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FAQs about Soft Coral Health 1

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

Related Articles: Soft Coral

Green Finger problem (?) Hey Gang, how you doin'? well I hope. <very fine with thanks> I finally got some clear pics. of a green finger coral  in hopes that someone might be able to diagnose the base of this beauty, I don't have any experience on what the appropriate course of action should be. <a very common problem with "colored" leather corals. They are very sensitive to handling. Please avoid touching them with a bare hand at all times. Handle only the base or tissue with gloved hands otherwise> Its been in my tank for three days, and the base looks worse by the day. <it is highly infectious although looks mild here so far> It looked nice at the store (a little frayed at the base) though I probably shouldn't have purchased,  but, I reckon hind sight don't apply here. Thanks for the Your friend in Denver, Scott <simple solution here. Have a VERY sharp razor blade or scalpel ready. A needle with clean nylon thread (or fishing line) ready and waiting to stitch too. A piece of small rock or rubble as well. Move 3/4-1" above the highest necrotic area of the base of the stalk. Cut clean and fast through the animal. You must wear gloves and keep the procedure down to a minimum time of handling. After the cut, look at the exposed trunk and be sure that you cleared the soft and necrotic area... if so, run a stitch or two through the base (no more than an inch from the bottom) and tie it off to a piece of rock. Return it to the exact same place it was in the tank and do not touch it for weeks. Maintain strong water flow and very aggressive skimming in the tank. Small daily doses of iodine may be therapeutic for the tank too (not extra iodine... just your weekly dose broken down to daily). Best regards, Anthony>  

Re: Green Finger problem (?) Thanks for the info, it will be easier for me to perform this, "MASH 4077" style surgery, out of the water. Will these be ok? <yep... it all takes mere seconds> Just one clean cut, eh. <correct> Is the corals tissue tough to cut thru, like muscle? or, will it be like a hot knife thru butter? <rather in between... the tissue is quite soft but infused with calcareous spicules> (just paged my head nurse to the emergency room, stat!) Wish me luck, we're goin' ............Thanks, Scott   <Banzai! Or is it bonsai? Both I suppose. Best of luck! Anthony>
Comments on Remora Pro Protein skimmer
Hey Gang! How you's doin'? I just read a readers comments on e-tailers selling the Remora Pro Protein skimmers. I recently purchased one from Marinedepot.com. The total cost on the Pro model w/Mag 3 pump + the skimmer/bubble trap was around $270 including shipping. This protein skimmer kicks butt! It was producing dark skimmate after 3 weeks. I did contact the Aqua C company with a concern for the lid that didn't fit quite right, and the Prez. of the  company, Jason, sent a new one that was here in two days! <indeed... beyond producing very well designed skimmers (great value too), his customer service is legendary. AT least rare in our industry. All part of why you see us recommend these products often> A wonderful product & company to deal with - IMO.   <very much agreed... thank you for sharing the kudos> Anthony, I performed the "Mash 4077" surgery on the green finger today, and found it to be a little tougher to cut thru than imagined (took 2 cuts). It went from being the size of a softball to smaller than a golf ball <natural> & was very hard to get a stitch in. <surprising but no worries. Rest easy if you saw no systemic infection (rotting up through core)> I managed to get it loosely attached (I think) to a piece of rubble and the current hasn't knocked it off yet (keeping fingers crossed-mine, not the corals!) <excellent... the key is to leave it alone no mater how grumpy it looks for weeks (short of rotting)> Will it attach to the rubble quickly? <within a couple weeks> I noticed when performing the cut that a clear reddish liquid "bled" a little. <yep... be very careful to never get this hear eyes, in cuts, etc. Hence my admonition to wear gloves> I was thinking, as the cut was taking place, I can't believe I'm actually doing this! Anyway, thanks a lot for all the help all you's guys give to all of us! I know I certainly appreciate it! Your friend in Denver, <with kind regards, Anthony>
Green Finger coral surgery
Hello Anthony, I assume that an alcohol swab to wipe the new razor blades machine oils off before the surgery, will be in order. <yes... and also wipe the oil off the fishing line if you use it instead of sewing nylon thread> After cutting the necrotic tissue off, I'll make an X pattern with two stitches holding the coral to a flat piece of (1 1/2"x 2 1/2")  cup coral rubble, how tight/loose should it be tied? <not very snug at all... they are temporary and will be cut away in weeks after the coral attached. We simply want to keep the coral in place and propped up. Can be done with rock and rubble just the same like a campfire... but lees reliable. Do stitch> The DKH in the tank is 10.52DKH, is to low to promote healing or does it matter (slowly bringing the levels up with SeaChem's Reef Carbonate), <your dKH is fine... you've been listening to Nazi sps keepers somewhere that want your tank to test like liquid lime <G>. 8-12dKH is normal and safe. Consistency within this range promotes growth... not a target number. No worries> also, reef iodide won't be here for a week or so, will start dosing upon arrival. <excellent> Would you wait for the DKH to come up & iodide to show up before doing MASH 4077 maneuvers like this? <nope... this is a potentially virulent infection that can kill this coral and others in the tank. You are lucky it is moving slow now... uncommon. Cut it ASAP> Definitely looking forward to your book showing up!  Your friend in Denver,  Scott <thanks kindly! Anthony>

Colt Coral (formerly Cladiella and more recently Alcyonium. Now Klyxum) I  have been searching for info on colt coral maybe you could help me. recently my colt stopped polyping out. I checked the water and all is very  good. my Bullseye, clove polyps, mushrooms and hammer are all doing great although I did notice my button polyps a little withdrawn. I am worried the colt will eventually starve (it has been 3 weeks since it has fully polyped. Thanks for any help or info Rich <do try a change of carbon (small amounts used weekly instead of large portion monthly), a good water change of 25% or better, and be sure that your skimmer is giving you almost daily skimmate. You have listed some severely noxious corals that require these measures. If water quality hasn't been up to par, you might blame allelopathy from the chemical warfare of your corals. Anthony>

Capnella "flopping" Dear Guys, Hope you  had a great holiday season.  I can't find anything on my situation in your archives.   <appreciate you looking... abroad, this dilemma falls under the category of Nephtheids deflating with most attention drawn to the aposymbiotic cauliflower corals> I have a large Capnella that has been doing well.  It has taken, however, to laying down on the substrate, often with different branches in different directions.  I thought perhaps it was attempting to attach, <at best a reproductive strategy... more likely duress> but it frequently changes where the branches are. Sometimes it goes upright again.  The polyps are open and otherwise it appears great.  However, my clam does not appreciate being draped.  Everything else is fine; parameters good.  Is this a problem or not?  Pam S. <likely a sign of stress... is there a very noxious coral nearby (within 6") like Colt coral, a Euphylliid (haller, octopus, torch, bubble), mushroom anemones or Starpolyp? Else, have you been weak on carbon use (not even monthly let alone weekly)... same neglect on water changes? I'm suspecting a noxious accumulation in the water from husbandry or allelopathy or both. Do send a picture if possible. Best regards Anthony>

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

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

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

Soft coral struggles: shipping delay Dear Mr. Fenner, My water temp is 76 degrees, PH is 8.0 and the Specific Gravity is 1.024. Yesterday I received a shipment of five soft corals [button polyps, cauliflower colt coral, and 2 toadstool mushroom leather] and one sand sifting sea star.  <is this a wholesale shipped order, transshipment, or retail purchase? Very different likely states of condition for livestock from these outlets> The package was left by the shipping company on one of the docks and didn't arrive overnight as promised. I was able to pick it up from the main office at 5pm the following day. Clarify, it was shipped Monday evening and I picked it up at 5pm Wednesday. <OK... not too terrible, although I would almost NEVER recommend overnight service. Domestic service from the airlines is always faster and PDQ service (airport to airport baggage) is extremely fast and reliable... much faster than overnight and the airlines have climate controlled holding areas most of the way. Overnight carriers are not set up at ant point for livestock (cargo bellies, warehouses or trucks... all extreme weather exposure). Again... a shout out to all... please pick your livestock up at the airport. No FedEx or like carriers for live animals. Coast to coast is 6 hours on the commercial airliners. FedEx closes at 8pm at night and delivers by 10AM at best... that's 14 hours minimum without climate control> I slowly acclimated the new arrivals allowing them to float in the closed bags in the tank for about an hour.  <too long for shipping stressed animals... brief acclimation needed here. 30 minutes max IMO> Then over a 1.5 period I gradually introduced my tanks water to their bags. The star seems to be doing very well and is very active. The corals I'm a little concerned about.  <still probably OK> The Cauliflower had detached from the rock and is slumped over.  <Oh, ya... that's a bad sign. But also a sign of inadequate water flow. Much stronger flow here please> One of the Toadstool leathers has quite a bit of black spots around the top and a little bit on the trunk/stem.  <we can carve these out with a razor blade/X-acto knife if they continue to get necrotic. No worries here> Most of it had detached from the rock while in the bag and now most of it is hanging off the rock. <not as big of a deal as the Colt (Klyxum)> This I'm most concerned about. I have been told that they can bounce back. <easily> So my question, what is your opinion of this situation and is there anything I can do to "save" them? <yep... even worst case scenario, they can be diced in cubes (the leathers) and propagated. The Colt will need to be stitched to a new rock with nylon thread. ASAP please. It needs to be secure and will not attach naturally as fast as the leathers> Best regards, Geoff <best regards, Anthony>

Iodine for mushrooms and soft coral I read on your web site,  mushrooms need iodine.  <all corals, especially soft coral, need iodine> My salt which is one that says it has every trace minor major element in it like iodine, will this be enough till next week when I buy some liquid iodine  <yes... a week delay is fine. But iodine only lasts for 6-12 hours in most tanks. That is why some people prefer to dose a very small amount daily> I also noticed brine shrimp adult centimeter in size could I feed them this do they need to be dead? Thanks, JM <brine shrimp is a very poor grade food (low nutrition). Other frozen foods would be better like krill, plankton and especially Mysid shrimps. Anthony>

Leather toadstool Hi Craig/WWM crew,<<Hi Jun!>> How are you guys doing? <<Sunny side up!>>Got a question. My leather toadstool (stalk) looks like it's shrinking. I've had this leather for over 2 weeks now. The crown and all the tentacles seems to be doing fine (tentacles are all out, I mean extended). Is this a sign of impending death for the coral? It is placed on the substrate of my system (have not moved it).  <<Hmm, is the rock/branch it's on big enough or is it overgrowing it? If your water, light, circulation is adequate it should be okay. They can turn, aim, move about quite a bit. AAMOF, mine is looking a little limp in the stalk in the grow out tank and I'm going to check it too!!! I think it might be the light so I'm going to give it the light it had before. When yours was at the LFS, what type of lighting did they have it under and how far from the light was it and how deep? You want to approximate that.>> And also, I impulsive bought a flower pot coral without reading about it first. I know shame on me. <<Uh oh...>>Anyway, I read all your FAQ's regarding this coral (flower pot) after I bought it. Because of all those horrifying stories regarding this kind of coral, I'm afraid to put it in my main tank. I put the coral in my QT and its not opening at all. With the infectious disease that it might cause (necrotic tissues and such), I am not planning on moving it in my main tank. Is this horrible or what? <<perhaps more necessary than horrible? Perhaps there is a club in your area with a member able to keep such corals?>>( I am going to research everything first before I acquire anything for my aquarium. I learned my lesson)  <<Do spread the good word>>  And lastly, I bought a cleaner shrimp 2 days ago and I found it dead yesterday (not even 24 hours). My water parameters are good, Ammonia 0, nitrites and nitrates are 0. What happened? Are cleaner shrimp very difficult to keep? Thanks again...Jun A. <<Ah yes, not difficult to keep, difficult to acclimate. Must be done very slowly exchanging water over several hours to avoid shock/stress. There is more on this at WWM. Craig>>
Re: leather toadstool
Hi Craig Thanks for your prompt response. I really don't know what kind of light their (LFS) using (from the looks of it, its actinic but not as intense as my lighting). I have 4 96W URI VHO. The leather was situated at the bottom of their (LFS) tank (about 14-18 inch deep). My 90 gal tank's dimension is 36x24x24. Is the reason maybe that the toadstool is reaching for more light (stalk is fully extended) at my LFS and that my lighting is more intense that it doesn't have to be fully extended.  <<Maybe not. Maybe the added depth of your tank has him panning for more light. I would wait a bit and se how it reacts after only two weeks, if this continues I would probably move him up a couple inches and take note of any differences.>> Thank you for your advice regarding the shrimp's inquiry. Now I know what the problem is (I think). My acclimation process. I only put the bag in my tank for 20 min then put the shrimp directly into the tank without acclimating the poor crustacean with my tank's SG (man!!! I need to kick myself hard for this. I should know better, I read your acclimating process). Thank you so much for pointing out these stupid (am I allowed to use this word?) mistakes. What am I going to do without you guy's assistance/help and knowledge. Thanks again. Have a good day guy's.........Jun A <<Pretty common Jun. You will check the WWM next time, right? Have fun, Craig>>

Sarcophyton....toadstool leather On 8/11/02, I added a small 3" or so toadstool leather to my 10g. I figured it would be a good hardy coral to go with my small Pachyclavularia (green stars) and small mushroom rock (Discosoma).  <Yikes! all three are hardy indeed but a 10g is too tiny for all three unless you are doing frequent water changes. Discosoma and Starpolyps are very aggressive and release many noxious elements into the water... almost as much as leather :) > As it grew, I had ambitions of moving it to my soon to be 46g reef, and finally to a 180g.  <awesome!> It came not being attached to a base and this was my first problem. Super glue gel and a rubber band did not do well, and the time for my vacation came (I figured it would be thriving by then) so I placed it on a rock and supported it with smaller rocks around it. I came home and noticed that some of the polyps had finally extended. But on closer inspection, I also noticed that part of it had sagged down through a rock crevice. Since then, it has been a struggle to try and bring the whole coral back to health. More polyps are finally extending, however, the whole capitulum will not open up like it was at the LFS.  <try stronger water movement as well as more frequent water changes to dilute the products of allelopathy/aggression> Today, I noticed some of the section that was down in the rock had become "cheesy" so I removed as much as possible.....also some of the polyps have gotten darker. I am including a picture so I can possibly get an answer as to how it looks and what I might be missing. <yes... dangerous. Good move to remove/siphon necrotic areas> Tank parameters include: 10g tank, maxi-jet 400 PH and Penguin mini....no filter media, 1" Southdown, 12 lbs. liverock, 32w SMARTLAMP PC lighting. I have been running some carbon in the HOB filter and doing weekly 10-15% water changes.  <much bigger water changes are needed here without heavy carbon use or skimming. Noxious elements from coral aggression build up quickly as you have noticed> If more lighting is needed, I can pick up another 32w pc kit over the weekend.  <I'd invest in a bigger tank instead as soon as possible> The other two corals are thriving.  <they are more aggressive <G>> Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Ryan A. <best regards, Anthony>

Sarcophyton question Anthony (Bob, Steven, your input would be welcome too!) - while I have your attention on the subject of corals, here is a photo of my leather coral, which I am quite worried about. I moved it from my old 29g tank in May and it has not fared well. It was formerly about 8 inches deep under 96w 50/50 PC, and it is now about 10 inches deep under 2x175w 10000k MH and 130w 7100k PCs (this is a 48" 72g RR bowfront). I acclimated it slowly, starting at 2 hrs MH/day and worked up to 10 hrs over the course of a month. It has not been moved. It has also not opened since the move -- it just lingers like this with a few polyps extended during the day. Water movement is moderate and random -- I can see the coral sway ever so slightly every few seconds. <many Sarco, although very hardy, are quite finicky about polyps extension. Some retract for months indeed when disturbed. Still... I suspect something more. Inadequate flow is a common cause... do experiment with stronger random flow here... especially if you have been noticing that the mucus tunics on the crown have not sloughed regularly or quickly (1-2 days)> Water parameters (Salifert + digital pH): 80 degrees, pH 8.25, SG 1.026, Alk 3.4 meq/l, Ca 420 ppm, Iodine 0.06 mg/l, Mg 1380 mg/l, NO3 2.5 mg/l, PO4 0.03 mg/l, no NH3/NO2. Tank is skimmed with an AquaC EV 120, and I passively use GAC. <all very fine> I know Sarcophytons are slow to react/adapt, but 3 months seems like enough time for the situation to normalize as much as possible.  <agreed> I have tried blasting with aquarium water from a turkey baster to remove mucous or sloughing tissue,  <hmmm... perhaps an indication of the suspected inadequate flow... if the slough came of naturally in 24-48 hours you would not need to baste... do consider> as well as a weak Iodine solution once. I have not seen any obvious parasites.  <understood... and little worries for parasites (unless you bring in wild coral to the tank without QT. If so, look closely at the base for burrowing hydroids are feel the base (gloved hands only) to see if there is a hollow feel (some cowries and crabs will hollow a leather out from the inside> Is there hope? <absolutely. If worse comes to worse we'll cut it open and propagate it to spur growth and spy for predators. Still... may just be water flow. 9 of 10 aquariums are too weak in flow. Kindly, Anthony> Thanks in advance for your advice! Ed Marshall, Austin, Texas.

Ripped Finger Leather stock Bob and/or Crew, Thanks for all the great work you do. I have gained a lot of knowledge through reading through the Q&A and the daily Q&A on the web site. However I was not prepared to come home from work and find that my finger leather has ripped. The two stocks have some what, not completely, ripped apart.  <by what action? Important to know.. water quality, age (natural branchlet dropping), imposed attack, etc> The finger leather was on a small frag of rock which I left it on and put it in the substrate, I probably should have attached it to a large rock now in hind sight.  <no biggie> One stock of the finger leather is attached to the rock I set it next to, the other is now kind of just dangling there. Picture attached but it is not clear and the battery just died in my digital camera.  <alas... no help: not clear> For the stock that is dangling should I cut it from the other stock and find a good rock for it or is there something else I should do.  <do cut with sharp scissors or a razor. Then simply stitch with a needle and nylon thread to another rock. Keep handling to a minimum (latex gloves recommended)> The finger leather has grown quite a bit since I purchased it about 5 month ago. As always thanks for your insight and help. TTFN Sean <heehee... ready for my Book of Coral Propagation yet <smile>. With kind regards, Anthony Calfo>

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

Sarcophyton Leather Toadstool Problem Dear Bob, My system is now a bit over 9 months old. 90 net gal. show tank with 30 net gal. sump and 20 net gal. refugium. Turboflotor, Ocean clear w/carbon, 25 w. U/V, 100 + lbs. of live rock, chiller and controller at 77F. Over 500 watts VHO. About 2000 gph on a Wavemaker. Lots of Caulerpa and other plants in the refugium now. Also spiked with amphipod/copepod culture and brine shrimp. Phosphate now barely detectable at .05 PPM. No detectable nitrate. Chemistry is all ideal except Ca stuck at 350 and dKH at 6. (No Ca reactor yet, I'm adding small quantities of 2 part Ca daily.). A 30 gal. water change every 10 to 12 days with water aged a week or more with big powerhead and heater. <This is all fine... and please don't worry about your calcium, alkalinity... these are fine...> Bob, your book and web site have guided me on every step of planning, building, and stocking all this since last summer. I couldn't be more pleased. <Outstanding> 18 inches of fish all well after following Fenner dips and quarantines. Lots of snails, cleaner shrimp, peppermint shrimp and plenty of tiny hermits. Fish stocking is complete except for a flame angel? <Maybe> I have moved now to other inverts beginning with those organisms you suggest as good for beginners. Actinodiscus mushrooms (red and blue) are great, growing and reproducing. The small Anthelia was dislodged by a snail or crab but has found its own spot and looks ok. <Very good> Now the problem. (I have yet to lose any creature that I have acquired.) I put in two small tank raised specimens of "Sarcophyton" leather mushrooms. Each has two "toadstools" 1 cm. or so in diameter when closed. One of the specimens has relatively short tentacles. Both are 5 inches from the surface with moderate random turbulence. After a week of "blooming" beautifully it developed several small bright yellow spots about 2 to 3 mm. and now blooms on only about half its diameter. <Hmm...> The other specimen (slightly different variety) with longer tentacles is 10 inches away and doing fine. <I see> Are these spots a disease or parasite that should be removed or might the creature heal? <Possibly a flat worm, may portend something other...> I am a bit disappointed with all the red/brown micro-algae/diatoms blooming in the refugium. I have very little of this in the show tank though I must scrape the front glass weekly as there is a small build up in spots. I won't scrape it in the refugium in fear of passing it to the show tank? I put in a turbo snail which began eating the red macro algae! <Not to worry about the transference... or scraping the refugium if the appearance doesn't bother you. These organisms too will pass... you might want to add a couple of snails (try Margaritas) to the sump> Am I ready for a small SPS coral and a bubble coral? <Yes, I think/believe so> Your 67 year old student with a lot to learn about this living room SCUBA experience, Howard <I would do nothing at this point with the cultured Toadstools... and proceed apace with your further livestocking plans. Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Sarcophyton, water chemistry woes  Mr. Fenner, hi... My leather coral (which is a hand-wide Sarcophyton) does not open for a week now, and its marble-like surface is getting more greenish day by day. No other coral seems disturbed, so I think the chemistry of the water is OK (the results are below). I could not understand what happened. It sometimes releases mucus (one day a month) and stays closed during that time, but it took too long this time. My aquarist could not understand what happened, I think it is emergency. Can you suggest me anything? Thanks... Yildirim Water chemistry: Ca: 400 ppm PH: 8.2 PO4: 0.2 Nitrite: 0 Nitrate: 0 Ammonia: 0 Salinity: 1.022 <Other than this doesn't sound good? What about your alkalinity? Lighting? I would take an overt stance here and execute a very large water change (Moving spg back to nearer natural seawater, 1.025), add activated carbon... and if the animal doesn't respond in a few days, move it to another system... Sounds like either a chemical incompatibility with other stinging-celled life or something has gone lacking (alkalinity, old lamps...) in this system. There is even a possibility of parasitism of this Soft Coral. Please see the FAQs files on all these terms posted on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com on the Marine Index. Bob Fenner>

Help! Hi Bob. I'm back again with another question. I have a 100 gallon reef tank. All water parameters are good. My question involves mushroom corals. I've had the ones in my tank for over a year. They have done well, reproducing and spreading nicely. About a week ago I noticed that a few were dissolving for no apparent reason. I removed all visibly affected individuals from the tank, did a 10% water change and added a new bag of activated carbon. To remove the rest of the individuals would involve dismantling a significant part of the reef. Since then, almost all individuals in all of the various colonies scattered throughout the tank have died. What is odd is that all of the other corals in that tank are fine. These include a variety of polyps, leathers and a few hardy hard corals.  Any ideas on what might be happening? Suggestions? Solutions? Thanks very much for your help... Mike Fodrea >> Yet another example of... evolution/competition in a small living space... My best guess is a winning (for the perpetrator) production of Terpenoid poison... by one of the Alcyoniids (Leather Soft Corals) in your system... triggering the massive die-off the Corallimorphs (mushrooms)... You did what I would: remove the most severely affected individuals, make the water change, add activated carbon.... About the only things that would have helped prevent this "melt down" would be enhanced skimming, more regular use of biochemical filtrants, use of mud/algae filters, more, larger water changes.... It's not lost on me that although there are many settings I've seen in the wild with soft (Order Alcyonacea) corals and hard (O. Scleractinia) juxtaposed... most all the places where mushrooms (O. Corallimorpharia) are found in numbers, exclude these groups' members proximally. Bob Fenner

Toadstool Problems... ongoing? Thank you for your reply, Mr. Fenner. I have been watching the corals closely and am getting quite worried. Now they appear to be almost falling apart. They are kind of "breaking up", and still have the coating on them, which I have been gently blowing off with a turkey baster whenever it becomes loose enough to do so. Is there anything else I can do for them, or are they dying? Please help. Thank you. <A few things possibly... mainly in the realm of diluting, reducing the effects of your other stinging-celled life's effects that may be at play here. Serial water changes (twenty percent at a time, with pre-made synthetic water), use of chemical filtrants (just activated carbon or Polyfilter) placed in your filter flow path... and once again, the infernal, eternally elusive ingredient of time... Bob Fenner>

Reef Trouble Hi Bob! <Anthony Calfo in your service> I hope you can help me. I just recently moved some corals from a 29 gallon reef tank to a 75 gallon. The 75 gallon had been established for five years. I just ran out of space in my 29. Everything seemed to be fine until two weeks later my Sarcophyton mushroom leather coral has closed up. I also had a soft tree coral, Lemnalia I think, wilt and flop over. All my other corals were fine. I removed the carbon, hearing that sometimes certain carbons aggravate leather corals  <really not helpful...perhaps even a bit harmful to remove chemical filtration. It does far more good than hard to water quality> and did a water change.  <yes... always and excellent idea.> I directed more water flow towards these two corals. My tree coral has up righted itself, it showed signs of deterioration but is starting to do better and a few polyps are starting to open. My Sarcophyton is still closed up and now has a thin layer of reddish brown algae covering it. How do I know if it is dead?  <it will become necrotic/dissolving> It was my prize coral. It is ten inches tall and its head is bigger around then my face. I love it.  <your face or the coral? <smile>> It has now been longer than a week since it has opened. I moved the corals from a tank with a power compact to a 75 with four 40 watt bulbs. Could the light be too much of a change?  <wow... that is indeed a drastic reduction in light...especially if the corals are deeper than 8-10" in the tank. Yes, quite possibly a significant source of stress. By chance did a big influx of freshwater (like gallons for evaporation top-off) coincide recently? This is a common stress on such soft corals> I only have a wrasse and a tang in this tank, so I'm clueless.  Hope you can help. <do improve the lighting ASAP and keep up with the water changes until we can diagnose this. Best regards, Anthony>

Dyed Sinularia Hello,  <Hey Barb>  <<and whassup, from Antoine>>   My LFS received 8 Sinularia/Finger Leather Corals  (1" long fingers) which are going fast due to the very intense, bright shade of yellow...we're talking "Yellow-Tang Yellow".  I see in Anthony's book that these corals are seen in shades of yellow but I was hesitant and managed to control myself after hearing so much lately of dyed corals from Fiji. Thoughts?  Barb--   <I am suspicious... Will send on to Anthony as well. > Bob F>  <<I completely agree. It sounds quite dubious that these are natural. While the are many gorgeous colored Alcyoniids... few are collected for out trade and all are familiar (Common Tonga/Fiji green or yellow fingers... on rare occasions a blue/green Capnella). If the coral you see looks too good to be true... it probably is>>  I wasn't able to see obvious signs, dye dripping on the rock ;-/  <<Hmmm... does this litmus test work for men and women who dye their hair as well...heehee>>  ...if it's in fact the genuine color, then dang it, I want one! Barb--  <There are some quite yellow Sinularia and other Soft Corals... but none I've seen that are as vibrant yellow as a Tang... Bob F>  <<as Bob has said above, and with the knowledge that these corals are a common target for dying... I would not be surprised if it is unnatural. If they will let you take a digital pic, send it along. I suspect that we can have a better idea with a look at the coral. Anthony>>

Re; Overheated my tank HI again Anthony <cheers!> (To refresh.. I overheated my tank and the symbiotic algae in my Sinularia has presumably died, and it is starving) >yes, thank you... I recall > In regards to the Sinularia, it appears that there are a few areas of the coral that may be dying or dead.. the areas appear to be a little different in color (a whitish color versus the pinkish of the healthy organism) <discolored patches may be tolerable if they have simply lost pigment. Concern arises if they become necrotic and dissolving or blackened> I'm wondering if I should amputate the dead looking limbs.. ?? <not yet... as long as they are firm, they will re-pigment in time> Any suggestions to help alleviate the trauma that the cutting will cause? Should I use a scissors (I have a surgical pair) or a razor/knife?? <if necessary, a razor is usually preferable> --thanks --Chane <kindly, Anthony>

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

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

Hole in my mushroom leather I have a large mushroom leather In my 125 gallon reef. Yesterday I noticed  that half way down the stalk of the coral, there is a hole about the same  diameter as a quarter. The hole itself runs toward the bottom of the coral  about 2 inches deep, and up the coral about 1/2 inch. Today, the coral  extended its polyps and seems to be acting normally. I have several other  leathers, none of which are damaged in any way. Live stock in the tank  consists of; one purple tang, one yellow tang, one yellow tail blue tang,  one blue box fish, one yellow Coris wrasse, one six line wrasse, three  cardinals, two peppermint shrimp, one banded coral shrimp, four emerald  crabs, one arrow crab, and many different types of corals. The hole is on a  side of the coral that is closest to a rock. No corals are close to the  leather at all (at least 8 inches away in all directions). I do have a  small case of flat worms, but I did not think they would damage corals. Do  you know of any animals that could have inflicted this damage? By the way,  my water parameters are always perfect.  >> Hmm, a mystery... Well, as you allude to... could be the bristle worms getting rambunctious... Is the hole symmetrical? not obviously a sore? This could be (but doubtful) a type of scission... a splitting of the animal, a type of asexual reproduction... My best guess, most likely culprit is the Arrow Crab... Stenorhynchus... as these get bigger, they can become trouble... I would pull it and see if the nibbling ceases. Bob Fenner who remarks that even Mithrax Crabs may nibble at soft corals.

Dear Bob, I thank-you first of all for your service and dedication.  You don't know what a help you've been to me. I read your articles every  day. The problem I have is a coral that I bought a week ago, called green  button polyps looked good for the first few days and then they closed up and  raised up off the rock a little bit. After talking to someone they told me  that they need a lot of current on them. Is this true and what other things  can I do. I have a 55 and do a 5 gallon water change every week. I also add  Kent's Tech*I and Coral-Vite. Today I took my powerhead and aimed it at the  Polyps hoping this will cause them to settle down. Any information would be  helpful. Fish include a Midnight angel and a Bi-color angel and a yellow  tang. I don't think they are bothering it but they do hover over it. Just to  be on the safe side I put some red sea kelp in the tank which they love. Write  back and let me know. Thanks, Mike Lehman >> Thank you for writing, being a part of this forum... Some polyp groups do enjoy more versus less water circulation... and many benefit from intense (versus not!) full-spectrum illumination... You don't say what your lighting arrangement is. However... "it" (the reason for the apparent change in your polyps) may simply be "moving shock"... give the colony a week or two to settle in... being careful to not "blast them off" the rock with your power head. The fishes are not negatively effecting your polyps... But the kelp/algae is a very good idea. Bob Fenner 

Question on soft coral problem Yes, maybe you can answer some questions for me. I have a Sarcophyton leather coral and a Lemnalia tree coral with an interesting discoloration on its lower end. The Sarcophytons discoloration looks like red and green algae on its base. The coral showed some signs of shriveling around this area and the polyps were closed. I wasn't sure what to do so I dipped it with Tectra D coral dip by Kent Marine. A few days later the polyps began to open but the discoloration is still there and it is having a little trouble up righting itself. It appears to be a little weak. My Lemnalia tree coral is showing no signs of discomfort so I haven't dipped it. But its discoloration is black at its base. Could you explain to me what this is? My leather corals are gorgeous and I want to keep them happy! Thank you for your help. <"It" may well be that the colored areas you're observing are necrotic... dead or almost so, and that indeed, algae and other microbes are taking their "rightful" decomposing opportunistic place... If it were me, I'd try moving what they're attached to so those areas are more exposed to light and circulation... and do what you can to spiff up water quality... water changes, cleaning your skimmer, periodic use of chemical filtrants... Bob Fenner>

Your answer to the above question was about hardy soft corals (order Alcyonacea) and related life (Zoanthids, Corallimorphs). I would like to head this way also as being new to this, my question is that I could not find any of these in FFE's catalog, an I missing something? Thanks, Bob Dickman <Hmmm, I found them: under Invertebrates, Corals-Soft... as Polyps, and Mushrooms... (different terminology, same animals). Try again! Bob Fenner>

Question: I know that colt corals tend to be very hardy, but both a friend of mine and I have just recently lost colts. Although they were bought at around the same time, they were from different stores. They both looked very healthy when they were introduced into the tanks. Over the course of the next four weeks, they steadily started looking worse, until this last weekend when mine sloughed and died. Hers died last week. Everything else in the tank is still terrific. All the other leathers that I have are doing fine. I was hoping that you could help me on the needs of the colts. I thought I tried everything to make mine happy including chemical additives (Iodine additives, Molybdenum/Strontium additives, Lugol's Solution), Lighting (started with medium light, moved to low light, moved to high light), and current (again in the order above...medium, low, high). None of these worked. I left them in the different places for about a week before trying to move them into a different "climate". What are the requirements for Colt Leathers? I love the coral, but it just does not seem to like my tank. BTW: this same thing happened with a PomPom Xenia that I had several months ago.

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