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Thread: Gorgonians - a guide

  1. #1
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    Gorgonians - a guide

    Gorgonians - Sea fans, whips and pens

    I really like gorgonians I have three species so far in my tank. I am planning on getting a few more different species for my new tank. I hope to develop a split biotope tank with pacific species on one side of a live rock partition and atlantic species on the other side -

    I feel that reefers need to look at which species would be best to keep in their home reef aquariums - there are plenty of brightly coloured gorgonians and these are often the most tempting to have in a tank for obvious reasons.

    However these gorgonians are often very hard to keep alive and require dedicated systems which can deal with the amount of foods which need to be fed into the tank system. To try and keep these gorgonians alive for any length of time very intense lighting and strong currents ar eoften required which may not be easily re created in the average reef aquarium.

    It is best to follow some rules with livestock especially with the current concerns with the coral reefs of the world. We should really try to be true to ourselves and keep animals that we can actually keep alive. I am a believer in reducing demand for some corals until such time we have a better ideal of how to keep them. We should not really over stretch ourselves when selecting interesting corals for our tanks. As we learn more and gain confidence we can possibly move onto more challenging species.

    I am first to admit that I have had some casualities along the way of my set up in the RSM. It is probably through the immaturity of my system and my impatience to get more corals into my tank an easy trap to fall into really.

    I often see brightly coloured gorgonians being sold in my LFS which are just destined to waste away in reef tanks - I just feel that people need more information hence this write up on here.

    Using the text Aquarium Corals - Selection, Husbandry and Natural History by Eric Borneman I would like to develop a guide for reefers regarding the different gorgonians which are available for the home aquarium.

    I am assuming that people who get into this hobby would like to try and take sustainable decisions when it comes to the corals they keep. A key thing is the longevity of corals and hopefully the future fragging of these corals will help provide cheap, hardy corals for other reefers.

    I would like to provide a quick guide to the gorgonians that people should look out for and also the species which you try and avoid temptation in buying as E Borneman says plenty of these corals have poor survival prospects in home aquariums.

    The main area where gorgonians which are most suitable for the home aquarium come from the Carribean and Atlantic. There are species which are reported to be hardy and are good candidates for propagation. There are species which are found in the Pacific as well as the Atlantic so you need to be careful when buying this species - if you ask the LFS where the corals were collected from is the best way of getting some which are hardy - for example Pseudoperogorgia from the atlantic are almost entirely photosynthetic or zooxanthellate whereas in the pacific the species has both - often being azooxanthellate - the brighter the colour of the gorgonian often it is azooxanthellate which means it needs to be fed in order to survive.

    I intend to get some of my gorgonians photographed and added to this guide. I may also look to link to photos on the web aswell so people can see what these different species look like.

    I will also be updating this guide on the care requirements of each species and whether there have been any success in keeping the species which are best avoided.

    Species to look out for [u]
    Photosynthetic gorgonians are often brown, orange or dull in colour but they can be fascinating shapes and textures which puts something new within a reef display. I have some gorgonians which have taken on a nice colour. There are some nice coloured photosynthetic species - such as the Black sea rod and the pinnate spiny sea fan. I have been taking frags from my gorgonians and have been growing on mother colonies which have taken on the usual sea fan shape. I intend to get a good number available on here in the future.

    Atlantic species
    Briarium spp
    Erythropodium spp
    Muricea spp
    The species I have of this coral is M. laxa This is an orange brown colour and has been growing slowly in my tank for the past 10 to 12 months. No frags from this colony yet
    Other photo from UR - jimdon IOM

    Muriceopsis spp
    Plexaura spp
    Plexaurella spp

    My most recent purchase was P. nutans small colony from the carribean.
    Pseudoplexaura spp
    Pseudopterogorgia spp
    My current species is P. bipinnata I obtained this gorgonian from leggit who showed me how to propagate these types of corals.


    Pacific species
    Rumphella spp
    Isis spp


    Species to avoid buying

    Atlantic species
    Some of these species may be found in both the Atlantic and Pacific either in deep water or shallow intensely lit areas. Most are deemed to be very difficult to keep in the home aquarium.
    Diodogorgia spp
    Red sea whip - (Dendro982 from UR)

    Yellow Sea Whip (Jacksok from UR)

    Eunicea spp
    Swiftia spp
    (Jacksok - UR)
    Gorgonia spp
    Leptogorgia spp
    Pterogorgia spp
    Sea pens
    Ptilosarcus spp
    Cavernulina spp
    Pteroeides spp

    I will be updating this page or guide with information on species from the pacific. There are people that are keeping these corals in dedicated systems utilising ULNS ultra low nutrient systems, along with UV, Ozone, and very large oversized skimmers to prevent the build up of nutrients which leads to algae problems and poor water quality.

    Feeding can be a hit and miss affair with some of the difficult species - they may feed but sometimes they will close and start to degenerate.

    I would be happy to help anyone with gorgonians. I am also very keen to find people with photosynthetic species that would like to swap for different colonies and colours.

    I may actually break this guide up into smaller pieces - Gorgonian Guide parts 1, 2 and 3.

    I will also be delving into the world of the Azooxanthellate gorgonians - one species which is lookingto be a good candidate it the Menella species.


    (Dave P - UR)
    I have been learning from the masters on UR and it looks like this species would be a good starter Azoo gorgonian. I will keep you updated.

    Links to articles
    http://www.garf.org/GORG03/WINTERGORG.html
    http://www.garf.org/TREVORHOME.html
    Menella discussion on UR
    http://www.ultimatereef.net/forums/showthread.php?t=238423



    Jon <^EDIT^>

    Last edited by Cranners aka NMK on 2008-08-10, 20:47; edited 1 time in total

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
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    Gorgonians - a guide

    Some nice looking corals there!! Always have been a fan or gorgonians since you sent me a frag of one jon!! It was doing very well until i had my sea hare, after that i never saw the gorg frag again so im unsure on what happened to it :'(

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Gorgonians - a guide

    This is great reading. Cant wait for more thanks Cranners

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