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FAQs about Soft Coral Systems

Related Articles: Soft Coral

Related FAQs: Soft Coral Lighting, Cnidarian Systems, Soft Corals 1, Soft Corals 2, Soft Coral ID, Soft Coral Behavior, Soft Coral Compatibility, Soft Coral Selection, Soft Coral Feeding, Soft Coral Health, Soft Coral Propagation, Alcyoniids, Nephtheids, Dendronephthya, Paralcyoniids, Nidaliids, Xeniids

Corallimorphs can be mixed with Soft Corals... slowly... not crowded...

planning the softy tank, for two week vacation intervals      3/13/12
Hey all! This is my first time messaging you folks on the salty side as i look forward to setting up my 20 gallon tall tank as a soft coral reef tank.
I've been researching for 3 years now but now feel confident to take the plunge. There is however one problem I'm having difficulty with sorting out...and that is vacations! As much as i love vacations i don't love leaving my tanks alone especially when we can be gone for up to 2 weeks.....
<Not too problematical...>

Any ideas of how to make a 20 gallon tank ready for a 2 week period of no regular care?
<Timers for lighting... if there's issue w/ steadiness of electrical power, perhaps an UPS... IF concerned, an automatic feeder to provide some sustenance; though in almost all cases, offering no food for this period is better>

For top offs id obviously do and auto top off machine
<You could... again, IF there's not much evaporation, I'd just leave the system till your return. Bob Fenner>
Re: planning the softy tank, other stkg.      3/14/12

Thanks Mr. Fenner! Just out of curiosity if YOU were to stock a 20 gallon tall tank, what fish would you choose?
I was thinking a pair of Percula clownfish and a shrimp/goby pair...
Any ideas would be fantastic!
<Mmm, please take your time reading here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/smmarsysstkgfaqs.htm
and the many linked files above. BobF>

Skimmer Too Small?/Protein Skimmers/Selection 11/17/10
Hope all is well.
<As good as it's gonna get.>
Thanks for taking the time to help.
I bought a 75 gallon the from a guy the other day.
He said he housed sps in it.
The skimmer he used was a Reef Octopus NWB 110.
I plan on making the aquarium a softy tank with a medium to high fish load.
I've read that softies get a lot of their food from fish waste, depending on species of course.
I have about a 100lbs of live rock, not all the display. Most of the rock is in the sump.
My question is, would this skimmer be big enough for the fish and coral load I plan to have?
<That model is rated for up to a 100 gallon tank so with a medium fish load, it should do the job for you.>
Thanks again?
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Lighting for my 110 Gal reef tank? 12/30/09
Hi I have kept a fish only saltwater tank for my puffer and lionfish but now I am moving to a reef tank.
<Do you still have these two fishes? Neither likes bright lighting>
I have a CF fixture which has four bulbs. On the end of the two bulbs socket it says 96 watts. So I'm guessing that's a  total of 192 watts for all 4 bulbs.
<Likely so>
Also I have a weak 25 watt normal fluorescent with it on top of the aquarium. I was wondering if this is enough for
keeping soft corals anywhere in the tank.
<Some species, yes>
If not what would your suggestion be for a canopy top aquarium. ( It needs to be relatively compact). Thanks
a lot.
<Posted... http://wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm
The bottom trays. Please learn to/use the search tool, indices on WWM. Bob Fenner> 

Softy Tank 7/22/09
Hi Crew!,
<Hello Carter>
I'm attempting to set up my first reef tank (really just zoos, mushrooms, leathers), and I'm wondering if, in your opinion, I've gotten my parameters where they need to be. They are:
SG: 1.025
Ammonia: 0
Nitrites: 0
Nitrates: 10 (is this going to be too high?)
<Would not let it go above this. Consider a good protein skimmer, will go a long way toward keeping nitrate levels down.>
Phosphate: none detectable on my API kit
Calcium: 420
Alkalinity: 9
Temp: 78 degrees
<Looks good to me for softies. If any calcium loving animals are introduced down the road, a magnesium level of 1280-1300 will need to be maintained.>
I want to go get my first little zoo frag, but I'm so nervous and cautious!
<No need to be.>
That brings up another question. When I introduce the zoos to the tank, do I need to add them at the bottom and move them up in the tank gradually, or put them in once place and leave them alone?
<They likely will be attached to a small rock, so place/decorate as you want.
I generally glue the rock to a larger rock.>
I've read things saying to do supplemental feedings, and others saying I don't need to feed them anything...which statement is correct?
<Both actually, but feeding isn't absolutely necessary. I've trimmed back many softies
overgrowing my tank and I've never fed anything.>
Lighting is 4x54w HO T5 on a 75 gallon tank (I've got the timer set for them to be on 12 hours a day).
<I would wait until your tank ages a little more before introducing soft corals.
Do read here and related articles in header.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/soft.htm >
Thanks so much for the guidance!
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Re: Size of Water Pump/Lighting 12/2/08 Doesn't it damage the pump to throttle it back? <Not within a reasonable extent, do not cut the thing totally off and do throttle back on the output side!> Does it not create back pressure, thus damaging the pump. <I was schooled many years back by my now current business partner Mike Kirkman. He was a pump engineer for a enormous international irrigation company many years back. The pump will actually be doing less work, pumping less water. This in turn puts out less flow and uses less energy how much less depends on the overall pump design. So long as it is not completely choking the pump off it will work.> Also a question regarding lighting. My tank is 24 inches deep. Planning on keeping soft corals and some fish. How much lighting do I really need. Metal halides consume a lot of power and expensive to replace. Is t5 the way to go! <I think so too, also for other reasons too extensive to get into here.> Lighting overall is very expensive. How many bulbs is sufficient. People tell me all sorts of stuff, don't know who to believe anymore!! <Any of the 6-8 bulb fixtures in the length of your tank will serve you well. Scott V.>

Circulation mechanism (airlift) for low flow softies 8/6/08 Hi and Good morning :-) <Good morning. Might be a silly question but wanted to ask just to be sure. Consider a tank of 36" x 15" x 18" (L x W x H) with softies like Zoanthid, Palythoa, Mushroom, Feather dusters and maybe one LPS. What would you comment on the below circulation strategy? I plan to use an airlift across the back pane (36") as an airlift column. I would use panels from a UGF to create a wall that would be 2 inches away from the back wall of the tank. This wall would end maybe 2" above water level so the bubbles would not enter the tank (will this affect the output of the airlift?) <Well, anything you do to keep the bubbles out of the tank will effect how much water flows through. With the standards most set today for bubbles in the tank, this will be a tough battle.> I mean, does the opening for the water to flow out HAVE to be at the surface level? <No, but if you allow water out at any level, some of the bubbles within will surely come with.> Is it possible to have only one opening at the top for outflow and one at the bottom for inflow? <Sure, but you will get a more directed flow.> I would then run a high powered air pump (how many gallons do I need?) to generate an airlift across the entire back wall of the tank. <If you wish to do this I would go with a couple smaller air pumps. This will give you some adjustability. You can always put a valve on the airline, but you will not need a huge pump to do this.> Since the UGF has vents, the pulling of water will occur from the tank into the airlift chamber to give good overall circulation. It would not be laminar flow but will be high in volume and low in velocity as required by softies. I understand the salt crepe that would occur but can be cleaned and salinity kept under control. Will too many bubbles come in the tank? <For my taste, yes.> Will bigger bubbles be more efficient or smaller ones (micro bubbles)? <Either will work for this purpose. This does raise another issue. The top of the lift is going to act as a protein skimmer to some extent, capturing the skimmate at the top.> There is also the sump return to add to this flow (not a closed loop or intense flow). Would I need to have other circulation also? <Not so long as you have no "dead spots". With an effective airlift in this size tank, you should not.> Do you know of any link where I could find more details on constructing an Airlift? <A quick Google search will give you many ideas.> Cheers Ranjith <This project can work, but for what it is worth I would stick with powerheads. They are just easier to place, adjust, maintain and will flat out be more effective. Either way, have fun with this, Scott V.>

Re: Circulation mechanism (airlift) for low flow softies 8/6/08 Hi Scott, Thanks for the answers. <Sure thing.> The only benefits I see are 1. no electricity in the water 2. no heat from powerheads 3. cheaper than multiple powerheads. <I will agree with the first two, but in the short term the powerheads may cost a bit more, but when you consider the periodic rebuilding of the diaphragms in the air pump, the powerheads get the nod in my book.> However, will the softies thrive in this? <Oh yes, you will just find yourself with more maintenance and likely some bubble management issues to address. It is by all means doable, just a pain from my point of view.> Cheers Ranjith <Scott V.>

Water Circulation (Flow) For a 180g Marine "Softie" Tank …In Malta!- 07/05/08 Hi, <<Hello>> I am Anthony from Malta. <<Greetings Anthony…Eric from South Carolina here (though currently visiting in Nebraska)>> I have a 700 l marine reef tank with mainly soft corals and polyps and I wish to upgrade the tank's circulation as it is a bit sluggish. <<Common to most hobbyists' tanks I feel… I am a big proponent for heavy and vigorous water circulation in most marine systems. It does so much good, yet is seemingly often overlooked…or maybe just underestimated>> The rocks in my tank are forming a slope from the bottom to the top. Can you please guide me on how many powerheads I have to use, the positioning and the model? I wish to use the Hydor Koralia. <<These are a good choice… For this size tank I would recommend the largest model, the Koralia 4. I would use as minimum of four units (more smaller units may be needed depending on the rockwork, to avoid areas of very low flow), positioning two at each end and facing the units opposite to create some random turbulent flow>> Thanks in advance for your help and for your great website, Anthony <<Happy to share. Eric Russell>> P.S. Sorry to write this e-mail again but I forgot to enter the tank's dimension. It is 6 feet by 2feet by 2feet. Thanks again. <<Ah yes… in this country this is a standard and popular offering of 180gal U.S.…a very nice size for such displays. Regards, EricR>>

Lighting... Growing, reading about Soft Corals   6/4/08 hello all. I am sending this from my phone so sorry for any errors! I purchased &eBay metal halide bulbs for my soft coral reef twice. That is all that has been lighting my 65 gallon for over a year now. I have had very little growth. <Other factors have severe influence... water quality, foods/feeding... the presence of other types of life...> My water is in great shape. Maybe too good for softies. There are no nitrates or phosphates. <Both are necessary, essential nutrients, in small quantity...> Ph and everything else is good. Calcium at 380, but getting good coralline growth. 104 lbs of live rock, DSB, algae based (Chaeto) refugium and no fish. I feed the tank flakes twice a week for all my pods. <... what do you feed the Alcyonaceans?> My lights are 10k 175 watt bulbs. Two of them, the tank is two ft deep and three ft long. Is this enough light? <... should be, yes> I was under the impression that there are only a few manufacturers of MH bulbs. <Mmm, yes... but there are MH lamps made for other purposes... ones that produce minimally bio-useful photonic energy> Some are just sold cheaper under other names. Is this wrong? And could this be a reason for poor growth? <Possibly> Another question, my tap water a has high iron content. <How high is high?> I use a six stage R.O. filter, will this remove the iron? <Should, yes. Just test for free ferrous ion...> I have no way of testing it. <There are simple colorimetric assays...> Thank you much, and again sorry for any errors! <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/index.htm The first "Coral" subindex... Bob Fenner>

Re: lighting... Growing, reading about Soft Corals  6/5/08 Hi Bob, &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <... what is it with the HTML tags here?> thanks again for your response. I hate to keep bugging you! I read the link you forwarded to me. I read through the FAQs and some articles. I am getting mixed information though. Many say that the&nbsp;alcynonaceans are primarily photosynthetic, <Too broad a statement. There are many that are way to either end of some scale here...> and any needed nutrition should come from a fish less algae based refugium. <... Mmm, no... very few consume such algae in any quantity> I have that, but judging by the lack of&nbsp;growth, and the fact that you asked me what I'm feeding them. Leads me to the fact that I should! I added a small yellow tang today (I am upgrading to a 150 gallon in eight months after a move) in hopes of adding some nutrients. I would like to add a pair of false Perc. clowns and a six lined wrasse. So with these added nutrients I will probably see a difference. On top of this, and my refuge, do you recommend the feeding of D.Ts or the like? <Not generally, no> Again, sorry to keep bugging you, but there's so much information out there that contradicts itself, I would rather get it from a source I trust!&nbsp; Thank you for being patient! Rob <Glad to share. BobF>

Re: 120 Lighting for Softies 4/29/08 Hey guys, I have a lighting question. <Hello again John.> I am currently shopping for a light for my 120 gallon tank. I am starting with stocking my tank with approx 100 lbs of live rock. I'm confused about what type of light to purchase since I am new to a reef set up I would like to be prepared. I am probably going to do soft corals. <The first thing to decide. Are you set on soft corals, or do you just want to start with soft corals? What you plan to keep down the road has an impact on the lighting decision.> I was talking to a local fish store, they have a orbit extreme 48"520watt (4-130 watt) not HQI. Or 716watt(2-250wHQI;4-54WATT T-5 HO). Or 516WATT(2-150W HQI;4-54W T-5HO). Or 560watt(2-150w;HQI,2-130w)or 492w (2-150HQI ;2-96W). I know this is a lot of choices but this is why I'm so confused. Do I need the HQI or just the higher out put pc. <Just the power compacts for soft corals, although the MH will give you more stocking options down the road. One of the fixtures with the 150W HQI bulbs will give you a nice balance between PC's and full blown 250W halides. Do consider the 250's if you have any inkling towards SPS or clams down the road.> Thanks, John. <Welcome.> Any suggestions would be helpful. My Euro Reef skimmer RS 180 is on the way. <Good choice in skimmer.> Can you suggest a wattage that would be good for this application from actinics to day lights and if HQI if I need? <My personal choice for a tank like this would be the third of your options (2 X 150 HQI and 4 X 54W actinic) above, perhaps with only using two of the actinic bulbs. The daylight to actinic ratio is something you will have to just see for yourself and decide what you like.> Like I said mostly easier soft corals to start with. <Good luck and have fun, Scott V.>

120 Lighting for Softies 4/29/08 Hey Scott, I'm going to start with soft. I probably would like to start with soft. I guess I should have more flexibility in lighting now just in case. <Yes, our wants and desires change with time and experience.> So I will probably will go with the light you suggested. The 529watt 2x150wattHQI4x54 actinic. <I think you will like this fixture very much.> Yes, the skimmer is the one you recommended. <A fine skimmer.> The sump/refuge is running great so far all smooth. <Great!> The Durso pipes are nice and quiet. I just put in ocean direct sand in main tank approx 80 lbs. ready for another 40 to 80lbs. <It is awesome to hear all is going so well. Thanks for the update, good luck with the rest, Scott V.>

General Question about lighting, Soft Corals  - 03/10/08 Hello and congrats on a great source of info! <Thank you> First of all, this is an absolutely great site with an unbelievable amount of information! I have a general question about lighting. My wife and I have a 56 gallon display aquarium that is 30" wide x 24" deep and 30" high (I know, this was her pick that offset my $$ spend on equipment). My primary question is deals with lighting. The tank came with a single 20 fluorescent lighting fixture and we have a Corallife 2x65 watt 30" fixture (New 1 actinic 65 watt and 1 10,00k 65 watt w/2 moonlights) is this enough light for soft corals or leathers? <Mmm, no... not nearly intense enough... There are some relatively low light groups, species of Alcyonaceans... and you might "get away" with positioning a few more light-needing species higher up, on your rock... And I would definitely switch out the one actinic lamp for another "white"... Much of this is gone over (and over) on WWM... I would either settle on the three 65 watt "white" lamps and the arrangement of life as stated, or look into adding, switching out this fixture for about twice this wattage... The "better" response might well be to encourage you to ask around at your local fish stores, marine clubs to see if they have a PAR meter for loan... and actually measure the useful photonic energy of all here... at various depths... and/or to encourage your regular use of GAC, ozone... to enhance useful photonic energy transmission... or...> Your insight, as always, would be appreciated... Tank set-up now, 56 Gallon w/actual 48 gallons water (DO w/IO SW mix), 7 months old, 62 Lbs live rock, Remora skimmer w/1200 MaxiJet, 3 MaxiJet 1200 powerheads for circulation, 1 TopFin powerhead for circulation, Fluval canister w/polyfoam, PhosBan and ChemiPure 3/4" CaribSea live sand 1- 2" Flame Angel 2- Ocellaris clowns 1" & 3/4" 1- Bicolor Blenny 2" 1-Royal Gramma 1 1/2 " 1- 1 1/2" six line wrasse 2- Peppermint Shrimp 20- Assorted hermit crabs and snails. 0-ammonia & nitrite 5-10 nitrate (reading before weekly water change) PH 8.3 Salinity 1.024 I'm waiting for my Salifert test kit for Ca, Alk. (I'm in Hill Country Texas ...mail order only!) Weekly 8 gallon water changes w/DO and IO sw mix (aged one week) Canister cleaning each week. <Sound/reads very nice indeed> 40 years experience with fresh water aquariums and I had a prior 400 gallon saltwater aquarium when the only source of saltwater was at Scripps Institute in San Diego. <Ahh, I do remember... still live in SD... in East La Jolla, okay... Mira Mesa> Thanks, Jim Ferguson <!? Any relation to friend Mark Ferguson? Bob Fenner>

New marine aquarium advice 8/1/07Hi Crew, <Alex> I've used your advice and information many times with my current 4X1.5X1.5ft marine aquarium and am very grateful for all your efforts. Well, it's now time to seek your help again as I'm upgrading to a 4(l) X 2(w) X 2.5(h) ft tank, with a 3X1.5X1.5ft sump. I plan to keep my existing fish (few damsels, a tang, a Hawkfish) and corals (3 soft/leathers). <Sounds good> I have a few main questions as follows: 1. Lighting: I can either go with 6 X 54W T5 tubes. (2 x 10K, 2 x 20K, 2 actinics). OR for similar wattage (therefore power bills) I can go with 2 X 175 metal halides @ 15000K. I'm after a bright white look with a hint of blue. What I'm really after is human perceived brightness, so whichever one that will intensify the color of my fish/corals is more ideal. Also given that my new tank will be 30inches tall, which one will penetrate deeper to the bottom. Please recommend which one to be more brighter for human eyes, and also which one to be more beneficial for coral life. <The MHs hands down... I would definitely go with the latter> 2. I'm unsure about how powerful I should go with my sump return pump. I am keen on getting a Laguna Maxflo 7500 (7500lph). As there will be only one return pipe from the sump to the main tank (coming from a rear top corner), is this too much flow in one direction? <Mmm, yes... I'd for sure split this up... with a manifold... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/pbh2oret.htm and the linked files above> I plan to only include one other circulation pump in my main tank which will be a Tunze Stream Kit (2500-7000lph) - apparently its supposed to create pulse/wave like flows. What are your thoughts on this circulation system plan? <Is a good one> 3. What corals will I be limited to with this new configuration? <Just by crowding, allelopathy...> Thanks for your time and very much appreciate your input. Cheers mate! Alex (from down under) <BobF, in HI presently, pulling weeds>

Soft Coral Supplements   4/22/07 I have a 55 gal reef tank with many soft corals in it.   I am currently dosing with B-Ionic 2 part and Iodine. <Okay>      I also add Purple up every so often along with essential elements and pro buffer when needed. <Mmm... is there a need for these? All biomineral and alkalinity needed, desired can be supplied with the above two-part product...>      My levels are all good around 450 on calcium and an alkalinity around 10-11.   My question is that I don't really see my corals really growing fast or expanding to good. They have kind of just stayed the same. <Mmm... do you feed them?>   I wanted to add Black Powder supplement, would that be ok? <For what purpose? I am not a fan>      Also, I am going to start putting Cyclop-eeze in the tank, will that help out too. <Likely so>      I figure I can start to experiment with other supplements <Whoa! Please tell me this is a slip, or just a casual joke of some sort... You do NOT want to "start to experiment with other supplements" I assure you> as long as my parameters don't fluctuate to much and as long as the tanks calcium, alkalinity, iodine, magnesium, etc stay at there appropriate levels. Is this true?      Thanks. <... no. Much that can be, should be stated here... and I do wish I had the time to write it up succinctly... but will have to refer you for now... Please read on WWM re the use of Marine Supplements: http://wetwebmedia.com/suppleme.htm and the linked files above where you lead yourself... I would NOT add anything to your system w/o you understanding the probable use/rationale, capacity to test for, the likely interactions... and consequences. Supplement Madness (my term) is a very common cause of self-induced problems, losses... Bob Fenner>

Soft Coral Lighting/Allelopathy - 03/30/06 Hi crew, <<Hello Mohamed> I am having problems with my soft coral.  My SPS has tripled in size in the past year and LPS opens to amazing sizes.  All my test results are positive meaning nitrates 0, calcium 400ppm, dKH 9, etc.  My tank size is 250cm L x 35cm H x 75cm W, the light are 4foot T5's 20cm above the tank. (3 x 10K and 2 x blue on the left of the tank and the same on the right of the tank).  My SPS and LPS are placed higher than the soft corals. (On plastic pipes).  All soft corals are at the bottom, 50% opens and 50% opens once a week. My light reading at the bottom of my tank is 40 to 50. ((PAR) Quantum light meter)  I have taken a reading of some LFS where I buy my corals and the readings are from 15 to 30 but some of the lights are 4 months old. <<Indeed...would expect these to be higher...may be using NO fluorescent lighting here.>> Soft corals:  Helioporidae Caerulea, <<Heliopora caerulea?  This is a "stony" coral.>> Cladiella, Lobophytum, Sarcophyton, Sinularia, Nephthea, Xenia, Zoanthidea and mushrooms.  From each species some opens and others not.  What PAR reading do you get from your light meter on the placement of your soft corals? <<Have never checked...but would expect something in the area of 175+ microEinstiens (?E) to be adequate.>> Must I raise my light or increase my light? <<I would place the lights closer to the water (6cm-8cm) to start...but this may not be a matter of lighting at all, it may be more an issue of allelopathy...you list some pretty noxious organisms.  I recommend adding some carbon and/or Poly-Filter to your filter path and make sure your corals are spaced adequately apart (minimum 6" separation), and that you have vigorous water flow/movement.>> Please advise; your input will be appreciated. Thanks Mohamed. <<Regards, EricR>>

Circulation for a 68 Gallon Soft Coral Reef - 02/22/2006 Hello Crew, <Hi Greg.> I am planning on making my 68 gallon (36" x 18" x 24") into a soft coral reef. As of now, I just have the sand and live rock in the tank. As for flow, I only have a Aquaclear 500 filter (which will eventually become a refugium) and a Remora Pro skimmer. I know this is not enough water movement. What powerhead brand/type to recommend to keep soft corals happy? <It will depend on which you choose to keep of course, but you'll want to aim for a 10x per hour full tank turn. Many different brands to choose, a good BB would be a good place to research others experience on various types.>   How many powerheads do you recommend? <Depends on flow rate.> I'd like a powerhead that won't be too strong for the soft corals and that will stop detritus from piling up. <All comes down to finesse.>                                 Thanks in advance, Greg <Sure. - Josh>

The Right Light? (Lighting Query)    1/19/06 Hi WWM Crew! <Hey! Scott F. with you tonight!> Just a quick question about lighting a 120 gal for soft corals.  Is 520 watts of PC enough for this tank?  Four would be 12,000 K and the other four would be actinic.  The tank is 48x24x24. Have a great night! Mark <Well, Mark, I tend to shy away from "watts per gallon" figures, because there are many other factors involved. Generally speaking, however, it sounds like you're talking about a quantity of light that will work for most of the more common soft corals. I have found over the years that PC's are really effective for growing softies, provided the other parameters (water quality, etc.) are okay. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Soft corals 10/16/05 Do I need to add calcium to a tank with soft corals like mushrooms and leathers, thanks, Ron  <Keeping calcium at 375-400ppm does help to maintain ph/dKH. I would use it. SeaChem's Reef Calcium (dry formula) does contain other trace elements such as strontium that will help the growth of soft corals. Weekly doses of an iodine supplement are beneficial also.  James (Salty Dog)> 

T5 Lighting For Soft Corals? - 07/17/05 Hi, <<Hello>> We are wanting to add some soft corals to a 150g tank (only clowns, a yellow tang, red legged hermits, and turbo snails in at the moment).  Apologies about not being specific about the type of soft corals however am still unsure which ones. <<okay>> Our current lighting I know for sure is insufficient however I'm looking to buy some T5's.  Metal halides systems are out of the question due to weight as we can't suspend. <<Mmm...what about propping/supporting on the tank itself?  Not all halide fixtures are pendants ya know.>> We currently have the old T8 2x38w tubes. <<You're correct, insufficient for coral keeping in this tank.>> My tank depth is 30" and the simple question is would a T5 4x54w (3 white 1 actinic) system be enough to grow a range of soft corals ? <<Depending on the specie/light requirements and where/how high in the water column it's placed...maybe...but I'm skeptical about what you would be able to keep in the lower two-thirds of this tank.  Due to the depth, I would rather see 4x96w PCs here...or even better, 4x110w VHOs.  More bang for the buck over PCs in my opinion.>> Many thanks, Paul <<Regards, Eric R.>>

Beginner w/Soft Corals, actually marine alkalinity, biominerals Hello Crew, I hope that you are able to respond to this email as none I have sent previous to this one have been answered. I have been reading your website extensively but the more I read the more confused I get. I am a beginner trying soft corals and need your advice. Tank Facts 55 gallon w/2 clownfish only and 50 lbs live rock EV 120 Protein Skimmer and no mechanical filtration Tank and top off water from SpectraPure 5 stage w/new cartridges Tank is 1.5 years old Water changes 10 percent weekly Ammonia 0 Phosphates 0 Nitrates 0.05 Temp 76-78 Lights VHO 95 watts each bulb. One white actinic and one super actinic PH 8.2 dKH 8 Calcium 310 (LaMotte test kit) <Too low> Additives: Dose according to package. 2 capfuls of Kent Liquid Reactor Daily 1 capful of Kent Liquid Calcium <I'd switch brands... to SeaChem... Bob Stark's ESV...> Soft Corals: One pulsing Xenia, mushroom and yellow polyps, green star polyps My problem is that I can't seem to raise my PH and Calcium to the desired range for corals which is supposedly 8.4 - 8.5 for PH and 350 to 450 calcium. My xenia is pulsing and my other corals seem to be open and doing well. <... read on WWM re this issue... only a few possibilities> I have read a lot about the dangers of long term use of Liquid Calcium but I am confused as to how to safely get my calcium and ph factors up. I am a bit afraid of additives and get so much conflicting advice ! <Dedicate yourself to study... thinking about this situation... go with other brands. Bob Fenner> Help with Additives for Soft Corals, WWM Hello Crew, <Howdy> I just recently introduced some soft corals into my system and am in need of some advice as to how to obtain the proper water readings for healthy corals and control of green hair nuisance algae that I have a lot of. <Mmm, this is posted on WWM> 55 gallon Tank and top off water from SpectraPure 5 stage RO/DI filter (Cartridges and RO membrane replaced Jan 05) EV 120 protein skimmer pulling out gunk requiring cleaning 3 times per week 2 clownfish only. Feed them once per day only 55 lbs live rock Additives: Kent Liquid Reactor (2 capfuls daily) 1 inch of CaribSea Aragonite substrate Problems: 1. Worsening problem of nuisance green hair algae growing over live rock 2. Water parameters not at appropriate levels or test data not revealing nuisance algae readings Water Parameters (I do 5 gallons a week water changes) 8 degrees dKH (Tropic Marin Kit) <1 mg/l Nitrates (Tropic Marin Kit) 8.0 PH (Fastest Kit) 0 Ammonia (Salifert Kit) Phosphates 0 (LaMotte Kit) Calcium 227 (LaMotte Kit) <Too low...> I know I need to boost the PH, dKH and Calcium readings for my soft corals (mushrooms, xenia, yellow polyps) but I do not know how. I am inexperienced with additives. <Posted...> Also, I can't understand why I have so much green nuisance hair algae because my phosphate and nitrates readings are good. Could my skimmer be taking out "good" things in the water that is causing low PH, dKH and calcium ?? <Mmm, add another dimension (time) to your understanding... these nutrients are being taken up/scavenged by the algae> Any advice you could offer would be much appreciated ! <Read... Only go going over enough disparate/related material will you gain a good understanding of what you need to know, become an educated consumer. Bob Fenner>

Lighting for soft coral tank - 1/19/05 Hi <Hey there> I have a question regarding lighting. <Lots of info on lighting and choices available regarding specific set-ups but go for it anyway> I have a 75 gallon reef and I plan on keeping soft corals and polyps and some Shrooms. <OK> I was wondering if power compact lighting would be enough for them. <Definitely, in my experience> also would it be better to go with 4 x 96 watt or 6 x 55 watt? <I would actually like to see 6 x 96 watt if you could afford it but I like the 4 x 96 watt as opposed to the 6 x 55 watt. More light would be better in this instance>  Thanks  <My pleasure ~Paul>

Mixing water twixt hard and soft coral systems I have a 400 gall. quarantine system, a 1000 gall. retail salt livestock system. I am starting my coral and invert system, it is 400 gall. I was going to run a sump for 200 gall. soft corals and inverts, and the other 200 gall. system would be hard corals and inverts. my question is, do you think I could run 1 system or am I asking for trouble mixing the hard and soft coral water, even though they would not be housed together. <It would be great if you did not mix the water of the soft corals with the hard corals (when I mean hard corals, I'm mostly referring to SPS), but you shouldn't have much trouble if the water is mixed. Most SPS will not grow in tanks containing an ample amount of soft corals, especially soft corals in the genus Sarcophyton and Sinularia. Most SPS will also brown out, fairly quickly, if carbon is not run continuously. Knowing that you're planning on selling these corals, it's best to keep them as healthy and as colorful as possible. Other than that, I don't see any problems keeping them together. I should also add that you shouldn't have any problems keeping LPS and Soft corals in the same water -- of course, simply make sure that non are touching each other.> thanks for any thoughts. so far I have about 5 times the money invested than planed, your web site has helped me in every angle to opening this place right and some really good people in NYC. <Dave, we're glad that our website has helped you! Please let us know if you have anymore questions. I also wish you the best with your fish store! Take Care! Graham.> thanks Dave

Soft coral stocking densities 11/8/04 Hi, I just have a question about soft corals.  How many can I put in my tank? <its best to limit yourself as much as you can to one group or family of corals... and even limit total number of species for better long term success and reduced aggression in aquaria) My setup is: 48 gallon tank,  (2) Aquaclear 200 Filters,  (2) Powerhead 402, (1) Red Sea Prizm Protein Skimmer,   <please consider getting a second or better skimmer if you prefer to keep soft corals in particular. This brand typically is not a top performer, and you will need optimal skimming with noxious soft corals> 45 lbs. Live rock,  30 lbs. Aragonite sand, 40 lbs. Crushed Coral substrate.  My water condition is excellent. Live stock: (2) Cleaner shrimp, (4) blue hermit crabs, (2) red hermit crabs,  (1) Banggai Cardinal,  (2) Pajama Cardinals,  (1) Coris Wrasse,  (2) clown fish, (1) Dwarf Lion fish,  (1) Scopas Tang, (1) Anemone,  (1) Pineapple coral,  (1) Hawaiian Feather Duster,  (1) Dwarf colored Featherduster. Temp: 77 Degrees pH:  8.5 Ammonia: 0.0 mg Nitrite:  0.0 mg Nitrate: 0.4 mg Gravity: 1.025 thx <best of luck/life. Anthony>

Low pH problems Hello Wet Web Media << Hello, Blundell here. >> Soft Corals are Easy Right? << I'll say yes.  They need clean water and lots of light. >> I have a 75 gallon reef with a protein skimmer that operates efficiently ----- two over the back filters mainly for carbon and poly filters and 4 powerheads to create water movement ---- water movement is very good --- I also use subcompact supplemented with some additional actinics.  Everything was going real good (yes I know this was to good for to long --- succeeding and failing reef hobbyist for 12 years).  The problem is that all my stonies are doing great Brain, Candy Cane, Frog and Hammer but my softs are not.  I have xenia, leather, green star polyps and green fluorescent mushrooms which all seem to be struggling ---- the PH was low at 7.9 << That's low.  I'd find that problem source first. >> so I immediately did a 40% water change and started with the Super buffer DKH --- the leather open and expanded its polyps but the green star polyps and mushrooms are still closed and the xenia is actually dying.  I have the Ph up to 8.3 and I added oxygen to the system by running the air tube out of my office window (the building I work in is totally closed in so I thought maybe CO2 might be playing a role in lowering Ph especially at night.  Is there something here apparent that I am missing????? Should I add an air stone and air pump for additional oxygen???? --- do a larger water change???  ---- << Well do you have a refugium?  I'd consider that, and also check to see if you are adding or need to add buffers and supplements.  Don't add them if you don't need them. >> I do supplement with calcium, iodine, molybdenum and strontium,  I need soft coral magic Wet Web << I would not add any calcium, but would be adding buffers.  Then go from there and see if things improve. >> Jeff <<  Blundell  >> Calcium dosing needed for soft Corals? 10/5/04 This may or may not be a very stupid question. I have read a lot about adding calcium to your aquarium for coral growth and health. But I have been getting some mixed answers on wither or not adding extra supplements such as calcium is really needed for coral health, that's if you do routine water changes. <this question is answered simply and varies by tank of course. A tank with 20 corals will demand more calcium than a tank with one coral. Just use your Calcium test kit to be your guide. No controversy there. Aspire to maintain 400 ppm> I would prefer to not have to rely on having to add expensive supplements to my tank a few times a week. I currently have a 55 gallon tank with 80 lbs. of live rock and about 2" of live sand. I do a 10% water change every 2 weeks. All levels are where they should be.  I have a leather coral, a long tentacle plate coral, some mushroom corals  and a couple of polyp corals. I would like to add some more soft corals but would like to make sure that they are all getting what they need to stay healthy. Do I really need to start adding calcium? <likely yes> Also I have a BakPak2 protein skimmer. Anytime I add any type of chemicals to my tank it seems to suck it out right away. If I need to start dosing my tank with calcium, should I be turning off my skimmer to allow for the calcium to absorb into the water? <your skimmer does not take out calcium, no worries> Any info. on this matter would be a huge help. Thanks Brendan Byrne <its really a no-brainer here bud... your tank will have X demand that is verifiable by test kit and is to be dosed accordingly. Your test kit is the only (!) guide here. Best regards, Anthony>

Leather Coral Lighting Dear Wet Web Masters from Wet Web Media, <Hey! At your service> Great people, and great site, which I personally regard as the reefing Bible. <Great to hear!> I've got some hitchhiker, a snail, and a crab (almost certainly came from the leather coral that I recently got), and I need advice from you guys whether to keep it or not. The pictures are attached, sorry this is the best that I can get as it is so tiny (both about a centimeter across). <Gotcha> The snail has a long feeler, white and dark brown coloured. Is it a Nassarius snail? It should probably reef safe right? <Yes, I'm sure it's fine.  Do look at the predatory snail pictures in "Reef Inverts" by B&A just for a second glance.> The crab's carapace is white based and has some orange patches, the legs and pincers appears to be all orange. Its carapace is relatively large and its limbs are relatively short. As most if not all crabs are not trustable, should I keep it out of my main tank for fear that it would feast on my leather coral? Or it would make a good infauna? <I would take him to the pet store, give him away, etc.  You don't want him in your reef, he'll eventually kill something.  You don't want him in a sump/fuge, he'll be a problem.> And since I'm already writing this mail, may be I'll just add on this one how helpful is it for me to feed the leather coral with Marine Snow from Two Little Fishies? Or is it better for me to let it feed on light and tank's organic material? <The latter.  Leathers feed on particles that are much smaller than "Marine Snow," so it is of little benefit.  Photosynthesis and the natural processes are plenty to make these guys thrive.> If it helps how often and how much should I feed (it is about 3"x5" in size in about 40 G water volume)? It is currently 12" deep directly under 36 watt PC, thinking of getting 2 x 55W soon. What do you think of the chances is if I do not upgrade the lights? <Slim to none.  With under one watt per gallon, he'll eventually die, as the zooxanthellae will not produce enough energy to sustain itself.  PC/VHO would be a great choice for soft corals.> Thanks so much for answering my queries for umpteenth times. <Keep 'em comin!  See ya, Ryan> Wid.

Colt coral placement in a 60 gallon - 2/16/04 Hi Guys, <Hello> Where would you recommend placing a Colt Coral in a 60 Gal. tank (48x15x20 H).  I have live rock a 260 watt PC.  Could I place it in the sand or would it be better to super glue to a piece of live rock and place it in the middle part of the tank. <I like the idea of placing it nearer the middle of the tank. Would likely be a more natural placement for it. ~Paul> Thanks,

Soft Corals with VHO Hi, Thanks for the great website. I have a 180 gallon Reef tank, 7ft long.  The tank has been up for 3 years now with two leather corals for about 9 months; it was fish / invertebrate before that.  My lighting is 440 watts of VHO, 2 Aqua Suns and 2 Actinics directly over the middle 4ft of the tank.  It gives the affect of a bright reef in the middle with "shadowy" retreats on each side of the reef.  My leathers have been doing fine and I was wondering what other kind of soft corals (low light corals) I could add just on the border line of the 4ft light hood?  I have no lighting on the 2 ends of the tank. <You have a good question! Some species of soft coral which you should be able to house under the 4' of the aquarium (which is lit) include Sarcophyton sp., Sinularia sp., Capnella sp., Studeriotes sp., Cladiella sp., Alcyonium sp., Lobophytum sp., etc. Some corals which would require less lighting include Zoanthid sp. and Palythoa (which are both species of  colonial polyps) and some species of mushroom coral, including Actinodiscus sp., Ricordea sp., Rhodactis sp., and Amplexidiscus sp. For the non lit sides of your tank, corals such as non photosynthetic gorgonians including Diodogorgia sp. could be added. When keeping non photosynthetic animals, it's important to keep them properly fed with foods such as baby brine shrimp, zooplankton, and other meaty foods. Hope this helps and if you have any further questions, please email one of us back. Take Care, Graham.> Thanks for your advice. John

Kalkwasser & Softies 1/11/04 Hey Gang, Top 'o the day from Denver, Anthony, <cheers, Scott> I'm asking a question about adding Seachem's Kalkwasser to my softy reef tank, all the while hoping you remember my tank! Ca-309.6, Alk-2.4, ph-8.3, Am-0, Ni-0, SG-1.024 Temp-79.6 are the water parameters. Question; Are the gravity fed, IV style drip devices a consideration for us that are high tech equipment challenged? <they are indeed easy and effective. No disadvantage other than convenience- they tend to clog rather quickly. No biggie though. In time as you daily Calcium demand grows in the tank, you may find that the need is higher than what can be delivered through a dripped supersaturated solution. At that point, you may wish to consider my "Kalk slurry" method [see the WWM and RC archives for more on this... or my BOCP1]. The best long term solution is perhaps a calcium reactor> Thanks for your treasured advice! Scott (aka; Stormbringer) <always welcome my friend. best regards, Anthony>

Lighting and Cladiella 10/18/03 I have a 72 gal reef tank with soft corals; colts, leathers and mushrooms. I have just add a small refugium with Chaetomorpha and Gracilaria.  All my softs have done very well for the last 6 months and still are. I added one Cladiella 3 weeks ago and it hasn't done well at all. It constantly has dropped over. It has never stood erect. <often a lack of adequate water flow... have you achieved 10-20X turnover in the tank?> I carefully place in he tank and have never moved it. Most of the time it has it polyps extended but every once in a while it will puff up. It is at least 6 inches from any colt.  I was told that Cladiella are a beginners coral and easily kept. I also use Phytoplex twice a week. <Hmmm... I have serious doubts about any product that is sold warm and without a date/expiration... especially food products. Do consider culturing your own phyto, or buying a product that is sold refrigerated and dated (DT's. etc)> This would be my second failed attempt with a Cladiella. I am not sure what I am doing wrong? <not sure... were they both from the same supplier?> Also, I 440 watt of PC lighting 4-55watt 03 actinic and 4-55watt 10k. I was wonder if this would be a bad thing to done or not. I was consider running 6-55 03atinincs and 2-55watt 10ks. <the heavy blue is not needed or useful other than aesthetics. Daylight 6500-10K is best> The reason I ask is because I prefer the purple look of the 03 actinics compared to bright white of the 10ks. <agreed... but the corals/zooxanthellae service on the PAR of daylight> I would not want to do this if it was bad for overall tank. Or will I get a more purple out of my 03s if I used them with 6500K instead of 10K? <I don't expect you would> Please let me know your thoughts -Ron <best of luck, Anthony>

Sarcophyton elegans (Yellow leather) under PC lights 10/14/03 I recently made a purchase before researching.   <grumble, grumble...> I bought a yellow leather.  I currently have 130wts of pc light and the leather is 3-4in under the lights I wondered of this would be enough light since he is so close to the lights.   <Hhh... now worries. Not so bad at all. This coral will be fine here because of your wise placement of it in shallow water> Since I put the leather in the tank he seems to be slouching and shedding some white material.  I don't know if this is common or if it is not enough light.   <unrelated> Also the polyps are not coming out.  I have only had the leather two days but still am worried.   <no need to worry... this is a very sensitive leather coral species. Do refrain from physically touching or moving it ( a sure way to kill it). Simply leave it in place with very good water flow and wait for it to adapt (weeks)> What do you suggest feeding him (phyto).  I hate when I don't research first. Thanks in advance, Jeremy <very few corals actually eat phytoplankton... and many of those that do like some Alcyoniids eat very little at that. In this case, rely on a good fishless refugium for producing natural plankton and go easy on the bottled supplements (generally fuel for nuisance algae). Best regards, Anthony>

Cladiella and Cabbage coral Hi! I recently purchased two coral for my 75 gal reef tank. My tank has 440 watts of light and I have both soft & SPS corals in the tank. <hmmm... OK. But not a good habit to mix soft coral and Scleractinians in the long run. Many allelopathic issues> 90% of my corals where purchased from GARF. <OK> I recently purchased two corals from my LFS. One was sold to me as a Cladiella although I think it is Alcyonium because of the description in Eric Borneman's book " Aquarium Corals". <understood... and know that since Eric's book was published, all tropical species in Alcyonium were moved out. The "Colt Coral" (Cladiella/Alcyonium) is now (genus) Klyxum> The reason I think this is because its color when purchased was dark/rich Pink and almost closer to purple. The book indicates Cladiella come in colors that range between gray - green - brownish. <color should not be a primary indication of evaluating speciation> Since purchasing it about 3 weeks ago - Its color slowly changed to a very light pink. I don't think bleached out (still very healthy & still opens) but I was wondering if it should exposed to much light. <your lights are very fine... the coral is simply adapting to the change. Be sure not to move it at all. All coral must simply be allowed to adapt even when the first few days look weak> All my other soft coral new & old have had no problem with the 440 watts of light. I keep it at the bottom of my which is about 21 inches deep. <actually, probably not enough light (at depth) under these fluorescents in the long run. Fluorescent do not penetrate water very well at depth. After a few weeks, move the coral up slowly to within 16" of surface at least> Eric's book doesn't indicate how much this coral requires. <this like most coral are collected over a wide range. There is no rule possible for animals that may have been collected at 5 feet or fifty feet. Hence the need for gentle and appropriate acclimation as you have done starting on the bottom first (or using a screen method better yet)> Will it do better if I were to put in a shady area like a mushroom? <will surely die in time> What is the lighting requirements for a Alcyonium? I am afraid it might die if I put it in a completely shady area like under a cliff or under a over hang. <corals are quite adaptable... and feeding can compensate for inadequate light. Do consider a fishless refugium inline to produce natural plankton for these corals> The other coral I purchased was sold to as a (stony) cabbage coral. the closest thing I found in Eric's book to it was a Merulina. <Ughhh! A very delicate and difficult species> When I purchased it it was a cream color. Is very white now. <most bleach and die within 2-6 months of import/ For truly advanced reefs. They need bright light and very strong water flow but cannot take the bright light initially for the stress of import. Must be acclimated slowly to full reef lights over several weeks> I do believe this is a stony coral even though when I touch it - it feels very rubbery.   <you are correct... it is stony (Scleractinian)> This coral I believe requires strong lighting. I recently moved it the center and up about 3 inches from the bottom. Is there any you can suggest for both of these coral- Thanks for your time-  Anj <you move of the <Merulina sounds fine. Please leave it be... moving stressed corals can easily kill them for the need to keep adjusting to changes in light. They have a better chance of acclimating to a new but alien light rather than toggle between a normal and abnormal scheme. In my Book of Coral Propagation I discuss several pertinent topics for you... summarized articles of the same (coral feeding, lighting and acclimation) are all here on WetWebMedia for free (better yet <G>!).It really sounds like you have done fine by your new specimens but that they simply need to acclimate. With kind regards, Anthony>

Lighting a 65g for soft corals - 2/23/03 Good afternoon from rain soaked VA! <Good morning to you. Paul here.> I am trying to decide on a lighting upgrade for my aspiring reef tank. It is a 65 gal., 36Lx18Wx24H. I currently have one small Sarcophyton, one med. Sinularia, and a small frag of Sinularia dura. Also some Protopalythoa polyps. I intend to keep this tank limited to soft corals and mushrooms. <Very good> So here's the big question: I am looking at a few fixtures; one is a 3x96watt PC fixture, one is a MH + PC fixture - 150 or 175watt MH and 2 96watt PC's. <Well, the corals you have currently and based on your previous statement as to what kind of corals you plan to keep, they might do favorably (read OK) with the 3x96 watt. Now if you plan on going with different corals in the future.....more like clams and SPS, then maybe it wouldn't hurt to go with the MH fixture. If you acclimate your current livestock to the MH properly, I think all your corals will benefit from the stronger lighting. In any event, I would research the lighting needs of your corals you have now (I am sure you have) and for the ones you plan to keep, as related to their respective environment, and make the best decision. Either lighting system will do the job albeit, one will do it better.> Which one would be preferable, or would you suggest a different unit entirely? <I honestly like the 150w MHx2x96w PC as the best choice here. Definitely read through Anthony Calfo's awesome article on lighting invertebrates found here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm> I appreciate the time you guys take to answer questions in this forum! You're a tremendous help! <Our pleasure. Thank you for coming to this forum to have your questions answered!> Thanks, Neil <Regards, Paul>

- 250's Too Much for Softies? - Hi guys,  Thanks for the help in the past. <Kevin here today, ready to help again!> I have a couple of lighting questions.  I have a standard 75g which houses mostly soft corals with a few LPS.  I'm currently running 6 * 65 W PC's (mix of actinic and 10000K).  The tank has been running  for over 2 years with no signs of trouble.  I'm interested in moving on to SPS so am in the process of upgrading my lights to MH.  Another big factor in this decision is having to spend almost $300 every 6 months just to change the PC lamps. <Yes, lamp changing isn't the best time of the year, but depending on what kind of PC's you're running, you may be able to safely stretch that o 8-10 months.> Regardless of what the manufacturer says, I notice a significant difference in the amount of light after the 6 to 7 month mark. <Oh, never mind, there's your answer.> Anyway, I just ordered a MH dual 500W ballast (250W*2).  After reading a bit on your site I realized that 2 250W metal halide lamps may be too much and burn some of my softies that I've grown to love (mauve finger leather, devils hand, colt, Capnella, various mushrooms, and polyps. <If you stick the lamps right on top of the water with a full 8 hour photoperiod you will, but if you simply acclimate everything to the lighting you will have no problems.> I'm thinking of going with 2 175W lamps coupled with 130W of PC actinic just because I like the blue hue in the tank.  My order may have shipped already which means I'm stuck with the 500W ballast unless I shell out the original $50 for shipping plus the additional cost to send it back then an additional $50 to get the dual 175W ballast.  Can I still use the 2 250W bulbs but mount them higher in the canopy (10" to 12"), maybe use 20K bulbs and exclude the PC actinics? <Regardless of which lamps you choose I'd start the lamps at 20+ inches off of the tank on a 2 hour photoperiod, and over the course of a few weeks, slowly changing to your normal 8-10 hour photoperiod. After that the lights can be lowered at an inch or so per day until it is at the desired height. No biggie, as long as you take it slow you won't have to worry about UV burn, active O2 poisoning, etc.> Can I use 175W bulbs in the 250W ballast or is this dangerous play?   If so will it consume just as much electricity as the 250W bulbs? <They won't work> The last questions I have involves retrofitting a 48" JBJ strip light.  I'm sure you are familiar with the JBJ Formosa 48" light.  I was thinking of removing one strip (2 PC lamps) and mounting the two MH lamps in it's place.  I would then take the acrylic/plastic lens to a glass shop and have them cut a piece of tempered glass to replace the original lens in order to shield off UV rays.  The strip light has two fans in it already.  Do you think it's worth a try or just a stupid idea. <It would melt down, don't do that!> I could keep the other 2 PC's for actinic or remove them as well depending on which bulb I use for the MH (either 1000K or 20000K).  Any advise would be appreciated. <I'd go with 10k lamps, you'll lose much of the intensity if you choose a higher Kelvin lamp. Retrofitting PC actinics somewhere will work on the blue for you.> You guys are doing a great thing for the hobby.  Reef keeping seems to be booming and you are providing a great service to both people and ultimately the animals they keep. <We hope so! Good luck with the new lighting and I wish you great success. -Kevin> Thanks, Ralph

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

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

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>

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>

Setting Up For Super Softies! (Soft Coral Tank Setup) Yo crew! <Hey! Scott F. with you today!> I've been reading your daily digressions for quite some time now and am thoroughly impressed and amused daily. <Glad you enjoy the site! We have a great time bringing it to you every day!> My two questions lie in lighting and water flow for soft corals, particularly mushrooms and Zoanthids. I would like to COVER the live rock (about 100 lbs) in my 72 bow front with some brightly fluorescent Corallimorphs, and currently have a Mag 950 and a  PowerSweep 228 powerhead for water flow (I know you guys aren't big fans as far as reliability and maintenance, but the PowerSweep helps put a nice wave motion in the tank when I set it against my return) <If it works for you- by all means use it! No problems here!> and 2-96 watt power compacts for light.  Now, I've read the FAQs and think that this should probably be adequate, but I want the BEST coloration out of these prospective inhabitants.  My current 'Shrooms are quite happy and dividing, but my star polyps are only happy in a "high flow" part of the tank.  So, I'm sold on the closed-loop return system that you recently posted on your site (using PVC around the top perimeter of the tank, I'm planning on two outputs in the front, two in the back and one on either side) and am wondering what size pump I should be aiming for at 4" head pressure with all of these extra outlets and 90 degree angles, do I need something as powerful as a Dolphin Ampmaster 2100, (I mention Dolphin as my choice because my primary concern (after that of my charges) is the noise from the tank) or can I go with something smaller? <Well, the Ampmaster is a real kick*** pump, but it may be more than you need. I am very partial to Iwakis for their ultra-durability and long-term reliability, but they are a bit noisy to some people...Dolphin does make less powerful pumps that can do the job quite nicely. I suppose that, in the end, you could use the Ampmaster, and simply dial down the flow as needed.> Secondly, should I go with a pair of 20k or 10K - 150 or 250 watt metal halides in addition to the power compacts to ensure that these polyps and Shrooms produce the BEST color?  I've noticed that most posts say that Corallimorphs are fine under compact fluorescents, but have also read that they produce their best color under 20K halides. <I really like the look of these animals under PC's (like 3 to one actinic to 10000k), and this should suffice very nicely for most. However, if you want to go the halide route, I'd consider 20000k HQIs, in a 150 watt format. More than adequate to do the job, IMO, and they will fluoresce beautifully!> I understand that this is partly a question of taste (regarding spectrum) but I would like to have these additions thrive, not just survive. <Great approach! As you point out, the "best" color is very subjective, and what I like may gross you out! I'd experiment with the PC's first, and if you're just not happy with the results that you're getting from the PC's, then by all means try the HQI halides! Lighting, as you are no doubt aware, is just part of the equation here, so do concentrate on the water conditions as well...!> Thank you all for all the time and patience that you put into your replies here with WWM. -Nick in DE <Thanks for the kind words, Nick! Do share some pics with our readers when your tank really gets up and running...Sharing experiences is what this site is all about! Good luck, and have fun! Regards, Scott F>

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