In addition to the Pebble crab (RIP) I also received a commensal crab and a gorgonian.
The crab was a coral crab, Trapezia cymodoce. In the wild these crustaceans live in association with SPS corals, defending them against predators and feeding on the mucus produced by the coral. Unfortunately this individual had been through the wars, he arrived with one claw completely missing and the other broken (missing half of the pincer). The poor chap was basically defenceless, goodness knows what he'd been through before he'd been shipped to me. I introduced him carefully next to my largest Acropora but I discovered him hiding under a rock at the base of the clam the following day, he couldn't have been impressed with my choice of coral. Since he had no claws and no coral to live either in I was concerned about how he was going to settle. I gently pipetted a small piece of Mysis toward him and amazingly he managed to manhandle it with his broken claw toward his mouth. After that feeding him was a doddle, he greedily accepted food directly from the pipette. 17 days after introduction he moulted and reappeared with 2 complete claws, not just small claws but a proper pair of normal sized claws. Amazing!
The gorgonian was taller than expected which posed a bit of problem, where was I going to put it? One branch was stripped at the tip, another had flesh missing along its length and it was receding at the base. I had been advised by the shop that it was photosynthetic but as soon as I saw it in person it screamed non-photosynthetic to me. Not that I'm an expert or anything but it's not brown at all which I'd expect to see with a photosynthetic gorgonian. I had ordered it in the hope that it was the purple version of Menella, of which I have seen in photos online but never in person. This did not look like my yellow Menella, the polyps were smaller but it was here now and I would do my best for it. Fortunately it was attached to a reasonable size bit rock (coral skeleton) so I just placed it on the sand whilst I considered where it would go.
Here it is 4 days after introduction.
End on shot showing the whole gorgonian. You can see the stripped branch on the left and the small branch with missing flesh bottom left.
I decided to cut off the stripped top branch but leave the bottom one alone for the time being. After a few days it seemed the gap in lower branch was getting smaller or maybe that was just wishful thinking on my part. I decided to take regular photos to confirm it one way or another. The pictures were snapped at random times during the day and zoomed with my phone so they are not the best quality, oh and the gorgonian was shifted around a bit as I tried to work out where best to locate it in the tank.
This was on day 7 (after introduction).
Day 30 and the gap is now closed.
When I realised the branch above was regrowing I decided to keep an eye on the stripped area at the base too. This was on day 8.
This was day 30.
And this was day 39.
I'm pretty chuffed with that recovery especially since I honestly feared it would waste away in few short weeks. Maybe it is photosynthetic after all, lol.
I received the results of my second ICP analysis yesterday. Cobalt and Aluminium are still elevated but there is a little less than before so maybe the TMC eco rock has stopped leeching or is a least leeching less now, time will tell. The nutrient levels are still low despite my feeding a ton of food and dosing extra nitrate. I have been seeing a little bit of green cyano on the rocks and the sand is looking a bit greener too. I'm still debating whether I should do anything about it or just wait and see. I'll probably just wait and see. Oh and I have been plucking out tiny bits of Ulva from the sand (mainly) whenever I see them, grrr! I'm resigned to have to keep doing this from now on.
The sun coral has christened the new rock, the first baby is coming along nicely.
The baby Trochus snails are doing really well. I've been moving any that I find in the sump over to the refugium. The refugium needs cleaning and they are better off in there, I want to avoid the scenario where they get crushed by an impeller or jam up my X-filter. I have discovered some in the DT too which I'm surprised about, I thought that they would all have been wrasse food but I guess they are able to hide well enough to avoid such a fate. They do blend in with the rockwork extremely well.
The Coco worm continues to do surprisingly well, it has extended its tube even more now. Kylie the Pink Streaked wrasse is keeping a beady eye on it for me.
I'm also pleased to report that the Menella gorgonian appears to be doing great now. It's finally decided to pop out another branch at the base, woo hoo! Unfortunately I can't get it to completely recover the sections that lost some flesh earlier on because hair algae has taken a hold. It's only possible to see the algae when the polyps are fully retracted but it does annoy me no end. When the algae grows long enough a hermit comes along and gives it a trim which I appreciate.
Unfortunately the Rei Yellow wrasse seems to have taken a bit of a disliking to Jessie the Rainford's goby, I have no idea as to why; a dominance thing maybe. There is no chasing or actual fighting but a fair amount of posturing goes on between the two. When they meet they both fully flare their fins and engage in some sort of a staring contest, Jessie may be the smaller fish but he stands his ground. Rei had better watch his step because if it comes to a choice he'll be the one to go. Catching him would be the issue...
A quick pic of Sunny the Sunburst Anthias.
I have always had a hankering to try a non-photosynthetic gorgonian, it's crazy I know because feeding them can be so hard but I think they are incredibly beautiful corals. Apparently out of all the species available Menella sp. is reportedly the easiest to keep however in all my years of running a reef tank I have never seen one for sale in a shop. Then amazingly a tiny frag became available online. I reasoned to myself that surely I could find somewhere to squeeze in something that small and before common sense could prevail an order was placed.
The frag arrived looking great and the polyps were fully extended in the pot, I placed it on a frag rack whilst I pondered where on earth I was going to put it. It really is lovely, delicate yellow polyps extending from a dark red central stalk. I have been offering it a variety of dried and frozen foods not really knowing what it prefers to eat or is indeed the correct size for it to swallow. Out of curiosity I decided to film how it would react when I dumped in a load of live Tigriopus copepods in to the tank. I didn't really expect to see much so I was quite surprised to actually catch some action when played back. The footage is not great having been digitally zoomed in on my phone and then cropped on the computer plus the speed has been slowed down but you can actually see pods being caught and more excitingly being ingested! Keep an eye out for the pod that gets caught on the right hand side of the branch and at the time stamp 1.02 you can see the polyp actually swallowing it! Pretty cool stuff I think.
Time will tell if I can manage to keep this beauty alive long term. Now that it's fixed in place I should be able to track any changes be they good or bad.
Hi, my name is Lisa and I live in Derby, UK. I am a self-confessed reefaholic!