Easy Soft Corals For Your Reef Tank

Discussion in 'Beginner Discussions' started by seank, 10 Dec 2009.

  1. seank

    seank

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    Every now and again someone starts a thread wrt corals that is easy to keep. I thought of starting this to help newbies identify easy to keep corals. Some experienced reefers might differ with me, but this is my own experience. Feel free to add if you think I am not on the right track:
    Reef tanks take a while to mature and so do reefers. We all have to go through the learning phase in which monitoring and responding to changes in our reef tank become second nature. Until then, it’s better to stick with easier-to-keep corals.
    There are some corals still regularly offered for sale that give even expert reefers problems (particularly non-photosynthetic soft corals, but also certain large polyp species). Avoid those and you’ll avoid seeing a beautiful creature die in your tank.
    This thread is only directed towards easy to keep coral. If I have time I’ll cover the basics in reef setups- again- this is all according to what I have achieved and experienced in the “Softie” field.

    Here is 12 Coral in easy to keep order, meaning, the 1st ones are easier than the last ones:


    1. Mushroom corals (Discosoma)

    The ideal starter coral. Mushroom corals lie flat on the live rock in colonies ranging from one to hundreds of individuals. They come in all colors, can also be striped or spotted, and grow to about two-inches across. In the aquarium they prefer indirect light and very little water motion – the best place for them is towards the bottom and sides of a typical reef aquarium. They are much more tolerant of nutrient-rich water than other corals, and are at their best in very natural systems.

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    2. Leather corals (Sarcophyton)

    Commonly known as Leathers, Pin Cushions and Mushrooms, these are excellent starter corals, being adaptable to most light & current conditions. Moderate light & current is usually optimal for these beautiful species.These corals, which can grow up to two-foot across, are much taken for granted. Their undulating bodies sprout delicate polyps, and they make a great focal point for almost all aquariums. Even the brown forms are beautiful. (The bright yellow specimens are stunning, though harder to care for). Leather corals do well with normal reef lighting (the bottom of the tank is fine) and low currents, preferably with an occasional surge to clear their polyps of the film they shed. They are very easy to propagate. Just brush over to retract their polyps, snip off a corner with sharp scissors, and you’ve a new colony.
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    3. Zoanthids or button polyps (Zoanthus)

    Some of these species contain a strong neurotoxin which can affect humans.Commonly known as Zoos, Zoas,Sea Mat or Button Polyps, these corals are tolerant of both intense and low level light as well as a range of currents. Being sensitive to iodine & aluminum oxide which are found in some phosphate removing sponges, caution should be taken when adding these materials to your tank.These easy-to-keep corals like a lot of light, but will survive on a moderate regime if required. Strong currents aren’t vital, but a nice pulse from a wavemaker helps keep them free of detritus. In good conditions Zoanthids will propogate naturally from the colony base. They grow particularly fast if fed small meaty foods once a week.
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    4. Kenya tree, ‘Nephthya’ (Capnella)

    If these soft corals were difficult to keep there would be thousands of threads devoted to them on [FONT=&quot]Reef Central[/FONT]. In reality, these delicately branched fairy tale corals will grow like weeds in good conditions. They like bright, preferably indirect light and a gentle current; halfway up the sides of a well-lit reef tank is ideal. Keep one in good condition and you’ll soon find babies springing up around it. Be aware of the new corals growing and swelling to overshadow other species such as mushroom corals beneath it. Personally I had a few issues wrt these Coral- main reason I suppose is that they tend to “sulk” if the flow in your system is not right. And from experience they do not like to be too close to sharp rock edges etc, resulting in damaging their skin, hence not opening to their fullest.
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    5. Anthelia, or waving hand polyps (Anthelia)

    Easier-to-keep than the similar looking Xenia species (which is not hard, but is a bit more hit-and-miss), the graceful Anthelia coral likes bright light and strong preferably pulsed water motion that really gets its polyps waving. They will spread rapidly across the rocks and glass in your aquarium. Be sure to add regular trace elements and/or conduct regular water changes, as colonies can crash if important elements are depleted from the water. You’ll probably end up trading, giving away or even trashing your excess Anthelia polyps, unless you want to keep a tank full of it.
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    6. Ricordea Ricordea Florida

    Ricordia species are related to mushroom corals. They’re not as tough but they’re even more attractive, looking almost like small flat anemones and coming in all kinds of flourescent colors. Ricordea need more light than mushroom corals, but not too much – about halfway up the tank is be ideal. (If your ricordea starts to fade, try moving it.) Ricordea also benefit from being fed with mysis or other frozen foods. Propagation can be sped up by cutting them in half with a razor. Beware of the species Ricordea Yuma, which is more difficult to maintain.

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    7. Xenia Xenia


    Experienced marine aquarists have a love/hate relationship with Xenia. We can all remember when we first added it to our tank and watched transfixed as its delicate polyps opened and closed before our eyes like little fists grasping the water. At some point amazement gives way to dismay, either because the coral has overrun the tank, or because it has crashed to a mush. To keep it in good condition, Xenia likes bright light and pulsing clean water. Thinning out thick colonies may stop it crashing, and regular additions of iodine are vital. As for it spreading, your best bet is to install it on a rock and scrape off and suck up any offshoots that threaten to move onto the rest of your reef. Xenia spreads so readily in good conditions it can often be got for free from fellow reefers.
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    8. Moon, Pineapple, Star (Favia & Favites)

    Common names include: Moon Coral, Pineapple Coral, Brain Coral, Closed Brain Coral and Star Coral. These corals prefer bright lights, however they will tolerate much lower levels. Preferring a gentle current, some Favites will attach to substrate if not moved for several months. Favites can be fed and seem to appreciate a squirt or two of brine shrimp at night.Care should be taken with placement of these corals as they can send out transparent sweeper tentacles at night. Considered by many to be an easier coral to keep.
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    9.Closed and Dented Brain (Symphyllia)
    Common names include: Closed Brain Coral, Dented Brain Coral, Meat Coral, Brain Coral and Pacific Cactus Coral. These corals are highly successful in captivity, being very tolerant of different light and current conditions, but prefering bright, indirect light and moderate to low currents. These corals are sensitive to the presence of some soft corals, i.e. Xenia and Litophyton and are very reactive to food (Zooplankton, Phytoplankton and algae) in the water.


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    10.Lobed, Flat, and Open Brain (Lobophyllia)


    Common names include: Lobed Brain Coral, Flat Brain Coral, Open Brain Coral, Meat Coral, Modern Coral, Large Flower Coral. These corals do best with bright direct light and calm currents however if minimally adequate light and water movement is provided, it will grow well in a tank. This coral normally feeds actively at night, however the tentacles occasionally extend during the day and readily take food offerings feeding almost exclusively on zooplankton and bacterioplankton which consists of free-living bacteria, detritus, particulate (POM) and suspended organic matter (SOM).Lobophyllia are not normally aggressive however there have been reports of sweeper tentacles being formed when they come in contact with other corals.

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  3. seank

    seank Thread Starter

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  4. Dewald@Dorry

    Dewald@Dorry

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    Thanks Sean!! This will really help alot of newbies!!
     
  5. Dewald@Dorry

    Dewald@Dorry

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    Where can I get some Ricordea ([FONT=&quot]Ricordea Florida[/FONT])!!

    They look stunning!
     
  6. ziyaadb

    ziyaadb

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    FANTASTIC thread sean. Can we make this a sticky, mods?
     
  7. Cryp

    Cryp

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    Been new to this game, the above has really show me what types of Corals I should start off with and then once become more exprinced what I can move on to.
    Thanks for the important info it realys helps a stax.

    To all of you that are part of this forum thanks agian for all the advise and help and most importantly the support that is show by every one to all members on the forum.
     
  8. Pugsly

    Pugsly

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    thanks for this info - i had a thread asking about the very same thing and you answered all my questions in one go
    :thumbup:
     
  9. Norries

    Norries

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    thanks 4 the usefull info Sean!
     
  10. seank

    seank Thread Starter

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    11.Finger and Leather Coral (Alcyonium)
    Common names include: Finger and Finger Leather Coral, and confusingly Colt Coral. These are hardy corals that do well in aquariums, but should be provided bright lighting and good water movement conditions. Contain zooxanthellate, but need to be fed. Consumption of zooplankton reported to be rare, and might require phytoplankton for best growth. May overgrow other sessile animals.


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  11. Cryp

    Cryp

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    thanks for the updated info.
     
  12. seank

    seank Thread Starter

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    Pleasure. Hope you guys can find it usefull. I am no expert, but this is what basically worked for me. Will do one with LPS as well but Photobucket gave me endless problems today, and my patience was tested to the limit- Now I'm gonna get some patience from Jameson....lol
     
  13. Cryp

    Cryp

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    Well Sean after all you have done now you deffently need the Jameson .... .... lol
     
  14. seank

    seank Thread Starter

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    12. Star Polyps (Pachyclavularia)
    Under the right Conditions, this type of Coral will spread like wildfire and will attach itself to the glass, rock etc. Very fast growing coral. I started off with a small piece and ended up with lots of colonies on different rocks as well as to the back of my tank

    This coral is very fast-spreading, to the point where it can overgrow other corals. It is tolerant of both low and high level lighting as well as varied water currents. This coral should be blown clear of detritus occasionally to prevent slime and filamentous algae from gaining a foothold.The pedal attachments of nuisance anemones, such as Aiptasia, can cause degeneration of the mats of this coral. When the mat starts to decompose, it falls apart. While this breakdown is fairly uncommon, it can spread through even healthy colonies. In these cases, the affected area should be pared away, even into the healthy area, and siphoned out of the tank. The balance of the coral will rapidly reproduce to cover the bare area, again.

    Colors:

    Purple to reddish-violet are the norm for this coral. The polyps are usually brown or bright green, but other variations may occur.Green, yellow or white polyp centers usually contrast with the polyp tentacles. This coral fluoresces beautifully under actinic blue lighting.

    Special Notes:

    There have been many reports of an adverse reaction by this coral with the introduction of iodine (in the form of Lugol's solution) to the aquarium water. This solution can cause the lack of expansion by a colony, or even death. It is thought that the reactivity of elemental iodine may be the cause. This coral also seems to be sensitive to aluminum oxide, which is used in some phosphate removing sponges.

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  15. maj

    maj

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    Thnks Sean,this couldnt of come at a better time!im going thru this very coral newby phase!!

    great sticky!!
    Also got help from great reefers such Zombie CT,and poiromaniax!
     
  16. Tim S

    Tim S

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    Hi Sean, great read. Thanks, for the info, this is invaluble to us new guys.

    I have a question though. I have a very new system with some scattered mushrooms on various bits of rock. Is there a technique I can use to remove them without damage and place on other rocks which I would rather have them on.

    Tim
     
  17. Tim S

    Tim S

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    Another question, I started with two clown as my first fish. I have heard that they do nestle in some softies as they would with a nennie. If so which type would put up with the constant contact from the clowns and be big enough?
    Tim
     
  18. FransSny

    FransSny

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    Tim Sarcophyton sp have worked well in my experience
     
  19. magman

    magman

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    Take the rock they are on, and the rock you want them on out the water. have a sharp clean stanly knife, also mossie netting that will cover the rock you want them on. Use the stanly blade and cut them into quarters, with the blade gently cut/lift the bottom of each quarter off, place in a small groove on the rock where you want them, cover with the netting and leave for 10 days at least. Leave in a low flow area, I have millions of scrooms now, I got a new orange one about 3 weeks ago, I cut it and have 5 now, tonight I should have about 20. Great fun!!!!!!

    Also wear saftey glasses
     
  20. inflames

    inflames

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    Thanks for a great thread Sean!!:) Really easy reference and some great pics!
     
  21. seank

    seank Thread Starter

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    Pleasure. I used to take a "Minora" blade, "wiggle" it under the shroom and then carefully lift it off. Problem is, these shrooms tend to close once out of the water, or when being disturbed, making them very very small to work with. Best way is to have a bowl of water (same water that is in your tank) and place the shrooms inside the bowl, then you can start taking them off. I use "Ghost Cotton"(the ones you buy at the fishing tackle shop) to attach them to the new rock.

    Hope the following pics answer your question:These are all different clowns I had who chose the Softies above the Nennie. Pin Cushions are more tolerant towards the Clowns, and they tend to get "used" to the clowns brushing the polyps.

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