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ReefdUp

My Coral Rehabilitation Project

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Hi all!

 

As I've mentioned, I'm new in the area.  But, I'm not new to the hobby.  I started in 2007, and I found my passion almost immediately.  I'm obsessed with rehabilitating coral (and some anemones/fish/etc.)  I lost count a long time ago, but the number of corals rehabilitated is in the hundreds.  Along the way I've learned about all sorts of weird pests, diseases, you name it.  

 

Anyway, I hope you all enjoy the eye candy.  

 

Photo 1:  I have no idea what happened to that blue/green acanthastrea.  It smelled awful, and all that I could salvage were two polyps.  But, it grew well and produced plenty of frags.  

 

Photo 2:  This lobophyllia was in a tank with poor water quality that caused the recession.  It recovered, and I still have it today.

 

Photo 3:  These anemones were in a neglected tank.  I rehomed them once they recovered.

 

Photo 4:  This wellsophyllia (is that the current name nowadays?  It was, then it wasn't, and then it was...) was stung pretty bad.  Eventually it went to a friend's tank.

 

Photo 5:  This tang came complete with a massive ich outbreak and HLLE.  This photo shows the HLLE, but it was taken after the ich treatment (I've got a worse photo around here somewhere).  The scars were eventually barely noticeable.  Unfortunately, an airline carrier lost the box with this fish when we moved.  RIP.

 

Photo 6:  Last, but not least.  This is my favorite coral of all time, and I can't count the number of times I've almost lost it.  But, it is still with me today!

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how gratifying is that?

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What's your secret? You have some very impressive results - corals that I would have almost guaranteed were toast you have brought back.

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I'll post more later (took in about 15 corals this weekend that were dying, so it's been nuts).  Here's just a pretty shot (this one ultimately went to a friend's tank):

 

 

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Wow, that’s spectacular.  I’m taken away every time I look at those before and after pics.  I’m not on that level but I am trying to nurse a $3 acan frag to good health.  

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Wow !  You are amazing !  I've been doing pretty much the same thing but in reverse order :thumbsup:

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Very cool. You are definitely going to need to share some of the details about what you are doing. 

 

Welcome! 

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ReefdUp, have you ever presented on your techniques/challenges/successes? Your experiences would make for a very interesting topic!

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Hi again!  Thanks so much for the kind words of encouragement!  
 
I used to have a website documenting all of this, but it took time away from the work itself.  Plus, I'm not a vet/doctor, so I'm not qualified to give any "real" advice.  Unfortunately, I've seen a bunch of people read a few words of advice, hear what they want, then do dumb things.  You all know what I'm talking about.  
 
@Origami - I've presented on pests before (makes for a great Halloween-themed show!)  But no, I don't think I've ever actually presented on this.  As mentioned above, I get nervous without a massive disclaimer.  The corals are dying for a reason...that reason usually wants to spread.  :)  
 
@DFR - that's where it starts!  Keep working on it, and if you need help, let me know!
 
Here's the very basic outline of what I do.  I think there are some things I do that I can't explain why, but I go off intuition.  I'm an engineer, so I used to have at least a modest amount of rigor in my methods (ohh, you should've seen the simulation I built of coral pest reproduction lifecycles and the impacts of different medications/treatments.  It was great, except I think the software company is obsolete now.)
 
- Bottom line:  There is no magic solution.  This is 12 years of effort, learning, and FAILING.  I've checked - I spend more money trying to save coral than if I were to just buy healthy coral like everyone else.  If you think this is a way to get cheap coral, it's not.  
- I used to limit what corals I'd take in (e.g., at least 75% of a polyp remaining, only certain pests, no brown jelly substance, etc.)  Now, I take in everything since I feel like I can deal with nearly anything that comes in (including brown jelly).  Who doesn't want a challenge?!
- Maintaining good water quality is a must, and this is a huge challenge if you always have a tank full of dying stuff.  If you have any problems, don't take in more problems.  
- Softies get a 5-second dip in a 10% hydrogen peroxide (standard grocery store strength) - tank water mix dip, followed by a Bayer dip, followed by a CoralRx dip
- LPS get the same as above except a 20-second dip in the hydrogen peroxide water dip
- SPS get only the Bayer & CoralRx dips
- Fish are another story...(not in this post)
- Everything is quarantined for 30 days.  If I see a sign of anything, I handle the problem, and then the coral has to be clean for 30 days.  Stuff still gets by me, but it's rare.
- When I did this on a larger scale (had a 1000 sq ft workshop with about 1000g dedicated to rescuing), I had a secondary QT/grow-out.  This helped prevent pests from migrating.
- If I see signs of any problems, I treat for those problems.  This requires inspecting every coral all over every day, including late nights to search for the nocturnal pests.
- Damaged corals have dying tissue removed, and I superglue a line along the healthy tissue to the skeleton.  
- All corals have the majority of excess skeleton removed, especially any sharp bits (septa, etc.)
- Bleach, bleach, bleach, hydrogen peroxide, vinegar...  Keep everything as clean as possible (tools, etc.)
- Have every medication/chemical available on hand.  For example, levamisole, potassium permanganate, Bayer, Furan 2, chloroquine diphosphate, methylene blue, fluke tabs (my stock is getting *old* now that they're discontinued!!), etc.
- Know how to treat for everything, and have a microscope to help with determining the problem (ooooh the nasty things you'll find!)
- Are you ready to handle Acanthastrea-eating spiders? Predatory Rhodactis flatworms with tentacles (who knew?)  Black bugs?  Nudibranchs of every shape and size?  
- Feed according to the problem & coral.  I feed bleached corals 3-5x per week with my homemade food.  But, there are some corals I've learned to not try to feed until they are at a certain point in recovery (not sure how to explain this).  Otherwise, the corals just can't seem to digest the food.  It rots, and the corals rot too.  I guess I look for a feeding response - if they aren't actively trying to feed, I don't force it.
 
I'm sure I'll think of more later, but that's my late-night attempt to put it on "paper".  
 
And, another pretty shot:

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Nice work!  I have a blue hippo tang that has hlle that I can't seem to help, are you interested in the challenge?  You can have him for free.....I would just be happy to see him look better

 

Darren

 

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Nice work!  I have a blue hippo tang that has hlle that I can't seem to help, are you interested in the challenge?  You can have him for free.....I would just be happy to see him look better
 
Darren
 
Hi! Unfortunately that's a larger fish than what I could responsibly take in. I'd be happy to see if I could do anything to help otherwise though. I'm so sorry for your difficulties.

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1 hour ago, ReefdUp said:
 
@Origami - I've presented on pests before (makes for a great Halloween-themed show!)  But no, I don't think I've ever actually presented on this.  As mentioned above, I get nervous without a massive disclaimer.  The corals are dying for a reason...that reason usually wants to spread.  :)  
 

Come to the meeting this weekend and introduce yourself to me. I'm easy to find and many old timers could probably point me out. 

 

Talking/Presenting on the subject conveys more than just a methodology. It also implicitly reinforces the importance of providing the right environment and might inspire improved husbandry. In this case sure, a disclaimer could be offered. However, passing along lessons learned - both in failure and in success - could be very, very valuable. There's also a measure of conservation-mindedness here that is worthwhile. All that, plus you've got a lot of eye candy in the photographic record that's bound to hold a listener's attention.

 

Don't worry about being an engineer. A lot of us suffer from that affliction. :biggrin: Practicing now for 35+ years....

 

 

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20 hours ago, Origami said:

Come to the meeting this weekend and introduce yourself to me. I'm easy to find and many old timers could probably point me out. 

 

Talking/Presenting on the subject conveys more than just a methodology. It also implicitly reinforces the importance of providing the right environment and might inspire improved husbandry. In this case sure, a disclaimer could be offered. However, passing along lessons learned - both in failure and in success - could be very, very valuable. There's also a measure of conservation-mindedness here that is worthwhile. All that, plus you've got a lot of eye candy in the photographic record that's bound to hold a listener's attention.

 

Don't worry about being an engineer. A lot of us suffer from that affliction. :biggrin: Practicing now for 35+ years....

 

 

 

Ahhh, Dilbert...a daily resident on my desk.  I'll find you at the meeting and bow to your 35+ years with my paltry 10+.  :)

 

Let's go with some acanthastrea today since someone else was working on bringing some back!  To go along with the theme, enjoy (not!) some photos of some acanthastrea-eating spiders I had the joys of experiencing.  I think they were on this coral, but I can't remember exactly.

 

 

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So are you still pursuing this? The dates on the pics are all from ~5+ yrs ago. Kinda confused on the storyline. You mention not good roi...was that more at first or now too? Seems like you are rescuing pretty rough stuff. Do you just offer to take them from stores with any purchase or offer $5 or something? For every one of these successes in 2013 were there 25 losses? Is it 10:1 now?

 

Saving any one of those corals is worth celebrating. And your tips make a lot of sense. Trying to understand the broader context/journey.

 

Thanks.

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There wasn't a storyline... yet. To put it in Facebook terms, "it's complicated." We are military, so every few years we have to tear down, rebuild elsewhere, and re-establish relationships to find these coral. I started doing this in 2007, peaked 2011-2016, and did very little in 2016-2018. At the peak I had a 1000 sq ft fish room and ran a website or so with all of this, so most of the photos were organized from that. Since then (aka, having kids and a busy job), my photo taking lapsed, and what I have taken is a jumbled mess.

I've gotten back into it since we moved here over the summer since I don't have as much on my plate anymore.

And no, there's not a good ROI now or back when I did this on a large scale. I've spent much more than I ever would have on healthy corals. I have a massive folder of failed photos and a bucket of skeletons to match. Medications and supplies add up, and the labor definitely puts me in the "negative." I kept track for a while and got so depressed that I vowed to do keep doing this and ignore the financial aspect. My sources for damaged coral all vary and are worked out on an individual basis.

Plus, how can you put a price on coming home from the hospital after having a kid to find your QT tank (full of recovering corals) all dying from brown jelly? Yeah, that happened. I managed to save everything that was still alive and stopped the infection, but that is NOT the sort of stress anyone wants alongside a new baby. I don't think this side of the hobby is for anyone just in it for the money.

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Awesome.

 

Thanks so much for sharing your experience. Love the photos. You've brought back some corals I would have thought were not salvageable so thats really interesting. 

 

Any possibility you'd share you home made food recipe? Do you feed the same thing to your healthy corals? 

 

 

Laura 

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31 minutes ago, ReefdUp said:

There wasn't a storyline... yet. To put it in Facebook terms, "it's complicated." We are military, so every few years we have to tear down, rebuild elsewhere, and re-establish relationships to find these coral.

Boy, can I relate to that story - but from a kids' perspective as a dependent son of a Navy lifer: 18 schools through high school while growing up.  It was the only life I knew growing up and, for the community around me, it was kind of normal. It was mostly in the Vietnam era....

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Hi Matt,

I'll have to look through my notes (aka my phone camera). Having just come home with a new baby, there's no telling what I did in my sleep-deprived state (I did try to buy $24 in toothpaste online one night at 3am, but thankfully that transaction didn't go through).

I vaguely remember doing Furan 2 dips like for zoa pox. I'll do some digging to see if I can refresh my memory.

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Wow! How did you even know there was any living tissue on that one? :thumbsup:

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