Written by: Jovreefer (Jovana)
Contributions by: jay24k, jcigars, mfinn, Reef Junkie, rhoodhouse, SuperFishy, and Who Dah?
Rev 1.4 2006.04.06
Last month we showed you a pictorial on how zoanthids can morph due to a variety of conditions. That article focused on lighting changes titled: Zoanthid morphing focusing on Lights. This month, we focus on another type of morphing zoanthid change!
Have you ever looked at your zoanthids and asked yourself “are these [insert name here]?” or “they cant be X because those don’t have speckles all over them and mine do.”
Well don’t go and try to give those speckled zoa’s a new name yet! Some zoanthids will become speckled under different lighting. This speckling is most common in Protopalyathoa type zoanthids. It is caused by high intensity lighting such as certain metal halides or straight 10k powercompacts and or VHO bulbs with a lack of actinic supplementation. The color of the speckling is typically a greenish tint or white. Speckling can be just a few random dots as in Figure 1, Figure 4, and Figure 6, or it can be very heavy and make the polyp look almost white as shown in Figure 3!
Keep in mind that some protopalyathoa’s are naturally speckled! Just because you have a purple paly with dots all over it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a PPE (purple people eater) on your hands.
The easiest way to tell if your lights are the reason your zoa’s are speckled is to look at the new growth. If your new growth is not speckled then your lighting is the cause and you should move the zoa’s if you do not desire the light induced speckling. Figure 2 shows new solid color growth on the lower polyps coming from a speckled colony. If however, the new growth is speckled then that is the natural color of your zoanthid and moving it in or out of light will not have an effect on the speckles.
In this article I am going to focus on PPE protopalyathoa’s for this is the coral I have done my lighting experiments on.
I noticed when I first received my PPE’s five years ago they were a nice solid color. I placed them under my PC lighting high up in the tank. Months later when I ordered new bulbs, the new actinic replacement was received broken. I sent it off for a replacement and ran just 10k white PC’s until the replacement came in. After a month (yes there were some problems getting a replacement and it took a long time), I finally got the new actinic. During that month the PPE’s became so speckled the centers were almost completely white similar to those shown in Figure 3! At the time I attributed the changed color to the adjustment from the ocean to my tank.
With the new bulbs in place new growth started to appear, but it was not at all speckled, nor did they start to speckle after several months.
This got me wondering: Why they did this? How I could make the speckles go away? Beauty is of course in the eye of the beholder, and in this case I liked the look without the speckling.
I cut up a portion of my colony and distributed them to a few friends, I also sold some colonies to others in the US.
I kept my colony under 50/50 PC combo lighting for several years until I changed to 150 watt metal halide lighting. I put a colony in a friends tank with 250 watt metal halide lights that I was watching while he was away in the military and another colony in a tank with VHO lighting. My tank and the 250 watt tank both were using the same salt, 2 part additive and water from the same RO/DI. Both tanks also kept the water parameters as close to the same as possible to assure no other variable was the cause of the speckling.
Under my PC lighting the coral grew fine and I had no more speckling as long as the actinics remained on. When I turned the actinics off for 2 weeks and ran just the 10k I started to notice speckles popping up again!
Under my friends 250 watt MH 14k lighting, I placed the colony up high and they speckled very quickly. When I placed them off to the side in the sand the speckling stopped.
Under the VHO tank they never speckled no matter where the colony was placed. That tank was never experimented on with just actinics vs. 10k, nor was I able to keep a check on water parameters.
When I changed my bulbs over to 150 watt 14k metal halides I never had anymore major speckling. I’d get a few speckles here and there but the colony remains directly under my halide about halfway down in the tank.
I got reports on a few of the frags I sold as well. All of them seem to produce the same results. One person with 400W metal halide lighting had a “problem” with speckling all over his colony even in the sand bed until he put it off to the side and under the shade of an acro. The new growth stopped speckling at that point.
No one has yet to report that the speckling had gone away once the lighting situation was corrected. It seems that once a colony speckles, those polyps will never recover the original coloration. It is a permanent color change but does not seem to effect the health of the coral in any way. I still have the colony from 5 years ago and it is very clear which polyps were around during the days without actinic PC lighting. (see if you can guess which polyps were around 5 years ago from pic Figure 1 or Figure 2)
Ways to prevent speckling:
- Keep the colony under a tank with actinics. No white lights only.
- If you are running 250-400 watt metal halide lighting keep the colony on the sandbed and not directly under the halide.
Here are some other pics of speckling in action. Figure 5 and Figure 6 show the ‘Green Stardust PE’ which was originally named due to the speckling!:
I hope you’ve enjoyed this photo log of a Zoa speckling in action! If you’d like to comment on this article, please use the ‘Contact Us’ link at the right. Be sure to indicate if you’d like it appended to this article.
- Date: 2009.07.11
- By: Grace
- Subject: Metal Halide to T5 transition
- Message: This is a transition of PPE from Metal Halide to 6×39 watt T5 bulbs.