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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>>

Yellow Sea Rod Help, mortuus est   1/18/10
I'm having a host of Yellow Sea Rod troubles.
<... Diodogorgia species are very hard to keep in captivity...>
About four days ago I purchased a Yellow Sea Rod from my local fish store. It's got three main sections, and the whole thing is about 6"x5". I'd been watching it for about a month, and I've seen it have its white polyps out before, but it didn't have them out when I bought it, and it hasn't extended them since I've had it.
<A bad sign>
My tank is slightly crowded, but I'm diligent with water changes and monitoring feedings, and my water quality has been great to my knowledge, pH - 8.3, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate all undetectable, with pineapple sponges and coralline algae growing all over the rocks, which I've heard is a good indicator of calcium/magnesium levels but I don't have a way to test those at this time.
<This bioassay as you state is indicative>
I've got halide and actinic lights,
<... not photosynthetic species>
and the Sea Rod is placed away from other corals, where it's away from the direct actinic light and it has flow from the return on my filter.
<Good. Do require good water movement>
I thought it might take a day or two to adjust, but everything else in my tank is thriving. I've been target feeding it zooplankton nightly, but since none of the polyps are out, I worry it's not eating.
<It is not>
Yesterday I woke up to find it with some cyanobacteria along its base,
<Very bad>
and I've noticed that in some of the tanks at the store before. So I followed the directions of the ChemiClean Red Slime Remover,
and used a soft brush to scrape it clean. Today I noticed about four of the tips decaying so I clipped them off (about 1/4"), and then I noticed some decay along the center section base where the cyanobacteria had been. I don't know if I should try to patch this with a sealant, try to clip off the branches and hope they survive as propagated fans, or just let the poor thing go. I feel like I've done nothing but pester it since it's been here. Any advice you have would be great.
Thank you in advance,
<I do wish I had more or even just "something" encouraging to relate to you. This specimen is likely gone. As gorgonians don't have "much" organic content, it will likely do little harm to leave it in your system; but the prognosis... is dire indeed. Bob Fenner>
Re: Yellow Sea Rod Help
Thanks, Bob. Would you try to propagate part of the undamaged branches?
<Mmm... am torn twixt wanting to urge you to reasonable action, and the almost certain knowledge that this specimen is doomed. Lauren, I am a person of considerable intuition (put one way); and sense your deep, earnest desire to "do what you can" here... and in general (likely more than just in the ornamental aquatics interest). I am sorry to state that the likelihood of success with this small specimen is abysmally small. It will not do any more harm to cut away the "bad pieces". BobF>
Re: Yellow Sea Rod Help
Haha- busted. Thank you, Bob.
<Welcome Lauren. B>

Gorgonian discoloration question... leaping before looking, no reading   4/4/09
Hello Crew,
I have been reading your very helpful advice for a while, but this is the first time that I actually can't find an answer so I decided to ask myself.
I bought some really pretty stick-like corals at the LFS today, and I was told they are gorgonians, not exactly what type though.
<... Ummm, you need to find out, know... so you can hope to provide whatever species these are with adequate/appropriate care... there are some "more" hardy species (strongly photosynthetic), all the way to a more "normal" spectrum of mixed photo- and planktivorous ones that rarely do well in captivity>
One is yellow and the other one was a bright red-orange.
<Mmmm, a bunch of the common "warm color" (reds, yellow, oranges...) ones are amongst the poor survivors>
Like I always do with any new addition, I did a quick FW dip with distilled water.
<?! NOT a good idea>
I adjusted the temperature to match my tank and checked to make sure the PH was as close as possible. I did not add anything else to the water. I dipped the yellow one first, and left it in for about 3 minutes and then transferred into my tank. Then I went ahead and did the same with the red one, but this time after about a minute and a half the water started turning red, and I realized that the color was literally coming off of it!
<... more than this>
After I took 10 seconds to process what was going on?(I really wasn't expecting anything like that) and debating if to put it into the tank or if the red coloring would also spread in it I rushed it in.
<And possibly poison all>
The red coloration did not show up in my tank, much to my relief, the saltwater seemed to immediately stop it.?However, the whole piece had turned white! Except for a small section that was not completely submerged in the FW while I did the dip. So first of all I'm wondering what happened to it?
<It was being killed, dying>
Did I do something wrong, or should a FW dip not be used with this type of coral?
<... first... Gorgonians are NOT actually corals...>
The yellow one looks just fine though... And also, will it recover or is it dead? Could it harm anything in my tank?
<Who knows and yes>
Thank you!
<Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/seafans.htm
and ALL the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Dwarf seahorses and Gorgonians, sys.    8/29/08 Hello Mr. Fenner & crew at WWM! <And to you Elena> Thank you for taking my question. I've read your website (among many others) and there is so much information that is contradictory it makes me cry! <How would you help here?> Your site opened my eyes to so much & I try to learn something new every day to help keep my tanks and inhabitants be as healthy & happy as possible but my dwarf seahorse tank needs help!!! My first mistake with the dwarfs was to only read seahorse sites. I didn't get to your site until after the fact. I'm having trouble picking the correct hitching posts for my dwarfs. The gorgonians I chose, I fear, were a tremendous mistake; as was the red tree sponge that I was told was GREAT for seahorses!. In with my 7 dwarfs, in a 6.6 gallon (23.5"L x 9.25"H x 7"D) w/ 1.5 gallon refugium, I have a green lace, 1 red & 1 yellow finger, 1 rusty & 1 purple brush & deadman's fingers. <I will interject here... this very small volume is dangerously unstable inherently... Unsuitable for any "good" sized colony of sponges, cnidarians... I will skip ahead and encourage you to simply use some "dead" gorgonian skeletons (rinds) or artificial media made for aquariums for "hitching posts"> There is a Penguin 100 BioWheel & Reefsun 50/50 lighting (6500* k trich daylight phosphor plus actinic 420 phosphor 18" 15 watt bulb). The tank was set up in January & the Georgians were added in June, the dwarfs just 21 days ago. The Gorgonians were fine until the dwarfs came. I'm guessing it's because I had to modify the BioWheel with sponges to the flow & intake to protect the ponies. Now I see the yellow finger is becoming covered with brown slit(?) <Mmm, maybe a mix of algae, Protozoans, bacteria... dead metabolic products from decomposition> & the others are rarely showing their polyps. The ponies love the yellow & use it to sleep together at night & well as a local hangout for morning greetings. The polyps used to show all the time on the yellow & this past week less and less have been coming out & today 1 or 2 are showing. Do you have any suggestions? <Mmm, yes, assuredly. One, to keep a good volume of pre-mixed water on hand... for the time coming when this system will crash... to move the Seahorses to likely, or if you're fortunate to "catch" this process, to remove the non Seahorse life (and toss) and change out the water to save them> My next question is, are there Gorgonians I should remove & others I should add? <I would not try keeping them period in this setting. Too little chance of "success" (the ones you have are slowly dying... and too great a likelihood of death of all from "crashing"... i.e. a cascade of death, decomposition... resulting in poisoning...> Can you suggest anything else to be used as hitching posts? <I have, above> One last question.... I hear so many different answers to clean up crews in dwarf tanks. In your opinion what would a good clean up crew be for them? <Really? You, your gear, regular (weekly) maintenance... no "crabs, hermits, snails..."> Years ago, before dwarfs were seen on line, I acquired a small herd & kept them in a 10g tank with plastic freshwater plants and a bunch of snails. They were fed BS (not decapped BBS) & flourished for 3 years until I was hospitalized for many months. My family just couldn't keep up the many feedings & extra cleanings a tank like that requires & by the time I came home I only had 3 left & they were too far gone to help. <Ahh, well do I remember the many years of even "Comic Book" ad-sales of Floridian Seahorses, the keeping, feeding of Sea Monkeys/Artemia> When I started this tank I wanted it as natural as possible (& I hated those tacky plastic plants!) <There are some very nice decor items nowadays...> but I have to say it was much easier then! I could really use your help. There's just too much out there & contradictions fly at the speed of light. I just need a consciousness, intelligent, black and white list (is there such a thing?). I just want to do right by all the inhabitants in the tank. I know I'm in the right place, you guys just rock! Thank you for giving us a site with no hidden agendas! Elena <Welcome Elena... Again, I would remove the Sponges, Gorgonians... go with artificial media, skeletons here. Bob Fenner>

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 {Pterogorgia 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

Yellow Finger Gorgonian and Cyanobacteria - 05/01/06 Hi again, from Mobile, Alabama. <<Hello...from Columbia, South Carolina>> I am writing in regards to my yellow finger gorgonian. <<Mmm, Diodogorgia nodulifera, a difficult specimen to keep>> I have had a lot of problems with Cyano lately and he seems to be covered in it. <<They are susceptible to this, yes.  Increased water flow in the direction of the gorgonian may help (being careful not to blast the tissue away!).  A brief (1-minute) temperature and pH adjusted freshwater dip may also be of benefit>> I wipe him off with a soft-bristled tooth brush once a week.  Well maybe this was a bad idea because one of the branches fell off. <<A bit too "rough" with the brush maybe>> On the actual Gorgonian it still looks good, you can see the skeleton but it is being covered back with the skin. <<Surprising...a good thing...but surprising.  You must be managing to provide a useful diet>> For the little branch that fell off... It still has polyps that come out pretty often and looks pretty healthy.  Is there anyway for me to just attach him to a rock and let him go? <<Certainly...scrape the tissue from the end of the branch you wish to attach for about a quarter-inch up the branch, and use a gel cyanoacrylate (super glue) to attach the branch to a small piece of rock>> Or is there something else I should do with him? <<Mmm, nope>> Thanks, Dana <<Welcome, EricR>>

Grey Sea Rod 1/4/04 I am finding out that I keep returning to your site for more and more info.   <great to hear... please tell friends about us too> I just purchased a Grey Sea Rod and a few others and had them shipped in.  When I got the box the Grey sea Rod bag had busted and the only thing keeping it wet was paper towel.   <Hmmm... actually, moist packing (wet paper towels/newsprint but no water) is common and appropriate for many gorgonians. In fact, the mortality of some species during extended transit if shipped submerged can be quite high> I immediately floated it and began unwrapping it in my tank.  Most of the coral had disappeared and only the hard center left but there was about 2 - 3 inches left at the bottom so I began to frag which I have never done.   <my yes... does sound like it shipped badly for water reason; there's no living tissue at all when you get down to the woody gorgonin stem> Some of the tips of the coral I glued into slate and placed in a grow tank.  Will my mother colony make it through or is it doomed to die?   <I cannot say without a pic at least my friend. Gorgonians are resilient though> It looks pretty bad,  some of the polyps have opened but most are gone.  On my frags the are splotchy with some polyps remaining but the purple soft part falling away and revealing the hard core.  I have put calcium and Iodide in the water to try to help the healing process.  Any advice would be helpful.  I am knew to the hobby and need all the help I can get.  Also do you have any advice on re-attaching a piece of Red Ball sponge to rock.  At this time I have it's old base touching a rock and resting on top of another for support. Thanks, Jerry <At this point, my friend, the best advice I can give you is to please research animals thoroughly before buying them. The two choices mentioned here (Gorgonians and Red Ball sponge) are two of the absolute worst candidates for survival in any aquarium, and not to be recommended to beginners under any circumstance. Frankly, I will be very surprised to hear that the red ball sponge lives to see even 6 months in the aquarium. And if you meant other gorgonians with the grey sea rod above... I fear that you have taken some aposymbiotic species (Red, orange or yellow), which have an equally dismal track record in aquaria. Please do consider Eric Borneman's "Aquarium Corals" for a very good read and pic reference... or my "Book of Coral Propagation" for the fundamentals of reef keeping (first half of Volume one lays this all out... about 200 of 450 pages)... and of course, Bob Fenner's CMA for outstanding comprehensive marine keeping info. Best of luck, Anthony Calfo>

Are Non Living Red sea Fans Aquarium safe? 4/28/04 Hello: I recently purchased some Red sea fans (non living, decorative) to use in my aquarium.  I was told by another person that these cannot be used in the aquarium because they will fall apart. I was also told that the Red portion of the Sea fan was the animal. Are these non living sea fans aquarium safe? Thank you <it depends... if the tissue has been stripped away and the gorgonian (woody) stem has simply been dyed or painted... then it may be safe. If there is still dried red tissue on it... then there will be some rotting. If the sea fan was packaged wrapped in plastic, then I suspect it was/is safe. Anthony>

Sea Whips - Not for the Aquarium, She Wants Dead Ones I have an odd question. Do you know where I can purchase a few sea whips. Preferably dried and flat for framing.  <Try a dried flower shop/craft shop. James (Salty Dog)> 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

Marine advice please Hi, I have a 50g reef tank, it has a plenum, about 3" of sand, 15-20lbs of LR, My pH is 8.3, nitrates, ites and ammonia are all at 0. The tank has a Condylactis anemone, a small brain coral, a few mushrooms and polyps, a green brittle star, an emerald crab, an arrow crab, a horse shoe crab,  <Keep your eyes on these last two... the former as a real predator, the latter for dying "mysteriously" and polluting your system...> a cucumber, a couple snails/hermit crabs, a feather duster, a frilly gorgonian, and a purple whip gorgonian, I also have 2 blennies; one is a "lawnmower" the other is a bicolor. I have two questions. First do blennies breed in the home aquaria? (obviously not the pair that I have but just in general if same types are introduced), <Yes, a few species have done so... look over the Breeder's Registry records here> and secondly, What do you do if a gorgonian doesn't open?  <Not necessarily panic... unless they don't open for days, weeks... Do investigate the species... looks like a Pseudopterygorgia... for its natural history, captive husbandry... in books, listservs... and try to accommodate its needs... some are photosynthetic, others need vigorous water movement...> The purple whip has been in my tank for about a week and no polyps show. The frilly opens all day with polyps that seem to be getting larger. I feed 1cc phytoplankton, 1cc MicroVert every second day, and on the days that are skipped I feed frozen brine shrimp for the live stuff. The purple whip had/has some strings of hair algae on it (presumably from the FS because I have only minimal amounts) but nothing thick. Nothing is turning black. What do you think? <Perhaps a negative interaction between these two gorgonians... Please read over the FAQs and article posted on the group on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com for more here... and consider increasing water movement, using chemical filtrants, executing a large water change... perhaps changing the water temperature...> P.S. I am aware that the frilly's supposed to be photosynthetic but I feed just incase. <Good idea.> Thanks for your time. Dustin. <You're welcome my friend. 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 

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>

Blue polyped gorgonian Hello Mr. Fenner or anybody else in the crew, <Oooh...Oooh! Pick me!> I am very honored to be able to finally ask one of you a question.  <shucks... the honor is truly ours that anyone cares to know our opinion :) > I enjoy the honest and educated information on your site. Your site has enabled me to be a more conscientious reef keeper and I thank you wholeheartedly.  <thank you kindly, please do tell friends about us and help our cause> Now to my question, can you tell me about a blue polyped gorgonian, in which I believe to be a pacific gorgonian that I saw in Eric Borneman's book of aquarium corals.  <correct... they are very difficult to keep and at this time may only fairly be kept in a species specific display or at least a dedicated refugium. They are likely to need live phytoplankton.. a full time drip from a UV moderated reactor would be ideal. Bottled phyto may be far more work that it is worth in an attempt to use as food (see archives or follow up if necessary)> It is available at my LFS and it is a beautiful specimen.  <beautiful... but I personally would not recommend them to many aquarists... almost every single one imported is dead within 12 months if not 6> They said that they have never seen it before and that their distributor has just obtained them.  <if they just got it to see it or have it on hand then I regret hearing it. They should be special order only IMO and it is irresponsible for them to display such animals for impulse purchases. I'm grateful that you are very sensibly doing your homework to research it... but how many customers that see or buy such animals do? Very few. If this LFS is not giving the animal specialized care and advising customers just the same then shame on them. What's the difference between a gorgonian being kept in a mixed reef tank and starving to death for weeks or months and the same store keeping a cat or bird in a tank and starving it? Merchants and people at large that have respect and empathy for life see no difference. Again.. I applaud you my friend for researching before buying... too many folks we chat with come to us after they have purchased the animal> Before I decide to buy this specimen I would like to know anything you can tell me about them, so that I can make wise choice.  <after all said above... you actually can keep this creature if you can meet its feeding needs. Essentially, we are talking about blending bottled phyto daily in an electric blender and dripping in (tedious and expensive in the long run) or building a phytoplankton reactor (expensive initially but well worth it in the long run). I'd suggest you search the message boards like ReefCentral.com for design tips. I have seen some great threads, photos and designs on such boards> Also, is it true that gorgonians cannot be exposed to air?  <Not all... but some species yes... safer to bag and transport the deepwater varieties like the one you have mentioned underwater at all times> Best luck to you all and have safe, enjoyable trips where ever you may travel to. <and to you as well!> Thank you for your time, Timmy Nguyen <with pleasure... Anthony Calfo>

Re: Blue polyped gorgonian Hello again Mr. Calfo, <Cheers, my friend> I appreciate the educational response and have decided to not get the gorgonian. I believe I can try to keep it, but I don't want to "experiment" on such a beautiful specimen or take part in a new Goniopora/flowerpot epidemic.  <heehee.. agreed, my friend. I am in fact one of those folks that does not believe in the restricted collection of any animal (non-threatened of course) for study or responsible pet-keeping. But I would prefer to see a significant raising of the standard of merchants to properly offer said animals and educate customers on the needs of such specimens. The offering of flame scallops, colored sponges and gorgonians, and other like "challenging" species from traditional LFS displays and mixed reef tanks with symbiotic animals is just irresponsible. It sends the wrong message to the uninformed and allows far too many impulse purchases to the ill-prepared. The irony is that the successful keeping of many of these animals is quite easy if the aquarist simply has the knowledge to set up the proper species tank to meet any specialized needs. In the case of this aposymbiotic blue gorgonian... I wouldn't recommend it to most because it is just too tedious and laborious to keep successfully. Most folks want a more casual hobby (no crime at all)>  Words cannot express the gratitude I have for you and your colleagues. It is very hard to find information that is honest and not an arrogant opinion based on meaningless nothings.  <thank you kindly... it is truly our desire and intent to help aquarists succeed for the greater good of all> And if you do post this, I would like to advise the readers that Mr. Calfo's book on coral propagation is an extremely intelligent, well written, enlightening piece.  <Hmmm... I can't remember if I paid for this flattery or not :P> I did have to put to use a good dictionary though, heh, but well worth it.  <heehee... yes, a little strong armed use of scientific and common names together:) > Well, thank you again and I hope to be able to keep in touch with you all. Respectfully, Timmy Nguyen <I'll look forward to making your acquaintance one day. Best regards in your endeavors! Anthony>

Yellow finger gorgonian 7/18/03 Crew, First of all, Kudos to Bob and Anthony for the great Invertebrates book, I have read it cover to cover many times. <yikes... maybe we will too one day <G>. Thanks kindly :) > OK, I purchased a 6-7" yellow finger gorgonian coral at the local LFS (their not much to speak of compared to the So. Cal stores, but I'm stuck here in the Midwest) <Arghhh... a very challenging species. Not for the traditional home reef aquarium. Needs laminar flow and heavy daily feedings... really for experts only. I myself will not even bother to keep them. Most die within months of not weeks.> After getting home with this cheap purchase, I look up the requirements for this type of coral (Bob would not be happy with me for this hindsight) and see they require several of weekly feedings of newly hatched brine shrimp or similar food. <yes... quiet a challenge. Do employ a large fishless refugium to help with feedings of plankton ASAP> I have a small 29g with about 25lbs of LR, 3 small Damsels (1-1.5") and a huge copepod population. <excellent on the latter> It's been setup for almost a year, and I have well established populations of coralline algae, Caulerpa, and various encrusting filter feeders. My lighting/filtration and skimming are vast overkill (I used to work for Bob). <no concerns about lighting here... your gorgonian is aposymbiotic> Do you think I will still need to supplement for this guy (I have no other live coral in the tank)? <you'd be lucky with feedings only 3-5 times weekly... very sorry to say> Also, the base (3/4-1") of this coral had no visible substrate attached, but there were no breaks in the membrane. <alas... too common, but reassuring on the latter part> Thanks for your help,   Randy R. <wishing you the best. Anthony>

Another Statistic? Red Gorgonian 8/17/03 I bought a red gorgonian. From what it looks like, it is Diodogorgia nodulifera. <ughh... beautiful, but destined to die unless you have an advanced species-specific display set up for it. Culturing rotifers, unicellular algae, etc. Aged tank and DSB (over 2-3 years) with mature fishless refugium, etc?> The person at store said that if I have fish in the tank, I will not need to feed the gorgonian. <misinformation or a flat out lie> Yet, other say that this one needs to be fed even if the fish are in the tank. So... my question is please tell me how and what to feed it. <these are some of the most difficult cnidarians to keep alive in captivity. The point may be moot... yours will die in a community fish tank in less than a year unless than a year (mere months perhaps) of starvation. Let me strongly suggest you return this creature for a photosynthetic species instead (brown, grey, etc... like Erythropodium) or do some fast research on how to set up a species tank to keep this unfortunate animal alive. I personally feel very few should be collected and that none should be offered for casual sale to new aquarists.> Also, I've placed this one in the sand, a bit in a shade, medium water flow, is that fine? <they are indifferent to light if you can protect them from encroaching algae... but they do need extremely strong water flow. Give a strong laminar source from a far distance (no close powerheads please). Best of luck> Thanks, Luke <Anthony>

Another Statistic? Red Gorgonian II - 8/17/03 Anthony, thank you for your advice. Here's my follow-up. > I bought a red gorgonian. From what it looks like, it is Diodogorgia nodulifera. > <ughh... beautiful, but destined to die unless you have an advanced species-specific display set up for it. Culturing rotifers, unicellular algae, etc. Aged tank and DSB (over 2-3 years) with mature fishless refugium, etc?> Is that all it eats? <worse... science and the hobby do not exactly know what these creatures eat. Many theories and some limited data on the subject (bacteria, colloidal matter, flocci, nanoplankton too... none of which you or I have in necessary quantities in our aquariums). Rotifers and green water seem to help. But this is a large part of the reason why many folks feel it is unethical for the casual collection and sale of these creatures (aposymbiotic corals). They are almost entirely doomed to die of starvation in average community tanks> Will not assimilate left over fish food? <not a prayer. Literally impossible once you see/understand their polyp structure and known stimuli. Its like a squirrel looking a 2-story nut> By the way, where can I find info on culturing unicellular algae or rotifers. <Florida Aqua Farms, and Inland Aquatics would be good places to start with> Not sure what is the refugium for, should the gorgonian be in the refugium??? <my goodness... your LFS would have done you and them (future long-term business) a greater service to sell you a refugium kit rather than a gorgonian that will be dead in 6 months. The concept of a refugium is simple, yet lengthy enough to not be able to be fairly described in a brief e-mail. We dedicated about 100 of 400 pages in our new book, Reef Invertebrates, just to refugiums, plants & algae, and live substrates. Let me suggest that you use the google search tool on our home page http://www.wetwebmedia.com to do a search of our site for articles and FAQs on "refugiums". Much to be enjoyed/learned there> How about feeding it with commercial products such as: Phytoplex, Zooplex etc. by Kent Marine? <A complete waste of money in my opinion. The particle size is too big for most phytoplankton feeders. DTs is a better choice if you must use a bottled supplement.  The point may be moot... yours will die in a community fish tank in less than a year unless than a year (mere months perhaps) of starvation.> Are you saying that this Cnidarian should not be kept with fish?   <My apologies... I was not clear on the last point. The gorgonian can fare very well in a fish tank (and will likely benefit at least a small amount by their presence.. or rather, presents in the form of fecal matter). However, most fish tanks are community tanks that do not get fed live rotifers, do not have inline and gated fishless refugiums, etc... and as such, an aposymbiotic gorgonian will die in short order in this environment. Unfortunately, they are slow to starve and actually can look quite good for several months before (likely) losing a "sudden" battle with encroaching microalgae, if not becoming necrotic and dying outright. Let me suggest that you please research the needs of any fish or invertebrate before you buy them. LFS advice does not constitute objective research ;) Before you buy another coral, please buy a good book like Eric Borneman's "AQUARIUM CORALS". For all other invertebrates there is our "Reef Invertebrates" (Calfo and Fenner). It will be a worthwhile long-term investment in your success, my friend. Best of luck. Anthony>

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