how hard are corals? How soon can I have one? FYI.

Sk8r

Staff member
RC Mod
Here's where "it depends" is a valid answer.
First "it depends"...on the coral.
Some corals are quite tough. I had 3 discosoma mushrooms and a piece of bubble coral survive the cycle in my tank's first setup.
So it depends on the coral. Certain ones are tough: certain ones are notoriously hard. Ask.

Secondly, "it depends" on the stability of the tank.
A coral doesn't like change, as a rule. And some new tank owners make all sorts of interesting mistakes: they screw up their topoff, flood their tanks with fresh water, then try to correct it by dumping in salt [the right answer is: correct it by topping off with saltwater for the next few days], they forget to test, they overfeed. They read their test syringes upside down, they use the wrong chart, they don't read the instructions to the end and don't know you have to wait a certain number of hours after adding, say, buffer, before your test means a lot...

In other words, if you've gotten past the usual run of mistakes all of us make and your tank is now pretty reliably steady in salinity, in ph, in alkalinity, and you're near 0 nitrate and absolutely 0 ammonia, ---you're in pretty good shape to take on some hardy corals.

If you're doing softies, the easier ones should behave nicely for you, if your lights are adequate. Stay away from fiji leather for a bit.

If you want to add a trial stony, hammer, frogspawn, or caulestra [candycane] you need one other component: you need to get your calcium level up to 400, ideally to 420. You do this first by being sure your magnesium is about 1300, and that your alk is up to snuff. Then you dose calcium until you read 400-450, and can hold it there. Then start with just one coral and start it on the bottom of your tank, moving it up higher as you see how it reacts to your lighting. If it spits brown stuff, the light is too much too fast. Lower it back.

The whole deal is---how steady are you? If your tank is steady, you're good to go. If you're still making mistakes and your chemistry still bounces all over, save yourself frustration and solve the chemistry problem first.

If you're steady, then prepare your tank, get a very small tough specimen and just watch it do its thing.

YOu don't really have to feed corals, and they're not near as fussy and full of headaches as anemones. Corals suck nutrients out of the water, and their colored algae photosynthesize from the lights and provide them sugars. So just feed your fish and the corals will pretty well take care of themselves.

HTH.
 

Larah

New member
That actually sounds a bit easier than I expected!
I'm still going to wait about a year....

What do you th ink about some polyup rocks (zoo)
or some mushrooms though?
 

kawicivic

New member
zoos or shrooms will be fine once your tank cycles.... I would say a month typically is enough time.... no need to wait a whole year.... many people say to wait a year before adding fish to let diversity start throughout the tank though
 

mudskipper1

Trust Me I'm an Engineer
I had several kinds of zoos survive the initial setup of my tank staying pretty happy the whole time...so IME, they are pretty tough
 

Larah

New member
Ahhhhh too late for that one.. I've got a few small fish....
and a clean up crew........
Think I'll do the shrooms and the zoos in a few weeks...
I need to get the skimmer on there (it's on order) and
buy a few more pieces of rock and so forth.........
Thanks for the advice!

Do you know if the shrooms or zoos need extra calcium, strontium, magnesium, iodine etc etc.......
 

rbtwo4

New member
big mistake if u have fish in ur tank. do not add all that rock as it will cause another cycle in ur tank
 

Larah

New member
Well hmmmmm guess it's too late now, huh!
LOL!
Thought the rocks were supposed to be biological filtration and be "helpful" not a deterent...
 

rbtwo4

New member
yes helpful after they go thru the cycle lol ur gonna have to let them cycle in a rubbermaid and slowly put 1 piece a week after they cycle in the main tank im pretty sure.
 

Thunk

Premium Member
See if you cant get some rock thats already "cooked" from a LFS or another reefer. Add it slowly and keep checking your water params. 1-2 pieces a week should be safe. You can cook it yourself in a separate container too. All you need is a power head, heater and a rubbermaid.

The "cooking" is really just letting the benificial stuff take care of the die off that happens when live rock is taken out of an environemt and shipped halfway around the globe. You let the good guys reestablish themselves and take care of the ammonia and nitrate caused in the die off.
 

Larah

New member
Oh oh oh sorry I didn't clarify...
Yes ALL of my Live rock is "CURED" cooked or however you want to put it...
There hasn't been any die off, so I assume there's no extra cycle then.........
 

Larah

New member
I didn't want to get any un-Cured Live rock.. I got it all from my LFS and it has been cured..
 

Thunk

Premium Member
Awesome, keep in mind, there will still be a small cycle everytime you add some, but if you already have rock in the tank it should be fairly short and not cause any problems. People add live rock to thier tanks all the time with no worries. Just dont dump in 50 pounds of the stuff to an established tank, lol
 

realest

New member
I started my tank within 2 weeks into setting it up. First thing i got was hermit crabs, lived through 3rd week, so i added emeral crab, lived through 4th week. Add ducan, gonipora, cloves. After 4 months, they are still living it up!! Thank God!!
 

realest

New member
I started my tank within 2 weeks into setting it up. First thing i got was hermit crabs, lived through 3rd week, so i added emeral crab, lived through 4th week. Add ducan, gonipora, cloves. After 4 months, they are still living it up!! Thank God!!


But i have fishes dying here and there. But overall, i think corals are easy to maintain (Better then fishes)
 

Sk8r

Staff member
RC Mod
The goniopora is one I would not advise getting early on: if yours is still alive, your tank is extraordinarily well-off chemically and you have hit the right position for it. Don't hassle it.

Corals can go in within a few weeks if you're either very meticulous or an old-hand reefer: they like their water changes, and the all-new-full-of-trace-elements conditions of a brand new tank is actually not at all a bad environment for them. If we all kept up our water changes as we ought, we'd all have less troubles. ;)

If you're losing fishes, however, there is still something wrong, and if your water is good enough to sustain those particular corals I would say your problem is either in your acclimation procedures [either too much or too little], in your choice of fishes [like gettting more than one chromis: murder is common with them], or in your fish source [coming in weakened]. If you have a refractometer, ph meter, and an alk test kit, test the bag water for salinity and alk and ph, then dose tank water into it until you are within .001 salinity and matched in the other 2.

Corals ARE easier than fish: but I forgot to mention one important point: they do have their parasites. Look them over carefully for tiny dark dots [red bug] and for nudibranch slugs or other hitchhikers. There is a coral dip you can buy at the lfs: dedicate a bucket and use it and you will not have the experience of finding something chowing down on your corals. Hitchhikers on corals are generally there because that is what they are eating. There are a few very tiny crabs that live in acroporas that are ok. But mostly, if it's crawling on your corals, it's hungry.

People always ask about bristleworms: will that bristly thing harm my corals? No. Not. Let them crawl on them, no problem. The bristles never hang up in their tissue. It's just our fingers that catch the bristles.

I would say, too, if you want to get into acroporas [the colored sticks] those are ones you should wait a bit on: a few lps will be compatible with them [hammer, frog, caulestra, bubble] and take much the same conditions, but are more forgiving of mistakes.

CALCIUM SUPPLEMENTS for stony coral: when you first start out supplementing calcium, the draw of a moderately stocked 50g stony coral tank is about half a teaspoon a day. Then, about a couple of months on, something really weird happens, and all of a sudden that demand shoots up from half a teaspoon of calcium supplement a day to 3 teaspoons a day! All the corals have started growing...and may grow half an inch a month.

THAT's the point at which you may want to consider an automated supplementation like kalk [under 125g tank with good evaporation] or where you may have to consider a calcium reactor [over 125g]...simply because you won't want to be that tied to your tank.
 
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leoslizards

New member
This is good stuff Sk8r. You give the best info and advice here. Thanks. :)

Do you happen to have a link to a site that explains the different types of corals and has pics for examples with info on recommended flow, light, placement, etc...? For example, I see alot of terms here in this forum but I don't know what most of them mean. SPS, LPS, Softies, Hardcorals, etc... A glossary would help also. I'm pretty much a noob atm but I would like to have corals in the near future.

As for what I have seen and read I definitely know I want to keep alot of different colored zoas and ricordeas and some other types of mushrooms. They are all mushrooms and fall into the softies category correct? I believe they require moderate flow and light while other corals such as SPS require very high flow and light, correct? I would also like to keep a hammer, a frogspawn, a bubble, some acropora (SPS?), and a suncoral (I heard they have to be fed many times a day and you have to feed each poly). I also would like to get an anemone after my tank has reached it's first year. I really liked anemones when I first saw them so I wanted to have my tank full of them (all different types and colors), but I heard that's a bad idea because they will fight each other and other corals as well. Will they still kill their clones? Is it possible to keep more than one in the same tank? I currently have a 29g FO tank and hopefully plan to upgrade to a 55g or 75g in a couple months. Would that be sufficient space for two different types? I'm thinking maybe a red/rose BTA and a blue or green BTA.

I was also wondering if all corals are alive? I know they are alive (like plants) but what I meant was, do they all move and have mouths for example? I didn't know some corals actually moved or ate until I saw a vid of a suncoral grab some dead feeder shrimp and munch on it! o_O I was very surprised after I saw that, it was probably the coolest thing I ever seen! Do some corals have eyes also? Another thing that has me confused is, why are corals in the coral category while anemones are in the inverts category? I would think that an anemone should be a coral since it looks like other corals like frogspawn, and other corals like zoas and suncorals should be inverts since they have mouths and are more lively looking when they open and close.

Umm. Sorry for all the questions. I got alot of them and answering some of these would greatly help me out. :)

Thanks,
Leo
 
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Sk8r

Staff member
RC Mod
Corals are inverts, in that sense.
They have much the same structure as an anemone---except the connecting tissue: or you could look on the connective tissue as the real animal [they're not plants, but they contain plant bits in their tissue] and the mouths as just something they grow to get fed.

Most of what you're interested in keeping are lps: hammer and frog are close enough to each other biologically they can touch with no harm. Most lps have tentacles that come out to feed, except the euphyllias [hammer/frog/torch] that just extend regular tentacles.
They are all animals, and can move pretty fast, so far as their stony skeletons allow: a bubble coral has a six inch reach [never upcurrent] and can be a nasty neighbor for what's downwind. They are simply, in one sense, mushrooms that have 'learned' to exude calcium carbonate from their base and form a structure.

I don't recommend combining them with anemones, especially in a small tank where you can't isolate the anemone, which can get up and express its annoyance---like taking out its neighbors. Anemones are hard to confine until you have some experience: I've done it, but it was never quite satisfactory...or safe. That's probably why it's classed as an invert---though mushrooms can get up and move---at least inch over---quite aggressively too. I don't recommend keeping mushrooms and stony coral together for that reason. Warfare.

Softies are best kept with softies: they conduct general chemical warfare, and while you can keep a mixed tank, neither side is as happy as it would be unto itself.

Corals have no eyes, but their whole tissue is photosensitive, and they do react to light change. Most lps naturally feed at night, but they will extend tentacles to get food during the day, too.

Many sting, and are best [for their own sake] handled with medical gloves: they 'hate' to waste stingers.

Sun coral is best saved for your second year of reefkeeping; and best kept in a tank without sps...it wants to be fed, and sps wants to be 'starved'. Sps eats light and water chemicals, and doesn't like a lot of food in the water, another reason to have type-specific tanks.
Of all sps, montipora is the most tolerant of light and water conditions and comes in many colors, in every form from sheets and shelves to fingers, plus it grows rapidly. Sps comes in montipora, acropora [hardest], pocillopora, stylophora, etc.

Lps includes many corals including acans, euphyllias, bubble, scolymia, brain, plate, etc, etc.
 

leoslizards

New member
Thanks for the info Sk8r.

So mushrooms fall into the softies category? If so, that's what I want to keep the most of (zoas and ricordeas), and if I decide to go that route, I might be able to keep a couple LPS but SPS would be tougher to keep with softies? What did you mean by chemical warfare, instead of reaching out and stinging something else, it releases chemicals into the water?

From what I understand is that there's only four categories? SPS, LPS, Soft corals, and Hard corals? Is stony coral just another term for hard coral? You said they should also be kept with type-specific species but can be mixed successfully as long as it's not too extreme, similar to fish. For example, there's peaceful community fish and aggressive fish which should not be mixed together and then there's the semi-aggressive fish that fall in between which can be mixed with either one with luck. I'm guessing that it's the same with corals in terms of aggressiveness and nutrients in the water, correct? For example, you can't mix softies with hard corals and LPS and SPS are the in between species with SPS being the harder of the two to keep in a mix reef and should be kept on it's own?
 
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