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Have you ever kept a Lobophyllia? These are great "LPS" corals with terrific color patterns and shapes that look great in reefs! If you're like a lot of reefers, you may have kept one before, and either had moderate success, or perhaps had a bad experience. Was thinking about this the other day, because we work with a lot of Lobos, and seem to enjoy much success with them, as do most of our customers who purchase them. it made me think about what the keys to success are with Lobos. I decided to offer a little bit of our learned experience here, in the hope that it will spur other Lobo lovers to share their success stories!
Source: Like many corals, it all starts with where the coral was selected, and how it was handled after collection, during shipping, and at the dealer. I would have to state that, categorically, the most successful Lobos in captivity are generally those which come from Australia.I'm not beating down other sources...We obtain Lobos from other countries that do very well, but the quality just isn't quite what it is with Aussie stuff. Let's face it: The Aussies do it better! These corals are collected with care...you can just tell, particularly by observing how the animal was removed from it's surrounding substrate, or how the surrounding rock was taken off. It's obvious that the Aussie ones are carefully removed from the reef and substrate. They are also subject to quotas and accountability, so these relatively modest-growing corals are not randomly whacked off of natural reefs, to the detriment of the surrounding ecosystem.
Once collected, most Aussie outfits pack them well, to assure that they are not banged around and damaged during shipping. And, in fact, in my opinion/experience, shipping is where a lot of damage occurs with these corals. Once the tissue is damaged, the coral is stressed and potentially vulnerable to a number of maladies, ranging from bacterial infections to predation by fishes and inverts. Seems like the resident fishes and crabs can literally "hear the dinner bell" (an old and accurate Anthony Calfo quote!) when one of these guys is damaged, and they'll happily chow down on the coral, finishing the job.
So it's of paramount importance that you obtain a specimen that is undamaged to begin with. This will give it a much greater chance of success. Also, I highly recommend a mild coral dip for about 3 minutes on arrival, which will disinfect the coral and hopefully rid it of any unwanted hitchhikers that may damage the coral or its neighbors.
Placement: Thee corals are found in a variety of environments, but seem to be most common in lagoonal or back reef areas. They are not getting blasted by waves, and typically do not do well when subjected to strong laminar flow from a powerhead or pump. They categorically do better in more randomized. moderate to strong water movement. Place them in an area of your reef structure where they can expand and contract without excessively abrading their tissues, rendering them susceptible to infection as touched on above. if the animal comes in on a small rock, you would be wise simply placing the rock on the sand in an area where the coral can grow. Also, place the Lobo far enough from neighboring corals so as to avoid any allelopathic issues or coral aggression.
Environment: Like many corals, stable alkalinity (around 8-10DKH) seems to be a big help in keeping them happy and colorful. These guys don't seem to tolerate wildly fluctuating parameters well, which is a bit surprising to me, because I'd imagine that lagoon corals are more tolerant of such fluctuations...But not in my experience. They will definitely let you know when they are not happy. Also, keep them in temps on the lower side of your "reef acceptable" temp range (like 76-77F). In my experience, these corals are among the first to fade when temps get out of hand, so think about this when entertaining the thought of keeping one.
Feeding: Yes, these are hungry corals, and really should be fed a couple of times a week. They demonstrate a strong feeding response and are pretty easy to feed. Use small, meaty marine-based foods, such as Cycolp-eez, Oyster Eggs, or finely mined seafood and Mysis. Gently squirt food in the direction of the corals' mouth, taking care not to blast full-bore into the coral. It goes without saying that you should shut off the flow while target feeding. If you have aggressive hermit crabs, shrimp, or Dwarf Angels, they can be a bit of a pain when target feeding these corals, so keep this in mind. I have personally tried the old trick of removing the specimen from the tank and placing it in a container of tank water while "marinating it" in food for 15-20 mins, so the coral can feed uninterrupted. Although excessive handling of this coral is not the best thing in the world, neither is having tons of shrimp and corals picking at the coral while it's attempting to feed!
Etc.: These are very cool corals, and can do quite well if you follow a few basic tips on their care. Don't be afraid to try one, but make surethat you are up to keeping one. Unlike say, Acros, they are not a "set and forget" coral. They require some active participation on your part in order to make sure that their needs are met. They are most "communicative", and will show you very clearly when they are not happy! Dont fear them, however, as they are colorful, interesting, and rewarding to keep!
In the interest of us all becoming better reefers, please share your tips, experiences, and thoughts on these beautiful corals here, so that we can all learn! This was the most cursory of dialogues about them; let's build on the body of knowledge available, so that more reefers can benefit from the experiences of our peers!
Thanks for stopping by!
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