top three photos by Doni Marie
bottom photo by Gene Schwartz
Common names: sea fans, sea rods
Natural origin: Indo-Pacific
Sensitivity (Level 3 to 5): Adaptability
depends greatly on genera and species. Some (mostly the zooxanthellate
species) can adapt to captive life with diligent, experienced care.
Others (such the azooxanthellate species) will not survive even under
the care of the most experienced aquarists.
sea fans can be very difficult to feed. They need large amounts of
small particle food. That said, success is thought possible when keeping
them in healthy, exceptionally well fed tanks. The zooxanthellate
species are easier to feed but still need variety of small particle
Lighting (Level 0, 3, or 7): Little or no light is needed for the azooxanthellate species. Dim lighting is needed for Subergorgia spp., Diodogorgia nudulifera, Swiftia exserta and Leptogorgia miniate from the Caribbean. More intense lighting is needed for zooxanthellate corals, Erythropodium spp. (encrusting gorgonians), Eunicea spp., Muricea spp., Pseudotergorgia spp., and Plexaura flexuosa.
Strong water flow is needed for feeding and to keep the coral free of
algal growth. Ideally, the flow should be perpendicular to the plane of
the coral, reversing (alternating) and laminar (as opposed to turbulant,
these corals a safe distance from aggressive corals and fast growing
soft corals that might overgrow them. Note that some gorgonians can grow
quite large (up to a meter in height).
The azooxanthellate members of these corals are difficult to keep and
certainly not recommended for beginners. Typically, the red or orange,
and many yellow colored gorgonians (with white or clear polyps) are
azooxanthellate and should be avoided. Some species (the zooxanthellate
species) are not quite as difficult to keep. Unfortunately, it's not
always easy to identify a species, much less know if that species is one
that might do well in an aquarium or not.