Mystery coral eater

#1
Hi All,

This morning I woke up to a disturbing site. A few tips on my bonsai acro appeared as if they had been gnawed on... there was clearly erosion in the skeleton, the polyps at the very end of the tips were gone, and those areas were producing mucus like crazy. Similarly, A few weeks ago I added an orange sea fan and the next morning one of the branches had been chewed off and another branch had been partially chewed. I tried taking pics but they didn’t turn out well.

My #1 suspect is a black longspine urchin I’ve had for a few weeks. Considering I’ve read they can eat coraline algae, it’s the only tank member I can imagine would be capable of gnawing a coral skeleton.

Has anyone had this happen and figured out the culprit? Any other guesses besides the urchin? My other critters are listed below

Fish: 10 blue green chromis, 1 hippo tang, 1 powder brown tang, 2 bangaii cardinals, 1 mandarin, 1 firefish, 2 ocellaris clowns, 1 lubbock’s wrasse

Inverts: hermits, turbo snails, 1 skunk cleaner shrimp, 1 fire shrimp, 1 strawberry crab (although it’s probably dead because I haven’t seen it in weeks)

Any thoughts would be much appreciated!

-Matt
 

aresangel

Tim- 2019 BRS President
BRS Member
Officer
#2
My guess would be the crab if not the urchin. Sometimes urchin will eat through silicon if there is coraline on it. So I could imagine it may chow down on a dead coral ended with some coraline growth... but live coral?

I did a quick google search to see the strawberry crab and saw it has killed peoples wrasses, shrimp, other crabs and they are saying they are not reef safe.

Maybe it molted that's why you haven't seen it.

Best of luck figuring this out.

Tim
 
#3
My guess would be the crab if not the urchin. Sometimes urchin will eat through silicon if there is coraline on it. So I could imagine it may chow down on a dead coral ended with some coraline growth... but live coral?

I did a quick google search to see the strawberry crab and saw it has killed peoples wrasses, shrimp, other crabs and they are saying they are not reef safe.

Maybe it molted that's why you haven't seen it.

Best of luck figuring this out.

Tim
Thanks, Tim!
 

dz6t

Acro Garden, BRS Sponsor
BRS Member
#5
My first bed will be the blue hippo tang, then the wrasse


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dz6t

Acro Garden, BRS Sponsor
BRS Member
#8
From your post, the suspect should be very mobile,
Also I have seen several cases of hippo tang picked on acro and other SPS.
One of mine like to cut gorgonian and tosses small pieces around.


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#10
From your post, the suspect should be very mobile,
Also I have seen several cases of hippo tang picked on acro and other SPS.
One of mine like to cut gorgonian and tosses small pieces around.


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I’ve seen my hippo tear up LPS. Not sure she ate it, but like stated above rip it up and throw it around. I’ve never heard of a wrasse going after coral. Most of the not reef safe wrasses are with inverts.
 

dz6t

Acro Garden, BRS Sponsor
BRS Member
#11
You are right most of the non reef safe wrasse go after inverts.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
#12
Just an update for everyone in case this happens to you. The mystery coral eater is 100% my long spine urchin. I’ve now witnessed it in the act of eating two different coral (a gorgonian and a monti cap). Let this be a cautionary tale if you’re considering one yourself!
 

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