5 Surefire ways to tick off your corals...

Discussion in 'Unique Corals' started by Unique Corals, Mar 3, 2014.

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  1. Unique Corals

    Unique Corals 3reef Sponsor

    Sep 14, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    Okay, we spend so much time, money, ink and bandwidth talking about how to keep your corals healthy and happy that I realized we never seem to talk about what makes them unhappy! That’s right…Let’s take a look at some things that corals DON’T like…and why you should correct the outmoded or incorrect thinking behind these things!

    I’ll start you off with a few ways that are pretty much guaranteed to tick your corals off, in point/counterpoint fashion…

    *Constantly move your corals around and place them into new flow areas, lighting zones, and give ‘em new, potentially unfriendly neighbors. Change is good!

    Counterpoint: Repeatedly handling and stressing out a coral is a sure recipe for problems, isn’t it? They’re adaptable, yes- but not always happy to relocate. Ask yourself: How mobile are most stony corals.? Not very, right? I mean, an Acropora, for example, has to slowly “creep” over to a new location or better situation by putting down a skeleton and gradually growing into different light and flow conditions. When these change on a reef ( let’s say a rock falls close to a colony and dramatically changes flow and lighting, or sediment covers a colony), or a manmade structure appears, the prognosis is often not good. In my opinion, once a coral has encrusted, it’s best left where it is. Far better to plan ahead, and have an idea of the requirements, and therefore the proper placement- of each coral you acquire.

    Acroproa microclados LOVES to be moved often....said no one ever!

    *Never quarantine any new additions to your reef. Best to get them settled into their new home quickly, right? After all, corals don’t usually carry things like flatworms, nudibranchs, red bugs, and other pesky things, right? And besides, the store/vendor quarantines their corals when they get them, and they have a good reputation for “clean” corals.

    Counterpoint: Quarantine isn’t just a practice for public aquariums, well-to-do hobbyists, and uber-reefers. It’s a procedure that every hobbyist can and should embrace. It doesn’t require a large investment in equipment, and the time spend quarantining a new arrival can literally save your reef from a variety of potential pests and maladies. Despite the good efforts by a vendor or LFS, it’s extremely difficult for them to eliminate all possibilities of pests or disease in their systems, with tons of corals from multiple sources flowing in and out constantly. Take charge and become a “DIY Quarantine Maven.” The reef you save might be your own!

    Such as small investment can pay huge dividends!

    *When you’re trying to figure out what’s wrong with your corals, be sure to take drastic, quick, measures, including rapidly increasing pH, alkalinity, temperature, and other environmental factors. I mean, the ocean changes constantly and very quickly, right?

    Counterpoint: Ahh, the “hunt and peck” solution to problems. The aquatic equivalent of “exploratory surgery, I suppose. Well, the goal is good: try to adjust conditions to see if these tweaks make everything better…The problem is, without having some idea what is wrong in the first place, you’re starting a potential “wild goose chase”, trying to switch this, that, and the other thing in a frantic effort to right what is wrong. In very few cases are drastic, immediate changes imperative (scenarious like a mass die-off, clam spawning, Sea Apple poisoning events), requiring large-scale, rapid water changes, etc. Most problems that arise on reef systems occur over time, and are the result of cumulative effects of bad habits, incorrect husbandry practices, or fluctuating environmental conditions. The ocean is the most stable environment on earth. Things change slowly, and when they don't it's a real problem. Quick repairs are neither necessary or beneficial. When a problem arises, try to “back engineer” it; think outside the box, and, as author John Tullock so eloquently stated, “Test, then tweak.”

    A quick response is important, but keep your cool!

    *Don’t feed your corals, because they get all the nutrition they need from light, and you should strive to keep your nitrates and phosphates at completely undetectable levels. In fact, make sure that your water is near sterile! Corals don’t really need to eat, huh?

    Counterpoint: The 1990’s called, and they want their husbandry theory back! It’s no secret that most of the corals we keep in reefs benefit significantly from regular feedings. There are so many outstanding foods out there today that it is downright backwards thinking NOT to feed your reef! And detectible nitrate and phosphates are not signs of impending doom in your reef, or an indication that you’re a failure. Rather, they are a measure of water quality, and are also utilized by corals as nutrient sources. The key is to strike a balance between sufficient levels to keep your corals happy, and levels that encourage massive nuisance algae growth. There is a “sweet spot”, and it’s important to find it, and maintain it. Often, it’s simply a matter of stocking your reef with fish, feeding them, and feeding your corals directly on a regular basis. Yes, water changes are still a must, but fixating on a specific number and bragging of your reef’s “sterility” is sooo last century. Relax- watch your corals..Listen to what they're telling you..

    "We came to take our husbandry theories back."

    *Stock your reef as quickly and as densely as possible, because the wild reefs are densely populated and you want to duplicate a wild reef environment as much, and as quickly, as possible. Besides, if you finish stocking your tank quickly, you’ll be eligible for “Reef of the Month by April!

    Counterpoint: This is basic stuff, going back to our old freshwater “community tank” days, when we were reminded not to stock a tank too densely and too quickly, because the “filter” couldn’t adjust to a rapidly increasing population fast enough. Well, things haven’t really changed all that much…Its still not a great idea to cram dozens of corals into your reef from the get go. Not only does the beneficial bacteria population have to catch up to an ever-increasing bioload, but the corals themselves have to adjust to their new environment. Many release toxic exudates, mucous, and slime when stressed, all of which goes into the water column to add to the biological “soup” that is a reef tank., further stressing our themselves and their neighboring corals. And let me tell you, the concept of allelopathy (“chemical warfare”) is alive and well in a reef tank, just as it is on a natural reef. You need to stock your aquarium in a steady, measured pace. What’s the rush? Besides, wouldn’t being named “Reef of The Year” be so much more satisfying when you actually “grew” your reef over time?

    Mark Poletti didn't get there overnight, and you won't, either. Sorry.

    So, what are the big takeaways here (This is for the Twitter crowd, who, according to “marketing experts” that I know can’t handle more information than can be expressed in like 140 characters or less)? :

    *Don’t stress your corals by messing with them constantly.

    *Quarantine all new arrivals without exception!

    *Correct problems slowly and carefully.

    *Feed the @#$%^ out of your corals!

    *Stock your reef gradually and carefully.

    Now comes the fun part…I’m sure that you know dozens of other ways to tick off your corals, and how to correct them! Being an “open source” forum, it’s time for you to add to the framework I gave you here…Share your wisdom, ’kay?

    Never be afraid to voice your opinion, ask a question, or share your knowledge on reef keeping. And, above all…

    Stay Wet

    Scott Fellman
    Unique Corals
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  3. kstafford003

    kstafford003 Feather Star

    Oct 20, 2010
    Austin, TX
    Thank you for the write up. I enjoyed the read. Keep them coming. :)
  4. Corailline

    Corailline Super Moderator Staff Member

    Sep 8, 2010
    It is a dry heat, yeah right !
    A big yes to this!

    *When you’re trying to figure out what’s wrong with your corals, be sure to take drastic, quick, measures, including rapidly increasing pH, alkalinity, temperature, and other environmental factors. I mean, the ocean changes constantly and very quickly, right?

    Goes hand in hand with "I think I will add a dosing pump, add a new heater to the tank the day before I take off on my vacation".

    Enjoyed the topic. ;)
  5. Vinnyboombatz

    Vinnyboombatz Giant Squid

    Oct 24, 2010
    Dunnellon, Florida