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Pet Product News Editorial Blog:

July 30, 2012

Promoting Coral Health

By Patrick Donston


I don’t need to talk about reef aquariums and nano-reefs and their popularity in today’s aquatic industry. What does need to be addressed is the health of corals as they pertain to a captive environment. Most problems occur from environmental stress, e.g., water pollutants, temperature increase, ultraviolet radiation, water flow, silt, etc. When these factors compromise bio-defense, corals may succumb to bacteria, viruses, protozoan organisms and even multi-cellular parasites.

Obviously, we should be using and preaching high environmental-husbandry standards first. However, what do we do or recommend when parameters are in check and corals still have a problem with disease or hitchhikers? Many of us have had experience with these problems, courtesy of the facilities we purchased from and/or transportation stress. Most of these diseases, such as cyanobacteria and Vibrio (the cause for black-band, dark-spot and white-band disease), and hitchhikers (Asterina stars, red bugs, sundial snails and flatworms) are contagious and will spread to other organisms. Rapid tissue necrosis (RTN) sets in and most will die in a domino effect, possibly taking out a large amount of inventory. Worse yet, you may end up selling an infected piece, spreading your problem to your customers.

We already know which antibiotics and chemical medications will kill coral. When tissue recession is observed, corals should be immediately removed, inspected and put into a recovery system. Most advanced reefers recommend quarantine tanks for all newly purchased specimens. If your coral shipments are too large to quarantine, I advise a cleansing bath. This is easily done with organic remedies such as Two Little Fishies Coral Revive. We use Lugol’s solution, Coral RX, Seachem’s Coral Dip and Poly Ox for RTN problems. I have talked with a number of facility operators who prefer to use these as therapeutic aids. I do not recommend freshwater dips on corals as most die from such baths.

We have dipped and bathed coral for preventative management as well as disease remedies with great success. Saving coral—whether you focus your efforts on conserving wild specimens or by seeking to alleviate population stress through captive aquaculture—is simply the right thing to do.

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