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FAQs on Stinging-Celled Animal Compatibility

Related Articles: 'Coral' Compatibility: On Reducing Captive Negative Interactions Cnidarians  by Bob Fenner, ppt. vers: Cnidarian Compatibility: On Reducing Negative Cnidarian Interaction Parts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,  by Bob Fenner Cnidarians, Water Flow, How Much is Enough,

Related FAQs: Cnidarian Compatibility 1, Cnidarian Compatibility 2, Cnidarian Compatibility 3, Cnidarian Compatibility 4, Cnidarian Compatibility 5, Cnidarian Compatibility 6, Cnidarian Compatibility 8, Cnidarian Compatibility 9, & By Group Anemone Compatibility, Coral Compatibility, Zoanthid Compatibility, Mushroom Compatibility, Soft Coral Compatibility, Cnidarians 1, Cnidarians 2, Cnidarian Identification, Cnidarian Selection, Cnidarian Behavior, Cnidarian Systems, Cnidarian Feeding, Cnidarian Disease, Cnidarian Reproduction, Acclimating Symbiotic Reef Invertebrates to Captive Lighting

New eBook on Amazon: Available here
Livestocking Pico, Nano, Mini-Reefs; Small Marine Aquariums
Successfully discovering, determining, picking out the best species, specimens for under 40 gallon saltwater systems.
Book 1: Principles, Algae, Invertebrates

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Clownfish not looking well: Likely Allelopathy Too many anemones and polyps in a small space. 8/6/2009
<Hi Anna>
Started our saltwater tank August 2008. We adjusted our tank slowly. We filtered our LR for a whole 30 days, then we added the sand. We waited an additional month and began to add fish and anemone. Knowing what we know now we would have waited longer to add the fish and anemone. We would have
tested our levels better and researched food.
<But you are learning.>
We seemed to be doing well until two months ago. Suddenly our Firefish became listless, not his usual zippy self. His mouth was open and he was gasping. He has been this way for two months now, still alive somehow. I have no idea how his feeding has been. We see him occasionally <Something in the water or some other fish beating him up.>.
Last month one of our percula clowns became listless as well. He laid on the bottom of the tank and just bobbed around in one spot. He didn't appear
to eat much. His mouth was constantly open and turning translucent. He began to lose color in his fins and his stripes began to fade a little into his orange.
<This is a telling clue here,>
He disappeared, we have been unable to find him in our tank. We did notice a spike in our nitrates and we did a water change to correct this last week. Now our other percula clown has developed the same symptoms.
She is listless, not eating, mouth open and paling....none of the fish had any substance come off of them when we performed our freshwater dips. They don't seem to have any dots or splotches on their bodies.
<No, this isn't a disease.>
We want to find out what is wrong before we lose another. We have been unable to find any information
on our fishes symptoms. What are we doing wrong?
<See below.>
tank: 55gallons, fully adjusted for almost a year pH and chemical levels: normal range
<Sorry, pet peeve - What is normal? Actual values make it much easier to diagnose.. salinity: normal <1.023 - 1.026?>
food: anemone- Mysis shrimp and silversides, fish- flake food
occupants: 2 percula clowns, blue damsel, Firefish, blenny, mandarin, hermit crab, 3 snails,
<A bit crowded for a 55, but not too bad. The Mandarin is likely to starve in such a small tank though.>
BTA, LTA, and another type of anemone whose name I have forgotten, and numerous feather tip anemone, polyps, and corals.
<Ding! We have a winner. Too many anemones and polyps in the tank. You essentially have a chemical war going on in your tank between the anemones, and the various corals. Your fish are caught in the crossfire.
You will need to remove at least two of the anemones and likely some of the polyps.. Additionally, do run carbon in your filter to soak up these toxins.>
<Do read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/polypcompfaqs.htm >

Bannerfish Coral Compatibility 7/23/09
Dearest Crew,
<Hello Jill>
Thanks so much for all of your expertise and most of all, patience! It amazes me how cool and calm many of you are when dealing with inquiries that have been made hundreds if not thousands of time! That would quite frankly, drive me insane!
<Is why my fridge is well stocked with beer.> <<Heeee! And mine almost always empty! RMF>>
My question today is regarding my 5 foot long acrylic 75 gallon reef. I am slowly stocking with corals and fish and would like to add two Heniochus diphreutes. My only current fish is a Yellowheaded Jawfish. This system will be very lightly stocked with fish. I know that Henis have the potential to nip at certain corals. My research has led me to understand that Zoanthids, open brains, clams, and tubeworms may be particularly tempting to these fish. Do you know of any other coral/invert species that may be particularly tasty to these fish and that I should avoid? I have several Montiporas, Porites, as well a some Euphyllias so far that (I hope) will be of no interest to the Bannerfish.
<You have researched well. The H. diphreutes is generally reef safe, but it can be difficult to distinguish H. diphreutes from the closely related Heniochus acuminatus which has a more prominent snout and longer anal fin, and is not reef safe. Although the H. diphreutes is often titled reef safe, quite often they will pick at Zoanthids and Featherduster worms. It is the risk you will have to take if you wish to keep this fish. If I were to incorporate a butterfly fish in a reef tank, the H. diphreutes would be my choice.>
Thanks crew!
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Is My Aquarium an Allelopathic Nightmare?   7/18//09
Hello! I have a 55 gallon reef aquarium. It was given to me by my uncle as an Octocoral reef with some LPS corals. It had quite a few leather corals (I know that's not very specific, but I don't know exactly what kind of Sarcophyton they were,) some Zoanthids, many red sea xenia, two large (8"+) neon Palau Nephthea, 2 Ricordea, a small Tridacna maxima and a few colonies of Caulastrea furcata.
It has been quite a few years since then and I have went to more of a stony coral reef. It currently has some Acropora, Montipora, Stylophora, a derasa clam, lots of red sea xenia, a small leather mushroom (about 1" and I've had it for years,) a Trachyphyllia radiata, a Plerogyra sinuosa, 4 chalice frags, Zoanthids, a Euphyllia divisa, an orange tree sponge (I know you probably don't support keeping this,)
<Usually not>
some Actinodiscus mushrooms, an ocellaris clownfish and a gorgonian that I can't tell if it is a Muriceopsis flavida or a Pseudopterogorgia bipinnata.
At the pet store it was just labeled "Gorgonian." My protein skimmer is broken so I am just going off of biological filtration (55 pounds of live rock and 80 of live sand.)
<I'd get a/the skimmer going stat!>
Most everything is growing very well- for my standards, which may be mal-calibrated from my aquarium always being a "mixed reef" possibly with toxic warfare. But some things, especially a few frags of Acropora, have not grown at all since the day I bought them.
<Not likely to do so in this setting>
I hear/read a lot of conflicting information about allelopathy between corals and can't find much on the subject. I was hoping that you could set me straight.
<Mmm, read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/cnidcompppt.htm
and the linked files above>
I was told xenia would be good with my stony corals and clam; is this correct?
<Can, if it doesn't grow... "too much">
What can I, or can not put together in an aquarium without negative results?- Ricordea, gorgonians, sponges, SPS, LPS, clams, mushroom corals, and different kinds of soft corals. Within those groups, can they still be allopathically aggressive, like one leather coral against another?
<... read the above citation>
What difference does physical proximity to the opposing animal make?
<A great deal... for physical stinging species, concentration gradients for chemical releasing ones...>
I've heard that soft corals and hard corals can easily be kept together as long as they are on opposite side of the aquarium.
<Mmm, no; too vague, general a statement. Not so>
That doesn't make sense to me; it's the same water. There are so many compatibility charts for saltwater aquarium inhabitants. But usually all the many different kinds of desirable reef invertebrates and cnidarians are lumped into one "coral/inverts."
<There are approaches to more appropriate stocking... read...>
I guess what I mean is: What should I do? I would like to keep it an SPS reef. What should I remove, if anything, to keep it that way? My current understanding is that LPS corals, Tridacna clams, sponges, sea fans, polyps, and mushroom corals are okay with SPS or Octocorals; but Octocorals and SPS can not be together. Is this correct?
<... Not altogether, no>
Why or why not? I was thinking of starting a 10 gallon soft coral aquarium with my xenia and one leather coral. Would this be a good idea, or is it not necessary? If there are compatibility problems, could it be solved by heavy filtration, different coral placement or something else other than completely removing soft corals? Would Heliopora caerulea count as a hard coral for these purposes?
Are toxic compounds released by corals not as big of a problem as I have heard?
And on a side note, I had fragged the neon Palau Nephthea a few times and were doing really well. But and all at once, in about a week, they all kind of melted, or disintegrated. Everything else in the
aquarium was fine and all my parameters were good- SG 1.026, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 5, temp 77, PH 8.3, DKH 10. I didn't give any thought to the idea of a new introduction releasing offensive toxins; I had introduced a few SPS frags right before it happened. Was that the killer or is there something else it could have been?
<Can't tell from the data presented>
Thank you so much your time. I had no idea where else to go. I love your website by the way. :)
<Please use it. Bob Fenner>

Toxicity - 7/15.09
Hello super aquatic life question technicians!!
< Hello Rob! I think that will be my new official title.....>
I did read thoroughly before coming to you. Unfortunately there may be too much information for my feeble mind!
<I know the feeling!>
I am planning an anemone/clown fish habitat in a 92 gallon corner tank.
If I add them at the same time, can I put one of each, small bubble tip rose and green in the tank together? From there I would let them split, would not add any new.
<As far I as I know, this should work...though it would be safest to stick with one parent anemone to avoid mixing species.>
I am also hoping to cheat a little here. I am designing the system as an open top with a metal halide pendant for easy feeding. Can I add an open brain, a few dendro polyps and a few Ricordea?
<I wouldn't. It would probably work out fine, but I think in the long run everything (and you!) will be happier with a minimalist stocking approach.
Those anemones can do a lot of damage to other corals, up close or at a distance.>
Only after the anemones have settled. It will just be easier to feed everyone in this system. The current system has a huge full hood that was poorly designed!
<These must be designed by experts in aquarist thwarting! I have seen more poorly designed hoods....>
I know that mushrooms are quite toxic, but can't find specific information on Ricordea regarding this. Or is that because they are one in the same?
<Ricordea is a genus of Corallimorpharian, and many are purported to have potent allelopathic properties.>
Thank you for your time!
<Thanks for writing! Best of luck,>

Re: Few questions I need to ask you. Allelo...       3/19/09
Wow Bob, Thanks for the quick reply! You did it again! I never even thought of chemical warfare! Boy did I miss this one! Thinking back now, after reading the link you sent, I do believe You helped me figure it out.
I bought my Gorgonia soon after I established the 135 and that seems to be about the time, that my finger and toadstool started acting up!
I thought about the whole spacing aspect and found that did not apply. In my 135, I've only got 13 small corals. I'll be trading the Gorgonia in tomorrow, after work! I knew I ran a risk by having one, but never thought it would effect the leathers, being they are such tough creatures! The Toadstool was my first coral three years ago and my clown misses it. I'm guessing that's why my coralline is dying, too! Dude, I owe ya! If you're ever near Louisville(or Augusta) GA, email me, I'll cook you a really good dinner and bake you a cake!!!
<Oooh, I do so enjoy cakes... Nowadays, I've got to wait for a real hankering... as trying to eat a whole box make-up takes me a week or so>
Thanks so much!
P.S. I'll let you know in a month how the two leathers are doing.
<Thank you Linda. Bob Fenner>
Box, who said anything about a box? Have a great day!
<Heeee! Even the frosting I just get nowadays out of those little tubs... Decadent... but easy. Cheers! BobF>

Cnid. allelopathy concerns... mostly 'Shrooms  3/12/2009 Hi crew, <Marc> My head is officially spinning. I have been logging hours of reading on your website about chemical warfare, and have become very concerned about my leathers and LPSs in the same tank. I have decided to keep the LPSs and return the leathers. <Perhaps best> I have a 75 gallon tank, that I do run charcoal on, that houses a Hammer, Torch, Colt, Finger Leather, Toadstool, Cauliflower and Daisy Polyp corals. I also have a mix of about 8 different mushrooms. <All can be "blended" in a system... given careful introduction, spacing, mixed water acclimation through quarantine....> Now all the leathers aside from the colt will be gone tonight, I don't see any ill effects yet on the LPSs, but better safe than sorry. Actually, the opposite seems to be the case, since I added the LPSs the leathers infrequently open., and they are on opposite sides of the tank. My question is about the mushrooms. I understand they can be unyielding, but do they pose any treat to the LPSs chemically? <Can, yes> I've been looking on WWM, but what I keep reading is that they just have a tendency to out grow slower growing corals. <Again, possibly... Depends more on prevailing conditions... light, foods mostly...> I moved all the mushrooms to the bottom of the tank, aside from two fuzzy mushrooms that attached themselves to a large rock which the Hammer is sitting. I know they are both capable of stinging each other, my question is, who will win? <More times than not the Euphyllia... IF the Corallimorphs are starting larger, healthier, are "higher up" in the water... they might best the Hammer> I hate to put it that way, but it seems to be to difficult to move or remove either, I'm less worried about the Mushroom, seeing that I'm looking to only add LPSs from here on in. Thanks for the help again, Marc <Again... with attention to slowly adding more Cnidarian life, consistency in maintenance, water quality... these can all learn to live together. Bob Fenner>

Mystery deaths... "coral fish allelopathy"  3-5-09 Well, it comes time for me to write back in to you guys, for your well appreciated advise and support. The pic I have attached is of my Stomatella varia, you identified it for me the first time I saw it. I just happened to catch it out exploring for the first time since! I thought you might like to see it (its gotten a little bigger!). You can use the pic on your site if you want. <Thank you for this> To catch you up on what I have; 5 1/2 month old 29g (40lbs live sand, 50lbs live rock) LPS tank (Diaseris, Euphyllia, Trachyphyllia, Caulastrea, Micromussa, Dendrophyllia, and Echinopora), a few small SPS (xenia, zoos, and mushrooms), and one Leather (Nephthea). I am well aware of being over stocked with corals, and am in the process now of researching new equipment for a 90g I will be purchasing this spring. I believe I have the chemical warfare under control <I would NOT add any more Cnidarian life here> with weekly 5g water changes, and am now using Chemipure in my hob filter (I just started using this 4 weeks ago, and am not sure how often I should change this out considering my tank load. <I would "leap frog" the one unit of Chemi-Pure with a new one, leaving two units in at a time... removing the one that is two months old...> I was changing my regular carbon biweekly until trying this). I am also using an AquaC remora skimmer. My corals are not my concern in this email. They are growing fast, and I actually have a few new polyps forming on my Dendrophyllia! I should add, that along my hitch hiker Stomatella, I have a few small hermits, an Emerald crab, a Turbo, and Trochus snail, a Fire shrimp, and lots of hitch hiker stars which are all doing well. My parameters are; SG 1024, PH 8.4, NH3/No2: 0, No3: 5. I have had some trouble keeping Ca and KH stable, trying to keep KH at 10, and Ca at 440. The tank doesn't seem to like to stay that high, and tends to stay at KH 7-8, and Ca 400-420. My fish are my concern today, and after reading and reading, I am writing. Since Dec, I have tried and tried to keep fish, and they keep dying! <... Is almost certainly resultant, closely related at least, to interactions between your disparate groups of "corals"> In Dec. I bought a Royal Gramma, and a Banggai Cardinal. They each made it 2 weeks to the day, finally at the bottom gasping for air, and dying quickly after. I let my tank go fishless for 5 weeks, and bought another Gramma. He seemed to be doing well, so a week later I bought another Banggai. My 2nd Banggai made it just under a week, dying with a white string of death, and gasping for air. My Gramma was still eating, so I tried another fish (a Flametail Goby) In the middle of this, I thought maybe there may be a parasite in the tank, catching my Gramma flashing on the rock once. I read up on your website, and bought a Neon Goby, so he could clean any thing up if there was. Well, my Gramma made it another 2 days, and then my Flametail committed suicide! UGH!! Didn't he know that he couldn't swim on my hardwood floor??? <Heeee, Ohhhh> I even have a cover on my tank! Well, I waited 2 more weeks, and was given another Banggai by my awesome LFS. He had a hard time at first, not eating for 4 days, then he came around and was eating like a monster, and all of a sudden, 2 weeks after he came home, white string of death, gasping for air..... What none of us can figure out, is what the heck???!!! <Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/cnidcompppt.htm or perhaps better, use the in-place search tool with the terms: "coral fish allelopathy"> My Neon, is still the happiest creature in the tank with his goofy little face, now in my tank for 6 wks!!! <This group of fishes lives in close association with "corals"... is much more tolerant of their activity> His staying alive (which is great of course), is confusing all of us! I drip acclimated each fish each between 45 min.s and 2 hours each, nothing works. One thing though, I did lose a peppermint shrimp in the mix, but I honestly think he got beat out of food and home by the fire shrimp who didn't seem happy to have him around. (I will be buying a QT tank along with my 90g btw). I did have some minor Cyanobacteria, that I siphoned out when the last Banggai was in the tank, thinking that may the problem. <Good... might be an influence as well> I also replaced my 50g HOB with a 70g HOB, and added a 3rd powerhead to the tank. It didn't save him. This seems to happen after every water change (I am using RO/DI), but I can't go without doing changes so what now? <Save up for the 90... keep what you have now, try to be satisfied that you are doing the best you can... and read> I never lost a fish setting up my Mbuna Cichlid tank which has been running solidly for a year now, loosing these fish has been heart breaking! <Good... a good thing to have such a response to loss> I have an idea that you will be telling me not to add anything, but in the hopes of being able to keep one or 2 more fish.... Sorry for the long winded explanation, thanks again for your input!! Nancy <Thank you for sharing Nancy. Your "situation" is not uncommon at all... With time going by, often there is "better success" in introducing new life to such settings as yours... In reading, going over the ppt presentation cited above... you'll encounter a process of "Boris Karloff-ing" water back and forth twixt a main/display as yours, and a quarantine system for new arrivals... "acclimating" them over some weeks time... This may work here for introducing new fish livestock. Bob Fenner>

Soft coral compatibility 02/08/09 Dear Crew, We have been reading how soft corals, hard corals and anemones should not be mixed in the same tank. Would the following be compatible in the same tank: rock anemone (Epicystis crucifer), the green polyps (Pachyclavularia sp), yellow button polyps (Zoanthus sp.), Ricordea Florida, Green striped mushroom (Actinodiscus sp.) and Zoanthids such as the fire and ice polyps. <Maybe... in what size tank? With what filtration? But even in a big tank with oodles of filtration, it's still anyone's guess if everything will play nice. I don't see any obvious problems with this mix, but you just never know for sure.> Thanks for all your help, Chris <Cheers, Sara M.> <<... none of these are soft corals... RMF>>

Mixing Butterfly with coral, comp.   2/3/09 Hi guys. I have been doing lots of research as to what butterfly fish can go with which coral. I have read both the Scott Michael book, the Bob Fenner book, and used various resources on the web, as well as my LFS. While both books are very informative, the specific information as to what each fish would eat is somewhat sketchy. <Mmm, actually... not so... There are some "almost strictly" planktivorous species... that are identified... in these works, even just on WWM...> There does appear to be an irony, in that it seems that the more colorful a fish is the more difficult it is to care for, or the more likely it will eat corals! <Tis so> So the specific fish I am interested in would be one or two of the following in order of preference: Chaetodon melannotus, <Not such a good choice> C semilarvatus, C. falcula. auriga, C. punctatofasciatus, <These are... along with Forcipigers, Heniochus, Coradions, Hemitaurichthys species, Some other Chaetodons...> C miliaris (but I don't like that in captivity the miliaris can lose its color). I am trying to get an idea of which coral would be most likely to succumb to their appetites, and it is not easy. <SPS mainly...> I currently have a 125 gallon tank with 200 pounds of live rock, an ASM protein skimmer, 50 gallon sump, and two 96W dual lamps, (along with two metal halide (don't know wattage) which I do not currently use). Fish are four blue green Chromis, one bicolor angel (doing very well, and eating like mad at every feeding), and one coral beauty angel. It might interest you to know the two angels get along fabulously, with the bicolor being the leader, and the c. beauty being his shadow. <And there's sufficient room for both> I also have one cleaner shrimp, ten blue leg hermits, and twenty assorted snails. Water quality has been excellent, with my biggest "problem" being nitrates of 20ppm. <Mmm, a DSB in the sump likely... RDP with macro algal culture> I am not interested in having a full blown reef tank but I would like to have a few corals. So my question is: are there any corals that could survive in a set up like this? <Mmm, very likely yes> I like the polyps most, but anything that could make it would be worth trying. <I'd try them> Thanks for your great informative site! Bruce <Happy to share. Bob Fenner>

Help with Fish Loss... Cnidarian, supplement, cascade event?    1/8/09 Hi, <Hello there Richard> I need help!!! James (salty dog) helped me about a month ago with my calcium and magnesium levels which were really low. I have been battling to try and get some growth and colour from my SPS corals but have a bigger problem now. Tank is 55 gallon live rock with mostly SPS corals, also a sun coral and 1 Acan. Very few softies, only a couple of mushrooms, as I prefer SPS and know these guys can be chemically aggressive. I also keep 1 BTA in the tank, <Mmmm> some shrimps and feather dusters. Anyway, the inverts for once are not the main problem. Fish inhabitants (up until yesterday) were 2 Firefish, 2 Perculas, 1 coral beauty and a mandarin. I have been away over Xmas, returning on 2nd Jan, so don't know may have initially happened. However, I left simple instructions for Dad to feed flake and some Cyclop-eeze every 3 days or so and not to overfeed. He did mention that all my fish 'seemed to be hiding' when he fed them and thought it was because of the cold (not a fish expert!). However, the hiding was ominously correct. I have unfortunately had the flu that has affected just about everyone here in the UK, so haven't been able to do much since returning, but I know there is a problem. Symptoms/problems I have noticed: Larger (female?) percula left BTA which for her is extremely rare, then died tonight. Very rapid decline. 2nd percula who doesn't inhabit BTA also hiding, which is again unusual. Both Firefish died tonight. No visible sign of problems other than some erratic swimming, followed by periods of inactivity, loss of appetite. General sign of distress, but no visible signs of lesions etc. <Yikes... something "overt" at play here> Coral beauty also hiding, not exploring tank as much as usual. Feather duster has lost crown, feather duster colony I also have also appears to have lost some of the colony. Christmas tree worms retracted for long periods. Only fish that appears unaffected is the mandarin, who looks quite happy. <This may be a valuable clue> Causes. Have tested for salinity (1024) temp (24.5C) ammonia (0), nitrites (0) nitrates (0) and phosphates (0) <You do need, want "some" measurable NO3 and HPO4... these are essential nutrients for your Cnidarians ('corals')> and ph (8.4) all of which don't appear to have changed since I was away. Large amount of micro bubbles in the tank since I made an adjustment to skimmer. Percula did have micro bubbles on her all day <Also notable... summat to do with body slime> today before she died. Is talk of micro bubbles just nonsense? <Not at all> They are literally everywhere and large bubbles are constantly rising up. <From the substrate?> Did add 2 peppermint shrimp just before Xmas. Could these have carried disease? <Possibly, but unlikely> Disease would not explain loss of crown on feather dusters. Unrelated problem? <I am more and more suspecting something amiss in the environment period here> Only other 'change' recently has been the raising of the calcium levels (375ppm/mg to 450 ppm/mg) and magnesium (800 ppm/ml to 1350ppm/mg). This was achieved by slowly adding tropic Marin bio calcium and bio magnesium and also some calcium chloride. <Through dissolved... water changes I do hope... NOT added directly to the water> Could high levels of chloride ions cause a problem? <It could> I read that seawater naturally contains a lot of chloride ions, so this is unlikely. <CaCl2 can be problematic... in effects of shifting bicarbonate ions.> I suspect that dilution and some water changes are the best way forward <Agreed> but I am lost at the moment as to what could have gone wrong. To be honest, until I know, I don't want to add any more fish. <Also agreed> Any help appreciated before my tank becomes an inverts only tank!! Richard <A few scenarios can be suggested that fit your observations... About the simplest, perhaps the more useful, is to imagine that the stress of changes (supplementing mostly) going on here resulted in "upset" to your stinging-celled life... that in turn poisoned your fish stock... making them slimier (the bubbles sticking to their sides), but not harming the Mandarin/Dragonet... as it is very slimy to begin with, and much less subject to the "poisoned effects" of the Cnidarians... I would do as you suggest, seek redress through successive serial dilutions here... NOT add more livestock for a few weeks to months... And consider moving out the BTA here... it is really misplaced in such a volume with the other Classes mentioned. Oh, please read here re: http://wetwebmedia.com/cnidcompppt.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Coral questions... example of garden variety Cnidarian plunking...   12/26/08 I am already addicted to this hobby. It's been about a year now since my first tank which I bought established and stocked. My first take was transferred and upgraded many times and I learned the hard way how <Better by far to learn from others errors, and trials...> to do things and how not to do things. I have never done things as I should <Can see this by the photos...> or as recommended and have eventually found success on my own terms. I have only recently found your site. I have at this point transferred an entire tank into a new one overnight with no losses. Last time I had a few losses, but it was very minimal, one blue Linckia starfish, one bubble coral, and one Ricordea mushroom, everything else survived and is flourishing. Here is my question, my tank is reaching over stocked territory and I don't want to lose anything. I also want to add more, so now I am thinking of setting up a second smaller tank and want your suggestions of what could stay in this tank and what could/should be moved to the new tank. <... all posted> Here's what I still want to add, a large plate coral, a carpet anemone with a percula clown fish. <... no> Here is what I currently have in a 65 gallon tank, Goby Firefish, Scooter blenny, several mushrooms colonies (very happy), <They're "winning" here in this menagerie... most all else is losing> blue zoos, 2 flower anemones, <Badly bleached... need to be removed to elsewhere> one long tentacle (tube, I believe) anemones, <This too> yellow button polyps, a rock coral? (hard rock?), <Please consider getting, using a notebook to keep track of your purchases, records...> 2 feather dusters, blue anthelia, a colt coral, green star polyps, and purple polyps?, about 12-15 hermit crabs, most babies, about 5 Cerith snails, most babies, one turbo snail, and two other kinds of snails, about 5-7 more total, a anemone crab, an emerald crab. All has been happy for quite some time. <? Not from appearances in your images> Running a skimmer/refugium, one powerhead, one whisper 30 hang on back filter with carbon, , an air bubbler, 3 heaters with a stable temp of 80 degrees. and 430 watts of lights, t-5 with 21 watts 10,000k, 21 watts of actinic blue, coral life compact fluorescents, 96 x 2 10,000k, and 96 x 2 blue actinic, also running two moonlights in back. I am ready to hear an experts opinion on what I should or should not do from here. <Start back from go... Put some time... less money, into buying livestock... You could "build" something out of the diminished life you have already... with chemical filtrant use, likely ozone... and much better placement... You really need to READ re the systems, compatibility, and likely nutrition of what you have plunked about here> I would also like to add another starfish again. I would love another blue Linckia, but I know they are difficult to keep at best and I know you'll advise against that. <Ahh! You have been doing some reading> I'll enclose some pictures, not the best quality, but if you want to see something up close just ask and I can try and send better ones. <Are you given to careful, quiet study of a topic you're interested in? You state your addiction in the first line... If so, you really need to completely re-think, perhaps re-orient yourself to the possibility of what you propose and currently have... I would start here: http://wetwebmedia.com/cnidcompppt.htm and go through the linked files above.
Bob Fenner>

Ker plunk!

Re: Coral questions 12/27/08 Bob, thank you for your reply. I have been reading your site for awhile. I am wishing you could be more specific about what is not doing well. The anemones were purchased that bleached color, they did not end up that color as a result of my tank. <I see... they should be moved elsewhere nonetheless> Should I remove the mushrooms in your opinion. I am very concerned about doing this right from here and have been reading a lot as of late. Can you give me a more detailed opinion of what you think is not doing well in my tank and what I should get rid of? Thank you so much! Aaron <Mmm, the "rest" could stay in the same system... given a bit of rearrangement... and understanding of principles reading where you were referred to. B>

Re: Coral questions 12/27/08 So, the mushroom colonies need to go, but everything else could stay, given proper spacing? Thank you so much, still reading.... Aaron <... The mushrooms don't need to go... you need to read... Stop writing... B>

Re: FW: Coral questions 12/27/08 Also in your opinion, can you tell me what looks to be suffering in my tank? Everything looks well to me, goes to show I have a lot to learn. Thank you, Aaron <...>

Allelopathy question 12/24/08 Hey guys, happy holidays to you all. <Hello! Benjamin here, having a very happy holiday...this response brought to you by Winter Break, Luther College> I have a question about allelopathy, or suspected allelopathy anyway. <Beautiful> I am always hesitant to write you guys because I feel like if I just keep looking a little harder on the site I could find the answer. But after looking for a while eventually I cave and well, here I am... <It happens. There is a lot of information to sift through> I have a 40 breeder with the following parameters- Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate- 0 pH 8.2, Salinity 1.027, Calcium 380, KH 178, RO water, 78 degrees, Millennium 3000 HOB filter, AquaC remora skimmer. 60 lbs live rock, 50 lbs live sand. I also have 2 Koralia 3's moving water around. Lighting is Dual Actinic Satellite, which bulbs are just shy of a year old. 5 gallon water change every other week, and fed every night with a mix of Mysid and pellets. Currently in terms of corals I have in there, 2 medium frogspawns (branching), 1 head of torch, 1 hammer (branching), one fairly large bubble, a Lemnalia, a small colony of Red Sea Xenia, 3 polyps of Duncans, a pagoda, a rock with a small number of yellow polyps on it, a smallish Trachyphyllia, and 5 very small zoo frags, and one rock with about 4 hairy mushrooms on it. I know it sounds tight but every coral has at least 5 inches around it. <A potentially toxic mix, though> The bubble has been doing great, but the Euphyllias never have really opened up all the way. But since the addition of the mushrooms and polyps and zoos (coincidental timing?) they aren't really opening, and I have been steadily losing polyps on them. They are seemingly fine one day, and then they close up, and have a long blue/black stringy type mucus on it, and then the poly starts to fall off in pieces and then the remaining stony toothy bit sometimes gets covered in the stuff. I have lost 6 polyps in 2 weeks. The whole process takes 24 hours or so. <Hmm...something is actively killing these- this does not sound like starvation, but disease or poisoning> Additionally my Lemnalia is no longer opening up to the huge piece it was a few weeks ago. It also looks like it is shedding, or something as there is a brownish stringy (not mucus) coming off of it. And the Duncans don't open all the way and on the occasion they do they don't stay open. Could the Mushrooms be causing this? I saw on a post that enough toxin in the tank can even effect fish, and recently one of my Ocellaris hasn't been acting itself. It's just been hanging out near the bottom instead of asserting it's dominance all over the tank. I don't know what to do and I am really frustrated. I am trying really hard to provide a good home for these guys and they are dying and I don't know what to do. If it's not Allelopathy, and not crab or fish (no crabs) and the water quality is decent, what else could it be? <Frightening to consider> I keep going back to a post I saw where Bob sort of chastised a writer for having a reef that was 'devoid of life'. When I look at my tank I can see it going that way. That is why I am writing, I am really hoping you can help me figure this out before the whole thing goes south... <Ben, I can tell you a couple of things: Number one, if you haven't already start using a good amount of carbon as triage care. Second, that I have an aquarium that is "devoid" right now; it has mixed species, genera, the works. I know some people get away with it and it looks great, but there are triggers we can't control and things we can't test for without enzymatic assays. The only thing I know that guarantees success is a single-species tank....it doesn't look too impressive sometimes, but carefully planned Euphylliid or mushroom tanks can be stunning. Compromises can be made between relatively docile species...in short, you have a lot of different things in a fairly small space. If you know when things were last working, try taking out the mushrooms (QT, LFS...) and see if it improves. If not, consider what else to try.> Thanks in advance for any insight you might have. Best of holidays to you and yours! <Also keep in mind the mushrooms may start an 'arms race'...they poison first and everyone goes nuts, a downward spiral. One addition might start the problem, it might take several removals to end it...wish I could give a more concrete solution.> Ben <Seasons best, Benjamin>

Question about frogspawn, coral stocking, and Clownfish. Allelopathy potential poster circumstances   12/11/08 Hey Guys, <And ladies too...> I've searched far and wide on your site, I've been using it for ages now, and once again I have to say thanks so much for everything you guys all do! There is a real wealth of information here, and I've turned more than a few friends who are just getting into the hobby to this site. Apparently they think I'm an expert or something after less than a year of reefkeeping..... <Heeee! You are> that makes me laugh out loud, when I realize how much there is to learn about this hobby and ALL of the mistakes I`ve made. And thus I point them to the more knowledgeable! Anyways, I`ll give you the details about my set-up first. Standard 29 Gallon tank, has been running for about 9 months. 35 lbs of live rock, with good coralline growth, also on the glass, (and some really cool flaking/encrusting dark red coralline, on everything.... looks really neat) A Prizm Red Sea skimmer, with a box in the outlet flow area for active carbon. Converted hang on the back filter for some mechanical filtration. 2 Small powerheads for even more water movement, pointing at each other towards the middle to get some good turbulent flow. Also a small heater to regulate temperature. I run active carbon in both the skimmer box and the hang on filter, rotating each bag out after every two weeks, so each bag (2tsp of carbon each) is in for a month. I do 5 gallon water changes every week and a half to 2 weeks, and I let the water aerate with a powerhead in a bucket for 24 hours before adding it, with some light siphoning of the substrate. I`ve tested the saltwater for phosphate and nitrates, and it`s negative for both. I use R/O water for top ups and changes. I use Seachem Reef buffer with some of the water changes occasionally, but the pH has been pretty stable. Also add a Kent trace mineral supplement once every two weeks. I feed the fish a mix of New Life Spectrum flakes, Mysis shrimp, and Cyclops. Also some Nori. I've also just bought some assorted seafood (Mussel, Squid, Mysis and Brine Shrimp), and will be mixing these into blocks for freezing after I've thawed and drained off all the nasty murky juice they packed it with, so the fish will have more variety now. Also some vegetable/Nori flakes for the angel. I just started soaking the foods in Zoecon (I'm thinking kind of like Selcon, but not sure) before feeding. They mostly get flakes every day, supplemented every second day with all the meaty foods above. LPS Corals get fed every couple days. Water Chem - Ammonia - 0.00, Nitrates almost 0, Phosphates 0.05. pH 8.3, Specific gravity 1.025, Alkalinity is in the normal range of the test kit, and Calcium is 400-450ppm. Critters: Two false percula clowns (one is a notably larger, dominant female, the other clown twitches when she swims close) A coral beauty angel (still very small, and I know inappropriate for the tank, I'm planning on getting a bigger tank (150ish) in the next year or so so this guy will be happier). A purple Firefish (neon goby) A fire shrimp Cleanup crew consisting of 2 turbo snails, one scarlet hermit, three small blue legged hermits, about 20 or so Nassarius snails, and two weird looking slugs, with soft looking shells, one jet black and one white... came in with some coral, don't know what they are. Corals, I have a white bubble coral, about 4 inches across. Also a branching frogspawn, colt coral, 2 open brains, and then a whole bunch of mushrooms and button polyps, all variety of colors, and a green star polyp colony. The corals are all doing pretty good, they open well, and are not physically touching one another. The big pink open brain I bought was not doing too well, and I tried 'rescuing him' from the store.... <Mmm, I would not add any more/new Cnidarians here... in this small, established system... too great a chance of them "not getting along"> he wasn't eating at first, but now he is, and has regained a lot of his color.... a really beautiful coral. Like I said earlier, I feed the LPS corals once ever two days or so at night. The white bubble coral ejects a stringy brown mucus every few days, for the last week or two. Okay now for problems.... Since I added the colt coral (it's the latest coral I've added, as I heard it is fairly toxic/aggressive and wanted to add it last), the dominant female clownfish has started hovering around the frogspawn, and poking her head in and 'nipping' at it. <Likely trying to establish a bond... Clownfishes will develop symbiotic relations with Euphyllias... among other non-anemone hosts> She doesn't bite bits off, it looks like she just pokes around in there, but the coral is clearly distressed and retracted, though it has yet to jettison any mucus like stuff. I think maybe it's a dietary deficiency, which is why I just got all the new food and feeding methods etc, to try and add some spice to their diet (before it was just flakes and Mysis shrimp, with some Cyclops). Is there any other reason she would do this? <See above...> She doesn't seem to want to host in it, she sleeps in the opposite corner of the tank from it, and the male clown rests himself on a bed of button polyps, though during the day while she hovers around it (facing it the whole time) she'll chase away other fish. <Woe to them if these two reproduce... no "room to run/hide" here> Other problems are more minor, there is one green mushroom, with little bumps on it, that seems to be burning run of the mill blue mushrooms next to it. Its not a Ricordea, or a hairy mushroom, but it has more texture then the smoother blue ones around it... do the different colors of mushrooms generally coexist? <Mmm, can, yes... once again, if "accustomed" to each other...> Also on a happier note, two of the striped mushrooms I have are splitting off foot processes, which appear to be growing into new mushrooms.... really cool! The only other problem I have is every morning the sand is white, but by evening there is a brown layer that looks like diatoms which disappears by morning. Am I overfeeding? <Mmm, not likely... natural succession...> That's pretty much it, I can`t begin to say how much I appreciate the help you guys have given me already, you`re an invaluable resource. My tank and myself have both gained so much knowledge from this site, it wouldn`t be nearly as nice now if not for you, so thanks! Eric <I'd be speeding up the process of acquiring that larger system... and keeping steady with the regimen of maintenance you detail... Your system is doing about all it can/should do, given all you list... but you could have a catastrophic cascade event... with the Cnidarians... perhaps triggered by the female Clown's behavior... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/cnidcompppt.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Re: Question about frogspawn, coral stocking, and Clownfish.  -12/11/08 Allelopathy potential poster circumstances Hello again Bob! <Eric> Thanks again for the swift reply. I definitely agree, not much more going into this tank, except maybe some little button polyps if i can find some cool ones, or a mushroom or two... but for the most part, I'm just going to let it grow. I was worried about allelopathy too, the mushrooms don't extend as much in the last two days, or the bubble coral. Also the frogspawn but that's from the clownfish. I changed some of the carbon, did a water change, and we'll see what happens.... <Good moves> everybody else looks good. I also forgot to mention the clam I have ( a small blue crocea) he is doing alright, though hasn't opened fully in the last day or two either. I'm hoping that adding the colt coral didn't push my system over the limit...time will tell I guess. Thanks for your input though, much appreciated as always. Eric <Welcome... am hoping Santa won't strain his/her back with the new big tank under the tree... BobF>

Allelopathy to fish??   12/10/08 Dear crew, Once again, thanks so much. I have spent days reading through stuff on your site and it had helped educate me. <Welcome Dave> One person named Marc wrote in on 05/13/2006 and asked: > Also do the toxins released by the softies have any impacts on the fish in the tank Adam J responded: > <None of concern.> to which Bob countered: <<Mmm, actually... can be of great concern. RMF>> I was wondering if you could expound on that, please. I'm especially concerned with allelopathy with mushrooms, xenia, leathers, and Zoanthids. I was sold by LFS on these by having been told they are "hardy," without any mention of allelopathy. I didn't see much about that until I came upon this site and a few other forums. Thanks. Dave <There are known compounds, particularly of the huge class of terpenoids, that these and other Cnidarian groups produce that are known to be toxic to fishes... Do try this string: "Cnidarian Terpenoid toxicity to fish" in your search engine/s. Bob Fenner>

Demise of soft, LPS Corals      11/19/08 Hello, I have been viewing your site for about 3-4 yrs now. I usually get all my info from reading articles, FAQ's and such. This time I'm stumped! I have a 65g reef tank with softies, some LPS. My inverts are a green brittle star, pincushion urchin, Longspine black urchin, sand sifter star, fire shrimp, blue sponge, small hermits, Nassarius snails and a few uninvited bristle worms. My finned friends are a yellow streaked wrasse, powder blue tang, percula clown, 1 blue devil and 1 yellow tailed damsel. I have about 30lbs of live rock in display and 20lbs in place of the bio-balls in a 3 and 1 trickle. I use a venturi protein skimmer, carbon, poly filter, 2 powerheads plus a rotating powerhead and a dual output return. My lighting is a Coralife 48in 65x4. 2 10k daylights, 2 actinics plus lunars run daylights 8 hrs. and the blues 12 hrs. Nitrates < 30, ca 400ppm, pH 8.4, phosphates are high at 1.0ppm when I know it should be .03 or less. I haven't check other parameters. Temp is between 77-79F. I don't have chiller. In the summer it has risen to 82-83F and dropped to 79F, 2-3 degrees fluctuation. Now it is consistent. I haven't changed my bulbs in about two years. Sometimes I get my water from two different LFS. One claims it's Catalina water form here in California. The other claims Scripps Institute in San Diego. I have been doing 20g water changes for 4 years every 2-3 wks with the correct temperature. Sometimes I buy the water a week before I change the tank. the water sits in the garage without aeration for about a week. <This is fine... preferable to using "fresh"> The thing is that I've had these same husbandry techniques for the past 4 years and never had a problem. In 1 month I have lost a colt coral, candy cane, a 4year old torch, mushrooms and a brain. I'm still hanging on to one brain and one branch of the torch. Fish are fine! Inverts are fine! what's going on? <My best guess... the sponge or something on/with the live rock is poisoning the Cnidarians> I'm thinking about getting metal halides and getting some clams. Where should I go from here? <Mmm, a larger system for sure... more damsels of the species listed (they're social animals), care in introducing, mixing in other stinging-celled life. Read here re: http://wetwebmedia.com/cnidcompppt.htm and the linked files above till you understand...> Tell me how to fix my problem. Also let met know if current livestock is compatible with Tridacnids. Thank you, your knowledge is appreciated. Larry. <I would fix your present situation (likely move the Sponge out), take the bio-balls out... make sure your phosphate is under control... for a few months before adding the Tridacnids here. Bob Fenner>

LPS budding 8/18/08 Hello Crew <Howdy> I trawled through the encyclopaedic info on your site, but find nothing specific to this query below. My grape coral <Plerogyra... a Euphylliid> appears to be putting out fluorescent buds. This happens every 3 months or so, and most often the buds just float off to be picked up in the filtration or swept into the live rock etc. <Mmm, yes> Occasionally what happens is the buds land up in the 2 large hairy mushrooms in the vicinity (about 4" inches away) and this appears to cause them a fair degree of stress. <Oh yes> They contract to about an 8th of full extension, and appear to remain so until the bud is expelled. While this is happening the parent LPS also appears to be in a slightly shrunken state for some reason. <In a word: Allelopathy> I also noticed my maroon clown, usually happy in his Entacmaea quad. go up to the LPS and give it a buffet, dislodging a couple more of these offending buds. I should note that the LPS is also reproducing via a couple of new colonies at the base of the branches....could not understand the clown's contribution there, though!! <Me neither. Interesting> Any insights would be hugely appreciated. Best regards Mani <I do think you're witnessing a sort of asexual reproduction... I would try to remove such buds ASAPractical once they're about to be released. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/cnidcompppt.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Re: LPS budding  10/22/08 Hi Mr. Fenner A privilege to be communicating with you. <Howsit?> Just continuing the conversation below, I observed something totally bizarre. To refresh, I mentioned below how the spine-cheeked clown occasionally went and buffeted the grape/ frogspawn coral, releasing these buds/ polyps, which drifted into the hairy mushroom and irritated it severely. <Yes... too common a/the case twixt Premnas and their erstwhile Cnidarian symbionts> Today the clown went a step further. I actually saw it bite off a polyp - from the same LPS colony - and release it into the water column, where it drifted off to oblivion. <Mmmm> (It could not be doing this to defend its BTA, as I placed a large barrier of rock between the two, and actually moved the stricken mushroom to another system where it is thriving). No other invertebrates seem to be affected at this stage. <Is a danger...> I just found this quite curious, and given its infrequency (so far!) have decided to observe further without action at this stage. Would you be able to shed some light on this? <Have noted and recorded others/similar observations re Maroons... they can be very hard on other life...> I am just wondering if the clown was the original cause of the problem, rather than "primary" allelopathy as originally suspected. <Could well be the real/root cause here. If it t'were me, mine, I'd separate these two... the Clown, Euphyllia> Best regards Mani (Auckland, NZ) <And to you, BobF>

MH HQI replacing PC's? And Cnid. incomp. non-action  -- 10/02/08 Hello there! I have a real quick question on lighting that's pretty unique, hoping for your suggestions. It's that time again to change my MH HQI lamps and PC's (been 12 months). Currently the set up is two HQI 150 watts and two 96 PC actinics (Aqualight Pro) on a 90 gallon (48 x 18 x 24) that have recently been converted to a predominantly SPS tank mixed in with some LPS's. SPS's are in the middle to upper half of the tank and LPS dominates the lower portion of the tank with many Acans and Blastos. Now to my question, I have began noticing 70 watt HQI's in the market recently and I am wondering if I could replace my PC's with those to be used for supplemental lighting, I'd probably use a 20,000K bulb. Well first off, is my current set up sufficient for SPS corals? <Mmm... IF these were "elevated", placed "higher up" closer to the lights... likely perched on rocks or such, yes> Second, I think a 70 watt MH HQI will penetrate much deeper than a 96 watt actinic PC <Mmm, am not such a fan of actinics period... they don't do much functionally. Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/lighting/actinicfaqs.htm> plus I save some money on the monthly electricity bills! What do you think? Would this be a realistic option, using a 70 watt 20,000K as SUPPLEMENTAL lighting? <Mmm, yes, or even principal...> Oh and one more, sorry, I know I said one quick question! My Micromussa accidentally came in contact with my Torch Coral recently (thanks to a very mobile Fighting Conch), and most of it has disintegrated within 8 hours. I checked it the morning and they were fine until I came home from work. There are maybe one or two heads they weren't affected, should I cut them off from the disintegrated meat or just leave it alone? <I'd leave as is (though re-separated of course),... it may well be that the "empty", "melted-off" heads will be repopulated in time> Thank you for any assistance you can provide! Jay <Welcome Jay. Bob Fenner>

Re: MH HQI replacing PC's? -- 10/02/08 Thanks for the quick reply! <... welcome> So would just the two HQI 150 watt 10,000K be sufficient for the SPS (perched on rocks from one foot below surface to near surface)? <Mmm, yes> My plan is to create a dusk to dawn effect by turning on the two 96 watt actinics and then turning then off when the MH come on. then midway through the day have another two 70 watt MH come on. What do you think? Is this light sufficient? <... Is, in terms of photonic strength> Thanks again!
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Cabbage Coral Problem Chemical Aggression? -- 09/23/08 Hello, <<Greetings>> I am having a problem with my cabbage coral. It is constantly shedding. <<Mmm'¦>> I say constantly because every other day one half of it is shedding and on the other days the other half is. <<I see'¦ Although this is how this coral sheds irritants, metabolites, and keeps from being overgrown my nuisance alga it should not be doing so on an almost continual basis as you describe very taxing for the coral>> It very seldom is all beautiful and not shedding. I'll post pics so you can see. <<I see the picture and judging by the condition of the surrounding rock I'm doubting nuisance alga is the problem more likely the issue here is allelopathy>> I have a Colt in the tank on the bottom and was told that it may be irritating the Cabbage (chemical warfare). <<Ah yes! (the aforementioned allelopathy)'¦you also have some very noxious Palythoa in this mix as evidenced by the photo>> I moved the Cabbage up in the tank but no change. <<Short of moving the coral to another system, there will be no change. Moving the coral around in the tank in no way alleviates the allelopathy. These organisms can detect chemical elements down to ppm even ppb. While sharing the same tank water, all your corals are very aware of each other's presence and will continue to fight/compete for space in the relatively small volume>> I added Chemi-Pure to the sump to help with any toxins, still no difference. <<This alone is not enough or likely, the volume of Chemi-Pure is not enough/used up very rapidly. The Chemi-Pure is an excellent product and of benefit to your system overall, but a more effective long-term strategy may be to increase the volume of the system by adding or increasing the size of a sump and/or refugium and increasing the frequency of your partial water changes. Employing a quality skimmer (if not already) can also help. And while chemical filtration is also of use, a more economical long-term approach here may be to employ regular carbon in a small canister filter. Just a cup or so of carbon, removed/changed out once a week, will also help>> Is there anything you can think of? <<As stated and you may also need to consider reducing the stocking density of your tank as a further means of 'diluting' the problem>> Here are the tank water parameters; Alk = 11 dKH, Calc = 400 ppm, <<Mmm, both towards the high end and quite unnecessarily so re the livestock you mention/visible in the picture. Have you read here?: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm >> Mag = 1380, Nitrate = 0, Phosphate = 0, Temp = 80 degrees and SG = .025. <<Regards, EricR>>

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