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FAQs about Soft Corals of the Family Alcyoniidae 1

Related Articles: Soft Corals of the Family Alcyoniidae

Related FAQs: Alcyoniids 2, Alcyoniids 3, Alcyoniids 4, Alcyoniid ID, Alcyoniid Selection, Alcyoniid Compatibility, Alcyoniid Systems, Alcyoniid Feeding, Alcyoniid Behavior, Alcyoniid Health, Alcyoniid Propagation, Soft Coral Propagation, Nephtheids, Dendronephthya, Paralcyoniids, Nidaliids, Xeniids, Dyed Corals

A patch of young Sarcophyton in shallow water in Fiji.

Sick looking leather Hi, thanks for answering my previous question on lighting my 54 G tank. The article really helped and I have decided to go with more lighting to be on the safe side <with leathers this is usually fine is done gradually> but anyways about my question during the move for the 20 gallon tank my leather coral has been acting up even though my water quality is great.  <although they are very hardy, many leathers are quite finicky after a move. Some don't extend polyps for 2 months or more even! The polyps are hardly necessary for feeding... they do not feed organismally... most all food is derived from light and absorption. No worries here... the important thing is to have put it in a good place and be patient: don't touch or move it. Maintain good water flow and be patient> It started off looking fine and would flower during the day but recently it has been slowly shrinking lower to the sand bed and also will during the morning and early afternoon develops these black lines that you will be able to see it the attached jpg. <not very clear from image unfortunately> I was wondering if you have an insight as to what the problem may be and how I may possibly deal with it. Thanks for you time, Dave and Callie <regular water changes and iodine supplements are stimulating as well... time may be all you need here. Kindly>

Re: Sick Sarcophyton Hi Anthony: I think I finally found the problem.  <hot dog... no really... I could go for one of those "Nathan's" Coney Island hot dogs> I found a 2 inch bristle worm at the base of the mushroom coral and promptly threw it away.  <should have had fun with it and rolled/rubbed it all along your nekid torso> Hole count on the coral is now up to about 7 or 8,  <that's gonna leave a mark...ouch> most of which are the diameter of a pencil in size. Two holes are large, like the size of a quarter. Is there anything else I can do  <you mean, like spackling?> help nurse this coral back to health other than providing patience and good water?  <in all seriousness... you are correct. Mostly patience and good water quality. Good random turbulent water flow on the holes for a quick heal... cutting out any necrotic areas if they develop... aggressive skimming... maybe a tiny bit extra iodine to tweak RedOx and perhaps be antiseptic> I would like to set up a reef q-tank someday, but I'm at a loss over proper yet inexpensive lighting for a reef-quality q-tank. <actually... shape is no problem. Shallow tanks (16" or less like low 30 gallons or smaller) will be fine with standard output fluorescents! The problem is in display tanks of 24" and deeper when the same fluorescent lights only penetrate 12" at best.> Thanks again for all of your help and wisdom. And might I add that you diagnosed the problem correctly right off the bat. Impressive. I wish I had a strawberry blonde nymphomaniac to offer as payment! <that makes two of us!> Well, I'm off to the store to get a bristle worm trap. Better safe than sorry... Thanks, Jim <actually, bud... don't drive yourself too crazy. Some small bristle worms are very beneficial to the live sand. Its just the big beefy ones that you need to keep an eye out for. Really... they rarely cause much damage and are slow at that. No hurry and do leave some... seriously. Anthony>

Re: Sick Sarcophyton Anthony: <yessah> Here's the photo I promised you. (Yes, the ruler is on the outside of the tank!  <a very thoughtful and helpful "measure"...heehee> Note my humongous cool clam on the right.)  <since you have felt compelled to mention the size of your clam unsolicited I must warn you of any future temptations to buy a red sports car <G>> You know what? I think you might be right about the predator thing. I will have to check in the wee hours of the night. I have checked casually before, but saw nothing.  <not surefire, but rather common with the very edible species (all the rage with the predators for its super buzz sarcophenes)> Then it dawned on me that the coral did tip over one day last week laying in the substrate and I straightened it out when I got back in town. It is attached to a small piece of live rock but the coral is now huge -- very top heavy. It's possible something went munching on it then because the timing is about right.  <or could have sustained a small wound or suffocated (anoxic) patch that turned to a slight infection after the fall>  I can't imagine my Mithrax ate it but maybe they did; they do sometimes hang out on top of it although I haven't seen them use it as a recliner for over two months now.  <These "emerald" crabs are VERY omnivorous like most crabs as they get older. Even catching and killing fishes. Harmless when small though> At any rate, the holes have stopped spreading! No more flakes of tissue hanging! The wounds now look like they are scarring over. If the problem is a hungry critter and I remove the critter, how long until my coral heals itself?  <more likely to pinch off fragments (cool) on its own for the trauma as seen in your photo (called "branchlet dropping") foreground. A matter of just a few weeks before polyps cover over new> Hopefully looking at the photo you don't think its necrosis. <indeed... it does not look necrotic or infectious at all. For the size of the coral, it could even be natural branchlet dropping> Lastly, what do you recommend for feeding practices (you only wrote "Hmmm.....")? Continue on soaking with the Reef Solution?  <if I don't have something good to say... sometimes I say nothing at all. But more specifically, I'm not sold on such supplements as a rule. Even when compositionally accurate... freshness & potency are often issues over fresh made or naturally cultured foods (as with zooplankton in an upstream refugium)> I live in an area with poor quality LFSs; they don't carry much in the way of food. Eventually, I'd like to get to the point where I grow my own live food in a refugium. <yes, exactly!> I'm definitely going to buy your book, my friend. One, to thank you for your help but also because I need a good coral book.  I am truly appreciative... please pass what you learn on to others in kind> I am forever grateful for your articulate advice, and I really enjoy your wittiness. You and Steven Pro have both helped me a lot over the past four months when I found you. Like I said, the LFSs around here are weak, so I am very thankful for this cyber group and forum. Your response times are awesome!  <its easy to reply fast... what else is there to do sitting naked answering e-mail?> What else can I do to help? <send strawberry blonde, pale completed nymphomaniacs please> Jim
<Anthony Calfo, truly in your service>

Sick Sarcophyton Me again, <I'm still me too... how cool is that!> As hard as I try to wean myself away from bugging you guys so much, I find your advice indispensable and value your expertise much more than any of my local LFS's. or even a lot of the stuff I read in print, for that matter. <we can be very convincing I hear... lets hope at least half of it is true <G>> My reef tank has been doing great, water quality was good, and everybody was happy, but it came to my attention that my food selection was poor (SFBB Marine Cuisine, algae). In an effort to prevent poor nutrition problems in my animals that never appeared to exist (you read that right !), like a dummy I started soaking the food in Ecosystems Reef Solution in the recommended dosage on the bottle -- one capful daily per 50 gallons of water. (The Reef Solution was recommended by my LFS). <Hmmm....> It's one and a half weeks later, and my mushroom coral has developed holes in it.  <quite possibly/likely unrelated> When the first hole developed about four days ago, I thought it was starting to propagate. I couldn't be that lucky. Two more holes then appeared. The holes are pretty much clean around the edges, i.e., no discoloration with very slight tissue decay. The first hole is now about the size of a dime, the other two about the diameter of a pencil eraser.  <spotty sounds like predation for sure. Many possibilities: crabs or snails brought in small now large and burrowing from the inside out of the leather, a fish that has suddenly taken to nipping and causing wounds, indeed others...> I'm afraid it looks like necrosis, what do you think?  <dissolving tissue? yes> I'm going to try and send you a picture later today once I get my digital camera. <very helpful> I did a 20% water change this morning. All water chemistry is good: KH 11, Ca 450, pH 8.2, NO3 0, PO4 0.1, Temp 78F. Lighting is still good quality; MH and actinic lamps are only 5 months old. Tank has a six line wrasse to eat predators.  <six-lines eat some small predators like worms and tiny snails... but even then not all predatory species. They also don't eat hydroids, crabs, larger pests etc. Please don't rest too easy with only a six-line> I normally do a 10-15% water change once a week using good techniques that you blessed before. <yes, excellent!> What do I do now to cure it? Change water again in several days?  <weekly is more than enough> Cut away around the hole/affected parts?  <quite possibly> Be patient and hope for the best?  <definitely not> Fresh water dip? Medicine and what type?  <probably not either... but stringer water flow would be nice as long as it is not laminar. Do provide strong random turbulent flow> Quarantine? I don't have a q-tank; it's on my to do list.  <always the best choice> All of my other corals look great (hammerhead, finger leather, bubble, star and button polyps, mushrooms) -- are they in danger from the Sarcophyton's condition? <hard to say, but some necrotic infections can spread easily. That's why QT is best> I feel awful. The Reef Solution treatment is the only thing I've done differently, so that has to be the cause. <not at all.. can be coincidence with the occurrence/expression of something else (like a predator imported small and now grown to damaging size> Thanks, Jim <lets see that picture, and do look for predatory activity in dark night on this animal. Best regards, Anthony>

Wrasse Follow-up with a Coral Question Hello there, <Good morning.> I think I solved the mystery. The wrasse was just hungry! I have been feeding sparingly as I am still in the initial month of stocking and had clearly underestimated this fish's appetite. This evening I fed it some large krill and it wolfed them down whole until it was bulging and calmed right down. <Glad to hear it.> On another note, a recently introduced Lobophyton keeps skirting after a day or so of opening (fully and apparently very healthy). It has now done this three or so times i.e.. Open for a day, closed for three/four days. I have tried to move higher/lower and into current and out but don't seem to get him settled? Should I just leave him in "a" position for a few weeks to see if this works or keep moving? Any other thoughts? Tank stats below. <Please stop moving him around. I know it is difficult to resist that urge to do something when things do not look right, but forcing a coral to keep adapting to changing light is a very good way to kill it. Patience is the ultimate virtue in this hobby.> Many thanks, Jordon <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Leather Toadstool Hi Bob and crew, <Steven Pro in this morning.> I've got an interesting problem here...I've thoroughly researched your site and no one has really described this problem. I picked up this leather coral about 4 weeks ago ....(its the skin colored version, not the bright yellow one...the top of it resembles a mushroom cradle). I know its suppose to close up initially and reopen its polyps after 1-2 or maybe even three weeks. Well, that it did according to research. However, it closes up about 3 days after full expansion for another 3 days...then promptly sheds its mucous layer again and return to its previous glory (actually, sometimes it appears even bigger and more polyp expansion which really confuses me). I know this may not be a good thing even though it looks better and better each time. The better and better looks have reached its limit though since it has repeated this process more times then I can count. What is going on here guys? <Normal growth process, nothing to be worried about.> Here's the info on my tank. 40 gallon....super filtered (2 wet dry Aquaclears and a Filstar XP1 external canister filter, working protein skimmer and a 402 powerhead along with another smaller powerhead...one on each side. water changes every 2 weeks very low nitrates 0 ammonia 0 nitrite good calcium and Alk levels live rock with good coralline algae growth inhabitants are 2 false Perc clowns and a 2 in. yellow tang. corals : Green star polyps, several lavender tipped mushrooms, 1 large purple mushroom, green moonstone, a small maze brain, a small but rapid growing colony of xenia, 2 purple Capnellas and finally the leather itself. All corals are spread nicely apart with good distance between the aggressive and non-aggressive corals. <Agree, you have some pretty quick growing invasive corals. Is a bigger tank in your future?> I also run some carbon in one of the wet/dries. <Good, will help to counteract some of the allelopathy, chemical warfare between corals.> The only thing that is near the leather is a small pink and green cucumber but that thing never harms anything. The Leather is in a moderate to high water flow area half way up the tank. Finally, lighting is 150 watts of power compacts (50/50). Hope you guys can help just like you've had in the past. P.S. I would like to add a small flame angel into the tank....what do you guys think? <It is a rather hit and miss proposition. All of the Centropyges are capable of munching on some of your corals, just that some choose not to. Also, the Yellow Tang may not tolerate a Flame. Flame's are rather cryptic and not well prepared to defend themselves against a Yellow Tang's onslaught. -Steven Pro>

Sarcophyton Good evening, <Cheers!> Thanks for the food/feeding advice. By the way, the Brine Shrimp I use is soaked in some vitamin supplements and claims to be a full diet?? <wow... not only inaccurate... but a shameful marketing lie if stated as such. You have my personal guarantee with a lot of experience (commercial) behind it that if your fishes ate this so-called "full" diet as even a significant part of their diet let alone as the sole staple... they would barely make it a year before dying of a dietary deficiency.. sooner in a tank with less or no live rock> Tank stats: 120gal reef tank with 120 pound of good live rock. PH 8.2, Ammonia < 0.1, and Nitrite 0, Nitrate < 5 ppm, temp. 24 centigrade, salinity 1.025. Tank established now for one month. 2 x 150 watt metal halides on for 10.5 hours each day. <too long for the halides most likely... notice any corals closing up (retracting polyps) early? 8 hours is rather typical and appropriate> I am a few weeks into stocking the tank with two false Perculas, small Kole Tang, pair of boxer shrimp a mushroom coral, a nice Lobophytum and a Sarcophyton soft coral. My question is about the Sarcophyton: After I brought him home, all look reasonably OK, after a day or so all polyps were out. After about a week all polyps disappeared, which I assumed was a UV shield re-build as it later turned out to be and after shedding the "stuff" all polyps were back out with better color and greater expansion.  <called a "tunic"> Two days later, all polyps have retracted and it looks like it's going through another cycle??  <simply a fast growth spurt/cycle> I notice that the tops of a few branches look like they have small "bald spots" like they have been damaged in transit or taken too much sun.  <could be photoinhibition from excess halides (they are static and do not move across the sky like the sun on a reef.... rather intense all day like that)> He's in a spot without too much current about midway down the tank (12" deep). Do you think he might be getting too much light, not enough current, both??  <yes... lack of current is all too common. Do aim for strong random turbulent flow from converging effluents (a great mixing like from 2 or 3 power heads aimed at each other)> Looks healthy apart from that (skin wise). The other corals/fish look great with full extension and great colors. <all have different tolerances> Great site and a regular (almost nightly stopover) for me, hope you keep it going. Best, Jordon <thank you... and look for possibly a big new addition/expansion soon! Shhhhhhhhhhsh! Its a secret <G>. Anthony Calfo>

Colt coral Dude!! thanks for the freaky fast response!  <always welcome! WWM mail getting back on track... we aim to please <G>> How do you know this much stuff!!!!!  <heehee... I wrote a book about corals... seriously! Ha!> Lets hope I can pull this guy out from circling the drain!!  <really... there is a very good chance you can> I was feeding him/other corals Marine Snow for awhile and still seemed to continue to shrink.  <in one recent study by an unpaid and seemingly objective observer (I happen to admire the man's work), the product you have mentioned did not perform very well against most others in the field. True or not, bottled phyto is admittedly difficult to dose properly. For it to work best, some folks believe that it should be purchased and kept refrigerated, must be less than six months old, and should be whisked in an electric blender to reduce particle size and efficacy of digestibility. If true, I find the "convenience" of bottled phyto "inconvenient" and would rather invest in a phytoplankton generator (DIY well under $200 and very low maintenance once running) or cultivate a thriving seagrass refugium which will have many other benefits beyond shedding epiphytic material> As for the plate coral.. yup, feed him at least 5 times a week. chopped shrimp pieces/mussel)  <outstanding! you da man <G>> I have been using black powder (heard mixed reviews on this product but was willing to give it a shot...it was free... but think I'll go back to Marine Snow.) Any other recommendation for foods? <wow, yes.. we can do much better. Basically, make a selection of meats of marine origin (krill/plankton, shrimp, squid, etc) and offer them very finely shredded... very nutritious!> Again thanks so much for the help.....(surf is up today!! beach time.....so have a good one) Aloha POG <thanks POG for the well wish, but I already have a good one... "what I need is a longer one" (George Carlin)... Aloha! Anthony>

Re: Colt coral OK final question....my hopes are up and am ready to save the little guy... <excellent...remember, this is one of the few popular corals we believe to be rather dependant on phytoplankton. Not so much meaty foods or like zooplankton substitutes. Hmmm... what island are you on again, bud? There are several research facilities in Hawaii as you know. Perhaps you could get a nice green water culture locally?> as for the marine meat mixture for food...should I blend it? Make like a slurry type thing?  <Yes... for the LPS corals like your plate coral (Heliofungia)> Just thinking of the water quality afterwards....once a week cool for feedings or a little every couple of days?  <yes... a very valid concern! This and most foods if abused will challenge water quality. Do feed very sparingly but several times weekly. Start with 1-2 times weekly for a month or two and see if you can work your way up to 3 or more weekly without aggravating nuisance algae (else re-examine efficiency of you skimmer and your water change schedule)> (hard to find your book here... <Ahhh... yes, no dealer I am aware of although Helsinga at IPSF has a copy and so do the Troy and Doreen at Salty Waters Aquarium (all Kona)> did find the guru Bob's book though...next book buy for sure.....artist's life...feast or famine eh!.. Mahalo's for the kokua dude....I'll let you know how things turn out!!! POG <excellent my friend... best of luck! Anthony>

Devils hand/devils finger *update* I'll break down the change in lighting: I did have 0ne 96 watt pc fluorescent, and 4 VHO actinics originally I added two 10,000 Aquasun VHO's and took away one of the actinics. I also had all of the lights turn on at once and off at the same time, then I added a 3 stage timer. with a 1/2 hr variance between lights, starting with turning one 1 actinic, then the compact fluorescent, and last the two Aquasun's and the two other actinics. Hmmm, guess it sounds more drastic written down then it does thinking about it,  <yes...indeed it is> but the corals that are damaged didn't start until about after 1-2 weeks post lighting change,  <not at all uncommon (the time-frame). Those animals that will shock need not respond on command or overnight. They may try to compensate for days or weeks before extreme symptoms occur (detachment, expelling zooxanthellae packets, etc). Did you notice these presently afflicted corals closing up/retracting conspicuously early in the interim? Still may not be the case... but food for thought: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acclimcoralslight.htm> and that was close to a month ago and other then all the brain meat which still looks perfectly healthy (minus the separation from the skeleton) and reacts fine seem to still be failing. <alas...perplexing and fascinating at the same time> What are the chances that damaged corals will come back from this kind of stress? <quite good if it doesn't "bleach" (expel zooxanthellae)> I'll keep you posted on the activities. <interested to hear it, my friend> BTW: I had met a new hobbyist in marine aquaria yesterday and told him to pick up your books and your web address for a source of information instead of relying on our local retailers. There's a few of us that call you guys the Einstein's of the hobby LOL <Ahh, yes... the hair in Bob's ears has often reminded me of Einstein's eyebrows. We are in agreement <G>. Thank you very kindly for the referral... do pass the word along about this site and archives. Always eager for aquarists to learn and hopefully contribute! articles, experiences, etc!)> Thanks for all the help, you have no idea how much it is appreciated. <with kind thanks, Anthony>

Re: Devils hand/devils finger *update* Hi Anthony. Thanks for the reply, I have been really banging my head against the wall on this one. I was adding tropic Marin re-mineral my to my water, the last light/flow change was over 3 weeks ago >Hmmm... not long ago at all for such a change to contribute to the symptoms we are seeing. Does this mention imply that the changes were before the symptoms began with the coral. And how severe was the change... admittedly lighting is generally a great stress (say fluorescents to metal halides or the changing of very old bulbs (fluorescents over 10 months, halides over two years old)> I have been adding one tablespoon of iodine per week (potassium iodine concentrate) <reasonable indeed... I prefer small daily better but many great tanks run fine on weekly or not at all> Water changes of 15 gallons every 14 days of R/O water no supplement of strontium as of yet, thinking about going and getting some today, did supplement calcium about 40 days ago to bring it up over 400 <hmmm... one heck of a stretch without calcium supplements. No complaints though with reactor keeping the levels anything over 350ppm> I heard seltzer water or club soda can be added to bring down the DKH as long as it's done without dropping the ph to rapidly. <eh... really just treating the symptom, not the problem... a skewed dynamic is still at the root of the matter> Feeding every 3 days with a combination of chopped shrimp, spinach and other items found in a recipe my wife found online. Everyone seems to be enjoying it very much. <more than enough for some coral... probably not enough for many LPS but still good overall if it is a meat based diet (marine origin meats) and unlikely attrition is the problem then in such a short period of time... something more dramatic at hand, no doubt> The green brain survived a mishap about 8 months ago in a smaller tank where one of our local pet stores suggested adding to the reef ammo lock 2 to cut down on green algae that I had a problem controlling and it killed all but the brain and one other coral. <wow... crazy advice indeed! Unfortunately, nothing stands out right now as definitely causative outside of a stark change in light. Interesting?! Anthony>

Re: Devils hand/devils finger *update* Here's a small update on the problem, wondering if you have any more information to offer me. <Anthony Calfo with the follow-up> The Green open brain has separated 2/3 off the skeleton but it remain puffy and eating. <Arghhh! not a good sign. Usually not pathogenic though... most often a physical parameter (nutritive or elemental deficiency, stress from flow/light etc.)> The devils hand and devils finger have decreased in size, turned a deeper purple in color and the devils finger has beige and white appearing where the fingers meet the main body. The devils hand also separated from the rock it was anchored to and so did my green tree, I re-attached them as I would a frag and the green tree seems to be doing o.k. <have you been doing regular water changes, supplementing with calcium to your reactor, using enough iodine (and arguably some strontium)?> I was wondering if the co2 from my calcium reactor might be causing a problem, if I was putting too much into the system.  <very unlikely and easy to confirm... depressed pH below 8.3 during peak daylight or a noticeable rise in pH on a tested sample of water after 12 hours aeration> One reading that I have that is high is my DKH, seems to be around the 16 range,  <indeed on the high end... be careful here> but again, all my other reading seem to be fine. Calcium dropped to 350 2 days ago, but I will do another test tomorrow. PH did rise for a few days but is back down today, just finished testing it. <rising pH does not indicate a CO2 problem. Have you been feeding your corals? Yet another reason for detachment. If the fish in the tank do not get fed much or at all, then the smallest Polyped corals like your leathers that feed by absorption with suffer from attrition. The LPS like your open brain need to be fed weekly...really several times weekly bordering on daily with shredded meaty foods. Else they hang in for months towards a year and then die of attrition. The brain coral in particular is heavily dependant on feeding... it is thought to be satisfied (need for carbon) with about 2/3 from photosynthesis...the rest is derived from direct organismally feeding> By reading a lot, I've found that the corals and fish and such that shouldn't be doing well are doing fine and the hardy ones seem to be hurting. <hmmm... are the hardy/hurting ones the older ones by chance? (4 months or older?). Would lend support to the lack of feeding theory... just a guess.> Thanks, Scott Allen <best regards, Anthony>

Re: Devils hand/devils finger *update* Hello guys, just another update and something to ponder. The devils hand puffs up slightly, but it very slow if it is recovering at all. It's been over a month since the green open brain has left it's skeleton, and it is still doing fine, no color loss or anything, eats fine, and moves around the tank a bit. Guess it likes the idea of being an invert.  <yes...interesting> No idea what to expect anymore. The hobby is so full of surprises. I preach about you guys and your web page and books constantly at the local fish store, even the staff have looked information up and ordered books to carry. <with our kind thanks to you!> The only thing I cannot seem to get right is my water hardness. I have a Hagen kit and am not 100% sure how to convert the number it gives to a comparable measurement for your site, but it looks like my water hardness is and has always been around 18 dKH, if accurate then it is rather high. < Do test distilled water and your tap water to see if you get believable readings (tap lower than tank and distilled extremely soft)> using the Hagen instructions, I get 320 mg/l (ppm) and I thought I should divide that by 17.9 to get the DKH. I have tried a lot of water changes, ph is normal but my Alk still won't go any lower. <have you confirmed that the source water isn't naturally high and mitigating the condition?> all other levels are in proper range. Thanks guys :) <still not terrible... especially for fast Scleractinian growers <G>. Best regards, Anthony>

Leather Coral infection Anthony, Working late nights again I see.  <yes... back from a trip and feeling guilty at having left our friend Steve high and dry solely with e-mail duty <smile>> Thanks for the advice. I will try cutting in place and supplementing with iodine as you recommended.  <excellent... it really is a simple and safe maneuver> Running some AC for a few days after the cut would probably be helpful too?  <absolutely...although there is a minor concern of light shock to improved water clarity (yellowing agents) if carbon has not been used for a while (4+ weeks... a bad habit)> Just curious, but do you have a guess as to what caused this damage, (bad water quality, fish/crab nibbling,...)?  <so many things it could be.. although water quality and aggression from another coral (even if not touching... called allelopathy. Commonly from hostile LPS corals like Galaxy, Hammers, bubbles and the like)> Also, thanks for the plug on your book.  <no... thank you for tolerating the shameless nature of it <wink>> When my wife and I were looking to buy a good coral book, your book and Borneman's was recommended. We went with the one with the pretty pics. We're suckers for nice color reef photos. :-)  <understood and agreed... as I am too <G>> But you can never have too many books, and now that we've satisfied our pics Jones, we'll be looking to get your book as well. Thanks! <thank you... best regards, Anthony>

Leather Coral infection WWM Crew, How's everyone doing?  <very well... thank you, with hope that you are the same> I have a question regarding my leather toadstool coral. A few days ago, I found a damaged area at the bottom edge of his crown. At first it looked like something took a little triangular cut out of it. That cut has grown larger since, and the tissue is very dark around that area. The rest of the coral looks fine, with polyps still fully extending. I've included pics of the top and the infected area on the bottom (sorry about the quality).  <the coral is in overall excellent health> I read in Borneman's book that these corals are fast healers and cutting the infected area off, accompanied by a short FW dip would effect a cure. I just wanted a second opinion.  < I concur and have written rather extensively about propagating/cutting this species in my book as well (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bkcorlproprev.htm)> The coral is firmly attached to 2 largish pieces of LR, and removing the whole thing for the "surgery" would be a lot of work. I just wanted to know if I should leave it be and hope for it to get better, or if cutting away the infected area is the best thing to do. Thanks in advance. <cutting would definitely be best and recommended. Wave the polyps down (fully retracted) and go in with a very sharp pair of scissors and cut a notch out of the crown 1/2 to 1 inch beyond the dark necrotic area. With reasonably good current and protein skimming in the tank... you may not have to remove the animal for dipping. Normal daily iodine doses for the tank in general can be therapeutic as well. Best regards, Anthony>

Toadstool Leather Plaque Bob, <Anthony Calfo in your service> I have a Toadstool Leather that has always done very well in my aquarium. However, recently I noticed an outbreak of something on the upper part of the "stalk" part of the specimen. It looks like small deposits of a plaque-like substance. It is white in color and porous to the touch. It can be rubbed off but it leaves a white "scar" on the flesh. The Toadstool still stands up straight, but it hasn't opened its' little tentacles since I noticed the outbreak. I haven't been able to find any information that addresses this problem. Please help. Kelli <somewhat general symptom... could be several things. If superficial... could be an incidental sponge or other invertebrate taking residence. If indented, then my suspicion is that it is not pathogenic but rather pest (fish bites, segmented worms, flatworms, etc. nipping and causing necrotic patches). Do observe polyp extension normalcy... if retracted uncommonly for its nature (leathers can have polyps out day and night) pay attention to that photoperiod for a predator. Look closely even with a magnifying glass for camouflaged flatworms. Best regards, Anthony>

Colt Coral & Skunk Clown Good evening Anthony or Steve! I have a rather large Colt coral that my pink skunk clownfish has suddenly fallen in love with. I've had the coral for 4 or 5 months and the clown never noticed it until recently. Now the clown very rarely leave the coral. For the most part (which amazes me) the coral seem to be fine with this and sometimes it seems to be irritated (closed up on some branches that the clown is loving on). Is this normal <It is normal for clownfish to accept surrogate anemones in home aquaria.> and why all of a sudden did the clown fall in love? <It varies. Sometimes it takes weeks to months for a clownfish to take to a natural host anemone.> He/she is the only clown! Should I move the clown or the coral? <This unnatural behavior may be doing damage to the coral. It will depend on your particular animals, but moving the clownfish maybe in order if the Colt is staying closed for days at a time. -Steven Pro>

Placement/Acclimation of Finger Leather <<JasonC here - Bob is away diving.>> My finger leather coral has problems. I put it in my 55 just over a week ago. Within a day its polyps began extending but then it retracted again and wilted in a day. I then moved it lower in my tank thinking maybe I was blasting it with light. I've got 6 watts per gallon from actinics and "full spectrum" (full spectrum is relative) daylight pc's. It wilted even more on the bottom so I moved it to the top in some strong current 3 days ago. Some of it's polyps came out but then it again retracted. At least it isn't wilting this time. All my other soft corals are doing fine. I have two Condylactis' about 20 inches away and star polyps 15 inches away. The closest invert in a colony of mushroom corals about 8 inches below it. There are some sps that came on the live rock within a few inches of the Leather but I wouldn't think that would do battle with it. My levels are all good except my nitrates are at 5 ppm. Any ideas? Thanks for the help. -Dan Jacksonville, Fl. <<you might just want to give it some time. A week really isn't a long time and it needs a while - two weeks to a month to adapt is usual. Sounds like you found a good spot for it - good current is very helpful. Cheers, J -- >>

Leather tipping (if the service is bad, don't give them a dime!) <Anthony Calfo in your service> I have a large leather (Sarcophyton) that is approximately 8 inches tall and for the past couple of weeks it has tipped all the way over to for a 90 degree angle with the rock that it is attached to. And over the period of the day it will straighten back up vertically. There is no determination or fowl smell on the leather. The water conditions are perfect and the only other coral that I have is a flowerpot sitting pretty close to it. I have 330 watts light for 110 gallon that is about 2-3 ft tall. They are a mixture of 10k and Blue actinic lights. Wondering if there is too much light hitting him cause he is about 6 inches from the top (just cause it is so tall). <not even close to being possible, my friend. In fact, if your fluorescent lamps are over 10 months old, I can assure you that inadequate light is contributing. As much as I like VHO fluorescent lamps, repetitive studies have shown that the useful life of such fluorescent bulbs is 6-10 months. That is a large part of the reason why metal halides are considered to be more economical. Sarcophytons grow largest under daylight colored metal halides> What could be the problem? Anything (worrying too much)? <if the behavior coincides with a day/night cycles (tipped at night) then it is rather normal. But if tipping by day, look for burrowing organisms around the stalk (hydroids, snails, crabs, etc)> 2nd question: I have read that you can cut the leathers to make new leathers pretty easily. Where do you cut the leather to do this?  <really tough to answer in short... but generally around the crown, perhaps a projecting lobe and preferably a piece with polyps. A quarter-sized division from the edge would be simple and safe> I read that it would be better to do it in a bucket or another tank and not in the show tank. Is this a true statement?  <absolutely... very important in my opinion> Should after you cut the leather should you do a Fresh water RO dip to help heal that cut? <never use RO water on any living aquatic marine creature...too pure and not buffered. Will kill more often than not. Just rely on good water quality and a little bit of iodine in the water (reef dose) as an antiseptic and to raise Re-dox> Just more curious on how this great coral can do this and what it could do to the leather if performed. <Sarcophytons are one of the easiest corals to reproduce. Done correctly, it is very safe for the division and donor. Hmmm... do check out this WWM link <wink>: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bkcorlproprev.htm> Thanks. CV <thanks kindly, Anthony Calfo>

Sarcophyton woes Hi Bob! <Anthony Calfo in your service> I have had a toadstool leather (appears to be Sarcophyton trocheliophorum) in my 55 gallon tank for about 2 months. It has been happy and healthy as far as I can tell, in fact it is looking better than it did at the fish store! I recently noticed white spots on the trunk. Some are smaller than a dime and others are larger and more oval. I have used a turkey baster to blow off some loose skin in the area, but these spots appear to be spreading. This morning I blew off some algae that was growing at the base and underneath it the trunk was completely white. I took it out of the water and gave it a smell test and everything smells fine, no rotten egg smell.  <and the tissue isn't necrotic/eroding?> I also noticed that the white spots appear to turn light brown, and I can blow this off to reveal the white spot underneath. There aren't any of these spots on the top of the coral and the polyps are opening fine. I have read all my books and searched the internet, but I can't find anything that really describes this.  <could be the equivalent of a mucosal tunic (shedding/sloughing waste compounds through growth)> It does not appear to be moving across like a front, nor it is it moving rapidly. I noticed the first spots probably about 2-3 weeks ago. Each spot appears to be an isolated spot. Nothing else in the system is affected. Here's the lo-down on the tank: 55 gallon with wet/dry filter, replaced bioballs with live rock. 4 55 watt PC's 2 actinic 2 daylight Ph 8.2 NH3 0 NO2 0 NO3 <5ppm KH 7-8 Ca 400 <do get your Alkalinity up higher...your at the bottom for reef invertebrates...aim for 11-12 dKH> Livestock: 2 cleaner shrimp 3 peppermint shrimp 1 yellow tang 10 blue leg and scarlet crabs 10 Astrea snails 1 serpent star pulsing xenia Sarcophyton elegans Trachyphyllia geoffroyi 2 hairy mushrooms 5 red mushrooms 2 unidentified encrusting corals The open brain sits directly under the leather in question, probably about 5 vertical inches between them. Could there be any chemical warfare going on?  <Wow! An important factoid...yes, in fact beyond allelopathy (chemical warfare) you brain can easily reach your leather in the dark of night. You may simply be looking at the mucosal symptoms of burns from the brains night tentacles> The 2 cleaner shrimp have also taken to hanging out on the underside of the leather, could they be picking at it while I am not looking? If I move this coral into my quarantine tank, the lighting in that tank is way low. I think 15 watts regular florescent on a 10 gallon tank. Will this be a problem? Will the shock of moving this coral do more harm than good??  <yes... please move the brain or leather laterally instead (not higher unless gradually. Your brain is stuck in the sand bottom isn't it? Otherwise, there is a very good chance it will die within the year on rock placement> Help Bob, what do I do??? Thanks Leslie <an easy solution. Happy reefing. 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>

Another Sarcophyton Question. General Health hi Robert I have had a leather coral for about 3 weeks now and its polyps have partly extended but they look no where near as good as the pictures I see of leather corals on the internet my water levels are all good am I doing anything wrong <Could be... that the animal is just new... could be food, competition, parasitic issues... likely alkalinity, pH, biomineral involvement. Please read over the stinging-celled life sections on WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner>

New Aquarist Questions I have a Hippo, Sailfin and a Royal Gramma. I have 1 coral - A Hairy Leather. Everything was find with the hairy leather until...... I just fed the fish some blood worms and the Leather curled up like it was dying. It has come back to its usual form 5 minutes later. So I am turning to you for your expertise - any idea what is going on here???? <normal sensory response... some corals retract for minutes...others for days. No worries> Can you recommend a 3rd and 4th frozen food for these guys. 1. Formula Two 2. Spirulina Formula <3.Nori/Laver Seaweed and 4. Mysid shrimp/Pacifica plankton (tiny krill)> Thanks, Brad <You are quite welcome! Anthony>

Budding Leather Bob, How's the new year treating you so far? Hope all is well with you and your family. Well, on to my story. I was pruning back some of the Caulerpa from my main tank the other day, when low and behold, I found two little buds (not beer bottles! ha!) at the base of my Sarcophyton leather! Well, my question.... how fast do these suckers grow?  <Highly variable... under "proper" or propitious circumstances, very quickly... in adverse ones, seemingly not at all...> I could've sworn that the "parent" Sarcophyton grew around an inch in the last two months!  <Yes, possible... or just expansion...> Should I think about relocating them now while they're small, or should I wait until they start to look crowded?  <I'd wait till they're an inch or more in diameter> I was thinking of putting them in the sump to grow them out, then give/trade with a fish friend for something else. Thanks in advance for your advice. <Good idea. Please do read through the chatforum input: http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/ re Anthony's input on soft coral culture. Bob Fenner> Khoi

Re: Leather coral Mr. Fenner, Thank you for the quick reply and for referring my email to Mr. Calfo. He was so kind to respond in great detail about my concerns for my finger & toadstool leathers. <Yes... he is a treasure to our interest, the species, planet> In my last post I made the mistake of saying that I use an AquaC skimmer on my 125 reef. I use that skimmer on my 75 gallon FOWLR system. On my reef setup I use a RedSea HOB skimmer. I have it setup on the sump. Mr. Calfo spoke of how much skimmate I should collect daily. I was shocked by how little I do clean out. This is something I will look into correcting ASAP. <Mmm... a concern with large, many soft corals present... they can produce amazing quantities of materials that want removing expediently> You asked it I feed meaty foods to my leathers and the answer to that sadly is no. Another problem I shall correct right away. Another question was if I give the proper amount of Iodine to the water. I do dose bi-weekly to keep a consistent reading of 0.05ppm. <I would change this administration to once a week... and aim for twice the concentration then> I hope that is the best readings. I will read your information on Alcyoniids as soon as I finish this letter. I wanted to thank you first for all of your help! I will update soon if that is alright. Happy holidays and new year. Amy <Thank you for the update. Bob Fenner>

Food for soft corals Bob, I am new to saltwater and reefkeeping and have found your site to be most helpful. Started using Chemi-pure and added Caulerpa (based on stuff I read on WWM) to both my tanks(55+90) and am doing pretty well so far.  <Ah, good> About 6 wks for the 55 and a little over 2 mos. on the 90. I did lose three Banggai cardinals in my 90 within a week of buying them. I don't know why they died, all water parameters are good and a yellow tang and a true Perc. are both doing fine. Can't decide if I will attempt to keep these in the future or not, they are high on my list of what I'd like to keep. <You might have gotten some "from a bad batch".> My question is can you recommend a invert. food for my soft (polyps/leathers/mushroom/colt) corals. I've seen on the site where you recommend feeding them. I have never fed mine and lately some of them close up during the day which they never used to do. I was leaning towards PhytoPlex Phytoplankton by Kent or Invert. Smorgasbord by Coralife. I have not been able to find anything specific in the FAQ's. <The latter would be better... something more animal-based protein... If you think you might go through a bunch at some time... we can chat over making your own. For now, fresh or frozen/defrosted material, larger for larger collective colonies, will be fine store-bought.> Thanks again in advance for your help - Kevin By the way I asked for TCMA book for Xmas and I have spotted something that looks and feels suspiciously like a book under the tree. can't wait to read it. <Mmm, no shaking or peeking! Only a couple of days to go. Bob Fenner>

Leather coral Mr. Fenner, I started building a reef setup about a year and a half ago. I only started stocking my coral in the last six months. I tried to learn to create a stable environment before I took a stab at stocking the coral I want. <A wise move> I have a 125 gallon reef w/ 40gallon refugium and 25 gallon sump, AquaC skimmer and four MJ powerheads on a wave/light timer. All is going well. My water is doing wonderful with the help of my Knop Ca reactor. Ammo. NO2 & NO3 are all zero. I have 150lbs of live rock and a 4" DSB that is very active. <Outstanding> I have as of right now a frogspawn, hammer (no where near each other), red and blue mushrooms (no where near anything that they could sting) two open brains and some pulsing xenia. My next move up was keeping some leathers. I bought a finger leather as well as a toadstool. I have heard how it can take quite some time for them to acclimate to a system after transport. The two I have mentioned I have kept for two months now. They are mid way in the rock work, getting a moderate to strong (at times) water flow. I do make sure to have a good food source for them, and dose with DT often. They are under 384watt PC lights on 12hrs a day. To be blunt they look like death warmed over. I have attached a picture of my toadstool leather. I have been told not to move them because it will cause it to have to acclimate all over again. It made sense so I stepped back and let them get use to the tank. I am feeling like a failure at giving the care these corals need to do well. Could just suggest any course of action I could take to help these leathers? Or should I sit back and let them be. <Mmm, two months is way long enough for these soft corals to "recover" from shipping. Do you add iodide to your water at all? You mention phytoplankton, but do you feed any meaty foods to these two? I would.> Thank you for your time and consideration. I hope the attachment will be clear enough for you to decipher. Take care <Please do read through the scant materials posted on WetWebMedia.com re Alcyoniids (including the FAQs) and respond re the feeding and Iodide questions. Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Re: Leather coral <Hmm, actually your photo/Sarcophyton looks okay. Please refer your situation to our chatforum: http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/ Anthony, are you here? Bob Fenner>

Leather coral hi I have a leather coral that keeps tipping its self so it is leaning against a rock I have only had it for a few days the coral opens up but only tiny polyps are showing can the rock it is leaning on hurt the coral at all what should I thanks your help is really appreciated <Please read through the soft coral sections (articles and FAQs) stored on www.WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner>

Help (soft coral injury) last night I stupidly moved my new Sarcophyton to a place which I thought would be a better spot I woke up in the morning and it was leaning against a rock and the part that was against the rock had being worn away is this normal? <Normal? Worn away? No> its only being an 1hr or so but should the coral have opened already or could it be dead? <Likely not dead.... maybe move it back to where it was. Bob Fenner>

Sarcophyton I just bought my first coral today its a leather coral (cup coral) I think I was wondering how long it will take for my coral to extend and if I have to feed this type of coral. thanks <Please read through the articles, FAQs on soft and hard corals posted on WWM. The index to such here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/MarInd5of6.htm Bob Fenner>

Erection question Hi Bob, Thank you for the previous advice on both <You're welcome> my ich problem (fish still in hospital tank-- two weeks now and signs of parasites are completely gone, water has become more stable so it doesn't require constant monitoring/water changes--thank god; little nanoreef is still fallow with inverts all doing well) <Ah, good> and my feather duster's mysterious cloudy spew (pretty sure the reproduction explanation was correct-- interestingly it stayed closed for a longer period of time after doing this than it has since I got it-- now seems normal, happy and is no longer ejaculating up my tank) Had a few quick questions for you... Q1: Had to remove a cleaner shrimp because it kept picking through my calcareous tube worm and I didn't want to stress the worm. Few days ago, I replaced it with another (the pet store I bought it at told me I could return it for credit if I have the same problem with this one). So far so good. My Fire Shrimp (Scarlet as it is also called) was a bit aggressive toward the new shrimp on the block at the beginning, but its slowed and they seem to be becoming if not friendly, then cordial in that shrimp kind of way. So far so good. My question: anything I can do to reduce possible aggression btw shrimps and/or possibility of this cleaner sifting through the tubeworm? <Hope, feed them...> I've set up overhang "cleaning stations" that face in opposite directions and that seems to have worked so far (they both occupy their intended locations). I gather from the FAQs/website that much crustacean aggression is due to hunger (in addition to space). I do wonder if the tubeworm sifting is likely a species problem as opposed to an individual one-- any experience with that? <More species...> Q2: At the recommendation of a local reef specialist, have started using a new product called "Black Powder", contents (according to label): "concentrated amino acid complexed bicolloids and herbal and mineral extracts" (the latter are unspecified). <The whole product is "unspecified"...> My friend said he has had great success feeding his reef with this stuff, so much so that he's dropped phytoplankton feeds altogether. My question is this: know anything about this product? Any possible downsides? <Please query chatforums re this and other Weiss products. Ours: http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/ Am not a fan> The label claims it may cause the growth of "cryptic organisms" that remain unseen in my tank, but implies that these are positive, not negative. <The ads, product descriptions coming from this outfit are cryptic to me> I used a single small dosage last night and my colt coral is more erect and upright than it has been the entire time I've had the thing. Maybe those "herbal and mineral extracts" are Viagra? <Ha!> Should I continue with phyto feedings as well (I'm skeptical the latter should simply be dropped with use of mysterious Black Powder). <I would not have used the BP in the first place... would continue with feedings> Q3: Once I de-copper the hospital tank and it tests 0 for copper, is it then safe to put an invertebrate in the system? <Yes> Was thinking of throwing in a hermit crab as a coal miner's canary, but then wondered if this would be good test species. I assume that different inverts have different levels of susceptibility to copper. Are corals the most susceptible? Snails? <Most corals more susceptible than most snails> Q4: If you don't remember, I'm the guy with the over skimmed nana-reef. I'm lacking in algae growth, esp. now with the fish out of the system visiting the hospital. I wanted to provide my hermits with food. I noticed before that they eat the filamentous macro-algae I sometimes buy--- don't know the technical name, but it looks like grass, basically-- strands around 1-1.5 inches that grow in clumps. It's fairly stiff--when they eat it, they "mow" it at the base and while the amount is small, the cut strands then lie about the aquarium, taking a while to disintegrate. I haven't noticed any effect of this on my water parameters, but wondered about algae toxins. Any way one can measure/observe algae toxins?  <Mmm, there are assays (immunofluorescent, chemical...)... the best are likely bio-assays... as you're planning> Has anyone compiled a list by species or assembled comparative info? <Not as far as I'm aware> Sorry this was longwinded-- I've been busy with work and the questions have piled up! Cheers, Derek Milne <Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Colt Coral I recently did a 20% water change to my 55 gallon tank that has been running now for around a year to drop my nitrate levels (which were way high). After doing so I noticed that my huge colt coral 12" high with many branches does not seem to be opening up as it did before (even with the high nitrate levels).  <Many soft coral groups actually "enjoy" higher nutrient levels...> My water parameters are great now and all my other corals are doing fine and are wide open. The colt does not show any signs of bleaching or any other blemishes or cuts but it just doesn't seem to be opening like it was. I do remember on my initial purchase it took it 2 days before it opened up but it has been roughly 5 days now and when I think it is starting to show signs of opening it closes right back up. Any ideas or should just wait it out. <Just wait> Experience tells me to leave it alone and keep my hands out of the tank but since it was such a great piece I'm a little nervous about losing it. Thanks <A forty percent change in water is too much in one go... do consider making more frequent, gradual changes... using other mechanisms at continuously removing, using nitrates (et al.) nutrients in your system. Please read through these FAQ files: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/no3probfaqs.htm and beyond. Bob Fenner>

Leather toadstools..... I have a leather toadstool I bought about a week ago and its still slumped over and closed. it also has a white slime coat hanging off of it. it still has its color and I have a good current passing through it so the slime coat is coming off, but I need to know if its slowly dying. what do I do???? thank you <You can "gingerly" pull at the slime coating to see if it's loose enough to slough off... and remove. This material is "natural"... but should be taken out. If the animal, water "smells bad" it is likely a good idea to remove the specimen. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/soft.htm and the links, FAQs beyond. Bob Fenner> Joel

Leather Coral I recently bought a leather coral and it has been healthy for the past week. it has been under metal halides and it has been doing great for the first week but today it has been all shriveled up and I don't know why. Do leather corals always do this to excrete something or is it getting too "tired" of being under metal halides? <Good observation, speculation... Leather Corals, soft corals period, do go into later stages of shock/adjustment to being moved... new conditions. Sometimes these are predictable, explainable events like "shedding"... often due to a lack of alkalinity, biomineral, feeding, iodide, vitamins, chemical competition in the system... maybe a parasite or predator bothering it... Please read through the Alcyoniid FAQs archived on our site here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/alcyoniidfaqs.htm and closely observe your specimen, system further. Bob Fenner> -Thanks -Matt

Colt coral ?'s Hello Mr. Fenner, I hope today finds you well rested, fed, and lively. Oops, I'm talking like you're one of my many pets, or children, or something. <Woof!> My colt coral is weird (for lack of a better term). Let me start off by saying I love this coral. It is tall and proud, and I thought ready for some propagation. I think I jinxed it though b-cuz as soon as I started trying to decide where to cut, I noticed an area that was turning whitish. This area comprises about 5% or less of the entire animal, and does not appear to be sloughing off. Also, it does not appear to bother the animal as it is still looking quite majestic and has full polyp extension. <Might be worthwhile to go ahead with the propagation exercise and discard the apparently mal-affected area.> My H2O tests OK, the only number I'm not sure of is the alkalinity. It is about 9dKH. <This is fine... would be better at 12-15... but no problem> I added some super buffer (alkalinity booster) to bring it back up to acceptable levels (I was told it should be 12-15 dKH) <Oh!> Is this something that commonly happens with colt corals, or should I be concerned for the animals health.  <Happens, but I would be concerned...> Also, should I be doing any concentrated feedings for this animal. <Yes... at least once a week, twice is better> I was told by the LFS that it got most nutrition from the PC lighting. On that note, I've got 4X55w PC. I think this is enough. <Mmm, I suggest whoever told you this try to get all their nutrition from standing underneath 4X55 watt PC's> On a different note, I'd like to culture some purposeful macro-algae in my tank but am having a bear of a time locating any locally (Sacramento, CA area).  <What? There's a few great stores around there. Do you participate with the local marine club? Here's their link: http://www.marineaquarist.org/ Contact them, ask for names, addresses, directions, advice... there are folks who have a bunch of Macroalgae going themselves in their membership... Mention my name (ho boy!)... as they put up with my visits regularly> If there is anyone in the area who has an abundance I'd love to take a little off their hands. I remember on previous systems having to prune that stuff back weekly. Thank you very much for your feedback. You're a true asset to the marine/FW hobby. <Glad to be here. Bob Fenner> Jason Harris

Coral and algae Dear Bob, I have a couple of questions for you. One, I am currently converting my fish only tank to a reef tank, now I have read many books so I know all the requirements (conditions, lighting, trace elements, etc....). My question is I want to start off slowly with a piece of Colt Coral (Cladiella sp.). In all the reading I have done I have not found any specific information on coral. So for this species what is the best substrate live sand or aragonite? Do you feed it at all? How do you prune it (where, when, and how)? How do make the cuttings grow as a new piece of coral? Is it better mounted on live rock or in the substrate? Any and all info on this coral is much appreciated. Two, I have a sump (wet\dry) and I would like to add or grow a species of macro algae in it. What is the best species to help improve conditions in your system (my reason for growing it)? How deep does the water in the sump need to be? Is the lighting requirement the same as a reef (2-4 watts per gallon)? How would it root or anchor in the sump? Again thanks for the info. Three (final one) You have clearly stated that sumps are nitrate factories. But you have also said that you can change that. How do I modify my sump to make it a non- nitrate factory ( I think that is how you would state it). Thanks for all the help it is always appreciated. Ryan Rech < Hmm, a host of questions: 1. Cladiella... the genus (about 49 nominal species) of the Soft Coral family Alcyoniidae? Doesn't live on the sorts of substrates you list... it's found attached to "rock" in shallows... usually inside lagoons or reef slopes... and/so I don't know if I understand your point about live sand or aragonite... Either will do... Some folks feed theirs, we (at our little coral farm/experimental station) do not... relying on chemical "feeding" by melting down live rock... We cut ours much as with Sarcophytons... same family, same approach. The details of which in more detail are posted in articles posted at www.wetwebmedia.com Coronal sections are cut into "pie shapes" across the top... all with new single-edge razor blades... Mount the pieces on solid material... like rock... we just tie ours down with thread... other folks use acrylates... 2. The best family/genus is Caulerpaceae... my fave species are C. sertularoides and C. taxifolia... out of the tropical west Atlantic... other members of the genus will do. 3. Sumps themselves are not nitrate factories... Wet-dry media is the component that pushes nitrification... non wet-dry media, no excessive nitrate production in sumps. Most sumps we set up utilize live rock, some "mud/muck" that is intentionally placed... Caulerpa... sometimes Halimeda, other algae... Lighting, either alternate light/dark with the main tank... or left on continuously. Bob Fenner>

Question about Colt Coral I have a huge colt in a 55 Gallon reef with some LPS, soft corals, and anemones. My water is great no ammonia, nitrite or nitrate, calcium 450, phosphate 0. My Colt used to close down at night which seems normal. Since I added VHOs, he has become more "fluffy" and full (his tips) as apposed to being more "spiral". Also, he sometimes closes up during the day and seems to be open early in the morning. Is this normal behavior or is he having problems. Please advise Thank you, Andrew <Good descriptions... and quite normal. Responding to photosynthetic changes... opportunities. Bob Fenner>

Why so hard? Why is the Yellow Fiji leather on the restricted list? I just bought one from my local store not realizing this! Am I really going to have a hard time with it? The person at the store said they where hardy! Thank you, Erik Van Vogt >> I had to check the Restricted List myself... I agree with YOU, this is a very hardy Sarcophyton, and gorgeous to boot... Will send word up to the folks upstairs regarding this... This is a tough species... I rate it near the top, if not THE hardiest of soft corals. Bob Fenner

RE: Why so hard? Hi, Bob; I noticed your comment here but we have found that S. elegans has a fairly poor record of success in most hobbyists tanks. If you have any info to pass along, we would be very receptive to hearing it. John Caskie, Flying Fish Express >> Really John? Not the ones I've come in contact with, as a collector, writer, visitor... are we talking about the same animal I wonder? Otherwise known as the Sarcophyton "KA4-ALC-31", like in Nilsen and Fossa, v.2 p. 158? If we (FFExpress) are losing these, we should switch suppliers... Walt Smith's live and live... <<RMF finds there is a very real difference in identification here... the brilliant yellow S. elegans from Tonga is definitely not an aquarium-hardy species, whereas the yellow Sarcophytons from Fiji are quite tough>> Bob Fenner

Leather coral I have a question regarding soft corals. I was thinking about adding a species of leather coral to my 55 gal tank, but am unsure of it compatibility with the other tank residents. System and livestock are as follows: 55gal with protein skimmer, wet/dry filter, some live rock, crushed coral bottom, one 40 watt 10KK fluorescent, two 55 watt 50/50 10KK PC bulbs, two adult yellow tangs, one adult yellow tailed damsel, a clarkii clown (1.5"), a LT anemone, and two emerald crabs each about the size of a quarter. Chemistry is Ammonia:0, Nitrite:0, Nitrate:25, Ca:400, SG:1.022, Temp:82, pH:8.3. Would a leather coral do alright in the system or should I leave this system as is? Thanks for any help you can offer. <As a group, Leathers are hardy, tough animals for aquarium use. Your system, physically and biologically should be/do fine with this addition. I would go ahead with the addition. Our sites input: http://WetWebMedia.com/alcyoniids.htm Bob Fenner> Ron

Please Help! RE: leather coral Well I went out and bought myself a leather coral and for the first 4 or 5 days it looked great...even better than it did in the pet store. Then all of a sudden I got up one morning and the polyps were not extended, but it did this sometimes and so I thought nothing of it. Also there were a few glossy patches as if it were going to shed it's skin...again myself thinking this is normal. Then a whole day went by...nothing...after a couple of days there were a few white patches which increased in number as time went on. I thought it was dying and was about to remove it, but then suddenly yesterday all the white blotches were gone, although there were still a few glossy spots, but no shed skin yet. Also before the coral was acting funny, at night when the lights were out, I would see very thin and long several centimeters) threads extend from it and wave in the water as if they were there to gather microscopic food particles or plankton in the water, but they would not be there when the lights were on. Well I noticed them again early this morning leading me to believe that the coral may be alive still. Another observation is that on the base of the coral is a slab of rock/calcareous purple algae which has and additional two leather coral bodies about the size of pea. These two specimens have been acting normal and extend their polyps (which is only about 10 or so) everyday, and appear to be quite healthy. This kind of made me rule out any problems with the water or chemical warfare with my LT anemone, since I would think they would be affected as well. I would greatly appreciate any help you can offer on the matter. Thank you. Ron <Good observations, reporting... It may well be that this Leather/Sarcophyton is fine, just "settling in"... Do keep an eye on your other livestock for signs of negative chemical interaction/s here... be ready for a good-sized water change, and possibly employ some activated carbon in your filter flow path... Are you feeding the Leather? You might try this as well as vitamin and iodide administration to the systems water. Do read over the soft coral FAQs on our site here: http://WetWebMedia.com/alcyoniidfaqs.htm Bob Fenner>

Re: Please Help! RE: leather coral I'm going to do a 10% water change today just because it's time to do it, but I'll also have another 50% on hand in case I see trouble brewing. <Good planning> I have activated carbon in my wet dry filter, but it's about a month old so I'll be changing that out today as well. Since having the Sarcophyton I've added one dose of iodine and a dose of Strontium/Molybdenum, but the was like 2 days after having it.  <Do test for the iodine/ide... these animals can really use up a bunch... I would add the recommended dose till you got a reading for some concentration the next day... and adjust the dosage thereafter for whatever interval you apply same (likely weekly)> Also, the coral has shrunk a bit too, but there doesn't seem to be any decay that I can notice. One bad thing that I forgot to mention was that there is some Cyanobacteria patches in the tank. I've done a pretty good job in removing it, when it does pop up, but I'm not sure if it's presence had an effect on the Sarcophyton or not. <Yikes... yes. Do what you can to eliminate the causes/allowances for this Cyano. My input: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm> One last thing, I have some orange algae that seems to be coming up on some rocks. I'm not too familiar with this kind and was wondering if you have ever come across it.  <Very likely other species of BGA> Just to give you a little more insight into the aquarium, I also have purple and white calcareous algae as well as some red, green, and brown microalgae that grows on the rock. If you can think of anything I should be concerned about I would really appreciate it. Thanks a lot! <Do take a close look at the base area of the Leather... during the day, and night (with a flashlight)... there is some possibility that a parasite or predator may be at work here as well... generally worms of sorts. Bob Fenner> Ron

RE: Please Help! RE: leather coral Here's another chapter in my ongoing leather coral saga. I think I may have found a possible cause for the coral not being too happy. Yesterday evening I caught one of my emerald crabs scraping at it's base. I don't think the crab is actually trying to eat the coral because he just takes a few scrapes and moves on to the live rock which has much more appetizing algae. The problem is that it scrapes the base looking for algae, but also scratches the coral as well, leaving white flesh exposed. I don't really want to have to get rid of the crab because it does an excellent job in keeping the algae in check, but I also don't want to loose my coral because of a $5 crab. If I had a separate system to put the crab in I would, but I live in an apt and barely have room for the 55 gal one. Any options you can throw at me are greatly needed. Thanks. Ron <I would wait a few weeks and see if the Mithrax comes to realize the Soft Coral isn't palatable. Bob Fenner>

Re: Please Help! RE: leather coral yea he doesn't like it very much...he gets very excited with the algae on the rocks but when he scratches the leather he's not too enthused about it and leaves soon. The only thing is that he must forget and comes back to see if maybe the taste has changed. Well time will tell, and I'll keep you updated. Thanks for all your help. <You're welcome. Have seen this "conditioned non-response" occur with this, other crab species. Patience. Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Re: Please Help! Re: leather coral Good news on the Sarcophyton! Earlier this evening a few polyps were pushing up under a layer of skin. After a hour or so more were pushing up. I took a turkey baster to provide a little extra current, which blew the layer of skin of. I then used a net and removed it from the tank. About 1/3 of the polyps have come up so far and the number is increasing. If those white patches had not have went away, I was afraid I was going to have to sacrifice the Sarcophyton in the freezer. Thank you for your help. You have been an enormous help in all of this. <Ah, good to hear of your success my friend. Bob Fenner> Ron

Re: leather coral Thanks for the help. Some pet stores have the tendency to lie about computability in order to make a sale, so I opted for an unbiased expert opinion. <Good idea... would ask more than one, two sources for anything important. Bob Fenner> Ron

Colt Sickness Dear Mr. Fenner: I was hoping you could shed some light on a problem I have regarding my colt coral. My 125 gallon aquarium has been set up for at least a year now and was doing wonderful! I have a colt coral that has grown beautifully, but around 2 months ago I did a water change of about 25-30% and it has not expanded as much as it used to. <Best to use pre-made, stored replacement water...> Then on top of it not expanding nearly as much, it is now getting white on several branches, not exactly pasty though. Recently I bought a Sarcophyton elegans and it was placed near the colt coral, say 6 inches or so apart at least. <This could be a/the problem...> In your Questions and Answers page they mentioned something like my situation and said it could be chemical warfare between the two.  <Yes> Obviously my colt is losing the battle badly now! I know lighting isn't an issue because it expanded beautifully before. Any thoughts on what my next steps are for my colt coral? <At least physically space them more... and add activated carbon to your filter flow path> My nitrates and ammonia are zero, PH is 8.3, and my Salinity is 1.024. Should I sever the white branches and hope for the best in another area? <Not just yet... do you have another tank to move the Sarcophyton to?> I will appreciate any advice you can give me and I thank you in advance! If I left any information additional information out that you would need, I would have no problem providing it. Thank you very much, James <Do at least move the two apart, use a chemical filtrant for organics. Bob Fenner>

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