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Old 08/26/2003, 08:20 PM   #1
EricHugo
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Soft Coral Identification FAQ

Species level identification in soft corals is, for all but a handful of species, impossible in a living coral, without consideration of sclerites in all areas where they are found (polyps differ from trunk, etc.) by high powered microscopy (likley SEM), some sort of molecular markers, or other very complicated tasks. In order to even begin to identify soft corals, even to genus level for most cases, one must answer the following questions:

Is the colony monomorphic or dimorphic?

Do the polyps have anthosteles?

Is there a capitulum (polyp bearing surface)?

Are polyps found all overthe colony, or in areas?

Are they on primary stalks, secondary branches, tertiary branches, or terminal branches only?

Are they clustered at the end in catkins?

Do the polyps withdraw completely into the tissue?

Or do they contract/shrink/fold up but not withdraw (pull back)?

Or do they do nothing?

Is there a daytime/nightime contaction behavior of the colony?

Is the colony branching, lumpy, encrusting, stalked, etc.?

Are there sclerites visible?

If so, do they project through the tissue? How about at the polyps?

Are they colored?

What color is the colony?

Is the colony stiff and firm or soft and flaccid (no jokes, please)?

Is the colony smooth or rough?

Is the colony dry feeling or slippery feeling?

How old is the colony? Is it full grown or still growing?

Does it have stolons?

How does it grow? By length, mass, creeping, budding, etc.?

Does it produce asexual daughter colonies and how?

There are more questions, but this is a basic modicum of information that should accompany any question seeking to identify a soft coral in this forum. Other questions can be asked as follow-ups to these answers.

Photos are helpful, but should include a photo of the whole colony, a photo of the colony "closed" or withdrawn, and a close-up of the colony with all the polyps withdrawn.

Also, any collection/import information can be extremely helpful, if known.

It is a disservice to any identification request to simply post a photo of a coral from afar and name its color or other trivial information and expect a legitimate answer. I hope this post, which I have placed permanently at the top of the forum, is helpful to those with such requests.

If you cannot answer the questions above, feel free to ask me for clarification of terms. If you still cannot answer them, I'm afraid I cannot answer the question you ask, either. To do so, in almost all cases, would be about as accurate as closing one's eyes, flipping to a page in a soft coral book, and choosing with a dart thrown at the page.

For more information, see my article at http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2002-06/eb/index.htm

For a good resource, see:

Fabricius, Katharina and Phil Alderslade. 2001. Soft Corals and Sea Fans. AIMS, Townsville, 264 pp.


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Old 08/30/2003, 07:17 AM   #2
jgleach
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Not meaning to tie up this forum, but for those of us that aren't familiar with the above terminology that wish to endeavor to answer the above list of questions, I found the following website to be quite helpful.
http://www.fish-disease.com/Glossary/GlossaryA.html

Give the questions a try...it actually was fun.


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Old 09/02/2003, 02:27 AM   #3
Jive Turkey
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!Yikes! Lots to learn.



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Old 10/23/2003, 10:10 PM   #4
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If I knew all that, I wouldn't need to identify it.


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Old 10/23/2003, 11:44 PM   #5
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popsock.....That's funny.....I wrote the EXACT SAME sentence to Eric in a pm when I first wanted an ID on a softy. I wish I could quote his pm back to me, but I don't remember exactly how he worded it. Bottom line....He (they) have decided that for proper attempts at identification, the questions in the faq are probably the minimun info required. Give it a try....it was actually fun....and the glossary that I posted a couple posts up really helped. Good luck!


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Old 11/29/2004, 08:17 PM   #6
toreefornototreef
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coral ID

i bought your book in a effort to id some of my corals so that i could better take care of them, and i think i have an understanding of the basics. If you go to the local pet store or go online to buy a coral they have names on everything they are selling but I bet less that 2% can answer 5 of those things that you say we need to know to id or corals, I know the guy dragging them out of the ocean can't and i know that very few distributors can. So how did they get their names? oh gee that looks like a finger! Lets call it a finger coral
in the hobby some common corals sold all the time, everyone has them or has had them. as a hobbyist I don't care what species it is i just want to know that it is a mushroom and this is what it needs to thrive. This goes back to a problem that has plagued the fish hobby forever and that is " I know more than you and it will cost you to know what i know.” whether it be at the lfs, they want you to buy more stuff. Or buy my book, or order more next time. Sorry about your bad luck.
So I think what we need is a top 10 list! Your top ten softies (with a common name and picture) top ten lps, sps, reef fish, scavengers and so on. Then you won't have to waste your time with coral id.
So pardon me if I stumbled into the wrong forum but us common folk are the ones buying your book and supporting the hobby.
thanks for your time and help.


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Old 11/30/2004, 08:14 PM   #7
toreefornototreef
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coral id

After reading a couple of your past articles I see that for you to give the exact id of a coral is difficult from some of our pics and descriptions is impossible. What I think that a lot of us our asking for is (from you as an expert,) is a family name or a common name so that we could then say what its general needs are. Then it is up to us to find out what the coral likes and help it grow.
For those of us who’s first saltwater experience was a yellow tang in a 30 gal. Tank, growing a soft coral from a frag into something we have to trim like a hedge it is an amazing thing!

Thanks


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Old 01/04/2005, 09:09 AM   #8
REEFYMIKE
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i need a book that will give me the names of diferent types of pallopes and soanthes and mushrooms. and other type of hard and soft corals. one that is easy to read.


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Old 01/29/2005, 05:59 AM   #9
Charlie Wilkinson
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well i tried to find the site ...jgleach... reccomended... but its no longer there ... shure hope another site comes around for us...? c.w.


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Old 03/02/2005, 09:37 AM   #10
Ben
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Quote:
What I think that a lot of us our asking for is (from you as an expert,) is a family name or a common name so that we could then say what its general needs are.
If you can't get that from just looking at the coral at the LFS you should be buying to begin with. I enjoy knowing more about my corals, not just a made up meaningless common name.

I wouldnt consider trying to ID one of mine to the spieces with out close examination but as far as genus goes, most people can look at a sarcophyton and lobophyton and tell them apart.


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Old 11/15/2006, 08:51 AM   #11
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Dead Link

Quote:
Originally posted by jgleach
Not meaning to tie up this forum, but for those of us that aren't familiar with the above terminology that wish to endeavor to answer the above list of questions, I found the following website to be quite helpful.
http://www.fish-disease.com/Glossary/GlossaryA.html

Give the questions a try...it actually was fun.
Your URL above does not yield the information you wanted it to.


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