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FAQs about Soft Coral Disease Diagnosis

FAQs on Soft Coral Disease: Soft Coral Health/Disease/Pests 1, Soft Coral Health 2, Soft Coral Health 3, Soft Coral Health 4, & By Family: Alcyoniid Health, Alcyoniid Disease 2, Alcyoniid Disease 3, Alcyoniid Disease 4, Alcyoniid Disease 5, Alcyoniid Disease 6, Alcyoniid Disease 7, Alcyoniid Disease 8, Alcyoniid Disease 9, Alcyoniid Health 10, Alcyoniid Disease 11, Alcyoniid Health 12, Alcyoniid Health 13, Alcyoniid Health 14, Alcyoniid Health 15, Alcyoniid Health , & Nephtheid Disease, Xeniid Disease, Xeniid Health 2, Xeniid Health 3,
Soft Coral Disease by Category:
Environmental, Nutritional, Social, Trauma, Infectious/Parasitic, Pests, Treatments

Related Articles: Soft Coral


Soft coral torn from rock, need info.  - 03/10/08 Hi, My husband and I are new to reef tanks. We had a saltwater tank 25+ years ago. A lot is new now and we are learning fast. We never had corals. Now, we have what I think is a blushing coral (according to the store) or broccoli coral. We've had it about 3 weeks and it was doing well. I say "was" because now it has shriveled and looks a bit greenish. I noticed it looks like it is torn from the rock it was attached to (at it's base). <Not good> It was fine this morning, waving in the current. We have a Foxface Rabbitfish who likes to sit within the branches. We also have two "orange diamond" gobies who have been fighting over a nearby rock. We think someone may have hit it. Can it be super glued back? <Mmm, depends... better to situate the base twixt rock...> Should we leave it alone? I've been checking WWM, but can't seem to find what I'm looking for. Maybe I'm just timid about gluing a living creature...help! Marianne <I understand your hesitancy... But need to know more pertinent facts in order to help you further... e.g. the physical, chemical make-up of your system, it's history of set-up and maintenance... the actual species of Alcyonacean, or a photo... Bob Fenner>

Coral Infection? Hey there WWM Crew, <James> Over the past week I have been observing a hole forming in the base of my toadstool leather.  This happened all of a sudden, and is especially puzzling since the piece has been flourishing for well over a year in my tank.  The hole started out as a little darkish spot that when touched the material crumbled off.  I initially cleaned off the spot in question then dipped the whole piece in disinfectant dip.  Since then the spot has become larger and deeper, but has remained the same crumbly dark material.  I have also been spot treating the area with the same coral dip on a daily basis for the past couple of days. <Mmm, time to excise this area...> Tonight I removed a large chunk of the seemingly dead material and swabbed it once again.  The hole is around half a dimes depth currently, and is definitely causing me quite a bit of concern.  Other than the hole the coral seems to be doing well, opening fully and has a nice firm stalk.  As for water conditions I have to use tap-water in the tank until I move and get a bigger place to install an RO unit.  Everything is pretty much on the ball except for my nitrates and phosphate levels.   I have a phosphate absorber in a hang on, and have been doing decent size weekly water changes to help with the nitrates. Is this sudden turn in the coral's condition a result of the water or could this be a parasite of some sort? <Could be either, both, and/or an actual predator> The tank has a fair number of other soft corals (leathers, mushrooms, xenias) and they are all doing very well without signs of any illnesses.  Just for reference the tank is a 55, with a couple of clowns, PJ Cardinals, a Yellow Tang, a Red Coris, and an assortment of shrimp and crabs.  Thank you very much in advance for any advice / information you can offer! <Read on WWM re Alcyoniid health, pests...> P.S.  As a side note I sent you guys a message a few months ago about a Ricordea that got left out in my car for several hours in 40ish degree weather, and whether it would make it or not.  Just to let you know it did indeed make it and is actually doing very well! <Great! Bob Fenner> 

Sick Leather - 2/27/04 Hi, I have problem with my toadstool leather. My leather seems to sliming and affecting my other corals. I have bubble tip anemones, gorgonian, brains. I would like to know the problem. <Your email doesn't help much with diagnosing the issue. Simply put, there is just not enough info. Tank parameters, tank age would help. How long have you had the coral, where is it placed not to mention this particular type of issue has been covered before on the site. Here is the best place to start to find answers to your particular question (see if any of the FAQ replies relate to your question): http://www.wetwebmedia.com/alcyoniids.htm and http://www.wetwebmedia.com/alcyonfaq4.htm and try a read through of other FAQ links at the top of the page for yet even more info that may apply. Thanks for being part of it all ~Paul> thanks  

Collapsing Coral And Rising Nitrate  Hi,  <Hi there! Scott F. here today>  I talked to ya'll last week. I now have finger leather that looks like its insides have been sucked out of it. It is just lying there almost flat and is a brownish color. It had been looking so good.  <It might be history...Not to be too premature here, but it may be beyond salvaging at this point. You could potentially try cutting out any salvageable parts of the colony and placing them in on rubble to re-attach... The reason for this collapse is not entirely understood. Eric Borneman, in his book "Aquarium Corals", suggests that salinity variations, physical trauma, or injury may play roles in this condition>  Now I never did find that thing that was on my mushroom leather that you thought might be some kind of Nudibranch.  <Hmm...the "thing" might have been the source of the "trauma"?>  Also there is something on my rock that I have just noticed in the last few days. It is shaped kinda like a mushroom, they are really small, the stalk is so small I can hardly see it and the round top is a lot smaller that a dime maybe the size of the tip of a small persons finger. I can't tell the color of the stalk very well but it appears to be kinda a brownish color, the round top has little things standing up all around its edge and these and the top is clear. If my shrimp or fish get close to them they suck themselves back into the rock and you can't see the at all, you wouldn't even know there had been something there.  <Hmm, I'd love to see a photo and I could attempt an ID on this animal>  I did another 10% water change and vacuumed Sunday, my nitrate is still high around 60 I can't seem to get it to go down and stay everything else seem to be ok.  <Well, consistent water changes over time, combined with solid husbandry techniques (skimming, use of chemical filtration media, etc.) over time will do the trick. Initial, larger changes can help get things started>  I really need some help and I hope you guys can tell me what to do. Like I have told you I am just starting and I love my little ocean friends and want to really take care of them.  <Keep reading up on the WWM site concerning nutrient control and export techniques, and you'll see the water chemistry factors improve>  My sail fin tang ate out of my hand the other day; I thought that was really cool.  <Gotta love that!>  If I could just get my leather healthy and nitrate under control and these other things.  <Hope I gave you some places to start!>  Thank so very much, Teri  <My pleasure, Teri! Let us know if we can be of further assistance! Regards, Scott F>

Sick Toadstool?? - 11/4/03 I have a toadstool coral for about 7 months which did very well.  The past few months it has not been opening, it shrunk and the trunk remains wrinkled and yellow coloring. <Hmmm...well......this is somewhat normal as they do retract and go into a growth period from time to time. Basically not opening up for a few weeks and shedding a few layers.>  My water readings are perfect. <How old are your lights? Any other changes??>  I have 2 brain corals, colt coral, fox coral and star polyp which are all doing ok. <Any touching? Do you use carbon? This could be an allelopathic issue between corals>  I have a blue hippo tang, a yellow tang, and a small calm clown.  My only problem recently has been bristle worms which I have been trying to catch. <Unless they are very large these are deemed somewhat beneficial at smaller life stages.>  Please help as the toadstool is not totally dead. <I am sure it is not. I would not move it unless there is coral nearby (within a couple of inches. Add carbon to your set-up if you do not already. Give it some time>  I wish there was something I can do to make it the way it used to be. <How about time?? Did you read through our site regarding Sarcophytons? A good place to start is the articles and FAQs on this coral. -Paul>    

Distressed Leather Hi I purchased a toad stool five days ago and it has not opened since it left the store . <Not uncommon for this species. They do retract their polyps periodically to help rid their surfaces of algae and detritus; often this is in response to some sort of stress (such as being moved to a new environment)...> water is fine as far as ammonia, nitrite, nitrate is 20PPM did a 10% water change anyway calcium is high 520 gravity is at 1.021 and I am slowly raising it. Temp is 76- is this to low? <The temperature is fine> I do have a long tentacle anemone and another anemone that is purple with green tips both about 15 inches away from toad stool. <Hmm....> I just read its no good to have two anemones together <Nor is it a great idea to keep anemones with corals in a mixed tank. Lots of folks do it, but it really is not the best approach, IMO> I have a bubble coral about 12 inches away and candy coral 6 inches away and some hammer coral. <All possess fairly powerful allelopathic capabilities...> The toad stool looks like it is shedding some skin from its base. <I'd keep a close eye on the coral, and maintain excellent water conditions. I don't think that your coral is finished by any stretch...> Sometimes the skin is dark the anemone is a light peach color almost white and it seems to be releasing mucus ,looks like smoke <Quite possibly, you are witnessing the release of waste products. Keep a careful eye out to make sure that the animal is otherwise healthy. If this is the case, there is little to worry about..> I have a 72 gallon bow tank ,Eco System refugium sump ,Aqua C 120 skimmer , 2 400 gph power heads but only keep 1 on otherwise polyps wont open completely, and a drop in chiller , I use RO water, Instant Ocean salt , iodine , strontium, (Reef Builder , Reef Advantage Calcium , and Reef Plus as per GARF's bullet proof reef) <A proven methodology...> Fish : 2 clowns , diamond goby , lizard goby (LFS has different name for this each visit) , cleaner and peppermint shrimp , 5 Chromis , zebra damsel, arc eye something? <Hawkfish, maybe?> and a hippo tang. Nothing is over 2 inches except the diamond goby. <Sounds like a nice mix of animals> Sorry this is so long. Please help. Thank you Manny <Well, Manny, I would not be overly concerned about the current condition of the leather. As mentioned above, this is rather normal for this species. However, you need to consider the potential problems that can arise by keeping anemones and corals together. Not a good mix for the long run. Do keep up with regular water changes and excellent husbandry techniques. If the tissue on the leather coral becomes "cheesy" or begins to decompose, it may be necessary to intervene by excising the affected area, but I don't think that will even become necessary...Keep observing, and hang in there! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

-How to tell if a soft coral is dead- I bought a finger leather coral (my first coral). I took about 2.5 hrs to acclimate it to aquarium water. After I've put the coral inside the tank it looks like a fainted plant. Is it dead? <No> How can one tell when/if a coral has died? <If a soft coral was to die, it would start to disintegrate. Your coral has simply closed up in protest of the new water conditions, lighting, and handling. In the next few days it will re-open up if all is well. Good luck! -Kevin> Thank you, Luke

Sick colt coral 3/2/03 Good evening, What would be happening to my colt coral, Tuesday it was large and very healthy looking. temp. 79degs,nitrite 0.00, nitrate 20, ph 8.2, salt 1.24. Having not changed anything. Skimmer running all the time, collecting some. check out pics and reply please!!!! <the coral looks irritated... but it could really be anything from a minor catalyst to impending self0destruction or infection. There are many factors to cause this. If you've had the coral for ore than 6 months, but have no refugium or little algae growth... it may be starving from the lack of phytoplankton. Or... another coral nearby might finally be winning the silent chemical war... any mushroom anemones, Starpolyp or LPS coral nearby? When in doubt, do a water change and consider all aspects of husbandry that may have strayed or changed. Anthony>

-Limp Colt Coral- Hello WWM,  <Hi there! Kevin here tonight>   I recently purchased a colt coral from my LFS. The coral seemed to be in  good shape at the store. It was upright, no broken or limp branches, and no secretion of stringy material. When transporting the coral it secreted a purple film into the bag (which I have read on some websites is normal). <I've never seen purple mucus be secreted by these guys except in dyed specimens... The mucus should be clear/whitish> I floated and slowly acclimated the coral to the aquarium. I rinsed the coral off in a separate container filled with aquarium water (to remove excess mucus) <These guys are REALLY slimy huh!>. Once in the tank the coral just seemed to become limp and lean over towards one side. It seems to be moving its branches a little.  There was a slight smoky secretion from the base of the colt however, that has now stopped. I have a 75gallon tank with compact fluorescent lights (actinic and regular). My water shows virtually zero nitrates. My ph is around 8.2 and my salinity is between 1.023 and 1.024. I use only RO water. My supplements include strontium, calcium, iodine, iron, and magnesium. I feed every other day live micro plankton. I have the coral by itself on one side of the aquarium. Is it normal for this coral to become limp? Should these parameters and supplements be sufficient for this coral? Your help is much appreciated. <Don't expect a newly introduced coral to look normal as soon as it's tossed in the tank. It can take days/weeks for it to fully open up if the water chemistry, lighting, and water movement are not what it was used to. It just needs time to acclimate. I'm sure it will be fine, these are tough as nails and before you know it you'll be slicing and dicing once it gets gigantic! Also, the purple slime worries me a bit, if the coral is any color other than brown it's been artificially dyed, and a very common color that they use is purple. Again, these guys are extremely hardy and will probably tough it out until the dye goes away, but you should question your source if this is the case... Good luck! -Kevin>

Xenia elongata Help Please!!! Ok I have a 180 reef tank. All kinds of corals, frog spawn, bubbles (brown and white), Fox, clams, etc. Everything is doing GREAT .The problem is I can't keep Xenia. It got real small and died. Tried some more and same thing.  Water is in GREAT shape. Cal.450  KH 10, PH 8.2 every thing is good. Give the tank Iodine, DTs. It's on an ecosystem with 40watt.Uv, 440 VHO lights white and blue. (it's up top high) ANY IDEAS on why I can't keep this stuff ???? Thanks so much for your time, Chip <the strong presence of LPS corals is quite aggressive. Placement of the Xenia within 10 inches of many LPS species is a kiss of death for some Xenia (not all... some are quite durable). If the tank also is not skimmed aggressively to dilute the chemical toxins, or is water changes are modest (less than weekly)... then we may have your problem. Try keeping them in a refugium inline instead. A nice feature for the tank. best regards, Anthony>

What Happened to my Toadstool Leathers I have 2 toadstool leathers. I bought them 3 weeks ago. They have been beautiful. They both were fully extended with long beautiful polyps within hours of placing them in my tank, and have remained that way ever since the first day. Until Monday. Monday I came home from work and they were not extended at all. No polyps and the corals kinda shriveled up like they do sometimes at night, but not completely closed. Same thing today, so it's been 48 hours. They are on the same rock and have been I guess since cultivated. They are both about 7 inches tall and 6 inches across when fully opened. Just beautiful, except for last two days. They have not really drooped low or anything - the one on top of rock is still erect. The only thing I did was do a 5% water change Sunday afternoon. <no harm here> They looked great after the water change. Salinity is same, no trace of amm. or nitrites, and nitrates almost nonexistent. The other two corals - a 6" diameter pagoda and a small 4" rock full of long green polyps that look like grass are thriving and look even better after the water change. <likely Starpolyp... a very noxious and aggressive coral. Do not keep near other corals. Beautiful though> I did the small water change because tank has been set up now for 10 weeks and was starting to get a little algae growth. Not much, though (like a little green on one rock and one pre-filter and front of glass. But I have yet to scrape anything including glass. Tank was getting 10 hours of light from 2x96 watt PC lights (one blue/one daylight). There is about 45 pounds of premium Vanessi live rock plus 1/2" of live sand. Other critters include many snails and blue leg hermits. There are 4 fish - a small yellow tang, small yellow-eye tang, and two small goby sand sifters. Temp a constant 78 degrees. Skimmer is Euroreef and a 30 gallon sump. Tank is 38 gallons. I move almost 800 gph through the system with two prefilters and two return pumps, plus one extra powerhead in tank for add'l circulation. All other life and critters are fine and thriving - why did the toadstool leathers suddenly go "dormant"? Will they come out of it? <the leathers are likely fine. There are many reasons why they retract their polyps for extended periods. pH dipping low (below 8.2), hand in the tank daily (very irritating to them), or even simply growth (they shed a waxy tunic from their crown several times monthly and retract polyps during this time). Your system otherwise sounds quite fine... no worries. They will likely come around within 2-4 days. Best regards, Anthony>

Leather Coral? Hello (to whomever fields this email), <Steven Pro at your service.> I've had a leather umbrella coral for a few weeks now. I think it is an umbrella coral. It was sold as an umbrella coral but after searching the web for information I now wonder if it is not a mushroom. Any sure way to tell the difference? <Any of the Leather corals should be easily distinguished from a mushroom/Corallimorph on appearance. Please take a look at these pages: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/alcyoniids.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/corallim.htm> My question regards it's appearance. When I purchased it, it would fully extend and look very full. Recently, it has drawn in and is only coming out approximately half of what it used to and for less time than it used to. <You really have not had it very long. It may still be adjusting to its new environment.> I understand that these are filter feeders. <They can feed through absorption, but not what I would refer to as filter feeders.> I have tested all of my tank parameters (salinity, temp, pH, O2, Calcium, Alk, Nitrites, Nitrates, Phosphates & Ammonia) and all right where they should be. Lighting is good (220 watts power compacts). Is this indicative of anything in particular or are the possibilities too numerous to attempt to diagnose in this short of space? <You hit the nail on the head. It could very likely be nothing.> If so - point me to a source for the overall care and observation techniques of leather corals. Thanks, JT <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Xenia is dying Can you please help? I have a 150 reef tank. It's been set up about 2 years. I put in 2 or 3 pieces of xenia more than a year ago. It has grown and speed like wildfire. All of a sudden, they are turning white and shriveling up. Any ideas? <many possible reasons for this but far and away the most common is a low pH. Xenia are notoriously sensitive to low pH. They stop pulsing at 8.3 and really show suffrage under 8.0. A reef aquarium ideally (to me) does not drop below 8.3 at night (low point).> Thanks, Ricky Knapik New Orleans, LA <best regards, Anthony>

Leather corals Hi, Just wondering if you could lend a hand in the leather department? I have  tried several different leathers and none of them survive. within a day of  being placed in my aquarium they bend over and slowly die. Is there a reason  this might be happening. One other question, I have been told that elegance  do not tolerate iodine very well. Is this true? I have a problem with them  also. When placed in aquarium they" balloon up". Then they proceed to  withdrawal and it appears that a spider spun a web over them. Please help.  Thank you . Rob >> Something's(') rotten in Denmark here... You have either an induced (as in additives/supplements) and/or a biological-chemical problem (as in a venomous or poisonous organism that is/has polluted your water). What else DO you have living in this system? What sorts of things in the way of decor? What is your regimen for water changes? If it were me... not knowing anything further, I would be inclined to remove the livestock from this system... take it down... rinse the gravel and rock... and re-assemble it... then put in a strip of Polyfilter... wait a month... and try another "test" organism. Bob Fenner, whose articles on soft corals and the Elegance Coral you can find archived at www.wetwebmedia.com 

I have a Leather Coral (Sarcophyton) which I purchased about two weeks ago.  For the first few days the polyps extended and it seemed happy. I initially  placed it low in the water column with moderate lighting and circulation. After the first couple of days, the polyps stopped extending and small white  dots appeared on the surface of the coral. Subsequently, the small white  dots turned into blotches. I have moved the coral to a higher circulation  area with a little more lighting. What is causing this? Is it some type of "bleaching?" <Can't ascertain the cause with the above information, but the condition (necrosis) you describe is not good. I do think you've made a good move in moving the animal... Now, let's ask some important, related questions so maybe I can really help: What other livestock do you have? Have they been in the tank long? What sort of lighting? Any obvious chewers like crabs, lobsters, big bristle worms? What sorts of supplements do you employ? What sorts of tests can you tell me about? pH, alkalinity, biominerals... Any other livestock "acting" funny.... Have you asked your supplier about this animal? How long did they have it? What is the condition of other soft corals they received at the same time? Bob Fenner .

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