The Identification and Care of Soft Corals

Introduction

The eight tentacled cnidaria encompass a broad range of forms that captivate the observer with their movement and palette of colour. While a handful of scientists attempt to classify them, which is no easy task, others are analyzing them for natural products chemistry in the search for new medicines (see chapter one). Meanwhile aquarists have been growing the lovely soft corals of the tropical reefs at home in miniature reef aquariums where they thrive just like flowering plants in a garden,

To understand the distinguishing characteristics for the different families and genera one must have some definitions for the terms used to describe the various structures of the colonies, skeletal elements, and their growth forms. Please refer to the glossary for these definitions.

Selecting Healthy Soft corals

While soft corals are generally very hardy and easy to grow or propagate in captivity, they are easily injured by improper handling in transport. An aquarist must learn to distinguish a healthy specimen from one that is marginally unhealthy. To the novice there does not appear to be much difference between a dead soft coral and one that has simply contracted, expelling water and shrinking as it does so. A dead soft coral can foul a small aquarium. An injured soft coral may rapidly succumb to an infection as if consumed by gangrene. While we cannot explain in a few pages what years of observation teach, we present here some specific things to look for in special organisms.

Gorgonians

A spectacular sea fan, Semper ma sp. Shedding is usually OK. Gorgonians shed a thin, waxy film, often the photographed in the Solomon same colour as the branches, the colour imparted by embedded scle-

Islands. J. Sprung ^ . i , , , , . , rites. This shedding process removes algae and other organisms that settle on their surface. However, when tissue sheds off, exposing the rod-like skeleton underneath, this is a sign that the branch or whole colony is dead. It is best to choose gorgonians that have the polyps expanded. If the gorgonians have just arrived in a fresh shipment, wait a few days before purchasing them, if possible, since colonies that have died in transit may not begin to rot for one or two days. If the dealer allows it, shake a colony gently underwater— does the tissue

The COMPLETE guide to Aquariums

The COMPLETE guide to Aquariums

The word aquarium originates from the ancient Latin language, aqua meaning water and the suffix rium meaning place or building. Aquariums are beautiful and look good anywhere! Home aquariums are becoming more and more popular, it is a hobby that many people are flocking too and fish shops are on the rise. Fish are generally easy to keep although do they need quite a bit of attention. Puppies and kittens were the typical pet but now fish are becoming more and more frequent in house holds. In recent years fish shops have noticed a great increase in the rise of people wanting to purchase aquariums and fish, the boom has been great for local shops as the fish industry hasnt been such a great industry before now.

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