Please visit our Sponsors

FAQs about Soft Corals 1

Related Articles: Soft Coral

Related FAQs: Soft Corals 2, Soft Coral Health, Soft Coral ID, Soft Coral Behavior, Soft Coral Compatibility, Soft Coral Selection, Soft Coral Systems, Soft Coral Feeding, Soft Coral Health, Soft Coral Propagation, Alcyoniids, Nephtheids, Dendronephthya, Paralcyoniids, Nidaliids, Xeniids

Sarcophyton colony in Fiji at right

Best Method of Calcium Supplementation for Soft Corals Hello Bob and crew, I met you when you (Bob) spoke at the Desert Marine Society meeting a couple of months ago. I have a 2 month old 70 gallon reef tank with 100 lbs of Fiji LR, a Prism Pro Protein skimmer, about 2-3 inches of fine aragonite, power compact lighting, good water movement. Anyway, after a lot of thinking and research I have decided to keep only soft corals (and a few peaceful fish) in this tank. Regarding water chemistry, I use a RO/DI water with a very high quality salt mix. I age the water for a week with an air stone in the barrel between water changes. I do about a 10% water change weekly. <Very good.> At this point I dose daily with Iodine but have not been adding supplemental calcium because of conflicting information regarding the need to do so when keeping only soft corals. <Even soft corals use calcium for there sclerites.>  When I test for Calcium and Alk, my levels are in the range typical for seawater but not in the higher ranges recommended for coral reef tanks (I apologies it don't remember the exact levels and my log is at home as I write this). <Glad to hear you have a log book. Actual numbers would be helpful, but I will give you some suggestions based on the assumption you are around 300 ppm Calcium and 3 meq/l or 7 dKH (the lower end of the acceptable ranges).> So, my question is should I be supplementing calcium? <Probably, yes.> If so what is the best way to do so with my system? <I would use ESV's B-Ionic two-part system. It is not cheap, but very easy and you do not have a high demand in your tank (should not be using too much). Be sure to continue to test, monitor, and track the trends of calcium and alkalinity.> I should also tell you that I don't have a sump and do not plan to add one to this tank any time soon. Thank you very much for your help! Pam <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Soft Coral Placement Hello there crew, I am fast running out of space in my 120 gal reef tank (as always) and planning placement and species for coral introduction. Can you tell me if it is possible/suitable to place Lobophyton or Sarcophyton directly onto sand or substrate as opposed to placement on rock? <Either could be attached to small rocks and then placed on the sand, assuming the light, water movement, and other parameters are appropriate in that area.> I have (and do constantly) scanned you pages but failed to find detailed information on placement of soft corals, please point me in the right direction. <FYI, Sprung's "Corals: A Quick Reference Guide" has a little chart for every coral recommending placement.> Many thanks, MJP <Talk to you later. -Steven Pro>

Colt coral question I'll give this email address a shot....bad luck with the other one.  <"Heeeeeee shoots and scores! The crowd goes wild. Ahem, I mean, "yes"..."we have received your e-mail."> I have a colt coral that has gone from 5 inch (from a cutting over a year ago) to a shrunken 2 inch! The polyps are open and color is good...it has rapidly started to get smaller over the past 4 or 5 months....I moved it to another tank to see if it would help, never really changed...just got smaller.  <has it been getting some sort of feeding...specifically phyto/green in nature on a weekly basis. If not, yours is starving as so many do. Nowadays we have products like DT's phytoplankton available. I have recently described a simple phytoplankton reactor in my book and could recant that for you if you like. Before live or bottled phyto, aquarists kept and grew Colt corals quickly by refugiums with good plant growth or in tanks that naturally grow a lot of microalgae that gets scraped off of the display glass weekly> There are no visible signs of damage, water parameters are all fine, all other corals are thriving in the same tank....plate coral, zoanthids, Porites, Montipora... <planktivores and more photosynthetically active creatures (less dependant on feeding for all except the plate coral. I hope you are feeding that animal 3-4 times weekly minimum else you'll find it hangs in for 12-18 months and then dies "mysteriously" (starvation)> feather dusters <mucus feeding strategies... eating detritus, bacteria, etc)> as well as fish. (coralline seems to be going gangbusters!) I watched for crabs or other stuff that may have been stinging, biting ..generally irritating it with no sneaky suspects to be seen. Lighting and water flow as well as supplements( as per directions, needs) weekly water changes are done.... I would really like to keep this little guy alive...( first coral for me) I read through as much of the Faq's page as my eyes could handle ( very addictive pages...time flies when having fun!) My reference books don't have a situation like this to base a problem from.  <actually a very common symptom with colt corals in modern aquaria. My strong recommendation would be a Seagrass refugium inline to produce food for the colt with so many other benefits> Could it be a chemical war from other corals in the tank? <eh...sure, but colts are actually very hostile/noxious! I wouldn't expect them to be on the losing end unless placed right next to Starpolyps or galaxy for example. At any rate... please DO NOT move this stressed animal around. It is a good way to kill it on such low resources> Even from the very beginning when it was thriving it would droop over on its side. Any ideas? Thanks again for the help Aloha POG <Aloha, my friend! Anthony>

Devils hand/devils finger (abrupt Soft Coral color change) I have a quick question for you. I have a Devils finger and a small devils hand in my 125 gallon reef. I have a few other corals, i.e.. trumpet, anthelia, mushrooms, toadstool, frogspawn, green star polyps, brown star polyps, yellow polyps, green tree, brown Sea Mat, giant brown mushrooms....... Anyway, my question is.... What would cause the leathers to go from a beige brown to a purplish color. <Mmm, bizarre... a change in the physical make-up, like lighting in the system... perhaps a "toxic influence" from another stinging-celled animal... less likely, a sudden change in water chemistry> The only other thing that seems to be acting weird is my Green open brain has lost some puffiness and we can see it's skeleton in the section that separates it's two mouths. All our readings are at the acceptable limits and we haven't made any changes except I added more lighting. <Oh!> I currently have 3- VHO actinics, 2 -10,000 (Aquasun) VHO's, and 1 96 watt Compact florescent bulb. Temperature is at 78.9, all regular reading are fine, calcium (using a reactor), PH is normal, Ammonia is 0, haven't tried a nitrite or nitrate test yet but they have always been low, phosphates are 0, I'm using RO water, haven't added iodine until 2 days ago. feeding every 3rd day with a shrimp/spinach/misc... frozen meal, with a small feeding of marine pellets. Protein skimmer it not pulling anything out of the water, mostly white foam. it's a Sipadan ( equivalent to a Precision Marine CV630 ) powering that is a Iwaki 40rlt pump, only a 15 gallon sump because of lack of space with a mag 5 return pump, also have a 8 watt UV sterilizer that has not been on (no reason for it). Fish list: Banggai cardinal, yellow tang, Clarkiis clown, Tomato clown, domino damsel, 2- blue damsels, yellow tail damsel, unicorn tang, purple pseudo-Chromis, 2- anemones, a lot of crabs and snails, pin needle urchin. Any advice would be appreciated, I'm a little concerned over the brain and leathers because they have survived a lot of problems in a previous tank and made it out unscathed and now are looking weak. <I do strongly suspect the lighting addition, change in spectral make-up here. Unless there is continued tissue recession I would not be overly concerned. In future, it is a good idea to "grade into" such changes, enhancements in lighting... with electronic dimmer mechanisms, shading of new lamps... Bob Fenner>

Re: Devils hand/devils finger I don't think anyone can possibly give you enough credit for your contribution to the hobby. I applaud and thank you greatly, you have been an ongoing source of information where there has been none available in my area of the country. Your web page has been a funnel of help that just cannot be expressed. Thank you. <You're welcome my friend. We are indebted to folks now and before for their contributions, who helped us in turn. For myself, this "vehicle" is my best chance to "enhance other peoples' love of their lives through an appreciation of the living world". Towards that ends I am satisfied. Bob Fenner>

Biotope Hi Bob: Welcome back to the States! <Steven Pro answering queries this evening.> I was wondering if you could provide some answers to some questions I have regarding soft corals and where they are found on a natural reef. I am gradually building up a system with captive propagated soft corals, such as Xenia, Anthelia, and Capnella. In your dives, where are these types of corals usually located on a reef? Are they found on top of, around, or under rock outcroppings? Do they orient themselves into the prevailing currents, or are they more or less randomly distributed? <I would get a copy of Eric Borneman's "Aquarium Corals". It is an excellent work and covers "Natural Locations" for all the corals among other things.> I'm trying to situate my corals as naturally as possible so that my tank does not just look like a bunch of rocks with corals shoved in, if you know what I mean! <Yes, the down fall of many tanks, aquascaping.> I second the request of a CMA/WWM fan a week or so ago that wants you to publish a book of just biotope photos for aquarists to be inspired by! I think such a book is really a neat idea and presenting it from the aquarium perspective would be neat! Take care, Scott F. <You too, Steven Pro>

Purple colt coral?? Hi Bob, <Reef Aquarist and author Anthony Calfo in your service> I purchased a colt coral yesterday in San Francisco (or supposed colt coral)  <you didn't happen to see Don Johnson or Cheech Marin while you were there did you... I love that show, hehe> but now am really unsure whether it is a colt coral or not. I researched enough about it to know that it is a good beginner coral that doesn't need intensive lighting.  <I'll agree with half of that statement. If it is an upright branching "Colt" coral (and Alcyonium species often mislabeled as Cladiella) then it is indeed likely to be forgiving with regards for lighting. However, it still needs to be fed (one if the few softies that may eat phytoplankton) and is one of the most chemically noxious corals that money can buy. Very inhibiting to some other corals in the tank. You must have excellent skimming and chemical filtration, not to mention water changes to succeed with other corals in its tank> Therefore, I really want to know that I have the correct coral and thus care for it appropriately. I don't want to make the mistake of having a coral I cannot yet care for. Anyway, the guy at the store told me that it was a form of colt coral and seeing that he mentioned that he knew "everything" about corals,  <tell me this guy's name and store so that I can fly to SF to kick this guy right in his...er, Colt coral... for making such an asinine and absolute statement. I'll give you a friendly Three Stooges "Moe" slap later for believing that absolute statement...hehe> I trusted him against my own judgments that colt corals were suppose to be brown. In either case, this thing is bluish purple and looks similar to a colt coral if it is not one....any clues?  I've scoured the internet and found a picture of something that looks to be exactly what it looks like. It is NOT the large coral in the center but rather the small purple/blue one on the upper right hand corner. I've attached it to this file. Anyway tips to what it is and it's husbandry will be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Sincerely, Jimmy <Dude... thanks for the picture...they help so much. The ID you were given on "Colt" coral wasn't even close. Not even in the same FAMILY of coral, let alone the same genera! The coral pictured is almost certainly a Capnella sp but is indeed a Neptheid at any rate. All colt corals are Alcyoniids. And their husbandry is also quite different. Unlike, Alcyonium... Capnella species are VERY weakly aggressive and must be protected from aggressive neighbors (Star Polyp, LPS coral, mushroom corallimorphs, etc.). They can be acclimated to MH lighting, but definitely fare best and most attractively under VHO or PC lights particularly with heavy blue emphasis. They may also enjoy a little but of phytoplankton for feeding. A very sexy coral... best of luck, Anthony Calfo...ahem, Book of Coral Propagation <wink>...frag that beauty!!!>

Importing Corals (soft) into NZ hi I am wondering if you can help me. I am looking at importing 3 new genus of coral to new Zealand Alcyoniidae and Xeniidae and Nephtheidae <Mmm, these are families of soft corals, Order Alcyonacea. Please review here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/cnidaria.htm > to complete the application I have to obtain expert assessment of effects in the application and answer the following questions 1/ would the corals survive new Zealand water temperature which is 16c and below <Some species of these families I believe are able to... are actually found in cool/cold water> 2/ cause any significant displacement of any native species with in its natural habitat <Doubtful... If you were to import tropical species it is highly unlikely IMO/E that they would make the transition> there are more questions however before I go on , would you be able to help <Help in what way? Bob Fenner> regards Alois

Adding leather coral HI bob, Can I add ANY soft/leather corals in my 240 FO tank. With nitrates of 25 ppm?? I also have only 130 lbs of live rock in the system. And 2 175watt metal halides. Is the nitrates too high?? <Hmm, not too high for most of the soft corals (Order Alcyonacea) offered for sale, use in the trade. Many of these do better with appreciable metabolite present. Please read over the Soft Coral sections posted on our site, starting with: http://wetwebmedia.com/soft.htm Be chatting, Bob Fenner> thank you, Lee

Indo Blue Cespitularia Bob, Antoine here... Just wondering if you know of any aquarists culturing or possessing (as in bribable candidates) the lovely blue Cespitularia soft coral (Indonesia/E. Africa). I lost the tiny piece I had a while ago (pushed into a Plerogyra by a crab or snail... yikes!) and it's top on my list to replace and propagate. <Will post and look about> If you don't know of anybody... could you recommend any body for rare corals? <Ditto. Be chatting my friend. When will your coral propagation book be out? Bob Fenner> kindly, Anthony Calfo

Re: Indo Blue Cespitularia Thanks for looking out for the Cespitularia for me, I do appreciate it. <I would too> I was also wondering if you take most or all of the pics you e-mail out? <All of them my friend> They are just my kind of eye-candy... invertebrate close-ups! <Many more to come> My book could go to press at the end of this month if I can ever finish editing it... you'd think that if you read something four or five times over that you could weed out most of the typos and awkward language...  <We both know better> apparently I'm just not doing the right kind of drugs. I'll be sure to send you a copy to proof (which is a really nice way of saying it can join the pile of literature awaiting perusal in the lavatory... ha!) <Ah, yes> Just curiously... how are things coming with Hawaii? Do you have time scheduled there this fall or winter? I'm working on Steve and Debbie (Pro) to make the trek. <Yes... just back and ready to go again... let's go. Bob Fenner> Thanks kindly, Antoine

Re: Indo Blue Cespitularia Have seen them available. However they are pretty expensive, usually $180.00 to about $200.00 . Usually available in the beginning of spring. JN Jim Newman Flying Fish Express <Thanks Jim. Will send on and post on WWM. Bob Fenner>

Re: Indo Blue Cespitularia Dear Guys, I have been on the lookout for this coral for the last two years. Everyone that had it had it die out at about the same time regardless of conditions. So it must have a very limited lifespan. We thought that it reproduced in a fashion similar to Anthelia, but apparently you need at least two colonies for it to produce appropriate gametes. Tony are you back in the hobby? Let me know as I have some killer SPS colonies that you may be interested in propagating. Bob let me know too if you come across anyone and I am still looking for the wrasses and Anthias as you noted. Mike (Paletta) <Thanks for this Mike. Will send along and post to WWM. Bob Fenner>

VHO Lighting Would 2 95w VHO bulbs be enough to keep soft coral alive (in the 40 gallon, just under 5w per gallon)? <Yes, for most all species... you likely know some are not photosynthetic, and there are genera, species that prefer dim light... so do investigate further. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Kevin

Securing a Colt coral.... Hi Bob, as you so often hear, thanks for the great FAQ, it has helped me out of many aquatic "tight spots". I hope you can help me with this one. I have a problem with attaching a Colt coral cutting. I have tried using a tooth pick, (The Coral split at the base around it) a rubber band, (I now have two cuttings), and reef glue (It only held for a day). Because of the flexibility of the coral, wedging rocks around the base does not seem to work either. As this is a cutting, there is no substrate attached to help me. I have had the "mother" coral for a while and it is quite beautiful, I don't want to lose the cuttings...HELP! <Try tying those "kangaroos down sport" with thread or light fishing line... or cover over with a loose piece of netting, wedging the corners in the surrounding rock... they should adhere of their own accord within a few weeks, then you can remove the temporary restraints. Bob Fenner> Brandt Harrell

Re: Securing a Colt coral.... -Reply In securing a coral, is it OK to use the plant-anchor type metal weights. (The ones that bend?) Will they leech anything into the water that could be harmful? <NOT okay... these are made of lead... that will assuredly toxify your marine system> One more thing, I have a Coral Beauty I have treated for body fungus. I bought the fish online, and it arrived with the condition. I quarantined the fish and treated it with Maracide, Maracyn Two for 12 days. (The symptoms were classic fungus*white tuft-like growth over what looked like a wound, and one eye was a bit cloudy.) Now back in my tank for a week, it has redeveloped the same symptoms. (Same eye, same spot on the body.) Will this continually be a problem? <Should not be... almost surely this problem is "environmental" in cause and cure... do add a biological cleaner (notes on same under this title on the www.WetWebMedia.com site), and soak the animals foods (and/or add directly to the water on a weekly basis) a vitamin and iodine preparation. You do have live rock I trust, and it has some obvious micro and macro-algal growth on it? This is important for this Angel's health/nutrition> (The wound "reinfecting") The fish eats well has great color, and no fin or tail degeneration. Ideas? How about Melafix? BTW, I love your book! <Thank you my friend. Please read over the WWM site here, and skip the Melafix for now. Bob Fenner> Thank you for your help, Brandt Harrell

Toadstool Leather Coral Hi, I purchased a toadstool leather coral 5 days ago. For the first two days all the polyps were extended and it looked great. Then ever since it has retraced all of its polyps and its skin is flaking off slowly just on the top where the polyps are. When the skin flakes off the tissue below looks kind of whitish color. Do you think the coral is merely shedding or adjusting to its new environment, or should this be of concern to me? <This too-much-shedding and whiteness is something to be concerned about. Some "flaking" is to be expected, but... These soft corals can/do give off considerable amounts of chemicals when healthy and not doing so well... and this one sounds like it may be dying. Is there a chance you can move it to a quarantine set-up, outside the main/display tank?> Also, one more peculiar observation I made is that my percula clownfish seems to be eating the dead flesh from the coral almost like it is helping to rid the coral of its dead flesh. Have you ever heard of this and should this too be of concern to me?  <Not too much of a problem if the fish is small... it may be "acclimating" to the Sarcophyton as a potential host...> Any information you have would be greatly appreciated. Please e-mail a response ASAP to... Thanks. Sincerely, Leighton Stein <Do keep a sharp eye on your other livestock, be ready with pre-made water to make a large change if there appears to be trouble. Bob Fenner>

Caulastrea "Candy Cane" Coral and Toadstool Leather Coral Good morning Bob: <Need another jab of java, badly> Bob, I have had a Candy Cane coral for about 7 months that seems to be thriving. However, a few of his/her polyps are super expanded and look like mini water balloons. I know that generally corals expanding is a good sign, but my candy cane's polyps that do this do not "deflate" even at night. Is this O.K.? <For Caulastrea furcata in captivity? No real problem> Also I purchased a Toadstool Leather about 3 weeks ago. I have kept it on the bottom of my VHO lit tank to allow it to acclimate. Yesterday, I placed it up a little on one of my rocks where it sits on kind of a downward slanted angle. Should this placement be O.K., or do I need to place a toadstool sitting upright? <It will correct itself if it wants. Again, no worries> Thank you as always for your insight. I hope you have a great day. John Rowe <Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Toadstool help and Aqua Medic Hi Bob, Once again I am emailing you for some more help! My fish tank is the one at http://www.cia.com.au/winone <Nice pix, layout... Anthiines sold to you as "starter fish"? Yikes> I have since added a lot more rock to the fish tank but I have not updated my pictures yet. The reason I am emailing you is because I have no idea when it comes to corals. I brought some corals that inflate (e.g. bubble corals) and they are doing great :) <Yes, Plerogyra are great beginner corals> I purchased two toadstools and shortly after I put them into the fish tank they shed their skin and every few days to a week they shed their skin again.  <This is normal> I use a turkey baster (it's like a big eye dropper) to gently blow water on the toad stool so that the loose skin comes off. This makes a mess in the fish tank as there is dead skin and what looks like white powder everywhere. This settles and disappears in about 30 min.s. Today, to my horror, one of the heads on one of the toad stools fell off. I picked up both stalk and head and disposed of them. The other toadstool looks fine. It is a different looking toadstool to the one having problems. The one that had problems had a short stalk and the one doing fine has a long stalk. The heads are about the same size. <Shape more dependent on physical conditions (circulation, lighting) and nutrition than species...> Can the dead skin coming off the toadstool pollute the fish tank?  <Yes, if too much in too small a volume of water, or if quality is otherwise compromised... These soft corals can produce considerable terpenoid pollution... engage in real chemical battles with other stinging-celled life forms...> Why is there dead skin coming off these corals? What can I do to keep these corals happy? <This is a "cleaning mechanism"... not to worry> What corals are good for a beginner? <Please see the beginnings of coverage of the soft and hard/true corals posted on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com and the associated FAQs files, and in particular the references listed there> Many thanks for your help :) Warmest regards Lucien Cinc PS: I had to remove the de-nitrator because it started to smell bad. <Yikes, good idea. Am not a big fan of these units due to these unpredictable qualities...> I tried my best to get hold of the orb computer to control the de-nitrator, but even AquaMedic themselves in Europe ignored all my attempts to contact them. I was NOT very pleased with Aquamedic at all :( <Really? Am very surprised... this is a great company (saw their German representatives at Aquarama in Singapore a couple of weeks back... Would you mind if I forwarded this message to their U.S. division?> PPS: I have also removed the UV light as I believe it is doing nothing. I was wondering, if the corals are filter feeders, would a UV light kill the food that the corals need to eat? <To some extent yes... if your system is otherwise "going well" and firmly established I would eschew the use of U.V. as well. Bob Fenner>

Holes in my leather Hello, <Howdy!> I think I may have a problem with one of my crown leather corals lately it has been closed up and has quite a few holes in the crown that go all the way through.(actually looks like someone used a leather punch) the stalk seems fine as its very fat and sturdy. but I have these holes also it looks like I have some brown alga on the crown can I manually wipe this off?  <You can try> the coral is also a host to a Maroon clown if this help any <Take a close look around the base and vicinity of this soft coral... I suspect you have either a worm or small snail predator problem at work here... A small predatory wrasse species will rid you of these. Please see the coverage on the family of labrids on the www.WetWebMedia.com site. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Curt Norheim

Soft Coral Dear Bob I recently bought what I was told was a finger coral. But from looking at internet pictures, it looks more like a tree coral (Capnella). For the first few days the coral was partially extended and looked like it might recover from its relocating shock. Now the coral remains withdrawn. <This happens... sometimes rather regularly> I have a fluorescent light and the water density is fine. I do water changes of 10% / week. What should I do? Add additives? <I would read up on soft coral husbandry more deeply overall... this animal may need more light, circulation... your water chemistry could be off... too little biomineral, alkalinity... perhaps a poor proportion of magnesium to calcium... Do read through all the "Stinging Celled" sections on www.WetWebMedia.com, and try to get your hands on the reference books listed on those articles> Thanks in advance Jolene PS: We are going to try and import your surely informative book, since you've given great advice to those out there. <You will not be disappointed. Bob Fenner>

Soft Coral Interaction Hi Bob, Thanks for all the help in the past. I was hoping to run another question by you. <Okay> About two months ago a purchase a specimen of Sarcophyton for my 100 gallon reef tank. I placed it in the upper third of my tank in an area of active, but indirect current. After about two weeks, it had settled in and was doing very well. Two weeks later I added two Lobophytum specimens at the opposite end of the tank with similar light and current conditions. These settled right in almost immediately. The problem is the Sarcophyton is not happy. The polyps no longer open and most of the time the body is contracted into a small stump. <Yes...> Since there have been no alterations to the tank except for the addition of the Lobophytum is suspect that I am witnessing an example of chemical warfare between the two species. <Very likely so.> I've done a combined water change over the last 3 weeks of 25% and have added carbon and a PolyFilter to the sump without any improvement. Do you have any thoughts or suggestions? <Hmm... letting time go by is about all the more I have to add to your excellent efforts thus far... if the animal will respond to feeding, do try soaking same in a vitamin prep. ahead of offering... if it starts to visibly decline... I would move "the loser" from the system to another.... Going forward, long term, having more "primary production"... macrophyte growth, live rock, refugia/sumps... in a larger system is encouraged... Bob Fenner> Thanks,

Help me I.D. Invertebrates Hi Bob, I recently added a toadstool leather to my reef. With it, came his friends. They're the reason for the question. Let me describe them. I've never seen them before. On the rock which is the base for the leather, sit two little creatures. One is orange the other red. The orange subject is approximately two inches long by one inch high with two "teapot spouts" on either end. The "spouts" have an aperture of approximately 1/8 inch that remains open on almost all day, I suspect for feeding and or waste removal. The overall shape is similar to bag pipe bag or a purse. Yes, I like the sound of bag pipes. The red fellow is about half the size of the orange. Anyway, if you know who I'm now in possession of, what special care do they need and what are their chances in my stable tank that they now find themselves in. Thanks in advance. Brett <Interesting... and interesting description... Maybe a "moss animal" of some sort... take a look at Bryozoans on websites... or a tubiculous worm of some sort (likely sedentariate polychaetes....) any chance of a digitized image or two? Bob Fenner, who would not do anything to remove these very likely innocuous animals.>

Soft coral questions Hi Bob, I have your book and it is one of my favorites. I have 3 reef tanks: 1 45 gal tank for crustaceans and Condy anemones (been running for 2 years), one 55 gal 3 mo old tank with assorted softies and one 55 gal tank that will be a frag tank. <Okay> My question is about the second tank listed. This tank is lit with four 65 watt PCs (two 8800 K ColorQuest and two Ultra Actinic). Its water quality stats are: temp 78 degrees pH 8.3 dKH 12 Ca 475 P 0 NO2 0 NO3 25 This tank houses an assortment of mushroom anemones, including Pleniastraea urvillei, Rhodactis sp., Ricordea, and Discosoma sp. I also have a pink star Sarcophyton and a pink rabbits foot (Lobophytum?).  <Perhaps> Nearly all corals have doubled in either size or number in the past month. This week the Lobophytum (which had grown a second "hand" and had increased the number of "fingers" from 24 to 37) is shredding at its base (below 2 attached Ricordea). I really don't want to lose this beautiful soft coral. Should I frag some of the fingers into the frag tank?  <Hmm, a tough call... I might do so.> Are the 2 attached Ricordea poisoning it and if so should I slice out the chunk where they are attached and move them to the frag tank, leaving the Lobophytum where it is?  <A likely scenario... or perhaps some of the other corallimorphs influence... and another possibility... I'm more inclined to move, frag the Lobophytum> I read your mushroom faq page and am also wondering if the many mushrooms are too many for this size tank. (Total number of 'shrooms: 24 Ricordea, 8 Plesiastraea, 12 Rhodactis, 33 Discosoma). <Yikes... yes... In places where this concentration of these species are found... not many other hard or soft corals about...> Enclosed are some pictures to help you get an idea about this tank. Thank you for your time! <You're welcome my friend. Bob Fenner> Peggy Drechsler, North Carolina

Coral Care? Hi Bob, If you've got a moment, I'd appreciate it if you could answer a couple of questions regarding coral care. First, I just received a Solomon green hairy leather from FFExpress, and it's not looking very good (pale white, no open polyps). I don't think that the animal is dead, as it shifts position from time to time, but I don't think that it's very happy either.  <Hmm, I wonder why it wasn't "green" to start with...> Can you give me some tips on caring for this guy (requirements for lighting, current, feeding, etc.). <Some of all three... shouldn't be too-demanding... twice a week on the foods... finely diced... blown with baster in the animals direction... may be unnecessary if you have adequate fish life... a sump/refugium... keep up on calcium, alkalinity, maybe the occasional administration of iodide...> My lighting is 6 X 96 W PC, on a 180 gal. tank. My second question is about lighting. Do you think that SPS corals can be kept with this type of lighting, if they're placed high in the tank?  <Yes, most, many species... if placed high in the water column... best to start with other hobbyists traded frags...> There seems to be mixed opinions of this on the bulletin boards. <There's an understatement if I've ever heard one...> Thanks, Dan <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Deadly Leather Coral Bob--Another question regarding my finger leather coral that seems to attack anything I put near it. I've identified it as a Sinularia sp. It had seemed to mount an attack on the Goniopora, which we discussed earlier this week. I found this description of the finger leather coral on the petwarehouse website: "Finger Leather coral is not normally considered a threat by hard corals and does not provoke an aggressive attack. Can usually be placed in proximity to other corals." <"...generally..."> I KNOW this is not the case! When I moved the Goniopora away from the Sinularia, it took the place of a moon coral near the top of the tank. I moved the moon coral over to the same side of the tank as the Sinularia. It was not as close to the leather as the Goniopora was. It was a good 8 inches away from the Sinularia laterally and several inches vertically below the base of the leather. For a couple of days, the leather behaved and stood up straight. When I got home from work tonight, the leather was "drooping" close to the moon coral--it's fingers were less than one inch from the top of the moon coral! The moon coral was closed up--so this leather was clearly mounting another "attack." I have since moved the moon coral back to its original location on the other side of the tank--which became available when the Goniopora went to the bottom of the tank--and the moon coral opened right back up shortly thereafter. <Yes.> Also, my pagoda coral, which has NEVER closed up since I've had it, had its polyps retracted tonight as well and looked irritated and was emitting slime around its edges. It's about 12 inches from the Sinularia and at the same height in the water column. Question--is this specimen too close to the Sinularia for long-term success with the pagoda? Or is it just upset at the moment because the Sinularia had been mounting another attack today and released toxins into the water? <Likely the latter... and/or a reaction in concert with other stinging-celled animals reactions/releases> I've read that Sinularia sp. will grow to 12 inches in captivity--this one started out about 5" tall and is now around 8" tall when fully extended. Another question--is there anything that can go within a foot of the Sinularia without causing it to go on another toxic rampage? Is there anything that is innocuous enough so as not to attract its "attention?" For now, it's got about 1/4 of the tank to itself, because anything that gets near it draws its wrath. However, that's a lot of space in a 115 for one specimen. <You likely have heard of, know that many folks suggest keeping Alcyonaceans (Soft Corals) and Scleractinians (Hard, Stony, "True" Corals) in separate systems, or not very many/much of the former with the latter, OR starting with very small specimens of the former, OR being very diligent on water changes, spacing, using chemical filtrants.... with mixing the two groups...> Thought you might find that description of this coral as misleading as it is interesting, and that these observations might make good material for the FAQs on leather corals. Thanks again! --James D <Well, actually... don't find the description "that" misleading. Do find your well-written, thought-out observations very worthwhile. Bob Fenner>

Red Chili Pepper soft coral Bob, Great site. Very informative. <Ah, good. How would you improve it?> I'm a reef hobbyist for many years now. I have a 40 gallon reef tank with a flourishing population of mushrooms, live rock, fire shrimp, turbo snails, red legged hermits, elegance coral, red chili pepper coral and a new addition, trumpet coral. The fish moving about are all a few years old at least and have never caused a problem. My water quality is top notch. I run a sump wet/dry, protein skimmer, 24 inch double power compact lighting and four power heads controlled by a wave master. Now my problem. I have a very cranky Red Chili Pepper. What are the optimum lighting and water flow conditions for this coral thrive?  <A little variable by species/specimen... IME about "medium" lighting and circulation... from what you list as gear, size/shape tank, you should be about right> What orientation should the coral be placed? I have seen photos of soft corals of various types suspended from the ceilings of overhangs, and others growing upward. <Found in the wild in all these... typically though, the ones collected for the trade/hobby are taken by breath-hold divers in shallow (ten feet maybe typical max. depth) on reef flats in only partially shaded conditions (from light, current)...upright, but small colonies at this point... and likely only first through third year class (to be wiped next big storm)  My specimen at this time falls over on itself within 24-48 hours if I try to stand it up. On the other hand, it doesn't seem to be any better off hanging upside down. It does from time to time "open up" with small white feeding flowers. <All "typical" as you likely are aware> What if any supplements are necessary to add that I will not get by regular water changes? I use weekly the following: Coral Vital reef energizer, Reef Calcium by Seachem and CombiSan full spectrum supplement. <Would really like to do the "Vulcan Mind Meld" with you here, convince you to drop the gimmicky sugar-Weiss product, the dilute Comb... and just use a calcium reactor... have you considered this?> This little coral has been in my tank for over 2 years now, but I've never been able to get it off the ground. <Actually... you have... they're very slow growers... that it's alive is a success> The Trumpet coral has been in place for a week now. Can you give me some guidance on it as well. So far it seems OK, but I know how fast things can change. Thanks in advance. Brett <Trumpet, or Torch Coral... Caulastrea furcata... a favorite... of the hardiest, most appropriate stony corals (family Faviidae, the principal Brain Corals) for aquarium use. Widely distributed, collected throughout the Indo-Pacific (as well as easily cultured and sold... Dick Perrin has some great stocks going). Fast grower in captivity (by division of polyps... easily fragged). Medium to intense lighting (what you have is fine), same with water movement... Bob Fenner>

Selecting new soft corals Bob, I currently have a 125 gallon reef tank with only two toadstool leather corals and I was wondering what other kinds of leather corals I could safely add that are fairly hardy, easy to keep, and not be worried about any chemical warfare going on. Can you give any recommendations?  <All alcyonaceans, soft corals have a degree of potential, practical chance of such warfare... But some are less likely by far to be/cause trouble... I do wish, my friend, I had time now to write up, issue overall opinions on the husbandry of this group... and post on the WWM site... or have run in an upcoming book on "The Best Livestock for Reef Aquariums"... Do you have v.1 of "The Modern Coral Reef Aquarium"? Take a look at the site (link on the WWM site), and do get, read this fantastic overview of the stinging-celled animals... I would try Nephthea, Xeniids/Pulsing Corals at this point in your unfolding...> I have around 80 pounds of live rock, a protein skimmer, two emperor filters, and VHO lighting. I was considering adding a colt coral and a finger leather coral. What do you think? Thanks for you advice, <Good choices> Gianluca <Bob Fenner>

Hi Bob... Soft Corals, electricity Still working at building my refugium. Thanks for your prompt response, however you didn't mention about using snails and hermits crabs to help control the algae.  <In the sump/refugium? I wouldn't intentionally place either of these... some may "show up"... but other factors, organisms will keep "too much" pest algae in check...> Will the crabs go after the snails?.  <Many, most species used in the aquarium interest, yes> I am planning on using a light on the sump as I previously wrote and you recommended : "Do this... place a small compact fluorescent light (inexpensive one from the large hardware outlets), leave on continuously over the sump.." I've been propagating corals (softs and Xenia) and would like to put a tray in the sump to grow out the pieces away from where the fishes can knock them over.  <Good idea... have seen folks do this around the world> Will a couple of 13watt pc or a single 36watt pc do the trick.  <Either should, yes... for most species of alcyonaceans/soft corals, of course the Xeniids> Trying to kill three birds with one stone, provide light for the coral cuttings, Caulerpa and keep the cost of electricity down.  <I understand... live in Southern California, land of SDGE (San Diego Graft and Extortion, nee Gas and Electric> By the way how do I figure out the monthly cost of a given unit if the KWH is $0.119161. Thanks Bob. <Volts multiplied times amps equal watts... covered on the site: www.WetWebMedia.com under Electric... under the Marine Index... simple math... just use the stated values for energy consumption on the product (or a meter... to actually measure use.) you pay by the kilowatt hour... see the site please> From the e-desk of: Louis & Ivonne

Acclimating Toadstool Leather Bob, How are you doing? <Fine my friend> I've been visiting your site for a few months and I think you're doing a great job. <Thank you.> I have a 55 gal tank and am having problems acclimating my first leather coral into the tank. First, let me give you the details of my tank. It's been running for over 2 years. About 2 months ago I converted from fish only to fish and "hardy" corals. I have a Whisper 5 hang on the back filter, A Miracle Wet dry filter, 2 Aquaclear 301 powerheads for water movement, a Sea Clone skimmer and a Rainbow Lifeguard 25 watt UV sterilizer. My lighting consists of 3(2 mo.s old) 40 watt T-12 fluorescents from Coralife: A Magtinic, a 10,000 k daylight lamp, and Trichromatic daylight bulb. My tank inhabitants include: a tank raised maroon clown, 2 blue damsels, a Banggai cardinal, and a few hermits. I have a lot of cleaners on the way (bought Emerald crab, sea urchin, snails, crabs on web) Two days ago I purchased a toadstool leather coral from a LPS <LFS or the Coral?;> and it's polyps were fully extended and it looked very happy. It also had a second miniature toadstool about half way up the stalk which would be good for propagating in a few months. When I got it home I did the usual steps: left the bag floating in the water for 20 min, then added some aquarium water to the bag and eventually placed it half way up the tank. <Hopefully you did not add the shipping, mixed water to the system... can be trouble with soft corals> The next morning it had fallen to the bottom and was laying on it's side. (I placed where I did because it was approx. 8" from the lights in the LPS so I figured I'd do the same.)  <Good observation, idea> Then, I placed it in a similar spot with a small piece a live rock on top of it, and the following morning it was on the bottom again and had a film over it. Advice please!!  <The film is nothing to be worried about. Remove (net, siphon) it out after it is apart from the specimen> I heard this happens sometimes with leathers but I didn't want it to happen to me! Then, I moved it again <Stop handling, moving the specimen> and rubber banded it to a rock facing up towards the light. This morning it had shifted onto it's side even with the rubber band on it! Where should I place it? Should I put it on the crushed coral bottom?  <Leave it where it is for now... these animals take a few weeks to settle in> My water conditions are as follows: Nitrates 0, Nitrites 0, ammonia 0, sg 1.024, temp 78, phosphates 1.0ppm(adding a sack of Phosphate reducer into the sump to lower), calcium 500ppm(is that too high? how do I lower?)  <Not too high. Can be lowered by dilution with less high calcium concentration water, precipitation with carbonates... Just let time go by without you over-adding supplements> Thanks in advance. Pat Hynes <Be chatting my friend. Patience. Bob Fenner>

Toadstool Hello, Mr. Fenner, About a week ago I purchased a Toadstool coral, two together on one rock. For the first two or three days they appeared quite "happy", open and flowing in the current. But lately they have closed up, developing a waxy covering over them. I know these corals tend to do this every so often, for whatever reasons, but what my concern is, besides the wax, is that the larger of the two is now bent over as well. I have tried moving them around - at first they were up higher in the tank, and now I have moved them onto the bottom, thinking that maybe the lighting was bothering them. My tank is only 38 gallons, but my bubble anemone, green open brain, button polyps, and mushrooms are all doing beautifully. All my water tests are good. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanx. Lana <As you mention, the exudate "waxy" material is a natural "cleansing" behavior (and should be removed as cast off)... I would just leave these two soft corals alone for now (don't move them more)... as they do take a few weeks generally to 'settle in'... The lighting and current can be quite brisk with Sarcophytons, so no worries here... And you may well run into issues of biochemical warfare twixt all the stated stinging-celled life in your system going forward. Please read about this issue and the proscribed periodic use of chemical filtrants... posted for the group on the site: www.WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner>

Soft Corals & Tarantulas Bob: In the last six months I've started adding soft corals, mushroom anemones, and star polyps to my previously fish/live rock/hardy invertebrate 75 gallon tank. The mushrooms have been in the longest, and they look fantastic. The star polyps have been in about a month, and look great. The finger soft coral looks a bit droopy, one of the leather corals remains constricted most of the time, and another remains constricted all of the time. The only supplement I add is iodide. I add the same small amount daily, and test the level about every two weeks.  <I would, well, actually do, only use iodide on a discontinuous basis... maybe once a week...> My pH and alkalinity remain good. However, my nitrate level stays at about 15 ppm. (I have about 20 to 30 pounds of live rock in the tank. Maybe not enough to help with nitrate.)  <Agreed... I would add another box (nominally about 45#, bought this way... on sale> My lighting consists of three 40 watt full spectrum tubes, plus one actinic. My filtration consists of reverse flow undergravel, <Where some of the nitrate originates...> hang-on power filter with activated carbon, and protein skimming. I also have an oscillating power head for additional circulation. I use aged tap water for mixing my water changes.  <Good idea> Is nitrate the problem, or could it be something else? <Either this, or related (other non-measured metabolite build up... The very best thing to do here is to culture some live macro-algae... in your main tank or a sump you might add... Please read about this under the term "Algae Filtration" in the Marine Index of the site: www.wetwebmedia.com. Bob Fenner> P. S. I have occasionally seen a crab in my tank, about one inch across, with a beige hairy looking covering. He's the cutest little thing. Looks a little like a small tarantula!! Is he predatory? I haven't had much success with feather dusters. One vanished, tube and all! Could he be the villain? <Yes>

Sarcophyton and Pagoda Coral Questions Bob, I have written you in the past and would like to thank you for your help and insight into various problems. I have a couple of new questions that I hope you may be able to help me out with. I have a 125 gallon tank with fish and a couple of corals. I won't get into what fish I have but I can say that none of them have been seen picking on the corals. The corals that I am talking about are a Sarcophyton and a pagoda coral. They both looked good when I first placed them in my tank but after a couple of days neither of them seemed to open up much. As far as the pagoda coral goes, I have noticed that the polyps are all open in the morning when I first turn on the lights but get smaller and/or close up after being in the light. I assumed that maybe it didn't like a lot of light so I have tried placing it in a darker corner, in and out of direct current, and didn't seem to get any different results.  <In the wild this species (actually more than one of Turbinaria sold as...) opens at night... can/does learn to open by day in captivity> The Sarcophyton has behaved the same. I only have 3 60 VHO bulbs (2 daylight and 1 blue). Is this too little light for these corals or too much?  <Likely you're fine... just not enough adjustment time has gone by. You say days? Give these organisms a few weeks to settle in> The thing that is strange is that at one point I placed them in a separate 30 gallon tank that had been set up for only a couple of weeks because I was moving some things around and my Sarcophyton almost immediately opened up and seemed bigger than when I bought it. The pagoda still didn't seem to open up much unless in the dark but definitely looked like it was doing much better in the smaller tank. I only have two standard fluorescent bulbs on the 30 gallon tank. The water parameters on both tanks is the same. The 125 temperature was at around 80 degrees where the 30 gallon was at about 76. That was really the only difference. I only use calcium and iodine supplements. <Temperature, light et al. effects vary with these species on (among other things) where they were collected on reefs...> I also have a couple of mushrooms that just don't seem to open up much either. <The mushrooms may be causing you trouble here... pls read over the sections on the corallimorphs archived on the site: www.wetwebmedia.com> The tanks that I bought them from also only had VHO bulbs so I don't think that I am lacking in light intensity so I think there may be something going on with my water but I can't guess as to what. I have tested Calcium, pH, Alkalinity, Nitrate, and Nitrite and only my Nitrite seems to be a little high at 10ppm. Do you have any ideas as to why these corals may not be opening up a and showing how pretty they really are in my tank? Thanks for any help you may offer. Gianluca <As I say, likely just adjusting, maybe mal-affected by the presence, proximity of your Mushrooms. Bob Fenner>

Many thanks and another question. (concerning soft corals) Dear Mr. Fenner, First, I'd like to sincerely thank you for your help and suggestions about the tank and the fish. The algal bloom is dying down, it is taking several days instead of a matter of hours to appear and is much lighter than before. <Ah, good to hear of your success> My question is regarding a Capnella soft coral in the 60 gallon. It has been entirely withdrawn for the past day or so and does not respond to food or a change in location or change in lighting conditions. I have tested all toxin levels, they all register zero. I have even executed several water changes. None of the other soft corals seem in the least bothered. The closest coral I can think of, a Xenia, is healthy and extended. Could it be an iodine problem? Too little? If so, the obvious answer is an iodine supplement, yes? <Maybe... a small dose should produce a discernible result... I would try a prepared iodide (this is what it is) solution... but only use such about once a week... and never more than the suggested dosage. Also, do try re-directing more water flow over, by this specimen, and consider placing a "bag" of activated carbon in your filter flow path (the last in case there is some sort of biochemical poisoning that is otherwise not-effecting your other soft corals> Thanks again for all your great help and answers. Christina Gonzalez <You're welcome. Bob Fenner>

Type of Coral? I just received a coral in the mail that I have no idea what it is (a replacement). This is what it looks like, has a flat 6-7'' thick rubbery sheet with branches coming off of it sort of like vines because the branches bonded together they are about 1/2 inch thick or less. The color is whitish pink under actinic and 6700 k daylight, and its bottom of the disk is sort of purplish, it also has the occasional spores on the outside of the coral. I think this is definitely some sort of leather coral but what kind? It is not a finger leather ill tell you that. Any back ground info would be very helpful. Thanks, Adam Matt >> Who knows... maybe a Lobophyton, Sinularia, even a Nephthea... take a look at Modern Coral Reef Aquarium v.2 for the rundown on the Alcyonacea. Bob Fenner

Light Burned Soft Corals I am fear I've made a terrible mistake. I placed a Colt Coral about 5 inches away from a 400 watt MH for about 4 days. Now the coral is shriveled up to maybe 1/8 of it's original size and releases a mucus when touched. It also seems to be falling apart. One of the branches looks as though it's been torn open and the stems look as though they are falling off the base. What can I do to save my coral? Is it doomed? It's back in a tank with only 4 40watt No bulbs. Thanks, David >> This animal is likely been "burned" too much to survive, but if it is not doing any harm where you've moved it to, and won't do so if it dissolves, I would "keep the faith" and hope for recovery. Going forward, do be aware of the tolerance all life has for exposure to light/irradiation, and place any questionable species/specimens in lower, darker situations, even, where in doubt, under overhangs or in caves. Such information on what sorts and amounts of insolation (natural, sunlight) your livestock in question can use, put up with can often be gleaned from reading where it is generally found in the wild... but by and large, all new organisms should be kept in low-light conditions initially (first few days to weeks), due to being "photo-adapted" by being shipped in the dark, often kept in low-light conditions while being processed from the wild to your system. Bob Fenner

Leather coral I have had my leather coral for three weeks. I have moved it around to were it's tentacles have come out. Now just a few days ago it has this white scaly stuff on it and no more tentacles. What's wrong? >> Probably just "shedding"... this group (family Alcyoniidae) of soft corals (order Alcyonacea) do this... remove the excess material when it is cast off. Bob Fenner

Leather Coral/Night Light Hi Bob, First off, The Conscientious Marine Aquarist is a great book. I also enjoy reading your Q&A column. As I was doing a water change the other day I noticed a small "fragment" of my yellow finger coral sitting unattached in the sand. It is about 1/2" long, and it is definitely alive. Do you have a recommended procedure for attaching this to rock?  <If it is not being buffeted around by water circulation in your tank, and you "don't mind" where it is currently, I'd leave it to attach itself... It will. If you want it elsewhere, pick it up, place it and leave it... If you want to perch the frag where it can't stay on its own, "tie it down" temporarily with small thread, gingerly... No adhesives are recommended> I've read that super glue works, but I'd like to get your input. The "parent" coral looks great, so I assume nothing is wrong with it. <Probably in such good shape that it's reproducing!> Also, I wanted to add a night light over my 125L reef tank. Any ideas on bulb type or wattage? <Something "blue". Your choice> Thanks! Eric Tuscano >> <You're welcome, Bob Fenner>

Soft Coral Questions Buying from FFE Hi Bob, In your book you listed some softies to try, that are fairly easy to keep. I was thinking about buying the following from FFE. I was wondering about the care, feeding, lighting, rock or sand, on the below. Anthelia-white waving hand (do these pulse?) <Yes, under propitious circumstances... keep on a separated rock area... fast over-grower> Yellow Devil's Hand (if I remember easier to keep) Neon green tree coral Blue mushrooms Also want to add two yellow neon gobies Can two brown tiger tail cucumbers get along in a 75 gallon? <I would stick with just the one you have... too much trouble if they die> Would a money plant ( Halimeda spp) help absorb CO2 in tank? to help make ph stable? <Yes, a very good idea, on both these counts and more> Listed below is my tank that has been running for a year. nitrate 0, nitrite 0, Amm all most not detected Alk 5 meg, Cal 425, phos .1, dKH 10 daily readings octopus 3000 Temp 80-82, ph 8.0-8.15, ORP 350-400 sal 35-36 75 gallon,90lbs Fiji LR , 88lbs Fiji LS , Berlin classic skimmer Two maxi jet 400 in front of rock , right, left, bottom sides using wave timer at five minutes. Two maxi jet 900 in back of rock, right, left, bottom sides using wave timer at five minutes. One rotating Zoo Med power head at opposite end of tank facing skimmer output tubes. Two 175 watt 10000k MH on 4pm-11pm Two 36" VHO URI actinic 03 on for 2pm-1am two percula clowns, hippo tang, yellow tang, two cleaner shrimp, tiger tail cucumber, Margarita snails, left hand hermits, red mushrooms, brown button polyps, feather worms Make up water is, processed machine at grocery store, city water supply-RO, carbon filtered twice ,micron filtered, uv sterilized. Thanks for your help, Larry >> Sounds like a very nice system, that you'll even enjoy more with your proposed soft coral additions. Bob Fenner

I have been keeping up a fish only tank for about 2 years with the intention of converting it to a reef tank after some experience. I have recently added 2*55W PC lighting to the tank and believe I am ready to start keeping invertebrates. I have a 29 G tank with plenty of circulation, a Skilter 250 (to be upgraded soon), 40lbs of live rock, a blue damsel, yellow tang and a gold-bar maroon clown. What would be good additions to the tank for a beginner with invertebrates? I am thinking about a host anemone for the clown to start out with, possibly a bubble-tip? Also am I forgetting or missing anything that would make my soon to be inhabitants happier?  Stephen Diener >> Thank you for writing. If it were me, I'd hold off on an anemone right now... these animals aren't easy to keep, can cause some real problems if/when they start to "go the big aquarium in the sky", and this can happen awful fast in such a small (29 gal.) system. Instead, do consider some of the hardier soft corals (e.g. Xeniids/pulsing, leathers...), colonial anemones called zoanthids, some of the "polyps" (Clavulariidae), and "mushrooms" (corallimorphs)... These are amongst the tougher, more forgiving groups of "corals" used by aquarists. Much more about them and their selection and husbandry can be found posted at my site, www.wetwebmedia.com Be chatting, Bob Fenner

Corals with an angel Hi Bob, Filtration upgrade is underway.  I enquired specifically about Walt Smith's LR, and apparently that is where my Rock is coming from, via TMC. Thanks for the tip. <Ah good... Good folks, good rock> Well, you may not remember my system but, basically it is 120 gals, 84" x 18" x 18", and is being converted to a FOWLR set up. I am hoping to achieve a system where nitrates will be less than 5 or 10 ppm, with 15% water changes every 2 weeks. Well, my prized fish is an Emperor angel. I wouldn't part with it for the world. But I would dearly love to add some corals. Just a few ....... say about 5. The whole idea would to be give the tank a more natural look, and break down th bare look. I will be upgrading my lights to reef standard anyway for the benefit of the LR and viewing. It will either be MH or 6 NO output tubes running the length of the tank (well actually 12 x 4' tubes). < I might try a few soft corals to start, like a Sarcophyton/leather, Lemnalia...and see what happens... then maybe a hardy stony, like a Euphyllia... They live with these in the wild...> Could you recommend any corals in particular, which are unlikely to be molested by the Emperor ? He is well fed, and never appears to be interested in browsing on the rocks like the other fish do ....... he just waits for feeding time instead. It has been suggested that I get a couple of xenia colonies, the common type. The guy who said this reckons that in his tank he has to remove it regularly because it over grows the tank, and when his fish nibble at it, the tiny bits that break away form new colonies all over the place. This would be ideal, exactly what I am hoping for. Do you think this sounds likely to be possible in my tank. I would be happy to have 3 or 4 xenia colonies and a nice big leather coral. <I'd try the xenias later> The only reef eating fish I have is my Emperor angel. He is 4.5", and in the very early stages of changing. All the others are typical reef fish. Thanks for reading, Regards, Matt >> Be chatting, Bob Fenner

Soft Coral Selection I have a 55 gallon. I want to know what kind of soft corals I can keep. I use  4 regular fluorescent bulbs three are tritons,1 is actinic.85lbs of live rock,  0 nitrite 2.5 ppm nitrate, 400 to 450 calcium it varies between there  sometimes I get lazy and it gets to 400 .My tank has been going for 9 months  now there are more little critters than I can count I love it, by the way I  got 45lbs live rock from FFExpress and most of the things came from that live  rock, even got two brittle stars with it they were small but that's another  story. I currently have 1 bubble anemone which has started to bud and 2  Condylactis and a group of green stripe mushroom coral that started as 6 and  are now 11 also a rock anemone. What else can I or would you suggest. thank you  >> Sounds like a very nice system. I would encourage you to look into some of the pulsing soft corals (family Xeniidae), and hardy species of the family Alcyoniidae, like the leather corals Sarcophyton, Nephthea, Sinularia, Lobophyton... These would be easy, beautiful and interesting additions to your set-up. Bob Fenner

Sorry, I meant epiphytic. Thanks for the response. Great column! Ken >> Sort of like a bromeliad? Do look into the term Acontian fiber... for the cnidaria... bizarre strands issuing forth from openings in their polypoid bodies (as opposed to the traditional "sweepers" of hobbyist literature)... involved in digestive dominance... and basic "sampling". Bob Fenner, who thanks you for your continued involvement in this forum

Mushrooms & leathers bob...I have a 3"x5" rock from LFS with about 8 green striped mushrooms on it.(1" to 3" in dia.) they have grown somewhat since purchase. is there a way to excise them from their cramped home to other live rock or do I let them migrate themselves? I also have a toadstool leather that when purchased had a small child attached to it's base. are there ways to separate the two without harming either? so many questions and so little time. thanks, jim nix >> Well stated, thought provoking as always... Yep to both, Dr. Frankenstein! Get out your sharpest scalpel, or single edge razor blade (careful here, that red blood is yours, not theirs). The mushrooms can be cut from their base by tilting them up... and are best re-attached where you want them with thin thread (just tie the 'shroom down, sport)... alternatively the rock they are on can be placed near where you want more (is this English?) and the asexual offspring will make their way there in time (careful as these can "sting" a large number of their larger brethren stinging-celled species... keep them separated by a few inches). The Leather gets about the same treatment sharp tool-wise, but the liberated part should be attached with something more serious... store-bought or fish-style "crazy glue"... a few dabs will do ya. Some culturists go the route of dipping or coating over the cut through area. If your animals are in good shape the tank going fine, I'd leave do with these treatments. Bob "in the la-bore-ah-tory" Fenner

Toadstool coral sweeper tentacles In your 01/18/00 column you stated your opinion of sweeper tentacles from a toadstool coral. I'll have to disagree with you because I have similar "threads" that were introduced into my tank by a Colt coral. They are present on multiple branches of the coral extending 5-6 inches with multiple little threads branching off the entire length. They extend then quickly retract in a rhythmic fashion. They are present through out the day. Initially I thought they were part of the Colt coral but now I have a gorgonian that has a cluster of threads on one branch as well as a Sarcophyton sp. that has a thread attached to the main body. At the tip of the gorgonian where the threads originate is a clear gel which the gorgonian polyps do seem to be able to extend through. I feel this may be a saprophytic organism that feeds by extending its threads out and retracts them in a rhythmic fashion. Ken Figueroa >> Thanks for the input: Really, a saprophyte? Well, there are "other tentacle looking" structures on cnidarians... and I'll stick with my guess that these are adventitious feeding structures from the cnidarians themselves... but do clip one of these structures off if you can... should be easy to distinguish histologically... Bob "now, where's my DiFiore" Fenner

Leather & Colt corals I have had a beautiful leather coral in my tank for 9 months. It has grown to about 10 inches long with a "top" that is about 6 inches in diameter. The top is covered with polyps that look like little straws. Each polyp is about 3/4 of an inch long and they are tightly packed over the entire surface of the "top". I have a Midas Blenny that regularly perches on this coral. When it does, the polyps withdraw, and then re-extend when the Midas swims away. The fish doesn't seem to bother the leather at all. This week I added a Colt coral to my 50 gallon reef tank. It is in the opposite corner from my Leather coral. The Colt fully extends in the light and all of it's polyps come out. It seems to be doing very well. Three days after introducing the Colt to my tank, I noticed that the Leather coral was starting to look less healthy. It's polyps are more withdrawn and not fully extended. I have not changed the supplements to my tank and the water conditions are excellent with plenty of current and light. My questions: Even though separated by 20 inches, could the Colt coral be putting out mucus or chemicals (into the water) that the Leather coral is having an adverse reaction to? Will the Leather become accustomed to the Colt coral? Do I need to remove one of the corals? Thanks for your help, R. Marsh >> Very perceptive, and useful observations. Yes to the chemical interaction... and probably no to having to move the animal. I would place a unit of activated carbon in the filter flow path at this point and "hope for the best"... in all likelihood, an equilibrium/truce will be struck between these two soft corals (order Alcyonacea), with the Leather re-opening within a few weeks. Bob Fenner

Creature in my reef tank Last night while observing my tank I noticed what appeared to be a Nudibranch in the shadows of my live rock. It was about 3" long, all black, with two black antenna and a body shaped like a mushroom coral. After the lights went out it was crawling near my xenia, but I could not tell if it was feeding on it or not. Any idea what this creature is? Is it a threat to my corals, other inverts, fish? Should I remove it? >> From the physical description and color it does sound like a Nudibranch, but I can't tell which species. If it were me I would remove it out of general principle (prevention). as it may turn out to be some sort of invertebrate livestock feeder. Bob Fenner

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: