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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>

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>>

Attaching Gorgonians to LR  3/15/08 How do you attach or cause to attach to the rocks a live gorgonian after introduction to the reef aquarium? <Greetings, Mich here. The best way I have found is to get a piece of rubble rock with a hole that you can put the gorgonian in. The closer it is to the diameter of the internal woody skeleton the better. You will have to remove the rind-like skin at the base before placing it in the hole, otherwise the tissue just decays. You need to make the cut as clean as possible but be careful not to break the skeleton itself. The rind-like flesh should begin just outside the hole in the LR. Use Super Glue (cyanoacrylate) to keep the skeleton inside the rock. I have found it best to put a ring of cyanoacrylate around the area between where the skeleton exits the rock as well, as it can help the gorgonian to attach itself to the LR. I hope this makes sense. Would be much easier to show you than to tell you.> Thanks <Welcome, Mich>

Briareum Lighting Requirements? -- 05/02/07 Hello all! <<Greetings Mark>> Feels like I'm writing a lot lately, this is like the third e-mail in 3 days haha. <<Hmm, maybe we should be sending a bill...[grin]>> Anyway last weekend I acquired what I believe to be a gorgonian of the Briareum species. <<I see>> The LFS dealer told me that they were very hardy and it was quite cheap so I decided to try it out. <<The photosynthetic gorgonians can be quite hardy, yes...and do be aware they are also quite noxious...you will want to provide adequate chemical filtration accordingly (carbon/Poly-Filter)>> Now here's a problem, I'm reading all kinds of varying listings of light requirements for this species. <<Indeed>> Some sites state they need high intense lighting and some state they need medium lighting. <<Mmm, yes...and likely either is fine as long as direct feeding makes up for what is needed but not gained through photosynthesis>> I have two Arcadia marine white 15w T8's and one Arcadia blue actinic 15w T8, all with extra parabolic reflectors on my 15g setup. <<Replacing all three with 10000K bulbs would serve better...in my opinion>> I'm housing Favites Brain Coral, Candy Cane, Protopalythoa, Hydnophora exesa, Hairy Mushrooms and a recently acquired a small yellow/greenish Montipora fragment a few months ago which has tripled in mass. <<An aggressive and toxic mix for sure...and in such a small tank.  All the more reason for the ancillary chemical filtration I mentioned>> Most of these I have kept in my system for years now and are incredibly vibrant in color. <<You must be doing something right then>> So I wanted to know if my lighting can sustain all of these corals, would it be able to sustain my gorgonian without trouble as well? <<I think so, yes...if you have any problems with the gorgonian, I doubt it will be due to the lighting.  >> The flow department I already got covered; I'm running an Eheim 1212 Aquaball with a Hydor rotating water deflector.  Non-linear flow as I have read that this species requires. <<Sounds fine>> Hope to hear from you soon :) Best regards, Mark Forsling <<Cheers, Eric Russell>>

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  

Gorgonian ID and care 12/22/05 I recently purchased a similar gorgonian. I cant seem to find any info on it. <It is always better to research an animals needs before purchase!  It is impossible to ID the gorgonian in the picture you sent, and even more impossible to know if yours is the same.  Gorgonian care is highly variable, except that almost all require strong current.  Brightly colored specimens are generally non-photosynthetic and require large amounts of often highly specialized food.  Most of these are doomed to waste away and die.  Generally gray and brown specimens (and some purple ones) are photosynthetic and so require bright light.  These specimens still appreciate food, but are less dependent on it.  If you are confident that your specimen is NOT photosynthetic, I would try to return it to the dealer.  If they will not accept it back, you can attempt to provide it with adequate food (baby brine shrimp, Cyclops-eeze, oyster eggs are all reasonable to try).  If you think it is photosynthetic, then bright light and strong current should do the trick.  All gorgonians will also benefit from the presence of plankton generating refugia.  Best Regards.  AdamC.>

Leptogorgia questions 10/17/05 Hi to the crew! <Howdy> I've written you before with some questions on a Briareum colony with which I was working; alas, the times have changed and I am on to a sea whip - Leptogorgia virgulata! I am doing research to find out more about concerning its relationship with its symbiotic snail (Neosimnia uniplicata). I was wondering if you could offer any advice on keeping sea whips. I am having a hard time finding information in any of my coral books or online. <Even "Modern Coral Reef Aquariums" (Fossa and Nilsen)?> Y'all have been so helpful in the past!  Set up - a 100 gallon round tank with constant water flow directly from the ocean.  Lights (overhead - no compacts) are synched to the local sunrise/set times and are pretty natural.  The only thing in the water are the sea whips (orange, yellow, and a smidgeon of red), and its symbiotic snail and barnacle.  Can't tell you the exact temperature offhand, as it fluctuates during the day, <Hopefully not more than a few degrees F. diurnally> but I'm at the Duke Marine Lab in Beaufort, NC and during the day the water's around 72*F. The coral were just moved in today, so most of the polyps are still retracted. However, there are a few branches open nearest the water inflow. Please help! Thanks so much! Sincerely, Katherine Almquist <What little I know re the practical husbandry of gorgonians is posted on WWM. Bob Fenner> 

Encrusting gorgonian care - 11/24/03 Hi, I've had a small frag of encrusting gorgonian (sp?) in my tank for about 2 months. I cannot tell for sure if it is growing or not. <Depending on light and condition of the tank, could be a very fast grower but I have noticed mine growing slower these days. What a pain though. This stuff can move rapidly when very happy. Watch carefully. Will cover everything in its path and in some case will even irritate or sting SPS once it touches> The polyps usually open for the entire photoperiod. <Sounds OK to me> I have it on the top of my rockwork, where it receives current from two opposing power heads, and occasional turbulence from a small HOB filter. <Sounds like one of my setups. Indirect current right?> The guy at the LFS didn't really tell me anything about it's care ( no surprise huh?), <Well, no surprise but there are plenty of books, sites, and forum help out there to be educated that one shouldn't even have to ask about it when buying. (Except for the water parameters of the source tank)> And I know it was my responsibility to know the care of an animal before I purchased it. <That's right!!!> When I search on the internet, all I seem to find is information on regular branch gorg.s. <Don't get me started. I see many hits when I use my favorite search engine. C'mon now.> I do weekly water changes, because I'm not too comfortable dosing anything just yet. <I wouldn't dose anything you don't test for. Save the money.> I have been feeding DT's in the tank as another source told me that would be good for it. <Not so sure. I have never directly fed mine> Do you have the proper name of this creature? <Well, do searches for it on the internet as there are few variances of encrusting forms of gorgonian. Some of these so called encrusting forms could even be misidentified. Check our page: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seafans.htm> at least that way my searches could possibly be more fruitful. I really want my gorg to thrive, and I hope you, or someone else could help me. <High lighting and various strong flows seem to help them thrive in my experience. No need to feed phyto.> It seems as if not too many people on the boards have these things. <'Cause they are a menace when they get loose!!! ~Paul>

Azooxanthellate gorgonian... another statistic 10/22/03 Greetings from Denver, Anthony, I don't know what's wrong with this gorgonian. Last month, it looked great (see pic), after moving to the new system, it looks terrible, with stringy algae like stuff. It saddens me to watch it die, is there anything I can do to save it? Looking forward to seeing you in Denver next month! Thanks, Stormbringer <not much to say mate. They all "look good" for some weeks... even a few months after import. And almost all of these non-photosynthetic gorgonians are dead within 6 months of collection. They should not have been collected, offered, or purchased IMO. It died like every one I've every seen has... attrition and giving up the fight to encroaching algae. We do not know or cannot provide what they eat (nanoplankton and smaller in some cases). Bottles phyto foods with at least some species (this one I believe) are a joke. Yikes... sorry to be so grim, but it is what it is. The red, orange and yellow sea fans are well-deserving of their reputation in captivity. My advice is to never buy another unless you can set up a species tank for it. On a better note... I am very eager to see you and meet the Denver gang next month! Sure to be a great time. Anthony>

Blue polyp gorgonian (Azooxanthellate species) 10/20/03 I have a blue polyp gorgonian (Acalycigorgia sp.). I have been feeding the same food that I my Tubastrea. Its Cyclop-Eeze and it seems to be really helping my animals. <it is a fine food> I was feeding Selcon soaked Mysis until about 2 months ago when I heard of Cyclop-Eeze. <the Selcon is tremendously nutritious... please resume> I do not have a refugium. I do know that a refugium will greatly increase the health of my gorgonian. <more than you know, my friend> Hopefully soon I will be using one. My question is will this gorgonian have a problem if it is lifted out of the water? <why bother... do play it safe and bag and move under water if it needs to be moved> It has grown a couple of inches in height and when I do a water change it is getting too close to being exposed to air? Can this gorgonian tolerate air or will it die if exposed? <Hmmm... I'm not completely certain. I suspect it will be fine. But is may be a good excuse to propagate it (cut off the growing tip and superglue into a hole in another rock). Best regards, Anthony>

Gorgonians me again - just bought a gorgeous blue green Gorgonian octocorallian from work yesterday, I put it in the direct path of a powerhead, so it has plenty of circulation and movement, but there seems to be a lighting dispute - one of my co workers recommended low light conditions (which I thought to be ridiculous, because I know they contain zooxanthellae) but I read your article and I agree with you. What exactly are their light conditions? thanks Again, Chris >> Hmmm, really depends on the question of whether the species in question is photosynthetic or not (yep, some have endosymbiotic algae, other's don't). I suspect that you have one of the two more popular Pseudopterygorgia (from the tropical west Atlantic), that photosynthates... requiring moderate to bright lighting, brisk circulation... which most all forms/species will tolerate...but do confirm the species Bob Fenner

Acropora and Sea Fan questions Hi all!  Thanks as always for a great site.   <our pleasure> I don't know where I'd be without my daily dose of WWM. <out of the Institution, perhaps?> My first question is really more just curiosity than a problem (I hope). I've noticed that my Acropora polyps are almost always out during the day.  They close after the lights have been out for a while or after a feeding. <feeding particulates that is... they prefer nanoplankton and feeding by absorption instead (some). Thus... no need or irritation by the turbidly of plankton at night or your feeding> I'm puzzled because the Acroporas that I've see in the display tanks at my local pet stores are always closed.   <varies by species, water quality, water flow, etc> The pictures I've seen are usually too small to distinguish the polyps.  What is the normal behavior supposed to be?   <varies> Do I have anything to worry about?   <nope> I've attached a picture so that you can see what my coral typically looks like.   <a handsome coral> I hope it's not too big, <if only I had a dollar for every time I had to say that [fill in your own joke here]> was the smallest I could make it without losing the detail. <[follow up joke inserted HERE]> I feed them a variety of meaty foods that I blend in a hand-held blender until very fine.   <a nice effort but likely little help. They do not eat phyto... and prepared meaty foods are grossly too large. They need nano-sized zooplankton. A fishless upstream refugium would be a much bigger help> I feed the tiny suspended food to my small polyped corals and sea fan, <yes... better for the sea fan indeed> and the larger crumbs that settle on the bottom of the bowl I feed to my sun coral. <good strategy> My sun coral, by the way, is doing very well and growing fast. <excellent. Do look in archives for the old article in Aquarium Frontiers by Joe Yaiullo on asexual planulation of this coral. Fantastic!> My second question is about my sea fan.  There is some Cyanobacteria growing on the fan -- but no where else in the tank, <yes... needs more random turbulent flow here... they have evolved by design to trap particles!> fortunately.  How can I safely remove it?   <just better flow bud... tweak your outlets but no laminar action here. Have two effluents converge above it perhaps> The Cyano is beginning to smother the fan, but otherwise the fan seems to be doing very well, even growing.  I've included a picture of the fan.  You can see the dark areas where the Cyano is growing. I have a 75 gallon tank with lots of live rock and about 3 inches of live sand.  I keep a protein skimmer and a small carbon filter running all of the time.  My protein skimmer is a Turboflotor 1000 multi.  The cup is filled about once a week (is that enough?).   <not really... (hence the Cyano). This is a skimmer with a good design that needs pampering and tweaking. There are even companies that sell modified Turboflotors. Browse the archives here and the message boards for modification tips and tricks.> For lighting, I have a 384 watt PC with two 10000K and two actinic bulbs. My water parameters are: >pH = 8.3 >dKH = 9.3 >Calcium = ~400 >Ammonia = 0 >Nitrite = 0 >Nitrate = 10 Thanks, Patrick <best regards, Anthony>

Re: Gorgonian Anthony, Thanks for helping me convince the world that it needs to revolve around...uh...Me! <heehee...> No, but, really a flare nozzle on the water input bulkhead should provide some tumbling motion 'eh? Powerhead maybe? <agreed>                       I just got back from the LFS, the fish dude there sold this (see attachments) as a hardy, "branching star polyp", looks like a gorgonian of some sort to me, what do ya think? <yup... looks like the knobby gorgonian Eunicea from the image (tough to be sure)> He also said to put it at the bottom of the tank with moderate water flow around <hmmm... moderate light is OK... but this coral needs moderate to strong water flow like most coral>                                                   As always, thanks! <kind regards, Anthony!>

Encrusting gorgonian "problem" 3/10/03 I purchased what my LFS calls an encrusting gorgonian 5 days ago. <Briareum is now the genus that encompasses both Pacific Starpolyp and one of the two common Atlantic "gorgonians" (the other is Erythropodium)> It very closely resembles star polyps. Problem is, it's retracted it's polyps and it's base has turned from light pink to an off-white color. I can see bumps all over the base, as if it is trying to extends it's polyps. The rest of the tank is in hale condition. Water params are very good. How long can I expect it to remain dormant? <without knowing anything about your water quality and other physical parameters (light, weekly carbon use, none at all, water clarity, etc) I can only speculate. The most common cause of poor polyps extension here is lack of dynamic water flow. These corals need very strong water movement, but it must not be laminar (no power head blasting it! <G>). Please do read the articles on water flow in the WetWebMedia.Com archives for more insight> Is it dying/dead? <not likely... you'll know it... it decays quickly> Are they pretty hardy corals. <very much so. In fact, they are considered a nuisance and a weed by many because they grow fast and over take rocks and kill corals. Still, I admit they are quite beautiful if kept in check (keep a rubble "campfire" around them)> The LFS seems to think that they are hardy and hard to kill. <agreed> Please advice. Best, Balachandran Chandrasekaran <with kind regards, Anthony>

Dying or Stressed encrusting gorgonian? 3/19/03 Dear WWM Crew: <cheers, my friend> Last week I wrote to Anthony regarding a newly purchased encrusting gorgonian. He suggested that I install an additional powerhead to obviate laminar water flow and run activated carbon to ameliorate the lighting conditions/intensity. Despite following his advice, the gorgonian's polyps remain retracted. <have patience my friend... some coral even take a couple months (Lobophytum are notorious for example)> It appears to be trying to extends it's polyps as there are bumps all over the surface. <ahhh... good sign. Slowly but surely> Today, I noticed that my red Lobophyllia started showing signs of die-off and I instantly moved the gorgonian to the QT tank and did a 40% water change. The rest of the tank look a little lackadaisical. <wow! Ahhh... I must say you need to be careful of such knee-jerk reactions. The tank overall may have a problem, but the gorgonian is not likely the cause. The gorg will be further stressed for having to deal with yet another lighting scheme in such a short period since purchase> Question: What does a dying/decaying gorgonian look like? <unmistakable... rotting, dissolving and foul smelling> Please advice and thanks in advance. Best, Balachandran Chandrasekaran <sudden or frequent moves of coral under any circumstance can kill newly acquired coral, my friend. Simply have more patience than one week for polyps extension.... even one month in a new tank. The move from QT to the display reset the clock so to speak. And now that its back, you still may not see polyp extension soon. If the tank overall looks pale, test all parameters and do a larger water change to be safe and buy time (25-50%). Best regards, 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>

Keeping His (Corky Sea) Finger Where It Belongs! Hello. <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> I've searched your site, but couldn't find what I'm looking for.  I also posted my question to reefcentral.com... got lots of 'views', but no takers. <Differences of opinions...? Among reefers...? Nah! LOL> So here's my question...  today I acquired an unmounted Briareum asbestinum, which I understand is also known as an encrusting gorgonian or corky sea finger. Right now, I've got it sitting in a small rock inside a shot glass at the bottom of my tank. Can I use super glue gel on it to attach it where I want or should I leave it where it is for a while. If the latter, then for how long? <If it were me, I would secure the specimen where you want it with the super glue gel. Yes, they will encrust on their own, but it's hard to say how long it will take. Once they encrust, though, they do grow really quickly, and they can be quite toxic to other corals...Place it carefully, and allow distance for future expansion> Any addition info. re: placement in tank would be most welcome, too. From what I've read, it seems to be highly photosynthetic, so in the top 3rd of the tank seems appropriate.  But I've also read it prefers to latch on to substrate, which I would think would normally be near the bottom, unless one lived near a subduction zone. <I've mounted this species midway up the rock structure in strong current and pretty bright light, and it's grown like crazy! They are pretty adaptable animals...> Basic specs: 24" high 65 gal. w/440 watts VHO. Here's a pic. Thanks a lot. Warren <Glad to be of service, Warren! I'm sure that you'll enjoy this species no matter how you mount it! Regards, Scott F>

Buried Gorgonian depth 9/30/03 Hello Gorgonian Guru (Steve Pro ? Anthony Calfo?) <you rang, sir...[Lurch voice here]> I have a purple Gorgonian (I believe a candelabra) that I buried about 2 inches deep in my sand bed, up to where the polyps start. Will covering its two inch base of purple flesh in sand harm this guy? Thanks, SLC <Yowzah... it will indeed be a problem. Gorgonians occur on hard substrates and are not accustomed to being buried in the sand. Buried tissue will be stifled and become necrotic. Please do remove promptly. If you desire this specimen on the bottom... cable tie or glue it to a larger rock that can be partially buried. Best regards, Anthony>

Re: buried Gorgonian depth II 10/3/03 To Anthony Calfo : Yowzah is right ... the 2" of buried Gorgo-flesh has become putrid and necrotic, like most current Hollywood movies. <Arghhh... to the necrosis, that is... not the LALAland movie comparison. That we already knew> This border of decay seems firmly affixed at the previous burial line and is not advancing north <a good sign> towards the Land Of Good Purple And Polyps. <Minnesota?> Anything special I should do to help my otherwise healthy Candelabra? <definitely go pro-active and cut away tissue just slightly above the highest affected point (+1/2") and all below. Leave only the woody gorgonian stem - reason being, infections can quickly become systemic on gorgonians> I have removed this dead stuff with a Sonic Care toothbrush (no reef should be without one) <agreed... but save the floss for making bikini beach-wear> but anything else I can do (that you say to do ) I will do... <Hmmm.... you wouldn't happen to know where the love of my life is? Getting older but not necessarily wiser.> And howdy-do to you, too .... <and the horse I rode in on?> Thanks for the steady-stream-of-invert-life-saving advice you have given me, SLC <it's true... I switched to Invertebrate Sympathizer from being Republican - it wasn't a far stretch. Best regards, Anthony>

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