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What relatively hardy corals can sting back /anything/, and what should I avoid having stung back?


Tired

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I like soft corals, and I rather like those tanks where the entire rockscape is covered in various soft corals, but I have one rock with a lot of interesting critters (fan worms, clams, tunicates) that I don't want to have smothered. So, I'm poking at the idea of having part of my rockscape covered in soft corals, with the critter rock defended by the nastiest stinging corals I can find. Theoretically, it seems possible.

 

So, what would those corals be? I'm reading that hydnophora can be especially ferocious. I'm looking for either slow-growing corals, or branching corals that don't spread out across the rockwork much, so they won't wind up smothering the critters themselves. Since part of the reason I'm going for soft corals is to have a low-maintenance tank, they need to not be especially fussy. So, no torches.

 

Also, what do I need to avoid having stung back in order to prevent chemical warfare? Obviously no leather corals or the more toxic palys. Does GSP release anything when stung? Mushrooms?

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InAtTheDeepEnd

following with fascination although i know shrooms and gsp don't do/release anything (thankfully, considering how fast they grow!!)

 

gross generalisation but in my head lps is generally the group with the 'meanest' corals in 

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Oh, I should also look into soft corals that don't spread like mad. Surely blue-green syngonium isn't the only (non-zoa/paly) soft coral that's reasonably hardy, grows at a reasonable pace, and won't poison your other corals like leathers do. Maybe there are other species of syngoniums? Slow-growing mushrooms? I know giant Bali xenia grows fairly slowly and stays a single stalk, and I know ruby and one species of blue xenia are a bit slower, but xenias seem to be prone to occasionally just evaporating.

 

There seem to be a couple corals that straddle the fuzzy LPS/SPS line and are really, really nasty. LPS definitely tend to be pretty bad, albeit with some exceptions- micromussa (acan lords) coming to mind. Very polite, micromussas. They pretty much only sting if something directly touches them.

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InAtTheDeepEnd

Honestly I feel like in the right conditions all softies are capable of being total weeds....also I hadn't heard of 'bali xenia', sounds cool! Honestly you USians have a MUCH bigger selection than the UK and it sucks .....

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mcarroll

A Galaxy coral "properly" placed can wipe a whole tank clean for you. 😉 

 

Hydnophora don't reach out like that, but seem to make SHORT WORK of anything that falls into them.   Gnarly.  Back when mine was a frag it fell over onto a "war coral" Favia frag.  I found it no more than a few hours later, but there was literally nothing left of the war coral except CLEAN skeleton.

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Reading about galaxea now. 10-12" sweepers- oof. That's a nasty one. Maybe a bit too much- I just need to defend chokepoints, not nuke the whole tank. Might be useful for future reference.

Though- it can't reach upstream, right? And will it hurt tunicates, clams, fanworms, and other sessile inverts, or just corals and nems?

 

Does hydnophora reliably sting anything that touches it directly? I might be able to pen GSP on my back wall, if so- I only have the rock touching the back wall directly in one place.

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The coral warfare thread on here is the only place I've seen that's tried to catalog various coral v. coral interactions.  Mushrooms are immune...that's about all I could add.  🤷‍♂️

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InAtTheDeepEnd
8 minutes ago, mcarroll said:

The coral warfare thread on here is the only place I've seen that's tried to catalog various coral v. coral interactions.  Mushrooms are immune...that's about all I could add.  🤷‍♂️

yeah but mushrooms would be immune to actual bombs, so that's not really surprising. Same with pulsing xenia, f&*%ing stuff could survive a nuclear winter

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jservedio

In my tank I've never actually had an LPS directly fight any softie except zoas/palys. And even with them it's not typically a fight - they just usually get grown over.

 

My vote for absurdly powerful in a fight but not aggressive whatsoever would be blastos. My blastos have beaten down both echinatas and favia and nothing has ever so much as even gotten a polyp of it. If you want something to act as a brick wall, they'll do the trick.

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Oh, that's good to know about the blastos. Useful to have, that- something to stand its ground but not murder everything in a three-block radius.

 

Surely there's some LPS murderous enough to kill off softies near it. They can't all just sit there and get grown over, or any sufficiently nutrient-rich wild reef would be pure softies. Though I guess softies are more edible- maybe that's what LPS do about it, wait for the softies to get eaten?

 

It's all slightly a moot point for me now, though, as I had to move my rockscape to catch my fish (they've got ich and need treatment) and took the opportunity to rearrange. I may be able to corral things to some extent with shadows of overhangs, but my rockscape is now a very rough cube/mound shape, meaning it's out of chokepoints. I do have an open area of sandbed to stick an island on, though! Probably just GSP; I can't find any other non-zoa soft corals, beyond the syngonium that grows slow enough to not need isolation, that both don't scatter themselves freely into the current and don't poison everything else.

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natalia_la_loca
On 1/6/2024 at 2:51 PM, Tired said:

Oh, I should also look into soft corals that don't spread like mad. Surely blue-green syngonium isn't the only (non-zoa/paly) soft coral that's reasonably hardy, grows at a reasonable pace, and won't poison your other corals like leathers do.

 

Green nephthea or sinularia leathers are hardy, grow fast, are easy to keep under control, and don’t seem to poison other corals IME. Same with koji wada pink nephthea, but koji wada grows more slowly.

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jservedio
12 hours ago, Tired said:

Surely there's some LPS murderous enough to kill off softies near it. They can't all just sit there and get grown over, or any sufficiently nutrient-rich wild reef would be pure softies

I wasn't clear enough - it's not the softies I've seen grow over things, it's the LPS that just grows over softies! Just normally no fight at all. I've only ever seen z and p get lit up by LPS though.

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52 minutes ago, jservedio said:

I wasn't clear enough - it's not the softies I've seen grow over things, it's the LPS that just grows over softies! Just normally no fight at all. I've only ever seen z and p get lit up by LPS though.

Oh, that's interesting. Turning the tables on them! I guess the softies usually can't do much about it.

 

9 hours ago, natalia_la_loca said:

 

Green nephthea or sinularia leathers are hardy, grow fast, are easy to keep under control, and don’t seem to poison other corals IME. Same with koji wada pink nephthea, but koji wada grows more slowly.

My turn to have been unclear; by "reasonable", I meant "fairly slow". I've learned from a reasonably fast-growing vine in my terrarium that I'm bad about trimming things back before they get absolutely freakin' everywhere. Pink nepthea looks promising- pretty, not fast-growing, and my clowns should love it. Pricy, though. I'll have to keep an eye out for hobbyists selling pieces of theirs, as I'm not paying over $100 for a soft coral. Except maybe if it was rainbow syngonium,which as far as I know doesn't exist.

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18 hours ago, Tired said:

any sufficiently nutrient-rich wild reef would be pure softies. Though I guess softies are more edible- maybe that's what LPS do about it, wait for the softies to get eaten?

That is certainly a big part of the balancing act that is a reef!   High nutrients do tend to slant things, but there are so many other factors – edibility (like you said; along with available predators) being one of them.

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InAtTheDeepEnd

slightly off topic, (but relevant) I can't find any photos of syngonium corals. I'd never even heard of them until this thread. But google is just bringing up pics of the house plant. Can anyone help me out ....... 

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9 minutes ago, InAtTheDeepEnd said:

slightly off topic, (but relevant) I can't find any photos of syngonium corals. I'd never even heard of them until this thread. But google is just bringing up pics of the house plant. Can anyone help me out ....... 

I think he was half-joking....."as far as I know it doesn't exist." 😉 

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Dangit, did I write syngonium? Sorry about that- that's a plant. Sympodium is the coral, yeah, and I keep getting those two words mixed up. Blue-green sympodium is real, and, if rainbow sympodium was real, I'd pay a good chunk of money for it. I just picked up some new blue-green to replace my old colony (which I killed by doing a water change with brackish water in my pico. oops), as I quite like it. It grows pretty slowly, it looks nice under a lot of different lighting, and it's fun to feed- it closes up around the food. I don't know why there isn't a chunk of it in every tank. It's like a really pretty hybrid between GSP and clove polyps, but it actually behaves itself.

 

I've just been at my LFS to pick up a cleaner shrimp. I resisted the temptation to buy a rhino blenny (which I adore, but which would eat my shrimp and possibly my bimaculatus blenny), grabbed a few individual zoa frags, and asked if they had any pink nepthea just on the off chance someone had brought some in.

zoral.webp.c48425e417cc30781dca0f840ee00c8c.webp

Now, I don't think this is the kind pictured in this ReefBuilders article, it's not nearly so intensely pink, but it is pink(ish white) and I'm pretty sure it's a nepthea. It has those darker visible spicules on the stems, and it's very fluffy and similar to the nonphotosynthetic soft corals when it's not sad about being in a bag. And it was $40, not $140, so I figured I'd give it a shot. I'll put it on its own rock in case it grows fast, and I'm hoping keeping it away from any other corals will mean it doesn't bother attempting warfare.

 

I also grabbed some clove polyps, which I understand are not what people generally think of when they think of slow-growing corals. These are a larger kind, though, nearly 2" long, and the guy (who does know his stuff) says they tend to be slower-growing. Will probably test these out on their own rock before putting them on my scape. They aren't super pretty, tan with green centers, but I do like them and I hope my clowns might like them also.

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natalia_la_loca

good score! Hard to say from the pic of it closed up in the bag, but if it’s got the spicules, it should be a nephthea. Fwiw koji wada nephthea is a fairly subtle pink, especially under blue light, so if yours has any pink, it might be one. This is the koji wada i have (well anyway it was sold to me as koji wada by Tidal Gardens)

 

IMG_4084.thumb.jpeg.bc7a208a19cc22b75bb7afe071904a82.jpeg

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Mine looks pretty close to that, except that the spicules are a darker pink. I'll try and get a nice pic today once it's opened up. It was quite a soft pink in the sale tank, like some of the koji wada pics online, but nowhere near some of the others.

 

I wonder if there are multiple strains running around? The ReefBuilders article seems to describe something more pigmented than this, and some of the other pics online look more pigmented, though it's difficult to tell how many of those are just edited brighter.

 

Exact strain or not, it's gotta be a nepthea. So, what does yours like?

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natalia_la_loca

There may be multiple strains, but I suspect the main thing is that it looks different under different lighting; people say it looks best under white light. Here’s mine this morning with a little sunlight in the tank.

 

IMG_4399.thumb.jpeg.4e62e27a5351cd73d4200d51f5449b37.jpeg

 

I don’t do anything special for it. The tank is all LPS and softies, no skimmer, moderate flow, moderate to low light. I dose live phyto daily, do a 20% water change biweekly, occasionally dose to keep nitrate at 10ppm. Phosphate runs super high at 1.0 ppm with no nuisance algae except film on the glass. Under these conditions the nephthea has maybe tripled in size in the 8 months i’ve had it, but it grows much slower than green nephthea. 

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zepthea.png.4c117f02fc5a640783fbe851c576a742.png

Definitely pink stems. This color is fairly true-to-life, at least on my computer screen. Not entirely open yet- I'm not sure if it wants less light, less flow, or if it just needs a few days to settle in. It's in a QT for a couple of weeks, but the tank is cycled (nice chunk of mature live rock), so it should be fine in there. Once it's hopefully put on some good growth, I'm definitely going to frag it and put said frag elsewhere in the tank, as I've found a couple of accounts of nepthea colonies keeling over for no evident reason.

 

Yours is very nice, but it looks like a different variety. The main thing that stands out to me is that yours appears to have white spicules, whereas mine has those darker spicules. I'd imagine the care is likely similar, so it's good to know how you keep yours. Also helpful to see yours next to an unbothered blasto. Do you run carbon?

 

I guess I'll get to find out if this is another elusive well-behaved softie. If so, between it and the sympodium, I can have a whole two non-zoa soft corals!

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natalia_la_loca

Looks good! I agree it’s probably something different. Fwiw it took mine a few days to settle in too. 

 

I don’t run carbon or any other adsorption media, only filter floss and live rock. I haven’t seen any conflict between the pink nephthea and the blastos.

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