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FAQs on Stinging-Celled Animal Systems

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

Related FAQs: Anemone Systems 1, Coral System Set-Up, Zoanthid System, Mushroom Systems, Soft Coral Systems, Cnidarians 1, Cnidarians 2, Cnidarian Identification, Cnidarian Behavior, Cnidarian Compatibility, Cnidarian Selection, Cnidarian Feeding, Cnidarian Disease, Cnidarian Reproduction, Acclimating Symbiotic Reef Invertebrates to Captive Lighting

With good circulation, careful maintenance, starting with small specimens... some cnidarians can be mixed.

Hi Bob,
            I have been re-aquascaping my aquarium recently; I really wanted to create a cave so the contrast between light and dark looked really dramatic. It looks good and allows the corals on top to get the best possible light from the halides. I was wondering if there is any corals that would thrive in the relatively low light space in the cave at the bottom of the aquarium as I thought it would look good if I could get a certain coral established, any suggestions?
Deanna White  

Hello Deanna! I do like your idea regarding contrast in aquarium areas'¦ I find that too consistent an illumination not only looks drab, providing an unnaturally bright landscape, but that this is hard on the life in the system; for the species that can choose to 'get out of the light'.
            And you are right in identifying 'corals', the disparate groups of stinging-celled life (Cnidarians) casually labelled as such, as being more or less light intensity liking. A good clue as to 'who goes where' can be had by examining a photo or video of a natural reef. You'll see that the principal families of reef-building, aka hermatypic' corals are the stony (Scleractinian) families of SPS, the Acroporidae, Pocilloporidae and Poritidae'¦ with more fleshy hard corals found in deeper, and generally less well-circulated habitats below.
            In practical terms, the groups of 'corals' called Polyps (Stoloniferans), Zoanthids (aka 'sea mats'), Mushrooms (Corallimorphs), and some of the soft corals particularly the Leathers (Alcyoniids), the Pulsing (Xeniids), and some of my favourite stony corals like the Plates (genus Fungia and Ctenactis, not Heliofungia) are good to great choices for lower spots and direct on-sand placement.
            If you'll allow, I would like to make a few general comments re the mixing of the phylum Cnidaria (the stinging-celled animals) life in hobbyist systems. A hodge-podge approach to stocking is not to be undertaken'¦ with all this life having potent offences and defences to ward off its neighbours'¦ It is only advisable to thoroughly study the life habits of all potential purchases ahead of their acquisition. Indeed, to develop a stocking plan (ask your stockist for help here, and keep a good list of what you already have, would like to add), that incorporates putting in the more sensitive, less noxious and stinging life ahead of more aggressive species. Do try to procure captive produced stocks (these are much tougher and resilient), and small specimens, and allow these to grow up together.
            Much, MUCH more could be stated re the above cautionary statements. I strongly advise that fellow hobbyists read books, magazines, attend hobby clubs and conferences'¦ generate a network of fellow aquarists for input in these matters.
Cheers, Bob Fenner

Are there any corals that can withstand 115 degrees Fahrenheit or 45 degrees Celsius?     5/24/13
I am from India. Here the problem is temperature and power cuts ( i am talking about 4 to 8 hrs).
<Ahh, do see last weeks Economist magazine... re your country... what might be done to improve so many people there's lots>
 You can run a fish only tank or even an anemone tank with the skimmer (but you can forget about the heavy wattage lights) in an inverter for so long. But there is no way you can run a chiller that long. So i was wondering are there beginner corals that can withstand this heat.
<None that I'm aware of... All cnidarians suffer heat stress in the high 80's F>
 Here they use diesel generators to power their chillers (which is viable for rich guys but at the price diesel is selling us moderate guys can't?). Since you have a very wide knowledge please reply?
<Mmm, I'd leave the lights off (and maybe the top of the aquarium!) during the day... only run them at night when it's cooler. Floating bags or containers of ice can help in short danger periods>>
P.s Temperature range 23 C to 45 C
<Yeeikes! Stay cool Ajeet. Bob Fenner>

Saltwater setups for coral, reef filtr.,    12/29/08 <Hello Melissa, Minh at your service.> I have a 125 gallon saltwater tank. We just recently started adding coral, the coral is not doing well at all. <What type of corals have you added?> We have put on a t5 H.O. lighting system. My nitrate level is around was 80 and but is now to 40. <Obviously, the nitrate reading is a cause for concern. What are your other water parameters?> We have a Fluval FX5 filtration system, but was just told not to run it because it is not good for saltwater tanks, because it does not create enough oxygen. <There are many successful saltwater systems utilizing canister filters, like the Fluval FX5. While the majority of these systems are "fish only" without more sensitive corals and invertebrates, the reason for this is not due to lack of oxygenation but rather efficiency.> I was told to either put in a wet/dry filter, refugium filter or none at all and to run my skimmer all the time. I have been pulled in so many directions by different people.....What filtration should I use? How can I keep my nitrate level down all the time? Is the canister filter that bad for saltwater tanks? <Water changes, live rock, live sand, chemical, granular activated carbon (GAC), mechanical (canister filters like the FX5), protein skimming and algae growing refugium are all viable

Temperature Questions, Marine 10/15/08 I was wondering what the "ideal" temperature ( in Fahrenheit/celcius) for a reef aquarium... i.e. do certain long polyp stony corals do better at lower temperatures vs. small polyp stony corals who are found naturally at the reef crest (closer to sun=higher temp.)? <Temperatures where the corals come out of can vary depending on currents, thermoclines and location. But, in the home setting it is most important for a stable temperature rather than one particular magic number; it does not exist! The high seventies to lower eighties will do, say 77-82 degF just to throw out some numbers. Ideally with less than a three degree swing throughout the day.> So, i was basically wondering what the ideal would be for a mixed (lps/sps/mushroom/zoo) aquarium is... I was also curious what the ideal temp for a sw fish only aquarium is thanks for your help! <The real difference is metabolism and gas solubility, in a fish only (they tend to be overstocked), the lower end of the temperature range can help those factors out a bit. Do check http://www.wetwebmedia.com/temp_faqs.htm and the above linked files for more info. Scott V.>

I have a question about lighting and powerheads... "Coral" sys., reading    8/11/08 Hi everyone, I have a question about lighting and powerheads. I just picked up a new light with 110 watts of t5 lighting. Is there any type of LPS corals I might be able to keep with this light. <Mmm, yes> I have a 75 gallon tank. I'm also considering buying another of the same light to double the wattage, <Good> I'm under the impression at that point I would be able to keep most LPS corals. I'm mainly interested in hammers, torch, and frogspawn corals. <Euphylliids... see WWM re their Systems...> Also I have assorted mushrooms, a pom pom xenia, and daisy polyps. If I was to add any LPS corals, would I have an issue with chemical warfare? <Depending on how all were arranged, introduced... can be done> I also have two Hydor stage 4 powerheads, pointing towards each other, hitting off the front of the tank from opposite sides. I also have a stage 3 Hydor pointing across the back of live rock wall, to try to prevent as much settling of debris as possible. I'm having trouble with corals opening when I place them in the middle of the tank, do you think these are too powerful of powerheads. I always thought you couldn't have too much flow. <Mmm... not likely a circulation issue... but too much "shearing" force (linear, directed) can be a problem here> Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Marc <Mmm, as presented, your "problems"/solutions are a matter of further delving into, reading on WWM. Bob Fenner>

Re: I have a question about lighting and powerheads... "Coral" sys., reading   8/11/08 Thanks for the help, what LPS corals would you suggest might work with the lighting I have now? <... please see WWM re...> Which is a 75 gallon with 110 watts of t5 lighting. Marc <... B>

Bad batch of salt burning my corals? Oceanic   6/27/08 I have a question about some oceanic salt i purchased which happened to coincide with a sharp downturn in my corals, snails, and starfishes' health. <Okay> I didn't notice the problem until the 3rd water change I did, which by that time the corals were already distressed. I put 12 scoops of salt in my water change tank, then added the water, used a power head to stir up the salt and dissolve it, and I put a heater in to get the temp up. I used R.O. water, and the salt dissolved almost immediately like Oceanic does, and it looked fine, I came back about an hour later, and the water was milky white. In addition to the water being white, there was a very fine silt settling on the bottom and sides of the tank, and the powerhead. <Alkaline precipitant.. insoluble calcium carbonate> How it ended up in my tank was I had previously been using white buckets, and hadn't noticed the cloudiness, I noticed it a little when I put the water in, but it seemed to go away really quickly and the fish in the tank were, and still are seemingly in perfect health, so I didn't think much of it. I had the water tested and the parameters were fine according to my LFS, <For future use, I would recommend purchasing your own testing kits so that you can keep an eye on your aquarium. LFS testing is usually done with cheap, inaccurate dip strips, and their view of 'fine' often isn't.> no ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, calcium was 450, and alkalify was in the 3.75 range. I am thinking that the silt that seemingly reconstituted after initially dissolving may be settling on or coming in direct contact with the corals and burning them. <Most likely not burning them, a precipitate is inert, but irritating yes. Other things may also be at work here.> My questions are, any idea what this silt might be? Also, I switched salts, and using the same water did not have the problem, so I am pretty sure it was the salt. <I have had only bad experiences with Oceanic salt. You get what you pay for.> As far as getting rid of this stuff so my corals and anemone can come back home from the friend who is keeping them for me, what might you suggest? I am thinking 15% water change each week till I have the water completely turned over, and in addition to this lightly targeting the top of my sand, and my rock to get rid of anything that settled. <Just do a couple big water changes to get rid of any remaining particulate matter, and you should be fine.> I know it is still there because my friend gave me a small piece of xenia to use to see if the water had improved for corals, and it turned white overnight. <Could be because of lighting, water chemistry, moving, fragging, etc. Not a single-variable test by any means> My parameters as of now, and which have been steady are: ammonia 0, ph 8.4, nitrate, 0 creeping up to 5 or so by the day i do water changes, nitrite 0, phosphate 0, calcium 450, alkalinity 3.75. Again, through all this my fish are showing absolutely no signs of stress, have no visible spots or injuries, aren't scratching on rocks, and are eating great. Sorry for being so long-winded, but I have not been able to find any insight into what might be causing the corals and certain inverts to die like this while the fish do so well. Btw, I did buy a kit and test for copper too, there was none. <If things have actually died, I would begin to suspect things other than just precipitate from alkalinity troubles...metals in the tank, medications, etc. Otherwise this should just be a problem of corals irritated by the grit in the water.> Any help would be greatly appreciated, Chris. <Best of luck. Benjamin>

Coral Glue And Coral Light Absorption (Photoperiod) - 04/12/08 Awhile ago I got a couple of corals that came with a silicone type glue that mounted them to the rock. At the time, I didn't think it would be so good and don't recall where I got these corals. This glue bonds to rock just by placing it on top of it. I have tried to locate this material at all the tropical shops in my area but no one carries it or knows what it is. It is not "super glue" or putty - it stays flexible and doesn't need to be reapplied. Can you help? What is it and where can I get it? <<I can only guess, but there are some better "underwater epoxies" that remain flexible. These products form a molecular bond that is quite tenacious. They're quite pricey too…at around $50 per quart>> On the coral's light absorption - how many hours of light do they really need daily using optimum lighting? <<"Optimum lighting" will vary by species…but lighting in the tropics where most all specimens we strive to keep hail from averages a bit more than 12-hours per day…and at an intensity we can only dream of replicating>> Does it vary by type of coral? <<Indeed>> I have polyp types, leathers, frogspawns, elegance and coral plates. Thank you. <<I suggest you provide a lighting period of somewhere between 10 and 14 hours per day…depending on quality/intensity of the lighting. EricR>>  
Coral Move 3/19/08 Hi crew! <Hello Josh.> I have a couple questions about my corals. These have been in my wife tank for about 8 month previously and did really well. The mushroom corals and the torch coral (pictures attached) really stretched out and looked great. <Awesome!> It was a little 12 gallon setup (Eclipse system) with only a 32W PC in the hood. I transferred them to my tank about 4 weeks ago. I have a standard size 75 gallon with a Megaflow sump, Aqua-C EV90 skimmer, UV sterilizer. The water is pristine at the moment. I have a 2- 10,000K 150W HQI's and 2- 130W dual actinic PC's for lighting. Ever since I have put the coral in my tank, the torch coral seems over all smaller. The tentacles seem to be shorter. <Typical with this type of switch.> The mushrooms seem to expand but really wrinkle up. They are normally much more wrinkled up than they are in the picture. I figured a lot of this was the acclimation to the lighting but I would think after 4 weeks, they should be past the acclimation period. <It will take a period of time to acclimate to the lights, even then they will not likely open up as far as they did under the 32W PC. The PC had them starving for light, spreading out to get the most they could.> I have had the mushroom corals mostly in a shaded area under some rock. The torch coral is obviously on the bottom of the tank and in the center. I'm guessing that the torch coral possibly just doesn't have to open up as far because of being in much more intense lighting now? <Likely the case, how about water flow? Both the Torch and the Mushrooms appreciate lower direct flows.> Does it look like a proper size? <It looks fine.> I also feed it DT's phytoplankton and little bits of shrimp a couple times a week. It takes shrimp very well - pulls them right in! <Good.> Is that enough for it or is there anything else you would recommend? <This is fine.> How long till this type starts growing new stalks? <This is hard to say, it can vary from tank to tank, specimen to specimen. A few weeks to months.> I am assuming I have a much better chance of it growing in my tank under this lighting. <Yes.> Should I try to even move the torch coral further up the tank towards the lights? (I realize they should still be in the bottom half of the tank) <I would, yes.> Any thoughts on the mushrooms? Should I just give them more time. <Give them time.> BTW, I also had a button polyp rock in her small tank and it did ok, but after transferring it to my tank, they seemed to respond the most to the lighting and in a good way, they are also on the bottom of the tank in the middle and they have been growing and opening up further and are looking much better. <Great!> I'm surprised they would have the most positive response to the new lighting and it only took a few days! <One can never tell for sure what will respond well 100% of the time. These are all individual animals, and act as such!> Thanks guys/girls! Josh
<Welcome, happy reefing, Scott V.>

Brain Coral Damage, supplement use    3/3/08 Hello, <Greg> I recently made the mistake of adding some powdered pH buffer (Sea Buffer by Aquarium Systems) directly to my tank. <Such supplements should be added to and through water change water... dissolved...> Found out the open brain coral did not like this at all.? It began secreting a lot of clear mucous.? I think some of the powder probably touched the coral before dissolving.? I removed as much slime as possible and waited to see if the coral recovered.? The slime production stopped and the coral re-opened.? However, after a week or so I noticed a small part of the coral was not opening fully.? There is a small (< 1/4") area that has developed a whitish patch with something sloughing off.? Coral continues to open daily (except for damaged area) and everything else appears normal.? I am thinking some type of infection has taken hold in this area.? Is this coral toast from the pH buffer contact or is there some chance the tissue will heal?? <The latter... with good care, time...> Anything I can do to help the tissue heal?? Lastly, how and when will I know if this is a no win situation and I need to removal the coral before polluting the tank. Thanks, Greg <Iodine/ate, improved feeding... See WWM re. Bob Fenner>

Forced tank upgrade -- coral placement questions -11/20/07 Hi, crew. I have learned so much from you guys over the years! My marine critters (and there are many!) appreciate the guidance you've given me. Please bear with me while I explain the current situation. My wife and I had three marine tanks -- a 46 gallon bowfront glass tank that was a soft- and LPS-coral reef setup, a 120 gallon FOWLR, and a 30 gallon peacock mantis specimen tank. The 46 decided to bust a seam and we came home to a big puddle. Luckily we only lost something like 5-8 gallons (caught it early!). <lucky!> The cause was probably swelling of the MDF base caused by minor spills over the years, which put torque on the glass. <...or maybe the tank wasn't perfectly level. I learned that the hard way! lol> Anyways, after some frantic effort, we got the fish, corals and rock out, and got the spill cleaned up. After considering our options we decided to move most of the inhabitants to the 120 and upgrade it to a "reef-capable" system. The 120 is a nice system (2 x 2 x 4 feet) with sufficient LR, a six-inch sand bed with a plenum, an over-sized Euro-Reef skimmer, and approximately 1000 gal/hr flow through the overflow/sump. Water parameters have always been very stable. Two main upgrades were needed -- lighting and flow. The 120 had 4x65W PC lighting (2x10K, 2xActinic). We upgraded to a Tek 8x54W HO T5 fixture (4 "daylight" (6.5K), 4 "aqua blue" (~14K)) and a big canopy fan. For flow we added an EcoTech Marine Vor-Tech propeller pump. This is a fantastic unit that moves lots of water. The flow is variable (it's got different programs that pulse the pump in patterns) but not quite "turbulent" since we only have one pump (can't afford a second one right now). <You should be able to make it turbulent if you point it at something.> So, we're dealing with mostly diffuse laminar flow of variable intensity (think "Cozumel"). The pump is aimed down the long axis of the aquarium so there are regions of high (near the pump), low (on the other end), and medium (everywhere else) flow. Now to the questions. We have the following corals in the tank, mostly all from small frags accumulated over the years: LPS: - Green frogspawn - Green galaxy Softies: - Xenia (several colonies of various species) - Mushrooms (orange, green, striped, purple) - Green star polyps - Various Zoanthid species (colored buttons, "people eaters", yellow polyps) 1) None of these seem very happy in the "highest" current areas (right on the rock surface along the center of the tank). The only possible exception is the star polyps which don't seem to mind it too much. Does this sound about right? Can the xenia, for instance, tolerate higher current? <Star polyps don't care much about anything (in my experience). They'll grow just about anywhere in a healthy tank. Just about all corals can tolerate (or even appreciate) high water flow. If you've ever been diving on a real reef, you can appreciate this. However, the corals may take some time to adapt to it, or may simply just not extend as much for awhile.> 2) The frogspawn is currently in a medium-current, medium- to high- light area. It is extended but not as much as it was in the other tank. Should I move it? <Let it stay where it is for awhile and see if it doesn't adapt.> 3) Some of the mushrooms have their edges curled up. I suspect the current is too strong for these, but it might be some light shock. Do you suspect one more than the other? <It's probably the water flow. Mushrooms/Ricordea are some of the few corals that prefer low water flow. So I'd move these. If you don't, they'll probably detach and find a better spot on their own.> Getting all of these corals "happy" in their new home has been a challenge. <It usually is for "mixed reef" tanks.> Oh, by the way, the 46 gallon tank had 4x39W HO T5 lighting, so the lighting intensity should be about the same. Many thanks, Dan <De nada, Sara M.>

Is Stability The Key?? Temp. control, SW    8/8/07 Ok, so like everyone I want to say thank you and tell you what a great job you do! Now, on to my question. What I can't seem to find is this. If I keep my reef tank so stable that my temp swings are no more than + or - .3 degrees am I ruining my corals (and other inhabitants) ability to handle any sort of major swing in temp? <Interesting to speculate... don't know> Is it better to have a swing of at least 1 degree? <Mmm, don't think/consider that this makes much difference> Is my tank more prone to disaster if it does swing after being so stable for so long? Should I be less worried about stability and more worried about my corals ability to deal with a slight swing in temp? Am I over doing stability? <Don't think so... Though there are definitely areas of the seas/reefs that do undergo at times rapid and extreme changes in chemistry, physics, a good deal of places have very slight, slow changes only> .....lol I guess what I am asking is this....Should a tank be kept so stable that it runs the risk of possibly depleting the natural ability of it's inhabitants to deal with temperature swings? <Again, I think this is likely a minor matter> Is it better to let the tank have a swing of a degree or maybe even 2 over a 24 hour period to keep things "on their toes" so to speak? I'm really curious as to what you folks think! Regards, John <I sense a doctoral thesis or three here... Bob Fenner>

Water Flow And Corals 10/16/06 Hi WWM. <Hi Omar.> First let me say I love your site it is a database full of useful knowledge. <Thank you.> I have a question about water flow. First here is <are> my tank parameters. 75 gallon   PH 8.3, Ammonia 0, Nitrate <10 ppm, Nitrite 0, PO4 0 Carbonate Hardness 8, Specific Gravity 1.024, Calcium 450ppm 20 gal sump Berlin protein skimmer for up to 250 gal Tunze 6100 with single controller 1 Blue Damsel 1 Blue Hippo Tang 1 Kole Tang 1 Clown Tang 1 Fairy Wrasse 2 Tomato Clowns 3 Bubble Tip Anemones...Started with one and it split Waving hand Coral Pulsing Xenia Toadstool Leather Finger Leather Green Star Polyps Unidentified Mushrooms Pagoda Cup Chili Coral Christmas Tree Coral Yellow Sun Polyps <The tangs will need a larger home before too long.> I just added the Tunze 6100 and it seems like to much flow. My Xenias are breaking off the stalk, the toadstool is drooping, and the Finger leather is starting to lay over. On the other hand The Sun polyps, Christmas Tree, and Chili are doing amazing. Is the Tunze to much flow or will the coral get used <I have no idea what a "youse" is, please explain.> to the extra flow? How should I set the controller? Any info you give me will be greatly appreciated. <Hard corals generally prefer higher flow rates, but softies really aren't too happy with it.  The Tunze 6100 specs mention a 105 gallon minimum tank size.  The Turbelle Stream Pump, which is what you have, puts out a ton of water and was not designed as a circulation pump, but for wavemaker use.  I'm not familiar with their controller, or what it is capable of, but if it were me, I try very short bursts of water with about 15-45 seconds of delay between the bursts.  I'd also address your concerns as to pump operation, to Tunze, at this website.   http://www.tunze.com/117.html?C=US&L=1> Thanks Again, Omar <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> <<Sorry about the "youse".  Did find it in the dictionary, but you are using the word incorrectly.  See here.  "In addition to y'all, other forms for plural you include you-uns, youse, and you guys or youse guys. Youse is common in vernacular varieties in the Northeast, particularly in large cities such as New York and Boston, and is also common in Irish English. You-uns is found in western Pennsylvania and in the Appalachians and probably reflects the Scotch-Irish roots of many European settlers to these regions. You guys and youse guys appear to be newer innovations than the other dialectal forms of plural you." >> Re Fish Tanks 101... adding corals in the presence of BGA   10/8/06 Thanks for the response...  I think I mentioned early, this tank is being setup for corals.  Should I wait until I get hold on these issues? <Yes I would> Or would some corals assist in nutrient export? <Hold off for now... till most all traces of the BGA are on the wane>   Is there any harm in adding a coral or two now? <Possibly... RMF> Dave

Coral reef research   9/30/06 Good afternoon/evening Mr. Fenner, <Eric> I'm a senior at Virginia Tech planning on doing a research report on the effects of rising global carbon dioxide levels on coral reefs.  We have very good researching tools via the library website.  I was wondering if you personally knew any good sources or authors that specifically address this issue. <Mmm, no... can/will ask about re others (e.g. Eric Borneman) who are actively pursuing such degrees, research in universities... but if it were me, I'd use the database BIOSIS here to find active authors, researchers, and the Net to initially contact them... There are other "lists" that might be consulted (Intl. Coral Reef Symposia" comes to mind), but these would take more time than just using BIOSIS> I've used your website countless times in managing my own saltwater system.  I figured I might try asking a professional if you knew any of any insightful help for me. I appreciate your time and commitment in the hobby. Sincerely, Eric Andersen <Bob Fenner>

Bio-Load and Bio-Diversity - 09/30/06 Dear WWM Crew, <<Hello Steve>> First of all, allow me to just say thanks on the continuous support offered by this site and your continued efforts to educate those in need. <<Is our pleasure to share>> Bob Fenner's book has been a great reference for me and many others as well. <<Indeed>> Applause to all of you at WWM for your time and your effort. <<Thank you>>             As Mr. Fenner describes in his book about the niche we all seem to fall into regarding this hobby, I seem to have fallen into the 'endless tinkerer' category. <<Hee!  Me too!  Just can't keep my hands out of my tank/off the gear...>> I am evolving what I affectionately call 'Frankentank'.  It's the endless pursuit of pristine water parameters and the love of research that seems to keep me motivated.  Anyhow, to get to my point, I would like to clarify how we measure our 'bioload' in our tanks. <<Mmm...much to do with experience, learning/gaining an "instinct" for what is right...what is wrong...evaluating livestock selections on multiple levels...more...>> If my research, (actually my researching other's research), is correct then there should be a distinction between fish and virtually all zooxanthellae hosting corals in terms of bioload. <<Not sure what you mean here...  Any "distinction" in my opinion would only be the size of the "burden" placed on a system (with fish normally placing the higher burden).  Make no mistake, all corals increase/add to the bio-load>> As seen elsewhere on the net, and in other books, everyone categorizes corals in the same group as fish in terms of bioload. <<I have seen/read authors who make the "distinction">> It's usually phrased like "Corals poop too". <<Ha!  Though all won't do this in the same sense as fishes maybe, they all must shed waste/metabolites in some fashion>> But, reefs have some of the most stable and nutrient poor water conditions on the planet. <Better described as nutrient concentrated, scarfed up IMO. RMF> <<Some debate here…  Stable for the most part, yes…though some back reefs/reef flats/lagoonal areas are subject to frequent and massive fluctuations in salinity/turbidity/water chemistry and clarity due to evaporation and heavy rain/runoff.  As for being "nutrient poor", it is thought by some that most reefs are "nutrient locked"…meaning that nutrients are present/come in with the water flow, but are quickly absorbed (locked) by the plethora of diverse organisms present>> Isn't that due to the evolution of species and their ability to make usable nutrients that are otherwise lost if excreted? <<Not lost…likely "used" by another organism>> Isn't nutrient recycling what allows corals to thrive in an environment that would possibly starve them? <<Nutrient recycling can take many forms…I'm assuming what you're referring to here is recycling of the organic chemical (nitrogenous) elements in the water.  While many of the organisms can live off their own body mass for a time (sometimes a "considerable" amount of time…as attested by those animals unsuitable for aquarium life that "slowly starve to death over a period of many months" while "shrinking to nothing" before dying), they wouldn't be present/flourish on the reef if they were in a continual state of starvation.  This is one reason I believe it is very important to feed a reef tank "often and heavily"…even to the point of encouraging/having to live with a bit of "nuisance" algae.  Admittedly, not a very popular concept with most reef aquarists>> The symbiotic relationship between these dinoflagellates and corals is what allows them to measurably uptake dissolved nutrients. <<Mmm, trifling maybe…but not so much allows "uptake" (I believe the coral has this ability with or without the zooxanthellae), but is the means of conversion of the nutrients to a more useful carbon form>> Isn't this physiological process what allows reefs to be the most productive benthic environments in the world? <<Indeed, but not just a "benthic" environment…a whole ecosystem…>> In my experience, some of the best looking reef tanks are those which were heavily stocked with corals and minimally stocked with fish. <<I have to disagree here my friend.  I feel many corals benefit from, even need, interaction with fishes.  Fishes provide nutrition as byproducts of their waste/respiration, they are also thought to assist some corals with removal of  waste/metabolites as a result of their "activity" (producing close water movement) among the corals.  The "best" tanks in my opinion, are those that strike a "balance" between corals and fishes>> With stable water conditions and optimal temperatures, lighting, etc. these tanks were also easily maintained and experienced far fewer algae blooms. Corals themselves act as a natural filter of our aquariums and I don't think the relevance of their abilities have been emphasized in hobby literature. <<Indeed…very efficient at nutrient uptake…sometime to the point of nitrogen deficiency in closed systems>> Shouldn't it be encouraged to those who ARE maintaining the other life requirements of these animals to stock corals in their tanks above what might be considered as the minimal safe bioload? <<Ah, so this is where this is going <grin>.  "Safe" is a relative term…if you mean stocking beyond what the system can handle…no.  A closed system thrives when it is "centered" or "balanced"…for some aquarist's abilities/systems this may be a tank "chock-full" of life…for others…not so much>> I understand the missing piece of the puzzle of the reef versus our aquariums is diversity. <<A big piece yes, and for the most part impractical to replicate.  But far from "the" missing piece>> I would not expect that nutrient rich waters could flow into my tank and that nutrient poor waters would flow out.  I would however expect that given the proper requirements for sustained health of corals in my tank that I could heavily stock a tank with corals without degrading or destabilizing the water parameters. <<Do keep in mind aggression/allelopathy…the continual struggle for space/survival on the reef>> As primary producers, wouldn't a tank heavily stocked with corals utilize more of the dosed additives, foods, and wastes that we ultimately add in our pursuit to grow these animals? <<Is the logical conclusion…>> And if so, this would lessen the necessity of external filtration if people kept a small bioload of high waste producing inverts, fish, etc. <<Indeed…for most of us, the reef "is" the filtration>> Sorry for being very long with this, but I have this idea that it is possible to have a tank where the net waste is zero. <<Mmm…have you had a look in your skimmer cup lately?>> I believe achieving and promoting this pursuit is especially important given the current nano craze. <<Ugh…not a nano fan.  Drives me crazy when these are promoted as "beginner" reef systems>> Anyhow, thanks for your time and any thoughts would be appreciated. <<A pleasure my friend…I enjoy the opportunity for contemplation, the exchange of opinion>> Steve <<Regards, Eric Russell>>

New Marine Aquarist...Stocking Selections, Environment/Compatibility...Reading/Research - 09/10/06 Hi Crew :) <<Hello Sandy!>>    I am about to embark on an incredible adventure.  I have been keeping freshwater fish for a number of years.  But I have always had a soft spot for a saltwater tank.  So, I just bought myself a 60 Gallon tank....soon to be my pride & joy. <<Ahh...much wonder/adventure ahead.  Do start reading/researching your livestock/systems beforehand>> My question is, what type of corals will I be able to keep with the Coralife 48" Lunar AquaLight Fixture. <<Many possibilities...and a bit of putting the cart before the horse here.  Is always bests to determine what niche of the reef you wish to replicate and then develop a stocking list from which to choose.  Once you have your list, research the animals to determine their needs and THEN acquire the lighting system necessary to support them.  As it is though, you can/should still develop a stocking plan/list, and then research each animal to determine if it will be suitable for your system>> I have been getting many different responses. Ex: soft coral, LPSs & polyps.....which in other words "many". <<Indeed...all possible candidates, though all not necessarily best kept in the same system>> Could you please assist me with specifics as in what I should consider keeping? <<Mmm...corals species with low to moderate light requirements from the same genus will do well.  Or an 85-15 mix of different genera (with similar environmental requirements) for a bit more diversity if you wish>> I do have a wish list.......but I don't know if it will be feasible. <<Let's take a look...>>    Bubble coral or Pearl bubble   Torch coral   Hammer coral green   Kenya tree   Finger coral Devil's hand <<The Devil's Hand coral is a bit noxious for this mix, but the others would be fine together in my opinion.  Do take care to space all at least 6" apart to avoid damaged from sweeper tentacles>> Thank you in advance for your help.  Looking forward to your suggestions. <<Sandy, successfully keeping corals has much more to do with than lighting.  Don't overlook other aspects to include water flow, feeding, toxicity/aggression, tankmates, etc..  All which comes from individually researching each specimen before acquisition.  As a new marine aquarist, you owe it to your future charges to take some time to read/study-up on reef systems...set-up, stocking, et al...here's a great place to start ( http://www.wetwebmedia.com/reef1.htm), and do follow the associated links in blue at the top of the page>> Sandy Ottawa Regards, Eric Russell, SC>>

Exposing Corals During a Water Change - 07/06/06 Hi crew, <<Hello Deb>> I have what might seem like a silly question, but I need to know so here goes. <<Only "silly" if you don't ask...so ask away!>> If you have corals in your tank and they are high in the tank and can't move how do you change a significant amount of water, say 25%, if that will unsubmerge your corals?  Is it okay for them to be uncovered by water for any length of time? <<See, not a silly question at all...I have done what you describe many times over the years.  Your corals should fare just fine if briefly "exposed" during a water change. A couple things you can do to help ensure they will remain fine are... If you have any corals with large-fleshy polyps you should "gently" coax them to expel their water/retract.  This will prevent the weight of the water in the coral's flesh from causing damage once buoyancy is lost due to the receding water line... You can also turn off your lights to reduce the amount of heat the corals will have to deal with while exposed.  And don't be alarmed by the presence of excess mucus once the corals are "rehydrated" as this is a normal response to exposure to the atmosphere>> I just haven't seen the answer to this and know I will have this dilemma soon because my corals are somewhat in the upper part of the tank and changing  1/3 to 1/4 of the water would uncover them for the time it takes to finish taking out the old water and getting the new back in. <<Not to worry Deb...is not unusual for many of the corals we keep to be exposed to air in the wild during periods of low tide>> Also, I am having a hair algae problem and have bought several critters that are supposed to eat the stuff including turbo snails, large and larger, a blenny, and a pretty big sea hare.  None of them seem to find the hair algae at all interesting. Is this unusual? <<Not at all.  More often than not this is what happens.  I'm afraid there are no "magic bullets" (or magic critters) for dealing with hair algae.  Biological controls are always "hit and miss" as you have discovered.  Best to try to determine the cause and attack the problem from that perspective.  Please do have a read through our data on marine nuisance algae.  Start here ( http://www.wetwebmedia.com/avoidingalgaeproblesm.htm) and also follow the many links at the top of the page.  Much info to absorb>> I have an opportunity to trade the sea hare for another one.  Is it possible that the new one might eat the hair algae even though the big one doesn't. <<Is a possibility, yes>> The snails aren't interested in it either.   <<As far as snails go, the large Mexican Turbo is probably your best bet.  You mention a blenny but not which species...blennies from the genera Salarias and Atrosalarias will be your best option for dealing with your hair algae>> Thanks, Deb <<Quite welcome, EricR>>

Panicky Coral Care/Poor Acclimation Causing Problems - 03/27/2006 Hello and thank you for taking a moment to answer my question. <Gladly.> I have had my 46gal bowfront saltwater tank running for about 4 years now. I recently added a 2x96w PC fixture to increase my light. I already had (a 1x96wPC, total 3x96W PCs, more than 6WPG). <Just tossed 'em up there and turned 'em on huh?> I have a protein skimmer that's definitely doing its job, the stuff lately has been DARK green (ugh!). Two power heads provide the flow, with one being a Powersweep (goes back and forth on its own). It has had pretty much the same livestock for the last couple of years, which are a Gold Stripe Maroon Clown, Blue Velvet Damsel, Royal Gramma, and a couple of Green Striped Mushrooms. I added, a week ago today, a Colt coral, Pagoda coral, Toadstool Mushroom Leather Coral, Bulb Tip Anemone, <Not good to mix with your corals.> and a Blue Linckia Star. Well the Star has already died, and I acclimated it using the drip method and was very careful to not let it touch the air. The Anemone is doing WONDERFUL! It's found its spot, not moved since. I have fed it 3 times since I got it, and the Clown took to it in like 3 minutes...instantly! The corals are what I'm worried about. <Ok.> The Toadstool hasn't opened at all, the Colt and Pagoda are doing alright, but I was told they are in shock because of all the light? <Too much all at once. No acclimation to new light/environment?> I didn't think there was such a thing as too much light, so I've been running my single strip PC for about 2-3 hours a day. <This is making your situation worse. These animals need time to adjust. This needs to be addressed.> However I tried moving them to the bottom of the tank with the single strip totally off, and the Colt did a LOT better, but that's not where I want it at all, so they're all back to their original spots. <Ok...this is a very bad yet common mistake. Corals are very sensitive to environmental changes. You've only had these a week and already asked them to be fine with constant fluctuations in lighting/flow. I can assure you they are not.> The Toadstool still didn't open up even when at the bottom of the tank with the others. <Perhaps more insulted than the rest.> So, while they aren't melting, or COMPLETELY shriveled up, they aren't looking like they should either. <You're currently heading toward COMPLETELY shriveled up.> What should I do? <Read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acclimcoralslight.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/growingcorals.htm and other related links from this page http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/index.htm . Stop moving them and regulate your light cycle.> Oh and my water tests all come out fine except the nitrates were about 10ppm. I tried a water change for that without much avail. Any advise would be greatly appreciated! <You have my thoughts. - Josh>

Weak Corals and Anemones  - 01/12/2006 Hi - <Hello> Thanks so much for all of your help in the past, evidenced by the below thread of 2 years ago, among others. <Welcome> I have a 100 gallon well-established reef tank with HQI and actinic lighting, and an excellent protein skimmer.  The system uses a sump and has excellent circulation throughout with extra pumps in the display tank.  RO water is used for replenishment, and the system gets continuous water changes with my liter-meter III, about 5 gallons per day. I am going crazy trying to diagnose problems with some of my soft and LPSs corals, and my rose and long-tentacle sea anemones.  For example, some of my mushrooms have died back, my frogspawns don't open up like they used to, and my anemones are pale and shrunken compared to before.  In an effort to stop the bleeding, I have, in the following order: 1. Stopped using phosphate-removal filter media and use Salifert phosphate remover instead (this is because I heard that some of the phosphate-removal filter media can be a problem <Yes, can> and I noticed these problems with my corals while I happened to be using a Kent product (little white round balls that go in filter media).  System phosphate levels are currently very low as tested with a low-phosphate kit. 2.       Stopped using Kalkwasser and am using B-Ionic instead (this is because I felt that I was inconsistent in dosing the Kalkwasser).  The calcium and KH levels were a little low, around 360 and 8. <A better alternative, agreed> 3.       Stopped using SD <Likely an acronym for San Diego... natural seawater available at the base of the U.C. Scripps pier...> sea water and am mixing salt from commercial seawater mixes like Instant Ocean.  I am trying out several and haven't figured out which one I like best yet.     <You will, in time> 4.       Started feeding more regularly with phytoplankton, zooplankton, and "silver-side" fish for the anemones. 5.       Lowered salinity to 1.025 (was around 1.026 as a recommendation from the protein skimmer manufacturer; sometimes drifted as high as 1.027) None of this has worked in the slightest.   I have ordered a calcium reactor and will install it as soon as it arrives.  I have other suspicions: 1.       I use a Rubber-Maid Brute trash barrel that I mix and store seawater in.  The water goes from that into a 125-gallon pond that is the reservoir that Meter-Liter III draws from.  That water is filtered with a micron filter and aerated before use.  I am worried because the Brute trash barrel has a horrible smell, noticed mostly when I lift the lid and especially when empty or hardly filled with water.  Have you ever noticed this and do you think that could be contaminating my seawater?   <Have not had problems with this fine line of product... I would however, take yours "down", scrub it thoroughly with rock salt... lightly bleach, rinse it with freshwater, let air dry...> 2.       I use bleach to clean my micron filters and my main overflow filter bag (in the sump).  I normally rinse them, then soak them for at least 24 hours in about 5/1 water/bleach, then rinse them off and leave them in the sun for a day before use.  Is there anything wrong with this practice? <No. I do encourage having/using multiple sets of cartridges... to allow time to air-dry... rid of chlorine... and this really extends their effective use and life-times> Could the bleach be leaching into the system and contaminating the seawater? <Possibly, but doubtful of much effect here... would kill outright if present in much concentration> 3.       I have a typical aragonite sand-bed of about 1? to 3 inches, and have not been mixing it up or siphoning it.  I just reviewed your invertebrate book and realized that I should be siphoning it.  But do you think this could be so serious as to cause my corals to weaken? <Could, yes... I would replace a good part of this every six months at this junction... a quarter or so... and the same with your live rock...> Is there anything that you can think of that rings a bell from what you read here?  Thanks again for your time and help. Carl Beels, M.S. <Certainly welcome. It is a distinct possibility that the overall "dynamic" in/of your system is losing to "aging"... leading to more/chronic allelopathy amongst your cnidarian life... The addition/use of the calcium reactor, renewing of substrates will go a very long way to off-setting this aging/trend. Cheers, Bob Fenner> Re: Weak Corals and Anemones  - 01/12/2006 Bob - <Carl> Thanks so much for your prompt reply and words of encouragement.  I didn't know that I was supposed to occasionally swap out live rock!!  Ok I will give it a try and keep you posted! <Please do. And not to be mysterious... the re-application of a larger mix of microbes, invertebrates, algae... and more easily soluble chemicals of use are what this "augmentation" is all about. Cheers, Bob Fenner> Carl Beels, M.S. Lighting and Coral mixing questions Gentleman, <And a few gentle ladies> Love the Wet Web Media website but was having problems logging on to ask questions so I figured I would take this approach. I have a 90 Gallon reef setup with a 25 gallon refugium (I realize that it is a little small but am planning an upgrade).  Essentially I have two questions for you.  First, I have mostly soft corals with very few hard but would like to go with some SPS.  Currently the tank has the following animals: 1 very large Hammer (12" high, 14" long, 6/8" deep) 1 medium Frogspawn 3 colonies of Star Polyps 1 large Toadstool (8" in diameter) 1 small colony of Zoanthids 1 large Finger Leather 1 medium Green Tree Leather 1 small colony of Red Sea Xenia 1 small colony of unknown Xenia 1 small Clam 1 small Galaxy <Keep space around this... a good six inches> 1 small Blastomussa 1 small Kenyan Tree 1 Large colony of roughly 50 Mushrooms 1 6" diameter Merulina 1 medium Maze 1 small unidentified brain 1 small encrusting Monitpora a dozen mixed fish <Wowzah!> My question is, is what would I need to remove/trade to change over to a SPS tank in your opinion? <I would not add these here period> Secondly, I have a PFO VHO setup that has 440 watts of lighting.  I am wanting to upgrade to a PFO MH setup with 2 175 watts fixtures.  I also have a 130 watt power compact setup I was thinking of adding in addition to the MH.  Are the MH's going to be too much with my current setup and or enough lighting if I went with a SPS reef? <Should be fine. I would wait on this switch out... till you have your other tank> Do I need to add the PC's to either reef setup or is this overkill? <Could add... I would if I had otherwise not in use> Last, what Kelvin rating would you recommend for the MH's for each setup? <Tenk Kelvins> I know there is a lot of questions but I certainly appreciate you time, energy, website, and attention to these questions. Have a great Holiday! Sincerely, Greg Watts <Success to you in your new and existing systems/adventures. Bob Fenner> Lighting change - 29/11/05 Hey again, <Hello, John here today> Do you think my corals will grow faster if I switch the 400 watt 20,000K bulb to a 400watt 10,000K?? <While it is dependent on the brand, 10,000K bulbs usually produce much more PAR, which results in increased photosynthesis -- and coral growth. The difference may, in fact, be great enough to warrant careful acclimation of your corals to the new lighting.> I have the light on a 50 gallon tank. All SPS... Also, should I use an airstone in the sump to add more Oxygen, or  does my AquaC 120 skimmer provide enough? <An airstone has a very limited effect on oxygenation. The skimmer will have a far greater effect. I wouldn't bother with the airstone at all.> What kind of food should I feed my SPS? I heard about DT's, and BioFreeze? Also Kent ChromaMax? Any thoughts? <Take a look at the SPS and coral feeding FAQs on WWM - a wealth of information. Zooplankton is more appropriate than phytoplankton for SPS corals.> Thanks again for your advice over the weekend.  Jenn  <Already Tuesday here... Best regards, John>

Bubble irritating coral 8.30.05 Hi crew, I just noticed the hammer coral I bought a week ago tends to 'spit' a mucousy substance whenever I turn on the bubbles. <Hmmm... I'm not sure what you mean by "turning on the bubbles", but regardless... microbubbles and large bubbles alike are irritating to some corals like your Hammer for which exposure is unnatural (versus intertidal species).> Obviously, it doesn't like the current or bubbles very much - is the 'spit', or excretion, harmful to the rest of the corals? <It is mucous, and in this case (Hammer's are aggressive and noxious), yes... it can be harmful to other corals, aside from being stressful to the hammer.> (It looks just like spit.) Look forward to hearing from you. Thanks! Steph <Accomplish aeration instead via a protein skimmer and general high water flow (sans bubbles). Anthony>

Frogspawn coral health... much worse... crowded, mis-stocked, poorly filtered, too-small system thanks for the comfort on my xenia.. It's doing great now it was just adjusting itself i guess. Now I Have a real problem. I bought a frogspawn about 1 wk ago it had 3 heads (maybe two heads an one that was on the verge of being it's own branch). I bought it from Liveaquaria.com which is a very respectable company great reviews. It was supposed to be a green one but when i got it it was brown with a green hue and white tips. with in 2 or three days one of the head suddenly shriveled up and died with the brown mucus stuff and everything. I cleaned off the dead parts <Mmm, a note... sometimes better to break off the dead parts... or alternatively the live parts and toss the other> and hoped the other two heads wouldn't get affected. I also lowered the frogspawn to the bottom of the tanks thinking the light was burning it. during the same day the other head that was slightly connected died as well.. I cleaned both heads off completely so that there wouldn't be an ammonia spike and did a water change. the third head never fully came out so today i moved him in an even shadier spot <... not a good idea to keep moving stony corals (or other cnidarians for that matter)> so he most definitely isn't going to be burned. I have only one other LPS which is a bubble coral and it's doing great all my other corals are softies or SPS. <... these may not be (easily) mix-able> I have had one other LPS ( a Hammer) it also died with similar symptoms <Very similar biology to the Frogspawn...> but i attributed it to being stung by a rose BTA. <... this is in the same system?> the anemone is far from the frogspawn so there is no way it could have stung it. <Not really... please read on WWM...> here is a little background on my tanks it's a 16 curved front tank <?> with 175 MH 20K and 36w PC they are placed about 20 inches from the tanks in a 24 inch canopy there my temperature stays at 80degrees and i have a protein skimmer Lees <Piece of junk> big enough  for a 40 gallon tank. <No...> I also have a Bak pak filtration system for a 50 gallon tank. (adds about 2 more gallons )  in the tank I have a bubble coral, green hairy mushroom, Montipora Capricorn (orange), bird's nest, Crocea clam, xenia, greenstar polyps and some Zoanthids. I have 3 Hawaiian feather dusters, and a flame scallop. 2 clownfish with a Rose BTA , 1 mandarin and 1 tiny (half-dollar sized) regal tang... Everything is doing great except the frogspawn. I'm at a loss. <And soon to be more, in the way of livestock. What you have is an aquatic time-bomb... The mix, jamming of the listed species (I take it you're not joking here) is incompatible, the filtration gear feeble and the tank way too small... My advice? Keep doing water changes, get/use a quarantine system for all new livestock, buy none of the above, READ on WWM, other sites re the life history, husbandry of the species you list... You need to do some investigating, soul-searching before "just buying" this and that because you think it's neat, can afford it... Would like to help you, but only you can educate yourself, make reasonable choices. What you have currently is... a mess. Bob Fenner>

Water Parameters... Hi! A brief question if you aren't too busy... <Always have time> I have a 10 gallon tank that recently acquired ick.  I have moved all fish  <When you say "all fish", how many fish do you have in the ten gallon tank?>  to Q tanks & are treating them. The only creatures left in the 10 gallon are a flower pot coral  <very difficult coral to keep alive for any length of time, especially in a 10 gallon tank>  & a bubble tip anemone. I plan to place a heater in this tank today & lower the salinity. I'm not sure of what temperature & salinity would be safe for the flower pot & bubble tip. I have spent so many hours trying to find the answer that my thighs are numb from my laptop sitting on them. Do you know what the safe parameters are for these inhabitants?  <I would temp at 76/77 and SG at 1.024/25.> Thank you in advance for your expert advice, Julie PS. Should I be adding tiny amounts of fish food periodically to feed the bacteria in the tank?  <No, don't do that. Too easy for a tank this size to go nasty. The coral and anemone will provide enough waste. I'm guessing part of your ick problem is too many fish in too small of a quarters. Let me know what you are keeping in the tank. James (Salty Dog)>  Thanks again.  <You're welcome>

Too small, unstable coral tank I have a 29 gallon tank with a 180 gallon Jebo protein skimmer and 45 watt compact fluorescent light. I have a problem with the placement of my coral, I have my protein skimmer on the right side of my tank and whenever I place corals on the left side of my tank they never seems to live. I have no clue why this happens, I have bought maybe 4 5 corals in the past months, and on the left side they all die within the first 3 days of getting them, they don't' even open up, the last coral I got I put on the right side first and it was looking bad and then moved it over to the right side of the tank and now it is doing very well. Have you ever seen this before and any clue on why this is happening  <Not from what you write... but a song keeps coming to mind: "Pass the corals on the left hand side"... Honestly, a twenty nine gallon system is very hard to keep stable (enough) to maintain such life... and the outright poisoning cnidarians express... even more difficult in small volumes. You can read re coral systems, health (for a few hours) on WWM re. Bob Fenner> 

Euphylliid Lighting Hi Love your site, it has been super helpful in my never ending journey of reefkeeping knowledge acquisition. But I have not been able to locate a specific answer to a question that I have about lighting. First my tank. 120 show 48x24x24 100 lbs or so of live rock Lightly stock[ed] with fish 2 Chromis 1 Tomato clown 1 Rose BTA 1 Ornamental wrasse 1 Purple tang about 6" 1 Jewel Damsel or Javanese Damsel 1 Cleaner shrimp 1 Chocolate seastar 1 purple urchin 1 emerald crab Asst snails And for the corals 1 torch 1 frogspawn 1 anchor 1 branching anchor 1 colony of orange polyps I love the Euphylliids. <Me too> Parameters Temp 75 pH 8.2 Nitrates 5 ppm My lighting is 1 - 250 watt metal halide and 4 NO 40 watt fluorescents. I know that these corals appreciate moderate light, but according to my lighting setup where would be the ideal place to put my corals?  <Mmm, somewhere nearer the "center" of the tank and mid-depth... assuming the MH is about centered over the tank> Currently they are on the bottom of the tank set in the substrate. With appropriate spacing between them, don't need WW III in my tank. Would this placement be considered appropriate given the species?  <Well... in the wild most Euphylliids (Some folks accept that Catalaphyllia has been moved to another family recently, but I'll mention it here as the oddball) are located "on rock", not in/on the sand/mud... except for Elegance...> Also on another note, over time how many of these corals could I place in this tank, or would you recommend? <Depends... on now often you want to "frag" them, how much you intend to boost their growth (with lighting, feeding, CO2 infusion...), how much water, chemical filtrant expense you intend... better to stock all while they're small, and hold off on adding any more... trimming as they grow nearer to each other... letting them 'get used' to each other chemically...> I also have my eyes on some green star polyps, but am not sure what is compatible. I've looked over the compatibility for both genera, maybe I'm missing it. <I would advise against the GSP... in general here... too invasive, problematical to restrict their spread> One more, I hope that I'm not asking too much, what other corals would be ok to have here? I am open minded to any opinions you might share. <This is a too big question for here... at least for me. I encourage you to present it to the various specialized BB's (e.g. Reefcentral, Reefs.org, and enjoy the "debate" this input will inspire... but not to listen to them (or me for that matter), but let this lead you further into study> Thanks for your time, and for the generosity of this site. It is my go to source for info. <Let it be a springboard to your continued searches, understanding and enjoyment. Become yourself my young friend. Bob Fenner>

Alk/Ca skewed.. water changes to cure 2/18/05 First I want to say thanks for all the help in the past. In the few years I have been keeping an aquarium, I have made many mistakes and the information on this site has got me (and the critters) through all of them. <thanks kindly... do tell friends about our site> The setup is a 72 gal bowfront that has been running for about a year now. It is an upgrade from a 50 gal setup that we had for about 2 years that we got when a pet store went out of business. So far it has been stable and easy to maintain. The over flow drains through a filter sock to a 20 gal sump with a Turboflotor skimmer and I also use a SeaClone hanging on the back. <unless these socks are cleaned near daily... they degrade water quality by allowing solids to linger and dissolve, and rob them from (suspension) skimmers that could otherwise export them> I get a cup or so of the stinky stuff every couple of days between the two. I also have a home made refugium on the back of the display that is full of critters as are the overflow box and the sump. There is about 110 lbs of Fiji rock and 4-6" fine sand. I have been lax in doing water changes (about 10% every 3-4 weeks) but the water quality has always been very good with the exception of the calcium always testing on the high side. <do investigate why... supplements, hard water, etc. And please do larger, more frequent water changes: Dilution is the Solution to Pollution. Else "things" will catch up with you over time> I added an elegance and bubble coral about 3 weeks ago, and the next day they both looked great. The second day the elegance looked great but the bubble did not expand fully. After about 4 days the bubble was not opening so I tested the water and found that ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, and phosphate were all zero (as usual) but ph was at 7.8 (afternoon), alk was at about 2.0 meg/l and calcium was at almost 600 (I don't use any calcium supplements at all). <yikes... scary if accurate. Do test your readings on other brands of test kits... LFS service perhaps?> Over the next 4 days I dosed with small amounts of Kent Superbuffer and did 3 small water changes (about 10% each). Within about 4 days the ph was up to 8.3 in the evening, alk was up to 3 meg/l and calcium was back around 500. <still high on Ca and dangerous over time. If your tap water is not high in Ca, then the sea salt and water changes if big enough should bring these numbers into a safe and more balanced range> That was about a week ago and the bubble is still opening less each day. It is not near anything else and in a corner with light flow. It is also at the same place relative to the lighting as it was in the LFS and under the same lights as the LFS (4- 65w pc 2 are actinic) What am I missing? <patience... needs time (weeks) to slowly recover. Be sure to feed this very hungry (naturally) coral 3-5 times weekly with small bits of meaty food> The tank is currently stocked with: 5 green Chromis, 1 percula clown, 1 hippo tang, 1 sunrise Dottyback, 1 mandarin (I know, but the fuge seems to do the job and the other guys seem to leave him alone), 1 serpent star, 10-12 Nassarius snails, a dozen or so hermits and a small crab that I have only seen twice and can't identify. There are also uncountable zooanthids (hitch hikers) several purple mushrooms, a small cluster of xenia, a colony of green star polyps, several Ricordea, 2 small colt corals (I think) and the latest additions are an elegance coral and a bubble coral (the problem child). Any advice you could give would be appreciated, and thanks again for all the help in the past. your fellow fish addict. Chris <best of luck! Anthony>

Stung Clam? I bought a couple of clams a couple of weeks ago.  One is a Derasa and the other a Maxima. I put them on the sand bed with a rock slightly burying beneath them.  They are under MH lighting and I feed DT's Phytoplankton to the tank.  The other evening a branch of my Hammer Coral dropped onto the opened Derasa. <Oh!>   The clam still opened ok that evening but not as much the next day.  Now today it is closed tightly.  My guess is that it is suffering from stings from the Hammer Coral.  Am I on the right path or should I be looking at something else. <This is likely it> I have not seen any snails but I did see what appeared to be tiny black specks (like copepods only black) dotted about the shell.  The Maxima is doing fine and that's why I believe it was because of the Hammer.  Is there anything that I can do here?  Thanks Brad <Not much... do make sure the Euphylliid is securely anchored... away from the Tridacnids. Bob Fenner> When one Crewmember Questions Another - Lighting Advice Hi Bob, <Marina> I know it's not the norm to question other crewmembers' advice, but I see that James is offering a lighting "Rule of Thumb" that, to the best of my knowledge, is outdated and might be considered simply incorrect. I'd rather discuss this with you and, more importantly, those crewmembers who might/would know otherwise. I thought maybe Scott, Anthony, Jason, The Adams might want to review this and offer up their advice. I do not want to take this up "publicly", because I believe James will take offense and it might hurt his feelings. <Mmm, James is an adult... and does appreciate "constructive criticism" as such> < Rule of thumb is 4 to 5 watts per gallon. Deep tanks may change the rule some. James (Salty Dog)>" <Well... "rules of thumb" are such... James has yet to fully realize that what we offer must be gauged toward... more than just the stated circumstances... that folks will read this stuff into perpetuity... and that "qualifiers" like stating the (what may be obvious) "in your case", or "given your circumstances"... or offering links... may be more useful to all. He IS learning.> Anyway, I am unsure about how to address some particulars because he really seems to be bothered, and his messages take on a decidedly terse tone. I do NOT want to drive away good help, so I'm bringing this up privately with you. <... not a problem... believe me... I DO read all responses before filing... and do amend spelling, grammar... and will add in double carrots my input if I believe answers are too vague, incomplete or just outright wrong... Some items are a matter of opinion... e.g. the above rule of thumb, "you should have a good cup a day in your skimmer". Some are just incorrect <<my stmt.s re Xeniids being non-photosynthetic>> I have also read on another site that Rich Ross has resigned from WWM. I must say I'm sorry to see him go, I feel he had a lot to offer us as a whole. <Yes... he stated a couple of run-ins with you...> If you think I should just shut up, then tell me so and I'll quit my yammering (never heard that word till you once told me to stop it.. <giggle>). Marina <All are doing fine in my estimation... and we continue to provide a valuable, needed service to others, the industry/hobby/science of aquaristics and the human condition. I am satisfied that we are individually and collectively doing so. Bob F>

Lighting Corals, rules of thumb, WWM - Adam Blundell's View Hi all, Here is my take on reef lighting. I love talking about lighting. I have different views in my mind of what is proper lighting for all sizes of tanks, and all levels of animal needs (SPS, LPS, FOWLR). So for me, I don't mind discussing Kelvin ratings and watts. But by reading the queries I think you can quickly tell where their knowledge level is. For some people who ask "do I need lights for my corals?" I think a basic answer like 5 watts/gal for softies and 10 watts/gal for stonies is a good answer.  We don't want to overwhelm or inundate people with info, and we don't want to generalize answers for experienced hobbyists either. That's my take, Adam Blundell <Thank you for this input. BobF> Coral lighting, rules of thumb, WWM - From Anthony I agree (Adam, James, et al.)... if we must use a rule of thumb... 5 watts per is more than enough for the typically shallow tanks with low to med light inverts that are the majority of our queries/situations.  Lighting is badly abused by reefers keeping SPS corals and clams who forget that not everyone else is doing the same.  The rule is not outdated IMO Anth- <Thank you for this input. BobF>  Lighting Corals, rules of thumb, WWM - Jim's View Hi all, here's my take. I NEVER under any circumstances use "watts per gallon" it's misleading and confusing. An Acropora that needs a 400 watt "mogul" bulb, or a 250 watt HQI bulb under 12" of water in a 500 gallon tank to maintain color, *STILL* needs the same light under 12" of water in a 20 gallon tank. To me this is simple, and much easier to explain to a novice than watts per gallon which doesn't make anymore sense now than it did 10 years ago. Say that to a novice, and that's one more person talking about watts per gallon to another new on some reef board somewhere.   Coverage, water depth, and light intensity relative to those two factors are your concerns, not gallonage by any stretch. Furthermore, start using 10 watts per gallon for stonies, you get some VERY skewed and inaccurate numbers very quickly. I understand we have a "typical" tank dimension to consider, but why start the noob off with the wrong impression of what is really going on? Peace, Jim Adam Cesnales Chiming in.. Hi all, Not much to add here on the lighting issue (total agreement with Jim, AdamB and Anthony), but I did want to chime in on e-mail addresses left in responses. The concern here is not the kind natured average user of WWM who might see the  address while browsing the FAQ's, but rather the far more nefarious web crawlers employed by spammers that automatically cruise through websites looking for e-mail addresses. Adam (who is off to shop for the nearly 4000 watts of lights he will need for his new tank <lol>) And Finally, What James has to Say Bob, Thank you for forwarding Marina's email to me. On deleting "From (email address)", I assume you want this deleted also, along with the date which I began doing a few days ago. I not a computer guru and I thought if I deleted this, you wouldn't know who it came from.  <No worries... this can stay... just gots to delete other peoples email addies... for privacy concerns... from the posted email... to WWM/on WWM> On Marina's critique of the "rule of thumb" on lighting, I always believed this to be fairly accurate in most cases, depending on depth of tank, tank sitting in sunlit window etc. I'm always trying to give the right advice and appreciate better advice from other crew members. I feel each individual crew member does not know everything, and like myself, probably never will. Good day, Bob, James (Salty Dog) <Is about the going response... as you've no doubt seen... If/when I  have/had trouble with the content... I respond back to the originator... BobF>

Crowded tank, woozy corals 2/4/05 Hi, Thanks for such a good website. <thank you... please do tell friends about us too> I have a 28gal bow nano, 3in sand, plenty of rock, pc lighting, good flow, and good water quality. Recently while moving another tank I put the coral 2 frog spawn frags, large star polyp rock, Sarcophyton (toadstool), mixed zoanthids, and I think that's it. <Yikes! FWIW this is a very aggressive mix and tough to pull of in such a small aquarium long term. Euphylliids, Zoanthids and Sarcophyton are some of the most noxious corals in the sea. Do compensate with large weekly water changes and daily use of carbon (also change weekly). Else you will have serious problems with allelopathy in time> Well I put them in my tank for holding. Yeah it is a little crowded but nothing is touching. <touching is the least of your problems, my friend... unnatural levels/concentrations of chemical allelopathy will begin killing these corals in time> But two small (silver tip xenia I think) frags that were already in the tank have since shriveled and the tips are turning white. <many possible reasons (do see our extensive archives at wetwebmedia.com for more info on this group of corals). Beyond this weak coral getting poisoned by the above named crowd... low pH (below 8.3 by night... higher by day) or low Alk (under 10 dKH), Xeniids suffer at times> The only other time that I've seen them like this is when I first got them from a friend who over stocked is tank with fish and had a nitrate problem but all my water parameters are ok. I supplement with b-ionic only, 5gal water changes every 2 weeks. Should I dip them, use iodine, Strontium? or what. <weekly 10-5 gallon water changes would do this tank good and also ease dependence on supplements> The other corals are coming out in two days.  Thank you very much <whew! best of luck, Anthony> My system plan: Reef expert please! A 29 gallon tank that will house LPS and softies. <Stop! This is too small a system period... and mixing these two groups of stinging-celled animals in it too much of a challenge> Lights are the 2x65 watt orbit and an Aqua C Remora skimmer. I have considered a 150 watt halide but can't quite get around the heat issue. The wife isn't going to let me hang it from the ceiling so it will have to be close to the aquarium. Halide or PCs? <The latter> Tank is 18 inches deep. Does everything sound workable so far? I want a sump. I'm going to drill a 3/4 hole for the overflow and a 3/4 hole for the return or should I match the inlet and outlet rating of the pump? <... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/plumbingmarart.htm re plumbing... and the linked files (above, in blue)... this plan will not work> Eheim pump (the 500+ GPH model will be used). Do you think that's too much going through a 10 gallon sump? Should I go smaller on the pump? <... see WWM re> Larger sump won't fit. I'm going to plumb this thing with the return pvc going across the back of the tank kind of like a closed loop with a cap on the end. I'll drill holes in the pvc so that it will act as a spray bar in an effort to get circulation in those hard to reach places of the tank. The holes will be pointed in different directions and I might add flare nozzles. The spray bar is the reason why I think I need the 500+ gph pump. Fish are going to be small...and stay small (gobies, etc. and a few shrimp).   <Good> I think that's it. Any suggestions for improvement? You da bomb! Thanks for all you do! I know it's a lot of work... Dave <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/reef1.htm and: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/small.htm and the linked files... and take good notes... and... we'll chat. Bob Fenner> Coral Placement 1/23/05 Well I researched on this and read up on your site as well... I too have one under PC lighting 130W... but he is about 8" from the light: will this be sufficient for him to grow and survive and all... <in such shallow water, yes... this will be fine my friend> All of his polyps come out just not all the way yet, He probably need some time to acclimate. <agreed... no worries> he is about 5" from a MJ 400 for good flow on him and he seems to enjoy it. <this is a very bad if not dangerous habit. Linear water flow will hurt most corals over time. Never blast flow directly on a coral like this but rather have two or more converging effluents merge near the coral for excellent (and safer) random//turbulent flow> Just wanted to see if you though his placement would be good enough for his well being. Roger <rock on... Anthony> 

An array of Corals Thanks for your speedy reply, I will buy the Dual Satellite lights as you mentioned. My question is, should I still get the 96 W 20 inch Coralife with that as well? Or will my existing 28 W Coralife be enough when combined with the Dual Satellite. I'd rather be comfortably safe, than sorry later on, and I want a wide option of corals that I can purchase. What do you think? <Helana, since lighting space is at a minimum, I would eliminate the 28 watt and go with the additional 96 watt Coralife fixture. James (Salty Dog)> Thanks, Helana... 

Re: An array of Corals  Hi James,<Hello> Okay, after spending several hours online, I've found a few more options for lighting my tank. Once again I have a 30 gallon cube, dimensions are: 20 1/2" X 18 1/2" X 21". At first I was planning on having a 20 inch 96 watt Coralife and a 20 inch 28 watt Coralife yielding 124 watts total. But, I'd like to have the option of adding different types of coral other than just polyps and mushrooms without fearing that they will not survive due to lighting conditions. (ex: zooan..., closed brain, anemones, etc....). I know there are certain HARD corals that require close to 1000 watts. I am not interested in going to that level of extreme. With that said, please tell me which of these would be a better option: the Coralife combination stated above (124 watts total), OR a Current USA Dual Satellite 20 inch--2 X 40 W, 1 Lunar Light (Comes with Dual Actinic 420nm/460nm and Dual Daylight 6,700/ 10,000K bulbs and fan with 2 switches for dawn/dusk control) COMBINED with one of the Coralife lights mentioned above OR (gotta catch my breath...whew) instead of the Current USA satellite, the Current USA ORBIT 20 inch, 2 X 40 W,(40 W dual daylight, 40 W dual actinic) that has 1 lunar light, again 10,000K and 6,700 K and dual actinic (460nm and 420 nm) compact fluorescent bulbs, and fan. I have spent way too many hours during this blizzard pulling hairs out of my head with this light fiasco... I know, you say it's not confusing , but for us beginners, it's quite a ride. So, wadda ya say? Please be as specific as possible, because I plan on making my purchase online as soon as I get your reply (kudos to you!) and to be honest, I'm thoroughly exhausted (G-d only knows how you feel ; ).  Choice A---> Two Coralife's 124 watt..... Choice B---->USA Orbit with one of the Coralife's?  Choice C---->USA DUAL SATELLITE with one of the Coralife?  Choice D----> None of the Above OR Another COMBINATION THAT YOU KNOW OF THAT YOU THINK WOULD BE PERFECT FOR THE DIMENSIONS AND NEEDS OF MY TANK. <Helana, if it were me, I'd go with the Current dual satellite compact fixture (2x40 with lunar light). This should give you the most light possible without getting into metal halides.> Also, when purchasing refractometers, are there any specifics I need to look for, or will most do? I'm seeing some for $109, does that sound about right?<Drs Foster & Smith has a refractometer for $42.99 that I understand is very accurate.> My hydrometers stink and I'm tired of buying a new one every time it breaks.<Good luck, James (Salty Dog)> 

Polyps, Open Brain Coral & Blue Mushrooms Thank you again for your continued support, I hope you get paid for this!<No money involved here Helana, strictly volunteer.> We've been shoveling all day, I could use a snow blower or two...lucky you!<No one is lucky that has to move snow.> My open brain coral sits midway on a shelf in my tank. I was going to move it down onto the sand floor, but it seemed to spread out and looks comfortable so I plan to live it there for now. However, my tank is a 30 gall. cube, meaning it's closer to 20-22 inches deep, not the 16 inches that you mentioned. However, many people are telling me that with the light I plan on getting, it will be good for a variety of coral, perhaps not the hard ones you speak of, but others, including types of anemones, etc. as the tank matures.<I also would leave the brain where it is, as it reduces the amount of water the light has to penetrate.> I also saw that with the Coralife 96 watt 20 inch that I plan on purchasing, I can also buy a moonlight accessory. They have Coralife 1 watt blue moon glow LED for $29, or 3/4 watt blue moon glow LED moon light for $15. Which if any would benefit my tank, and how long do I leave it on for.<The moon light does not benefit your tank at all as far as life support, its just cosmetic.> I was told to have the 96 watt and 28 watt on for 10 hours per day. How long would I leave the moon light on for, and should it be on when the other lights are on as well? <Moon lights generally turn on just before the main lighting shuts down, and stay on until the main lights come back on.> Have you heard of "Hellolights" on the internet? Reputable? <Never dealt with them. Post this question in the equipment forum on the wetwebmedia.> Also, do I always need to buy a whole new light hood system, every time I replace the light bulbs? Or can I just buy bulbs to pop into the existing hood?<Just the bulbs> Because if I can just buy the bulbs, I'd buy stronger wattage bulbs to put into my exiting 28 watt Coralife hood.<You can only put in the wattage that the ballast will handle.> I know I'm limited b'c of the 20 inch space I have on the top of my tank. Lastly, off the topic of lights, is there some sort sand filter that could be placed underneath the sand to keep it clean. It tends to get very dirty, and even when I do weekly water changes, the syphon has a hard time getting the dirt and funky stuff out. I have blue fine sand on my tank floor. I also have 2 snails that live under the sand to help keep it clean, but I thought I read about filters that could be put underneath the sand to keep it spick and span. I currently have a Prizm skimmer, and an AMiracle wet/dry sump and filter on the tank and it's quite powerful, and has incredible water circulation.<My only suggestion would be to find some "live sand" that is teeming with critters, and add about one inch of that to your tank floor. Try a search on the internet for "live sand". <James (Salty Dog)> Stay warm,  Think Hot Cocoa & a Monday snow day for us teachers!  Helana...

Lighting for Polyps, Open Brain Coral & Blue Mushrooms  Thanks for your continued helpful advice.<Your welcome Helana> The 28 watt Coralife light I have, I'm planning on purchasing another Coralife, 96 watt, because I'm limited in what will fit on top of my tank, and purchasing metal halides is completely out of my budget. I was told that the 96 watt Coralife is 50/50.  Would that be appropriate? You mentioned 10K, though I don't really know what either mean?? I was told that one of the bulbs on the Coralife is actinic, though I'm not sure what that means either.<A 50/50 bulb is generally half actinic and half daylight.> The 2 Coralife's put together would be (96 + 28) 124 watts, almost at 135. Please tell me that would be appropriate for blue mushrooms, assorted polyps, and brain coral.<It will be fine for softies and may be OK for open brain as long as your tank isn't over 16 inches deep.>I was told by hobbyist that it should be fine for most hard coral. But, I'd like a professional opinion. I'd like to order the light this weekend from Dr. Foster and Smith because it's cheaper by a lot than stores. Please let me know if this purchase will do the trick for my lighting. There was no mention of a moonlight or fan, but is that still okay? <Should be fine> I'm having trouble finding anything like that for my tank size. Stands that hold the light up above the tank are also available I guess to spread the spectrum of light.  Would you recommend purchasing that also? <No, that will just decrease the intensity for what you want to do. Make sure you have a glass top on the tank and just place the fixture on the glass top.> Sorry for such a lengthy email.<No problem. I've pasted a link for you to read. Scroll down to the lighting section and you will find more helpful info on lighting.> Have a good weekend and enjoy the blizzard!<Arghhhh. Just blew snow for two hours, I hate it. Michigan Winter Wonderland does nothing for me. James (Salty Dog)> Helana, Sorry, I forgot to paste. Here it is... http://www.wetwebmedia.com/reefsysi.htm James (Salty Dog)  

Water changes.... Hi <How goes it?  Michael here this...guess it's morning, now> First off I need to thank you for the great site that you are running.....what a great help you have been. <You're too kind...standing on the shoulders of giants, here, though!> I have a rather silly question, <Can't be worse than someone not knowing the answer to "when was the war of 1812", can it?> but it has been bugging me for some time now. I've had tanks for many years no, so doing water changes is nothing new to me, but since I've owned a reef tank for about a year now, I always feel a bit unsure of what is going to happen. <Usually you take water out, and replace water, and it mixes with the water you already had in the aquarium...ok sorry feeling a bit hyper ;)> Anyways, The tank is about 30 gals, with a small 3 gal sump for the skimmer. I change about 10 gals every 2 weeks. <All good> So the question I have is this. The rockwork is quite high with the corals also close to the water surface. When I do a water change I always make sure that water is still covering the coral. But would a very short exposure time to air do any damage to the corals. <Depends on the coral...many SPS is exposed to the air at least part of every day in the wild.  I would be more worried about light shock than short bursts of water deprivation...turn off the lights if you think they will be exposed to air just to be safe> It is so that I could, if needed do larger water changes. The corals are mainly Sinularia, and Caulastrea. <Hmm, Caulastrea should be fine, but I would be a bit wary of the Sinularia> I am just asking because at the moment, I can change the 10 gals without losing water over the corals, but if I want to add more rock and corals, what is the best way to change the water other than using a liter jug and taking one liter out, and then replacing the liter...........which would take forever!! <Yep!  10 gallons in a 30 gallon system is fine, larger water changes shouldn't be necessary at any one time.  However, the easiest way to perform larger water changes would be to add a 10 or 20 gallon sump\refugium to the system...you'll wonder how you ever got on without one.  You'd never have to worry about corals being exposed, either> Cheers for that, <Anytime> Chris B <M. Maddox>

Not enough lighting hello bob , I have a 30 gal. long tank. have a few clowns, snails, starfish and a red flame shrimp and some blue crabs. my tank has been up for a year now and doing well. after I put all the rock and substrate in I only put about 15 gals of water in. I have two hood lights one with a power Glo and the other with a Corallife 20,000k.my question is there enough light for any kind of corals or anenomes of any kind? I worry about the shrimp he's the bomb. has really gotten crazy around the tank. goes every where now. don't want to get something that would upset his life. thank you Susan b <Hello Susan, I will be answering for Bob.  You really don't have enough light for any corals.  On a three foot long tank you would need at least two 65 watt power compacts, and that would only allow you to keep soft corals which are a little easier to maintain.  James (Salty Dog)>

Unhappy Corals at High Noon: New Light Acclimation 12/19/04 Hi Guys, Thanks for the great site and advice :)   <Howdy, and thanks :)> In my tank I have two hammer corals (used to be one big one that got too big), an Alveopora, star polyps, and I recently just added a show rock with about 4 different kinds of zoanthids and various polyps.  At the same time I added that rock, I doubled might power compact lighting from 95 to 190 watts. This was about two weeks ago. <Hmmm... no mention of an acclimation period and a clear indication in light of the mail title where this is going <G>...> Since that time, every day my lights come on at 10am and all the corals expand and look very healthy.  Then at about 12 everything starts to close up and look sickly until 3pm.  At this point everything starts to expand again, but not to a large extent. Is it possible that the rock with all the polyps on it has incompatible polyps that are engaging in chemical warfare?   <always present, yes... but to the extent that it causes these symptoms already... not sure.> It's obvious that all of the polyps were glued on, <Ughhh...> and thus I'm suspicious because they did not grow together naturally.   <if so, they will not stay together, rest assured. They will separate or kill each other sooner rather than later> Or could it be the lighting change is having some effect in the middle of the day for a few hours? <is possible, even likely. Such dramatic changes in lighting require a much more gentle acclimation. Keep the same photoperiod, but add some layers of plastic fly screen for a couple weeks (after new lamp replacements too). Remove a sheet every few days and soon the acclimation is done. Anthony> Mixing water twixt hard and soft coral systems I have a 400 gall. quarantine system, a 1000 gall. retail salt livestock system. I am starting my coral and invert system, it is 400 gall. I was going to run a sump for 200 gall. soft corals and inverts, and the other 200 gall. system would be hard corals and inverts. my question is, do you think I could run 1 system or am I asking for trouble mixing the hard and soft coral water, even though they would not be housed together. <It would be great if you did not mix the water of the soft corals with the hard corals (when I mean hard corals, I'm mostly referring to SPS), but you shouldn't have much trouble if the water is mixed. Most SPS will not grow in tanks containing an ample amount of soft corals, especially soft corals in the genus Sarcophyton and Sinularia. Most SPS will also brown out, fairly quickly, if carbon is not run continuously. Knowing that you're planning on selling these corals, it's best to keep them as healthy and as colorful as possible. Other than that, I don't see any problems keeping them together. I should also add that you shouldn't have any problems keeping LPS and Soft corals in the same water -- of course, simply make sure that non are touching each other.> thanks for any thoughts. so far I have about 5 times the money invested than planed, your web site has helped me in every angle to opening this place right and some really good people in NYC. <Dave, we're glad that our website has helped you! Please let us know if you have anymore questions. I also wish you the best with your fish store! Take Care! Graham.> thanks Dave

Big and little anemones Hello, I have another question, thanks again for the quick response to the last one.  I have a 50-gallon main tank (36"X18"X 18").  I have a large (17") ritteri (H. magnifica), a H. aurora ~ 8" across the oral disc, an ocellaris that lives in the ritteri, and a bicolor blenny.  I also have a rock covered with green starburst polyps and a rock with a few mushrooms.  I've read repeatedly on WetWebMedia about the dangers of allelopathy, and I'm worried.  The anemones look great, but the polyps and the mushrooms aren't looking as full or growing as fast as they used to.  << Well most anemones are high light animals, and most mushrooms are low light, so that is my first concern. >> What are the symptoms of allelopathy?  The animals have been living together for two years now.  I have a protein skimmer (Pro Prism) attached to the 29 gallon sump which has a deep sand bed.  I use Chemipure or carbon most of the time.  Do I have to take the polyps and mushrooms out?  With skimming and Chemipure can I keep the two anemones together, at opposite ends of the tank? << Yes, and after two years I'd say you must be doing things right. >> Again, the anemones look to be in perfect condition- both eat voraciously, really beautiful.  The H. aurora I've had for over 4 years now--two years in the same tank as the ritteri. Also, I read about the necessity of MH with H. magnifica, but I have two 96-watt 10,000K power compact bulbs and two 55-watt 10,000K bulbs and the anemone has tripled in size in the past two years--with regular feedings, as well. << Well that is great to hear.  Keep in mind that regular feeding is basically like adding more light. >> It lives in the top half of an already relatively shallow (18") tank, maybe that accounts for the success.  Would I be better off with MH lighting? << If it is growing so well, then don't change anything. >> I love the PC's, but I'll do what I have to make my babies happy. << The PC's are better for the mushrooms anyway, so if the anemones are doing well then just keep doing what you're doing. >> Tank parameters: temp:  81F SG:  1.025 Nitrates:  0 ph:  8.1-8.2 Thanks, Gary    <<  Blundell  >>

Anemone/Coral Conundrum Crew, <whassup, Buttercup?> You would think that after reading the CMA, WWM FAQ's, and starting Anthony's excellent work, BOCP, that I would not ask this question, but I have this haunting desire to mix a rose E. quadricolor anemone with SPS corals.   <are you really going to make me burn frequent flyer miles to find and slap you? :) And you best have some tasty beer when we show up too or your getting a dead snail in the pillow case... Ha!> I'm starting a new 360g (96"x24"x36") in the spring and I want to fulfill a childhood desire of keeping an anemone/clownfish combo once the tank matures.   <excellent... but best done in a species tank. I may have a solution for you... read on> (It's not that I believe this symbiotic relationship is not needed for my denizens to thrive, I just have this picture in my mind since picking up my first Neon Tetras 20 years ago)   <understood and agreed> I have been reading books for two years to reacclimate myself to the hobby, but I can't shake the desire for bringing my SPS and Anemone passions together.  If I make the Anemone the priority, are there any SPS' that would be more tolerant of the chemical warfare that would eventually ensue?   <beyond issues of chemical warfare (which I can live with in systems that have aggressive water change and chemical media schedules <weekly>, and dual skimmers that work very well)... the main concern is the inevitable motility of any given anemone in a crowded tank of sessile competitive cnidarians. There are many other issues too... but this is a biggie for starters> Would this war impact any of the planned Tridacnid clams in the system?   <little effect on the clams IMO> I don't mind a challenge (you should see the rest of my stocking plans); <excellent to hear!> I just want to find that elusive win-win-win for inverts, fish, and fish keeper alike. Thanks, Rob <very good, then my friend. My solution is for you to have your cake and eat it too... just on separate plates. Specifically, put your anemone and clowns (and no other stinging animals) in an inline feature tank (like an upstream refugium) and enjoy the benefits of system filtration and water quality without fear of direct attacks. I'm thing a magnificent focal point for your great 360 reef: perhaps you could have an attractive 60 gallon hexagon poised right next to the big tank and set slightly higher (or lower) on a pedestal stand. A single pendant halide shines down into the tank (175 watt will be fine)... and the anemone and colony of clowns fill the entire tank. You can even have a small mangrove tree growing out of the top and supported by track lights on the wall! This separated inline tank is plumbed to overflow into the display (if the anemone tank is higher) or be fed by the display (if lower) before overflowing itself down the line to the sump. Many possibilities here... but you will never get me to recommend any anemone in a display with other cnidarians. Do consider this dramatic yet functional solution. best regards, my friend. Anthony>

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

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

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

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

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