Rescuing Dying Corals: Scolymia, Part 1

Scolymia are one of my favorite coral genera, and with good reason!  These corals frequently have stark contrasting colors (orange and green, red and blue, purple with a touch of everything, etc.), are voracious eaters, and do well in a variety of conditions.  The genus is made up of a few species:  australis, cubensis, and vitiensis.  (While on this topic, I’ll make a note that Veron’s Coral’s of the World, Vol 3, states that Scolymia lacera is actually Mussa angulosa, and Scolymia wellsi is usually given to smaller species from Brazil.)

In 2011, I noticed a lot of Scolymia have had more problems than I’ve noticed in the past.  Maybe more newbies to the hobby are starting with these, but it seems that there are constantly new threads on various forums on how to save dying Scolymia.  Even vendors I’ve talked with have mentioned problems with the Scolymia having a small injury that spiraled to coral death.  This may have something to do with particular viruses or even overharvesting of the good stock.

Throughout my years as a reefkeeper, I’ve noticed the size of Scolymia available for sale has drastically decreased.  Unfortunately, this is usually a sign of overharvesting which may be contributing to the poor health of some Scolymia entering the hobby.  But, not to be confused with overharvesting are the newest rage from western Australia:  miniature Scolymia.  For now, these are considered to be Scolymia australis, but they may be reclassified soon.

I picked this miniature Scolymia up at a local fish store in October, 2011.  This coral is my ideal rescue.  The exposed skeleton (in white) shows rapid deterioration on only one side of the coral, which makes me believe the coral was stung or eaten.  There is no damage to the rest of the coral or the coral’s mouth, so the recovery should be straight-forward.  Many hobbyists lately have reported damage like this does not end well, but I am unsure of the cause.       

October 2011
I removed the bubble algae (Valonia sp.) from the coral, dipped it, and placed it in lower flow and medium light.  The septa of this coral did not need trimming since they were not sharp.  Initial feeding took about two days to start.  However, this coral quickly became one of my most voracious eaters! 
Recovery has taken longer than typically necessary, but the lil dude survived 32 hours in ~40 degree Fahrenheit water due to a severe windstorm here in Utah.  We lost power and didn’t have a generator.  I have no idea how he survived.
He has fully grown back over the exposed skeleton, but he is not round yet.   
January 2012

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