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FAQs about Sea Fan Compatibility

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Ophiuroids/Brittlestars? No problema

Allelopathy Inquiry      5/11/16
Dear Bob & Crew,
Thanks again for your time and experience!
<And you for sharing Joe>
Another question today on the fascinating topic of allelopathy. I am gradually changing my 155 reef to all stony corals. Like many, I have witnessed the problems of allelopathic chemicals in a closed system. I first noticed these in large Eunicia sp. and lastly, in a colony of large hairy mushrooms. The remarkable fact is that many corals proved more or less adaptable to these chemicals, even within the same species!
I have since moved these soft corals but am still noticing some loss of heads in some Euphyllia species, most notably, hammer corals. I'm sure that some chemicals remain in the system despite water changes, skimming, and carbon (which doesn't remove much of these toxins IMO).
<Yes and yes>
Moving the corals to the far side of the tank, away from where the mushrooms were, helps the problem. I'm baffled because it seems as though the hairy mushrooms are still in the tank, noticing that the loss of heads is always on the left side of the corals (the mushrooms were on the left side of the tank)!
I do have a Rose bubble-tip anemone that resides on this side (unaffected by the toxins I might add). It is a 8" specimen and I have had many of these in the past with little evidence of allelopathy.
My question is, are bubble-tips known to produce toxins like some soft corals?
<Wild Entacmaeas more than domestic, cultured; and less than other large Pacific Anemone species
It would explain why the left side of some LPS corals in the tank and closing up and dying.
I might also add that interestingly, no SPS corals seem to be affected.
Thanks so much!!Joe
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Gorgonian issue. Need to thin the herd. 11/10/12
Hello WetWeb,
I have a question that most likely doesn't arise much. I have (from what my LFS stated) some 6 years ago a branching creeping Gorgonian that has grown out of control a bit. She is starting to make her way up and around, and becoming a bit of a threat to her neighbors, choking them out of real estate. I have attempted to remove her additional growth by peeling off what I could form the live rock where possible, scraping, cutting, and she keeps coming back with a vengeance. Funny as I'm typing this, the main colony just retracted as if she knows what's going on here.
<Best to isolate such competitive Cnidarians et al. on their own "demilitarized zone" bommie of rock... trim/crush the too adventitious growth on a regular basis>
Is there any advise you can share as to what I may do to thin out or even eliminate the additional growth?
<There are fancy to plain "crushing type" scissors for this... hand-operated>
I am selling the main colony this weekend, so there is the first step. I have been told by a few to spot treat so to speak the problem overgrowth with Kalkwasser,
<Mmm, if the other life present won't be mal-affected. I'd try iodide-ate first>
but very skeptical and afraid to do this. Would be to worried about the other inhabitants.
Any and all input would be greatly appreciated. I really dread even thinking about removing the live rock that it has grown on the remove it.
So many happy neighbors that I would hate to disturb.
Keep up the great forum,
<We're trying. Cheers, Bob Fenner> 
Creeping Gorgonian issue 11/10/12

Forgot to attach the jpeg.
Thanks again,
<Got it! BobF>


Sarcophyton and Sea Rod 8/23/10
Hi guys!
Love your site. Okay, I've read over the relevant compatibility sections, and I have a pretty good idea what the answer is, but I'm not 100% positive and I would like to be before acquiring an animal. I have a small (maybe 4-5 inch diameter) Sarcophyton. My question is, can I keep a gorgonian in the tank with it?
<Mmm, possibly... depends mostly on the species, specimen selected, your system size, filtration and maintenance>
I'm pretty sure the gorgonian is either a Pseudoplexaura or Muricea. I'm sorry, but my gorgonian identification is not very good, so it could even be a similar-looking gorgonian, but it looks a whole lot like Pseudoplexaura.
<Mmm, as Sea Fans go, not a too-hard to impossible genus for aquarium use>
On to question 2. I live in the Marshall Islands, so I occasionally collect my own corals (no restrictions on collecting out here, which is both good and bad). Anyway, I'm thinking of collecting this gorgonian myself. There are many colonies around, but all I've seen are too large, and anyway, I wouldn't feel comfortable taking an entire colony for ecological reasons, so if that's the only way to collect one, I'll abstain. However, is this genus fraggable?
<Yes it is.>
I have read up on sea rod fragging, but I'm not sure if it would work with this genus or if the fragment would have a reasonable chance of success.
Would it?
<Yes... I would have the frag/s heal for a few weeks in an independent system... slimy... to be avoided in main displays>
If the answer to either is no, I'll leave the gorgonian in nature, and apologies for taking up your time. Once again, thanks for having such a wonderful site and just reading here has helped me many, many times.
<And you, Bob Fenner>

James Briareum, contr. 2/29/08 Bob, <James> Wanted to send you a pic of this Briareum I've had for a little over a year. It was about the size of a golf ball when purchased, now it spans about 10" across. Compare to Watchman Goby at very bottom. It is now spreading to other rock and I believe in time may very well take over the center area of the tank. Would you keep it as a show piece or get the scissors out? <Both... I'd sell part... keep the other isolated where you want it to be, spacing other rock out of its short/er term reach. BobF> Regards,

Menella Sea Fan with Ophiuroid/s... no prob.   5/8/07 Hi <Hello Mich with you.> I have brought a Menella sea fan gorgonian, I have had it a few  days, when I looked at it last night I noticed about seven tiny black and white bristle <brittle> stars on it, will these harm the fan as it is not opening today, <No, the brittle stars should not bother the gorgonian.> I have looked on your site but found nothing about this. Should I leave them on it <Yes.> or try and get them off <No.> as they are very tiny. <Gorgonians and brittle stars are often found in association in the wild.  It is not an unnatural situation.  Please allow the brittle stars to remain.  -Mich> Help with Gorgonian and anemone   3/29/07 Hello, <Hi there> It was suggested I contact "Fenner or Borneman" <Mmmm, EricB is elsewhere> In reference to what seems to be an anemone that came with a "blueberry" gorgonian that I got.  The gorgonian has changed colors and I thought it was dead, but it appears to be growing at the tips, so I don't know if it is dead or some dormant state or shed its tissue or what. <Mmm, these and many other octocorals can/do change color from lighting, feeding, water quality circumstances...>   The other question is did the anemone injure or kill the gorgonian? <Maybe> I'm told it is a wrapping gorgonian anemone.  Here is the thread where there has been some discussion: http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?s= < http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=1082557> &threadid=1082557 Any help and/or suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks, Rick <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/index.htm Scroll down to the tray on Anemones, the articles and FAQs toward the bottom there on Aiptasia, Anemonia, Other Pest Anemones. Bob Fenner>

Emp. Angel not eating -dying fish from a fan?-  - 5/7/2006 Hello, <Mike> First I admittedly made a terrible mistake in collecting from my local beach (San Diego) a small gorgonian fan and added it to my established (2yrs) fish only tank with the following: 125 Gallons with Live Rock and Live Sand. 1) Russell's Lion (8in) 1) Clown Trigger (6in) 1) Fiji Puffer (3in) 1) Cow Fish (5in) 1) Zebra Moray (20 in) 1) Yellow Tang (deceased) 1) Christmas Tree Wrasse (deceased) <Too many fish for this system> 1 month after introducing the fan to my tank the yellow tang went on a hunger strike and passed away.  Shortly after, I acquired a 4 inch Emperor Angel.  3 Weeks ago the wrasse also would not eat and passed away last week.  While the other fish still appear to have appetites, the Angel has now stopped eating. <I do NOT believe this is from the fan you added to the tank, while it may have had contaminants and or pollutants on it, Your stocking list of fish seems to be the culprit here.  You have one of the most nasty tempered triggers maybe even the nastiest fish period (the clown trigger) in with a cowfish, one of the few fish in the world that not only carries tetrodotoxin (the most potent toxin on the planet) but the cowfish can release that poison as a deterrent to predators or due to stress.  In a home system such as yours, it can kill everything.> Could the fan, now back in the Pacific, have been the culprit?  Bacteria, internal parasites? The angel has gone a little over a week without eating.  He still appears to be active, color is good, no noticeable rubbing on the sand or rocks, no visible signs of disease (As with the tang and wrasse).  I have tried Angel formula 1 and 2, frozen krill, flakes and brown algae. <My hunch is that the clown trigger is either harassing the angel, or harassing the cowfish and has made the cowfish release enough poison to seriously injure the other fish.  I would pull the clown trigger immediately and re-home it to another tank, and do the same with the cowfish.  If you do not want to re-home them, setup a tank for the clown trigger by itself, and one for the cowfish by itself as well.  If you decide not to move the cowfish, you will still need a 240 gallon or bigger tank to handle the puffer (gets 12-15") the lionfish (18"+ without fins and is very venomous) the 15+" angel and the 8-10" cowfish.  The clown trigger will hit 2 -15" or more as well and will become a holy terror to tankmates as it ages.> My water parameters are .22 SPG, Nitrites 0, Ammonia 0, Nitrates b/n 20 - 40 ppm.  I maintain a strict regiment in conducting 12% water changes every other week.  Is there anything that I can do to help this little guy?  I started with a 30% water change yesterday and gave the angel a fresh water dip for 4 min.s.  Please advise. <Try setting up another tank for the angel to live stress free for now, and remove the aggressors as above to ensure it is not harassed.> Thank you, Mike Ferrante <Please re-home and remove fish, as this mix will result in death for more if not all of your fish.> <Justin (Jager)>

Seahorse Compatibility Hello I've got 90g cube tank, and I want to put in only seahorses and gorgonians. Will they live together? Best regards, Darek <Well, Darek- it is certainly possible to put these animals together. The seahorses will probably hitch on to the gorgonians at some point, which may irritate them, so do keep an eye on things. I'd also make sure that the gorgonians that you are contemplating keeping are species with a good track record in captivity. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Gorgonian in aquaria - 2/10/05 Greetings Bob & Crew!  <Greetings from sunny N. Cali> I have a question on coral compatibility.....rather is a coral compatible with my system.  <OK>   My girlfriend bought me a coral for my birthday. Luckily she had it held at the LFS until I am able to get the QT tank setup.  <Well.....encouraging to hear> Anyway, she bought me a yellow Finger Gorgonian (Diodogorgia nodulifera??).  I have a 55-gal reef that is thriving. It has a large space near the back with no corals, inverts, or anything staking out territory (except for my yellowtail damsel who thinks she owns the tank). It is a relatively high current area, which is why no corals are there. All other areas are occupied by corals or my anemone (hasn't moved in a year) so this location would be good from the standpoint of not coming near any other corals.  <Well, let's look at the needs of the coral first The finger coral comes in two colors, bright orange yellow with red calyces and white polyps and the other is red with darker red calyces and white polyps. Finger corals are rather brittle and will break. They usually only grow to about 25 cm (10 inches). They are not photosynthetic.> Lighting - Water flow: These corals are usually found in water deeper than 25 meters (75 feet) on hard-bottom in the Caribbean. They are attached to the bottom in strong current. Difficulty of Care: They need shade or indirect lighting with a strong current. They need to be fed at least once a week or they will starve. There is a lot of information on this coral on the web and in books. Usually can be kept successfully in captive aquaria.> My concern is lighting. This area is almost directly under one of my 175w, 20,000K MH pendants. From what I have researched, these corals are not photosynthetic.  <Correct>  I have read conflicting info regarding where they can live. Some say intense lighting is of no concern, others say that they cannot live under MH.  <I would be more worried about feeding and flow. Do some research (GARF.org seems to propagate these corals regularly and seem to have great success with keeping them> I do have one other area that could fit this coral (with room to grow) in a back corner. The problem is that this spot has a relatively low current flow. <Be more concerned with flow and feeding rather than lighting. Maybe you can place something above it to diffuse the light. Maybe a green Nephthea frag or something.> Can I house this coral in my system?  <I don't see why you couldn't. Flow and feeding are the most important aspects to be concerned with (which I have stated several times here already....I know)>  Do you have any advice on doing so/not doing so?  <I would go for it> Sorry, I guess this was not as quick of a question as I thought. Thanks for your help.  <Thanks for being part of it all ~Paul> 

Briareum Robert, I acquired a piece of Briareum several months ago, the piece same to be doing fine. Then suddenly a brown dandelion looking creature started taking over. If I pull it off the rocks it will die back temporally. I can not identify the brown stuff nor can any of the local shops. The water chemistry is OK, I use only RO-DI water in my tanks. I am sending a jpeg photo in hopes that you can identify this monster and tell me what action to take, to fight it. With Best Regards, Shawn McCleery <Neat... this looks to be another encrusting gorgonian (Scleraxonia, Antholedidae...) of the genus Erythropodium (you can find pix of this on the Net, in marine aquarium reference books, even (why not?) on WWM: http://www.WetWebMedia.com/seafans.htm Control, eradication? Mmm, you might try manipulating your lighting, aspects of water quality to see if you can favor the Briareum, other life over the deemed-pest form. Bob Fenner>

Beautiful but Bad Gorgonian Bob, <Anthony Calfo in your service> Thank you so much for your help in the past. <you are certainly welcome to all> I have recently added a yellow finger gorgonian (Diodogorgia) to my reef. I must say that it is a very beautiful specimen.  <agreed, but I'm truly sorry that someone sold it to you, most likely. They are extremely difficult to keep. Aposymbiotic (non-photosynthetic)... they are entirely dependent on feeding. It is not clear what they eat to survive and near 100% are dead within a year if not months... some struggle to live more than one year before "starving" to death. I have some good experience with reef invertebrate husbandry and have written a book on coral in aquaria... and I consider this animal out of my skill set (or interest for the tedious work trying to feed it). If you aren't already informed on the topic... begin doing research on phytoplankton reactors for generating food or buying a phytoplankton substitute (like DT's refrigerated)> However, ever since I have added it to my reef, my purple tang keeps nipping at it as if there is some sort of algae on it. There doesn't seem to be any. My flame angel is also doing the same thing. These two fish, which seem to be best friends since I added them at the same time, have never nipped at corals before. The gorgonian seems to be doing fine though. Is this something I should be worried about? <the gorgonian is safe in this regard... most are highly noxious and inedible to fish... the fish may simply be browsing for incidental material... or, if the animal is already beginning to die, they are scavenging. My apologies, Anthony> Regards, Keith 

HELP! Invasive Coral! I have what a local store calls "encrusting gorgonian" It is a pink hairy coral that is taking over my tank!  (220 gallon reef).   <yes... Erythropodium sp. Very invasive and beautiful.> When it get near my beautiful green star polyps...it takes them over. <wow... and Starpolyps are quite aggressive in their own right!> Suggestions? It is pretty....but aggressive! <indeed... in this case, there are no natural predators that would be safe with your other invertebrates. Manual extraction by pulling up the stolon mat may be necessary. Else, keep look rock/rubble at its growing edge and pull away the overgrowth as necessary> Thanks, Ron <best regards, my friend. Anthony>

10 year old Gorgonian... battle with Colt coral I jinxed it, no doubt, because now, it has mostly pulled its polyps in, and all I have is the bare gorgonian branches.   <bare as in denuded of tissue (rotted away)? Or are you simply referring to the lack of polyp extension (no biggie here)?> Other than being bare, the branches look fine.  The other inverts (Tridacna, star polyp, colt coral, shrimp, brittle star) look fantastic.  The water parameters are still great. However, the gorgonian had been in contact with a colt coral.   <Yikes!!!! Very bad for the gorgonian... Colts are wicked. Will take some time to recover. Keep up good water changes and strong water flow. > Although I can see where that might have caused problems, I am surprised at the timing, because the two had been touching for several months, with no apparent effect to either one.   <you are completely mistaken here my friend... it is precisely the prolonged exposure that creates a situation like this. Keep in mind that corals must war chemically and silently. They have no teeth or claws, can't throw a punch, etc. They just shed noxious chemicals over time to slowly poison each other (and themselves in some cases)> I did a water change, carefully removed the colt's rock from the tank and equally carefully removed the coral from the rock and donated it the colt to my LFS.   <actually a fine idea. Colts are beautiful... but they are one of the most severely noxious corals for aquaria!> That was yesterday.  The gorgonian tried to send a few polyps out, but overall a fairly substandard performance.   <no worries... all in good time. Weeks perhaps> I seem to remember something like this a few years ago with it -- I thought at that time it may have "shed" like the colt coral does from time to time.   <you are correct my friend... a waxy tunic of metabolites> Also, where one branch has grown against the front glass, the polyps don't come out and that small piece of branch looks a little "smushed"   <yes... it has formed a callus likely> On the chance that this area needs some water circulation I am going to rig a way to keep it from touching the side. Any ideas/advice? <I'd simply propagate/prune the branch shorter> thanks for your help, and happy holidays to all! Tom <and to you as well, my friend. Anthony>

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

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