Mini reef aquarium guide. Reef aquarium setup for large reef tanks, Nano reef tanks, Pico reef or MIcro reef aquariums with reef tank lighting, filtration, choosing coral reef animals, and problem solving!
The Bushy Sea Rod is a more aquarium friendly gorgonian that should be housed in a tank that is at least 100 gallons. The lack of light in this video is to help the gorgonian adjust. They grow to over 3 feet (1 meter) and need straight moderate water flow, moderate to strong lighting that has 350 to 550 nm for best absorption and 0 phosphates. They can be easily overtaken by cyanobacteria and algae. Avoid the Flamingo Tongue snail and snails form the Murex genus, as these corals will be eaten by them.
Captive green Pacific Encrusting Gorgonian, extensive video
This video shows many of the characteristics of the Pacific Encrusting Gorgonian. Great for beginners, this encrusting gorgonian mat has green polyps, as opposed to the tank or brown Briareum of the Atlantic. The Pacific Encrusting Gorgonian has a pale gray or even a slight cast of purple as can be seen in this video. Green Star Polyps have a dark to bright green polyp and a purple base, so they are easy to tell apart
The Encrusting Gorgonian, while sometimes having a blue to green cast, is typically cream or light brown. They area easy to care for and will spread onto any surface they come in contact with. They do well with most water movement and do need light to survive and will grow quicker in strong lighting and feeding. They do not need to be fed if there are fish in the tank. Position them away from other corals, as they will overgrow them.
This video makes us all want to run out and buy one of these beautiful gorgonians! Before you do, you may want to use this check list! First, your tank should be at least 50 gallons, since they can grow to 16 inches. Your tank should be at least a year old with very stable water conditions and 0 phosphates. Turn your light down or put them somewhere else in the tank that has dim lighting. When kept in a brightly lit tank, cyanobacteria seems to quickly cover and kill the Finger Sea Fan. Feed everyday with small planktonic foods or finely minced thawed frozen foods. They do not have a good record for survival, often starving or death by cyano, algae or too much handling by the aquarist.
The commentary on this video is helpful. The Finger Sea Fan eats every day and uses it's white polyps to take in very small foods. They do not need much light and tend to become covered with cyanobacteria, which is hard to see on this particular color for obvious reasons. Water quality should be high and 0 phosphates. Do not buy a Flamingo Tongue snail, as it will quickly eat your beautiful gorgonian!
The Purple Bush Sea Fan is the only other plumelike Atlantic gorgonians. They have cylindrical branchlets which sets them apart from Pseudopterogorgia. They are found in shallower waters in various habitats and can be brown or yellow, however purple to purple-gray are the most common. They are not as easy to care for unless the water quality is good. They will shed their outer layer and rind periodically, appearing to be dead, so do not throw it away too soon!
Purple Sea Blade in the middle of two Purple Bush Sea Fans
This video is quite relaxing! The Purple Sea Blade, found in the same waters as the Purple Bush Sea Fan compliment each other! Purple Sea Blades are a little less "fluffy" having flat blades, which help slow down water and the floating yummy foods it carries. Their polyps grow on the edges of the blades and even though the polyps are white (which non-photosynthetic have), they actually are a photosynthetic gorgonian. This Purple Sea Blade also has a "sister, P. citrinia which is bright yellow, orange or brown with white polyps, and the olive colored morph is the most commonly collected for the marine trade. They need to be fed daily, have strong water movement, strong lighting, ZERO phosphates and good water quality.
This video shows an amazing grouping of Red Gorgonians in the wild. The polyps need to be fed so often that the water quality of the tank will suffer. Once they loose 10% of their polyps, death is imminent. These are best left in the ocean, since they are quickly overgrown by algae even in the best aquariums.
Beginning of this video shows the Splendid Knotted Fan Coral
While many other gorgonians are shown in this video, making it worth watching, the Splendid Knotted Fan Coral close up is amazing! Sadly this coral has a dismal record of surviving in even the most pristine aquariums. They need heavy feeding, which in turn pollutes the tank, fouling the water. These are best enjoyed by watching amazing videos such as these. There are other similarly colored gorgonians that do better in captivity.
The Gorgonians are soft coral colonies that are generally tree like. Though found in many areas of the ocean, those found in tropical and subtropical waters have the most diversified shapes. The distinctive forms of the Gorgonians include the beautiful sea fan, a dynamic sea whip or sea blade, or they can be bushy creating a sea rod resembling a soft sea spray.
Gorgonians are members of the Subclass Octocorallia. This group is called the Octocorals, and loosely referred to as soft corals. Like most Octocorals, Gorgonians are colonial sessile animals. Sessile means they are anchored to the substrate, and from there they can be either erect or encrusting. Gorgonians have a central stem that is tough, yet very flexible. It is covered with a living surface called a rind which is embedded with small polyps. The stem attaches to the substrate, with the delicate branches radiating outward.
Gorgonians are not recommended as a beginner's coral. Yet although they are considered a more difficult coral to care for, they can thrive for a long time if provided with the proper environment. They must be anchored to the substrate and need a brisk water movement. Most are photosynthetic and so need light to survive, and most must be fed.
While many Leather Corals and Soft Corals make great beginner corals, there are hundreds of other different types of soft corals. Some unique Octocorals include the the Blue Coral, Mat Polyps like the Organ Pipe Coral and Green Star Polyps, and the Sea Pens. Each of these beautiful corals will have care requirements that are just as diverse as the animals they are; consequently not all soft corals are easy keepers. It is very important to learn about the species you are keeping for a successful reef aquarium.
What are Gorgonians The Gorgonians inhabit many areas of the oceans. Most are found in shallow coastal waters down to depths of 985 feet (300 m), with only a few living in deeper seas. The tropical Gorgonians were introduced into the saltwater aquarium trade in 1970, and specimens from the Caribbean were introduced in the 1980's.
In its taxonomical structure, the Gorgonians belong to the Order Alcyonacea, which also consists of the true soft corals. This order, along with numerous others, is a member of the Subclass Octocorallia, known as the Octocorals. These are corals with eight-branched tentacles and eight septae in their polyp structure. Under the Alcyonacea order, the Gorgonians are further divided into three Suborders, Holaxonia, Scleraxonia, and Calcaxonia.
Like the majority of the Octocorals, Gorgonians, are colonial sessile animals. Sessile means they are anchored to the substrate, and from there they can be either erect or encrusting. Gorgonians differ from stony corals. The mass of a stony coral is primarily made up of a rigid calcareous skeleton, with living tissue growing on top. Gorgonians on the other hand are primarily composed of living tissue.
Gorgonians have a central stem that is tough, yet very flexible. It is covered with a living surface called a rind. The stem attaches to the substrate, with the delicate branches radiating outward. The suborder Holaxonia are composed of a fibrous protein substance, known as gorgonin, which is similar to the horn material of mammals. The common names, Gorgonian, Horn Coral or Horny Coral, are derived from this substance. Those in the suborder Scleraxonia are calcium based similar to other Octocorals.
Types of Gorgonians Most Gorgonians are very colorful found in shades of yellow, orange, and red. The color can be permanent in those of the suborder Scleraxonia that incorporate pigmented sclerites within their structure.
Gorgonian Care Though considered more difficult to care for, Gorgonians can thrive for a long time if provided with the proper environment. They must be anchored to the substrate. Most species need brisk but moderate water movement. They need good currents to help rid themselves of the waxy film that is secreted to rid themselves of algae. Surge devices or turbulent water flow is best. Many gorgonians are photosynthetic and so need light to survive. Others that grow at great depths or in shaded areas don't require light. Gorgonians usually must be fed to survive in the aquarium.
Care of Photosynthetic Gorgonians: Those that are photosynthetic need good lighting as well as strong currents. These derive much of their nutrition from a marine algae known as zoozanthellae, contained in their tissue,. Although most are not accustomed to the very strong lights produced by metal halide, it is said that they will eventually adjust and grow faster because of it. Some photosynthetic Gorgonians can be fed while others cannot. In either case photosynthetic gorgonians don't need to be fed in order to survive.
Care of Non-Photosynthetic Gorgonians: For those that need to be fed, feed them at least once a week. Some Gorgonians like the Finger Sea Fan Diodogorgia nodulifera need a much more steady food supply, with several feedings a day being optimal. Feed detritus, brine shrimp, Daphnia, Cyclops, or pulverized flake food, shrimp or clams. Sometimes you can stir up the gravel slightly in order to mix detritus in the water for feeding the detritus eating species.