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What should I feed...

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  • What should I feed...

    I got a Scleronephthya (Cauliflower) coral today. I know that the recommendation is to supplement with something like Marine Snow or something similar. Should I need to supplement or is the C-V or the "mulm" enough to feed them?

  • #2
    Greetings All !

    While a definitive menu for Scleronephthya sp. has yet to be documented, the consensus in the literature is that they are planktivorous ... targeted feeding of phytoplankton and zooplankton is recommended.

    From Aquarium Corals (Borneman 2001), "According to some reports, they may be slightly more likely to survive in the aquarium if adequate plankton or a plankton substitute is provided on a regular basis - at least one species (and likely more) is herbivorous." The line under of one the included Scleronephthya picture says, "... may be fed phytoplankton."

    Not that everyone likes the idea of captive rearing of these species ...

    Dendronephthya/Scleronephthya are filter feeding corals. Voracious filter feeding corals that is. These corals completely lack the symbiotic zooxanthellae found in most corals. The pro to that is that these corals are presumably more tolerant (and hardier) than most other corals. For example these corals can withstand environmental changes without the possibility of coral bleaching (Kaufman 2004). These corals continuously reproduce and rapidly populate areas with favorable conditions (Siegel 2002). Unfortunately the pros of these corals are dwarfed by their cons. Without the aid of photosynthetic zooxanthellae these animals are dependent on large amounts of plankton. That is beginning (and the end) of their captive demise. Simply put, for now these corals are impossible to keep in captivity.

    Extracted from:
    Wet Web Media
    Dendronephthya and Sceleronephthya. Corals to Avoid. (2005?)
    Adam Blundell, M.S.

    Also ...

    These corals are found in waters (doing best) with flow rates between 5 cm/sec and 25 cm/sec (2 in/sec and 10 in/sec). The feed heavily throughout the day and in captivity always require heavy feeding. This continuous feeding cycle may correlate to their ongoing reproductive mode. ...

    ... That isn’t to say that hobbyists won’t be successful with these corals in the future, but for now it would highly irresponsible of me to encourage people to experiment with the husbandry of these corals. The most advanced efforts to captively keep these animals have been performed by the Waikiki Aquarium and the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific. This information is well documented and can be found in the online article in the references below (Delbeek 2003). These two well maintained aquariums used a slurry of phytoplankton foods, supplemented with zooplankton. Great efforts have been made to create laminar flow recreating tide patterns along reef drop offs (Delbeek 2002). Coral attachment was also explored and anecdotally showed that hanging the corals upside down so that the branches do not touch substrate improved coral health and growth.

    However, long term success has still yet to occur. With an incredible amount of feeding an aquarist needs to provide an incredible amount of filtration. Public aquaria have the option of using flow-through systems which so far seem to be the only filtration method able to keep up with the high nutrient load.

    Extracted from:
    Wet Web Media
    Dendronephthya and Sceleronephthya. Corals to Avoid. (2005?)
    Adam Blundell, M.S.

    Other references and reading ... Thank You Mr. Blundell ...

    Delbeek, J.C., (2002) "Non-photosynthetic Corals: They really are hard!”, , Advanced Aquarist Online Magazine, USA.

    Siegel, T., (2002) “Struggling with Alveopora and Dendronephthea”, , Advanced Aquarist Online Magazine, USA.

    WetWebMedia publications-

    While I don't have the references to back this up at my fingertips ... ...

    ... IIRC there is significant anecdotal evidence that marine snow alone has proven to be helpful for feeding, but not entirely successfully. Wilkens reported partial success by stirring the sand bed in his tank ... bacterioplankton/"mulm" release ... so I suspect that the bacterial aggregates generated by a ZEOreactor would also prove similarly useful. JMO. I haven't come across either effective or ineffective reports regarding PCV targeted towards Scleronephthya species. I've keep specimens in nonZEO, nonSPS "mixed reef" systems for up to 11 months with stirring the sand bed and non-targeted dosing of live phytoplankton.

    JMO ... HTH
    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."
    Hunter S. Thompson


    • #3
      Thanks for taking the time to get all that information to me!