I wrote my experience with Goni0poras today in the (rec.aquaria.marine.reefs or r.a.m.r) newsgroup. I might as well include it in the journal since it hasn't really been delved into here:
"For a long time, I read and read and read about this coral and how it is near impossible to keep. Anyone on ReefCentral that mentioned they had one were slammed by the "Goni Police" (people that felt it was improper to buy them as they would surely die). However, a number of people with Red Gonis were reporting decent success. Still, the majority were quick to point out that if people would quit buying them, stores would quit selling them and this coral would be able to continue to live in the reef for years to come.
I understood. And I avoided them.
One day a new guy wanting to get into business asked me what corals to order and what were the most popular. Turns out he had access to the divers in Fiji and could get whatever he liked, and pass along huge savings to his future customers. He asked about Goniopora, and I told him what I knew. Then I asked if he could get a Red one. "Sure, that is on my list. How does $40 sound?" OMG! I ordered one immediately, and looked forward to its arrival.
The day before shipment was to arrive, I get a call from him telling me my "purple goni" was coming. PURPLE?! I'd never even heard of it. When I got to his house to see the first shipment of corals, he'd ordered 4 Green and my Purple, along with about 20 other corals; 20 fish, shrimp, starfish, and two Blue Ringed Octopus (yes, the venomous ones). The greens opened up within the hour, looking about like a flowery cupcake. The purple looked like a lump, or a potato. I was not happy. I gave him $20 since it wasn't what I'd ordered and took it home in hopes it would do better.
It never did get better. I had all VHO lighting, but sitting in the garage were new MHs ready to install. I converted the canopy to make room for the MH w/ VHO supplemention, and prayed for success. One guy came over and asked me what the lump was. When I told him, his reply was "Purple? Oh yeah, those are the toughest ones of all." SIGH!
Weeks went by, but it really never opened up. Each branch would extend about 1/2" with a few reaching 1" long. The flowery head looked like a tight daisy, not like any Goniopora I'd ever seen. The vendor called me several times to see how it was doing and if I was happy, and offered to trade it for a green one. I decided to keep it and gave him $20 for a Green one two. I figured if I could put them side by side, maybe they'd help each other -- like I'd read on ReefCentral. The green looked good, and the purple did look more pretty but it still never opened up.
I tried target feeding it with baby brine shrimp, Golden Pearls, etc... and they looked good together but it wasn't showing any growth. Here's a picture of them side by side.
About a month after that picture was taken, I had to kill an aiptasia in my tank. I had only one, and it was a big one. I pulled out the rock it was attached to, mixed up some kalkwasser paste and injected it to kill it. And it died. I rinsed the rock with one more shot of water, and put it back into the tank. While I was arranging a few things in the tank, I noticed white smoke drifiting through the water and it occured to me that it was residue coming out of that rock. Still not worried, I continued arranging stuff. Then I noticed both Gonioporas looked really bad. Something was wrong, because the center of the green was missing and the purple was sloughing off tissue. The Kalk residue BURNED both corals badly. I was about to be sick. With corals this difficult to care for, I couldn't believe I'd done so much damage just trying to be rid of one Aiptasia. I wished I'd never touched the thing.
The purple is in my son's tank, and is almost completely dead. It must have receded 75% after the burning incident. The green one is in my 29g and continues to live, with a huge bald spot in the center that is visible after lights out. The skeleton is quite visible then.
Here's a picture of it during the daytime when the lights are on.
Finally, about 3 weeks ago, a local reefer was tearing down his tank and put a Red Goniopora up for sale. He's been feeding it flake food of all things, for 9 months with beautiful success. I bought it from him and put it into my 55g and it continues to look great. I'm hoping to have it for a long long time, as the red one is the coral people have success with."
The Moon Coral that Glenn brought over had an Anemonia Manjano on it, and I'll remove that ASAP before it spreads! They are quite small, but breed like Tribbles.
I've got a bunch of the normal guys, but here are a few special ones in my refugium. At this point, there are three big ones that don't look like the standard pink fleshy kind.
This guy is about 5" long, and was looking for some food on the surface: Searching for food.... still looking.....
This one is about 7" long, and here is a close up of its bristles.
One found something to munch upon, even frightening a (benign) flatworm in the process.
I've never handled one of these guys, but I do like to take pictures. :D