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FAQs about Sea Fan Foods/Feeding/Nutrition

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Diodogorgia nodulifera preferred foods       2/20/19
Hello crew! Hope this finds you well!
<And you Joanne>
I do have a question but also wanted to share some information about my Diodogorgia nodulifera that will hopefully be helpful.
<Ah, good>
So, a few weeks ago I got a Diodogorgia frag as a "bonus" with an online purchase.
<Ugh; I really wish some folks in the trade wouldn't do this>
I know that they are not photosynthetic, but I have had a lot of success with various photosynthetic gorgonians so I felt I was up to the challenge.
I placed it in an appropriate spot - good amount of water flow, not too much light - and proceeded to attempt to feed it.
Well, over the next few days I tried various filter feeding mixtures, slurries, etc. and failed to get any feeding response whatsoever, even though the gorgonian had all polyps extended. This was really starting to worry me, but then I noticed that the gorgonian was snagging food every time I fed the fishes! It turns out that the issue was food size, i.e. it was ignoring tiny sizes but going for the larger pieces.
It will grab and eat bits of food up to about the size you would feed, say, adult White Cloud Mountain minnows! It seems to do especially well with flake food, as it is light and blows around the tank really well, giving it multiple opportunities to feed. There seems to be an upper limit on the size of pieces of solid food it can grab and ingest, but I have seen it eat surprisingly large pieces of flake food. If an especially large flake blows into the gorgonian, several polyps will grab hold of it and gnaw on it until it (usually) blows away again. Smaller flakes of approximately 1-5 mm it will just grab and swallow.
I feed the fish twice a day. Now that I know how it likes to feed, I make sure there are some food particles that are the appropriate size for the Diodogorgia. I estimate that about 25-30% of the polyps manage to feed every time the fish are fed. Additionally, I have some Ricordeas in the tank that are target fed a few times weekly with Calanus or similar foods, so when I do that now I also give a squirt to the Diodogorgia.
It looks well and healthy so far, time will tell. So, for my questions - does EVERY polyp need to grab food, or is the food shared over the colony?
<They share. Gorgonians are "rindkorallen"; have connected circulation>
I'm guessing the latter as there is that shared rind / skin covering the animal but I'm not 100% sure on that.
<Oh; yes>
Second question, does this amount of food sound appropriate?
Like I said it looks healthy, polyps extended, no bad/decaying spots, etc. but have not had it long enough to know for sure.
Thanks again for your advice, and I hope my story may be helpful to others.
*Joanne White*
<Indeed; thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>
Re: Diodogorgia nodulifera preferred foods

Hello Bob,
Thanks for your encouraging words!
<Thank you!>
I would like to add one thing, so it doesn't look like I'm saying you can just plunk one of these into a tank, throw in some fish food, and everything will be fine. I also placed this gorgonian in a sort of filter feeder sweet spot in my tank. Any food added to the tank is concentrated and funneled past this area due to the configuration of the surrounding rocks, etc. And the tank is on the small side, which has the effect of
further concentrating the food. For example, if I had the same fish bioload in a tank that was twice as large, the same amount of food would be spread out over a much larger area, thus reducing the concentration.
These two things are very important in this situation. Change these, and I would probably have to entirely rely on target feeding to keep this D.
nodulifera alive and healthy. If it hadn't been for this combination of factors I might not have noticed it catching and eating the fish food, etc etc.
I do wish it were this easy to figure out how to care for other NPS corals! I think a lot of the lack of success in this area is due to not understanding their feeding needs and/or not having their preferred food
available. Maybe a particular NPS gorgonian or soft coral feeds on copepods, but only one or two specific types of copepods. Or some fussy combination of food size, food type, and very narrow band of water flow rate to be successful. I'm glad that D. nodulifera is pretty easy in this respect but unfortunately that won't translate well to other species.
*Joanne White*
<I do understand; and think others will better; with your further explanation here. BobF>

Diodogorgia nodulifera advice       11/10/16
Hi Bob & Crew,
<Hey Nick>
You have been very helpful in the past so I was hoping you could once again assist me with some advice.
<Let's see if we/I have some>
I have recently inherited a couple of what I believe to be D. nodulifera (one red / one yellow) from a friends tank whose bicolor angel had developed a taste for them. Within 24hours the yellow had around 60% of its polyps extended so I have been target feeding with Vitalis soft coral food (micronised flake) but the red has some tissue loss at the base and the tip
of one of the branches and has not extended any polyps as yet, from reading WWM and anything else I can find it sounds as though this one may be a goner?
<Maybe; but I hate to give up... what have you tried so far? Additions of simple sugar/s? Overdosing of iodide-ate?>
If you have any advice as to actions for saving it or indeed at what point I should cut my losses and remove it I would be very grateful. (have read conflicting reports of them releasing toxins when they die).
<More pollution than toxins w/ this genus>
I have placed them both in the most shaded areas I can find that still receive a moderate amount of flow.
They have been in my friends tank for over a month and he was sold them with the advice that they would need to be fed twice a week on soft coral food.
<Mmm; I'd feed more frequently... and/or have a VERY large and vigorous refugium>
I have been reading up as much as possible on their husbandry requirements and it seems there are many different opinions on feeding regimes varying from twice per week up to continuously! (the gold standard I'm sure but not
achievable in my setup). I am planning to make my own food based on a recipe I saw on the GARF website consisting of mysis/brine, flake, SeaChem ReefPlus blended together and target fed. I was hoping that 1 feed per day would be sufficient with this mix but wanted to get your expert opinion on regime and recipe/alternative foods?
<I would definitely try the DIY recipe you list; and feed at least for minutes every other day... WHEN polyps are open>
Seems like this is one of those species best left in the ocean for those without an AZoo tank and I don't usually add anything to my tank without researching first but given they were angel food otherwise thought it best to try and give them a chance. Tank param.s listed below.
Thanks in advance
Tank param.s - 48"x18"x24" w/20g sump/fuge - Temp 25-26 C/ pH 8.1 / Ammo 0 / Nitri 0 / Nitrate <5 / Phos undetectable / Calc 440 / KH 8 / Mag 1230
Livestock - various soft corals leathers, xenia, GSP, PS gorgs / CUC / 2 x ocellaris clowns
<Please read re the Glucose, I2 mentioned above... and let's re-chat in a day or two. Bob Fenner>
Re: Diodogorgia nodulifera advice     11/14/16

Hi Bob,
<Hey Nick>
Thanks for getting back to me. Since I first emailed I have had a bit of a disaster, I made up some of my own food but unfortunately did so half asleep and in a rush and inadvertently added somewhere between 3-4 times the recommended dose of SeaChem Reefplus into the tank over the space of an hour or so....
<Mmm; should be okay if done just the once>
I had just started reading up on iodine & glucose dosing as per your advice and ironically the gorgonians seem to love the extra dose and the red one now also opens up overnight, presumably because iodine makes up part of the Reef Plus recipe?
<Likely a factor; yes>
The rest of my soft coral and the snails however have not reacted well. I
noticed the leathers were looking a bit droopy and the star polyps had not opened the following day but stupidly did not connect the dots until yesterday morning, a full 48hours since I dosed, absolutely kicking myself at the moment for this!
<Patience here>
Anyway I have added Polyfilter to the sump, performed 2 x 135l water changes and about to do a third which in theory means I will have replaced around 75% of the original 365l water volume, I also run carbon. The corals have started to open up today but the snails are very lethargic, I'm assuming it may be excess iodine or metals input by the Reefplus?
<Again; likely so>
I have shipped my 2 strawberry conch off to the LFS who will hold them for me until the tank stabilizes, couldn't find my Trochus and Nassarius at the time unfortunately to do the same with them. I also have a tuxedo urchin which I have left in place as it is seemingly unaffected by the whole affair still actively grazing on the front glass. I'm hoping everything
will recover and the damage has not already been done.
I did not test the water immediately after the dosing but if there were any spikes in chemistry all seems to have settled down now with
pH/DO/NH4/NO2/NO3/Alk/Calc/Mag/Iodine all back to normal ranges.
Any advice on other measures I can implement to help rectify this would be greatly appreciated.
<Just patience really. You've done all I would have given the
Many thanks,
<As many welcomes. BobF>
Re: Diodogorgia nodulifera advice     11/15/16

Thanks that re-assuring that I have done the right things. Clutching at straws for other possible reasons for the slow recovery I came across a couple of forum posts relating to contaminated carbon.
<Mmm; a possible co-reaction/series; yes... but there are other profound interaction possibilities>
This lead me to wave a magnet over mine and some of the particles are attracted to it, so I was wondering if this is normal or a potential cause for concern?
<Mmm; well; there can be too much ferrous/iron content in systems. And there are simple/r colorimetric assays (kits) for Fe +2,+3... I'd ask your better LFS if they will do this/these tests for you. Otherwise, you'll find the PolyFilter product turning a characteristic brown with time here>
Again I'm sure I'm clutching at straws but thought it best to check as the carbon went in the sump on the same day as the Reefplus. I use HR Carbon as recommended by my LFS and which I have noticed you have recommended in the past.
<Yes; a fine product>
Thanks again
<Easier said than done Nick; but do try to remain calm, stay the course here. All should be well in a day or two.
Bob Fenner>

Red Gorgonian; hlth., fdg.         7/12/15
Hi All.
Four days ago I inherited a sun coral and red gorgonian in a nanoreef tank I purchased on an auction site. The previous owner had lost interest and said I was welcome to both corals, but suspected they were both on their way out. I run a 225 litre sumped system, which is home to photosynthetic Gorgonia, xenia, gsp's zoos, Acan and trumpet coral, the only fish in the
system is a linear blenny. Nitrates are at 5, phosphate at zero, kH at 10, salinity 1.025 and temp at 26 degrees c. On putting the Gorgonia in the tank and acclimating, it showed no polyp extension, over the last four days I have target fed with Reef Roids, on each day more polyps have emerged,

I have it in low light and moderate flow. As of this evening the gorgonian looks as the attached pic. I have researched online and I have read that once 10% of the polyps stop feeding death is imminent.
<Mmm; nah... As long as some are coming out, feeding, hope is not lost>
Is this correct or do you think looking at the pic I have a chance if I keep up the same care?
<I think this looks like a very nice specimen indeed>
Thanks for your time. Joanne
<Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Re: Red Gorgonian        7/12/15
Thanks Bob :) I shall keep it up! is there anything else I can be feeding?
<Yes; quite a few possibilities; and some additional, related input. Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/gorgfdgfaqs.htm
I have ordered mysis, brine shrimp and oyster eggs for the sun coral, though I imagine these will be too large particles for the gorgonian?
<Can be chopped up; prepared in ways to make more useful (in suspension); soaked in nutritive solution/s....

Sea fan disease ?      5/20/14
Dear WWM crew,
My sea fan is showing symptoms of which I cannot find a description on the Web.
<I see your pic...>
A bubble appears and stretches the tissue (yellow circles) and after a few days, it pops and leaves the bare skeleton (red circle).
I cannot figure if it is a disease or a reaction due to water parameters, light level, current or something else.
<My guess, bet is on the middle one>
Do you have a suggestion on how to deal with this ?
<I'd first and foremost look into concentrations of Ca and relative Mg, HPO4 and Fe (3)...
Light, not so important w/ this color/specimen....
Do you use supplements? What sorts of foods employed here; refugium?>
Thank you
Best regards
<And you; Bob Fenner>

Re: Sea fan disease ?       5/27/14
Dear Bob,
Thank you for your answer.
I guess I had messed up my last Ca measurement because it was down to 280 !
<Yikes! And I'd be checking (of course) Mg and Alkalinity>
The cause was the CO2 pipe of my calcium reactor which was plugged.
<Happens... hopefully just vinegar, acetic acid will remove the clog>
I have now made a 20% water change and I am raising my Ca with the reactor plus some additional Kalkwasser.
I do add supplements but since my dosing system died I do it by hand and I am certainly not as regular as the pump was.
Food is either frozen Artemia or small pellets and occasional dried plankton.
One quick question on this : I use high quality Artemia, not the cheap ones found in larger pet stores. I melt the cube in a glass containing aquarium water and then I empty everything in the tank assuming the
"juice" will contain smaller particles for the corals. Is this a bas idea ? Should I rinse the melted Artemia ?
<I'd use your observation as guide here. IF your gorgonian/s are feeding, I would not be concerned. Be sure to direct laminar flow to/toward them>
Once my parameters are back on track, I will give you some feedback so that this can possibly serve other reefers.
<Again; I thank you>
Best regards
<And you, Bob Fenner>

"Leptogorgia sp"    10/14/13
Hey Crew!
I have been at WetWeb for some time this morning, and cannot find info on this species; "Leptogorgia sp" I bought one 4 days ago and have followed the sites "directions" but it remains closed. Can you provide me with a link ?
<Mmm, had to search the WWM site myself:
Don't know much re the genus, its care/use in captivity. What little I gleaned from a cursory review of the Net shows it doesn't typically do (as) well; even amongst the not-so suitable gorgonians period. Bob Fenner>
Re: "Leptogorgia sp    10/14/13

Although I was aware that this particular coral requires target feedings and specialized care (strong flow / low light)
I prepared for the challenge.
<Ah good. We had a very nice write in today re "Blue berry" Gorg. success.
Look for its posting in the AM>
But, if this coral doesn't even open, there's no way to feed it, correct?
<Mmm, yes; but you may be able to elicit a feeding response through introduction of food, liquid from same... from changing the colony's orientation, amount of current...>
I was wondering why it was so inexpensive ($15.00)!
Thanks Bob, I'll keep trying!
<Good. B>
Re: Leptogorgia virgulata, hey Bob!   10/19/13

Hey Bob,
Just wanted you to know, that the Leptogorgia virgulata coral is feeding!
Your advise to blow food in its direction worked!
Within 30 minutes of doing so, it opened up!
Thank you !
Pam Anderson
<Ah, congratulations on your success! B>

A link for Bob Fenner     10/22/13
Hi Bob!
You told me you weren't very familiar with Leptogorgia virgulata,
So here's a link.
Just a few tidbits of info.
<Ah, thank you. B>

Cautious Success with Guaiagorgia sp.    10/14/13
Good Afternoon Crew,
Thanks for all you do. In the last 7 years I have grown in skill and understanding through WWM and would like to share some success with a Blueberry Gorgonian.
The specimen I purchased from the LFS here in San Diego was a vibrant, healthy looking specimen in a typical sea fan spread. The polyps were open at the store, and have been regularly here in my 75 gallon square tank the past three months.
The Gorg is placed mid-way down in my tank (30"x30"x18") about 16"  on center form  a Vortech MP40 running at 35% on "Tidal Swell". I have two MP40s on the back, each running at relatively low volume and anti-syncing.
The "Lagoon" program is used overnight.
In looking at the morphology of my specimen it was obvious that most of the polyps faced one direction, perpendicular to the fan. Based on the limited success of many reef keepers I decided NOT to follow the norm and pointed the polyps away from direction of water flow. I think this is a key element in my success.
<I agree>
All new growth to date (estimated 15%), both on the tips of the branches and on the "truck" near the base, have been away from the current. It seems to follow that although this specimen requires a brisk current to keep the branches free of debris, the mouths generally can only catch food in the more tranquil direction. If the specimen is oriented "backwards" from the start, feeding may be impossible.
The polyps are always open in the evenings... and most days, but can be enticed easily if closed with a small amount of Cyclop-eeze in the water.
Currently I am feeding Hikura Daphnia w/ Cyclop-eeze w/ H20 Life Marine Fusion. The new polyps are very, very small, so the "shotgun" approach to different feed sizes are an attempt to satisfy all, It appears to be working.
This is a mature tank, with ample copepod production to satisfy two Mandarins without supplemental feeding. I believe this fact plays an important role as well, especially for the smallest polyps.
<I concur here as well>
During feeding, I slow the Vortechs to 15% on Reef Crest. This is just enough to keep water moving randomly and let the "missed" food recirculate.
I use a large baster to target feed, but only trickle the food out and gently push it through the fan. In my experience these polyps will close up at from direct "blasts". This is easy to see when you use an empty baster.
I practiced feeding "empty" a few times to see how much flow the polyps could handle and still grab the food. It is not much!
I feed twice a day, religiously.
I hope these notes further the cause. I am "tech heavy" so an equipment list and parameters follow...
30"x30"x18" tank
24 gallon refugium /Chaeto (reverse lighting cycle)
3" DSB (med grain)
110lbs live rock
Apex Controller
pH x 2, ORP, Temp x 2, probes
Dual Ecoxotic Canons
Karollin 1502 Calcium Reactor
Overnight Kalk drip (to counteract the CO2).
Precision Marine Skimmer (runs 24/7)
Temp: 76.9 - 77.5
pH: 8.00 - 8.18
SG: 1.026
ORP: 310 - 330 (day/night)
Nitrates: 0
Calcium: 420ppm
Magnesium: 1260ppm
Alk/DKH: 9.3
Lights: 12hrs (inclusive of 150 min ramp time at each end)
Lunar: Apex module
<Thank you for sharing! Bob Fenner>
Re: Cautious Success with Guaiagorgia sp. 11/8/2013

Good afternoon Crew... after an additional month of observations an update on my Blueberry Gorg.
<Hey Steve>
As other reef keepers have experienced over time, my polyps started to extend less often, and for shorter duration. Water parameters have remained consistent, as well as feeding frequency and variety. So I started examining the effects of light intensity,
My first observation was that the polyps that were furthest from my light source (dual Ecoxotic canons) seemed to open sooner and longer that the polyps closer to the light source. Knowing that this species comes from a range down to about 75 feet or so, and often on sloped reefs,  I decided to shield the Gorg to create an imbalance in the lighting, skewing it towards
the 460nm range.
Initially, I put a third of the specimen in complete shade with two thirds exposed to the 460nm cannon (I blocked the10,000k). This initial step yielded an immediate improvement. After a week, the third that resided in total shade started to open regularly but not with the same vigor as the 460nm portion which was back to "normal". I have since placed the entire Gorg under the 460nm (again, no 10k) and the growth and polyp extension has resumed. Polyps are now open appx. 20 hours per day.
So in sum, here are my novice observations;
  - Have a mature, copepod producing tank.
  - Place is a diffused, moderately strong, random current.
  - Face the polyps away from the primary direction of flow.
  - Effect reversing tidal flow if possible.
  - Feed a large variety of food sizes.
  - Let the food float into the polyps, don't blast with a pipette.
  - Beware of even moderate, 10k+ lighting sources.

I feel fortunate that my light sources are so narrow, it makes the shielding fairly simple. I can see how in standard lighting systems with 48" T5s let's say, it would be difficult to create the right conditions.
<Yes; I would insert my usual statement here that most systems are overlit, too intense and too long duration; compared with naturally occurring parameters>
Often I've read how keeper's Gorgs stop opening and a quest for a "more enticing" food ensues. What I believe now is that the deterioration is due to the physical environment, and the Gorg's inability to adapt to typical tank lighting. More light... more stress...no polyp extension... no food...and the death spiral starts.
Temp: 76.9 - 77.5
pH: 8.00 - 8.18
SG: 1.026
ORP: 310 - 330 (day/night)
Nitrates: 0
Calcium: 420ppm
Magnesium: 1260ppm
Alk/DKH: 9.3
Lights: 12hrs (inclusive of 150 min ramp time at each end)
Lunar: Apex module
Happy reefing!
<I thank you again for sharing. Will update/addend your prev. post. Bob Fenner>
Re: Cautious Success with Guaiagorgia sp.   12/26/13

Closing in on 6 months with the Blueberry Gorg and we are thriving here in Southern California!
<Great news!>
This winter's calendar included a two week trip out of the country and my "fish tender" failed me at the last minute. So the Gorg (and other species) had to survive on just a couple of frozen food cubes every few days provided by my brother.
With no target feeding and a lack of personal attention, I resigned myself finding a decaying Gorg upon return... Ugh. Happily, although initially a bit unhappy with semi-closed polyps, the Gorg began to open as usual within 24 hours and feeding/growth continues.
The more I observe this species the more I'm convinced that failure to maintain health is due to the physical parameters of their environment and the maturity of the tank. Now that the lighting and current is dialed in, I am only target feeding a few days a week using ova, Coral Fusion and Cyclop-eeze. There are some sections of the fan that receive no target feeding at all (blocked pipette access) and they continue to thrive.
So my recommendation continues to be for those with Blueberry issues... stop focusing solely on the types of food. Reduce your lighting, create moderate random flow, and regular (daily not required) target feedings. A mature tank is a must!
Happy Reefing!
<Thank you Steve. Bob Fenner>

Ongoing Blueberry Gorg Success - Update     2/21/14
Good Evening Bob,
<Steve... your files... are an order of magnitude too large for our mail server. Please>
Things continue to go well here in San Diego!
<Ah yes... I live in Mira Mesa>
Thought I would share a couple of pictures about 8 months along. I estimate about 25% growth at this point, approximately 7" in diameter.
[image: Inline image 1]
These types of polyps, with the longer tentacles, typically form in high flow areas...
[image: Inline image 2]
Thanks again for helping us with this truly fascinating hobby!
<Thank you for sharing.... just smaller pic files going forward! BobF>

Appears to be a Hydrozoan at the yellow pointer

Re: Ongoing Blueberry Gorg Success - Update     8/21/14
Good Evening Bob,
<Fresh as a daisy this AM Steve>
14 month update on the Blueberry Gorg... Living strong and thriving here in SD. The specimen hasn't seen directly "daylight" from my Ecoxotic canons in almost 7 months. Once a week direct feeding to maintain... twice a week to promote growth. Getting my H2O from Scripps these days with no side
<The usual cautionary note to you, others, to store this fresh, real seawater for a good week or two (in the dark preferably) or bleach, dechlorinate it ahead of use. At times; real trouble.>
<And you. Thanks for the update. Bob Fenner>

Sharing a Yellow Finger Gorgonian Success Story    1/27/12
Hello Bob and Crew,
Instead of asking a question this time, I wanted to share a success story.
My husband has a Yellow Finger Gorgonian at the center of his display tank.
 When we first received it, it was a beautiful bright yellow with the red dots and white polyps. We didn't see the polyps come out much, but we were feeding the tank daily and some would slowly but sporadically come out.
Then it started to turn brown very quickly. The polyps stopped coming out.
I knew they needed to be fed often, but somehow missed in my initial readings that each polyp needs to be target fed a variety of foods. So, I got a dropper and began target feeding daily with either Roti-Feast or Oyster Feast.  At first there was only one polyp out on one of the tips and the majority of the Gorgonian had turned shrively and brown. I knew from what I had read that the chances of it living at this point were slim, but I was not going to give up. I target fed the one polyp as well as the other polyps that were retracted. I'm not too concerned about water quality as we use AquaC EV-180 skimmers in our tanks that do an amazing job as well as lots of corals, pods, a starfish and filter feeders who all benefit from this target feeding as well. Anyway, the next day I dropped some drops of phyto plankton in and waited 10 minutes as this is what I do to signal the Sun Corals(Tubastrea sp.) in my tank that it's feeding time. To my delight there were about 5 polyps out at this point. I target fed them and the rest of the gorgonian as well. I followed this procedure on a daily basis for several weeks and now the Gorgonian doesn't even need to have the Phyto-Plankton drops to open although I do add it to the daily cocktail. By the time the moonlights come on, she knows it's feeding time, and very quickly becomes entirely covered with huge white wide spread polyps waiting to be fed each day. During the daylight cycle, there are polyps out as well, but nothing like when it's close to feeding time. I mix up the daily cocktail sometimes putting flake in it as well, I drop some Selcon drops in the cocktail as well. The Gorgonian began regaining it's yellow color from the base up, and is now once again a bright yellow with the red dots all the way through to the tips with the tips not completely recovered just yet but getting there. I am so happy I took the time to nurse this poor starving beauty back to it's magnificent self, and I urge others to do the same and hang in there. I feel very bad about my mis-step but feel a great comfort knowing I've saved it. I hope anyone else in this position has the same luck.
<Ahh, thank you for sharing. BobF>

Losing Gorgonian Battle (A very common tale) -- 12/14/10
Hi all - Chris K here again with a gorgonian question.
<<Hey there Chris -- Eric here today>>
I have a red gorgonian, although the LFS owner could not tell me what kind
<<This is likely Diodogorgia nodulifera, collected from the tropical Western Atlantic -- and best left to experienced hobbyists with systems designed and dedicated to such azooxanthellate/non-photosynthetic creatures>>
- she did say that as long as I kept it near a powerhead I should have no problem.
<<This was/is exceedingly poor advice here. These animals do require strong water flow (though diffuse enough not to blast tissue from the skeleton'¦as a simple powerhead can do), but there is much more to providing for the long term health of non-photosynthetic species such as this. Though maybe not as eye-catching, there are zooxanthellate/photosynthetic species of Gorgonian that can be kept with relative ease in my experience (a Pterogorgia species often described/sold as Purple Ribbon Gorgonian comes to mind), but the majority of Gorgonians offered require expert knowledge and care, in my opinion>>
When will I ever learn?
<<You're learning now'¦I hope [grin]>>
To make a long story short (unusual for me) I have had it for months and it looked fine.
<<This is typical'¦ Assuming water quality is up to par and predation is not an issue, these organisms generally waste slowly -- from starvation>>
Within the past few weeks it is obviously having problems. The "red" is sloughing off leaving a black skeleton underneath which started from the bottom and is slowly working its way up to the top.
<<Again, very typical of how these organisms decline>>
It does still have white polyps that protrude from the top. It is kept in the middle of the aquarium - it came already attached to its own base rock. It is near a power head so that it gets a nice strong current
<<A strong oscillating flow is best -- a too strong laminar blast from a powerhead can prove detrimental>>
and I feed Rod's Food.
<<Insufficient'¦ The vast majority of these organisms are lost due to slow starvation. They require target feedings of 'each polyp' with suitable foods (e.g. - freshly hatched Artemia nauplii, live and/or frozen rotifers, phytoplankton, and the like) to do well, or sufficient bulk feeding of the system to provide same -- though the latter requires a system designed for such, and a hobbyist ready to deal with the problems such bulk system feeding can spawn>>
Can it heal and be saved?
<<Under the right care/conditions'¦>>
What if anything can I do at this point - or is it beyond hope?
<<Depends'¦ Are you ready/willing to- '¦culture your own foods? '¦set up a drip feeder? '¦provide multiple weekly target feedings? '¦deal with the effects heavy feeding will have on your system? '¦invest in more suitable water flow devices? '¦perhaps redesign your system altogether? The point I'm trying to make is that these corals require specialized care and knowledge, and are not for the casual or beginning hobbyist'¦in 'my' opinion. Your experience here is not unique, and it's likely you will not be able to save this specimen. But hopefully the experience will reaffirm the necessity to research/learn the needs of your purchases, beforehand>>
Thanks as always,
Christine K
<<And as always, happy to share'¦ Eric Russell>>
Re: Losing Gorgonian Battle (A very common tale) - 12/16/10

Hi Eric!
<<Hey Chris!>>
Yes, I am learning.
<<Never a doubt [grin]>>
The first lesson is that no matter how knowledgeable the LFS owner appears - I need to stop falling for it!
<<Indeed'¦the onus is 'always' on you, to do your homework>>
What would be a more suitable water flow device?
<<Some of the 'propeller' flow devices available (Tunze Stream, Vortech, etc.), of a suitable size for your system. The 'controllable' devices will provide the surge/flow oscillation desired. Though for a system of azooxanthellate creatures a Tunze Wavebox would provide for some very nice water movement. Be prepared'¦none of these come cheap! A less expensive alternative could be to utilize the 'non-controllable' propeller devices available (for instance, a couple of the 'standard' Koralia propeller pumps) and place two opposing pumps on timers to switch flow direction every 'few hours'>>
- is there something that I can buy
- or do I have to make it?
<<Not these days, though not all that long ago some hobbyists were doing just that>>
Would Roti-Feast work until I could begin to cultivate my own food?
<<Maybe'¦can only try and see'¦but simple 'frozen' Rotifers and Baby Brine Shrimp may serve as well. Just be sure that 'each polyp' receives/accepts food>>
How do you set up a "drip feeder" for a gorgonian?
<<A container to hold the 'food''¦ Some airline tubing and a device to control flow'¦ Some way to 'mix' the contents of the container to keep it in suspension (those low-rpm motors used on some Kalkwasser stirrers do a dandy job of this)'¦ A search of the WEB will no doubt turn up plans/other methods re. But for a single specimen as you have, target feeding is a much simpler way to go>>
I understand that it is most likely too late to save my current specimen, but as long as there are white polyps protruding from it, I am sure going to try...I would appreciate any help you could give me or anyplace that you could direct me....
As always,
Chris K
<<Try also a Google search of the Net for 'azooxanthellate aquarium systems.' Good luck! EricR>>

Gorgonian Feeding -- 04/12/10
I recently sent to you a question about feeding a recently purchased yellow gorgonian.
It has finally opened up after over a month in my 90 gal reef aquarium,
<<Mmm'¦this is a long time for these voracious feeders to go 'without'>>
but I no longer have your info on the suggested diet.
<<Did you try looking here and among the associated links? http://www.wetwebmedia.com/gorgfdgfaqs.htm >>
I believe you mentioned soaking flake food with some sort of liquid feed and using a dropper to feed the open polyps?
<<'Target' feeding is suggested, yes'¦and 'crushed' flake foods soaked in a vitamin/HUFA supplement like Selcon can be utilized but is not the 'best' and may not even be accepted. Other 'fine' prepared foods can be tried like those intended for filter feeders and even those for fish larvae'¦but do also try 'natural' foods like shrimp/prawn and oyster eggs (both can be found on line if not available locally) as well as live phytoplankton. Feed sparing at first until you can determine which foods the Gorgonian is capturing and actually ingesting, to avoid simply polluting your tank. Cheers, EricR>>

"Purple fuzzy sea fan" question 11/10/08 Hello, <Hello, Jessy here> I purchased a new sea fan a couple days ago and I have a few questions about it. I am pretty sure it is non-photo synthetic but maybe you could verify that for me. I have attached pictures. I have been searching the internet for a positive identification but I can not find anything like it.  It has pale yellow skin with a deep purple colored polyp. I have a photosynthetic Caribbean gorgonian and a non-photosynthetic yellow finger gorgonian and they are doing well. <Great choices. They are the easiest gorgonians to care for> They eat Cyclop-eeze and rotifers and even the small piece of Mysis. My new sea fan has much smaller polyps then the other two. According to the store where I purchases the feed it phyto every once in a while but I have read many places sea fans do not eat phyto. <Advice like that from stores makes me very very angry. Gorgs cannot live on phyto.> They said they have had it for a while and it was fully open and healthy looking. I tried feeding it rotifers, Cyclop-eeze and crushed flake food. It appears to have eaten this but some of the larger pieces it lets go. It did not eat as aggressively as my other two. Do you have any suggestions for feeding or thoughts on the phyto? <Its a great supplement for all kinds of corals, including gorgonians, but in no way is it enough to sustain this species.> I find Sea fans and gorgonians amazing and want to get as many as I can in my reef. <I agree, I love gorgs as well and have kept many in my tanks. This species is not very hardy in a captive system. I fear you may only be able to keep this specimen for a time (months maybe) before it succumbs to starvation.  You are doing well by feeding multiple foods, you can try adding a few of these foods I've had success with. Prawn eggs (great for your yellow finger gorg), Oyster Eggs (Reef Nutrition has a great new product, Oyster Feast), Coral Frenzy, and crushed flake foods. You should be target feeding and making sure they get a good variety of food. Please if you get more gorgs, stay away from the non-photosynthetic kind unless you have a dedicated system and are well versed in the care for these animals. And for the record, never get a blueberry gorgonian. They won't live even with the special feeding I've given them. A good reference for types of gorgs that are proven to survive in captivity http://www.garf.org/GORG03/WINTERGORG.html This piece is beautiful and I want it to thrive. As always thanks for all your help and sharing you experience in this matter. <Good luck. I don't want to sound all doom and gloom, but you will find that the smaller the polyps the less chance you have at keeping the gorg long term.> Kind Regards,
<Regards, Jessy>

Deep Sea Yellow Gorgonian - 06/07/06 I was just wondering how you think a Deep Sea Yellow Gorgonian a.k.a. Orange Finger or Sea Rod (Diodogorgia sp.) would do in a 75 gallon tank with a 3 inch sand bed, 3 Maxi-Jet 1200 powerheads, and a 300 watt PC lighting?  I have an AquaC Remora Pro skimmer and 2 Emperor 400 filters.  Thanks, Jon <<Mmm...how dedicated are you to keeping this specimen alive?  This creature is non-photosynthetic, meaning you will need to feed it directly with live phytoplankton.  Can be done...but requires diligence on your part to keep it fed.  Sadly, most specimens are doomed to slow starvation in the average aquarist's tank (if your in to gorgonians, the photosynthetic Purple Ribbon Gorgonian {Pterygorgia sp.} makes a hardy tank specimen).  The presence of a large, mature refugium would also be of benefit.  Otherwise, what you list sounds fine but do place the gorgonian where it will receive subdued lighting to help prevent algae growth.  Have a read here for some husbandry tips re this species: http://www.advancedaquarist.com/issues/mar2002/toonen.htm Regards, EricR

Blue polyp gorgonian care 10/21/03 Hi Anthony, <cheers, my friend> Thanks for answering my questions about my blue polyp gorgonian ( Acalycigorgia ). I do have a couple of remaining questions if you would be so kind. <my/our pleasure> Would the Selcon soaked Mysis be a better food than the Cyclop-Eeze? Would you alternate? <Selcon is a very good supplement all ways around (fishes, corals, anemones, etc) - please continue to use here. But as nutritious as mysids are for many animals, I suspect they are way too large for gorgonian polyps here. Better for larger polyped animals and many fishes. Continue with Cyclop-Eeze> When I frag it can I use any old superglue that I get at the hardware store, or is there a marine type of superglue? <DIY superglue is fine... just be sure to use the thick gel for ease of application> When I add the refugium on this tank, will there still be a need for a plankton reactor? <that depends on the style of fuge you set up and how strict you are about keeping it safe from plankton predators (no shrimps, crabs, fishes, corals, etc in it)> Will the zooplankton population in the fuge, and my daily feedings be enough for this gorgonian to thrive? <quite possibly... install as large a refugium as possible: 20-40% the display size of you can> Thanks again for your help. There are a countless number of fish and corals that are still living because of WWM. Peace <and peace to you in kind :) Anthony> Goin' For A Gorgonian! Good afternoon Scott, <Hi there!> I hope you had a great turkey day!!! <Typical...Ate w-a-a-y to much...!> Well Scott a got a question for you. I just brought  a yellow gorgonian!! <Sounds nice!> And I was wondering, I have a bottle of Selcon its that good feed for my gorgonian, or should I buy some Reef plus instead and feed once a week??? Thank you <Well, if you're referring to one of the Diodogorgia species (like D. nodulifera, which is frequently called the "Yellow Gorgonian" in the hobby, then feeding is very important. You really want to use plankton-like foods to feed these animals. Selcon is a great enrichment for many foods, but it is not really a substitute "food", in my opinion. I'd utilize a preparation like Liquid Life's "BioPlankton", or Frozen Cyclop-Eeze. They do require a pretty high level of care, or they will typically waste away in captivity. Do a little research on the 'net to verify the species that you have, and then give the animal a lot of attention, and you may experience some success...Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Gorgonian Grub Hello Scott, <Hi there!> I brought some Liquid Life BioPlankton today from my L.F.S. and I started with one pump for my 45 gallon tank!!!   I've read in some web pages that I should pump every other day, what do you think? It does not say in the bottle. <I'd tend to agree with that advice; although I'd make sure that you're keeping up the water quality in this tank. Do monitor the water chemistry, to assure that everything is up to par. You certainly don't want to pollute the water. Also, you may want to check on the net regarding specific applications for this product. Liquid Life, USA's owner, Ed Ramirez, is a nice guy who will be able to give you some good pointers on its use. Bon Apetit! Regards, Scott F.>

Flower Anemone Baby 2/25/04 Cheers Crew, One again, the website is great and the information has brought peaceful sleep to me more than once, <Ahhh... good to hear!> but I've got two quick questions.  In my large reef tank I recently brought in (post quarantine) a purple sea whip and golden sea rod.   <hmmm... I'm content with the purple whip, but wonder/suspect the golden rod is azooxanthellate (night feeder) and as such, doomed most likely to starve to death in the next 6 months or so> Mounted them w/epoxy to small rocks to get above the sand, all polyps are out and healthy.  My question is I have an upstream refugium and a 6" DSB, is there any thing else that my benefit them food wise other than the occasional Artemia wash and the chopped krill/seafood mix I feed to the larger corals?   <occasional feedings of phyto like DTs brand phytoplankton> Also, just noticed a baby flower anemone--e. crucifier (@3/4" dia.), while feeding my colony of these anemones, is there anything to do for it besides let it live and grow.   <target feeding will help tremendously> It is attached just below the far edge of the mother's disk.  It was quite an amazing site to find, I guess I must be doing something right for the tank, best wishes to all, Joe Bales <kindly, Anthony>

Feeding gorgonians and filter feeders Hello I have just added to my 155 gal tank some finger corals, gorgonians, mushrooms, some Featherdusters, I have a plate coral, and some other anemones. All these are from the Atlantic side of panama in central America. I also have a Atlantic blue tang and 3 snappers. I added this in the past weekend. My polyps 2 of them don't seem to be very well. What should I be feeding them I was reading in your book that they filter feed and have to few days a week give them food. Should I buy those bottles they sell at the stores I think I saw one from Kent marine called Micro vert that feeds inverts its liquid style. And zooplankton what should I do? << I think all types of plankton foods like that are very beneficial to corals.  Live plankton better than bottled plankton, but all plankton is good.  Also, lots of light. >> Thank you much <<  Blundell  >>

Feeding Diodogorgia - 4/14/05 Hey Guys.  <Hi. Paul helping out today> I need some help.  <What we do here.>  I got a Yellow Finger Gorgonian Coral a few days back, and I need some help feeding it.  <OK>  I saw on GARF.org the following instructions  <You could always call GARF. They are quite helpful Support (208) 344-6163>  INGREDIENTS: Flake fish food - 1 tablespoon SeaChem Reef Plus - 4 tablespoons Fresh water - 1/4 cup Soak the flake food in the Reef Plus for one hour and then add the fresh water. Puree the mixture in a blender for several minutes. After you allow the mixture to set for several minutes you can pour the smallest particles off with the water. The larger particles will settle to the bottom of the glass and they can be used to feed the Gorgonians. I have no idea as to how to actually "feed" the coral.  <I would use a syringe (without the needle, of course) or a small turkey baster or baby snot ball,  and suck up a small amount of food and actually squirt around the extended polyps. Try with flow (pumps and skimmers) off first for 5-10 minutes then turn them on. I would feed once every three days or so.>  Do I feed it inside the tank?  <Absolutely>  Remove it?  <If it is easy you could but I would not>  I do not know. Any help would be appreciated.  <Hopefully I have helped. Please do take this opportunity to learn from this situation, and be sure to do as much research as you possible can before purchasing to save your bank account and yourself extra effort. Thanks for being part of it all. ~Paul>

Feeding a orange finger gorgonian I recently purchased a Large Orange Finger Gorgonian (Diodogorgia nodulifera) and a small red one. I just read in my book that this are non-photosynthetic and require feeding. I have never kept a non-photosynthetic coral and do not no what to feed it. What should if feed it and how should I go about giving the food to it. Any help would be appreciated I do not want to starve this beautiful creatures. >> Something in the way of a "mash" of meaty animal material is what most folks use. Develop some sort of process of blending a bunch (as in a blender) material that you can freeze/store... defrost every other or third day... Turn off your filters, but not powerheads...(best on a timer) for a good fifteen minutes, and use a turkey baster (when the animal's polyps are extended) and gently wash the material in the gorgonians direction... Does this make sense? Bob Fenner

Sea Fan selection, feeding Bob, what do you think of the Sea Fan. ( I mean the chance of survival in a home tank) Also, what do they feed on? Thanks. >> Some species do okay (Pseudopterygorgia spp. are almost standard offerings in western Europe for instance)... need to be collected and shipped carefully... Some are filter feeders, some are photosynthetic... Maybe read up about Sea Fans, aka Gorgonians on my site: www.WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner

Gorgonian problem help!!!! Hi Bob! I Hope you can help. I have a orange gorgonian I purchased from the Flying Fish. I'm not sure of its name, but it has white polyps and about seven inches high and across. It was doing great at first. I have it in a good water flow area kind of high in the aquarium. I have a 29 gallon tank with power compacts. The gorgonian hasn't shown its polyps in a month and is starting to shed its outer skin exposing its skeleton. I moved it all over the aquarium thinking it was light . Nothing seems to help. I do regular water changes Ph 8.2 Alkalinity is at 2.5 and I fed it brine shrimp. I'm afraid it deteriorating will harm my other corals and few gobies? Any suggestions? Liz XXXX@yahoo.com <Hmm, actually... this is not likely a photosynthetic species... likely a Diodogorgia species... and you should try other foodstuffs... Most importantly one/some of the "phytoplankton" prep.s sold for the purpose (like DT's...), administered to your system water... during different times of day... with the pumps turned off to the filters (not the non-filter pumps though) for a good fifteen minutes... And yes, sea fans, gorgonians can prove toxic to all other life if/when they "fall apart"... you may want to remove this specimen (in a bag with water in it, w/o lifting it into the air)... to another system, isolated... Sometimes the "bad parts" of the "rind" of these animals/colonies can be excised to save the remainder... Please read over the "Gorgonian" section posted on our website: www.WetWebMedia.com and associated FAQs files as well... and do endeavor to get the name, know the basic husbandry of the animals you utilize ahead of their acquisition going forward. Bob Fenner>

Sea Whip Hi WWM Crew- <cheers, Anthony Calfo in your service> We purchased two sea whips (or what the LFS said were sea whips) they look like branches, one is red and one is orange with red spots.  <alas... the are challenging aposymbiotic (non-photosynthetic) species. Best kept in a species specific tank without other cnidarians (corals, anemones, gorgonians, etc). They need heavy feeding (perhaps live phytoplankton for you to culture or build a phyto reactor) and strong water flow> After searching your web site and your book, but we read a lot about sea fans. But these don't have the interconnecting branches that the sea fans do.  <too many species and genera to describe, but the care (unknown as much of it is) and level of difficulty is still quite similar> Could you advise about the care of sea whips,  <please do read a bit more here if you haven't already. Still... not much is known about their long term care. A challenging creature indeed. A shame that they are so inexpensive and tempting: http://www.WetWebMedia.com/seafanfa.htm> and whether or not they are toxic like sea whips if they die.  <likely moderate to very> Are they photosynthetic?  <no> Are they filter feeders?  <yes> Or do you have to hand feed?  <lot s of feeding indeed... phyto reactor or fishless refugium would be best> My mom found your web site and bought your book and now she quotes you at the fish store and the owner knows you by name, "But Bob Fenner says..." Your web site provides so much helpful information. <agreed... he is a wonderful living and published resource for our beautiful hobby> Thank you-Elaine <with kind regards, Anthony>

Yellow Finger Gorgonian Hi there Bob - just a quick question for you, if you don't mind. <Anthony Calfo... AKA coral boy, in your service> Diodogorgia nodulifera is predatory and non-photosynthetic so I'm just wondering - if light is not required by this coral and it can get rid of algae by shedding a mucous layer,  <well... not exactly, bud. It can shed waste products and some nuisance algae to an extent through mucus tunics. However, shedding excessive and unnatural growths of nuisance algae is not a primary function of mucus tunics... waste removal is> does it actually matter whether it receives bright light or dim light? <very good question. It is likely that if nuisance algae is not a concern or problem in the tank (causing an undue burden on resources to purge it), then residence in a more brightly lit spot will be little harm> Is placement an issue beyond putting it in an area of strong current?  <very good... strong current is key and for many Gorgonids...laminar flow> The reason I ask is because people seem to do well enough with corals like Tubastrea in shaded and in well lit areas and that particular coral doesn't even have the same capacity to rid itself of algae.  <agreed... although Tubastrea naturally occurs (say 10-20%) on brightly lit portions of the reef. Such animals simply are not as well adapted to fend nuisance algae IF they develop. So the key here is to run a tight ship and don't let nuisance algae establish! <G>> I recently acquired the Diogorgia and have it quite high in the tank although not directly under a 150 Watt metal halide. Your advice eagerly anticipated...... Simon Sleigh <do consider buying or building a phytoplankton reactor. Also know that if this animal is not in a species tank, but in a mixed reef aquarium with mostly autotrophic animals, that one is going to suffer likely. It would be hard to provide enough food for the aposymbiotic gorgonian without disturbing the symbiotic animals (excess DOC levels, etc) Best regards, Anthony>

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