Rescuing Dying Corals: Ricordea

When I saw a rock with two ricordea bleached to zero color, I knew I had to try to save them.  One is coloring up quite nicely, but the other is still straggling along.

Although hard to tell, this ricordea closed-up is nearly colorless – March 14, 2012

Bleaching is often a sign of too much light, especially when the coral is surrounded by colorful coralline algae (can typically tolerate higher-light conditions).  The solution for this coral was a healthy tank, low lighting, low flow, and a bit of feeding.  Ricordea are not the most apt to taking food directly, especially when sick.  But, within a few days, it was eating well (very very small particulate food.)

Coloring up nicely – May 22, 2012
The second ricordea is not healing as fast as the first one, but it is gaining color.
Although “soft corals” can have a higher saturation point (level of light for optimal photosynthesis) and possibly photoinhibition point (level of detrimental light) than their stoney counterparts, they can still get stressed and expel their zooxanthallae.  With proper water conditions and lower light, they will frequently heal on their own.  Supplemental feeding helps replace the energy source previously provided by the zooxanthallae.
For more information on light saturation and photoinhibition in corals and clams, see this link.

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