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FAQs about Compatibility of Soft Corals of the Family Alcyoniidae

Related Articles: Soft Corals of the Family Alcyoniidae, 'Coral' Compatibility: On Reducing Captive Negative Interactions Cnidarians  by Bob Fenner, ppt. vers: Cnidarian Compatibility: On Reducing Negative Cnidarian Interaction Parts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,  by Bob Fenner

Related FAQs: A Soft Corals of the Family Alcyoniidae, Alcyoniids 2, Alcyoniids 3, Alcyoniids 4, Alcyoniid ID, Alcyoniid Selection, Alcyoniid Systems, Alcyoniid Behavior, Alcyoniid Feeding, Alcyoniid Health, Alcyoniid Propagation, Soft Coral PropagationSoft Coral HealthDyed CoralsSoft Coral Propagation, Nephtheids, Dendronephthya, Paralcyoniids, Nidaliids, Xeniids, Dyed Corals

Allelopathy: Sinularia+toadstool+Kenya tree = Too much?     5/9/17
Hi WWM Team:
Thank you for a brilliant website. I wish I had found your site earlier.
I've read through many of your pages on Allelopathy and believe I have identified that as the cause of significant LPS loss in my 108 gal tank.
I realize there is no quantifiable answer as to how much soft coral is too much.
<There is if you have a convenient mass spec.>
However, I wanted to get your reaction to the amount of soft coral shown in a photo of my tank attached, in particular the green Sinularia back left, the Kenya tree front left and toadstool in the center. There are also a number of mushrooms that are harder to see in the photo. I have no SPS but am interested in keeping LPS.
If this were your tank, how much of the soft coral would you eliminate?
<Maybe none here... IF you carefully introduce, acclimate new additions>
I would start with the Sinularia; would that be enough?
<From your pic; I'd leave all as is for now>
Thank you very much for any advice!
<Let's have you read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/cnidcompppt.htm
Do you utilize ozone? Chemical filtrants? Bob Fenner>

Hawaiian Feather Duster vs. Toadstool       3/16/17
Good morning,
I've read through a number of FAQ's on Feather Dusters and Corals, and it sounds as though Feather Dusters are definitely reef compatible that seem to be unaffected by any chemical type battles between soft corals, etc.
I've had my large Hawaiian Feather Duster for most of three months in a 60g. He'd be open most of the day and I'd feed twice a week, alternating between PhytoFeast and OysterFeast. About ten days ago I introduced a
toadstool (4.5") and placed it in close proximity to the feather duster's tube (he wasn't out). After placement, the feather duster opened up and I could see the feathers touching the toadstool. I placed the toadstool about 6" away, and ever since then I have not seen my feather duster appear until two days ago. While feeding my tank and with the water still (all powerheads/pumps off), I can see something moving in the tube. Basically, I'd say it's the worm without the feathers although it does appear that there are small feathers growing back.
<They do this>
I plan to maintain the tank as per usual without further stressing the duster by putting him a quarantine tank. Is this normal? Stress induced?
<I too don't know much/anything re chemical, physical issues twixt Featherdusters and soft corals. And I also would proceed as you're doing. Patiently. Bob Fenner>
Re: Hawaiian Feather Duster vs. Toadstool       3/16/17

I've read conflicting material. They do this as reproduction, and there may be a duster and full crown hiding in my tank with this other crownless critter in the tube?
<These Polychaetes do just cycle out their crowns; regenerate. Might be stress related, hastened...>
Or, it is stress induced reproduction in an attempt to survive? Or, this isn't reproduction and the crown of feathers simply disappeared?
<Often tossed out. Again; the P word. B>

NEED GUIDANCE PLEASE... Read through this and decide... the clues are here   6/3.5/13
Hello WWM Crew,
<Hey Dai>
I have an ongoing issue that cannot be solved from all the opinions given to me by seasoned aquarists. I am at the point of being destitute and I hope you can help me on this. This is my 13 year in salt water keeping and this is what I have now:
1.       210 gallon reef with 30 gallon refugium and 20 gallon sump.
2.       Three 250 watts MHs with four actinic PCs ( 94W each); two XHO LED Reef Bright actinic.
3.       Octopus Skimmer rated for 250 gallon with 6 power heads; Fluval FX5 rated at 260 gallon for mechanical filtration.
4.       Water change is 70 gallons once every 1.5-2 months. Lights changed every six months.
5.       Three flame angles <angels>, one lemon peel, one purple tang, one Majestic angel, one fox face, two paired maroon clowns (just laid some eggs yesterday), one mandarin, one Pajama cardinal, one Hippo Tang, seven damsels, two cleaner and one coral banded shrimp.
6.       Various sizes of candy cane, hammer heads, green star polyps, three clams, two torch corals, one plate coral, pipe organs, toad stools.
<When you lift the lid on this tank, do you detect an odor?>
7.       Once a week, I broadcast feed with brine, Mysis shrimps along with daily green Nori sheets.
8.       Water chemistry is perfect with weekly testing. If anything a faint trace of nitrate is noted. I tested for nitrate, nitrite, ammonia, Ph, AKH, CA, salinity.
<Need values, not opinions>
9.       This tank is 1.5 years old.
<... then how can it be 13 years old?>
10.   I use RO/DI water to top off.
Most of my corals survive for 2-3 months getting really big then die within a week. The latest disaster involved two of my clams died, the candy cane is showing signs of tissue death, the plate coral withered almost overnight and all these looked VERY healthy just a week before.
All exhibit the same pattern of looking healthy then go into quick decline. The only corals that survived are the green stars, pipe organ, toad stool,
<... Sarcophyton/s are the prime suspect here: allelopathy. They're  poisoning the system for their own precedence>
 hammer heads but others just don't make it after 3 months during the past 1.5 years. Again, all died after looking very healthy and they go into quick demise. I was hoping for isolated incidence but after three tries with same outcome I think there is something wrong but I could not put my finger on it.
The CAUSES (as advised by experienced aquarists):
1.       Stray voltage.
<Nah; the other livestock would be malaffected>
2.       Poor quality of salt mix (I use LFS water mix with Instant Ocean).
3.       Toxic materials from the tank construction.
<Not likely>
4.       Toxic air in home.
<See the above>
5.       Chemicals from corals.
<Yes; the most likely>
6.       Water is too clean.
7.       Contaminated food from unknown origin.
8.       Contaminated live rocks from unknown origin.
I am at the point that I am desperate here. I would like to know what the cause(s) are for my corals demise. There is something that caused the death but the odd thing is that they all thrived then died. Last week, my plate got so big that I thought about removing him and the clams opened up so much that I though the flesh will leave the shells.
This week, all are dead!!!!!!!!!!!!
I appreciate any help you can give me. Thanks. Dai Phan
<... see, read on WWM: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/cnidcompppt.htm
and the linked files above. There are a few approaches to lessening the affects of Alcyonacean allelopathy... Bob Fenner>
RE: NEED GUIDANCE PLEASE... reef maint./oh, Cnid. incomp.
Hello Mr. Fenner,
This tank is 1.5 years old but I started salt water keeping since 2000.
This is my latest tank. In my previous 120 gallon, the Kenya tree grew so fast that they are totally out of control.
<... read where you've been referred... re alcyonacean compatibility/allelopathy>
Strangely, in this new tank they are shunted. So from what you tell me, I should ditch Instant Ocean mix and ask for higher quality?
<Not necessarily, no>
 The smell is bad from the dead clam but others don't cause immediate vomiting. There is no smell when the lid is open. I will read up on your diagnosis. Dai
<Real good. BobF>

Leather compatibility  12/9/10
Dear crew,
<Hi Sam>
At this point, as a hopeful first time reef-keeper, I have been thinking hard about which coral would best suit my desires/abilities to maintain them.
<Heee! I remember, and your musings seem all too familiar to me!>
I have so far ruled out Corallimorphs, Montiporas, as well Zoanthids and am currently leaning towards one of the various leather corals. I am housing a year old Long-nosed Hawkfish in my 14gal and plan on moving it into the 28 I have recently received once it has finished cycling (which unfortunately is taking a while as I chose to start from scratch to avoid getting any hair algae or bristle worm Polychaetes into the 28 from the 14).
<28 gallons is far too small for this fish'¦ wants 50 at least http://www.wetwebmedia.com/longnosehawkfish.htm?h= your system really needs to be 3 x bigger>
I was pushed in the direction of a Montipora after ruling out the mushrooms and Zoas, however seeing as they do require higher quality water to survive I have veered away from them, too.
<Montiporas really are beautiful, hardy, forgiving & rewarding corals. My favourite.>
I know the Hawkfish is definitely pushing it as far as size goes, but I am hoping that I can supply enough variety in the 28 to satisfy its needs.
<Space'¦ you are not providing this essential parameter, and no amount of clever aquascaping will help with this>
If not one of the various leather corals, would a sea fan be a wise choice?
<Mmm, no. I would go for a mixture of Corallimorphs & Zoanthids myself in this volume. Most 'leathers' just get far too big, although they can be trimmed, but in a small volume that would impart plenty of toxins to the system>
I am aware that Long-nosed Hawkfish often perch upon them, however I am unsure whether a 750 gph Korallia powerhead in a 28 would be able to mirror the strong current they face properly.
<By my calculations that is 26 times the volume.. should be fine.. my system runs at 19>
I am either going to go for a leather or sea fan as is, (I may or may not swap the Hawkfish for a friend's Ocellaris depending upon how well it does)
<this is a far more suitable fish for this system>
and seeing as I am confident I will be able to supply proper lighting (esp. if they rely upon Zooxanthellae) I think it's going to come down to which is easier to support in a 28 gallon with a 15g sump/refugium.
<The smaller growing softies mentioned would be easier, the leathers next, followed by the fans>
Assuming I am away from the tank for several days and do not have a calcium reactor or any other automatic supplement, would either have a hard time dipping in such elements for that sort of time?
<Are not Scleractinian, so daily maintenance of such will not be necessary>
Again, I apologize if it seems like an obvious answer, but I really feel bad about having anything die under my supervision and am looking for something that isn't so much bulletproof as amateur resistant.
<In that case you should change your Hawkfish out for something more suitable>
Thanks a thousand times,
<No problem Sam>

Colt Coral under attack? Cladiella sp compatibility. 10/8/2010
<Hi Kelly>
Thanks for a great web site. I know I join lots of people around the world who use your site to learn more about this wonderful hobby
<Thank you for the kind words.>
Attached is a photo of my colt coral that seems to be being eaten alive.
Unfortunately the culprit has chosen a week while I am traveling so I am unable to do night time spot checks.
<Of course... it is one of the constants in aquarium keeping.>
I am also unable to ask my brother to move it to my quarantine tank because it seems to have "fused" itself onto a piece of live rock about half way up it's trunk
<Not uncommon.>
My only option is to try and identify the culprit and move it to my quarantine tank until I return in a week
Mine is a 14 month old 250L tank and other inhabitants are (in suspect order)
1 small globe urchin,
1 large pincushion urchin,
<Most urchins are herbivores, but there are some ones that are not reef safe. have a look here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/urchins.htm >
4 peppermint shrimp, <Likely. Peppermint shrimp are NOT reef safe.>
2 hermit crabs (plus any number of hitchhikers). <I never completely trust crabs, but it is unlikely.>
I also have an assortment of small snails plus a turbo snail but I don't think it's them? <I agree.>
On the fish suspect list (again in order) a juvenile Longnose butterfly, <Another distinct possibility
2 clowns, and
1 yellow goby.
Although butterflies have a reputation for nipping I have never seen the butterfly fish worry the
coral in any way except if it is stealing food from them when I target feed the coral
Do you have any suggestions?
<I would remove the shrimp, then watch the butterfly very closely.>
My follow up question is will this much damage to the trunk (caused in less than 5 days) be terminal?
<This is more of a wait and see. If you see signs of it melting down,
remove it ASAP.>

Sarcophyton and Sea Rod 8/23/10
Hi guys!
Love your site. Okay, I've read over the relevant compatibility sections, and I have a pretty good idea what the answer is, but I'm not 100% positive and I would like to be before acquiring an animal. I have a small (maybe 4-5 inch diameter) Sarcophyton. My question is, can I keep a gorgonian in the tank with it?
<Mmm, possibly... depends mostly on the species, specimen selected, your system size, filtration and maintenance>
I'm pretty sure the gorgonian is either a Pseudoplexaura or Muricea. I'm sorry, but my gorgonian identification is not very good, so it could even be a similar-looking gorgonian, but it looks a whole lot like Pseudoplexaura.
<Mmm, as Sea Fans go, not a too-hard to impossible genus for aquarium use>
On to question 2. I live in the Marshall Islands, so I occasionally collect my own corals (no restrictions on collecting out here, which is both good and bad). Anyway, I'm thinking of collecting this gorgonian myself. There are many colonies around, but all I've seen are too large, and anyway, I wouldn't feel comfortable taking an entire colony for ecological reasons, so if that's the only way to collect one, I'll abstain. However, is this genus fraggable?
<Yes it is.>
I have read up on sea rod fragging, but I'm not sure if it would work with this genus or if the fragment would have a reasonable chance of success.
Would it?
<Yes... I would have the frag/s heal for a few weeks in an independent system... slimy... to be avoided in main displays>
If the answer to either is no, I'll leave the gorgonian in nature, and apologies for taking up your time. Once again, thanks for having such a wonderful site and just reading here has helped me many, many times.
<And you, Bob Fenner>

Trouble With Fiji Leather/Nitrate Control 5/21/10
<Hello Jason>
For the last eight months I have been struggling with nitrates in one and a half year old system. I have a 125 gallon display tank and a 30 gallon sump with about 20 gallons of water. I've had nitrates as high as 80+ and I do a 15% to 20% water change each week.
When I started to get concerned, I took the sand out of my refugium and then I took the sand out of my display tank (I only had 3" to 4" of sand in the DI, and I thought it wasn't deep enough and could have been releasing waste due to the high flow in my tank). I have done everything I could think of to remove any sort of dissolved waste in my tank. I even got a bigger skimmer (Reef Octopus Extreme 200) and I run my overflow water through a
filter sock, which I replace every three or four days. I've even been dosing vodka!
<I wouldn't let this problem cause me to drink.:)>
But I still have nitrates between 20 and 40.
<Still too high.>
I lost all my SPS and LPS corals, but my soft corals are doing pretty well. At least, they look nice, but I've noticed that they aren't growing much.
<More tolerable to water conditions than SPS/LPS.>
Even my mushrooms really aren't spreading. I've started to wonder if my large Fiji leather coral could be causing problems.
<Is likely the other way around. Your mushrooms are semi-aggressive if they are near another coral.
They will/can cause other corals to loose tissue, recess, possibly die.
Acroporas for one, will not grow in aquariums with large mushroom populations.
Be sure to leave 5 to 6 inches between the mushrooms and your Leather Coral.>
It has been in my tank for almost a year and is about 10" in diameter when fully open. However, even though it has pretty good polyp extension, it doesn't get bright yellow. Kind of a golden yellow. And the crown doesn't stand up, but lays pretty flat, like a large shitake mushroom.
I have noticed in the past some small holes in the base of the colony, but I never really worried about it. Could this coral be doing something that is keeping my nitrates up?
Right now it isn't in direct water flow, but I do have two Koralia 4 pumps moving water, and a Quiet One 4000 for circulation. I also have 175 watt MH lights over the tank.
BTW, I don't think the tank is too heavily stocked. I have a 5" Foxface, a 5" Yellow tank <Tang>, a 4" Red Sea Sailfin tank <Tang>, two ocellaris clowns and four Chromis. I also have a serpent start <star> and a couple
handfuls of blue-leg hermit crabs and an assortment of snails. I feed a sheet of Nori and some flake food every day, and I feed Mysis and Cyclop-eeze every other day.
<Do rinse all frozen foods through a net before feeding. The waste water is a source of nitrates.>
My other water parameters are pretty good. No ammonia or nitrite and really low phosphate. Ca is 480+, dKH is 9, and Mg is 1200+. SG is 1.025 and pH is between 8.2 and 8.4. Only thing that isn't ideal is that temp fluctuates during the day between 78 and 80 degrees.
<No problem with that.>
Is there anything I should do? I don't have a quarantine tank. Should I find a new home for my coral? Or should I keep looking for the source of nitrates?
<My first action would be to reduce the substrate depth in the display tank to no more than a couple of inches. Deeper sand beds can cause nitrate problems as they age if a healthy population of micro fauna does not exist in the sand bed.
Minimize stirring up the sand bed when doing this, is best to siphon out the sand during your water changes. I would add some Caulerpa in the refugium if you have none, can/will help in removing nutrients from the system.
May also want to read here and related articles/FAQ's found in the header.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm >
Thanks for any help you can offer!
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Would like advice about adding Spaghetti & Lemnalia corals. 5/13/10
Hello WetWebMedia experts! You were very helpful to me back in 2002 when I had questions about setting up my first saltwater tank (a 55 gal FOWLR tank w/a couple damsels). We upgraded to a 240 gal tank in 2006. Your site has been very informative but I find myself stumped again and in need of some advice.
Here is the run down on my tank:
Tank: 240 gal with 4" sand bed and ~150 lbs live rock. Main tank has two drop in 9W Submariner UV lights (they also help w/water circulation behind the rock in the back of the tank) and two Koralia 3 circulation pumps on each side. Tank is plumbed to a 70 gal lighted sump containing two 950 gph Supreme pumps feeding to main tank, an Aqua-C EV180 Skimmer (w/700 gph Supreme pump) and 2 heaters. A Fluval 404 canister filter (containing pre-filter, charcoal & ceramic cylinders) is connected to the sump. We also have an Arctica 1/3 hp chiller.
Lighting: (2) 400W 10,000K Metal Halides, (2) 96W dual 10,000K/460 nm actinic bulbs; (2) dual actinic 420/460 nm bulbs and (2) 48" strips of moonlights (24 LEDs each). These are in a hood with about 8" clearance from the top glass on the tank, 10" fro the water surface.
Fish: 4-Yellowtailed Damsels (one is the first fish we started with back in December 2002; Pair of Ocellaris clowns and a Yellow tang we have had since 2003. Other additions in the last few years include: 8-Green Chromis and a Royal Gramma.
Inverts: A Brittlestar (Ophiomastix venosa) we have had since 2003. Clam (T. crocea), Blue Linckia starfish, a couple fighting conchs, and several blue-legged hermits, Astrea snails, Turbo snails, Nassarius snails, Cerith snails, two Emerald crabs and a Coral banded shrimp.
Corals: 75+ large (at least 3" in diameter and 6 or more inches tall) groups of Waving Hand Xenia sp.; Pom-pom Xenia sp. (25+ at least 3" in diameter); one colony of button polyps (Protopalythoa sp.); 5 big clumps of star polyps Briareium sp. (that I am trying to curtail); small orange Zoanthus sp. & small green Zoanthus sp.; 20+ green Ricordea florida mushrooms; Red (~20) and blue metallic (2) Discosoma; and a couple Rhodactis.
Water parameters: Sp. Gravity = 1.024; Nitrate <10 ppm; Nitrite = 0, Ammonia = 0; temp = 77-79F; Ca = 360 mg/l; Alk = 2.0 meq/l; Iodine = a little less than 0.3 (been slowly bumping it up this week); pH = 8.0. We do 10% water changes every 1-3 months.
Other info: I had two major surgeries in the past 1 ½ years. During that time my hubby (who loves me, but not the tank so much!) kept up on routine tank maintenance but I wasn't able to do much in the way of moving and corralling corals. Because of this my Xenias have gone a little wild and I have some other corals growing too close to each other. I am back in the swing of things now and want to spruce up the tank by adding a little more variety. I want to keep everything as happy and healthy as possible but also would like to add a little more variety if possible. I have attached a photo of the tank. It's little bigger file than the suggested photo size but I lost too much detail with lower resolution photos (I have some other that show more detail if you would like. It would help with my "mystery white stuff" question).
Here are my questions:
1) Do I have too many Xenias? I like the look of them, but I don't want to overwhelm the other corals and my clam. I could "prune" them, let them attach to some rubble and sell to my LFS if I need to thin for everyone's health.
<I would prune these... maybe sell/trade to local stores... else, via Craig's List to other hobbyists>
2) Is my clam in danger being so close to the star polyps and mushrooms?
<Likely it's fine>
He really likes that spot in the tank but his neighbors have grown up close to him. He's been in the tank for 3 months and is growing and getting his color back after a little initial bleaching when I first added him (can see white growth on edges when he "clams up" at night).
3) I have some white spongy stuff growing on the underside of some rocks on the far left hand side of the tank. It's not slimy or filmy and doesn't have an odor. It seems more sponge-like. Is it a sponge or something to be concerned about? (I have better photos of this but didn't want to max out your email).
<Is likely sponge/Poriferan>
4) I want to add two more type of corals but have read mixed info on how wise it would be. There is a large (over 12" tall with a 3" thick stalk) Spaghetti coral (Sinularia flexibis) I would like to purchase & a Lemnalia that is about 3" X 6". What are your thoughts on adding these to my tank?
<Likely will be fine as well>
Would the Spaghetti coral help keep the Xenia in check or do them harm?
<Likely the Xeniids will overcome the Alcyoniid in time>
I have good water flow and replace the charcoal at each water change (OK - just one more question - should I be replacing the charcoal more often?)
<Mmm, nope>
I think that's plenty of questions for now. Hopefully I won't have to bug you for a few years again J. Thanks for you help. Sue W.
<Thanks for sharing Sue. Bob Fenner>

R5: Sand-Sifting Goby (Starved Due To Old Age?), now chatting re Sarcophyton comp.-- 04/12/10
Well, so far the yellow leather has not been a problem.
<<And will likely remain so with proper care and attention>>
I've had it for at least a year or two. I do use carbon as well as a mesh filtration system. I've read that the leathers can be toxic
<<Indeed they are>>
-- especially the large ones.
<<All are toxic; it is their means of defense against predation/encroachment'¦'everything' fights for life/space on the reef. EricR>>

Sarcophyton compatibility -- 11/23/09
Hello again WWM crew.
how are you all doing?
<Fair to middling; thank you for asking... the cloud/shadow of Buddha is upon us for your concern>
I have attached to this message a photo of a young Sarcophyton colony.
<I see this>
I don`t know what species it is but it has done well so far and even seems to growing a second cap from some previously torn issue.
When i first obtained it the animal was not attached to anything but i managed to coax it into attaching itself
to a big old LPS skeleton i got when i obtained my Liverock.
<Hopefully this is securely wedged in place>
My main question pertaining to this animal is with regards to its allelopathy.
So far i have encountered no observable problems in this respect but i am wondering if there are some corals less effected by it then others.
<You are correct>
You see, i was thinking about positioning some Capnella or Paralemnalia near it to
fill out some space in the aquarium but i decided against trying it until
i could get a expert opinion on the matter.
<If all have been living in the same system, even if several hundred gallons, for months, then there will likely be no problem. They have been "conditioned" to each others presence chemically>
I have heard about the Noxious qualities of Sarcophytons and did not want to run any greater risk of a chemical fight before gaining any further insight.
My aquarium is a 14G BioCube. No stony corals, just various soft corals.
<Oh! There will very likely be problems going forward in such a small volume... I would be planning on moving out too large specimens in time, and NOT attempting to cut, "fragment" them and place them back here>
Thank you and Cheers.
<And you, Bob Fenner>

Possible Death of Toadstool Leather kill a Mandarin? 10/11/09
Hi, my name is Elizabeth a tank is custom that I bought already setup over a year ago...so the tank age is over 3 years...it came with a beautiful female Mandarin...I have her eating Mysis and Blood worms...she is very fat and healthy ...since the tank was custom the bottom tank is about 30 gal plenty of rock and there is a upper tank that shares the same filtration that is additional 10 gal ....in the bottom tank there also is Firefish goby and a black percula with the mandarin and in the upper tank a pair of clownfish with a small green target mandarin that also was very fat and always eating frozen foods..the toadstool was in the lower tank and slumped over one day..
I just thought it was taking a break...some of corals I notice look weird for awhile then perk back up,,,,,
but this one did not...then about a week later the Target Mandarin suddenly developed labored breathing and stopped eating that day...so we immediately done a water change..but still did not think about this toadstool maybe dying....and the next morning the target mandarin was dead....its been another week now...and my little girl  mandarin is now breathing very hard and my husband asked me if that toadstool was poisoning the water..
<This is a distinct possibility>
so I done my search and found out I should remove it if its dead...
<Yes... along with a good deal of the water in addition>
its just slumped over..so I removed it anyway and done another water change...she is still alive over night...but breathing is still labored....although I seen her pick at a rock today...she is mostly laying about....swimming some..do you think this could be the problem....
<Yes, and...>
everything seems to be ok chemical wise...PH is a little low...I have worked so hard to keep these well feed....Please Help!!
Thank You
<I would move the laboring Mandarin into the other system, now! Bob Fenner>

Allelopathy --leathers and LPS don't mix 10/09/09
Hey gang I'm at the end of my rope here and cant figure this out. First off I have a 75 gallon tank with a 40 gall. sump / refugium full of blade Caulerpa and Chaeto. I have 75 lbs of live rock, My light is two 250 watt halides and four 65 watt power compact actinics. calc. is round 475, phos is low, nitrates are good and nitrite and ammonia are 0. Salinity is 1.026 and temp is 76. Corals are 1 large toadstool leather,
<There's your problem.>
1 large frogspawn, a large finger leather, a medium Kenya tree coral, a oral with about 7 heads, large matt of star polyps, 2 colonies of zooanthids, a pretty decent xenia population, a Duncan coral, and some large brown hairy mushrooms. Plus various cloves and mushrooms. Here's the problem, it seems like every time I try to keep a fleshy LPS like a bubble coral or a doughnut coral within two days they will not open and expel all of their Zooanthellae. However everything else does great my wellsy brain is huge and my frogspawn is ridiculous big. I just cant figure this out.
<I think you have figured it out, it's chemical warfare. It's not always predictable, but it definitely happens. Some individuals (note I didn't say species or genera) of LPS can do alright with leathers and other softies, some can't. That's just the way it goes sometimes. The "toadstool" leathers are especially noxious.>
I think there's some chemical warfare going on which of these would you suspect is the culprit? Im leaning towards one of the leathers or the xenia.
<The leathers and the mushrooms are usually the "bad guys" here. The Xenia can certainly contribute, but imo, the mushrooms and leathers are usually worse (from my understanding/experience).
Sara M.>

Re: allelopathy --leathers and LPS don't mix 10/09/09 10/15/09
Hey gang im at the end of my rope here and cant figure this out. First off I have a 75 gallon tank with a 40 gall. sump / refugium full of blade Caulerpa and Chaeto. i have 75 lbs of live rock, My light is two 250 watt
halides and four 65 watt power compact actinics. calc. is round 475, phos is low, nitrates are good and nitrite and ammonia are 0. Salinity is 1.026 and temp is 76. Corals are 1 large toadstool leather,
<There's your problem.>
1 large frogspawn, a large finger leather, a medium Kenya tree coral, a giant crocea clam, a large cabbage coral, a large Wellsophyllia brain, trumpet coral with about 7 heads, large matt of star polyps, 2 colonies of
Zoanthids, a pretty decent xenia population, a Duncan coral, and some large brown hairy mushrooms. Plus various cloves and mushrooms. Here's the problem, it seems like every time i try to keep a fleshy LPSs like a bubble coral or a doughnut coral within two days they will not open and expel all of their Zooanthellae. However everything else does great my wellsy brain is huge and my frogspawn is ridiculous big. I just cant figure this out.
<I think you have figured it out, it's chemical warfare. It's not always predictable, but it definitely happens. Some individuals (note I didn't say species or genera) of LPS can do alright with leathers and other
softies, some can't. That's just the way it goes sometimes. The "toadstool" leathers are especially noxious.>
I think there's some chemical warfare going on which of theese would you suspect is the culprit? Im leaning towards one of the leathers or the xenia.
<The leathers and the mushrooms are usually the "bad guys" here. The Xenia can certainly contribute, but imo, the mushrooms and leathers are usually worse (from my understanding/experience).
Sara M.>
Re: allelopathy
So should I ditch all my leathers or just some
<I'd get rid of as many as you can stand to part with... and/or run a lot of activated carbon.
Sara M.>

Large Yellow Leather... Concerns about Allelopathy 9/17/09
I'm not real sure of the exact leather I have (i.e. Fiji) -- but it has grown to about 7" in diameter.
<And it can grow much, much larger if given the opportunity!>
I was told when they get large they often become very toxic and could kill the inhabitants of my tank -- fish included.
<Yes. This is true but not a totally complete picture. Leather are know to exude many different chemical compounds, some of which have a negative impact on other life exposed to these chemicals. This process is called allelopathy. In nature, allelopathy helps this soft coral from becoming "lunch" for many potential predators. It also helps the leather to establish a territory. In a closed marine system, allelopathy can be more problematic. The impact can be greater, because the volume is small and contained. This is where frequent water changes can be helpful, as some of the chemicals are routinely removed from the system. Usually, leathers will become a dominant coral if given the chance in a closed system, because of the high degree of allelopathy. That being said, I have seen leathers several feet across, in closed systems, coexisting with other corals and fish. The potential for problems really begin to get serious if the leather starts to breakdown, i.e. die, in your closed system, where is has the potential to take out many other tank inhabitants on it's race to the end.>
Is this something to worry about?
<Well, it depends. Some animals are more sensitive than others to allelopathy. I would not recommend putting this coral in a tank which you hope to establish with sps corals. But this coral can be kept successful
with fish and other soft corals quite well, particularly if frequent water changes are performed. If you are really concerned you can always frag this coral by trimming off some of the edge. If possible, it is best to do this outside you primary system as this coral will likely have a stress response, producing copious mucus and potentially releasing allelopathic compounds. If you see mucous or tissue sloughing on this coral in your
main system I would syphon off as much as possibly and remove the mucous and sloughing tissue from your system. If you can not remove this coral to frag is I would recommend adding a fresh bag of carbon just prior to the trimming. Once the outside ring is removed, you can dice the ring up to form many new colonies, but definitely do this fragging outside your main system.>

Few questions I need to ask you. Mmm, coralline hlth., allelo twixt spg., Alcy...   3/18/09
Hello Wet Web Crew!!!
Hello, to whom ever I may have the pleasure of speaking with! I haven't written in a while, but I've come across a few things going on weird in my tank. 135gal/tidepool II sump/fuge. Ok now to the weird stuff. All my parameters are spot on,(I calibrate my test eq regularly). I replaced pc & t6 bulbs about 3 months ago. I had coralline growing very nicely on the back wall, then all of a sudden, one day I noticed it was going away and what is left is either turning white or black,
<Not atypical with (just) a change in lighting... Reds/Rhodophytes,
including corallines are favored with lower intensity....>
My standpipes used to be covered in coralline and now they've got a lot of black and very dark green splotches on them. Look almost like that black mold that you get in walls, except this is in my tank.
<Mmm, yes... shows the succession of greens (and BGA likely) where there were corallines>
My toadstool has not been right since I moved it from my old 55 to my 135.
It's polyps don't come out like they used to and the plate part of it never extends further than stem. There is some kind of sponge that is coming out from under the Toadstool and I'm wondering if that's causing it's demise?
<Perhaps... could also be adjusting to the new lighting>
urrent=DSC_3514-1.jpg I've got better pics of it, just can't find them right now. I'll keep looking.
<Mmm... I would move (scrape) this sponge from the Toadstool base, or alternatively (though not as desirable), cut away and move the toadstool from the sponge here>
I used the same lighting system on my 55 as on the 135, just rearranged them in a hood, then added the new bulbs. I have placed the ones in question to levels that seem
<Here's the operative word... Mmm, using a PAR meter might enlighten one here>
comparable with how much light/flow they need. My finger leather was beautiful and growing great in the 55, about the size of a baseball. I put it in the 135 and it shrinks to maybe the size of a good wad of gum.
<Yikes... could be other factors at play though...>
I have frogspawn, 2 torch's, Gorgonia, Pavona coral, pom pom xenia, hairy Shrooms, one FLA Ric and the coral I got last summer from a fraggin demo Anthony did., It's doing ok. http://s202.photobucket.com/albums/aa50/cuttingras/135%20tank/?action=vie
<Uhh, like the above stony corals, Xeniid, Corallimorphs... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/cnidcompppt.htm
and the linked files above...>
Anyway, I know this is a lot of info, so I'm not going to be too needy. I know you guys are all busy so get to it as you can. Thanks and have a great day!!!! Thank YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Linda from Louisville, GA or cuttingras on 3reef.com
<Mmm... read on my friend, read on. Bob Fenner>

I have made the mistake of adding corals before reading about possible compatibility... Cnid. Interactions    2/27/09  Hi crew, I sent this once and it was sent back without a response, so I thought I would just send it again. <Good> I have made the mistake of adding corals before reading about possible compatibility. I have a 75 gallon tank, that I run a Remora Pro, an Emperor 400 full of charcoal, an about 3600 gph worth of flow with the powerheads alone. And i do about a 15 gallon a week water change. My question is about my coral selection. I have multiple mushrooms, daisy polyps, a colt, finger leather, toadstool, cabbage leather and a newly added torch coral. Aside from a few mushrooms, the torch coral is the only coral on the right side of the tank, everything else, is to the left. This is due to never having a LPSs before, and understanding the sweepers can stretch quite far. <The chemicals further...> My biggest question is referring to the leathers. With this small of a tank, do you foresee an issue with the leathers and the newly added LPSs? <Could be, yes> Also from reading, it seems the colt may also prove a threat to the leathers. I'm wondering if with the amount of carbon I run, and with the frequent water changes, do you believe they would be likely to thrive together? <Only experience here can tell...> Otherwise, I will have to get rid of the leathers, which would be unfortunate, since they have taken nicely to the tank, and are now attached to the larger pieces of live rock in my tank. Your advise would be greatly appreciated. Marc <There are a few techniques, tools for reducing such negative Cnidarian interactions... a fave ppt pitch of mine... You can read it here: http://wetwebmedia.com/cnidcompppt.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

My question is about my coral selection. Mixing Cnid.s, reading  2/26/09 Hi crew, <Marc> I have made the mistake of adding corals before reading about possible compatibility. I have a 75 gallon tank, that I run a Remora Pro, an Emperor 400 full of charcoal, an about 3600 gph worth of flow with the powerheads alone. And i do about a 15 gallon a week water change. My question is about my coral selection. <Ok> I have multiple mushrooms, daisy polyps, a colt, finger leather, toadstool, cabbage leather and a newly added torch coral. Aside from a few mushrooms, the torch coral is the only coral on the right side of the tank, everything else, is to the left. This is due to never having a LPS before, and understanding the sweepers can stretch quite far. <And chemicals further> My biggest question is referring to the leathers. With this small of a tank, do you foresee an issue with the leathers and the newly added LPS? <Could be... and all can be discounted with "acclimation" processes...> Also from reading, it seems the colt may also prove a threat to the leathers. I'm wondering if with the amount of carbon I run, and with the frequent water changes, do you believe they would be likely to thrive together? <Only time can/will tell> Otherwise, I will have to get rid of the leathers, which would be unfortunate, since they have taken nicely to the tank, and are now attached to the larger pieces of live rock in my tank. Your advise <advice> would be greatly appreciated. Marc <Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/cnidcompppt.htm and the linked files above... elsewhere on WWM re the families compatibility... Bob Fenner>

Re: More re: Chrysiptera talboti--corals for biotope? 1/16/08 Thank you very much, everyone. I actually did read the article on WWM beforehand, which is what inspired me to get C. talboti, since they were recommended so highly. The article said to allow at least 15 gallons per damsel, so I hoped 6 might be OK. I've provided lots of live rock for hiding places and they seem to be co-existing peacefully so far...I will keep an eye on them for any developing territorial conflicts. <Ah, good... Is a delightful little fish for sure!> Re the Sarcophyton elegans, the specimens I have were fragged from a wild-collected specimen about 6 or 8 months ago. <Ahh! Much better chance for survival than wild-collected> So far they seem to be doing well, at least as far as my inexpert eyes can see--polyps out and they've grown larger--but I will monitor them carefully. If I decide to go with a biotope I'll find them another home, since SPS and Alcyoniidae are probably not a safe mix. <If done... by mixing/introduction... blending water during acclimation/isolation over a period of weeks... starting with small specimens/colonies, widely spaced... the use of GAC, perhaps ozone... can be done> Thanks so much for the information on the C. talboti habitat. That's exactly what I was looking for. Cheers, and enjoy the long weekend! <Thank you. Bob Fenner> "> <<Mmm, I've (RMF) seen them this Chrysiptera sp. many times throughout its range... and wrote a survey article re its use that is posted on WWM... Does live solitarily... principally amongst arborose Pocilloporids and Acropora spp. mostly on shallow reef slopes... I don't think six of these are going to fit comfortably in a s 75 gallon system.>> > > Hi, folks. I've recently acquired six gorgeous little Talbot's damsels and have been looking for information on how to set up my 75G reef tank as a biotope for them. The only problem is, I can't find any specific information on the kind of habitat they're found in. The sources I've consulted say, at the most, that they are found among SPS and LPS corals and "coral-rich areas", but don't say *which* corals those are. > I'm hoping that one of you kind people here has seen C. talboti while diving--in Fiji especially--and can tell me what their habitat looks like. > I've checked Flickr, Photobucket, and YouTube, and done countless image searches, but all the images I can find are close-ups of the fish themselves, without revealing much about their surroundings. I have several nice frags of Sarcophyton elegans in the tank right now; would these be accurate, do you think (I know they're not stony corals)? Thanks for helping a slightly obsessive biotoper with her research! > K. Gabriel"

Soft Coral tank 01/12/09 Hello, I was wondering why some of the my soft Corals shed so much. I have inquired here before regarding my Toadstool and although it is o.k. it seems to want to shed a lot along with another Toadstool I have and my Cabbage Coral. Here is what I have in Corals;2 Toadstools (one Brown, one blond) Green star polyps (growing like crazy), I colony of Brown button polyps (open, but not in full "bloom") 1 Colt coral (always looks good, full and tall), 1 Cabbage coral (on one rock but two colonies, assorted mushrooms (doing well, spreading). I have 4 HO T5 lights, 2 actinic and 2 10,000k plus 2 PowerBrite strips (nice shimmer). Mag = 1280-1320, Calc = 400-420, Alk = 9-10 dKH, Temp = 80 degrees and SG = .025 <Salinity would be better at closer to 1.026.> I guess the two main concerns I have is about the Toadstools and Cabbage, especially the Cabbage. The Cabbage has a pattern of half of it shuts down to shed and the other half looks beautiful then the beautiful bunch closes down and the other bunch finishes shedding and looks great. This goes on CONSTANTLY. It is well over 1 year old and is spreading (but not like I have heard it would) and there is new growth. The Toadstools are shedding every 1-2 weeks. <wow> I inquired earlier about toxins and have added Chemipure elite but that didn't seem to change anything. I have a skimmer in the sump and all parameters are good. What would be your assessment of the constant shedding and any remedy is appreciated. <Interesting... well, leathers tend to shed to rid themselves of external irritants. Do you have any algae or other corals stepping up onto their space? Best, Sara M.>

Re: Soft Coral Tank 01/13/09 No offense Sara but I did not purposely mention that nothing is bothering them as I thought anyone responding would not give such a simplistic answer. Of course, there all type of people and some may overlook a simple thing like crabs walking over them, however that does not explain the constant shedding. I took painstaking effort to describe my issues if someone else could give me a more useful explanation of what may be going on in the tank it would be appreciated. <Good Sir/Madam-- I'm sorry if my answer to your question did not give you enough information. Shedding once every 1 to 2 weeks is just not all that unusual for Toadstool leathers (i.e for Sarcophytons). These leathers just seem to shed more for some reason. Thus, I just don't think you need to worry about the Toadstools. As for the Cabbage coral, it sounds to me like you have two individuals that have grown together and are now "stuck" together, something like "Siamese twins." This might likely explain why they are shedding all the time. One of the corals might be constantly trying to outgrow or shed off the other one. They're stuck together and irritating each other and both trying to shrug/shed off the other, which ends up actually slowing them both down since they're "wasting" so much energy shedding. This explanation is what makes the most sense to me. However, I didn't want to say this was the case until you confirmed for me that there weren't any other obvious irritants. The irritants aren't always things we can see (they can be chemical too). I hope I've given you enough information now. If someone else would like to add to my input here, they are welcome to. Best, Sara M.>

Re: Somethings nibbling my Sarcophyton! Further 5/29/08 Salutations!! <Well received!> I promised Bob a follow up so here it is - it was definitely my Emperor Angelfish. I moved the Rhodactis and it was still happening to the corals, I kept watching them closely and then I caught him in the act nibbling the underside of one!! <Ah ha!> All Sarco's have now been removed and taken to my LFS. I have a lovely Galaxia and some Monti's/ Acro's in quarantine now as replacements - all of the corals in my tank that have small polyps and also the ones that have powerful nematocysts are all doing really well, the fish don't bother them at all, so I am pretty confident that these new ones will be fine as well!! Kindest Regards, Simon, England <Thank you for this update Simon. BobF>

Devils hand leather... comp.  04/15/2008 Hi <<Hello, Andrew this evening>> I currently have a 28gl reef with a Rena FilStar xp2 filter, one Coralife 50/50 90wat pc bulb, and a SeaClone 100 protein skimmer but will soon upgrade to a remora nano, 30/40 pounds of LR and a 3 and a half inch DSB. I have no coral but want to run a soft/stony mix tank, I have picked coral which I am fairly certain will work well together but am unsure of the aggressiveness of devils hand leathers, some sites say they wont cause any trouble and others say that they can kill stonies. Are they aggressive? <<These will require some room between itself and other corals, yes, stony corals, as this will be toxic>> Because of the small size of my tanks if it exudes toxins any other stonies will be effected so I don't wont to keep it if it will harm my other stonies. Can you suggest another leather with similar look, care requirements, size that will not harm stonies? <<I would tend to stay away from this coral with your tank confines and stocking plan as adequate room around the coral would be needed. As an alternative, another suggestion would be Capnella SP. I don't class these as posing a threat to stony corals, however, its presence will be know. Housed these together with success myself>> Thanks <<Thanks for the questions. Hope this helps. A Nixon>>

Sinularia flexibis, hlth./comp.  - 03/18/08 I added a large healthy Sinularia Flexibis (spaghetti coral) from LiveAquaria to a 90g reef tank (other coral inhabitants: brown toadstool mushroom coral (Sarcophyton sp.), green toadstool mushroom, (Sarcophyton sp.), Ricordea mushrooms, other assorted mushrooms, pipe organ coral. While the spaghetti coral is thriving, the soft leathers (Sarcophyton) are not; they have retracted their tentacles and appear 'slimy,' 'flat' and 'collapsed/closed'. <It's probably that you have too many different types of soft corals and leathers in the same tank. Exactly how many is too many? I honestly couldn't tell you. We usually don't find out until something starts suffering.> (I have rearranged so as to modify light and water flow conditions to no avail. They are additionally often covered in the sweeper tentacles that extend from the spaghetti coral at night (Very long webbed strings that can extend half the length of the tank) that have presumably broken off on it. Are such sweeper tentacles deleterious to the health of the (soft) corals <likely so, to some degree or another> - or are my concerns misguided such that I should instead be looking for some other potential problem (everything tests out fine so I am thoroughly perplexed by the change in condition). <These animals produce all kinds of chemicals and toxins, it's often impossible to predict exactly how one coral will affect all others under a given set of circumstances. But generally, this sounds like an allelopathic problem of some sort to me.> Additionally, a change in location of the leathers is not thought possible given the size of the tank and rock wall positioning - and in any event, unless perhaps placed on tank's bottom where lighting may not be sufficient, all locales likely within reach of such long string-like protrusions from the spaghetti (if that is in fact what is causing the disturbance). <This could very well be the case (especially if they are mesenterial filaments).> Note: a frogspawn introduced at same time as spaghetti also died - <LPS corals are thought to be especially vulnerable to leather coral toxins.> although I suspect the butterfly may have picked at it sufficiently (have been conscientious in selecting coral species that would not be harmed by the butterfly - <Good start, but the next step is to think more carefully about selecting corals that will not harm each other. At this point, the only advice I can give you (aside from removing the S. flexibis) is to run a lot of activated carbon.> this was a surprise to me, introduced based upon the advisement of a professional reef-keeper / maintenance person). Thanks! Mike <De nada, Sara M.>

Toadstool problems... Allelopathic Potential 12/04/2007 Hello and thank you for all the great work and support that WWM provides the community! <Hi Josh, Mich here and on behalf of Bob and the rest of the crew you're welcome!> I recently was given a toadstool as a gift from a local reefers tank. <Very nice!> It appeared to be fine for the first week or so and then the polyps stopped opening up. I assumed it was getting ready to slough it's protective layer due to the stress of a new system, transport etc. A day or two later it did shed it's layer, however it still did not open up. <Sometimes it takes some time.> I noticed a bristle worm exit an opening between the base of the stem and the live rock but did not think too much of it at the time since I was under the impression that bristleworms did not eat corals. <The majority do not eat living coral tissue, but most will eat necrotic coral tissue, which may be what this guy was doing.> Should I be concerned about the worm? <It is unlikely that this is a cause and effect situation.> A week later it shed again and now some of the polyps are opening up, <Ahhh, good to hear.> they are not extending as far but it seems everyday that more polyps open and they extend a little farther. <Very good!> The thing that has me concerned now is that there is a brownish crust moving up the stem of the coral. <Perhaps algae?> I can see in parts where it is sloughing off, <You might try to blow off this film with a turkey baster or even direct a powerhead towards this area.> the coral itself is standing erect and I think it has plenty of flow. In fact I moved it once because I thought it had too much flow. I have a Koralia #2 pushing flow around it plus a Maxijet 1200 agitating the water surface above it and the output of my sump is above it also. <OK.> Tank params: 45-gallon reef with a Megaflow 2 sump (bioballs removed). Aquamedic TurboFlotor 1000 inside the sump. I get some nasty black skim material in the collection cup, I empty it 2-3 times a week. <Good.> 36" Nova Extreme T5 lighting Two Maxijet 1200's on a wave maker Koralia #2 Nitrites 0 Ammonia 0 Nitrates 10 PH 8.4 Alk 1.8 <Low, 2.5 - 3.5 meq/L is desirable.> Salinity 1.025 Temp 78.4 deg I had about 45 pounds of live rock and just added another 20 pounds of rock from an old reefers tank that had been sitting in his garage for two years ( I soaked the rocks for several days before adding). All the other corals are doing great (xenia, shrooms, Colt leather, frogspawn, Kenya trees, Favia moon, Zoanthids, Cabbage leather, and some GSP. <Holy allelopathy Batman! You have some big players in the games of chemical warfare! Hope you running carbon and changing it frequently! More here: http://www.reefkeepingfever.com/article1.htm > I have some hermits and snails along with three peppermint shrimp that devastated the Aiptasia! <YAY!> For fish I have a six-line wrasse, <OK.> flame Hawkfish, <And you still have shrimp, hermit crabs and snail? Not likely for long! More here: http://www.fishprofiles.com/files/profiles/682.htm > and a blue lined Midas Blenny. <OK.> Should I just give it some more time I cannot find pics of toadstools with that brown stuff on the stalk, however it does not feel necrotic, although I guess I am not sure what it feels like, but the stalk is firm not mushy. <Doesn't sound necrotic to me.> Thanks so much in advance! <Welcome! Mich> Josh

Unintentionally Kill New Finger Leather? Corallimorph incomp. in an established sys.    8/30/07 WWM Crew- <Part> Thank you for everything you guys do - you are a great resource for many aquarists. <Welcome> I've had my 75 gallon tank for about 10 years. I started off with fish-only and in the last five years it's been a modest "reef." The tank contains the following fish: flame angel, maroon clown pair, yellow tailed damsel and another yellow colored damsel - all have bee alive for over three years. I have the following corals: toadstool leather, many mushrooms, clove polyps, button polyps and a small colt coral. All inhabitants are doing fine <Acclimated... used to each other...> and I've had them all (except the colt that I bought a few weeks ago) for several years. I've fragged my toadstool several times (great fun) and my mushrooms have grown from 5 to over 30! I rarely buy new things for the tank and just enjoy watching things grow. I also only buy hardy organisms that I'm sure I can handle with great success. <Good technique, focus, attitude> I've always wanted a finger leather and I've heard that they are very hardy. <Can be...> I purchased a finger leather on Aug 27th. During the 28th it opened about half way - it was looking okay. For some reason I decided to clean the tank a little (?!?!?) - I removed some algae, gravel vacuumed the bottom, and replaced about 15 gallons of water. I also fragged my toadstool again - it was just too huge - at least 10" tall! All of my corals are quite hardy (haven't died on me yet!) and a cleaning rarely causes any problems. However, I should have taken into consideration the stress of the new finger leather. The coral has really shrunk and hasn't opened up at all as of late Aug 29th. There are areas on it that contain dark gray/blue areas - I hope it is not decaying!. <Appears to be on its way...> I've also noticed it giving off small squirts of some slimy substance. The coral also seems to be removing itself from the rock it's attached to - not completely, it is still somewhat attached. I hate to waste money and I definitely don't like causing a coral to die. I've attached several pictures - does it need help, is there anyway I can save him? Please help. <Mmm, Daryl... I espy a Mushroom in the vicinity of this soft coral... This is very likely a simple case of allelopathy... need to be separated space-wise, perhaps the use of activated carbon... All covered here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/shroomcompfaqs.htm Bob Fenner>

Re: Unintentionally Kill New Finger Leather? Shroom incomp.  11/23/07 Hello again, WWM! <Daryl> Unfortunately, the finger leather coral we chatted about earlier didn't make it. However, I now know about the seriousness of allelopathy! <Ah, good> Now, I would like to add a new coral or two to my established tank. However, I still have mushrooms everywhere! Do I have to remove these mushrooms to have any chance of successfully introducing a new coral? <Mmm, there are techniques for gradually/getting used to such established settings... in another tank... with some water moved from the existing... perhaps a few of the Corallimorphs...> The mushrooms are everywhere, like I said. Do you have any suggestions as to how I can move these mushrooms to several loose rocks so I can sell/give some of them away? <Mmm, likely the existing rock can be cut/broken... with polyps on parts... or a chisel type tool can be employed to sheer part of the rock and bases off...> After looking in the tank, there has to be at least 50 2-3" mushrooms in this 75 gal tank! Also, I've successfully fragged two more heads from my toadstool leather. One of them is nearly 3" tall after only a couple months! Perhaps I should see if the local LFS would like some mushrooms and a toadstool for some new coral?!? <A very good idea. BobF>
Thanks for all your help!


Re: Corals... or what have you... Alcyoniid allelopathy... more reading   10/25/07 "I have a 55 gallon reef tank with a 22 gallon fuge, Remora Protein skimmer, 2 power heads hooked to a wavemaker, 100Ibs of live rock. Tank has 4 fish-crabs, snails, 1 coral banded shrimp, and a cucumber. Corals include 1 open brain coral, 1 candy cane coral, 1 zoo, 2 colonies of mushrooms, and 1 leather coral. Lights are 260 watt power compacts which run 10 hours on daylight and 12 hours on actinic. I test for Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate-all read OPM. PH, Calcium, ALK, Gravity, all within parameters. I dose 1 gallon of Lime water daily for evaporation. The tank has been up for 3 years. I do 5 gallon water changes weekly, using ro purified water. All fish and inverts are thriving. Coralline algae spreading like crazy. The problem is the last 4 months there has been a slow decline in coral health. My brain which I fed every other day will no longer open up or feed. 1 colony of mushrooms are shriveled up. The zoos look dull and not fully expanded also. My candy cane coral-leather and other mushroom colony look healthy but have only been in my tank for around 4 months. I do not add trace elements or any other additive other then the lime water and weekly water changes, using instant ocean salt. Any suggestions would be appreciated. .... and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>" Thank you much for the excellent advice. I have removed the Sarcophyton and did 5 gallon water changes every day for a week. After two months my zoos and mushrooms look 100% better. Everything in my tank is doing great except for my Brain coral. It hasn't improved but hasn't gotten worse either. It is pale and won't open up. About once a week before the lights come on it will swell to triple in size. I attempt to feed it but it's not to eager to accept. Is there anything I can be doing to save this coral? Thanks again for everything. <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/trachydisfaq2.htm and the linked files above. BobF>

Sinularia toxicity 10/21/07 Hi guys. Thanks for your time. I have a large Sinularia coral (approx. 9x9" height and diameter). I would like to know if this would be compatible with a Medusa coral. I have researched this in length, but due to the variety of Sinularia I can't find a specific answer. <If by Medusa coral you mean a Sphaerella sp. leather coral, then yes, I think it would be fine. You might be having trouble finding a definitive answer because coral allelopathy is hardly well understood even among the scientists who study it. What we are fairly sure of is that Sinularia sp. are toxic to many larger polyped stony corals (and possibly all stony corals to some extent or another). However, I don't know of any reason to be too concerned that leather corals are significantly toxic too each other.> As I understand it, Sinularia may stunt the growth of stony corals if it is predominant in the tank. <Yes, and sometimes even if it is not predominant.> Am I correct in thinking that if the two different corals are sited as far apart as possible, there would be little risk of the Medusa dying? <When it comes to allelopathy, distance doesn't always make a difference. This is chemical warfare. Since the toxic terpenoids are broadly released into the water, if the coral is toxic enough, sometimes even having it in a separate (but connected) tank still creates a problem. That said, the toxins will likely be the worst and most concentrated within the close vicinity of the toxic coral. Thus, in some cases, keeping the corals far apart can help (running activated carbon also helps). In any case, I don't think you have to worry about the Sinularia sp. hurting another leather coral in this way. The following links might have some additional useful information: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/alcyoncompfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/alcyonselfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/softcrlsysfaqs.htm> I have only soft corals, polyps and mushrooms in my tank, so I have no practical experience of this. However, I am also aware that Sinularia can grow quickly in the right conditions. I would hate to lose a stony coral out of ignorance! <A stony coral? Hmmm, I'm sorry I'm not familiar with any stony coral with the common name "medusa coral." But if you're thinking of putting any LPS stony coral in with a Sinularia sp., please think twice. It's usually not worth the risk. Even if the stony coral doesn't die, it may suffer in other ways.> Thanks again. Abi <De nada, Sara M.>

Cynarina incompatible with Sarcophytons? Likely so  10/16/07 Hello! And thanks in advance. <Welcome> Four months ago I added a Scolymia and two Cynarina to an established 75 gallon tank. 360 watts compact fluorescent, water good except for a tendency of Ca to fall to around 350, KH sometimes down a bit also. I have torches, shrooms, a pearl, Montipora, octocorals, <Of what sort, species?> frogspawns, all of which have been doing great. I feed the corals live brine shrimp and raw shrimp with Selcon once a week or every 10 days. Also have two Sarcophytons. <Mmmm> The Scolymia is doing fine, however, the Cynarina have slowly been going downhill for at least two months now. Both the Scolymia and cyans are in the same part of the tank, same current & light and not close to any other corals, so I'm starting to really wonder what might be going on. The only thing I can think of is the water quality (which I've been working on) or perhaps not enough feeding, but it seems that Scolymia would be suffering also. <Not necessarily, no> Eric Borneman mentions in passing in one of his books that there's some anecdotal reports that Cynarina and leathers are incompatible, with the cyans getting the worst of the deal. Do you if there's any truth to that? <Yes> I used to have some xenias which did well for a year, but then cashed in the chips when I got a leather. I've seen been told that xenias can't deal with leathers, which I can well believe.... Thanks, Mark <Am going to make this theme... cnidarian allelopathy... methods of reducing, avoiding, my "pitch" topic for 08's club get togethers. Alcyoniids of this genus are trouble in small/er systems... Large water changes, the use of GAC, better skimming... might help here... but if the Sarcophytons are large... they are very likely producing enough terpenoids to poison Cynarina. Bob Fenner>

Re: Chromis Compatibility   9/4/07 Good day Bob and Crew, Thank you very much for taking the time to respond to my e-mail. <Am glad to share with you Mike> (wouldn't you know, I just found my original Blood shrimp K.O.'d lying on the sand. Dead shrimp #2. I think I might need to find a new home for that $%^&* Hawkfish, however, this is not the reason for this e-mail) <Cirrhitids and shrimps do not mix> As you have put my mind at ease regarding my original question / concern, you have put another question in my mind with one of your remarks, which I know by now you do not make without reason. When I mentioned that I had "a few Leathers", you wrote "<Mmm... Alcyoniids are large producers of biologically important molecules...>" <Yes... sorry for the interjections... from lingua Latina meaning to throw in-between> I have, according to my LFS, two different "Finger Leathers" (although if one is a "Finger" leather, the other should be called a "Hand" leather), and I have an Umbrella. <What is this last?> I did some searching on-line to try to figure out what you meant by your remark, however, I think I might still be missing the point. Would you mind explaining the significance of that remark, or perhaps, point me in the right direction? I would like to make sure I understand it correctly. Thank you Mike <I do apologize for the lack of completion, clarity. I am/was referring to this family of soft corals (Alcyonaceans) propensity for production of mostly terpenoids... and their capacity for mal-affecting the behavior and physiology of mostly other cnidarians. Please read here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/alcyoncompfaqs.htm Bob Fenner>

Toadstool Trouble...Another Case Of Allelopathy - 05/17/07 I read through your articles regarding troubled Toadstool leathers and have found some that look like they might be what are happening with mine, but I am not sure without seeing any of the pictures.  I had bought one the was purple in color that stood about six inches high and roughly four inches across when fully opened. <<Nice>> For the first several weeks everything was fine, but all of a sudden two weeks ago, it shriveled up, kinked in the middle at about a 90 degree angle, white stuff formed on the crown and the sides of the stalk which are peeling almost like a sunburn does. <<Mmm, very bad signs...and likely the result of allelopathy>> And now, today, I noticed brown splotches forming all over it.  I have noted that there were a few whispy, almost spider silk...I don't know, I guess I could call them tendrils extending from the crown--I saw 2, to be exact that sounded similar to what was described in one of the FAQs.  I have checked my water quality and have confirmed that all is within the range it should be (nitrate, nitrite, pH, hardness, alkalinity, salinity, ammonia, phosphate) and change my water weekly (15 gallons in a 46 gallon setup). <<Ah, but the problem here is not what you can measure, but what you can't...that nasty mix of noxious chemicals/toxins/poisons/stinging cells exuded and expelled by most all sessile organisms, and a few motile ones, in the ever present struggle for life and space to grow and reproduce on the reef>> I have not seen my clowns harassing it, but they are seeming to like nesting in my Cauliflower Colt Coral on the opposite end of the tank, down flow from the leather. <<"Down flow" or not means nothing really..."everything is affecting everything" in the tank, you can be certain of that>> The other corals in my tank are Fox Coral, Flowerpot, Pink Clove Polyps, 2 Bulb Anemones, <<These are real trouble in a small "garden mix" system>> as well as a final soft coral I cannot remember the name of, but have included a picture. <<I see it...it is a very nice specimen of Plerogyra sinuosa, or Bubble Coral...and is capable of doing considerable damage to its neighbors with its powerful sweeper tentacles>> I have also included what the leather looked like before as well as how it looks now. <<Mmm...definitely on the decline>> I have a dual daylight/actinic setup (96 watts each) and have good water flow from a powerhead, which I made sure to position the leather near. <<Do make sure the powerhead is not blasting the leather coral directly>> This change happened all of a sudden and I am not quite sure what it could be.  Please help me. <<I am fairly certain the Toadstool's demise is attributable to the largely incompatible mix of organisms in your tank.  The "garden variety" mix of reef organisms is a very popular "style" of reef system in the hobby.  But these systems have a fragile balance that is easily upset, and rarely maintained for the long-term>> Thank you so much! Scott Jones Riverside, CA <<A pleasure to assist.  Eric Russell...Columbia, SC>>

Sinularia vs. Tridacna Clam   4/1/07 Hi, <Hello.> Have you ever known of a sinularia to bother any type of clams??? <No However I would be sure that the growth of the sinularia does not impede upon the direct source of light needs by the Tridacna, and that the sinularia does not come into direct contact with the clam...which would keep the mantle from properly extending.> I know to keep it away from most LPSs, but am curious if it can or will hurt a clam. <See above.> Thanks <Of course.> Barbara
<Adam J.> 

Mushroom Leather Problem? comp. beh. 2/18/07 <Hi, Rob. GrahamT here.> I've had 2 mushroom leather coral in my 90gal tank for about a month now. They seem to have been doing fine until I introduced a Condylactis anemone the other day. <Hmm...> Their polyps have been retracted.   They had some brown/green slime on their stems until I removed it per posts seen on your site. Now they have tiny white spots on their "heads". One is leaning over badly. So far I've responded by adding carbon to the tank, directing one of the Megaflow's jets at it, and making sure my skimmer is working the best it can. I can rub off the spots, but did so only to check. Should I get them all off? <Are they slime or tissue?> The coral is on a rock structure toward the middle of the tank and the anemone is on the gravel at the bottom. He greedily eats food, <Don't overdo this. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/condyfdgfaq.htm > but he's kinda hiding next to the rock structure with the coral on it. <Condys can really stretch out, in addition to being adepts at allelopathy. I do have a client that insists on housing a Condy with his softies, and he has no problems at all. Sometimes, Sarcophytons will not extend polyps for long periods, but the timing here is a factor that concerns me. Carbon will help, the skimming will help a lot, too. If you can move them away from each other, this will help too. Don't forget that Alcyoniids in general look pretty dismal before a shed. ( http://www.wetwebmedia.com/alcyonbehfaqs.htm ) > My water quality has tested good <well, not good ;) >, Ammonia, Nitrate, Nitrite are below   my test kit's ability to measure, PH 8.3, Alkalinity high <High?>, SG 1.024.   I suspect a Phosphate issue (I don't have a test kit), however because I've been getting lots of green hair algae. <Phosphates alone would not cause discomfort as observed. They are also unlikely to be the sole food for your hair-algae. I would consider that the algae are simply utilizing nitrates faster than they can register on a test kit. I would get another nitrate test kit for a second opinion, however...> I added a phosphate/silicate absorber and bought a reverse osmosis setup yesterday to provide higher quality water changes (I've just been using my on tap filter up until now). <Good for you! You will love the stability this brings!> I've been pulling it out as fast as I can and am hoping the better quality water changes will help. <Will not hurt.> Thanks for the help! <Welcome!> PS I kinda think it's the anemone, but two other things have happened recently: A button polyp coral somehow appeared on a piece of live rock close to the mushroom leather, and my blue stripe tomato clown (huge) took a few nips at the mushroom leathers, knocking their small piece of live rock down off the structure. I responded by attaching the piece with a rubber band so it wouldn't fall. They appeared uninjured, though startled, and i haven't noticed him bothering the coral since then (a week or two). <Now that you mention it, that *MIGHT* have an affect on your Sarco.! Sheesh.> I'm including a photo so you can see exactly what I'm talking about.   Not very sharp, but best I could do. the other one has worse spots and is leaning over. <Give this time, don't hesitate to remove any dusty deposits on the skin, but don't worry yet. As for the anemone, you may not have any problems here, if you can keep 5-ish inches between the individuals. -GrahamT>

Zoanthids, Leathers, allelopathy - 1/22/07 Hey you guys are amazing. <Thank you for this, Kyle. Is greatly appreciated.> My Question is about Zoas. My 30-gallon tank has been running for about 3 years and I just started coral maybe 3 months ago. <Ok> I just started slowly with 2 small Acro frags and a small colony of green Zoas. <Acroporids are typically considered among the harder to care for, especially for coral beginners.> Everything was thriving the zoas looked amazing. I since purchased 2 more colonies of zoas and some leather. now its been 2 weeks and none of the Zoas will come out. <Allelopathy from your leathers, too likely. Most leathers are quite noxious. Have a look here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/alcyoniids.htm and the linked files above.> They just stay tightened up all day. I have a 15 gallon sump, 250W Metal halide lights, and a run of the mill protein skimmer. My tanks stats are 8.4 PH, 310 cal (I know its low but I have been adding in Kents calcium increaser 3 times a week and I can't get it to move). <You don't mention your alkalinity measurement here. Your calcium usage may be as high as you see, or it could be that threes a mild imbalance here. Read through here for more information: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm > I use R.O water and nothing has changed sense I have put in the new coral. I am just wondering if this new coral could affect my exciting coral. If so ill just remove the new Zoas because the older ones are much nicer? Thanks VERY MUCH Kyle Banks <Well, Kyle, zoanthids have been known to compete with each other on occasion as well, though when this is the case, it is typified by the winner being open and vibrant typically. I do believe your leathers are the cause here. -JustinN> Clams and Alcyoniids   1/16/07 Hey again guys. I have a question about Tridacnid and Alcyoniid  compatibility. I've heard that allelopathy between Scleractinians and Alcyoniids can be really nasty with the stonies usually losing out and growing slower, but would the same happen with a clam? <Not that I'm aware of... they're sometimes found immediately adjacent in the wild> They are sort of "stony." <Mmmm, these corals? Not so much... ones a Hex, the other an Octo-corallian...> I know the clam can't fight back the same way stonies can, but would the presence of, say, a toadstool leather end up badly for a clam? thanks for the help. <All else being semi-equal (wonder where I'm getting this from...) I don't think there's reason for concern here... Good maintenance, enough lighting and food for all... should save the day. BobF>

Maroon Clown Hosting to a Toadstool?  12/12/06 <Greetings!  Mich with you this evening.> Is this possible?  I guess anything is possible, but I don't know if my clown is trying to host or just being annoying.   <Yes, tis possible.> The clown previously hosted in a Condi at the LFS, that is what I was told when I bought him.  I brought him home and he is first one in the tank (70gal SW Reef w/100lbs LR and 80lbs LS and CC). He was in there by himself for about a month then we added a lawnmower blenny and a dragon goby, he did fine with them.  Then we added a yellow tang and a sailfin tang. <The Yellow Tang (Zebrasoma flavescens) should be OK in your tank, but the long term the Sailfin (Zebrasoma veliferum) can get over a foot long.> Everybody was happy for about 2 weeks and then now the clown is getting in the middle of the toadstool (while it is open) and shaking his tail in there like crazy, of course then the toadstool is closing up.  Since yesterday the clown seemed to be guarding the outside of the toadstool but didn't go in it, just shaking his tail in the sand near it. Is this hosting behavior and do we need to see how the Toadstool takes it or get one of them out of there quick?   <Yes this is hosting behavior.  Keep an eye on the Toadstool, and see how it does.  It may accept the behavior with time.  But if it stops opening all together or starts withering away, it is time to take action.  In the meantime, enjoy the process.> Please help, thanks. GG <Hope that helps.  -Mich>

Problem with Metallic Green Star Polyps!!!   10/1/06 WWM Crew,   <Tristan> I have encountered a few problems with my star polyps and I was wondering if you could help by providing me with some advice.  I recently (2 months ago) added a rock of some metallic green star polyps to my aquarium.  For the first 6 weeks, all was great.  The individual polyps all fully extended and waved freely in the water column - I even noticed the polyp colony expanding onto the nearby rock.  They certainly looked healthy. Then I decided to introduce some white finger leather <Here it is> and mushrooms.  Since their introduction (2 weeks ago) the polyps now all fail to extend.  I have read your site and acted on the advice you have given others. I have checked the water parameters, which appear fine, I have blasted a powerhead over the polyps (to clear of diatom algae), I have varied the polyps position in the tank.  However, the polyps still appear to hide.  I don't have any fish - just a 55 gallon aquarium 1/3 filled with live rock and some soft corals (rock of mushrooms, finger leather, toadstool). Do you have any idea what the problem could be?  Any help would be much appreciated.   All the best, Tristan <Allelopathy in a word. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/alcyoncompfaqs.htm and the linked files above... there are a few things one can do to lessen the effects... most extremely separating these incompatible cnidarians. Bob Fenner> Deteriorating Toadstool...Noxious Corals in a Nano Tank - 09/14/06 Good afternoon Crew! <<Morning here...Hello!>> Hope you're enjoying this beautiful fall afternoon!  I'm writing today with a concern about my toadstool leather.  I've attached a previous email that describes my set up. <<Thanks for the background info>> Everything is the same, except I've finally conquered the hair algae battle!! :-) <<Yay!>> I didn't think that the day would ever come! <<Can/does usually take time...and perseverance>> My concern is this.  About 2 weeks ago, the leather shed its waxy coating as normal.  (It usually does this about once every 5-7 days.)  Then the day after it shed, the tentacles retracted and it shed again the next day.  Then it repeated this again 2 days later. <<Mmm...would seem something has gotten in to the water and is irritating the toadstool.  Any new livestock additions?>> Since then (it has been about 5 days now, the tentacles are still retracted. <<That's not a good sign>> And I've noticed a difference in the texture of the coral.  The coral used to have slightly concave areas where the tentacles retract into.  Now the areas are convex (like little bumps) and very white instead of being the same shade as the rest of the coral.  I have also noticed that the entire coral has changed a bit in color.  It is now slightly grayish. <<Another "not good" sign>> I've done 2 large water changes (each about 25%) over the last several days & I've changed my Chemi-Pure out for a new batch thinking maybe a bit of allelopathy was to blame here. <<Indeed...but have you also done tests for all the "usual" culprits? (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate)>> But none of the other corals seem to be suffering any. <<Maybe just "not yet">> My zoas are fully open & the xenia is pulsing away as always. <<Hmm, how "close" are these zoanthids to the toadstool?>> One other thing, the stalk seems to have developed a "crease" and is a bit folded over. <<Yes...the coral is declining and starting to collapse>> I'm wondering if I need to frag below the crease & hope that it regenerates itself, or do I do nothing and hope for the best? <<Any "fragging" would need to be done from the "crown" for much hope in propagating/saving a piece of this coral (but you could try if you wish).  Might be best to observe/remove if the deterioration worsens>> If I need to frag it back, that presents yet another problem.  It has attached itself to several large rocks which are all epoxied together. <<Possibly a moot point here>> I'm not sure if I can remove it?!  Otherwise I would have quarantined it by now.  (I have photos but they don't seem to go through when I try to email them.  I think that the firewall on my server chucks these out.) Thanks in advance for your input. -Jaime <<Keep an eye on the toadstool and remove immediately if it worsens/starts to "come apart" to preclude further poisoning of your system.  I also suggest you try to determine the core reason for this incident...do water tests, review your stock placement/density//compatibility, etc.  I truly suspect the fact this is a 12g "nano" system stocked with noxious soft corals is the reason for your troubles.  Regards, EricR>>

Green Star Polyps touching large leather  8/25/06 Good morning crew, < Good morning! > Thanks for a great website. < Bob and the crew do a wonderful job, don't they? > Just a quick question. I have a 75 gallon reef tank doing really well. A colony of Green Star Polyps has grown enough to come in contact with the trunk of a large leather coral. Is this cause for concern? < Not a serious threat, yet. > Will the leather suffer from this contact? < Eventually, the star polyp may encroach to the point of becoming a bother. You may want to place small pieces of rock on or around the star polyp, then remove the fragments as they get too close. > There is no contact with the crown, only the trunk. < While it stays on the trunk, the star polyp will try to overpower the leather, try to remove all edges that are in contact. It is not a real issue yet, but if left unchecked, it may become one soon! > Thanks for your help... < Anytime, RichardB > Ralph

Coral Toxicity/Mixed Reefs - 08/01/06 Hello to all. <<Good Morning>> It's been a while since I bothered the crew with a question, but here I am again. <<No bother...is why we are here>> I am somewhat puzzled by issues relating to the toxicity of leathers to other corals in the tank. <<Nothing to be puzzled about...leather corals (Alcyoniids) are some of the most noxious organisms on the reef>> As I understand it, Sinularia is the culprit (or just main culprit?) here. <<Not limited to just this species, most all leather corals should be considered>> Is it correct to assume that Sarcophyton does not cause the same harm? <<No...is also an Alcyoniid>> Are stony corals the only type potentially harmed? <<No again...cnidarians may possibly be more easily affected/less resistant to the chemical poisoning, but leather corals can and do affect/kill other leather corals>> And are all stony corals potentially harmed or just certain ones? <<Potentially all>> We have a 40 gal. reef tank, and have both of the mentioned leathers.  We also have a bubble coral, a torch, and a button coral, along with other polyps and various mushrooms. <<Don't discount the potential for harm from the mushrooms and polyp corals.  Corallimorphs are right up there with the nastiest leather corals in terms of toxicity/ability to "burn" stony corals.  And if the "polyps" are Palythoa, they pose certain hazard to not only the corals but also to the aquarist (try a Google search on the keyword 'Palytoxin')>> We do a 4 gal. water change weekly and water parameters are fine. <<Ah yes, the frequent (weekly) water changes are a good method for diluting the chemicals released by the corals.  Supplemental chemical filtration in the form of carbon and/or Poly-Filter will also help>> Within the tank the leathers are not close to the stony corals, but obviously, it's a small tank. <<They know they are there, yes.  Anthony Calfo recommends a minimum spacing of about 10" between corals, and even then "pruning" will likely be required as the corals grow.  But even then, allelopathy (chemical warfare on the reef) is being waged>> Even with the frequency of the water changes, is it just not possible to keep everybody healthy? <<Mmm, can be done.  How successful you'll be depends on your stocking density and your attention to good husbandry/maintenance>> I wish we had been more aware of this issue before setting up the tank, but we understood (more accurately, misunderstood) the problem to be more one of providing adequate space between the corals within the tank. <<Indeed...the challenges of keeping a "mixed garden variety" type reef tank.  Much better in my opinion for aquarists to  choose a particular niche on the reef to replicate...keeping specimens of a particular species, or family of corals even, greatly increases chances for "long term" success>> If we were doing it over now, we would specialize in a tank this small.  In any event, now that we have what we have, is it possible for everything to thrive if we're conscientious about frequency of water changes? <<For a time, but the leather corals will rapidly outgrow/outpace the stony corals.  You might be able to keep things in check by pruning back the leathers, but eventually you may decide it's time to "specialize">> Thanks so much for any input/thoughts.  This site is so unbelievably helpful. Laura <<Happy to assist. Regards, EricR>>

Re: Coral Toxicity/Mixed Reefs II - 08/01/06 Thanks so much for the response and the information, Eric. <<My pleasure Laura>> As answers often do, these prompt more questions. <<Indeed...please proceed>> Are you saying that mushrooms burn stony corals? <<I am...very aggressive.  Mushrooms have the capacity to spread among/over stony corals, eventually killing them>> I have a button coral right by some red and green fluorescent mushrooms (Actinodiscus), for instance - thinking I was putting them someplace safe, well away from the leathers.  Sigh. <<You're not alone in this belief.  Many hobbyists seem to be under the illusion that these organisms are "benign"...not the case.  Couple their innocuous appearance (small single body mass, lack of apparent stinging tentacles) with the fact they are "pushed" in the hobby as "starter" corals for new marine aquarists, and you have a formula for disaster in many cases.  I have seen tanks where these organisms literally "took over"...much like an invasive terrestrial plant...though be aware, this behavior is not limited to corallimorphs.  I advise you to "make some space" around the mushrooms, and if necessary, take measures to control their spread>> As for the polyps, I have just starburst polyps, Pachyclavularia. <<Ah...thank you for the clarification..."polyps" can be many things>> I did the Google search you suggested for palytoxin, but not sure which species are included in Palythoa. <<Often sold under the common name "Button Polyps"...mostly green or brown varieties.  Sometimes even mislabeled as "zooanthids">> Any further guidance - say, to just getting a bowl and a goldfish? <<Ha!  Not necessary my friend (and actually, that brings up another misnomer/problem in the hobby...but that's for a different category).  No need to be "frightened" from keeping these magnificent organisms, just understand (learn) what they are about.  Most everything on the reef is fighting for a spot/room to propagate, and most all have developed methods/very formidable weapons to accomplish this.  Putting these animals in the confines of a closed system serves to multiply the issues of toxicity and aggression...but can be successfully dealt with where forethought to their care/requirements/compatibility is given.  I am an advocate of biotope or species specific systems...but many, many hobbyists have systems just as yours and honestly, they can be/are quite beautiful when the correct "balance" is struck>> Laura <<Be chatting.  EricR>>

Re: Leathers, allelopathy in general  6/27/06 Bob, <Scott> For our type of system what sort of regime would you recommend to combat said allelopathy?  I'm not a huge fan of carbon because I can't tell when it's cashed.  Would running PolyFilters or Purigen on them constantly be sufficient? <Mmm, not really... or more accurately, not to my satisfaction. How to start here... Best to have very large (how big?) systems, begin with small colonies, cuttings, of "less noxious" species, groups, and have "grow up together"... being diligent re water changes, cleaning skimmer/s... other aspects of maintenance... and settle on not adding much at later dates...> Is there a way to scientifically or approximately determine the toxicity of a particular coral? <Very good questions... as gauged by my inability to proffer reasonable, complete responses... There are some groups... e.g. Zoanthids... that are near the top of such a "toxicity scale"... and a further example, amongst corals, Oculinids (e.g. Galaxea), Catalaphyllia which are "high" on such a rating... but no "ReDox" or KH/KOH scale equivalent as far as I'm aware. Perhaps someone will chime in seeing this posted... Maybe you could/would query Eric Borneman, Anthony Calfo re...>   It all seems so vague, makes it difficult to sell and stock appropriately. <I concur> Sure I can read that a coral is "mildly toxic" or "extremely toxic" - but what does that really mean to me - or the person who wants to buy it and is wondering if it will go well with their other corals? <Wish I could refer folks to more science here. Biotopic approaches with organisms collected "with" as in "right there" would be ideal (this is not likely to happen in any short while)... Keeping "all softies", "no anemones", "SPS" only... is one approach... Being careful to introduce only one or a few small pieces/colonies at a time, after isolating/quarantining them, perhaps mixing water twixt their systems is of advantage...> When you have a Trigger that runs over and bites a Clownfish in half it's easy to learn from that and say "Well gosh, guess we won't do that again".  It's not so easy when it's some random mushroom rock oozing out a bunch of toxins to take out some random leather in the tank below.  Do you have any suggestions for getting a better grasp of different levels of allelopathy? Scott <I strongly suspect there is more known re these issues... in the scientific press... Or a fount of possibilities for an erstwhile investigator/writer to pursue. Bob Fenner> Cabbage leather out of control  - 05/13/2006 I recently bought a cabbage leather who is doing well otherwise, however it seems to have killed 1 hermit and 1 snail (I find them dead on the cabbage itself).  Do I need to get rid of it? (I don't want to, but will) I did search found to be semi-aggressive (towards other coral), but nothing relating to hermits/snails...please help. Thank you as always...Colleen <<Colleen:  Corals don't normally kill crabs or snails because they are not in competition with them for the same sorts of foods or living space.  I have a smaller one and I have never had a problem with it.  Since there are many types of corals commonly named "cabbage", can you send us a picture?  That way we can better identify your specific species and whether or not there is any knowledge of them being toxic to crabs and snails.  It would also help to know what type of snails you have.  Best of luck,  Roy>> As Anthony Would Put It: The Mixed Reef Garden  - 05/13/2006 Hey gang, <Marc...> I have a 120 gallon reef tank and I am interested to know if it would be possible to keep a mushroom leather in the tank with SPS corals such as acropora and Montipora. <Not a good mix long term.> I have a majority of LPS corals already. Are there any tricks to do this and still have some success <In the short term, chemical filtration and carbon can help.> or should I just bite the bullet and go for a SPS dominated tank. <Your choice but not both.> Also do the toxins released by the softies have any impacts on the fish in the tank <None of concern.> <<Mmm, actually... can be of great concern. RMF>> as well as the corals? Thanks <Anytime.> Marc <Adam J.> Toadstool Leather Bleaching My Ricordea?  - 05/10/2006 I have a 75 gal tank, about 4 months old with excellent water parameters (Nitrates Zero), weekly water changes, large growth of Coralline, 20 gal sump with Chaeto refugium, good water circulation, 500 watt MH, skimmer going full throttle with a light bioload and no fish as of yet. One month ago I placed a Ricordea yuma rock at the bottom of my tank with good results. Opened nicely, with some vibrant red beginning to emerge through the green. Then, last week, I added a  aquacultured Toadstool leather (Sarcophyton) and then began to notice some bleaching (incompletely) of the Ricordea and it's not opening up as well as it was. I know these leathers can produce all kinds of toxin-like chemicals. Any thoughts? < Although the Sarcophytons can and will emit toxins, I don't think this is the cause of the Ricordea issues. Yuma's are notorious for acting this way especially the red varieties. > Should I move the Ricordea farther away... or higher in the water column?? < I normally place these anemones at the bottom of the tank; save the prime real estate for animals who are more demanding in regards to light. > Trade it in before it gets worse? < That may only serve to advance the situation. > Or just be patient and wait it out. < Very good idea!> My other corals, a small Euphyllia torch and a Zoanthid frag are doing fine. Thanks. < I only hope I was of some help. RichardB > Russell in KY

Sarcophyton leather toadstool (and the near death of my tank)  - 04/16/06 Hello, <Hi, Leslie here with you today> Maybe I'm an idiot but I learned a important lesson this week, thought it would be a good idea to share this with people.   <I doubt that . Admitting and sharing our mistakes so others can benefit from them is a very honorable gesture. Thank you! > I took my leather toadstool out of the tank and thought I would propagate it by cutting it in half.  Well when I cut it open a massive amount of " juice " came out (no big  deal)  I rinsed it off with saltwater and put it back into my tank.  Well within 5 minutes my fish were going nuts, my Kole tang turned so pale he was almost white and was instantly covered with spots, my Clownfish was breathing very heavy, my Bubble Tip Anemone looked completely dead and my finger leather closed completely.  Needless to say I freaked out and did a quick search on Sarcophyton being toxic to fish, yup found out the extract can kill your fish in 30 minutes.  I quickly went to the LFS I work at (no one that works there knew this was a deadly procedure) and picked up 15 gallons (55 gallon tank) of water and did a quick water change (and dumped the toadstool).  My bubble tip immediately looked completely normal, the fish resumed breathing normally and other than an ich outbreak everything was fine the next day.  Anyway just wanted to let people know that if you are going to do something like this make sure you have a really good carbon filter that moves a lot of water quickly, and I would definitely not attempt doing cutting one up in your tank.  Found it interesting that everything that I read about propagating a leather said nothing about it being toxic, found out that there are actually 50 toxic chemicals in a Sarcophyton leather toadstool (after the incident of course).  Like I said, maybe I'm an idiot but I just wanted to get this out there so people don't repeat my mistake. <You made a mistake. I know for a fact you are not the first and you will not be the last. We all make mistakes. It seems to be the theme for today's queries. I have certainly made my fair share. An idiot most likely would not have acted as quickly as you did to resolve the problem. Your quick thinking and action hopefully saved the rest of the creatures in your tank. Fingers crossed that they recover from the ich. I don't do any propagating myself but most of the folks I know that do use separate propagation tanks.>   Thanks. <Thank you for sharing your story. Best of luck with your tank, Leslie>

Toadstool leather vs. Acropora... Like the U.S. and invading other sovereign nations... all losers  - 04/05/2006 hi, I have a lg toadstool leather in my 75 gal with 20 gal refugium for 2 years.   I added 3 Acroporas to my tank 3 months ago  that has mostly hairy mushrooms. the 3rd purple Acropora  was not getting enough current so I moved it close to the leather which I cannot move. when the toadstool opened up all the way it touched the purple Acropora. <...> it retracted it polyps and for 4 days it has not opened up. the top of it and sides have brown spots of film like alga. I moved the Acropora back to other side of tank. will the toadstool leather come back or is it dying? <... impossible to say from here> I added charcoal to the tank also. thanks. water parameters are P.H. 8.2,kh 11,cal 450. 0 on the others. lights 2x250 MH x 2 x65w p.c. actinic. 350g.p.h. protein skimmer, cal reactor co2, ,P.H. controller,1/3 h.p. chiller. <Please see WWM re Systems for these organisms, Compatibility (they're not)... fix your English before mailing us. Bob Fenner> Devils Hand coral  12/16/05 Hello to the crew at Wet Web, Is it a mistake to try and keep a Lobophytum sp. in a 46 gal bow front with SPS corals, LPS, soft corals (such as a Kenya tree) or polyps?  Most of the corals I have bought so far are aquacultured and are quite small.  I am trying to give everything enough space to grow and fill in.   The Devils Hand that I got is a little bigger however.  But it is a beautiful piece.  Didn't know about the potential toxins until after I bought it.  The description I got was that it is peaceful and some types of Lobophytum can release toxins.  I assumed that from that description that this meant that the variety I was buying wouldn't.  Then found out that it could.  I already have 1 Acropora and 1 Montipora.  I would rather get rid of the Devils Hand then get rid of the SPS corals.  Should I take the gamble and see how everything does?  Or is it wiser to get rid of the Devils Hand?  One answer I received in the forums was that if I keep enough space between them that I shouldn't have a problem.  How much space is enough?  Especially in a 46 gallon?  Is there any way to test for the toxins they release or do you just have to monitor everything?  The first couple of days that it has been in my tank it already started to release a white slime?  Thank you So much for any help you can give me. <The leather coral you have shouldn't cause any problems. As with all corals, maintain safe distances between them. James (Salty Dog)> Thanks Man <You're welcome> Leather Coral Irritated by Mushrooms?  12/5/05 I have a toadstool leather coral (Sarcophyton sp) that has had his polyps completely closed up for the last 5 or 6 days.  <Not unusual.>  I don't see any necrotic tissue or changes to his body, and none of the tank occupants have been picking on him.  <Good signs.>  The only change in the tank is that a small pink mushroom (quarter-sized) has grown to the point where it slightly brushes up against the base of the leather coral. Would this potentially be irritating the leather coral?  <It may have initially, but shouldn't cause any problem long-term.> All other occupants of the aquarium (fish & corals) are doing well, and no recent changes have been observed in the water chemistry.  <What about water flow, temperature, etc? Perhaps a splash with new water or fresh top-off water...>  I realize many other issues could cause the leather coral to close up, but I wanted to know if the pink mushroom is a potential problem...  <I doubt it. But if the leather doesn't open for 5-6 more days, consider moving the mushroom (don't move the leather or you won't see it open for even longer). Cheers, Zo> Thank you, Steve in Denver 

Toadstool Reaction to New Cnidarians' Presence, & Trying Hyposalinity Half-cocked  11/23/05 Hello, <Hi there> I have two unrelated questions, the first is regarding a small toadstool coral which has been in my 135 gal reef for about a month now. It was doing well until this last Saturday, when I received a large order (about 21 corals) which I purchased online. <... to go in a very large or a few systems I hope> Since then it has not expanded its polyps, and the cap has a 'shiny' appearance. There is no mucus layer or anything causing it, it just looks shiny when light glances off of it. It is not near any corals which have long sweeper tentacles. <Are near all chemically> The only corals within six inches of it are a Montipora, yellow Fiji leather, and Blastomussa wellsi, none of which could possibly be reaching it to sting it. I am beginning to wonder, however, if when I was placing my new corals I didn't happen to brush something up against it. The most likely candidate for this would have been a torch coral, which is on the same side of the tank, but about a foot away and at a different level in the tank.  I also moved the coral about four or five inches, placing more closely under my MH lights, although I can't imagine this would cause it to stop expanding. Every other coral in the tank is doing fine, even those far less hardy than the toadstool, so clearly there is something wrong with it. If it was stung, will it likely recover? <... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/cnidcompfaqs.htm> It certainly doesn't appear to be dying or falling apart, it just isn't expanding.  Second question is regarding ich in my fish only tank. I am going to attempt using hyposalinity/increased temp exclusively to get rid of it. I am not going to be able, however, to put the live rock anywhere else (certainly not in my reef tank), and as I understand it this will kill off beneficial shrimp, mollusks, etc. My question is, will it leave the coralline algae and bacteria necessary for waste breakdown intact?  <... likely not> If so I can always seed the tank in later with live sand and rock from my reef tank. Thanks, Frank Janes <Study a bit more Frank... re hyposalinity treatment, alcyoniid compatibility, behavior... All posted on WWM. Bob Fenner>

Sweeper tentacles, soft corals, cabbage question Dear crew, <Richard> I have two separate cabbage corals in my tank, and both have recently been seen extending long, filamentous tentacles. In each case, the point of origin appears to be a pore-like opening on the very edge of the body. The tentacles resemble spider web in their size and appearance, and consist of a central thread, with numerous, regularly spaced threads coming off at a right angle to the main one. At the longest, I estimate them to be 22 inches long. <Yikes> My wife and I witnessed one of the cabbages snagging a ghost shrimp, and the shrimp was rapidly entangled in the tentacle, which retracted to draw the shrimp to the edge of the cabbage body. When we returned some four hours later, the shrimp had vanished. <Yes> The resident SW manager at the LFS told me quite definitively that such things don't happen in soft corals. After extensive Googling [if that's a verb] here and elsewhere, I have found no definitive information. Can you please shed some light here?  Thanks, Rick <Yes... in the hobby press, these structures are broadly called "sweeper tentacles" and serve as both a defensive and feeding mechanism... Please read here: Marine Depot Newsletter - Aggression. Bob Fenner> 

Re: cabbage question Bob, Thanks for the reference---an excellent article. I was aware of sweeper tentacles, particularly in stony corals, but had been under the misimpression that they were for combative purposes. <Mostly, yes... resource partitioning> It didn't occur to me that they might be applied to a hunting purpose. I find it somewhat disappointing that I could be told so emphatically that such behaviour didn't exist. I have been well-served in this respect, though: another source of information has revealed itself to be one on which I should not depend. At least in this instance, it did not cost me money, or a creature its life. As always, a doffing of the snorkel, and my sincere thanks. Rick <Welcome. Bob Fenner> 

Leather Coral bitten? Hi--I have a 180 gallon reef tank with about 300 lbs of live rock, 1 yellow tang, 1 blue hippo tang, a flame angel, a harlequin Sweetlips, a royal Gramma, a firefish, a neon Dottyback, a lawnmower blenny, a six line wrasse, a cleaner wrasse, a marine Betta and two clown fish. I also have two skunkback cleaner shrimp and a coral banded shrimp. I have a number of corals and Ricordea, and recently purchased a beautiful yellow leather coral. I noticed what looked like a small featherduster-type of worm in an adjacent rock, and when the coral was fully open, it would cover the worm. I've had this coral about a month, and in the past week I've noticed it curling up where the worm is, and now that part looks a sickly brown. I moved the rock with the worm so they are no longer able to touch one another, but wondered if it is possible the worm stung the coral. My other corals look fine and water is good, including Ca. I have 600W of PC lighting. <Is possible... but not too likely... the very yellow Sarcophytons sold in the trade are semi-notoriously non-hardy... could be totally unrelated> Do you think the worm could have done something to the coral and what can I do? Thanks. R/Janet <You "did it" by moving the worm... otherwise, affording the Leather the best care.... Please read here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/alcyoniids.htm the linked files above... and elsewhere on WWM re polychaete worms, their compatibility, removal. Bob Fenner>

Help with soft corals in a mixed reef Date: Mon, 7 Feb 2005 21:31:58 -0500 <Hello Aaron, James (Salty Dog) here to try and help.>I have a 90g mixed reef. The basic setup is: 48x18x24 glass tank, 20g long sump. Aquaclear 900 return pump, ASM G200 skimmer, 2 250 watt heaters, and 3 powerheads on a wave timer (400, 270, and 170 gph). Lighting consists of (1) 14kK 400 watt bulb, (1) 20kK 175 watt bulb, (1) Actinic 03 VHO and (1) 50/50 VHO (these are 110w ea.). There is 145 lbs of live rock and a 2-3" sugar sand bed. Tank is about 1 year old. Invertebrate inhabitants are: 30+ colonies and frags of assorted Acropora and Montipora 2 colonies of mixed zoanthids 1 Platygyra brain coral 1 Polyphyllia coral 1 Fungia coral 2 small Blastomussa colonies 1 large brown star polyp colony 1 Sinularia finger leather 1 very small toadstool (remnants of one I removed a few months back) Assorted clean-up crew members (margarita, Astrea, and Trochus snails, asst. hermits, peppermint shrimp) 1 Tiger Pistol Shrimp Fish: 1 Blue Hippo Tang 1 Neon Goby 1 Yellow watchman goby (paired w/ pistol shrimp) 1 Yellow Tang 1 Royal Gramma 1 Target Mandarin Parameters: SG 1.026 <I would try to keep the SG at 1.023/024>Temp 80-83 PH 8.3 calcium 360 alk 2 DKH (yes, it's very low.....I've started to slowly bring it up with buffer) Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate are all zero Phosphate ? (no kit...yet) 12 hours lighting period All top-off is done with dripped Kalk, and I also use B-Ionic 2 part additive a couple times a week. I've been using Tropic Marin salt. I usually change 25 gallons once a month (sometimes as far apart as 6 weeks though).  <Weekly 10% changes would be better> Whew, ok, now that that's out of the way, here's my question:  Recently, the soft corals in my tank have not been opening like normal. The brown start polyps (on my overflow box directly under the 400w halide) don't open at all, or open for a brief period and then close. My Sinularia opens and closes a few times a day, but never fully opens (gets to about 80%). The small toadstool seems to do the same thing, although it doesn't seem to be affected as much. They are at opposite ends of the tank and at varying depths. I cannot figure out why this is. I feed the corals about once a week with either a fine mash of marine animal products or frozen Cyclop-eeze. I even went so far as to check to see if there is stray voltage in the tank. I have a grounding probe that is doing it's job (there's about 30 volts from the pumps, but 0 with the ground). <Aaron, the ground probe is a sheep in wolf's clothing. Get rid of it. It is potentially dangerous to you. If you should ever pull this out of the water such as to wipe off and have your other hand in contact with water, you will be in for the shock of your life. I strongly recommend you go to a GFI. If it keeps tripping, you need to replace the defective component. It's quite possible that this stray voltage in the tank may be having some effect on your corals. The electricity still has to travel to the grounding rod as such, although it is at a very low level.>  The odd part of all this is that the SPS corals all seems to be unaffected or minimally affected (one or 2 pieces don't have the extension they used to, but they are still extended 90% of the time). Is this a sign of impending doom for my tank? I really don't think so, but after all the reading and researching I've done, I'm at a loss. Thanks for any advice you can offer. <Aaron, I'm thinking that in your lighting set up, 400W may be a little too much for your tank. It's generally recommended in a 90 gallon tank to go with three 175's or two 250's. Another possibility is the age of the lamps. The intensity may have dropped some. Generally after a year with standard ballast, the lamps should be replaced. You don't mention adding strontium or iodine in your query. Soft corals do benefit from small amounts of iodine. When administering, it needs to be checked with a test kit. Too much iodine is no good either. Hope this was of some help. James (Salty Dog)> 

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>    

Not-So Tiny Bubbles.. Where's Don Ho When Ya Need Him? >Hi Crew, >>Hello. >I have a small leather coral "frag" growing on a Aragocrete plug. On the top of the plug there is some bubble algae (Valonia?) growing. I have taken the plug out of the tank and scraped of the bubbles, but they return. How can I safely remove the algae without harming the coral?  Thank you for any ideas you may have. >>That's a tough one, and I'm inclined to suggest actually chipping away the bit of the plug where it's growing.  That, or consider the animals that eat it (the dreaded Mithrax crab).  Don't burst the bubbles, I believe this spreads them.  Also, please use our Google bar at the bottom of our home page and search Valonia.  Marina Leather coral proximity 2/2/04  HI, How far apart do leather corals have to be (Sinularia and Lobophytum)? The guy at the fish store says they can touch, grow together and be fine. I know they produce a lot of chemicals, but I cant find very much info on how close they can be to each other.  Thank You  <Hello. I always recommend against allowing corals to physically touch. I would leave at least 6" between them if possible. I have seen them in physical contact many times, but chemical aggression is likely being aggravated, even if more visible signs aren't present. HTH. Adam>

Predator in my Sarcophyton - 2/13/04 Hello again. <Hello Annette> Thanks for the response. <Thanks for asking>  Well, I did it!!  I opened the leather to find a hole that traveled up through almost the entire base. <Sounds like a predatory mollusk. Can't remember the name offhand but there is info out there on predators of soft corals>  Based on other readings on WWM, I believe that this is not normal. <Correct> What should a normal, healthy leather look like on the inside? <Firm with rough interior (due to spicule formation)  Also, I did not see any noticeable predators inside, <Look a bit more. Very conspicuous> so I am unsure of the cause <Almost sure that a predator is the culprit here>....what can I do to prevent this from happening again? <Find the predator and/or quarantine all incoming animals for two to four weeks. Thanks for your inquiry. ~Paul> Thanks for all your help. Annette

Clarkii and Sarcophyton (Toadstool) My Clarkii is swimming into my Sarcophyton.   <bummer> When this happens most of the Sarcophyton polyps retract.  I'm afraid that is the Clarkii continues this behavior the Sarcophyton will die.   <its not great, but the leather is tough and will probably take it. Its LPS hard corals that die from such unnatural impositions to host> Can you give me some advice on what I should do? <remove the clowns if it seems to stress the coral> On a side note, I need some help getting the pH of my newly mixed saltwater up.  My tanks pH is around 8.2-8.3, but my newly mixed saltwater has a pH of 8.0.  I hate to use buffers because my alk is already at 12.6 in the display tank.  Should I add Kalk to the new saltwater? <nope... but Kalk to the tank in small but consistent (nightly) doses will help. Baking soda to the freshwater will be fine too> Thanks for your time and patience, Jeremy G <best regards, Anthony>

Sarcophyton leather and percula clowns 3/27/03 Hello again Anthony, Hope you are well! <cheers Jenny, with hope for you in kind> You may or may not remember advising me to remove my two percula clowns from my FOWLR tank because my Lunare Wrasse would eat them eventually. (You will be pleased to hear that the Harlequin Wrasse is still holding his own in this tank and actually pinches food from the Lunare's mouth and then runs like a bat out of hell! Quite funny to watch as peace usually reigns except for these odd skirmishes brought on by himself being greedy!) <heehee... I do recall> Sorry I've wandered, couldn't resist telling you that! Back to the clowns. So I put them in my reef tank and they immediately took to my Sarcophyton  (who also owes it's life to you from long ago when it had a necrotic infection). I thought this was an o.k. arrangement because the leather keeps it's polyps open most all of the time. <agreed... usually OK> It has now started to take them in once evening comes and it also starts to shrink dramatically. It's always done this to a lesser degree after dark but not before lights out as it's doing now. <hmm... may have nothing to do with the clowns. Has there been a recent improvement in light or quality of light> New lamps, wiped down crusty bulbs, improved clarity (carbon use after a long absence), etc?> My first thought was PH but I don't think that is the problem as the lowest reading I get is 8.2 usually it's 8.4 <excellent> and the other corals/mushrooms and fish all seem happy. The clowns 'sleep' right inside the leather at night and I can now see a 'bald' patch in the centre approx 1 to 1 1/2 inches in size, no polyps and a yellow/cream colour instead of  it's normal flesh colour of pink . <still not that big of a deal... its simply forming a callus> I didn't notice this before because the leather expands to about 10/12 inches across in the daytime and all the other polyps have hidden the centre from view. Is this bald patch due to irritation from the clowns or is it a coincidence and another problem looms (it doesn't look like the necrotic infection the leather had before.) <agreed... likely from the clowns but no worries> Are the clowns nightly attentions going to kill my leather if I leave them in the reef tank  or doesn't it matter as long as the bald patch stays in the centre and gets no bigger? <agreed> On a different note I just thought I would tell you that I have finally got my new tank. (you sent me diagrams etc for drilling as I didn't have your book then). <excellent!> if you remember I had loads of trouble with Watford Aquarium who was going  to build it. I got a different tank manufacturer to build it for me and he has put in 4 * 1.5 inch bulkheads and built me a long overflow shelf just like your drawing . He has given me a 5yr guarantee and built a superb cabinet as well. I am in the process of decorating the room before setting it up as it's going nowhere once it's filled! I can hardly wait and I hope you won't mind if I need to ask for more advice when the time comes. <looking forward to hearing from you again, my friend> Many thanks for your valued advice  - Jenny <a pleasure. Kind regards, Anthony>

- Open Close Open Close Open Close... Abnormal Leather! - Hi Guys Yet another question fro you, hope you don't mind. I have a leather coral that seems unhappy at the moment and I don't know why. I haven't moved it or touched, but it keeps on shedding mucus. It will close, then a couple of days later the layer of mucus forms, the polyps under the mucus open until the layer is released and then once it has all been released, the coral  stays fully open for a couple of days and then closes and the cycle repeats. This has happened about 4 times in a row now. <Doesn't really sound like a bad thing, although abnormal.> I know it is normal for these to periodically shed, but it is getting to be too frequent, and therefore suggests something is not right. <Well, could be, but it's a tough call.> All of my other corals are ok, my fish are ok. Corals: Pulsing Xenia, White Spot Xenia, Mushroom Anemone, Mushroom Coral (slightly shrinking) & Poly Colony Fish: Fire goby,   Fancy Sea Bass, Scarlet Hawkfish, Blackfooted Clown, a couple of Chromis <Make sure none of the fish are nibbling and no coral (besides the xenia) are touching/stinging it.> These are the stats. 36" x 16" x12" Tank RO Water, 5% twice weekly 3 Hagen life Glo fluorescents, 1 actinic  12-14 hrs per day. Berlin Skimmed, HR carbon every 2 weeks, Canister Filter,  gravity fed DSB/Refugium(24" x 12" x 12" ), trickle filter Ammonia, Nitrate, Nitrite,  Phos, all 0 Calcium 320 falling to 300! <Well, this is a little low, likely not the cause of your leather acting up. I'd correct this immediately.> KH 9-10 pH 8.3 ( Have started supplementing with Kalkwasser ..not much and infrequent (little, test ,little etc) The only thing that could be disturbing it is the Hawkfish. When its closed he seems to like perching on it? <Heh, good ol' Hawkfish. That is probably not the cause because they do that all the time with many types of coral. It could potentially be the cause in this case.> Any observations/comments While I am here I also have a couple of other Q's, not problems really .I have recently set up a refugium/DSB. I managed to get a pure calcium carbonate substrate from a LFS, perfect for the job. They also gave me a few kilos of there live sand from there own refugiums to start it off, and  also managed to get a kilo of the gunk that is left after curing the live rock, from another company. <YUM!> ( all hard to come by in these parts of the wood After setting up the DSB I had quite a lot of CaCO3 left so placed 2"  of it in the main tank. There are quite a few bubbles appearing in the substrate in the main tank, the question is what are the bubbles? <If the bubbles are appearing between the sand and the glass, they're likely oxygen bubbles from algae photosynthesizing on the glass. They could also be nitrogen bubbles from denitrification, but it's probably o2.> I would have thought that 2" of sand would not be enough to denitrify the nitrate. <It usually isn't> In the DSB there are a  few bubbles, Loads of worms/pods already, but no bubbles! <No worries> Sorry I know your busy! just one of those intriguing things (Also should I turn the substrate in the main to stop it compacting, and how often should you feed a refugium/DSB?) <Feed the 'fuge daily if you're trying to encourage lots of 'pods to grow. It's a tough call on the 2" bed though, since it's not quite a DSB. Either way I wouldn't go out of my way to stir it up, there should be little to no compacting. Maybe pick up some Nassarius snails.> Oh and one more question. I have a few what look like flat snails! There look like black slugs, but with hard blue type mother of pearl shells and quite big feelers. And they move so quickly! They just eat the hair algae so think they are useful, just cant ID any ideas?, the thing is the last time I though I found some friendly slugs, they turned out to be predatory Nudibranchs which decimated my polyp colony! ( It did recover) <If you could come up with a picture that would be a huge help. As long as they eat hair algae, they're ok in my book. Good luck! -Kevin> Anyway thanks for your time Cheers Rob

Colt Coral with a charming British Accent Hello Anthony and WWM crew, <cheers, my friend> I hope this finds you well . <it does, with thanks and sincere hope that you are well too> Could you help me with my colt coral? I have recently been on holiday and left my tank in the care of a friend who I think did a very good job of keeping everything alive and happy. However I'm not sure about the colt coral it looks as if it has grown while I've been away (2 weeks) but 2 or 3 of its branches have turned white at the tips?  <ahhh... interesting, and likely indicative of the sensation if not occasional touching of a neighboring coral. This is chemical warfare> all the rest of it looks very healthy, even the affected branches look fine below the white tips. Because it has grown I notice when it's branches wave they touch (occasionally) a large mushroom anemone that is higher up but the affected branches don't reach it yet, is this a coincidence or is it getting stung or something.  <good observation... you are quite correct that this is the first symptom of stinging now that the coral has grown> Will moving the colt a few inches be enough to solve this or is something else amiss do you think?  <moving is a rather temporary scenario, but will help. As the tank matures... some coral will need to be removed or trimmed/propagated to maintain growth. A compliment to your husbandry :)> Nothing seems to have changed since I went.  All params o.k. except phosphates and nitrates because I haven't yet got a RO unit and these are high in my source water. Hope you can suggest what this is . Many thanks in anticipation of your answer. It is so nice to have experts on hand when you are worried about anything We have nothing to compare with WWM in the UK. Jenny Nunley Cranfield University UK <our pleasure. With kind regards from across the pond, Anthony>

Re: Colt Coral Thanks for your (as always) speedy reply Anthony I will move the colt out of reach of it's neighbor for now and I guess this is a good time to buy your book on coral propagation! <do you know of any good ones...Ha!?> On a different note may I pick your brains yet again? <whatever is left is yours top pick.> As I have previously mentioned , I have two 5ft tanks, one FOWLR and the other is the reef tank. Both suffer terribly from hair algae. I was wondering about a Lawnmower Blenny and the possibility of swapping it between the two tanks with gradual acclimatization of course. <sure... could be helpful but only addresses the symptom and not the problem. Aggressive protein skimming alone can eradicate most nuisance algae in 2-6 weeks. The algae is all about nutrient control> Probably over a few days, maybe in the QT tank gradually upping and downing the SG because the Reef SG is higher than the FOWLR, 1.025 and 1.021 .is this feasible with reasonable time lapses in between?  <possible, but likely unnecessary> I would get one for both tanks but thought this would be a better way of making sure he has enough food on a permanent basis as I hear they only eat hair algae and would starve if not provided with enough of it, what are your thoughts on this idea please. <yes.. I see. Still... it would be much better to simply get the skimmers producing daily dark skimmate, decanting the thawed juice from frozen foods, feeding smaller more frequent feedings, changing carbon more frequently, etc. All about nutrient control indeed> I just thought, I better tell you who his tank mates would be. I assume no problem in the reef , I hope! I have in there, 2 Percula clowns, 1 2 1/2" red hawk, 1 Gramma and 1 firefly.  <nicely peaceful> In the FOWLR he would have to mix with 1 7" Naso , 1 7" green wrasse, 1 3 1/2" yellow tang, 1 3" pyjama tang, 2 percula clowns (yes I do love the Percs, I mean Percs) and 2 green Chromis. Thanks again - Jenny <hmmm... I do have concern that the Green Bird (?) Wrasse will eat the Percs, Chromis and lawnmower in time. They get quite large and aggressive at sexual maturity.. they behave for a year or so. After that, I have seen them fed 4" crayfish which they smash to pieces off the rocks. Do consider removing in time. Kindly, 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 Vanisi 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 leather 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>

Purple colt coral??, Coral Aggression Hi Anthony or Bob, <you're still stuck with me...Anthony <G>> Thanks for the quick response. I now have the comfort of knowing that I have a blue Capnella instead of a colt coral so that I can care for it in the correct manner. However, as mentioned in your reply, it is a weakly aggressive species that needs protection.....well, I do have both mushrooms and green star polyps about 4-5 inches away from it..... <you can expect problems with poor growth and polyp extension in the mid to long range plan...possibly sooner> what do you mean by protection? is it necessary in this case and how could I go about doing so?  <For this and all coral in the tank, determine which species are most aggressive and isolate them (when light/water flow allow) to the perimeter of the tank and/or near the top by overflows to try to get a great portion of the noxious compounds shed into the skimmer and/or chemical filters with the hope of reducing the silent aggression. In the case of the mushrooms... they are particularly hostile. If they flourish in the tank (reproduce) then you will definitely have problems with the health of some other corals in the system> I look forward to your response and thanks for all your help so far :) Sincerely, Jimmy <with kind regards, Anthony Calfo>  

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