though this can be relative, I suppose some say a true "mother" colony must come from the wild.> Can a frag or a fragged frag or a frag from a fragged frag ever become a mother colony or is it doomed to a life of being just a simple frag?  <Jeez say that last sentence 5 times fast. Like I said in my opinion if a frag has multiplied its original size significantly and has thrived for a decent amount of time. If it is now large enough to make frags without significantly reducing the colony, then I consider it to be a mother colony.  Of course I will say that most of these questions seem to be relative or up to opinion.> As mother colonies are fragged, and then the frags fragged, is there anything lost in the genetics from the mother colony as to the number of times it is fragged and re-fragged? <For the most part frags are exact duplicates. Remember an Acropora species of different color/shape/density can be the same species. That's why some of them are so hard to identify.> Or would this ultimately lead to healthier tank/captive raised specimen? <Yes consecutive generations of captive propagated corals generally adapt a lot easier to changes and captive life in general in comparison to their wild counterparts. I would much rather purchase a captive propagated coral over a wild specimen any day of the week.> Tanks in advance, <No trouble, try not to over think or put labels on your specimens, the fact that they are thriving and producing children should be good enough. Have fun with it. Remember that most of these labels we use including LPS and SPS are not scientific, they are hobby generated.> Gary <Adam Jackson.> The Great White North    <The Great Southwest?>

Bleaching SPS 09/11/05 Hello, <<Hello Chris -  Ted here>> I was wondering if you might be able to help me out. I attached a few picks of one of my corals that is starting to bleach out. There is nothing around it that could be stinging it or anything. I have a 125 gal tank, 3 X 250W MH 14,000k, 2X 96W PC, all my other corals are doing fine including the few other Acro's I have. I only just started adding SPS to my tank in the last 6 months or so but the others are fine. This one was just added in the last 2 weeks or so and the bleaching started about a week after I added it. Any help would be greatly appreciated.<<Sorry to hear of your trouble. From the picture, it appears the coral in question is M. capricornis. Diagnosis from a picture is difficult. If the bleaching is on one side and is spreading out, it may be STN/RTN. If the bleaching spreads in patches, it may be a Montipora nudibranch infestation although nudibranchs can spread out from an initial infestation. I would monitor the water quality and run both carbon and PolyFilter while you deal with this problem. If it is STN/RTN, you can frag the coral to try to stop the spreading and save the coral. If it is nudibranchs, you will have to clean (read this find and kill) the nudibranchs from the coral religiously to beat this pest. Do check the underside of the colony if you suspect nudibranchs. If you have other Montipora sp. in the tank, the nudibranchs can and will spread. Please search WWM for "coral quarantine", "coral disease", "RTN", "STN" and "Montipora nudibranchs".>> Thanks Chris
<<Your welcome and good luck - Ted>>

SPS Bleaching part 2 9/19/05 Thanks for the advice.  When you say to reduce the light- would reducing the amount of time the lights are on work? This would be easier for me as my lighting is in a rather fixed position. <Shortening the photoperiod is one way to do this.  Newly introduced specimens can be acclimated to your very strong light by shading them with pieces of window screen or other shading material for a week or so.> I guess the second easiest thing to do would be to rearrange the reef, but I would rather reduce the lighting time if there is a chance that would work- also, by your description, it looks like bleaching is the culprit, not RTN. <This is good news!  Bleaching is much more recoverable than "RTN".  FWIW... I also ran 400w MH lamps for a while, and had problems with quite a few corals bleaching.  It is simply too much light for many corals, even "SPS".  Acclimating the corals slowly to the light and perhaps shortening the photoperiod will help.  Best Regards.  AdamC.> Corals out of water - 9/14/05 Hi Mr. Fenner! <Paul here to help> Thanks for the last reply! I only forgot to ask about SPS and the water line. I know one should initially place corals 4" below surface and that is what I did. My Pocillopora is now noticeably growing. When I do my weekly water change it gets very close to the lowered water line. Within months I wont be able to do water changes without having part of the coral emerged. So is it bad to have a SPS coral (Pocillopora and Montipora species) partly out of the water for (at the worse) 30 minutes each week? <OK. Well, I have the exact same issue with the exact same corals. The short answer is for a short time, I would say I haven't experienced any issues with bleaching or color problems or anything of that nature. Any longer than that though, I would have to think you might see some issues. Now all this depends on the water replacement, health of the coral, lights on or off etc. I use raw natural seawater from Monterey Bay, I feed my tank a mish mash of Mysid shrimp, Cyclop-eeze, enriched brine, and other stuff, and I do try to water changes with the lights on but not always. Of course there are many more factors that I am sure could be an issue and/or might affect the corals ability to be above water for a short time. For some corals in the surf zone this isn't an issue, but the corals you mention aren't technically surf zone corals. Try and see. Let me know what you find. ~Paul> Thanks again!!! Dominique

SPS Ques Good day Antoine or whoever is out there today! <James today, David> Hope you and the other guys and gals are fine and dandy? <As well as I can be> I have a couple of questions re location of SPS and proximity. My setup is a 120g tank (UK) 60x24x24 with 2 x 250W MH 10K bulbs and a couple of 30W Actinic and a 3-4" DSB, underneath an 80G sump with combined 30G fuge. Combined due to space constraints and the wife;) <I looked up "wife" in my glossary of terms and couldn't find anything so we can eliminate that problem:):)> I am planning on adding some SPS to my tank in the next couple of months likely Acropora sp, Montipora sp and maybe another type of SPS, yet to decide maybe Porites sp or Pocillopora sp. Do you reckon these guys should be placed in the top third of the tank with my current setup? <Yes, with the lighting you have> Would 9 to 12" apart be a good start for separation? <Depends how large they are.  Allow room for sweeper tentacles so they don't touch other corals.> Finally how many of each if I have three of the above would be a good number or should I just stick to one of each? <I'd start slow, see how things go as these are a little more difficult to keep than most corals.> I do have your book of Coral Prop, and I am slowly getting through it. That's all, must go and dry off, not because the UK is wet but because I have just tipped a full cup of coffee over my desk and laptop. <As long as it wasn't your lap.  Dave, you might want to check out  Anthony Calfo/Bob Fenner's book on Reef Invertebrates.  Very informative.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks in advance, DaveG <You're welcome> SPS RTN !!! <?> 8/9/05 Hi Crew, <Ramy> Great site indeed, up-to-date info for sure !! I have purchased an Acropora frag a couple of weeks ago and the base was kind of white, or missing any colouration. <Typical...> After 3 weeks, the size of the white part is still the same, meanwhile, the rest of the frag is very healthy and shows very nice polyp extension. <Good> My question is, is there any chance that this unhealthy part can spread or do you think that it will recover. I have very good lighting, excellent water circulation and all the other corals are doing just fine. Is it true that RTN can spread over a few days and kill the whole piece ? Thank you. <... this whitish area is not likely RTN, but just resultant die-off from the actual fragmentation process... RTN can indeed spread rapidly... I would not worry here. Bob Fenner>

SPS Corals Turned Brown - 05/17/05 Hi, I'm Bill. <Hi, I'm Eric!> I'm relatively new to coral reef aquariums. I've had much good luck with my two 50 gal tanks. One thing that I'm noticing is that the brightly colored corals turn brown or darken relatively quickly after introducing them to my aquarium(s). <Not uncommon.> I have some idea that this has to be a lighting issue. <Possibly...likely a response to a lack of acclimation to the lighting...but other factors are probably contributing as well.> I have a 250 watt 14k metal halide that I thought would brighten ...or at least retain these colors. <This color temperature is very popular due to its blue appearance though my preference is for something closer to the 10K range, especially for shallow (relatively speaking) water SPS corals.> The lights are on from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm ...too much? <Nope probably fine, ...Although I would actually recommend increasing the photo-period by an hour a week until you reach the 12 hr. range which more closely replicates the tropics.> I'm hesitant to decrease the amount of light out of fear that the corals will not receive enough light. <Agreed.> All other water parameters quality are constantly monitored and kept well within range. <Curiously enough, letting your nitrates rise to around 5ppm can actually help/increase coral coloration.> Thanks for any help you could suggest. <Bill, coral coloration is a result of many factors, not just lighting. Do take a look at your water flow and feeding practices. Strive for an absolute minimum of 10x tank volume for water flow (more is better), and be sure to feed those fishes well. SPS corals are voracious predators and need to feed. And one of the very best coral foods is what is processed by your fish!> Bill <Regards, Eric R.> SPS and ich Hi Bob, <Ramy> I always quarantine any new fish before introducing it to my reef tank. My dealer has a closed system where he keeps SPS and fish. Some of his fish show some ich, so how can I prevent transmitting ich when buying corals from the same water that has the parasite ??? <Run them through a prophylactic dip/bath as proscribed for both groups, on WWM... and the quarantine period... Bob Fenner> 

Lighting Hi <Hello DW> You guys are providing a great service to the aquatic community. <Much appreciated> I am confused on some lighting issues.  My tank is 96x24wx26h for 240g with a  center bar.  I will keep only SPS and clams.  They will be placed at  all levels. I have noticed a trend in your recommendations toward  higher wattage for SPS corals.  My choices are 4x400w, 6x250w, or 4x250w MH  in the range of 14K.  I will not use actinics.  The ballasts will be  IceCap. <For clams and SPS corals, I would go with the 6x250.  This will give you a little over six watts per gallon, and that should be great for your clams/SPS's.  James (Salty Dog)> Thank you for the help. <You're welcome> DW

Lighting An SPS System Hey WWM, <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> You guys have been so helpful in the past I thought I would run this all by you since I am getting mixed stories everywhere I go. I am in the process of constructing my new 40G reef tank. I am just finishing my making my Canopy which is about 10" tall off the top of the tank so lighting would sit roughly 10-12" from the water surface. I would like to be able to house SPS corals/Clams as well as softies and anemones and instead of the just surviving really thrive. Most people have told me the only way to house these type of creatures would be with a MH fixture, some telling me 2 175 MHs, I personally saw the 2 MH fixture as overkill being as the tank is only 36" long. <Well, it's more a function of what types of animals you intend to keep, and the depth of the water. I would not discount the need for metal halides with many SPS corals. It may not be a bad idea to use double-ended HQI bulbs in the 150 watt size. Good "bang for the buck" in terms of energy consumption and lighting capability. Sure, you could perhaps use T5 fluorescents or VHOs, but I think the efficiency of halides makes 'em hard to beat, IMO.> What would be the best route for these creatures to really thrive.? <Again, I'd consider the double-ended bulbs as mentioned above.> I had thought that one 175 W MH in the middle of the canopy would be ample, wasn't even going to supplement actinics, as from what I have read is a more cosmetic thing than beneficial. <That's my personal opinion, too. Besides, some of the metal halide bulbs available now days are especially attractive on their own, such as the 14,000k bulbs manufactured by companies like Hamilton, Phoenix, and Aquaconnect> Please provide me on what you feel would be the best route, thanks much. James <Well, James- you have my take on it. Do consider the need to properly ventilate your system and replace evaporated water caused by heat of these high-intensity bulbs. Also, remember that animals will still require acclimation to new lighting regimes. Do a little research out on the web, talk to some fellow hobbyists, and make the decision based upon your animals' needs. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>  SPS Lighting I realize you folks must deal with a ton of questions pertaining to lighting a reef and, of course, here is another one. I have four 175 watt metal halides over my 46 bowfront, 36 inches by 15 inches. Presently I am using two Sun Aquatics 10K and two Sunbursts 12K, however, I read somewhere the idea of mixing much different lamp types to cover as much of the spectrum as possible. My question is whether you feel the 10K with two XM 20K will allow for best coral growth and coloration on SPS? Thank you for your time and the wealth of knowledge that you so freely give. Matt >>>Hi Matt, It's really a matter of PAR more than Kelvin to be honest. Having said that, I see better color rendition the closer you get to 20K. The down side is that you get less PAR with 20K bulbs sometimes. Given your situation, I would run 2 and 2 as you have suggested. :) I run two 250W 20K HQIs (similar to running 400 watt moguls) on my 150 and LOVE it. I'm done with 10K's, they look too yellow for my tastes after a while, and I'm not an SPS nut anymore. Good Luck! Jim<<<

SPS tank Hi there, <G'morning> I have a 72 gallon bowfront aquarium, 48" X 18" X 22", I currently have a CSL PC light, with 2 X 65 watt Actinics, and 2 X 65 watt 10,000K bulbs. What Lighting should I add to this tank to light it up so that I can keep SPS corals in it? <Mmmm... could just switch out the two actinics for two more 10k's...> I was thinking a pendant, would that work? <Could> Would it work "as is"? Currently what I have in the tank is a Sailfin tang, and 3 fire shrimp, these are all compatible, correct? <Should be> For filtration, I have a 30 gallon sump, with a skimmer, and I am going to try some Seagel filtration in there, have you used it before, does it work well? Thanks for having the great FAQ site. Thanks, Josh Breeds <Don't have experience with Seagel... Much more written/archived on these set-ups... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/index.htm - see under "Set-Up" the area labeled "Reef Systems"... and under "Corals..." the "Set-up" articles and Related FAQs. Bob Fenner>

SPS Lighting I have a 72'x28'x18' tank, planning to keep SPS .I already purchased 3 HQI MH ,Giessemann,250 watts, 20,000k. Do I still need Actinics or that will do the job? Their blue color is amazing though. Thanks. >>>Greetings, Great choice on the lights! The Giesseman fixtures are second to none. You never NEED actinics, and with your 20K bulbs I see no reason for them even if you like the "blue look". Your color rendition should be fantastic with this setup. Cheers Jim<<<

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 Geissmann, 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)> SPS Polyp extensions Hello: <Hi Brian, MacL here with you today.> I have a few questions I am hoping you can help me with.   First of all my tank: 265 gallon 3 175 20,000k MH's 4 96 watt PC's 2 actinic and 2 white light 100 gallon sump with a mega protein skimmer 30 gallon refug with 2 types of Caulerpa and a PC 7 power heads 500lbs live rock 3in aragonite 1/2hp chiller WATER 1.024 380 cal 10dkh alkalinity 0 nitrate 0 nitrite 0 ammonia Bionic and Kalk daily LOTS of tangs, fire shrimp, cleaners, hermits, emeralds, 3 red bubble anemone and more livestock all reef safe. I have 40-5- diff SPS colonies and frags. A few SPS frog spawn  brains etc. I have 2 softies one is huge but not waxy now. The bottom line is the SPS have not been in the tank long and I am getting little polyp extension. <Could be a few different things. Could be the spectrum of the lights, the depth of the tank and the positioning of the corals in the tank.  You don't say how tall your tank is nor do you say how deep the corals are positioned. The 175's may not be penetrating as deeply as you need in the water. I would also be a little concerned that your calcium is a bit low for SPS. How frequently do you do water changes? Good luck and let me know if we can help you in any other way.  You'll find numerous FAQs on the site about how to raise your calcium and keep your tank in ionic balance. MacL> Tank has only been up 4 months. Is there anything I can do to help.   Brian

Re: SPS Polyp extensions Thanks: <Hey Brian, MacL here again> The tank is 30 inches tall. Most of the SPS are within 12 inches of the surface. I am doing water changes every 3 weeks. I will check my calcium again to ensure accuracy and proceed with raising it. The big question I have had is that some of the colonies are doing fantastic and others are not. Any ideas why? <Could be a million different reasons, like the lighting they came from before they went into your tank, or some stress that they received, something in your tank eating on them,> Could this simply be due to the tank only being up for 4 months? I did allow it to cycle for 5 weeks before adding any livestock.  <A tank does take time to age and become stable and when its unstable its hard on corals. I didn't add any corals into my tank until it was over a year old because of that although I do know people who have been very successful with newer tanks but they constantly work to achieve that stability of calcium, ph and basics in the tanks.> Brian

SPS Corals I have a one hundred gallon (60"x18"x22") aquarium that turns over 24 times per hour w/out powerheads) and has about 720 watts of light (two 250w 10k metal halide w/ two 110 watt actinic VHO). I believe this to be sufficient for most SPS coral and am looking into purchasing some Acropora and Montipora. I am able to buy entire colonies (mostly from Bali) for wholesale which is about $15-45 for 6"+ colonies. <Truly great prices.> This seems very reasonable to me especially when 1-3" frags go for about the same. <There is perhaps a difference in the health and strength of the corals. Most frags are stronger than wild caught because they have adapted to tank conditions.>  My only concern is the quality of these "wild caught" colonies. I have no way of seeing before buying. The wholesaler that I will be dealing with receives an overnight delivery from Bali ever Wednesday and I would pick up the same day. What is you opinion on the matter? Should I order a couple and see the quality and perhaps go from their?...<I'm pretty cautious about things like this and I usually order one or two and then see what happens. I also recommend quarantine for any new additions before they go into your tank.> or should I speed more $$$ (because of shipping) and go with aquacultured frogs. <Most people have success doing a bit of both, but still quarantine.> Also how do aquacultured coral compare to "wild caught" when it comes to care, growth and overall color? <I think aquacultured do a bit better generally.> My last question concerns the corals that I currently have in my display. I have a some Ricordea, zoanthids, branching frogspawn, star polyp, and two Trachyphyllia. All are on the small size but I am wondering if I should remove the more aggressive corals (mainly the frogspawn) before adding any SPS corals. <I keep both LPS and SPS together without problems. Are you using a protein skimmer?> I should probably add that I will try to keep and Imperator and a Flame with any corals I have or may get. <That could be a problem, Imperator angels and flame too for that matter might pick at your corals>  I just remembered another question (sorry) I have read a lot of your FAQ pages and have seen replays saying that sand shifter stars and hermit crabs are not always recommended. <Sand sifters can eat the majority of pods in the sand which most people find beneficial to their tank. Hermits are known to pick at corals and sometimes other invertebrates.>  What is wrong with these critter and what could go in there place besides more fish? <shrimps, narcissus snails and conchs usually.> I have 3 sand shifting stars and about 125 sm. hermits. Thank you very much for all you time and info, Andy <Good luck Andy, sounds like you are on the right track, MacL> Wants to get it Bigger Hi guys. <How goes it, Michael here this evening> I'm hoping you can help me out. <Try my best>  Here's a quick tank profile: 90g/20gsump/20gref 2x250w 10k MH 1.025sg 79F. <So far so good> I'm in college, so most of my stuff is diy. <I think we're all poor as students :|> Here is my problem: I have been keeping my tank for 2 years now, 1 year in a 55g before I had to move, which I will have to do again this summer (not far- not that that means it wasn't a pain in the ass the first time). I only lost one snail during that move! <Nice>  Anyway, I have been keeping a little of everything, but few SPS. I have had good success with almost every coral I have purchased, and I even had a frogspawn return from a skeleton that had been dead for six months. <Have to love corals' recuperative powers in a healthy system>  I only have a few (8, mostly small) fish. Salinity and temperature are kept almost perfectly constant. My fish seem happy and soft corals, mushrooms and polyps reproduce fairly rapidly. I even have a neat pink sponge that has covered almost all of the undersides of my LR. I also have 3 clams- I have had my squamosa for about a year. <Are they all Squamosas?>  Anyway, things seem to be right, but the growth of my coral (mainly SPS) seems to be dramatically slow. I have a brown Acropora frag that I have had for over a year, and it has grown maybe a few millimeters. sad, huh? It's stuck out its polyps every single day and appears healthy, but there is little growth or encrustation at all, with some bottom-up recession. <When a coral appears healthy and extends polyps as usual, but doesn't actually grow much, something is deficient. Probably not enough food or not enough light. Acroporas are very light hungry corals (for the most part, there are many species in the Acroporidae genus), much more so than your mushrooms, as these species are separated by at least 60' of water in the wild>  I have a purple tortuosa frag that I have had for maybe six months- it hasn't receded, but the growth is almost nonexistent- definitely unlike the time lapse sequences of acros that I have seen. I have been using tech cb for quite some time almost everyday as well as Lugol's and I infrequently (~once a week) add other stuff like magnesium, trace elements, strontium etc in small quantities. I add a little plankton or black powder twice a week or so. Recently I purchased a ph probe to see if that was where my problem was. It was around 8.0 during the day, but I have brought that up by drip dosing Kalk steadily to around 8.2/8.3 and I'm shooting for 8.4. Sorry about how lengthy this is. Should I be adding more calcium/buffer or feeding much more plankton? <Well, your calcium levels should be around ~400 ppm if not closer to 450. Acroporas are very calcium needy, being stony corals. As for plankton, it will do them absolutely no good. If you've only been feeding plankton, this is probably why you're not seeing any growth, as they're slowly starving. Acropora sp. are very hungry, and need zooplankton to survive and flourish>  I thought that most of the corals were predominantly autotrophic. <Not nearly, they most definitely need feeding>  I am keeping the SPS frags in the highest flow areas of the tank. <Probably a good idea, but really depends upon the subspecies>  I have an orange capricornis frag that is very healthy looking and has shown decent growth (~1.5" in 5 months):(. Also, I have had various xenia colonies, which in my tank seem to move very rapidly across the rockscape (with little growth) and then they either stay the same size and look good or wilt. I know I'm doing something right because I have had my mandarin for 1.5 years and a leopard wrasse for one, a colt coral that I grew from a small piece and now have to prune, and my tank is pretty cool looking (but I have nightmares about some aquarium hotshot coming in and catching all of the problems I know I have). If you need anymore info, just write me back. I want a COLONY, not a one year old frag. thanks so much, Hunter Leber <What all are you feeding? What is your current lighting? A bit more info might help us get to the bottom of this. M. Maddox>

SPS Eye For The Soft Coral Guy... Hi gang, well after reading your new book along with many other nights on your site I set up a 30 gal 'fuge for my 120 reef ( the tank is over a year old), and at the same time I introduced a Korallin reactor as well, all of which occurred in the last 6 weeks or so. <Excellent steps! I'll bet you'll see some neat changes in your system as a result!> I never had any luck with adding all those chemicals to the tank and wanted to set up the tank so that it is a little more autonomous.  The 'fuge siphons off the top of the tank and then drains back into the sump with no pumps involved, and it contains a DSB with some thriving algae in there. By the way, it is bug city in there. <Excellent! Sounds like the key to diversity in your system...> The tank houses about 9 fish and only soft corals, so no real big calcium consumers there.  The Acropora that I did put in there is now peeling away after a few weeks.  All of my levels look good except for phosphates which I am in the middle of taking care of right now with a poly pad as well as phosphate sponge, nothing too high. <Bummer. The best advice would be to avoid mixing SPS with soft corals, due to allelopathic compounds released by the softies. According to Borneman, in his book "Aquarium Corals", certain soft corals are specifically "toxic" to Acropora species. It is possible, though not recommended, to maintain these types of corals in the same system, provided that you make liberal use of activated carbon, Poly Filter, and water changes...All this presumes that other parameters are acceptable for SPS corals, too, of course!> The real problem is my dKH, it is way way high, over 16.  I am using a Salifert test kit and it takes approximately 1.5 syringes for the color to change in the test vial.  It has been there for a while.  When I first noticed it I read about someone with the similar problem and they were instructed to back off on the Co2 in the reactor, so I followed that advice and did the same. <Good idea> By the way, Calcium is around 300. <I would think that it will rise a bit if the alkalinity drops somewhat...> Anyway, I took the reactor off line for about 10 days and did a few water changes in between and still no real results with getting that down to an acceptable level. <Give it time...Also- do verify your test results with a different test kit...Perhaps your reagents have expired, or- maybe your source water is unusually high in alkalinity...?> I have never had luck with hard corals and would really like to start growing some.  What could I do to get this back in line?  Water changes do not seem to be helping.   <Well, once again, I'd start by verifying test results, continuing water changes, and testing source water...> Also, I was thinking of making a surge device, is the Carlson your favorite? <It's a pretty cool thing to see...Not always practical (or quiet!) for everyone- but it really works! A friend of mine built one out of boredom (?!?) one weekend, and we checked it out on his outdoor propagation tank...WOW!> Thanks, Sean <My pleasure, Sean! Hang in there! Regards, Scott F>

Grape Caulerpa stunting SPS growth? 12/14/3 Having ruled out all other causes for my stunted SPS growth (it's not calcium, for example, the levels are high and Halimeda and coralline algae grow fine;  I also have high current and high light), I'm beginning to think it's the Caulerpa.  do you think that it's likely or probable that my Caulerpa is killing my SPS and other corals? <FWIW... inadequate water flow (not enough or not enough of the right kind) is surely one of the most common reasons for poor coral growth. With that said, and in address of your concern regarding the macroalgae, "grape" Caulerpa racemosa, is arguably the most noxious among an already exceptionally noxious group (The genus Caulerpa). It has been documented to kill fishes and urchins that consume it to excess... and it has also been shown to inhibit coral growth (albeit like many other macroalgae). Above all... it is not natural to keep or find with Acroporids. I sincerely believe that your tank will benefit by reducing excess amounts of this algae/genus (no need to completely rid). Heavier use of carbon and increased water changes will also be helpful here. Best regards, Anthony>

The Quest For Frags... Who would you recommend as a source for SPS corals and other inverts to a person in Central California? I'd be willing to travel a couple hundred miles if necessary or mail order of course. Your sponsors that seem the best are wholesale only, or am I mistaken? All LFS are weak around here and clubs or other swapping opportunities are very limited or non-existent. Thanks, George. <Well, George, you have several possibilities to obtain quality specimens. First, you could try two of our sponsors, Live Aquaria (Drs. Fosters & Smith), or Marine Center. Both are dependable, well-regarded sources of quality livestock. You can also check out our Wetwebmedia Forum, where you could post to see if anyone has some captive-propagated frags available for sale or trade, or you could check out FRAGexchange.com, a website devoted to coral trading/selling by reef hobbyists. If you REALLY are willing to do some driving, there are excellent aquarium clubs in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Orange County. Probably more convenient to try the internet-available resources first. Good luck- enjoy the search! Regards, Scott F>

Color of SPS Corals - 8/29/03 This message is for Anthony Calfo <howdy> Anthony, first off thank you for all your prior help in my 75 reef.  It is  doing better today than ever largely due to your help.   I also have just purchased your book on Coral Propagation and an getting a lot out of it. <thanks kindly my friend> Setup: My current lighting is 2 URI 50/50 VHOs and 2 full actinic (440 Watts) + I added 2 96Watt Power compacts one each about 6 weeks ago (added one and waited 3 weeks for the other).  My alk I keep around 10DKH and Calcium around 350 using limewater dripped nightly.   <excellent numbers... keep steady and you do not have to worry about going higher. Or if you want Ca higher... let the ALK fall to 8-10 dKH> I also have to add about 1 teaspoon a day of Baking soda and about 15milliters of Sea Chem Reef Complete (3 cap fulls) to keep these levels with my current coral growth.   I am going to try your method of Kalk dosing you mention in your book.  I am also feeding the fish and corals  more now (your prior recommendations). <sweet> My question concerns the colors of my SPS corals in my mixed reef.  I am starting to get really nice looking purple and orange colors out of my Acros and my Montipora digitata.  However, some of my green Acros and Monti's are still not dark and vibrant as they should be.  (My friend,  the Halide nut,  wants me to go to HQI halides.  He has much nicer green colors then I do but my purples are better than his).  Does the green colors require more intense lighting or is it something else? <your friend is clearly mistaken... or at least missing the big picture. Cnidarian pigments are as heavily influenced by feeding levels and water clarity as they are the nature of light. Many factors here... with nitrate levels (zero is not good... allow a few ppm to linger) and UV penetration (not MH vs. PC... but glass canopy or no, being the issue here). That said... double ended HQI halides are excellent lamps. My current fave> Thanks again for your help. P.S. one note out of your book.  You mention coralline bleaching right at a water line when doing water changes.  I used to have a big problem with this until I turned off my fans during the change.   The coralline does not seem to die off any more.  I always thought the bleaching was due to the intense evaporative cooling with the fans on. <it really is a coincidence in your case... do consider that every piece of live rock imported is out of water for a minimum of 4-7 days dry on import. The reality of the industry is that unless you live in Los Angeles/port of entry... your rock was out of water for 7-14 days on import. Air exposure is not an issue here bub. By chance do your lights turn off with the fans? 'Tis light exposure then> Anyway, I really like the book and hope for a "part-two". Andrew <thanks kindly <G>... am penning the "Reef Fishes" volume of our new NMA series as we speak <G> Anthony>

Color of SPS Corals II - 8/29/03 Anthony, thanks for the quick response.    <always welcome> I am not sure I fully understand your answer.  "and UV penetration (not MH vs. PC... but glass canopy or no, being the issue here). That said... double ended HQI halides are excellent lamps. My current fave>"     <my apologies... to be clearer, coral coloration in some cases is a matter of UV exposure and not a matter of a specific type of bulb. No one bulb (not even HQIs ;) ]  can keep all corals in optimal color because some natural pigments are stimulated by UV (producing attractive colored proteins produced to reflect/refract it) while other corals are influenced unfavorably by it. You could have the "perfect" lamp, if such a thing existed, but with a glass or acrylic lens, your corals may not get the light they really need (for other corals... the lens is necessary to prevent excess exposure). Point being.., lenses clean... lenses dirty... lenses off and lenses on can all effect coral coloration. So can proper use of carbon (weekly/daily) to maintain water clarity or not. Coral colors simply are not only about lamp choice. And so... experimentation will be necessary> I did forget to tell you my tank is acrylic.  I do keep the top very clean though.   <yes... critical> Would you say the green digita may not be getting enough UV?   <I could not possibly say for certain... even if we could confirm the ID correctly, some specimens/colonies come from vastly distant areas of a reef and have evolved to need different light qualities> I am trying to feed more and like I said, my purple corals are really starting to color up but the greens are not dark enough.   <indeed... the feeding is crucial for maintaining coral coloration. And like the water clarity issues above, it is a double edged sword. Excess nitrate/feeding can over fertilize corals, so to speak, and cause an unattractive darkening (often brown). Experimentation> You are correct about the nitrates.  My tank do not register any with my kit (Salifert). <If your nitrates are truly zero... then do allow them to creep a bit (keep under 5 ppm though). I must say, however, that I am not impressed with Salifert test kits based on consumer feedback I hear> Also, I am considering metal halides for an upgrade when all my bulbs reach the 6 month point.   For my 75 reef considering it is acrylic, I am thinking of going to 2 175 watt Ushio metal halides and run two full actinic VHOs with my old Ice Cap ballast (going forward 4 bulbs to replace instead of 6).  Would that help "punch more light" to the corals and help with color?   <most definitely... a nice combination> It is less total watts than I have now but I feel the halides might be better here.   <correct... better penetration at depth> Also, would you recommend a different setup with an HQI halide setup with 2 150s or 250s?   <i cannot say without a list of species. We must [pick our species and identify their needs before selecting lights> I was worried about to much light and heat as I really do not want to over do it (heat is a concern as I do not want a chiller). Thanks again. Andrew <no worries... 150  watt HQIs at 6" off the water or 175 watt Ushios at 9 inches of the water will be nice either way, to generalize. Be sure to keep those fluorescents no farther than 3" off the surface though. Best regards, Anthony>

SPS Polyp Question - 8/20/03 Howdy Guys and Gals and anything else... <whassup :)> I have a quick question about Acropora frags.  I have a few types of Acro. frags as well as 1 small Acro colony.  They tend to extend their polyps only in the evening, which I read is normal. <indeed... they feed on micro/nano zooplankton and 'tis the time such matter comes out to play> Is there a way to have them extend during the day?   <tweaking water flow can help... but a timed refugium (cycling with display on a dedicated loop only by day and then simply circulated and batch treating water by night) would do the trick. We talk about such aspects at great length (more than any other book to date) in our new work "Reef Invertebrates" (Calfo/Fenner)> The PH is about 8.44 in the day and around 8.19 or so in the evening.  Is this too much of a fluctuation?   <slightly so yes... but has little to do with polyps extension> Should the daytime be higher than 8.4?   <I suggest a night/day range of 8.3-8.6 with a fluctuation of not more than .2 within it> My 90G tank has about 1900GPH of flow, <excellent> none of the frags are receiving any direct flow from the returns.   <as it should be> Calcium is around 400, dKH 9.  No ammonia, nitrites, or detectable nitrates. <all fine except the nitrates. SPS and most corals in captivity need a small amount (a few ppm) of nitrate to feed on - they will starve slowly without it. Color is affected too. European aquarists have taken to adding a sodium nitrate solution (.1% Knop) to nitrate starved tanks> The 1 colony I would have its polyps out for the first few weeks it arrived, but it does not anymore.  They all seem to be growing fine as well.  I have never seen any of the fish bother them, but then again, who knows what goes on when I am at work! Thanks, Paul <maybe they are bashful. Or instead... perhaps they are modest - you haven't been walking around the house buck nekid have you? You may have embarrassed them. SPS have delicate sensibilities. best regards, Anthony>

SPS Polyp Question II - 8/20/03 As always, thank you for the reply Anthony.   <very welcome, mate> I do have the Reef Invertebrates book, excellent.  Kudos to you and Bob and the rest of the contributors.   <ahhh... thanks kindly <G>> I have been wanting a refugium but have not had the luxury of space based on the location of the tank.  BUT, now that we are doing a house remodel/addition, I will be adding a "fish room". <outstanding :) > The tank will be in the wall on one end, in the fish room on the other.  That will give me the needed space to add, or should I say "hide from public view" an upstream refugium, not sure what "flavor" though.   <no need to hide it bub... can certainly be groomed and made very attractive with various colored macros and a lone mangrove growing uniquely out of it with its own spot/track light <G>> Anyways, in my previous email, you mentioned trying to maintain an 8.3 - 8.6 range for my PH as opposed to my 8.19 - 8.45 range.  How do I go about achieving this higher range, without a refugium at this point?  As a note, I do the "slurry" in the morning, usually raising PH from 8.19 to about 8.39.  Four hours later when the lights come on, it climbs to its high point.   <many folk have a problem with poor gas exchange in the well-insulated and sealed homes of summer (and winter) which depresses pH. Check this first by aerating a glass of water vigorously outside or in the garage for 6-12 hours to see if the pH rises. It shouldn't... but I suspect yours will, indicating a problem with lingering CO2 in the aquarium. Much in the WWM archives on this topic> What kinda of problems could arise with my pH range?   <nothing immediate... just lack of vigor/growth... higher incidence of disease (especially with fishes)> I have been reading that SPS corals do need a bit of nitrate, I will need to get a better test kit then those little dip sticks to make sure my results are valid.   <heehee... I'm not sure if you are joking or not about the test strips. If serious, do take my word that they are categorically unreliable. Not recommended IMO> Is there problems adding a sodium nitrate solution?   <no really... like anything else (Ozone, iodine, fish food for that matter) it can be abused or it can be helpful. > I thought I read somewhere this could be difficult or problematic?   <only if misapplied> And finally, I don't think the corals are modest about my buck nekkid walks, (doesn't everyone do this) they are just jealous when they see such a fine specimen of man... or maybe not!!   <I'm not touching this one with a ten foot fishing pole> Wow, this will really sound strange without the context of the previous email. <heehee... lets hope they get archived next to each other <G> Thanks again and best wishes, Paul <and to you in kind, my friend. Anthony>

Lighting on a 125 and SPS color 3/13/03 hello there- <Howdy!> I have a 125 gallon AGA aquarium.  The tank is filled with LPSs and soft corals on the lower half of the tank and SPS corals towards the upper half of the tank. The lighting is 3-175 watt Aqualine 10K bulbs with 4-96 watt power compact actinics.  I currently have the bulbs oriented parallel to the tank with flat reflectors.  I am looking to get more light out of my bulbs and want to purchase PFO optimal reflectors (similar to the spider reflectors- parabolic spectral reflectors).  Do you recommend switching to these reflectors?  I have read good reports of them on the website.   <If they are similar to the spider reflectors, they will be very fine> The reflectors are designed to be mounted perpendicular to the tank.   <indeed... MH lamps should be this way... amazing but true> If I mount the halide bulbs perpendicular to the tank, because of my hood configuration (front 1/3 flips up) I would have to have all 4 power compact actinics in the front.  Would this be a problem? <I don't think the pc.s are contributing much beyond aesthetics here (lack of ability to penetrate water at depth)... no worries> I currently have 2 in front of the halides and 2 in back of the halides.  I am worried that if all the actinics are the front, my SPS, which are primarily at the back, will loose even more color than they have.  To my next question, what factors affect the coloration of SPS corals?   <coral pigmentation is not clearly understood and the factors that influence that we do know would take pages to recite to you. Just a few: water clarity (yellowing agents), food sources (nitrogen), proteins that reflect weak light into a coral... and proteins that refract bright/excess light away from a coral, water depth...> I have lost some color in my stonies since putting them in.   <frankly... we see this all the time with aquarists that mix LPS, SPS and softies in one tank. Most aquarists can run a tank like this for a year or two... but in time, the unnatural mix (different needs of corals from a wide range of reef niches plus unnatural chemical aggression) catches up and the problems begin. My advice is to focus on only one group of corals > A pink Acropora has turned more of a brown pink, the purple coloration is not as vibrant, and the yellows are not as vibrant.  Is this due to needing more actinics?   <not likely... high DOC or nitrate levels however are a common cause (organic fertilizer for the brown symbiotic algae)> Is this due to the Kelvin rating of the metal halides(10k)?   <if your bulbs are less than 2 years old, the lamps and lenses are clean (no dust/debris) and your water is clear (weekly carbon or use of ozone)... then I don't believe the lights are a problem here. AB brand 10K;s are excellent lamps> Is this due to calcium/alkalinity issues?   <not an issue, my friend. Do check water chemistry and clarity first> Thank you for your help and time. Josh <best regards, Anthony>

SPS frags  3/8/03 Would it be possible if someone on your end could post for me? I am in desperate NEED of any Acropora/Montipora - SPS frags and no one around here seems to carry them (just entire colonies for $80 or so) and all i really need are a few tiny frags. I'd love to be above to trade but don't have anything to trade yet. I'm looking for anything in the pink, purple, blue family of colors...   1-3" frags would be awesome. I live in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and would be willing to travel 40 min.s or so if anyone is local to me. thanks, Steve <do contact Rocky Herman at Coralfragz.com  He is a coral farmer in the Tampa area and he is connected with three aquarium societies in Florida where there are many members you could network with. Also, there are forums for this sort of trade/post on most of the big message boards for you to get interactive replies to a post you might make. Try reefcentral.com, Reefland.com, reefs.org, thesea.org... and our wetwebfotos.com Any of the previous outlets will likely put you in touch with someone nearby. Best regards, Anthony

Mini-brittles and SPS coral I've had an Acro that seems to be slowly bleaching. It's been confusing because none of the others have this problem, and the tank parameters are perfect. <perfect for what?> So I wrote it off as "one of those things". <OK> Then this weekend, the LFS, which has a rather large selection of Acro frags and colonies, cleaned out one of their Acro tanks almost completely, apparently chucking a large amount of stock. When I asked what had happened, they said they had tons of mini brittles in the tank, and had seen them going after and eating polyps on the acros. <what a load of crap. Ahhh...no. I assure you that no Ophiuroid starfish you and I will ever see eats healthy coral tissue> The infestation was so bad that they decided to chuck any pieces that had brittles hidden in them. <wow... amazing> And last night, I saw several mini brittles around the base of the withering Acro, and none on the other acros (yet). <no worries... you found treasure :) > I've decided to dump them, but is there any "good" way to get them out? <they are beneficial... do send a picture and I'll confirm> I can't take them out by hand, since they hide rather well. I've heard that a harlequin will eat them, and I don't have any other starfish right now - <huh?!?! Please... don't dare put a harlequin shrimp in this tank unless you plan to farm starfish for an endless supple of echinoid tube-feet> I originally had some green brittles, <they are the only predatory Ophiuroid in the trade and even they do not eat coral tissue> but caught one arching and eating a fish a few months back and got them out a few weeks ago; haven't replaced them with red or brown ones yet. I suppose I could get the harlequin, let it work for a few weeks, then get it out. <and send it where? Such behavior/buying decisions hurt are hobby by creating a demand for inappropriate livestock. Few people, like yourself, are prepared to keep such shrimp properly for a full captive lifespan.> Any other ideas? Thanks for any help...Arthur <no worries bud... the starfish are non-predatory. The worst thing you have to fear is that the LFS simply had sick coral. The stars were scavenging the dying tissue and the lack of QT for the new coral has infected you tank. Else, all will likely be fine. Do QT all livestock (plants, algae, live rock, sand, corals, etc) in the future to prevent these problems. Regards, Anthony>

SPS Frags Hello folk on plugs, a quick question if I may. My LFS has some nice SPS frags, but always attached to "plugs". <yes...very handy> I would rather have the frags unattached, as they are easier to place with glue onto some of the live rock in my tank. <fine if you prefer... but it really is a dreadful idea unless you have an enormous tank and/or space you corals glued with consideration for very long term growth. Most aquarists make the mistake of placing corals (glued or nor) within 10"of each other which causes problems with aggression in just a year or two. A very short plan/vision. And so... to prevent having sparse looking tank for that year or two... plugs placed in drilled holes in the rock or between the rocks allows for easy extraction later if fast growth demands it between competitive species> What is the best way to remove them - break/cut them, or attempt to file down the plug? <you can simply take a rotary blade tool (Dremel) or hack saw and separate the two if you like> I can't figure out how one could mount frags onto live rock if they are attached to a plug, unless one attempts to put them between rocks, or drills a hole in the rock. Thanks, Steve <best regards, Anthony>

Feeding SPS Hello WWM Crew, <cheers!> I am wondering if you can share your opinion on feeding SPS corals specifically Acro. Sp. and Monti. Sp. <not much "opinion" on the matter regarding to feed or not: they must feed! They are not even remotely autotrophic. Highly successful, albeit, symbiotically (zooxanthellate) but not fully autotrophic. Unfed animals starve to death in 10-18 months in most systems> Read several articles that champion either that its a must or nothing at all sans proper lighting and calcium. <no discussion here... the studies are redundant and reliable. They need fed, are observed feeding and have feeding structures. Form follows function. Our problem as aquarists is that they cannot be fed much or at all by target feeding for how small their polyps are. Cultured rotifers and very fresh live baby brine can feed some... most however need very fine zooplankton/nanoplankton. An upstream fishless refugium is recommended here> My attitude falls on the "must" side understanding that these are living creatures with the organs to "eat" like all of us. <yep!> Thus, I currently feed my SPS' with Marine Snow mixed with a liquefied blend of oysters, mussels, fish, and Selco twice a week. <hmmm... don't get me started about Marine Snow... just go read the product tests. And for the rest of the diet... a seriously nice thought... but more harm than good. Particle size is everything...and you can't produce nanoplankton with an electric blender. You are on the right track with the Selcon and the meaty fare though (no phyto for SPS)> But to be honest with you i feel this does nothing but pollute the water and cause hyper activity among the fish. <agreed> I don't see a feeding response from the said corals. I have read that SPS' don't really eat phytoplankton but prefer live zooplankton that is next to impossible to duplicate in the home environment; <yes... short of a large fishless refugium ( very helpful)> however I do have peppermint shrimp mating away with some crazy creatures growing in my refugium. Should i stop this ration to replace with a recommendation of your own;  stop feeding entirely; or continue? Greatly appreciated. Regards, D.M. <you are well read, intuitive and on the right track! Best regards, Anthony Calfo>

Mushrooms Bleaching/SPS Polyps Closed I am having some trouble with mushrooms bleaching in my 135g tank. Here are the tank parameters, and other than some minor fluctuations the parameters have been consistent for at least the past year; Size: 135 gallon Biological Filtration: 4-5" live sand bed, approx. 120 pounds of live rock and I am running a protein skimmer in the sump. Mechanical Filtration: N/A Chemical Filtration: N/A Lighting: 2 - 7500K 175W Metal Halides, 2 - 10K 55W Power Compacts, 2 - Actinic 55W Power Compacts (None of the bulbs are older than 6-8 months) Water Movement: 3 - Maxi Jet 1200, 1 - Rio 1400 all on a wave maker. Quiet One return from the sump. Temp: 78-80f Specific Gravity: 1.024 Calcium: 400-450 pH: 8-8.2 (Depends upon when I test but this is the range) Ammonia: 0 Nitrite: 0 Nitrate: 0 dKH: 10 Makeup Water: Aged Tap (I have a copy of the water report and the water looks pretty good but I will shortly be purchasing an RO/DI unit) Fish: Yellow Tang, White Cap Clownfish, Skunk Clownfish, Lawnmower Blenny, Coral Beauty, Yellow Watchman Inverts: Usual mix of snails/hermits, pistol shrimp Corals: Acropora, Montipora, Pocillopora, torch, hammer, Fungia, brain, colt, finger leather, cabbage leather, zoanthids, mushrooms I have encountered two problems in the past 2 months and I can't find a solution. All of the SPS corals show healthy growth, and no bleaching...but they do not appear to have the polyp extension they had a few months ago (especially the Montipora digitata). I have several different types of mushrooms throughout the tank, and recently they have begun indiscriminately bleaching. It is affecting them at different depths, different water flows, etc. One may bleach and die off but the ones surrounding it are fine. We moved the first week of July so I know some of the corals were stressed. But they have been open and healthy the first two months, and the SPS still show fine growth. Everything else in the tank is doing fine. What can I try next? Marc Daniels Elk Grove, CA <Hello Marc, the problem here is that SPS corals and mushrooms do not make good tank mates. The SPS require far more light that the mushrooms can handle for an extended period of time. What you are experiencing is photoinhibition. Photoinhibition is an individual specific occurrence, which will make it appear as if the mushrooms are bleaching at random. They usually tolerate it for 6-12 months before bleaching. Corallimorphs are collected typically 40-60 feet deep, some towards 79 where the light is a mere percent or two of that at the surface. I would try to get the mushrooms out of the sun and see if they do any better. Best Regards, Gage>

Re: Mushrooms Bleaching/SPS Polyps Closed Gage- Thanks for the info...I was concerned that it may have been the lighting, but they have been under the halides for quite a while and I had a hard time tying the two together. I'll move them into a different tank and see how they respond. I also found quite a bit of literature online regarding Photoinhibition in corals and have several hours reading ahead of me. Thanks again, Marc Daniels <Good stuff, any excuse to set up another tank is a good one in my mind. Glad we could help. Best of luck, Gage>

SPS Grow out Tank Hi Bob, Thanks for your guidance in the past, it is truly appreciated. I am setting up 29gal tank for use as an SPS grow out tank. I plan on purchasing frags, and smaller corals, letting them grow somewhat, then transferring them to my 75gal show tank (it gives me an excuse to have another tank!). <All sounds good> For lighting, I have purchased a 192watt PC unit, should give me plenty of light, and will use various powerheads for random circulation. My question concerns filtration. Is live rock needed in a tank with no fish (I would plan on some snails, etc. to control algae)? Do the corals alone need biological filtration? <LR a good idea, and biological filtration needed in all biological systems> I plan on utilizing an EHEIM 2213 canister filter I had left over from my freshwater tank days, for mechanical filtration. In the EHEIM, I was planning to run just the Ehfisynth and the Ehfifix, the fine and course media. <Add a pound or two of Ehfi-grob to the bottom, the ceramic macaroni bits...> With the amount of light I have (the tank is approx. 16 inches deep) the corals should be able to sit (most of the frags I've seen come attached to a piece of live rock) right in the sand. I was planning on some live rock, just for biological diversity , and because it looks good. But it is expensive. Would you still recommend it's use, and would you follow the 1.5 to 2lbs per gallon rule in this set-up? <Yes, recommended, and yes to the "rule of thumb". BTW, a friend is about to come out with his book on "frags and fragging"... Bob Fenner> Thanks again. Steve

Keeping SPS corals <Lorenzo Gonzalez here, standing in for Bob-on-Safari...> I'm having trouble maintaining SPS corals in my 40 gallon reef. Inevitably, they do well for about 10-14 days and then suddenly perish. I have several fish (tang, 2 Chromis, 2 clowns, Firefish, neon goby) and a variety of soft corals that all do well. 175W MH/2-32W power compact actinic, CPR BakPak, good water flow, 4 gallon water change once a week, Kalkwasser mix for top-off water, etc. I've tried Montipora, Acropora, Pocillopora... none have lasted. What can I do? <Were those captive cultured frags? Cultured frags are much more amenable to these typical captive/hobbyist conditions. Are you actually testing the calcium and alkalinity produced by your Kalkwasser routine? Your lighting sounds quite sufficient...> Too many fish? <Only if they mess up the water faster than 'the system' and your water changes can keep up... -Lorenzo> Thanks, Steve

Re: Keeping SPS corals Thanks for responding, Lorenzo... I've tried both "wild-caught" and captive cultured frags. Ironically, I have an Acro (maybe millepora?) in the tank right now... it's the only SPS left that hasn't "shed" all of it's color/polyps and gone bone white, and it's a wild-caught specimen. I've tested for calcium (>400), but not for alkalinity. If the calcium level is good, is it still possible that the alkalinity could be screwed up? and what would I do to fix it? (for the record, I have about a 3" bed of aragonite... I hoped this would provide for a satisfactory buffer...?)  <Nah, your alkalinity is probably fine. If your pH is totally stable/predictable, your alkalinity is typically not suspect...> Also, having a problem w/ the red/brown slime algae on the substrate and live rock, and green algae shows up on the front glass viewing panel like clockwork everyday. I do have good water flow and a CPR BakPak w/ a Rio 800, but neither of these efforts have kept the pest algae away. Any more thoughts? <I've had BGA/'red slime' choke out a couple of corals that I didn't keep a close enough eye on, particularly pipe organ, other 'reddish' corals. I assume you've tried all the usual remedies, i.e.. lighting (yours is more than sufficient), circulation, competition (Caulerpa is great for this), and finally RO water? -Lorenzo> Thanks, Steve

Acclimation of SPS corals Bob, I was wondering the standard for acclimating SPS corals (Acropora, birds nest). I keep reading that they need lots of light but to put them lower in the tank to start, is this correct? Do you acclimate corals of this nature just like you would a fish? Thanks, M.D. >> Wow, good questions... Yes, unless I knew for sure that the new SPS I was getting had been fully-exposed to strong lighting in the day to days ahead of my receiving them, I would start them deeper, or off to the sides of my lighting, especially if I were using metal halides. And no, I do get around the tropics quite a bit in the trade, advising (I guess this is an okay word, but it's more like helping, having dinner and diving parties...) friends/associates on acclimation/holding/shipping protocols. The current SOP for new SPS includes using water of a slightly lower spg (a few to several thousandths) of sea/freshwater (to facilitate infusion) that's been pH adjusted (generally just with sodium bicarb.), and a good dose of iodine (up to 0.10ppm) and some addition of hexose sugar (isn't this starting to sound like trauma medicine?)... and some folks throw in the added expense of Aminoplex soln. For ten, twelve minutes as a bath, then into quarantine or holding systems... Bob Fenner, who is telling

Question: Hi Bob, about a month ago you helped me out a lot with a question about my reef tank. I just wanted to say thanks, and... I have another question. I have a 60 gallon reef tank with 2 175w MH and two 55w PCs. I was under the impression that would be enough to sustain SPS corals. My SPS corals are alive and thriving but all have turned some form of brown. I have tried high placement as well as low placement but it doesn't seem to affect the coloring. I examined my MH bulbs and discovered that the are 175w 5500K bulbs. Could this be the reason that my SPS corals have turned into a fine golden brown? I would like to return them to their previous glory but I am stumped, any advice would be greatly appreciated. Bob's Answer: Hey Ian, thx for writing back, and glad to hear things are going better. Yes, a higher Kelvin temp. would help, but this may well not bring back the color in your impugned SPS', and their loss may well not have been related to lighting issues in the first place... A full answer must be very lengthy... but the handling and duration of transit of the animals before your procurement, their source (esp. depth), nutrient background (developmentally), and "disease" (i.e. trauma, infectious and parasitic) may have caused the animals to lose their zooxanthellae that produce/co-produce the apparent desired pigmentation.... Keep studying my friend... Take a look at the Aquarium Frontiers on line archives... much good input there that is not stated expressly, but deals with this issue.

Question: I have a 125 gallons reef with a 55 gal sump. There are approx. 30 different stony corals most being SPS. I use approx. 1.5 gallons of Kalkwasser daily with a calcium reactor for Ca and KH . My problem is that I am having a difficult time getting the Ca>360 or KH >9.6. All the rest of my parameters are good and the corals seem fine but not growing like I've head they should. The pH range is 8.1-8.45. Any suggestions would be appreciated. BTW love your column. Bob's Answer: Hey Mike, thx for the plug! IMO your parameters are fine (both are near ideal and closely mimic the range of what's found in "the wild"). Also IMO boosting or inducing artificially high growth rates is not altogether a positive experience. Such animals are unnaturally "soft" and seem less hardy than ones that are cultured near wild rates. My advice? I wouldn't change a thing that you've listed. You're doing mighty fine.

Question: I have a Table Acropora that is getting algae growth on the tips. I'm afraid it is going to get suffocated. Is there any way to clean it? I have placed it where it is in stronger current, but so far it looks the same. Any tips would be greatly appreciated. Bob's Answer: Rick, look to the possible cause(s) of a lack of metabolic competition with the algae (let's say, rather than means of chemically, physically or biologically removing it). Do you have sufficient light? How much of what sources? Can you add more, leave it on a bit longer? Raise the specimen toward the surface? How about the nutrient make-up of your water. Do you purposely add chemicals to your system? What on what basis and regimen? And a big "Sherlock Holmes" kind of clue-ing; what other organisms do you have that ARE doing well? Some current is of course desirable, but I doubt if this is the root problem.

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