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FAQs about Stony Coral Selection 1

Related Articles: Stony Coral Selection, Stony Coral Identification, Coral Feeding, LPS Corals, True or Stony Corals, Order Scleractinia, Propagation for Marine Aquarium Use,

Related FAQs: Selection 2, Growing Reef CoralsSoft Coral SelectionStony Coral Behavior,

Agaricia grahamae in Cozumel.

Fellow aquarist now living in Japan Hi Bob, My name is Randy and I am a beginning aquarist. We recently moved to Japan and I was able to purchase a 55-gal aquarium. I was wondering if you might have some information on purchasing corals and fishes from outside of Japan. There are certain things I would like to order from companies in the states and would even like to participates in some of GARF's programs  <Likely GARF> but I haven't been able to figure out how to get live specimens through customs. I read that you had lived in Japan and worked in the industry so I was hoping that maybe you could give me some ideas on how to get some life forms outside of the Indo-Pacific area. Thank you for your time, Randy Malkevich <Do look around in the country there... Japan has many good shops, aquarists who do propagation, sharing of fragments. You might try a transliteration program and the internet to meet other like-minded folks. I lived in Sasebo, Kyushu for years... and understand how hard it is to "get about" there... but the differences amongst Americans and Japanese are cultural (patterns of learned behavior) and can be easily breached... perhaps you can ask a friend who has one Japanese parent to aid your search. Bob Fenner>

Thanks for the follow-up Yes, the correct spelling is GARF. I don't know what I was thinking. <No worries... just want to make sure and direct others to Sally J et ux., and not Friends in Low Places singer> We just made friends with some folks that speak Japanese (my Japanese is limited and my wife's is only conversational) and were willing to help us talk to the local shops. We love it here and enjoy it very much, it's a wonderful culture. <Yes.> Local propagation and sharing sounds like a very good idea. Thanks for the info and the help! <Doo tashi mashiite. A pleasure my friend. Bob Fenner> Randy Malkevich

Coral anti-bleaching Many thanks to Bob and his gang for helping us with our aquarium questions. I am a daily Q&A reader and regularly recommend the site to others. I have even tried to get my LFS to have a cheap computer set up with your web site as the home page so their customers can quickly check for species info BEFORE purchase. No luck so far. <WOW... and awesome and empathetic idea. Have the LFS contact us directly... they will get an earful including our personal assurance that we are and will continue to be completely objective and categorically dedicated to making their business grow through educated hobbyists that succeed (!) in the hobby. It is a win-win situation: people are happy, animals are surviving and thriving and the business of the industry expands and grows for it!> My question is about a nice piece of white Acropora with purple tips that I purchased about a month ago.  <I'm already dubious.... there are no natural white Acropora... and the colored tips are non-zooxanthellate pigments. Sounds like a bleached Acro to me from go> The coral is starting to show growth at the ends BUT the tips are no longer purple and the coral is nearly all green colored (the color of healthy bubble tip anemone).  <excellent! It has recovered> The color transformation started at the base and slowly proceeded to the tips. For clarification, the coral is not being overgrown with algae. <understood quite clearly... this is a common recovery. The coloration is likely from too much UV. I wouldn't be surprised if you don't have good or any lenses between you lights and the water. If true, experiment by placing a small piece of plastic above the coral (above the water) between the lights and surface... a color change to the natural color may occur away from just green> The coral is located in a 110 gallon tank with very brisk random circulation and is about 5" below the water surface which is illuminated by 2- 250 watt MH 12000k (Sunburst bulbs) pendant lamps about 10.5"above the surface of the water. All water parameters are fine. Alkalinity is 12dkh and calcium (using the "Calfo method") is ~ 410. <fine numbers> Is the color change "just one of those things" that we can't do too much about or can I do something better? I would love to have some more bright acros but I am now hesitant since this beauty has changed. Your advice is always highly appreciated and followed (with great success so far). <quite frankly... Sunburst MH have performed staggeringly poorly in many studies that I have seen. The collective consensus (which I currently agree with) is that all halides have WAY too much actinic in them and that none (including 6500K Iwasaki... a great bulb) need actinic supplementation: all have enough or too much blue wavelength. one of the symptoms is corals turning green. If your primary goal is coral color... I would recommend only lighting your tank with Aqualine 10K bulbs with possibly a glass or plastic lens (experiment in tank halves here). If growth was your primary goal instead... Iwasaki 6500K halides. Best regards, Anthony>

Re: The "right" corals THOUGHT that's what you would say about the Elegance (they are so terribly tempting though...) <heehee... sad but true> I LIKE the Tubastrea idea... I've thought Banggai cardinals are way cool for awhile. Can I mix Firefish and Jawfish (the whole similar size/shape thing...guess I can or you wouldn't have made the suggestion , huh)?  <good point about similar size/shape but in this case we have a benthic fish and a mid water swimming fish species... fairly safe. And if you like the cardinals, do consider some longspine blue dot urchins for the cardinals to hide in display of their fascinating relationship!> I'm liking the whole "twilight" idea very much. Thanks SO much! I'm totally psyched now. <very cool... and if not small fishes, then rare hardy predators like sunset groupers (polleni) or crazy squirrelfish. Big fish, big poop, big food for Tubastrea. Even a red light (extra) above tank for night viewing that fish are not disturbed by. Best regards, Anthony>

The "right" corals Dear Crew, <whasssup?> Have been doing my research on what corals to add (can add?) to my 55g reef (currently have mushrooms and lots of feather dusters (hitchhikers) and a couple of other LR hitchhikers that aren't big enough for me to tell what they are yet). <cool> Have come to the conclusion after reading CMA, Anthony's book, Tullock's Reef Aquariums, the site and the chat forum (still need to get Eric Borneman's book), that I don't want to even try the "mixed garden" approach.  <very wise my friend. It will serve you and your animals much better in the long term (more than 2 years)> I'm aiming for the whole "species tank" instead.  <or even try to stick with a family mostly and even then you can throw in an oddball or two> Have narrowed my choices down to 3 species: Xenia, Catalaphyllia (Elegance) or Tubastrea (Orange /Sun Coral). I have read ALL the material on Elegance in the above mentioned (also saw Steven Pro's tank pics --gorgeous). I also have read about the feeding requirements of the Sun Coral (detailed in Anthony's book and also on Harbor Aquatics site and other places), so I know what I would be "in for" with that animal as well. My question is: which is "best" (meaning it will live, thrive and be happy) given my tank parameters? I have: <Xeniids would be fun, easy and the least difficult (also the least challenging. The elegance needs to be ruled out in my opinion. Too high mortality on import... grows to large (one would outgrow your 55 in 2-4 years), they are too sensitive to handling and mechanical damage, they cannot be easily propagated, suffer a greater impact for wild harvest, etc. A long list of disadvantages and too few benefits for keeping this beautiful animal. The Tubastrea is most interesting to me. Very hardy in a species tank... remarkable beauty!... fascinating reproductive strategy.. reasonably challenging... important to be studies and propagated, etc. Indeed, much more work than Xenia, but perhaps the sort of challenge you want> 55G w a 5 inch DSB (sugar sand) 20g long refugium w sand (CaribSea reef sand)/rock/macro algae (mostly Caulerpa, but some red stuff too) 60 lbs LR, split between the main and 'fuge asst macro algae and turtle grass (want more turtle) 165W PC lighting 10K 50/50 actinic/full sun a moderate -producing skimmer (debating on upgrade to Aqua-C Remora) 2 powerheads for circulation in opposite diagonal corners of the tank SG 1.023 Ammonia 0 Nitrates 20 Calcium 380 (s/b higher, I know) alk 3.43 meq/l pH 8.3 phosphate .03 temp 80 I add Seachem iodine and strontium supplements weekly, according to manuf. specs. Tank inhabitants are: 2 pearly jaws 1 long nosed hawk asst snails 1 flathead/sunburst Anthias asst snails (currently having a population explosion -- little babies all over) >From my reading, my tank might be a candidate for Elegance-- medium light, some nitrate, not "overly skimmed", sandy, turtle grass -- but I don't want to contribute to the decline of the species if it's still proving to be problematic in people's tanks. I have no "favorite" among these three -- all are pretty equally appealing. <for the challenge and beauty, I'm voting for the Tubastrea species tank. Keep heavy blue light too and enjoy "twilight fishes (a most unique display!!!). Cool and unusual Firefish, Basslets, cardinals, etc> Thanks as always for your experience/honest advice! Rebecca <best regards, Anthony>

Photo ID Hi Anthony, <cheers, Edwin> I bought some corals last week and being very new to marine, I have lots of problems identifying the individual specimens, the shops weren't very convincing.  <before you buy any more corals without strong local support/advice on husbandry, let me suggest that you buy Eric Borneman's book, Aquarium Corals. Great photos and information. Then take a look at my book for husbandry and propagation> Need you help/confirmation here ...... I have attached the photos with the email, Did try to resize them down a little, if the resolution is not good enough for you at your end, let me know and I can send bigger files over. Also I will appreciate feedback from you on the conditions I kept them in. My tank lighting specs, 3.5 W/gallon PC lights (70% white 10000K, 30% blue 17000K, 2/3 of the blue lights are shield by a thick glass panel which I cannot remove, there is nothing between the water surface and the rest of the lights). Lamps are sited about 15cm above water level. <the lighting is indeed somewhat modest/moderate if your tank is deeper than 22" (or is you want to keep clams or SPS). For the corals pictured, though, the lighting is very good and appropriate. The lights however are also a bit high off the surface for fluorescents. Better to keep such bulbs 5-8 cm off the surface and always keep such bulbs clean and wiped down at least weekly at any height. The brain corals like your Favia will not fare well under these light sin the long run unless kept rather high > File: favia_s.jpg I think this is a Favia fagrum, a type of closed brain coral. Am I correct?  <it is a Favia (plocoid form with individual corallites> Coral now sitting on substrate about 24inches deep in the water, <way too deep and better to keep Faviids on rock/hard substrates. Place this coral higher up within the top 12" of the surface> brisk and fairly random water movement indirectly on it,  <sounds very good> the water being deflected off the glass about 6 inches from it. I think the photo shows part of the coral, the top left, being partially shielded by a live rock structure. Should I move it totally out of the shade? I read from your page that a Favia needs good light, I am not sure if I should move it higher up the water column.  <yes...critical, as above> I fed it a small chunk of shellfish, slightly less than 1/4 inch by 1/4 inch. Is this too big for it?  <sounds very good my friend. Smaller is even better if convenient> On the assumption of a twice weekly feeding routine and a 3 inch diameter specimen, how many quarter inch cubes, or the volume equivalent, should we feed each feeding? What is the stinging distance of this coral? I saw the tentacles sticking out in the middle of the night, and they are only half a inch at best. <hmm... stinging distance is only part of the equation. Silent warfare with shed chemicals is as bad or worse. Keep corals 15 cm or greater apart at minimum and do allow for growth> File: fox_s.jpg A fox coral, Nemanzophyllia (is this the full name),  <Nemanzophyllia... the Fox, Jasmine or Flower Coral. A Euphylliid> a type of elegance coral ?  <no... just in the same family as with bubbles, hammers, torches, Frogspawn> Picture should be rotated 90 deg clockwise, that is the "left" edge is actually the "top". I know you wrote in your web page that elegance should be kept horizontally on the substrate is low to moderate light. I intend to eventually populate my entire substrate with open brains, so I place the fox coral higher up in the live rock structure.  <the middle third of the tank will be fine... they do not tolerate bright light> It is now resting almost horizontally, pointing about 40 deg up. 8 inches from water surface, but to break the light a little, there is a slight overhang that provides some shade to the coral, as evident by the darker left (or rather top) half in the picture. Current flow is low where the coral is.  <very good> Bearing in mind that this specimen is now halfway up the tank, how on earth do we feed it?  <it feeds by absorption and has no physiological means of feeding organismally> Or do we need to feed it direct?  <nope> I noticed the "mouth" of this specimen is small, less than 1/8 of a inch, small food particles seem to just float away, even with powerheads off. What is the stinging distance? <a somewhat passive species. Do protect well> File: pachythoa_s.jpg My guess is a Pachythoa sp, green button polyps, technically an anemone.  <Palythoa or Protopalythoa, a Zoantharian/zoanthid> Right now these guys are sitting on the sand substrate about 24 inches from the water surface. Is light enough?  <a bit modest> Will they grow on the sand substrate?  <most will, yes> How far should I keep them from brains, both open and closed type? I am thinking of not feeding them, just let them survive on light and live rotifers which I dose the tank with every night. <the rotifers will be great, but they may not have enough light to survive> File: platygyra_s.jpg I can only think of a Platygyra, a type of close brain, maybe you can be a little more specific?  <actually a Lobophyllia species. Does not fare well on the sand (no means of shedding sand well. Better higher up on a hard substrate> Sitting on substrate, about 24 inches from light. I tried feeding this guy but he is not eating. Tried 1/4 by 1/4 inch shop shellfish and a smaller 1/8 by 1/8 piece and placing the food in the "valleys" directly. All food left untouched overnight. What is the size to use, and amount to feed, again on a twice weekly routine...... Stinging distance? I again saw the tentacles, a pathetic 1/8 inch short stub. <very similar light and food needs to Favia> File: trachyphyllia_s.jpg Should be a Trachyphyllia geoffroyi, open brain coral, right?  No my friend, Cynarina species. AKA Stony button or stony flower coral. Treat like low light red open brain though (Trachyphyllia)> Sitting on substrate, about 24inches from light.  <very well> I notice that when the brain inflates, it "touches" my live rock structure as shown on the top and right side of my photo. Should I move it a little further out to avoid the abrasions you mention in the web page?  <yes, please> On feeding, I noticed that this specimen will only get to eat the pieces that are place right on the "mouth" that is in the middle of the coral.  <this animal needs regular feeding to survive long term captive. Actually quite hardy but not extremely aggressive. Protect> Pieces that are on the coral touching the outer ring of tentacles remain uneaten overnight. Is this typical? Right now this coral is located closed to the cleaner shrimps' station. Although, I did feed the shrimps first before feeding the corals, the cleaners still went after the coral food, even to the extend of pulling a half swallowed food chunk from the mouth of the coral.  <yes... one of the many problems with shrimp in reef aquaria> I am trying to avoid "covering" the coral during feeding since I eventually intend to have several of this coral, it does seem ridiculous to have a dozen covers sitting in the tank, Any suggestions?  <remove the shrimp> Again, I will appreciate to know the stinging distance and the volume of food needed for a 3 inch diameter specimen. In your web page, there is a mention that Trachyphyllia may be kept in close proximity with one another, how close is "close"? <my friend... you must resist the temptation to know and push the limits of crowding coral. If you do not plan for growth and allelopathy (chemical aggression) you will get by for 1-2 years before the tank is likely to crash for it. Plan well and leave a lot of space between corals (15-30 cm)> File: unknown_s.jpg Totally lost here as to what is may be. Sold to me as a "coral" though I understand that it may jolly well be an anemone.  <cannot tell well from the picture... looks like it could be a Galaxea species though> Right now, I am keeping it on the substrate, 24 inches from water surface.  <if so needs brighter light... top third of tank> Brisk indirect and random water from powerheads.  <very good and necessary> Does this specimen need feeding?  <almost certainly judging by its polyps> I notice tentacles/polyps that are very thin but stretches up to 2.5 inches long sweeping from this specimen in daylight.  <a very aggressive species that can form dangerous sweeper tentacles at night approaching30cm long!> Color: dark green with a grayish-white tip tentacles. Disk that is fluorescent green in the center. Many thanks in advance. Edwin Lam <best regards, my friend. And please do look into getting a good reference book soon. Kindly, Anthony>

Re: Photo ID Hi Anthony Thanks for the speedy reply. <always welcome, my friend> I have bought the 3 Baensch mini atlas and will be buying the 4 modern coral reef aquarium books  <ahhh, the Modern Coral Reef Aquarium Books are quite good. Very good on husbandry, and don't forget Borneman's book for ID> and your book within the next couple of weeks. I will try my best to refrain from buying new coral stocks in the meantime. <indeed... good references are one of the very best investments early on. Especially when a knowledgeable retailer or aquarium society is not close enough for fellowship/support> I am a little confused. Do you mean the lights in the photo looks ok (the photos were taken without flash or any additional light)? But the watts/gallon looks too little? Seems a little conflicting for me.  <watts per gallon is not a helpful measure of light, my friend. 175 watts of PC light and 175 watts of Metal Halide light are two very different intensities for example. MH lamps can penetrate deeper into deep aquaria like yours and are far more effective than PC or other fluorescent lights. Your lights are indeed a nice system and good color... but they cannot be considered bright with regard for symbiotic corals. Many popular corals like Faviid brains, SPS corals (Acropora, Seriatiopora, etc) and blue clams for example will only thrive in the long term under your lights if they are kept shallow (within 30 cm of water surface). The problem is that fluorescent style lighting does not penetrate deep enough into water. Any doubts can be clarified with a submersible Luxmeter> Right now, I did not spread the PC lights evenly over the width of the tank. The lights cover the right half (70% of water surface) where the corals are sited and there are no lights on top of the remaining 30% (with naturally no corals underneath).  <that sounds very good and sensible> If I place more lights such that they cover the entire length of the tank, I should achieve 4.6W/gallon. Could this be the reason why the light rating seemed too low but the pictures look brighter? Maybe as another measure of the lighting conditions, I am experiencing massive (or what I consider massive) coralline algae growth in the top 12inches of the tank.  <ahhh, yes... light penetration and the point at which it drops off significantly (12" approximately)> About 0.5cm radial increase every 2 weeks. Near the substrate, I have about 0.2cm increase in radius every month.  <wonderful!> Calcium was measured with specific ion meter at 35ppm about a month ago (the local NSW came in with this level of cal), and has since been increased to 75ppm. I will increase calcium thru my cal reactor at the same rate until I hit 400ppm. <very good...slow and steady is fine> On the siting of the lights....... during setup, I realized that at 15cm above water surface, I will not experience water splash. At your recommended 5-8cm height elevation, I have very serious splash problems.  <indeed, but rather than avoid the splash at the expense of reducing light efficiency, we simply need to temper or reduce the splash> The salt deposits eventually reduced lighting very considerably <agreed> even when I was wiping them clean every 5 days.  <yes... but perhaps we simply need to adjust the features that are causing the splash> At that time I thought I will be able to achieve a more stable (and on averaging the same amount of light) lighting regime by siting the lights higher.  <this would only be appropriate and helpful to you if you prefer or will resign to low to moderate light loving animals (and will forego keeping any high light corals or clams)> I will now reposition my lights as per your advice thanks. Next, I do not intend to keep clams (my wife loves eating clams fried with eggs LOL), <Ha! me too LOL> and originally reserved the top 8inch of the tank for SPS (mainly Pocilloporid).  <yes... a great family of corals!> Looks like I may need to cutback a little since I now have 2 brains that are moving "up". Lastly, can I ask again how many 1/4 inch cubes of food should I feed my 3 inch Favia, if I feed it twice a week? <that's a tough question to answer for certain. Indeed requires experimentation. I would start with 3-5 small cubes twice weekly> Thanks Edwin Lam <best regards, Anthony>

First Coral I am looking to purchase my first coral.  <excellent! Welcome aboard friend!> My tank is a 55 gallon tank with 1 30watt actinic, 1 30watt 10,000k, 1 95watt Aquasun, and 1 95watt actinic.  <aesthetically a nice color (I like blue) but not enough daylight or intensity for the most demanding colored SPS corals or clams (unless kept in top 8-10"). DO consider this attractive light scheme moderately intense at best> The tank has been running for about 2 years with a couple of fish and about 65lbs of live rock.  <perhaps more rock will be needed down the road... no trickle filter hopefully (nitrate generation OK for many fish but not for most inverts)> The water is tested weekly and everything is great.  <Hmmm... if you are not testing for Alkalinity or Calcium, then please forego all Scleractinia (hard corals). And do research each coral as you are now to know husbandry before you buy it. Many "hard coral" have some of the squishiest bodies...heehee. quite misleading even though there is a skeleton underneath. And do consider Eric Borneman's book, Aquarium Corals for great ID, pictures and husbandry. And if I may say so... check out my book as well for theory, husbandry and reef gardening techniques.> What are my options for my first coral something that is not to hard to take care of but will look good in the tank. <largely personal preference... but most any of the colored Zoantharians (button polyps or mushroom anemones). Also, most of the common colored (tan/pink/brown) "Leather Corals" (finger or mushroom). DO avoid delicate yellow or green soft corals at first and all aposymbiotic coral. Best regards, Anthony Calfo>

Thank You, Invert ?s Hey, <what?> Thank you for your help.  <you're welcome...now what do you want?! Heehee <smile>> I have decided to stick with the Sixline wrasse for my setup. I do have a question about inverts. in my tank. I will have 2X55 10000K PC lighting over my setup (20 gallon). I have never kept or tried any kind or corals. Do you think this will be enough light and could you suggest some corals that would be good for a beginner?  <plenty of light for many corals and invertebrates. Trust me on this one... I have a lot of experience with the subject <wink>...avoid all LPS hard corals (many reasons...aggression, wild populations, sensitivity to handling by newbie, etc). Also resist most SPS and hard coral in general until you have a clear understanding of the difference between pH, Alkalinity and Calcium... and how to test and control/maintain these levels consistently. Instead... enjoy most soft corals, corallimorphs (mushrooms) and zoanthids (button polyps). Because of the size of your tank... you can easily find some attractive creatures from these groups and be assured of success> Also, would an Anenome be possible for the clowns and would any of the clams work? <not even close to being possible. Anemones an corals absolutely don't mix...especially in a small tank. They are also relatively to very difficult to keep successfully for most people. Never for beginners. And the hardy clams that will tolerate a new tank and lower light grow too big (T. squamosa and T. derasa grow to 18-24"). The blue clams need quite a lot of light for long term success. Trust me... stick with soft corals only and you will do wonderfully as you make your way up to bigger reefs <wink>. Not a matter of if, but rather when...heehee! With kind regards... Anthony> Thanks, Jonathan Pac

Re: First live corals ever Anthony- First I would like to thank for all your help.  <very welcome indeed> I did have a couple questions in follow up to some of your comments. I decided to add one other coral - an open brain. I never noticed it until I brought it home, on the outer edge there was small hole in it and some of its (inner skeleton?) <the ridges are septae> was exposed and sort of brown looking. <could simply be diatom/algae...not bad if the coral is healthy enough to burn it away...otherwise tissue recession might ensue> The area is now looking a little puffy. I have been reading as much as I can but I may need your immediate advice on this one. I understand Mushrooms and leathers are good to start off with especially for someone who is new. However these are the Soft Corals that tend not to be very colorful.  <you're not shopping for the right mushrooms or leathers!!! These are some of the most colorful and diverse of all. Corallimorphs come in every color, combination, texture and size imaginable! And the Leathers (Alcyoniids) include some of the most sought after iridescent green and yellow fingers and crowns in the trade.> When you talk about not being able to mix Soft Corals with Stony Corals because of the "(chemical warfare)" Does that mean that I will never be able to add Stony Coral to this tank as long as I have Soft Corals.  <not exactly. many people do so for many years... but those same people complain about "mystery deaths" down the road and the lack of poor coral growth for all animals, and not just great for some and poor for others. Most importantly, it is kind of cruel to mix such unnatural tankmates in close confines. Should I have decided from the start to designate this tank as Soft Coral tank only or Stony Coral tank only?  <mixing a little from either category is tolerable I suppose, but if you set up a true hail Mary garden tank like most aquarists, then you will have the same complaints as most aquarist down the road too.> I guess my bottom line question is will I eventually be able to keep both Soft Corals and Stony Corals in his same tank together?  <again, because of their very diverse needs, it is best to try to specialize somewhat> If so how and when is it a good time to add these Stony Corals to the mix? Is my lighting(65w x 4 w 72gal) sufficient to handle Stony Corals?  <modest for the colorful stonies (shallow water pinks, yellows, blue tips, etc) but tolerable for many browns and greens to generalize (not a flawless way to categorize, but usually true> If you could briefly clarify I sure would appreciate it! I did order your book & I am really sorry to trouble you again! Thanks Ron <please... no trouble at all. Truly my pleasure, and thank you! Anthony>

Re: Iodine dipping, calcium testing > Hello Robert, > <Anthony Calfo in your service> > I have been reading up on dipping corals in iodine before adding them to the > tank but was wondering what the concentration of iodine is in Kent's > Concentrated Iodine. The bottle states 22.5mg/oz. > <we do not know their "proprietary" concentration, but some aquarists believe > that it is simply undiluted Lugol's solution of iodine> > How many drops per gallon would you recommend for a dip solution. > <undiluted Lugol's solution as a therapeutic dip can be applied at 1 drop > per five gallons of bath water in a SEPARATE bucket/vessel for up to fifteen > minutes daily (strong aeration/circulation please).> > Also. My calcareous algae (Halimeda sp.) is growing only so, so. A lot of > new growth but the older growth gradually turns a marbled white and then > solid white. > <somewhat normal, but what is your alkalinity? And are your Ca and Buffer > solutions dosed VERY consistently? If not, it can easily cause the > growth/death cycle you have noted> My alkalinity is always quite high at 4.5-5 meq./liter without buffering. My Ph also is high at 8.4-8.5. An odd note. I only add Kalkwasser, somewhat erratically I might add, but with an Aquarium Systems Ca Test Kit the Ca level reads more than 550.  <honestly...this seems highly unlikely. I'm wondering if your readings are accurate. To have such high free calcium/alkalinity without a crystalline precipitation is very uncommon. Begin by taking a cup of aquarium water and ameliorating it with another cup of DI/RO water (calcium free)...(essentially diluting a sample of your tank water in half)... then test for calcium and double the reading that you get to see how close you come to the perceived 550ppm. I suspect that you will not get a match.> I don't know if that is because of the difficulty of distinguishing that dark purple from the "true blue" color you are supposed to achieve. I have two of the same kits and they read the same. Since then have been using the Red Sea Test which reads 400. <wow.. that is one heck of a discrepancy!> > My water parameters are very good with calcium levels > according to Red Sea test at 400. I just ordered some iron/Mang additive > and hope that will help. > My Dictyota algae on the other hand does quite well. Any ideas? > <Dictyota is lovely but can be a real nuisance unchecked... heavy handed > iodine doses encourage its growth> > Thanks for your help. Craig > <best regards, Anthony>

Re: Iodine dipping, calcium Yes...the trick indeed is very consistent (daily) calcium dosing. A fast growing plant or coral has a similar or steadily growing daily demand for calcium. If, however, the availability of said calcium fluctuates wildly from abundant to minimal from day to day, then you get the strange growth/death spurts that you have observed. Anthony

First live corals ever About a month ago, I contacted you about a gentleman I hired who brought me some corals for my 72 gal reef tank. This was the first time I ever added live corals. he brought to me a toadstool leather and a strawberry tree coral.  <Anthony Calfo here... I do recall your tank> Not know much about corals, I sent you questions about how good these selection were for a rather new reef tank(7mths). Anthony was kind enough to responds. He indicated that the toadstool was great choice but the tree coral would probably not survive.  <Experience...but sorry indeed to hear it> Of course he was right. he suggest I pick up some books about corals which I have since done (Aquarium Corals/ Borneman).  <a very good choice> I now realize how bad the selection of a tree coral was so for now I am sticking with mushrooms and leathers.  <excellent...hardy and fun animals> Needless to say this gentleman will not be helping out any more. I will be doing my own research. However, I do have a few questions about these corals. I have noticed for a while the my toadstool would open & tentacles would come out each day as the lights(65x4 -2 actinic and 2 white) came on & would retract when they went off.  <yes... Sarcophytons do not feed on zooplankton at night like so many other corals, and as such have no need to extend their vulnerable tentacles at night> I am using your suggested schedule of 12pm to 12am with actinics on first and last hour of the cycle. However lately, I noticed that some days the tentacles don't come out at all. Then after a few more days they will go back to their normal thing( In and out as the light comes and goes). I am sure is probably not normal.  <actually a very normal process if accompanied by a sheen (mucus tunic) on the crown when polyps are retracted indicating a fast growth cycle> Also , On top of the mushroom and a leather that I have since purchased the sometimes is a white powdery looking substance on it. It shows very clearly against the purple/ pinkish color of my mushroom and my leather. Is this something I should be concerned about?  <but does it blow away within days, and the polyps come back out...if so ABOVE explanation holds true> What can I do?  <maintain or improve good water movement to blow off that accumulation within days> I also should mention I have been adding Kent's- Strontium & Molybdenum and Phytoplex at half the recommend dosage and half the time.  <very good until you get more corals that need it> I am also using Kent's liquid calcium and my level is around 450.  <liquid calcium should not be your only Calcium source unless you do large frequent water changes. Otherwise chlorides will build up within a year and cause great difficulties with water chemistry> I am using and RO/DI unit. Should I still be using a detoxifier in the RO water before I I add it to my tank?  <not sure what you mean by detoxifier...do you mean a dechlorinator, and if so...yes, you can stop if there is a carbon pre-filter on the R/O> Should I be using iodine?  <very helpful with soft corals... I would recommend strong iodine solution/Lugol's base (colored)> After I thought everything was going well for a few weeks, I decided to add one other coral - an open brain. I never noticed it until I brought it home, on the outer edge there was small hole in it and some of its (inner skeleton?) was exposed and sort of brown looking.  <ouch!...do try to resist all hard corals while you are still new to it all. And for the fact that they make a terrible mix with soft coral in the long run. Many complications from unnatural allelopathy (chemical warfare)> The area is now looking a little puffy. I have been reading as much as I can but I may need your immediate advice on this one.  <is it a red or a green open brain? Both are somewhat lower light...red very much so. Either need to be fed minced meaty foods 2-3 times weekly or more often after the lights go out and the clear feeding tentacles extend (not before then). They will puff up amazingly after a good feeding. This will also help the healing> But I probably have read enough to know that this isn't good.  <agreed, but this is a hard coral. Also why soft coral are recommended to new folks. No matter how hardy a stony coral may be with regard for water quality.. most are very to extremely sensitive to tissue damage. For many LPS it ends up being fatal.> Please let me now what I can do to help it.  <just keep maintaining good water quality and feed well> I really appreciate any help you could offer. Thanks Ron <you are quite welcome, Ron...and may I suggest another good book on reef aquariology <wink>? http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bkcorlproprev.htm Kindly (and shamelessly) Anthony Calfo>


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