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18g Gorgonian Garden - A Caribbean Biotope

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mitten_reef
26 minutes ago, Amphrites said:

That's what mine were doing pre-crash as well, but they stayed pretty-tiny throughout the process.

they're SUPER slow grower for me

Dec 2018

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August 2019. 

 

48442873912_489e6afd9a_b.jpg

 

And here's the latest one I took this past weekend:

49040821483_24445fb062_b.jpg

 

 

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billygoat
3 hours ago, mitten_reef said:

from what I've seen with mine, they don't "walk off" and dropped babies like discosoma or Yuma mushrooms, despite the latter being same ricordea genus.  Instead, they kept growing so large, then the mouth splits, then kept on growing.  If the conditions are right, then the larger "colony" (now with multiple mouths) may show pinch points and finally split into individual mushrooms.  ...does that makes sense?  I might be able to grab some pics from my tank, or i may even have existing photos that may show this phenomenon somewhere. 

Hmm I can see what you mean! My largest polyps all have at least 3 mouths (one actually has 4), and I can easily imagine them simply pinching together and separating into several smaller individuals. I'm sure it's bound to happen sooner or later.

 

2 hours ago, Northwoodsreefer said:

I need to re-read this whole thread before I get most of my stock for the new tank, so much knowledge and personal experience with a large number of Caribbean species 😍

It's a lot to read, but I hope you can find something useful in there! 😅 And of course please let me know if there's anything specific I can help you with.

 

Also, I do have an update for today: my corky fingers arrived! It's not quite what I expected, but I am pleased nonetheless. For some reason I assumed I was going to get a branching corky finger, despite the fact that Gulf Coast Ecosystems' website says nothing to indicate that their specimens are branching and even shows a picture of the encrusting form under their product listing. So I ended up with an encrusting mat-style corky, which in retrospect was exactly what I ordered, even though for some reason I didn't realize it at the time. This made me change my plan a bit when it came to positioning it in my tank.

 

Packaging was excellent as usual, and the specimen came with a few interesting hitchhikers. I saw some live encrusting sponges, several micro brittle stars, and a few big fat amphipods swimming around. I netted the pods out and dropped them into my refugium.

 

IMG_0798.thumb.JPG.17245c18f62c7cce5e432e3c0d8794aa.JPG

 

Now as soon as I saw that this particular corky finger was of the GSP-like, matting variety, I knew at once that I would have to isolate it on its own little rock. I couldn't put it at the rear of the tank as I had planned because it was too broad to fit, and also because I didn't want it eventually overgrowing everything else in that area. So I mounted it on a piece of rock and stuck it right in the front corner of my tank instead.

 

IMG_0799.thumb.JPG.c1bd241246164aa4c707196412bd7e55.JPG

 

Not really what I had envisioned when I decided to get a corky finger, but I'm fine with this too I guess! I'm sure it will be very beautiful once it extends its polyps. I know this species demonstrates a huge variety of different growth patterns, so there is still a chance that it will begin to branch or at least mound up vertically as it continues to grow. I just have to make sure that it stays isolated, especially from my gorgonians. Briareum is known to encrust and kill true gorgonians and use their skeletons as support, and the matting variety is especially good at this.

 

Also, it means there is still some space at the rear of my tank, so I can still go ahead and get another gorg to put back there if I choose... 😁

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Amphrites

I still find it exceedingly-odd that briareum is both a gorgonian-parasite and also, to the best of my knowledge, the scientific name for the branching variety of gsp. ( know they're technically-related and just different species, but still interesting that "corky sea fingers" are essentially just a variety of gsp-like matting-polyp which has adapted to grow-over and suffocate gorgs in the wild)

Edited by Amphrites
This made no sense until I explained lol...
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Northwoodsreefer
1 hour ago, billygoat said:

Hmm I can see what you mean! My largest polyps all have at least 3 mouths (one actually has 4), and I can easily imagine them simply pinching together and separating into several smaller individuals. I'm sure it's bound to happen sooner or later.

 

It's a lot to read, but I hope you can find something useful in there! 😅 And of course please let me know if there's anything specific I can help you with.

 

Also, I do have an update for today: my corky fingers arrived! It's not quite what I expected, but I am pleased nonetheless. For some reason I assumed I was going to get a branching corky finger, despite the fact that Gulf Coast Ecosystems' website says nothing to indicate that their specimens are branching and even shows a picture of the encrusting form under their product listing. So I ended up with an encrusting mat-style corky, which in retrospect was exactly what I ordered, even though for some reason I didn't realize it at the time. This made me change my plan a bit when it came to positioning it in my tank.

 

Packaging was excellent as usual, and the specimen came with a few interesting hitchhikers. I saw some live encrusting sponges, several micro brittle stars, and a few big fat amphipods swimming around. I netted the pods out and dropped them into my refugium.

 

IMG_0798.thumb.JPG.17245c18f62c7cce5e432e3c0d8794aa.JPG

 

Now as soon as I saw that this particular corky finger was of the GSP-like, matting variety, I knew at once that I would have to isolate it on its own little rock. I couldn't put it at the rear of the tank as I had planned because it was too broad to fit, and also because I didn't want it eventually overgrowing everything else in that area. So I mounted it on a piece of rock and stuck it right in the front corner of my tank instead.

 

IMG_0799.thumb.JPG.c1bd241246164aa4c707196412bd7e55.JPG

 

Not really what I had envisioned when I decided to get a corky finger, but I'm fine with this too I guess! I'm sure it will be very beautiful once it extends its polyps. I know this species demonstrates a huge variety of different growth patterns, so there is still a chance that it will begin to branch or at least mound up vertically as it continues to grow. I just have to make sure that it stays isolated, especially from my gorgonians. Briareum is known to encrust and kill true gorgonians and use their skeletons as support, and the matting variety is especially good at this.

 

Also, it means there is still some space at the rear of my tank, so I can still go ahead and get another gorg to put back there if I choose... 😁

I was looking at getting some, still thinking a tan spiny is the gorg I'm going with for my nano. 

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billygoat
1 hour ago, Amphrites said:

I still find it exceedingly-odd that briareum is both a gorgonian-parasite and also, to the best of my knowledge, the scientific name for the branching variety of gsp. ( know they're technically-related and just different species, but still interesting that "corky sea fingers" are essentially just a variety of gsp-like matting-polyp which has adapted to grow-over and suffocate gorgs in the wild)

They're definitely extremely weird creatures. I can see why they have been so difficult to classify, since they have such an enormous variety of different growth forms. If I'm not mistaken GSP can also demonstrate an upright, branching form from time to time, can't it?

 

20 minutes ago, Northwoodsreefer said:

I was looking at getting some, still thinking a tan spiny is the gorg I'm going with for my nano. 

Don't get a corky from GCE, or you may end up with an encrusting variety like mine. Unless of course that's what you're looking for! 😁

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Northwoodsreefer
7 minutes ago, billygoat said:

They're definitely extremely weird creatures. I can see why they have been so difficult to classify, since they have such an enormous variety of different growth forms. If I'm not mistaken GSP can also demonstrate an upright, branching form from time to time, can't it?

 

Don't get a corky from GCE, or you may end up with an encrusting variety like mine. Unless of course that's what you're looking for! 😁

I don't know what to put on the left side of the rock scape...

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billygoat
5 hours ago, mitten_reef said:

they're SUPER slow grower for me

Do you feed your Rics anything @mitten_reef? I used to dust mine with Reef Roids whenever I fed my gorgs, but these days I don't even bother.

 

54 minutes ago, Northwoodsreefer said:

I don't know what to put on the left side of the rock scape...

Rics, zoas, and RFAs. And hell, why not some of those encrusting corky fingers too? I'll get some better pictures of the one I got today once they open up.

 

 

Also I saw one of my rock flower anemones spawning tonight. I noticed it was all cupped up as the lights began to dim for the day, and then saw it releasing some cloudy streamers of gametes into the water. Pretty cool to watch. This is the first time I have observed this behavior in my aquarium.

 

IMG_0801.thumb.JPG.82b8cfb1ac9945ae49675d972172f0ec.JPG

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kimberbee
Just now, billygoat said:

 

IMG_0801.thumb.JPG.82b8cfb1ac9945ae49675d972172f0ec.JPG

That's so cool!! 

 

I keep having dreams that my RFAs are spawning. 🤦‍♀️

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Amphrites

@billygoat That's where it simultaneously gets weird AND over-my-head, it seems as if, depending on whom you ask, normal gsp is actually classified as a separate organism outside the briareum-family (Pachyclavularia), whereas some animals are classified within it. All references to vertical-gsp I've seen have simply referred to it as "Briareum" which is terribly unhelpful so I kind of stopped digging lol.

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Northwoodsreefer
2 hours ago, billygoat said:

Do you feed your Rics anything @mitten_reef? I used to dust mine with Reef Roids whenever I fed my gorgs, but these days I don't even bother.

 

Rics, zoas, and RFAs. And hell, why not some of those encrusting corky fingers too? I'll get some better pictures of the one I got today once they open up.

 

 

Also I saw one of my rock flower anemones spawning tonight. I noticed it was all cupped up as the lights began to dim for the day, and then saw it releasing some cloudy streamers of gametes into the water. Pretty cool to watch. This is the first time I have observed this behavior in my aquarium.

 

IMG_0801.thumb.JPG.82b8cfb1ac9945ae49675d972172f0ec.JPG

Alight, I want to be "sold" on these corky fingers if you want me to invest in one 😂

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billygoat

Grabbed this "whole setup" photo to show to a co-worker who is thinking of starting a reef of his own (I want to make sure he knows what he is getting into 😅), so I figured I'd share it here too in case anybody is interested. The 20g Hefty trash can in the corner contains RO water. I don't keep premixed saltwater on hand, though honestly I probably should.

 

IMG_0802.thumb.JPG.a5dae60bf0065f3a5f24a3b39c0af1a3.JPG

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melson

All caught up and looking real nice @billygoat!

 

I'll have to post an update on mine. I'e had a couple things die and a couple things really take off. I cannot seem to get ricordea to stay/thrive. I'd replenish my current stock but where I'm at is super cold so I'll have to wait for a week of warm weather. Ever since getting burned by reefcleaners during a REALLY cold snap and everything arriving DOA I'm reluctant to order livestock in the winter time.

 

Please keep posting pictures/updates about this encrusting corky finger. My wife has been begging for something like GSP in my tank. I would love to get that but I don't think I have the room in my tank 😞 

 

 

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billygoat
3 hours ago, melson said:

All caught up and looking real nice @billygoat!

 

I'll have to post an update on mine. I'e had a couple things die and a couple things really take off. I cannot seem to get ricordea to stay/thrive. I'd replenish my current stock but where I'm at is super cold so I'll have to wait for a week of warm weather. Ever since getting burned by reefcleaners during a REALLY cold snap and everything arriving DOA I'm reluctant to order livestock in the winter time.

 

Please keep posting pictures/updates about this encrusting corky finger. My wife has been begging for something like GSP in my tank. I would love to get that but I don't think I have the room in my tank 😞 

 

 

Hey @melson! Good to hear from you. It's great to hear that your system is still trucking along! Shame about the super cold weather. Hopefully you can get some more livestock through before too long. 😬❄️ One of the biggest disadvantages to having a biotope is the need to always buy things online in order to stay on-theme.

 

I'd love to see some pictures of your tank though, so I'll be keeping an eye out for that update! 😉

 

I'll try to keep you updated on those corky fingers too. After a day in my tank the colony is demonstrating some partial polyp extension. It'd probably have more extension by now but I fiddled around with the positioning a bit this morning, which caused it to retract. The individual polyps are brown with a white stripe down the center of each tentacle. They resemble very small Xenia. I believe that they will get considerably larger once they extend fully within the next couple of days.

 

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billygoat

So I've traditionally had a lot of problems growing Chaeto in the rear chambers of this tank, which is strange because it's literally the easiest thing you can keep in your aquarium. Over time it has a tendency to melt into a mass of disgusting sludge, like this:

 

IMG_0805.thumb.JPG.c068665f865bdfd4057bd69da7620de5.JPG

 

At first I thought it might be a problem with my 'fuge light, which is a submersible 20 watt GEM 5 LED strip from Santa Monica Filtration. I've read good reviews about this light though, and it comes from a reputable manufacturer that is especially well-known for making quality algae scrubbers. So I decided that the light is probably fine, and that the reason my Chaeto doesn't do well might in fact be related to flow.

 

Flow through my rear chambers has always been very poor. This is an artifact of my decision to use a fairly weak return pump, plus just something that happens as a result of the dual-overflow design of my C-Vue aquarium. So in order to increase the flow to my Chaeto, I decided to add a second powerhead to the sump, specifically to move some more water through my refugium. I decided to use the small powerhead that came with my 4 gallon Waterbox cube (which I still haven't set up yet): a tiny 80gph Aquatop. I set it up so that it pushes water through the 'fuge from bottom to top, which will hopefully stimulate the Chaeto to grow.

 

IMG_0806.thumb.JPG.b8893e32948ddd5b24a3527e1d6d678f.JPG

 

This operation made a big mess and sent a bunch of melted Chaeto fragments flying into my display, but I think that it may be just what the doctor ordered for my 'fuge. I tossed the wad of mush in the photo above so I only have a small golf-ball-sized chunk of healthy looking Chaeto left, but hopefully with the increased flow it will begin to grow rather than simply wither as it has in the past.

 

I also had to make room on my power strip for the sump powerhead's plug, so I decided to remove my ATO for the time being. I've recently been using a glass lid 24/7 to stabilize my tank's temperature, so evaporation is basically zero anyway.

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billygoat

Just a few more photos today! Day 3 for the Briareum. It definitely looks just like GSP, except brown/white instead of green. 🤷‍♂️

 

IMG_0809.JPG.4eac8bfa423b10bf8f308db60a9363b9.JPG   IMG_0810.JPG.ee9479f96987b86a2853f0d07fac74c0.JPG

 

And an awkward, angled FTS. I'm experimenting; cut me some slack. 😅

 

IMG_0808.thumb.JPG.ccdf268fa81f37dc40f32db62da7dc5e.JPG

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Northwoodsreefer
1 hour ago, billygoat said:

Just a few more photos today! Day 3 for the Briareum. It definitely looks just like GSP, except brown/white instead of green. 🤷‍♂️

 

IMG_0809.JPG.4eac8bfa423b10bf8f308db60a9363b9.JPG   IMG_0810.JPG.ee9479f96987b86a2853f0d07fac74c0.JPG

 

And an awkward, angled FTS. I'm experimenting; cut me some slack. 😅

 

IMG_0808.thumb.JPG.ccdf268fa81f37dc40f32db62da7dc5e.JPG

Is that coralline at the front of the tank to the right of the RFA or is it more corky finger?

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mitten_reef
On 11/14/2019 at 9:14 PM, billygoat said:

Do you feed your Rics anything @mitten_reef? I used to dust mine with Reef Roids whenever I fed my gorgs, but these days I don't even bother.

 

Nope I don’t feed the rics. They just catch any leftover floating around in the tank from me broadcast feeding reef roid for the acros and the gorg. 

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billygoat
1 hour ago, mitten_reef said:

Nope I don’t feed the rics. They just catch any leftover floating around in the tank from me broadcast feeding reef roid for the acros and the gorg. 

Hmm that's kind of what I figured. I used to try target feeding my Rics with Reef Roids, but they never seemed very good at actually eating it. Good to know I am not missing much by not feeding them, because yours certainly look amazing!

 

2 hours ago, Northwoodsreefer said:

Is that coralline at the front of the tank to the right of the RFA or is it more corky finger?

That is a clump of soft branching coralline algae, probably Amphiroa sp.

 

In my experience these branching coralline algae are fairly difficult to keep. Determining their lighting and flow needs can be challenging because they come from a variety of different habitats in nature, e.g. certain individuals will grow in brightly-lit seagrass beds whereas others will be growing under rocks or in crevices in total shade, relying only on the light reflected off the white sandy bottom of the sea floor. Rigid branching coralline in particular seems very susceptible to overgrowth by epiphytes. Mine has been declining slowly since I acquired it many months ago. 🤔

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Northwoodsreefer
3 hours ago, billygoat said:

Hmm that's kind of what I figured. I used to try target feeding my Rics with Reef Roids, but they never seemed very good at actually eating it. Good to know I am not missing much by not feeding them, because yours certainly look amazing!

 

That is a clump of soft branching coralline algae, probably Amphiroa sp.

 

In my experience these branching coralline algae are fairly difficult to keep. Determining their lighting and flow needs can be challenging because they come from a variety of different habitats in nature, e.g. certain individuals will grow in brightly-lit seagrass beds whereas others will be growing under rocks or in crevices in total shade, relying only on the light reflected off the white sandy bottom of the sea floor. Rigid branching coralline in particular seems very susceptible to overgrowth by epiphytes. Mine has been declining slowly since I acquired it many months ago. 🤔

Well that is not what I wanted to hear...Im getting rigid coralline next week. Many my snails will help it out (I hope)

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billygoat

I did a bit of testing this morning just to make sure that nutrient levels are not the cause of my Chaeto problems. Now my NO3 test kit is admitted expired (by a few months), but it seemed to be giving a reading of somewhere in the neighborhood of 20-ish ppm:

 

IMG_0813.thumb.JPG.79d1736d1300f9ec8c8323588d3d5242.JPG

 

And PO4 tested at around 0.04. Both of those numbers are fine with me, and seem to indicate that there are plenty of organic nutrients in the water for the Chaeto, so we can rule that out as the reason it's melting. Hopefully improved flow in the sump will turn its fortunes around. 🤷‍♂️ Even if it doesn't though... I mean, oh well! The tank looks great; everything seems to be doing well, copepods are everywhere on the walls and glass, and I get full extension on all my soft corals every day. So there's not much to complain about really.

 

Only thing that's got me worried is the jawfish. During the day he looks fine and he's eating well, but he has been leaving his burrow night after night recently, and sometimes jumps in the middle of the night. I can hear him splashing. Not sure what is causing this behavior. It's possible that the refugium light is disturbing his rest.

 

It's day 4 for the corky finger, and I'm beginning to see almost total polyp extension. It doesn't have the flashy florescence of GSP, but I think it matches well with the rest of the colors in my tank. It is beautiful in its own way. 😊

 

IMG_0815.thumb.JPG.a0b6e84c033463224e183f3c3476cc29.JPG

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Northwoodsreefer
55 minutes ago, billygoat said:

I did a bit of testing this morning just to make sure that nutrient levels are not the cause of my Chaeto problems. Now my NO3 test kit is admitted expired (by a few months), but it seemed to be giving a reading of somewhere in the neighborhood of 20-ish ppm:

 

IMG_0813.thumb.JPG.79d1736d1300f9ec8c8323588d3d5242.JPG

 

And PO4 tested at around 0.04. Both of those numbers are fine with me, and seem to indicate that there are plenty of organic nutrients in the water for the Chaeto, so we can rule that out as the reason it's melting. Hopefully improved flow in the sump will turn its fortunes around. 🤷‍♂️ Even if it doesn't though... I mean, oh well! The tank looks great; everything seems to be doing well, copepods are everywhere on the walls and glass, and I get full extension on all my soft corals every day. So there's not much to complain about really.

 

Only thing that's got me worried is the jawfish. During the day he looks fine and he's eating well, but he has been leaving his burrow night after night recently, and sometimes jumps in the middle of the night. I can hear him splashing. Not sure what is causing this behavior. It's possible that the refugium light is disturbing his rest.

 

It's day 4 for the corky finger, and I'm beginning to see almost total polyp extension. It doesn't have the flashy florescence of GSP, but I think it matches well with the rest of the colors in my tank. It is beautiful in its own way. 😊

 

IMG_0815.thumb.JPG.a0b6e84c033463224e183f3c3476cc29.JPG

That is weird for the jawfish to be acting up only at night, I also will have to say that I love the corky fingers...Im getting some in the future (probably after Christmas).

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Pjanssen
On 11/14/2019 at 11:33 PM, Northwoodsreefer said:

Alight, I want to be "sold" on these corky fingers if you want me to invest in one 😂

I love my corky, but it is branching and I got it from KPA. I didn't even know it came as encrusting :lol:

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billygoat
21 hours ago, Northwoodsreefer said:

That is weird for the jawfish to be acting up only at night, I also will have to say that I love the corky fingers...Im getting some in the future (probably after Christmas).

I'm glad you like the corky finger! It seems to be pretty bulletproof, so it might make a great addition to your traveling dorm reef. Just make sure you keep it isolated from the rest of your rocks, otherwise it will probably take everything over.

 

14 hours ago, Pjanssen said:

I love my corky, but it is branching and I got it from KPA. I didn't even know it came as encrusting :lol:

Yeah KPA doesn't even stock the encrusting ones, probably because there is way less demand for them (and also because they will colonize your other gorgonians if you give them a chance). I would have loved a branching specimen, but at this point there's not a lot of space anyway, so I am fine with the matting variety too. 😁

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billygoat

Nothing much to report, just a top-down shot for water change day!

 

IMG_0819.thumb.JPG.2048cd14244d46b05f4265b1774e4c6a.JPG

 

The Briareum is looking pretty nice. It's... extremely fluffy. I read that this species is not interested in food and need not be fed, but it showed a very strong feeding response to Reef Roids today, so... 🤷‍♂️

 

IMG_0820.thumb.JPG.9082b51d060e8c1333161a05af417fb3.JPG

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billygoat

Just the usual suspects this morning. Ricordea florida:

 

IMG_0823.thumb.JPG.c1ee964f52441ced7b9fcb428c7f7e60.JPG

 

IMG_0821.thumb.JPG.d8072ad3cba1e18beeb9bda446073682.JPG

 

And my silver bush gorgonian (Muricea laxa) :

 

IMG_0824.thumb.JPG.99e77ed71f129abe699166d654f37335.JPG

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