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FAQs about Stony Coral Systems

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

Related FAQs: Cnidarian Systems, Stony/True Coral, Coral System Lighting, Stony Coral Identification, Stony Coral Selection, Coral PlacementFoods/Feeding/Nutrition, Disease/Health, Propagation, Growing Reef CoralsStony Coral Behavior,

Re Corals prefer dirty water? - 12/19/2012
Hi bob,
Hope you are well, just an update on below, I tried upping the feeding regime but no joy, I started losing corals, Xenia, Kenya tree etc I tested all levels again and had it confirmed by my lfs, just to be sure, I changed my bulbs on the halides but nothing, I removed the bio pearls
<Am not a fan>
 and bingo, there are signs of recovery, toadstool opening up again, other leathers now opening periodically,  the amount of pearls in reactor was under the stated recommendation, I took these offline and what a stink!!
Yes they reduce No3 and Po4 but I believe that they are just too good at the job, my No3 Po4 are now at trace levels but although I can't 100% categorically state it I believe they strip some other elements out of the water. I hope this info will help others considering this course of action!
Yes they work, but use with caution!
<Thank you for sharing. BobF>

Coral... stony, sys. mostly    11/15/11
Dear WWM,
Your probably annoyed with my constant questions by now,
<Mmm, no>
however I think it would be better to have unhappy people compared to dead coral.
<Oh yes>
Anyway, my tank is 55 gal. Ammonia-0, Nitrite-0, Nitrate-0-25, Salinity-1.025, Temp-80, large hang-on back filter, Ca-400ppm, pH-8.4. Lit by four 65 watt power compacts. In order to keep LPS coral, Frogspawn, Torch, Bubble, Plate, Cyphastrea, is it essential I add two 125 watt power compact to this?
<Mmm, well... not really... as in absolutely. Most "55's" are quite deep... stock ones are 48 by 13 by 20 inches tall... and some folks use quite a bit of substrate... DSBs, making the depth appreciably less... Additionally, other than the "Plate" (a Fungiid I take it), the other Stony Corals you list can be arrayed on hard substrate, the rock you list below, bringing them closer to the light. Lastly, all listed derive a high percentage of their nutrient from foods rather than photosynthesis>
About 15 pounds live rock. Obviously aggressive skimming is needed but with it could a Bubble-Tipped Anemone be added?
<I wouldn't add an anemone to this mix... See WWM re allelopathy, other aspects of incompatibility>
Four-stripe Damsel, Chocolate Chip Star,
<And re this>
Lawnmower Blenny, Pencil Urchin,
Percula Clown. Is this over stocked?
<Mmm, no; just mis->
I want to also make sure I understand correctly: There is absolutely no way to keep the star with coral correct?
<Not really; no... unless you don't mind predation>
What order should the above coral be added.
<The Euphylliids last>
Currently no coral are in the tank, I was highly allergic to the worms living in the tank and so everything was wiped out in their removal and the restart isn't as great as it sounded at the time. So the tank is roughly 8 months old. Your reply in an opinion form would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Re Coral Placement 5/18/10 - 5/22/10 - 5/25/10
Hi James,
Here are pictures. So besides the fact that you told me they need a fine sand bed and I have crushed coral,
there are a couple more issues that I will address in order of attachment.
Also let me know if it is labeled properly.
One was labeled as a Cynarina. It has quite a bit of skeleton poking out.
When I did try to feed it, it blew up and very little skeleton showed so I am hoping it will make it.
I did not see it eat but it did react.
<Appears to be a Cynarina (Button Coral)>
The next is labeled a Lobophyllia it is red with a green center and the skeleton is poking out all around. No reaction to feeding and I do not see any change in size. But the colors are bright.
<Coral is in too poor a shape to ID, may be a lobo and there are many variations within the species.>
The next was labeled a Wellsophyllia. I think it is a Trachyphyllia.
<The Wellsophyllia Brain Coral is referred to now as a Trachyphyllia radiata coral (Foster And Smith).>
I put it at the top of my rock, about 10 inches from top, on a large half shell. It is about 3 inches when closed and get as big as six inches.
I put some Mysis on it and it enveloped it. Looks very healthy and a nice mix of colors and some green and blue sheen.
The next was labeled Wellsophyllia worm. It is green with some purple highlights which did not show in the picture.
<Mmm, could very well be a Trachyphyllia, can be difficult to ID, very similar to Wellsophyllia. May want to Google/research here, I haven't the time to do so.>
It is about 3 inches when lights are out and about five when open. I did not see any reaction when trying to feed it.
Looks very healthy to me. It is at the bottom but it really has no room there literally between a rock and a hard place.
I got these through EBay and got more than I expected but that is another story.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Re: Coral lighting vs. water flow   1/4/07 The plate has been on sand since we first received it. <Ah, very good. Read like it was placed in the rocks, I apologize for this misunderstanding.> Our goby seems drawn to burying the plate in the night, so the plate coral has been moved twice which I would guess creates stress on it. <Yes, sand sifting gobies are certainly good at this activity *grin*> Still, some readings indicated that hard corals do fine under tumultuous water conditions (which the goby is good at replicating!) <I think this largely depends on the species> Our lighting is a  150 watt metal halide spotlight with 2-  30 watt florescent lights across the  6 ft. long 125 gal. tank. Since we moved the brain coral to a higher water movement area it looks a bit better even though it is farther out of the range of the spotlight. <Good. These corals are not the highest in light demand.> The soft corals seems to  thrive directly under the spotlight and particularly where water flow is strongest. <Sounds like they're happy as is> We are not looking to have a tank so bright and as tumultuous as we see at LFS's, but we do need to know what we need to provide what our corals and fish need in order to thrive. <It sounds like you've got a good handle on things, Gloria. Just keep with your current husbandry, and I feel everything will establish comfortably in time.> Thanks, again, Justin for your time. We really do take your advice very seriously. Gloria <Thank you for the kind words, Gloria. The pride in feeling you've helped your fellow hobbyists is certainly reward enough. -JustinN> Candycane skeleton disintegrating   8/22/06 Greeting from Nova Scotia <Hello from San Diego, CA> I have a small coral reef tank since 9 months that causes no troubles. One of mine Candycanes got now about 11 branches (had 7 or 8 when we got it) and it's doing really good (dividing, long tentacles at night, bright colours, etc...). Two days ago however, I noticed that 2 of the branches are actually disintegrating. I am talking about the skeleton at the back of the polyp, and surprisingly enough, the polyps at the end of those branches are looking awesome and do not seems to be bothered at all. I am suspecting a lack of Calcium and/or the fact that my pH might be a bit too low (7.8/8.0) <Could be more...> so it drives the carbonate equilibrium of sea water toward the HCO3- side but I am not sure. A friend of mine (has a big coral reef tank) said that it might be the fact that my Candycane is submitted to water flow that are two high. <Another factor> I doubt it, but do you have any suggestions ? Thanks so much in advance Flavienne <Mmm, the ultrastructure of the alkaline earth skeletal matrix is likely "missing" something... happens frequently with (your as stated) imbalance of calcium, magnesium and alkalinity... Do you have the "Kalk habit"? This is a common situation (soft skeletons) with this use... other methods of supplying ready alkaline earth, carbonate produce "harder" bio-matrix (calcium reactors, two part supplements...). Bob Fenner> -------------------------------------- Dalhousie University Department of Oceanography

I Have A Dream... (Or A Nightmare!). Scleractinian comp. sys.  07/12/06 Hi guys, <<and gals>> and thanks for all the times you've helped me through difficult times in my aquarium life (ha-ha). <<Happy we have been of use>> Anyways, here's my current (surely not the last. sigh) situation: I'm planning to set up a reef aquarium measuring 40" L x 24" W x 20" H.  VHO and PC are not available in my corner of the world, so I am only able to use 2 pc.s 150W metal halides (industry surplus, refitted with 10,000K bulbs). <<I see...should be fine>> I know how you guys feel about 'garden' type reef, mixing LPS with SPS and softies, but I have this dream setup that features low-profile rockwork, patchwork mounding LPS colonies (Platygyra, Faviids, etc) with all the spaces between them filled with Actinodiscus, zooanthids, Ricordea etc) and maybe several of the branching soft corals for relief. <<Mmm, yes...an unnatural but not uncommon mix of organisms in reef aquaria.  Do be cautious with the Corallimorphs and the zooanthids, these can spread very quickly and are quite noxious>> My concerns include the following: 1) I chose LPS colonies because of their propensity for aggression and sweeper tentacles, but will they be able to fend off the encroaching mushrooms, zooanthids etc by themselves? <<The more aggressive Faviids/Euphylliids "might" be able to fend them off.  But bear in mind this requires a great expenditure in energy, as well as induces stress...do be sure to provide supplemental feeding of your corals>> Without my intervention, will the latter groups win and take over the LPS? <<Is a possibility/have seen it happen>> As much as possible, I want my inhabitants to grow into the tank naturally with little intervention, but given the chemical weapons of the softies, the runaway reproductive rate of the shrooms, and the aggressiveness of the LPS, is my premonition of ceaseless warfare warranted? <<Indeed it is.  There is little that is "natural" in this situation.  You can mitigate things to some extent by providing aggressive protein skimming and the use of chemical filtrants (carbon/Poly-Filter)>> I want a dream tank, not a nightmare tank. <<Can be/has been done.  Though in the long-term I feel these "mixed garden reef" tanks don't hold up/mature as nicely as one that has been modeled after a certain niche/for a certain species>> 2) Are the 2 x 150's ok enough for a 20" deep tank? <<Plenty...you might even want to consider going to a higher Kelvin temperature (13,000K-14,000K) considering the animals you plan to keep.  But if not, the 10,000K bulbs will do fine>> Will the non-LPS component of my tank be able to stand the 2 x 150 watt metal halides? <<One thing about these critters is they are highly adaptable.  They may not give you their best color under very intense lighting (I've seen red and blue mushrooms turn brownish-green), but if acclimated carefully, they will do fine.  Same goes for the LPS, not all do "best" under intense lighting...though I think your chosen species will be fine>> I'm concerned about the soft corals as they are documented to suffer under halides. <<Hmm...many do come from high-light environments.  But same rules apply...use careful acclimation to your lighting>> Your thoughts on these issues will be greatly appreciated, More power to you guys! Rix (Philippines) <<Proceed with caution and use your own good sense...and research your acquisitions fully...before you buy!  Regards, EricR>> Acropora tank 3/8/05 Thank you for the response Anthony it has helped me out. Your answers, however, have spawned more questions (I'm sure all too often). Your advice on the Acroporas and Montis have spurred me to go with strictly Acros.  <ah, good... I feel you will be much better in the long term for a more natural and compatible mix of corals> With that said I'm going to run 8 VHOs instead of 7. I figure instead of buying an icecap 430 I'll get a 660 for extra 20 bucks. <a good decision> For lighting...What bulbs of 7k do you know of??  <URI daylights> As far as I know URI makes the only decent VHO bulbs and they don't have a 7k spec bulb.  <Hmmm... do check again. I recall they have a 7100K or some such. Maybe their Chroma series. Just ask a rep. Its one of the cheapest and best bulbs for corals... the daylights in the 6500-7500K range> What do you suggest. Either way my ratio is going to be 3 daylight to one actinic which should give me plenty of daylight. <agreed> In your reply you mention Acros like more water flow. The flow on this system will start with an Iwaki 70rt. The tank has a trapezoid center overflow drilled with two 3/4" bulkheads on either side of the box. These two exits will be run off one SCWD. The next set of returns will be 2 3/4" SeaSwirls on either side of the tank. Both of these will also be running on a SCWD. I think this should give me some pretty random turbulent flow with pretty strong current due to the large pump.  <try for at least 30X turnover> Now the skimmer I've decided will be a 6-2...How would you set this skimmer up? Due to you're advice I'm going to pull some overflow water out of the overflow box through a 3/4" bulkhead.  <correct> Any advice on how to regulate the water level in the overflow box so I can get a consistent water level in the skimmer?  <it's a standing overflow... never changes. A dam or a bulkhead in the partition/wall> Do remember there will also be a one inch drain going to the fuge area...I figure once the pump gets turned on and the water flow reaches a equilibrium throughout the system the water level in the overflow box would be pretty constant right?  <the skimmer overflow box/wall is to be higher than the sump proper> In the sump there's gonna be an auto top off valve so changes to head pressure on the main pump will be minimized. I don't plan on adding any fish or corals to this system for at least 6months.  <this is very good!> I want to get every kink worked out as well as get the refuge area super stable and let the micro fauna really get a hold. Along with letting the tank cycle this way I was planning on using only blue spectrum lighting to keep algae down. Sally Joe at GARF mentions that using blue light encourages coralline algae growth...Is this true?  <depends on the coralline species... they run the gamut> Makes sense to me. I was also interested in using calcium gluconate to help encourage more growth. I figure the more coralline I have the less nuisance algae I'll have.  <correct> Ok well I have to cut this short a co-worker is breathing down my neck. Thanks a mill Chris aka fishtank <best regards, Anthony>

Water Movement For Acropora Hello, <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> Do Acroporas do better with a direct flow of one power head or with 2 - 125gph Power Sweep power heads? I have a 10 gall nano reef tank with 1 Acro with plenty of room for more! What do you guys think? Thanks for your time! <Well, most of the Acropora that favor high flow will benefit from randomized, indirect flow. Laminar flow directly into a coral can literally peel the tissue right off of the colony. Better to use those Power Sweep powerheads, or even some sort of rotating return device, like the wonderful Sea Swirls! HTH! Regards, Scott F.> 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

When can I add corals? Hello and good day to you. I have recently set up (4 wks.) a 75G tank as a reef tank and have been running water parameter tests weekly. This tank has a refugium w/ macro and sump w/ PM skimmer. I would like to know if you think that this tank is ready to stock with 2 small corals that I have my eye on or whether I should wait a few more weeks. My readings are: Temp-78.6 SG- 1.025 PH- 8.2 (tested with lighting off since overnight) Ammonia-0 Nitrates-0 Nitrites-0 Phosphates- < .25mg/L Calcium- 360mg/L (I think this needs to be higher- target 400-450?) Should I use B-ionic or similar product?  << Not bad.  Depends on what you want to keep, but adding little can't hurt. >> KH- 130mg/L I just went through the diatom stage and it is almost gone at this point now becoming green. I put 2 bonded false perculas in the tank yesterday (had to save them from a LFS) and only plan on 2 more fish- likely a yellow tang and some type of goby or blenny for substrate duty. Thank you very much for your help and your honest opinion. << Well the water seems fine.  But that usually isn't a problem anyway.  I've set up aquariums and put corals in them on the first day.  The main question is how is your lighting. That, with how much live rock you have, is the key to adding corals.  So if you feel you have enough light, then I think you are ready for corals. >> C <<  Blundell  >>

Hungry SPS corals 9/20/04 We have a 120g ecosystem reef tank that has numerous soft and stony corals with ample room for all to grow.   <Hmmm... OK. But do resist the temptation of mixing unnatural species in garden reef aquaria. Better to focus on niches, themes or biotopes for The lighting consists of two 250w metal halides with two 96w pc actinics. We supplement with bionic two part calcium solutions with weekly additions of iodine and strontium. We consistently run poly bio pads with PhosBan to keep phosphates to a near undetectable level. All of the corals and clams are growing at a fast rate and look healthy but occasional one of our SPS corals just bleach out and die. What could be some possible causes especially when the corals had been thriving before their demise and what should we do. <lack of adequate nutrition is a common cause here... SPS cannot be fed much/any prepared foods (particle size is too large). And so... if you have zero nitrates, no sand stirring of a DSB and no large mature refugium... then you have little feeding opportunities for them. They typically hang in for some months... even a year or two... then finally starve to death> We haven't introduced any new animals for at least 6 months. The tanks parameters were recently checked with the following results: ph  8.1 phosphates  0.00  ( Salifert test kit) calcium  480 Alkalinity 7.5 nitrates  0.5 Thanks for your help <your CA. ALK dynamic is scary skewed... that Ca should be a lot closer to 400 for safe keeping and the ALK should be in the 2-12 dKH range. Do a large water change to dilute this skew and then resume a balanced dosing of your two-part mix. And get thee to a refugium <G>. Anthony> To Flow or not to flow 9/13/04 Hello to the WetWebMedia Crew! <cheers :)> You have been so helpful with all the other little bumps I have hit I decided you would be the first people I ask for a recommendation on flow improvement. I have an 80 gallon AGA 48"X18"X21"tall and I am upgrading it to handle SPS.  I currently run a MAK4 (1120 GPH-head loss-SWCD loss=?) from my sump to a SCWD (squid) up to two sets of lockline jets on each side of the tank.  The flow was fine for softies but I worry it will not be enough to keep my SPS happy.   <agreed... garden reefs need about 10-20X water flow... but SPS tanks generally need a minimum of 20X. So... your 80 gallon tank needs at least 1600 gph... closer to 2000 gall would be nice> I have considered a spray bar but have heard stories of frequent cleanings and increased backpressure leading to burst return pipes.   <true> I was wondering What you would recommend to boost/maximize my flow?    <please do check out: http://wetwebmedia.com/pbh2oret.htm> Do you recommend sea swirls?   <yes... they are very fine products> If I could avoid another couple hundred dollars in pumps that would be sweet as my new hood broke the bank!  Any suggestions would be much appreciated! <the above link is a very inexpensive and effective means of delivering water flow. Best regards, Anthony>

Corals and phosphate problems? Hi WetWebMedia, << Blundell here. >> As is custom, here is your praise before the question.  You have  helped me a handful of times when I truly needed it, and you answering any  questions is the most appreciated thing. << You don't need to praise us, we're just here to help. >> I wrote last week with a general problem, it was screaming  "phosphate".  All my corals were retracted, and I had a serious red slime  problem.    I have since added 2 phosphate sponges. I did a 25% change  last week with barely noticeable effects.  I did a 100% water change( not  really 100%, it takes a half hour to siphon the water, and I add it back  gradually).  After this, my frogspawn opened completely, and my flower pot  is showing its polyps (about 10% protracted).  Generally I got a good result  from the massive water change.     My concern is my Xenia. It was thriving beyond belief-  it was almost 12" long, and its stalks were thickening. Almost 2 weeks ago, it  shrank to almost nothing, << Xenia is the first thing affected by change in most tanks.  Which is rather odd, since it is the hardiest thing in most tanks. >> I almost cant believe its stalks shrank to the point  where it takes up almost no area on the rock it came on. Its tips turned a  slight white prior to the water changes, but its color is back,     I wont bore you with chemistry, it is all well within  the recommended range. Briefly - ph, salt, amm, trite, trate, alk, calc-   8.2, 1.0235, 0,0 , 0 , 9.5, 475, all respectively.     I had briefly used city water (RO fitting broke) for 2  10% water changes. I let the water sit for a week before mixing salt.  All  my fish are happy as pigs in poop. << Wow that is happy. >> I really need some suggestions. The rest of  my corals responded well to the massive WC. The tank is 90 gallons, and until 3  weeks ago, never had even the slightest problem. I started the tank in March 2004, and I do not want this problem to become  a plague. Some more added info- 320 watts P/Cs, 650 gph sump return, powerheads circulate 1800 gph, SeaClone skimmer, 5 pounds crushed LR in the sump.    I am concerned for the tank, and would take to task any and  all suggestions you may have. << I'm not sure you need advise.  You did the big water change, and things are looking better right?  I'd keep skimming, and just give it time. >> I thank you kindly for your advice, both now and in the past. James Pruefer, Providence, RI <<  Blundell  >>

Alkalinity drop 7/23/04 I had been using Rowaphos for a few months with no problems. Unfortunately while on vacation, my Calcium Reactor output hose clogged up and the alkalinity dropped from around 10 to 6 ! This severely stressed out several of my favorite colonies including: Tri-Color Acro - this is the worst one hit but there are some live branches with many polyps under the dead white tips. Hydnophora - looks like this may recover from the bleaching Baby Blue Acro Frags- have many of these so not a biggy Blue Acro tortuosa - Tips are turning white, not sure if it will make it. One of my more expensive and most favorite pieces. <I am not convinced that a drop in alk to 6 would be enough by itself to cause this.  How sure are you that nothing died while you were away, causing an ammonia spike and how sure are you that your temperature did not rise more than about 4-6 degrees above normal?> My questions are:  What is the difference between bleaching and RTN ? My colonies did not all die in a matter of hours, but instead are bleaching slowly....although now that I have stabilized the water parameters (Ca = 430, Alk = 10) the bleaching has slowed but still continues. <Bleaching is the expulsion of zooxanthellae.  RTN is a condition where the coral "self destructs" and the animal itself dies and the tissue sloughs off of the skeleton.  I agree with your move to correct the alkalinity, and recommend carefully monitoring temperature, alkalinity, pH and other parameters and focus on STABILITY!  I would not try to aggressively correct any other parameter unless it is dangerous (ammonia?).> Should I remove the affected colonies ? <I would not.  Moving them would be another undue stress.> Should I frag the affected colonies to save what I can, or leave them alone and hope they recover ? <I would leave them alone.> Thanks in advance for any help you can offer. <In the mean time, I would recommend lowering your light levels a bit.  I would do this by reducing intensity first (fewer lamps running, raising lamps higher above tank) and only shorten the photoperiod if you don't have any other choice.  After a week or so, work your lighting back to normal over a week or so.  Best of luck!  Adam> Calcium Reactor Not Required?   <Hey there, Scott F. here with you tonight.> I have a 400 watt 10k bulb on with a spider reflector, metal halide lighting setup. My question is how can I keep Acropora hard corals in it without a calcium reactor? <How?  By regular additions of calcium in the form of Kalkwasser or two part Calcium\Alkalinity additives such as B-Ionic, or C-Balance, etc.  Yes, a calcium reactor is more convenient with some respects but wonderful reef systems can be maintained with calcium supplementation as outlined above.> If so, what can I start out with that's not too demanding as far as Acropora goes? Are there any easy SPS that will thrive under these conditions? <There are many species that will fill the bill.  I highly advise that you purchase a good coral reference such as Eric Borneman's "Aquarium Corals" or Anthony Calfo's "Book of Coral Propagation.> I just want clams and SPS corals. Can I get away without purchasing a calcium reactor? <Sure, as I already mentioned above.> In dire need, Carlos, in Salinas, California. <Good luck Carlos, and happy reefing!  Regards, Scott F.>

Greenhouse covering for coral farming 6/16/04 I have your "Book of Coral Propagation" and can't seem to find out exactly what I would like to know about a covering. I am looking for sheet to raise stony and soft corals both. <because of the very different lighting needs for so many corals (rather extreme in cases like deep water zoanthids and corallimorphs versus shallow water Acroporids), you will need to opt for the "highest common denominator" - essentially, get a covering that allows the most light AND the most UV into the greenhouse for your most demanding species, and then selectively shade over various grow out tanks with less demanding species as needed> I have contacted Stuppy's in Kansas city and  atlasgreenhouse.com. both told me to contact their respective manufacturers. atlas.com and klerksusa.com. at said the best they had was a par light transmission of 91% and this was typical. <not bad... agreed> can you help me find a covering or tell me what I need. <they steered you right, my friend. With growers having such vastly different needs (tomatoes, poinsettias, orchids, mushrooms, corals, etc.)... you are responsible for researching your own needs and then examining the specs of mfgs to pick from them. As mentioned in the coral prop book, seek plastic that allows maximum light and maximum UV in. The latter is the hardest to find as most plastics and glazing try to block (!) as much UV as possible. Still... don't be surprised that the plastic you find is going to be one of the least expensive (yay!). The advantage to max UV admission is a disadvantage to plastic longevity/stability. No worries... changing the GH covering every few years is simply par for the course> I am aware that I will need shade cloth. <yes... several different grades. And a light meter to judge which to use when) I just what some plastic. most people have no idea of what I am talking about when I mention coral farming. <understood... hence my recommendation (again in BOCP 1 <G>) that prospective coral farmers need to advise their GH suppliers that their needs in hardware (fans, plastic coverings, heaters, shade cloths, etc.) are very similar to orchid growers. Take this advise my friend> please help me. thank you <best of luck! And do consider going to the MACNA conference in Boston this September where you can get a priceless education from industry folks like myself eager and waiting to chat with folks/friends like you all weekend long. There is info on the conference on the home page of reefcentral.com Anthony>

Need more water flow? Coral Health 5/24/04 Hello and good morning, <howdy!> Hopefully this finds you with the picture this time. My coral is having some issues, it is not spreading out and polyps don't open any more. Now I am noticing some white spots on the underside. I bought it under the name of Pink Cabbage coral, the closest thing I can find is a flower leather coral. It has been "sliming" and then, the slime falls off. Is it cleaning itself? The white areas are of most concern. Any info would be helpful, and thank you for your time. Thanks, Daniel <the sliming is a normal mucous tunic shedding metabolites. If it lingers for more than a day, its a sign of inadequate water flow and can stifle the coral. I suspect this animal needs better water flow. Such leathers are generally quite tolerant of low to moderate light. No worries there unless you have less than 3 or 4 watts per gallon of white light. Anthony> 

- Summer is On The Way - Hello, My reef tank temperature is running hot I think.  It averages about 82 to 84. <That is a bit warm... much warmer and you will begin to lose some of your corals.> All the life in the tank is doing well but it is just the beginning of summer and am concerned. <You should be.> I happen to live in Phoenix AZ so heat is always a problem.  I am wondering what if anything I should do all the lighting is elevated about 2 inches above the glass top. <Start by blowing a fan across the surface of the water... this should lower the tank temperature a bit... if not sufficient you might want to explore having the tank lights on in the middle of the night or perhaps a chiller.> so I know that that is not a problem but still.   Thanks for your advice <Cheers, J -- >

SPS Dreams <Greetings from the SF Bay- Ryan with you> Sorry to keep bothering you all with questions but I really love the reef hobby and I can't stand nitrate and algae anymore! <I see> I'm really having a problem with nitrates though.  Here's what's going on:  I feed VERY small portions of formula one and Hikari ocean plankton along with seaweed to my (about 3"-4") Naso tang and (about 2") Maroon Clownfish twice per day ( I don't overfeed, right?). <Not at all> These foods also are low in protein. I do water changes once per week at 10-15 gallons in a 55 gallon reef tank (with 20 gallon sump), ok?  I don't have many corals (Xenia, two Leathers, Condy anemone and a few small stalks of candy cane coral, had frilly mushrooms but they died???????)  All my parameters are checked once per week as follows: Ammonia-0, Nitrite-0, Nitrate always 25-35ppm, Ca-400-420, Alk-4-6 meq/L, Salinity- 1.0245, Temp-76-78F, Phos always tests 0 also; and I use a EuroReef skimmer CS6-1 (which only pumps about 1/4"-3/8" junk out of the tank everyday at most, and I have adjusted it many times).   I have just started using small amounts of activated carbon (nitrate/ Phos free) hoping for help.  With such a small fish load <A Naso Tang in a 55 is not exactly a small fish load.  This fish needs larger quarters quickly, and is the primary reason that you can't get your water quality where you want it.> and not much feeding I do not understand how I can have such high nitrates for so long with this maint. schedule.   Nitrates have been like this for about 7-8 months.  I use deionized water for evap. and changes also.  Please help, I believe that my tank could blossom with SPS after I can control these nitrates and I am very excited about that. <I agree, but you need to lose the Naso to achieve this. How many pounds of live rock are you using?  I would certainly maintain at least 1 pound per gallon if you are going to attempt SPS.> Any help on adjusting my skimmer would help also. <Need more to work with...Try WetWebFotos. com's equipment forum.> I am almost ready to hire someone to come check my tank...<Hmmm...Paying well? ;)  >.. if anyone there is interested!!!!  Any help will be great and thanks for all of the recent help, the site is really great and a big help to many! <Glad you find it useful.  Good luck! Ryan> Nano SPS tank Hello again crew members. <Hello, a fellow SPS Fanatic at your service :)> I need advice about a choice in coral I made that I think is a mistake now. I have a SPS nano tank that is 20 gallons. I even have a nano calcium reactor made by Myreef. It is very cool and does the job. <Sounds nice!> I do have some soft coral that I added. It is now my concern. A frag of zoanthids and a toadstool leather. I know that these two corals and my SPS do not like each other and fight. <Correct.> I wonder if I have any chance of keeping them together when I am doing water changes of 10% each week. And that I add active carbon fresh each week. <Both the genus Sinularia and Sarcophyton will release chemicals into the water column which acts as a growth inhibitor. This chemical (defense) usually targets Acropora and Porites. I highly discourage mixing species in such a small aquarium because of this. Along with the chemical issue, physical warfare can occur if these corals get too close to each other. Yes, it can be done successfully if you run carbon constantly, but as I said above, I discourage mixing soft corals with SPS corals in such a small aquarium. Overall, if you run carbon constantly you shouldn't have too much to worry about.> Thank you, Karl <Take Care, Karl! Graham S.>

Tank not able to support coral life 3/4/04 Good morning,  I will try to keep this short and thank you in advance for your assistance. <Good morning Paul.  Adam here, glad to be of assistance.> Background   My 120 gallon reef tank ran for a few years with success, supporting softies, LPS, SPS, bugs, fish etc. until a dreaded flatworm crash that killed just about my entire tank.  Unfortunately, I did not have a skimmer that was able to deal with the toxins from the millions of dying flatworms and consequential events. <Was this crash incidental or induced (Oomed, Flatworm exit, quinine drugs)?  If it was induced, you have the combined issue of the flatworm toxins, the rotting flesh and the medication.  This can be quite a stressful combination!  Powerful skimming, water changes and carbon can help ameliorate these problems.> So, I tore down the tank treated everything with Melafix and set it up again - that was about 8 months ago. New sand and water but same live rock (if I can still call it "live"). I did not get a new skimmer at that time - BIG mistake. My tank has run for the 8 months being able to support only fish with little evidence of life otherwise. I would buy snails, a frag or two, bugs, and everything would die. Algae everywhere (hair and Cyano), despite my attempts at growing macros, poly filters, etc. <Why Melafix?  This is an "herbal" (read: questionable) treatment for fish disease, and my impression is that it is really only meant for FW.  Your ongoing problems probably have many causes.  Lack of good skimming may be contributing, but you probably also did significant damage to the life on your rock.> Today   I have a new Lifereef skimmer that has been up and running for about 6 weeks.  Since then, I have seen dramatic improvement - worms, virtually eliminated the Cyano, great reduction in algae, and even some zoos I didn't know I had are coming back. My parameters are (Salifert): 1025 salinity, 8.2-8.4 ph, 10 DKH, 78 temp, phosphates undetectable, nitrates undetectable, calcium 300. I am working on getting my calcium up. Lighting consists of two 175 watt 14K halides with two 96 watt actinics. My  circulation is via sea swirl and closed loop. <The skimmer is a nice addition, and it sounds like a nice set-up.  It is a good sign that things are recovering.> Problem/Question I purchased a few frags on Saturday (acros, hydno, cap, torch, xenia, zoos). As of this morning I have lost the acros, cap. The hydno and torch do not look good. The zoos look fine.  With the exception of my calcium, my parameters seem good. Can you tell me, is it possible that I have left over effects from the whole flatworm thing? The Melafix?, Can their be some pathogens or bacterial problems? Toxins? <Could be some combination of all of the above.  You have moved right into some of the most finicky corals.  Acros, torch, Hydnophora and xenia are all very sensitive to a wide variety of water quality issues.  Zoanthids (zoo's is an improper contraction... If anything "Zo's" would be less confusing with Zooxanthellae which begins "zoo".  Sorry for the pet peeve rant.).  You can rule out pathogens.  Coral pathogens are extremely rare, selective in what they infect and generally opportunistic on already stressed animals.  Toxins are a possibility and could be from your previous treatments or the flatworms.> At this point I am very frustrated and confused. Would a UV sterilizer help?  Thanks again and sorry for the length but I figured you needed to understand the whole story. <No worries about the length, the more details, the more likely we will find a solution.  UV will not help since this is not a pathogen.  The lack of life shows that at very least your tank has to be built back to "maturity".  It could take a long time to accomplish this since most of the life was killed off.  You  may be best served by replacing all or at least a large portion of your rock to  get back on track.>  Paul  <Best Regards.  Adam>

- The Perfect Tank - Hi WWM Crew! I have been reading your columns and website for a bit and find them extremely informative and value your collaborative opinions.  So I would like to pose the (hopefully entertaining) question, 'What is your opinion of the "ideal" setup for a 36x18x20 SPS tank'? <Heh... my ideal setup for SPS wouldn't be a tank of this size but something much larger.> I have an idea of the components you would recommend, but I haven't seen you answer this type of question without constraints (other than size). <Well... you've already provided the constraints.> I realize that it is a relatively small tank (< 55g w\internal overflow and two returns), but those are the dimensions that work best for me currently.  So, in lieu of the size, what filtration, lighting, etc. would you recommend if you were setting it up at your house with someone else's credit card? <Sump/refugium as large as possible with its own lighting (fluorescent will do fine), several (three or four) good powerheads, metal halide lighting for the tank, and a calcium reactor.> Caveat, I hope to keep the remaining portion of the project under $3-4k. <Does that include livestock?> OK, that was the last constraint:)  I have not begun to buy or build any part of the setup excluding aforementioned tank and intend to do it properly the first time. I have a 36x18x18 LPS tank that has been established for years and have seen many areas in which I would improve 'my next setup'.  Now that time has come. Thanks for your opinion! Jeff <Cheers, J -- >

Coral Temperature - 10/02/03 Saludos: <Heyyyyyyyyyy> First I want to thank you for the wonderful information in your site. <Thank you, too! This is a collaboration of sorts. Without your questions this site barely exists> I was able to save my fish from a nasty marine velvet attack using the fresh the water dips detailed in your FAQs. <That's what it is all about, baby!> Now my question pertains to tank temperature. <OK> Currently my tank's temperature is a constant 82F degrees. <Hmmmmm> In all the literature I find it is mentioned that to keep corals the temperature in the tank must be between 75F and 78F degrees. <Well, I keep mine between 78-80 degrees. I have certainly heard of people keeping corals in a constant 82F but again, corals are usually at their thermal saturation point already, so excess heat is usually detrimental. I would shoot to lower a little if you can. 80F is better than 82F. If you can do this, you should be able to have some success in keeping most corals.> Is it a must to have tank temperature down to 78F for corals or I can get by with 82F? <I like between 78F and 80F. Do a little research on your coral choices regarding the location and temperatures from where they are collected or have been observed to thrive. This will go a long way in helping to find a median temperature to where you can keep corals without excessive heat stress -Paul> Cordially; Jos?Gonz?ez

Corals At War? I've been doing a lot of reading and haven't found a succinct answer to my question. In my tank I have small Yellow Polyp mushroom, Cup Coral, Brain Coral, Hammer Coral, small Green Star Polyp, Elegance and a small Maxima clam. Are any of those antagonistic to each other?  Thanks, Brent <Well, Brent, I'd say that the Hammer Coral, Elegance Coral and the Green Star Polyps can be quite aggressive and noxious towards other corals, and each other. If these animals are to be kept together (or with other corals), I'd suggest substantial space between them, as well as aggressive husbandry (water changes, carbon, Poly Filter, skimming) to keep water quality high and dilution of allelopathic chemicals at a maximum rate. Hope this helps! Fore more on coral aggression, you could check out Anthony's "Book of Coral Propagation", and Eric Borneman's "Aquarium Corals", both of which address this issue well. Regards, Scott F>

High Phosphate I have a huge excess of phosphate in my tank, will it hurt my corals? <High levels of phosphate are fuel for nuisance algae that will harm the corals. Don>

Nitrate and Frogspawn coral Hi: I am just new to reef tank, 2 days ago, I just introduced a Frogspawn coral to my 20g tank, and later I found my water is not perfect -- ammonia 0.1, nitrite 0, but nitrate 10, the coral is still opening, but seems not every tip is opening, should I have to quarantine it, or please advise what I should do to save it. <The ammonia is far more dangerous than the nitrate. Nitrate at 10 ppm is not something to worry about, however, keep an eye on that ammonia. As long as it disappears, the coral should be ok, as long as you have proper light and water motion> Appreciate for the help Shane <best, Chris> Shane Lee, Ph.D.

SPS Tank Setup 7/30/03 Dear Mr. Fenner <Anthony Calfo in his stead> First off great website!  I have been soaking up as much info as I can the last three months, my head is spinning with all the information available. <keep spinning 'til you need glasses... and then only do it half as much <G>> I have been keeping a soft coral w/ a few LPS coral reef tank for six years.  I have been bitten by the SPS bug and would like to convert my tank to a SPS/clam tank. <fair enough... and do be sure to thin out the non-SPS herd to succeed> I've learned from past experience/failures that getting it right the first time is invaluable. That being said,  I think after searching your site and reading books I have a handle on what I want/need to do. I could use a little hand holding and a couple of questions answered. My tank is a 75 gallons AGA w/ built in corner overflow into a 20 gallon sump.  I am currently using a wet dry which I plan on removing.  Mag 5 for the return pump. I plan on purchasing the following: Knop calcium reactor, Euro-Reef skimmer, (currently have a Red Sea Berlin skimmer, temperamental) and a AquaFuge hang on refugium.   <all good/agreed> Lights will be two 175 watt MH w/ two "03" VHO actinic bulbs.  1" inch of aragonite sand on the bottom.  10% water change every two weeks.  Comments, suggestions,  dirty words? <all sounds to be on par> A few concerns I have are 1. Lighting -  Want to keep SPS corals that are blue, purple and pink.  Will this light be sufficient to keep these corals from changing color?   <really varies by species under various lamps. No one can honestly say that x- wattage or x- brand lamp keeps all x- colored corals> 2. My lights are 1" from the water surface.  Nothing I can do short of a new canopy to change this.   <MH lamps less than 6" off the water can be scary/dangerous/ The fluorescents however should be no further than 3" max> 3. Water circulation - PLEASE suggest how many/what kind of powerheads for a SPS tank of this size. Been really struggling with this one) <no power heads (written at length on the archives about this. But do seek circulation of 10-20X hourly. Read more here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/circmarart.htm and be sure to follow the many links at the top of the page(s)> 4. Harbor Aquatics is three hours drive from my house.  Good rock?  Worth the drive to hand pick my rock? <very well worth it> Thanks in advance. Larry Smerigan    

Re: SPS Tank Setup 7/31/03 Thank you for your response. <always welcome my friend> My lights being so close to the water has always been a concern.  Any suggestion on how to raise the canopy?  I have been looking for an "insert kit" to fit on the lip of the tank and then rest the canopy on this.  Do you know if such a product exist? <not sure... and doubtful for any but small, custom companies. Do consider a simple DIY collar to the tank to prop all up as it the tank was taller. If you are not inclined to build it yourself, do seek a local LFS or Cabinet-maker to construct such an article> Back to circulation. You recommend 10-20X hourly.  So for a 75G tank 20X per hour would be 1500 GPH.  On some of the FAQ's I have read some recommendation for 2000 to 3000 GPH.  Help!   <its just an average range - one cannot fairly assess the light or water flow needed without having a list of species of corals that will be kept. Saying "SPS" alone is no more indicative than saying "dog-keeper". The difference between a poodle and a great Dane is especially noticeable when one lives in a one-bedroom apartment ;) They require different feeding amounts, exercise, space, etc. The same holds true for your SPS corals. Acropora formosa might get simply wrecked by 20X water flow... yet Porites cylindricus may not even survive for very long (or at least not grow) under 20X. Please do (re-)read through the links mentioned in the last e-mail. This aspect of your decision making process is emphasized and illuminated there. Pick your corals by name first. Then you can assess their needs for light, water flow, etc.> Thanks,  Larry <best regards, Anthony>

Green open brain coral and leather coral 5/31/03 Hello, <Cheers> I am going to buy a green open brain coral but am unsure of a few things. First I keep reading conflicting information on your site as to how often to feed it ...some places say no more than twice a week and other places say at least 3-5times weekly so I need to know how often I actually need to feed it. <the difference here is the case by case e-mails we receive. An aquarist that has a large or heavy bio-load (other/large fishes, heavy feedings etc) will need to feed an open brain less often. Yet, if you have few fishes that are fed lightly, you will need to feed the coral more often> Also I need to know what to feed... I feed the tank Mysis shrimp are those the right size and healthy enough for it? <as you may have noticed in the archives repeatedly, you will need to feed a variety of meats of marine origin. Mysids are a good staple, but not complete or to be fed to exclusion> If not than what would be best? How far apart do green open brain corals need to be form each other? <a minimum of 10" (25 cm) between all corals is a fair start for the 2 year pictures. Still... some fast growing corals will need more room> I want to have 2 or 3 if possible. I have a finger leather coral (I attached a pic of it from when I first stuck it in the tank) that I fragged into 3 parts... all three parts are doing good. So I need to know if this coral needs to fed and if so what? <nope... they cannot be target fed (polyps are too small). Rely on a fishless refugium instead and feeding on DOCs> I was told and have read that they don't need to be fed ,and that they need to be fed so I'm not sure. <they need to feed and eat, just not organismally (particles)> Is it normal for them to expand open there polyps and then after several hours shrink? <quite common> or are they suppose to be open during the whole day? one more thing ....since they're the same coral does it matter how close they are to each other? (the picture is before I fragged it ) <frags from the same colony can touch> I have a 29gal. <yikes! This tank is too small for more than one brain coral... the leather will also outgrow this tank soon> tank with 110watts of pc lighting that has been up for 6months. here's what I plan on having (corals) finger leather (already have it) 1-3 green open brain corals milk leather coral or toadstool leather coral cabbage leather coral colt coral probably some mushrooms and/or green star polyps and maybe a candy cane coral and/or bubble coral if you think any of these is a bad mix or too many than please tell me what to leave out thanks allot, Eric :) <it really is too much for a 29 gallon my friend. Forego the mushrooms and perhaps the star polyps for their aggression (need a larger tank to spread). Also resist the LPS like the bubble and other brains in smaller aquaria. Your best bet IMO is a variety of hardy leathers that you trim as necessary. Best of luck, Anthony>

Another "Coral Nerd" In The Making! Hello, <Hey there! Scott F. with you today!> First off, I must apologize in advance if I'm asking too many questions. <No such thing as "too many questions"! Ask away!> You guys are my last resort (after going through the chat forums and FAQs, which by the way are great resources).  I've been at this hobby for about 2 years, on and off.  Wanted a challenge and it has been a whole lot of fun. I currently have a 29 gal tank with about 35 lbs of live rock and about an inch or less of live sand.  For the past 1/2 year, after starting from scratch, the tank looks great.  But I now want to get more "advanced" to possibly  explore with corals.  Believe it or not, I have some money to burn and would like your opinion on what I should get.   <Glad to hear that capitalizing your venture will not be a problem! it's one of the key "components" to a successful system, IMO!> I'm interested in buying better lighting for my tank.  I have 2 options, a 30" JBJ Formosa DX-JG3 with 2x65 watts (daylight and actinic) or a 30" Jalli CFS66W30 with 2x55 watts (daylight and actinic).  Any opinions on the 2 models?  Is the lighting (130 or 110 watts) too much for the tank? <Well, I don't have experience with these particular brands of PC lighting, but I have a lot of experience with other brands of PCs (Custom Sea Life, in particular). I like power compacts- they give a lot of "bang for the buck". I'd go with the 2- 65 watt, simply because every extra watt of power helps! As far as it being "too" bright- should not be a problem, depending upon the types of corals that you are keeping (LPS and most soft corals will do fine under this type of PC arrangement, IMO). Try to keep corals that require the level and spectrum of light that the lighting system of your choice can provide. If you are going to be "one of those" SPS guys(!)- look into metal halide pendants (like a 150watt HQI), like Sunlight Supply's "Reef Optix III Plus" double-ended pendants...They are amazing...Heat can be a factor in such a small tank with these lights, however...> How soon can I add corals and what types? (sorry I'm rambling)   <You can add the corals as soon as the appropriate parameters for their care (water quality, lighting, etc.) are met and a consistent, stable environment provided. The types are largely dependent upon your taste, and  (more importantly) the ability of you to supply an environment that suits their needs. I'd start with some soft corals or LPS corals (on or the other, IMO)- so many good choices to work with...Get a copy of a good coral book, Like Eric Borneman's "Aquarium Corals", or John Tullock's "Natural Reef Aquariums" for more ideas on species and biotopic presentations you can assemble> The other item that I was interested in is a protein skimmer.  After reading all your FAQs I now want to buy one. <Yep- an absolute necessity, IMO!> Should I get both at the same time or one first then the other with some time in between for the tank to get "adapted" to one before introducing the other equipment?  If it's the latter, which should equipment should I get first then when can I put the other? <Well, ideally- I'd get both the lights and the skimmer at the same time. If you have to start with one- I'd get the skimmer...At least this way, you can get your water quality up to par, and then upgrade the lights to "coral quality". I'd look into Aqua C, Euroreef, or Tunze- All great brands, IMO> Any reply would be greatly appreciated. Lastly, thank you for being there for making this hobby so rewarding and fun. Dennis <I'm glad to be here for you, Dennis! Hope that you have as much fun working on this system as I did hearing about your plans! Good luck! Scott F> DOC levels Over the last two years I have seldom done water changes based on various opinions.   <OK> For the last two months, however, I have changed 20% each month.   <excellent> I have a very good RO unit.  As a result, I'm having an algae outbreak, and now hair algae is developing on the dead spots on the cup corals, no doubt from the slight silicate that my RO filter can't remove.   <Are you teasing me <G>? Two years without water changes and DOC levels off the scale... 2 years of accumulated and concentrated waste products... and you really think the trace amounts of silica (possibly) slipped past your admittedly very good RO is the cause of the algae? Are you pulling my leg? DO test your DOC levels, my friend, and consider the premise mentioned and that your coral polyps not opening and the ensuing algae outbreak are the results of nutrients simply reaching a critical mass. Your water changes not only may have been unrelated... but they may very well have staved off a crash> All other corals and  fish are thriving.   <hmmm... each has a different tolerance, bud. Somebody has to be the first to show signs of stress. You are talking about fish and coral that could not be more distantly related> I have candy cane corals which have propagated from two stalks to seven in the past six months.  I haven't had a fish die in two years and several of my fish are seven years old.  My water quality cannot be too bad. But I will take your info to heart. Thanks <good to hear. Best regards, Anthony>

Giving Corals A Try? Dear WWM Crew, I know you have probably heard this a million times, but WHAT A GREAT Site !!!  Thank you to all of you that share your knowledge to everyone in need. <Thank you so much for the kind words! Sharing ideas is what makes this hobby so much fun! Scott F. here tonight> Anyways here is my setup and my questions.  We have a 55 gal FOWLR (currently) along with a 10 gallon sump that houses 2 compartments of bioballs and some macro algae and miracle mud in the middle compartment (about 5 gals for the mid).  Just got our protein skimmer running (as per your suggestions of "some skimming" in a mud filtration setup) and we have been producing "tank coffee" for the past 2 days now. <Excellent- decaf or regular? :) > Its been about a couple of months now and looks like the typical diatom bloom is almost gone (made a mistake on starting with tap).  We have about 30 lbs of LR with: 1 - 2.5" Dwarf Lion fish 2 - 2" Cinnamon clowns 1 - 1.5" Blue Damsel 1 - 5" Yellow Tang 1 - 2" Blenny 10 - Hermit crabs 1 - Chocolate chip star Lighting is a Helios PC with 36watt bulbs, 2 white and 2 blues. <those are surprisingly intense bulbs! I've seen them on a few nano tanks and was impressed..> The return pump is a Quiet One which is about 700 to 600 gph at top "loop" with 5 nozzles. Questions: 1) How's our bio load ? light, med, or heavy ? Can we still support some corals and anemones ? <I'd say that your bioload is medium. I wouldn't add more than one additional small fish to this system. I'd pass on the anemones for now.> 2)  Can our lighting support some pulsing corals like Xeniids ? Possibly some hard ?  What kind ? We do have some old fluorescents to add another 70 watts in the mix.  Should we add them ? <I think xenia would be a good coral to work with in this tank. You might try some other corals, like mushroom corals, and maybe some adaptable LPS corals, like Trachyphyllia> 3)  Is our flow sufficient? <For xenia and some other soft corals and LPS, it is sufficient, IMO> 4)  Can we possibly house a couple of sea horses in the MMud sump ?  My daughters keep bugging me about them.  Maybe after 6 months ? <I'd pass on that idea. The reason is that you are trying to keep that area undisturbed. Also- any food organisms that are produced in that area, which could benefit the main system, will, in all likelihood be decimated by the seahorses. Better to set up a dedicated tank designed for their needs, IMO> Thank you for all your great insight, Robert Zamora <My pleasure, Robert- hope to chat with you again soon! Sounds like you have a really neat tank! Regards, Scott F> P.S.  You have a mistake on your "Tagalog" comment in the tang's section.  That statement should say "Kamusta na pare ko".  You might have done it purposely to cater to Spanish speaking folk. <Hmm- I'm sure that we'll look in to that. >

Slowly moving towards a reef I have had a fish only tank for the past 6 years, and am in the process of preparing my tank to support gorgonians, anemones, shrimp, polyps, mushrooms etc.  Would you agree that these are good specimens to begin with before trying any corals?   <the polyps (Proto-/Palythoa and Zoanthus) and the mushrooms are very good and hardy choices. The gorgonians are highly variable ranging from hardy to nearly impossible to keep alive. Please (!) be sure to avoid aposymbiotic species (Red orange, yellow and anything with white polyps). Stick with brown purple and grey species. Anemones are an entirely different story. Never to be mixed with sessile cnidarians (they are motile) and most require higher water quality and brighter lighting than most corals! Species tanks only for gorgonians please and after you have gained reef experience. Too many anemones die prematurely> Do these specimens have the same requirements as hardy corals, except that slightly more forgiving?  My head is spinning trying to figure out how much and how often to supplement calcium, iodine, and strontium.   <it shouldn't be that difficult my friend. Iodine dosed in very small amounts daily. Strontium is not needed. And calcium as necessary (test weekly and maintain target of 325-450ppm. I recommend Kalkwasser> At the suggestion of a well known LFS in the North East (The House of Fins), I purchased the EVS B-ionic system, and 'Reef Solution' by Ecosystems.  Are these good products?   <I like the ESV very much (but shake this and all 2-part solutions VERY well before Every dose, else they become separated and misdosed). I personally wouldn't take or use the Ecosystems product for free. Unnecessary IMO> How long before adding my first 'reef' specimens should I begin using these additives?   <no rule here. Calcium is dosed as needed (Ca testing).> The B-ionic is relatively expensive when compared with Kalkwasser, so I think I will switch to Kalkwasser after I finish the B-ionic (Can you recommend a brand?).   <Kalkwasser is more tedious to use, but has many benefits over all others. Read up on it well before using. Have you seen my primer article on Calcium and Alkalinity here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Anthony%20pics/understanding_calcium_and_alk.htm many other good reef articles here and beyond on our site: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Latest%20Articles.htm> I have also learned that Kalkwasser eats away at alkalinity, What should I use to keep this up, Kent SuperBuffer?   <Completely inaccurate... Kalkwasser actually indirectly Supports (!) alkalinity. So much so that some people need little or no buffer additions . Still... test Ca hardness to be sure when to dose buffer> Since I plan to move slowly, I am thinking of adding a gorgonian, an anemone and a few shrimp to start for the first 3 months or so.  Does this light load of inverts change the dosing of supplements?   <no anemones for at least 2 years or until you get a dedicated tank for it with no other corals or anemones. Also resist getting a clown for the anemone at least at first (more harm than good to the anemone). Seek a brown sebae or a bubble tip anemone first> (I currently have a 90 gallon w/ LR curing in a garbage can, Blue Linckia, crabs, snails, 2 cukes, and an assortment of damsels and clowns, 1 yellow tang).  How does my plan sound? <sounds like you have a blue Linckia that may starve my friend. Most needs mature reefs over 1 year old with aged live rock. Please target feed this sea star several times weekly for its survival. The cucumbers are also at risk of starving on immature livesand> Any suggestions are much appreciated. <as per above my friend. Overall though it sounds like you are on a good track> My biggest concern is a regiment to help me maintain consistent levels of these critical additives with which I have no experience.   <in that case, simply conduct 25% weekly water changes and sleep well knowing that for the first 6-12 months you will be doing better with wc's than any supplements could provide> Thanks for all your help, I'm sure your advice will save me many $ and headaches down the road. Adam Best regards, Anthony>

Coral Acclimation Greetings Marine Men <that's a cool title :p> I was reading over WWM and I still don't understand the acclimation procedure of corals. Is it different for LPS and SPS or the same?  <it is not different for LPS, SPS or most any invertebrate for that matter. Essentially all inverts are far more sensitive to changes in water quality than fishes. The duration of the initial acclimation to water in a bucket or tank varies on how the animal was obtained (Mail order versus local bought, transshipped versus wholesale versus retail shipped, time piece has been held in captivity, time of transit, etc). Still... the gist of it is to slowly mix water offer a 15030 minute period while maintaining stable temperature (floating bag or heated acclimation bucket). And of course, no new animal should be placed into the display without quarantining for 2-4 weeks first in a bare bottom QT tank (see archives on this if you need). After that, the next concern for symbiotic cnidarians is light acclimation... see here, my friend: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acclimcoralslight.htm Best regards, Anthony> And could you describe, if it isn't too much trouble, the exact steps in acclimating LPS and SPS to your tank for me? And the procedure for good health through the proceeding days. Thanks John Moyer http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acclimcoralslight.htm

Weak coral growth Dear Bob, <Anthony Calfo in your service> Hope you could help with a recent problem with my SPS Corals. I have noticed that though they are growing very well the new growth is extremely fragile. For example, some of the MONTIPORAS are so weak that they become 'powder' when you touch them! <very common with SPS, particularly with Montipora. Still... as often an artifact of moderate or weak water flow. Strong flow builds stronger skeletons. Practice random turbulent flow (opposing/converging outlets). Save your money on wave timers... generally unnecessary or bunk. As far as the soft tips... all SPS set new skeleton with calcium free-floating in an almost "gelatinous" growth tip> Calcium levels have been recently increased from 350 to 410 with the use of Julian Sprung's SEA BALANCE (ALB).  <hmmm... do consider other products too (ESV two part calcium). And make sure all such products are shaken VERY well before dosing. The clear calcium supplement has stratified layers of compounds only apparent in a clear bottle after setting.> Alkalinity varies between 7 - 8 DKH. <a bit low... but not terrible. Aim for 11-12 dKH. Do a big water change with buffer, then resume with a balanced two part mix> Magnesium around 1300. 0 Phosphate and less than 5mg/litre Nitrate. <yes... do allow a little nitrate to linger to feed coral. Necessary> The tank is lit by 10000K Metal halides and the corals have no supplementary feeding. Good over dimensioned skimming and the system has very strong growth of coralline algae. <excellent> Is this problem due to low calcium and alkalinity levels,  <both are adequate... this is not the problem> or is there any other factors which could cause this weak coral growth? <water flow is the most significant> If so, is the only answer to invest in a calcium reactor?  <convenient but not necessary> Should we provide our system with anything else to benefit our corals structural growth? <regular water changes (small weekly is ideal IMO), iodine> Thanks Patrik <best regards, Anthony>

Thinking about Starting a coral wholesale business in southeastern Michigan Hello Bob My name is Alex Gawura I don't know if you remember me but I met you in Michigan at the MASM club meeting. <I do recall> I was wondering what the range the cost of starting a wholesale operation for corals and other inverts would be? <A few to many thousands of dollars... If you have a/the location, some of the husbandry gear, a computer, a car/truck... not much for operating capital... If you wanted to (not advised) start off "running"... as opposed to "walking" in the biz, you would need a great deal of money to rent, buy all this...> I have about 7 years of experience and my partner has 10 years. We both are working in a retail store now and this idea popped into our heads that we might be able to start a wholesale operation. Any advice would be of great help. Thank you for your time Alex Gawura <Worthwhile investigating... Do start penciling, putting together a business plan and a marketing plan for your intended endeavor... If you haven't "done" these before, perhaps seek out the excellent help of your local SBA (Small Business Administration) dept. They have forms, suggestions for these processes, and even folks who can help you develop them. You will need such documents to help formulate in and between you and your partner who will do what and what all will do... and ultimately such plans to secure financing... for when your business is growing quickly... Please do read through the materials placed on WWM re the aquatics business: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/indarts.htm, try to secure some work in aspects of the wholesale ends of the trade, and determine where you want to be... livestock only, dry goods, importer/distributors... Bob Fenner>

45G Office Soft Coral Tank Hi guys, <Good morning! Steven Pro in for now.> I'm thinking of moving my 45G corner tank to work. Wanted your opinion on whether the setup below sounds reasonably hardy to you. Biggest question in my mind are the anemones (see below). Tank is 45G with a 24" and 36" VHO actinic pair and 2 150W 6000K MH bulbs. <That is an awful lot of light. One MH with one of the actinic fixtures will be more than enough.> It has a good skimmer on it. No refugium or calcium reactor (I have one I could use but was thinking of leaving it off since no hard corals and these are extra maintenance). <Ok> Heater, but no chiller although the office is fairly cool so this should not be an issue. <Ok, but check to see if the temperature is maintained all weekend. There maybe some cost-saving issue and the building management may allow things to warm up over the weekend in summer and cool off in winter.> Corals: hardy soft corals like green star polyps, photo-synthetic gorgonian, zoanthids, mushrooms and probably a green tree leather. Considering xenia but not sure I want that in such a small tank. They do grow like weeds. <Agreed, but can be controlled by Iodine supplementation.> Fish: Rainford's goby, flame hawk, 2 yellow tail blue damsels and a pair of A. ocellaris (if I put in the anemones). Anemones: None or a pair of orange BTAs or a H. crispa. <I would vote none. I much prefer to see anemone cared for in anemone specific tanks, no other corals.> I actually have all the stock including the anemones. I'm thinking of giving the BTAs a try in the tank since they seem to tolerate lower lighting. The crispa is thriving (over 16" across now) but it is also large and is parked right under a 400W MH bulb. The clowns take to either. <Where ever they are now, if happy and healthy, I would leave them.> The tank will get daily maintenance except weekends. I'll have someone look after it on my trips which are once a month. Needs to be fairly hardy and self-sufficient. What do you think about the suggested stock, fish load, and anemones? <See notes above.> Thanks! ~Marc <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: 45G office soft coral tank Hi Steven, <Hello Marc,> Thanks for the advice. On the MH lighting, guess that is a hold over from my early days when I didn't have enough light on the tanks. Rather than cut back to one, I think I'll try running the two staggered. Maybe 2-6 for one and 4-10 for the other for sort of a morning-noon-afternoon effect. <I am still having a hard time envisioning all of those fixtures mounted over a 45 gallon Pentagon.> On the anemones, their current tank is coming down for a variety of reasons (time, tank location and money). Moving the anemones to the 45G is a way to keep my babies. They done well in the big tank on a freestanding "bommie" with zoanthids, mushrooms, gorgonians and even some SPS (they get burned from time to time but they were attached to the rock I made the bommie from). Anyway, I was thinking of reproducing this in the 45G. If I move the anemones it will be as an anemone tank with the other things as filler on the sides. I'd rather go lighter on the other corals than omit the anemones but the tank would seem a bit drab with nothing but the anemones. <Ok> So, given that the anemones will be going to the LFS <Oh no Mr. Bill!> (or experienced aquarist if I can find them) and I was thinking of putting in just the tough soft corals, do you still think I should leave the anemones out? <If they have already cohabitated with these same corals, it is worth a shot. I would rather have you keep them than give them to someone else. My biggest concern is allelopathy and aggression. Be pretty liberal with Chemi-Pure, PolyFilter, and protein skimming.> As you can tell, I like my anemones and would like to try this but not if you think it is a very bad risk. Thanks! Marc P.S. On a separate note, I've decided to put the tank in my study at home rather than the office. <A wise decision. -Steven Pro>

Quick Questions of Fish Compatibility and Coral/Calcium Problem Hi Bob! Hope that this finds you well, long time no talk! <Bob is enjoying himself in Australia right now.> My 50 gallon reef has been doing well for a while, no losses over the last year until recently. I have two animals that I am concerned about. Firstly is a blenny that I added last weekend (that's what I get for messing with the balance, I guess.) Meiacanthus grammistes is what it looks like. It is eating fine and swimming at the front of the tank with the rest so I can see him, but the tail is looking more and more chomped, although I have sat in front of the tank for hours to watch and not seen anything picking on him, and not seeing any other fish looking bothered. This morning the tail was red. Inhabitants in the tank are: 1 Golden Coris Wrasse (know that's not the real genus, since he has gained size he has dutifully eaten all the feather dusters, finished the last one off last week and swam with it hanging out of his mouth for hours), 1 small yellow stripe maroon clown, 3 blue Chromis, 1 flame hawk, 1 flame angel. They are all lovely and friendly little critters and I haven't noticed any personality conflicts until this addition. <They have already established the territories and hierarchy and now all want to exert themselves over your new addition. Try moving him to another tank or moving and/or adding decorations.> I can move him to a 25 gallon reef, the only fish inhabitants are a sebae clown (which has turned entirely black, only tiny yellow pinstripes left on the side fins) and an Arc-eye hawk. They get along fine, but I did try to add a clown goby and they both bothered it so badly I had to give it away so I am not sure it would be a better place for him. <It does not sound like your other tank is too promising.> The other issue is an "octopus" coral (like a frogspawn I think) which has done well and grown for the past year, and now is not opening up. Nothing close at all, it had a star, center stage position in the tank. The other corals in the tank (outside of buttons and mushrooms) are frogspawn, hammer coral, toadstool leather, cabbage leather, and something that I don't know what it is -- hard coral with flower looking things that comes out of it. They are all opening and growing as they should. The water salinity has not changed, ph is 8.2, no ammonia/nitrate/nitrite problems. I was told by my LFS that it might need calcium, so I did add some liquid calcium to the tank, but nothing else. Any ideas? <Several ideas. I take it you have not been monitoring and dosing for calcium or alkalinity? Please do so immediately. When discussing growth in LPS corals, we need to look not so much at tissue but at skeletal (calcium) deposit. None of your corals may be doing well right now and this one is the first to show signs. Another possibility is chemical warfare. This can be helped by aggressive protein skimming and use of quality activated carbon.> Thanks for your time, Cari <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: Closed Brain Corals Yet another follow up... <our pleasure...Anthony> Since talking to friends at the Philly Area Reef Club and other online, I've decided to go crazy and jump to a 150 gallon reef ready tank by Oceanic. <outstanding! Now that is a tank for a sexy bank of lights!> From what they tell me, I'm going to want a bigger tank later anyway and seeing the beautiful SPS corals they're keeping makes me want to try also. <agreed and inevitable...great advice to be had from local aquarium clubs... usually good people with good advice and nobody trying to sell you something dependant on the advice <wink>> Thanks for all the advice. Tony <quite welcome my friend... it sounds like you are on a very good track. Anthony>

Reef Questions and Heroin <Tom, Anthony Calfo here in Bob's stead while he is away competing in a braunshweiger eating competition (mayo..not onion and mustard)> For the past two years I had been trying to tame my FOWL tank, specifically, trying to maintain and keep happy a show Brazilian Queen. <perhaps the most beautiful race of the species!> I wanted to write and give you an update, once I read your book, I stopped screwing with the tank and I have not had a single outbreak of ick or other problem in seven months! Thanks a million! <he truly is a credit to the hobby and beyond> In part due to my success with keeping fish, I had decided to give reef keeping a real shot and wanted to get your opinion on something. I have a 55 gal that has been set up for two years. I have a refugium, plenum, and black Tahitian sand as a base (potential problem?). <if 1/2 inch or less, or 3 inches plus and you'll be OK. Nothing in between...bad> I gave it a real attempt and order some truly beautiful corals last year, losing much of it to my own fault (I did not realize my nitrates had escalated!). One interesting thing occurred, I had a Acro that was brown, I changed my halide to 10k (from 6.5k, it is now screaming green!!), not to mention a Hydnophora frag I got for free from a LFS that is not 4 times the size, and the most wicked green ever (this despite the fact that I had let water quality falter from time to time). <logical... including the slight neglect: increased UV led to the change in pigmentation (iridescent pigments cultivated to reflect the increased UV light to your pleasant surprise)... enough nitrate as fertilizer> After seeing this, I am now completely addicted to reefing!  <welcome to the club, Bubba! Now we just have to get you to some fish nerd conferences... like the Midwest Marine Conference on March 23rd where some short fella of Italian extraction will be speaking on Coral Culture (www.masm.org under conferences) <smile>> I am a true believer in the Garf way, but wanted to get you input as well. I currently have 3maximas, several leathers, Ricordeas and shrooms, Turbinaria, and several acros. All are doing well, except for some of the (of course Acro frags), and my new xenia are actin a little weird. After realizing that my halide was actually burning some of my animals (before the addition of my new orders), I designed a hood which elevated the lighting, particularly the halide. I have a fan on it, but the temp fluctuates from 78 to 81 while operating, is this too much of a change?, <at least as much of a problem for any fish in the tank... more than 2F flux and the rate of parasitic incidence increases> the xenia, not in direct light contact with the halide, seem to have burnt tips, <xenia are motile and do not express this symptom with photoinhibition. More likely another cause> but still hang in there. Could this be a function of temperature change, <more so pH... check to see if you are falling at night much below 8.3 (which would cause it). Xenia are great beacons for low pH and alkalinity... one of the first to frown as you may have observed> I do have 1 set of VHOs, and 1 set of blue 10K power compacts, but they are elevated, <perhaps a waste of light if much above 3 inch suspension...a Luxmeter will confirm this> so the light hitting the xenia is not powerful (given their nature of non-shipability, I guess I should be happy they are alive!!). <don't speak too soon... once established they are a most beautiful and fast growing weed!> One final thing, I do not run Chemipure in my tank, as I was told it absorbs calcium, <whoever told you that was mistaken or a heroin addict> is this true, what would you recommend for a reef. <fine product. Knock yourself out. Polyfilters are also quite excellent and have the advantage of indicative color change. Use some sort of chemical media and collect skimmate from a PS daily> Bob, as always, I truly appreciate your help, you are a great asset to the hobby and save thousands of animal lives every day! Now, if we could just educate the LFS!!! <Halleluiah and pass the ammunition as the old saying goes> By the way, my serpent star had a zillion babies! I could not believe the amount of baby serpents I have in my tank! <excellent...a bazillion congratulations. Now we just have to find a source for tiny cigars to hand out <smile>> Kindly, Anthony Calfo

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