Bushy Sea Rod

Bushy Gorgonian, Brown Brushy Sea Fan
Sea Rod, Pacific Sea Rod, Sea Whip

Bushy Sea Rod Rumphella sp., also known as Bushy Gorgonian, Brown Brushy Sea Fan, Pacific Sea Rod, Sea Rod, and Sea WhipRumphella Sp.Photo © Animal-World: Courtesy David Brough

   The Bushy Sea Rod is an interesting gorgonian that forms twisted and bushy branches!

   The Bushy Sea Rod Rumphella sp. is a photosynthetic gorgonian found in the Indo-Pacific Ocean.They live on reef slopes at various depths. They are members of the Gorgoniidae family, which have a central "chord" that is the main branch which the rest of the coral grows from. The structure is covered by a rind, which is a tissue layer, and there are polyps on raised areas of the rind. The rigid structure of branches consists of a protein substance called gorgonin, thus the family name. The colors of the Rumphella corals are generally brown, but they can come in tan to yellow and yellow to brown.

   True to its name, the Bushy Sea Rod is "bushy", having polyps that are numerous and long. Their branches are thick and the same size from the tips to the bottom with tips that are nicely rounded off and club like. They have a dichotomous structure which is a random "Y" shaped branch pattern as well as a lateral structure that are simply extensions from the main branches in the middle. The branches do grow in various directions, but seem to eventually curve upward. Other descriptive names are Bushy Gorgonian, Brown Brushy Sea Fan, Pacific Sea Rod, Sea Rod, and Sea Whip.

   The Rumphella genus may be moderate to care for as long as you provide the necessary light and water movement. Provide moderate currents and a good light source. Due to the seldom import of these gorgonians, there is no way to really tell what their tolerance is. It is speculated that because of their various depth and temperature tolerances, along with the coral having zooxanthellae, that it may be an easier gorgonian to care for. Other gorgonians can over take the Rumphella corals, so they will need to be kept at a distance.

   The Bushy Sea Rod has a strong symbiotic relationship with a marine algae known as zooxanthellae, and receives some of its nutrients from it. Because it does need light, it may be easier to care for by being less demanding as far as feeding is concerned. It still needs supplemental feeding, but unlike gorgonians without zooxanthellae, it will not quickly die if not fed. See Care of Photosynthetic Gorgonians.

To learn more about these fascinating Octocorals see:
What Are Gorgonians?
Types of Gorgonians, Sea Fans and Sea Whips


Pet Supply Comparison Shopping

Scientific name    Suborder: Holaxonia
   Family: Gorgoniidae
   Species: Rumphella sp.

Distribution / Background    Gorgonian Information: The Rumphella genus was described by Bayer in 1955. There are 4 species in this genus, and they are R. aggregata, R. antipathes, R. attenuata, and R. torta. Some common names these corals are known for are Bushy Sea Rod, Bushy Gorgonian, Brown Brushy Sea Fan, Pacific Sea Rod, Sea Rod, and Sea Whip. It is unknown if the Rumphella genus has been propagated in captivity, but it would be a good candidate as its characteristics lead to the assumption that it would be easier to keep than other gorgonians.

   Where Rumphella Corals Are Found: The Rumphella genus are found in the Indo-Pacific Ocean.

   Rumphella Coral Habitat: The Rumphella genus inhabit reef slopes at various depths.

Status    The Rumphella genus is not on the IUCN Red List for Endangered Species.

Description    What do Rumphella Corals look like: Gorgonians in the Suborder Holaxonia have a rigid structure of branches that consist of a protein substance called gorgonin, thus the name. In this family, Gorgoniidae, there is a central "chord" that is the main branch from which the rest of the coral grows from. The structure is covered by a rind which is a tissue layer, and there are polyps on raised areas of the rind. Lifespan is unknown.

   The Rumphella genus can come in tan to yellow and yellow to brown. They are bushy, having polyps that are numerous and long. They also do have zooxanthellae, so they do need light. Their branches are thick, the same size from the tips to the bottom, and are generally brown. Their tips are nicely rounded off and club like. The branches do grow in various directions, but seem to eventually curve upward. They have a dichotomous structure which is a random "Y" shaped branch pattern as well as a lateral structure that are simple extensions from the main branches in the middle.

   The classification of gorgonians in general is done by some simple visual clues such as colony size, shape, axis structure, color, polyp placement, and pattern of branches. Getting a little more technical, they also look to see if the polyp is autozooid or siphonozooid. Then there is the more exacting use of chemotaxonomy. used to show the different terpenoids or other chemicals produced by each gorgonian species.

Difficulty of Care    Gorgonian Care: The Rumphella genus may be moderate to care for as long as you provide the necessary light and water movement. Provide moderate currents and a good light source. Due to the seldom import of these gorgonians, there is no way to really tell what their tolerance is. It is speculated that because of their various depth and temperature tolerances, along with the coral having zooxanthellae, that it may be an easier gorgonian to care for.

Foods / Feeding    Gorgonian Feeding: In the wild, Rumphella corals have developed several feeding strategies. They capture planktonic organisms and microscopic food particles from the water column, and can absorb dissolved organic matter. Unlike a lot of other Gorgonians, the Bushy Sea Rod Rumphella sp. has a symbiotic relationship with a marine algae known as zooxanthellae, where they receive some of their nutrients.

   In captivity, the Bushy Sea Rod can be fed enriched Artemia nauplii, rotifers, dust-sized pellet food, Cyclopeeze, daphnia, and other similar sized foods. Marine Snow many also be a good food source. Feed every other day depending on appearance.

Aquarium Care    Stable tank conditions are needed to keep the Rumphella genus. Doing water changes of 20% a month or 10% biweekly is needed, although it is suggested that doing 5% water changes once a week will replenish many of the needed additives. With higher concentrations of coral with calcareous skeletons, there may be a need put in additional additives to maintain proper levels for good growth. Iodine, calcium, strontium, and other trace elements can be added.

   Suggested levels for Rumphella species are:

  • Calcium:  400 - 450 ppm (Seachem makes a calcium additive that states 385 as sufficient)
  • Alkalinity:  3.2 - 4.8 MEQ/L (8 to 11 dKh - 10 is recommended)
  • Phosphates:  0, zero.
  • Magnesium:  1200 - 1350 ppm. (magnesium makes Calcium available, so if your calcium is low, check your magnesium levels before adding any more calcium.)
  • Strontium:  8 - 10

Aquarium Parameters

Quick Reference Chart
Lighting: Prefers Low Lighting Levels Prefers Medium Lighting Levels Prefers High Lighting Levels
Water Flow: Prefers Low Water Flow Levels Prefers Medium Water Flow Levels Prefers High Water Flow Levels
Temperament: Peaceful Temperament Semi-Aggressive Temperament Aggressive Temperament

   A typical live rock/reef environment is what is needed for your Bushy Sea Rod, along with some fish for organic matter production. A mature tank (well over a year old) is advised to increase the successful keeping of Rumphella.

   Provide proper lighting and water movement. A moderate water flow and a bright light source are needed for the Bushy Sea Rod to do well. Provide enough water flow to avoid having cyanobacteria grow on them, and they must be anchored down. These Octocorals are a peaceful species but can extend sweeper tentacles, so adequate space should be provided between them and other corals.

  • Minimum Tank Size / Length: 50 gallon (190 L) or larger
  • Marine Lighting: Moderate
  • Temperature: 68° - 83° F (20° - 28° C)
  • Salinity / Specific Gravity: 1.023 - 1.025
  • Water Movement: Moderate
  • Water Region: Middle of the aquarium

Compatibility and Social Behaviors    The Bushy Sea Rod is peaceful and poses no threat to any other corals or gorgonians. Other gorgonians can over take the Rumphella corals, so they will need to be kept at a distance.

   Butterflyfish feed on gorgonian polyps or tissue. Butterfly fish will constantly chow, so they are not the best idea for a tank mate. Some angelfish will also pick at the polyps, but can be housed with them if the angelfish is well fed.

Sex - Sexual differences    No sexual difference in appearance is known.

Breeding and Reproduction   The Rumphella genus may reproduce by by breakage, fragmentation. and they may also spawn like other gorgonians for sexual reproduction.

  Propagation of gorgonians consists of using severing or clean cuts. Tearing the coral will result in infection. Be cautious with the use of glues, as many gorgonians react badly to the chemicals. However an underwater epoxy has been suggested by some. Containment is recommended if the frag survives. This involves keeping the frag in one spot, say a small piece of upright pvc, around the same height as the frag, with sand or rubble at the bottom. This will keep the frag from blowing over before it can take root. It is suggested to drill holes in the pvc to keep the water flowing.

Potential Problems   The Bushy Sea Rod is susceptible to algae and cyanobacteria accumulating on its branches.The Rumphella genus, needing light, can get red band and black band infections that are caused by cyanobacteria. Keeping water flow strong will help prevent this. If your gorgonian does get this, you can at times cut off the bad part and hope the rest will recover.

Availability    Gorgonians for Sale: The Bushy Sea Rod Rumphella sp. is not readily availabe at pet shops and on line. Some reef clubs may have a specimen.

References

Author: Carrie McBirney, Clarice Brough CRS

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