Coral Decay

Discussion in 'SPS Corals' started by Copperband, 23 May 2007.

  1. Copperband

    Copperband

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    read an interesting article at work today in an old copy of new scientist that was lying around (can remember the exact detail of the copy)

    the article stated that when algal blooms occur around coral, sugars contained in the algae can seep into the coral and affect the zooanthellae causing breakdown of hard exoskeletons and discoloration....similar to tooth decay in humans

    the process can be prevented by using ampycillin which is a derivitive of pennicillin.
     
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  3. Copperband

    Copperband Thread Starter

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    here's the article

    Corals may be vulnerable to the same processes that cause tooth decay in humans. Healthy coral lives symbiotically with single-celled algae, but fleshy macroalgae spreading over reefs, usually as a result of pollution, can spell trouble.

    Now Jennifer Smith of the University of California, Santa Barbara, has shown that sugars released by the algae diffuse into the coral and fertilise bacteria, making them pathogenic. "Algae can indirectly cause coral mortality by enhancing microbial activity," she says.

    Smith and her colleagues took coral and algae from reefs off the Line Islands in the south Pacific and placed them in adjacent chambers separated by a 0.02-micrometre filter. This prevented the passage of microbes and viruses but allowed the diffusion of dissolved sugars. All the coral died. When the experiment was repeated, this time with the addition of ampicillin, a broad-spectrum antibiotic, all the coral survived. Smith presented the results at the International Society of Reef Studies in Bremen, Germany, last month.
    "The work highlights another potential mechanism by which macroalgal-dominated reefs could persist and reduce the likelihood of switching back to a coral-dominated state," says Peter Mumby of the University of Exeter, UK.
     
  4. DragonReef

    DragonReef

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    Thanks CB that's interesting.
    I've also read that Macro algae's release pathogens that kill coral too.

    I can't help but feel that giving the corals an antibiotic will only slow the process down though. Their immune systems would be boosted but the growth rate of Macro Algae is phenomenal and would outgrow coral on a wild reef anyway, starving it of light and killing it anyway.

    However in a Home reef it could have an advantage in sustaining the life of the coral while trying to kill off the Macro algae, if that's what you wanted to do.
     
  5. irie ivan

    irie ivan MASA Contributor

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    Interesting. My question would be whether a similar outcome is possible in reef systems where algal refugiums are used?
    When are sugars released by the corals?
    Is it an ongoing release or determined by lighting schedule, growth rate etc.
    Is this for all algae or just certain types, such as diatoms, phytoplancton or all macro algae????

    Don't think the antibiotic kills off the algae, but rather the microbes, whether this is a good thing.................. easier to just remove/avoid the algal bloom!
     
  6. irie ivan

    irie ivan MASA Contributor

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    Sounds like Caulerpa and friends to me!!
     
  7. Copperband

    Copperband Thread Starter

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    Yes that was the idea.
     
  8. DragonReef

    DragonReef

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    lol, yip maybe they trying too hard to find a solution. Release some tangs in there and let them keep the fleshy algae in check.
     
  9. DragonReef

    DragonReef

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    I hope they take this study a bit further.

    Besides Macro Algea's there are a host of other pathogens being released into our aquariums, by certain soft corals for example.
    A broad spectrum anti biotic that builds a stony corals immune system could be the key to keeping mixed closed systems and overall longivety.. Mmmm
     
  10. palmerc

    palmerc

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    Antibiotics will unfortunatley also kill all the bacteria in your live rock and DSB's so I would really not advise this in home aquaria.
     
  11. Copperband

    Copperband Thread Starter

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    palmerc, is there a way to confirm that? Before any forums I dosed my tank twice with antibiotics to get rid of red slime algae and it worked better than for example the AM Antired. Maybe I was just lucky cause the tank didn't crash nor did I see an increase in N02,N03, PO4 and Ammonia.

    I'm happy to dose one of my nano's with antibiotics if someone is willing to test the water with accurate test equipment over say a week period to see the effects. Any takers?
     
  12. Midasblenny

    Midasblenny

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    I wouldn`t use antibiotics to cure anything in my reef however i know of many who have used erythromycin to solve a cyanobacter problem with good results. Prevention is better than cure though and even then i`d still prefer natural type remedies like increasing clean up crew, increasing oxygen levels by uping the circulation etc. Bear in mind that only those bacteria sensitive to the antibiotic used will be affected but who knows how many or which bacteria they are?
     
  13. Copperband

    Copperband Thread Starter

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    Robin, I'll get the antibiotics i used and you could have a look at it for us?
     
  14. Midasblenny

    Midasblenny

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    I can look at the anti-biotics for you but what exactly do you want from that?
     
  15. Copperband

    Copperband Thread Starter

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    I want to know if its a broad based or more specific in its application. Was also thinking (i'm sure you can smell the smoke over there) that if we don't nail the LR to heavily with the antibiotics why can't we use it in a QT in a preventative form.
     
  16. palmerc

    palmerc

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    Hi Copperband,

    Don't take my comments the wrong way, but it is been proven many times over that antibiotics kill bacteria. Refer to the ground breaking work of Alexander Fleming as a start :lol: . There are also plenty of ways to prove this. If antibiotics did not kill bacteria,then they would not be prescribed by doctors for that purpose.

    I am sure if you dosed them into your tank, you would probably get some resistant bacteria that survive, but numbers would definitely decrease if you dosed at recommended doses.

    Dosing very low levels of antibiotics (low enough not to kill) is actually very dangerous as then you will start selecting for anti-biotic resistance and come the day you really need to kill the bacteria they will be resistant.

    I'm not sure this is really applicable in our tanks, but say for instance you had an accident like Mango had the other day. I sure as hell would not like to have antio-biotic resistant bacteria causing the infection.

    Clinton
     
  17. Copperband

    Copperband Thread Starter

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    Clinton

    None wrong ways taken :) thanks for your reply and yes it makes huge amount of sense.

    Have you looked at the AM Antired product? How do they kill off the bacteria?
     
  18. palmerc

    palmerc

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    From http://www.algone.com/red_slime_algae.php

    Cyanobacteria are often treated with antibiotics, addressing the symptom rather then the cause. Antibiotics are not very selective in what bacteria get killed. Cyano is gram negative (thin cell wall) in much the same way as the beneficial bacteria are. Many bacteria in fresh- and saltwater, especially the ones symbiotic with live rock and sand, are gram negative. All of the bacteria will be affected, either being killed or severely damaged. In consequence their ability to reproduce will also be negatively effected. The bacterial balance is delicate and any disturbance is likely to be responsible for larger problems and fatalities i.e. ammonia spikes, cloudy oxygen-depriving water.
    Another consideration when using antibiotics is that bacteria will become increasingly resistant. This resistance may make the antibiotic useless if used for treating fish diseases.
    Of course none of the contributing factors causing the cyano have been resolved by using antibiotics.
     
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