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Rescuing Dying Corals: Lithophyllon

I received a call one day that a local fish store (LFS) employee had overdosed the reef tanks with a chemical used to treat flatworms (I was not told what chemical it was).  They asked if I wanted to try to save some of the corals.  When I arrived, honestly, I was shocked at how bad many of the corals were.  I don’t know if these corals were dying from an overdose of some unknown chemical or if the flatworm toxins were killing them.  Either way, these corals were being poisoned to death.

I picked up two “chalice” corals that turned out to be in the Lithophyllon genus.  The mouths were gaping open, the tissue was falling off, and what tissue did remain was barely hanging on.  When I brought them home, I temperature acclimated them to my quarantine tank and prepared the dips.  Like most of my rescues, I did three separate dips:  hydrogen peroxide, Bayer, and CoralRx.  In the photos below, the corals are in the CoralRx dip.

Lithophyllon #1 on 11 May 2013

Lithophyllon #1 on 11 May 2013

Lithophyllon #2 on 11 May 2013

Lithophyllon #2 on 11 May 2013

After the dips, I placed the two corals into my quarantine tank in a low light, low flow area.  I made sure that no crabs would bother the coral, especially with all the decaying tissue.  One coral did start to quickly recede, so I tried to stop it by smearing a bead of superglue gel along the receding edge (white lumpy band in the photo below).  The coral also refused to eat until about a month after I received it.  I started it on fish food pellets since they are quite processed.  In my experience, sick corals seem to digest fish pellets better than whole foods (like mysis, etc.)  This helps them recover faster.

Lithophyllon on 9 June 2013 with Superglue Gel

Lithophyllon on 9 June 2013 with Superglue Gel

After stopping the recession with superglue, the corals started to heal quickly.  And…wow…how great they ended up looking!

Lithophyllon on 4 August 2013

Lithophyllon on 4 August 2013

Lithophyllon on 12 October 2013

Lithophyllon on 12 October 2013

Lithophyllon on 3 November 2013

Lithophyllon on 3 November 2013

Lithophyllon on 8 December 2013

Lithophyllon on 8 December 2013

Now that the corals are fully healed, I have both under LEDs in medium light and high flow.  They are now blue with whitish-blue mouths and have beautiful striations.

Lithophyllon on 1 May 2014

Lithophyllon on 1 May 2014

Lithophyllon with Flash on 18 May 2014

Lithophyllon with Flash on 18 May 2014

Lithophyllon Striation Detail

Lithophyllon Striation Detail

7 comments

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  1. Andrey

    Good day! I found your article on one of the Russian forums on marine aquariums. The article is very much like the rest of the material on your blog. Subscribed for new articles.
    Sincerely, Andrey.

  2. Shawn

    Would you mind expounding on the process you use for your triple coral dip? ie: ratio of chemical to water, length of time to dip, etc. Thanks 🙂

    1. admin

      Hi Shawn,

      Thanks for reading! After many years, the process I use now is a triple dip for most corals. First, I dip corals in a 10:1 tank water to hydrogen peroxide mixture for 20 seconds or until they show signs of stress if sooner (NO SPS!!) Next, I dip the corals in a 2 cup tank water to 0.5ml of Bayer Advanced Insecticide for 15 minutes. If you suspect pests, you can treat with a higher dosage of Bayer. This dip has worked on every coral I’ve tried so far with no adverse effects. Lastly, I use CoralRx per the manufacturer’s recommendations (no smooth-skinned Acropora!!) The hydrogen peroxide kills algae, the Bayer kills most pests, and the CoralRx helps treat infections.

      Hope that helps!

      Here are some links for additional reading:

  3. Matthew Stone

    i picked up one of these corals from a friend, it suffered from poor water quality. after finally identifying it i was able to read up on it. now i moved it to a low flow, low light area. i attempted to feed it, but it refused to eat. anything else you can recommend?

    1. admin

      Hi Matthew! I’m sorry to hear about your friend’s coral! How long have you had it now? Does it have any bleaching? What did you try to feed it? You can try dosing amino acids when the lights go off for the night. Then about an hour later (make sure the room has been dark for an hour at least), try feeding. The amino acids and darkness may help.

      1. Matthew Stone

        ive had it for several weeks, i havent seen any bleaching, its just very brown. i tried several things; mysis, krill, fish pellets. ill try the amino acid and then trying to feed. right now i have it under an over hang so it gets low indirect light.

      2. Matthew Stone

        i have an update, the coral has stopped receding, gained some color back, and i think i can see the start to some new tentacles, im so glad i found your website, now on to my trachy rescue.

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