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Cephalopholis Argus

Sarcophyton Sp.

a highly toxic coral best kept in a specific tank

Day One

the EOS Test: - Passed

Cephalopholis argus is very selective when it comes to what invertebrates it will tolerate in it's environment (in captivity). EOS had a few Duncan frags a while back around him. Now the first thing he does when noticing some newbie around is to put his lips to it for a half second.... it probably is to find out if there is a sting to it...

Seems that EOS didn't like Duncans at all... He soon developped a strategy when swimming past them: he would slow down and bump them briskly with his side or he would zoom across their surface crushing the delicate coral tissue against the razor sharp skeleton... Needless to say at first he managed to unglue them from their ceramic plugs and eventually crushed them all to oblivion !!! They were on sale corals and in a bad shape from the start: so the loss was not extraordinary. But it did teach us a thing or two about Cephalopholis.

EOS used a different strategy with GSP's: he didn't harm them but somehow managed to unseat the plugs from rock and throw them overboard...  You can now see both colonies in the AEGIS tank !!

You see the way we understand it: EOS needs his resting spots free. Groupers spend much of their days laying on rocks and sandy bottom. It is best to offer groupers the largest uncluttered sandy surfaces available and select resting spots on aquascaping free of Alcyonaries. Colonial and Encrusting Polyps should be bifed off the list. Some types are tolerated though such as Anthelia that grows to considerable size and can be easily set on isolated islands that won't get in his way. Good point in his favor: EOS also tolerates Rhodactis.

Our Sarcophyton just passed the EOS Test !! It rests on a rock of the same diameter as it's foot and 2 inches deep which is simply buried in sand. It would be easy for EOS to knock it down but he shows nothing but respect for his new found trophy. Groupers can seem sluggish and clumsy at rest but don't let it fool you: they are as swift, fast and agile as any surgeonfish when darting around a labyrihth of caves, tunnels, passageways and ledges !!! As you can notice on pictures above: EOS turned 90 degrees on a dime to avoid collision !!!

Sarcophyton's Permanent location (we hope):

with 18 inches of elbow room all around

Female Sarcophyton reach that size in ten years or less while males remain much smaller. Below is a summary of the hard work it has gone through to adapt to water chemistry, temperature, density and  lighting. It straightened itself considerably and popped it's tubes in and out all day... We just can't wait for the feathery spinacles (polyps) to extend and deploy themselves... Might as well brew some coffee...

Day 2

Unidentified Ailments of Sarcophyton & Inexistent Panaceas

(see Special Files)


Several cans of coffe later: time has only confirmed what we already knew. This Sarco had one particularity when we received shipment; it was bent to a 90 degree angle on it's rock. It struggled for months trying to set itself upwards but always returned to it's initial state. It shed it's coating endlessly. After two weeks we noticed almost invisible - parasite looking - critters on it's surface (1mm). They mimicked the color and texture perfectly. They would remain flat and suddenly inflate and move a centimeter or so and flatten again. They were easy to syphon off with airline tubing. So we thought the incessant shedding would stop... Then in february 2017 it started shrinking in volume with no external signs of decomposition or damage... 


Sarcophyton can fall to many diseases and parasites some of which can be cured. However there are many other casualties inflicted by internal parasites that eat their way through the coral or unknown pathogenic anaerobic conditions that simply rot the core of Sarcophyton. It was the later that caused the demise of this specimen with no apparent exterior signs of degeneration besides the constant shrinking in volume and the incapacity to remain in an upwards position... When the coral is rotting from the inside it's no surprise. In this case when removed from tank and sliced in half the entire insides of the foot was a liquified dark gunk with a stench reminescent of that of putrid decomposing mollusks... You never forget that smell... If you put your nose to the top of tank the smell is perceptible and only worsens with time.

There is no point in trying to salvage such specimens since there is NO CURE. Sarcophyton is already a very toxic coral and if you add the ailment it's the whole tank that gets a severe blow. 

Discard such specimens (the sooner the better) and salvage the rock.


Some ailments can go unnoticed with Fishes and Invertebrates. Furthermore symptoms that may appear never constitute a DIAGNOSIS !! Only an Autopsy will reveal the true nature of diseases or parasites !! And you can only autopsy dead specimens !!  Don't expect LFS's, Video Whiz Kids on the internet or Forums and FAQ's to provide answers. You simply can't cure what you can't diagnose !!

If you can't select a specimen in person:

the only sure way of obtaining perfectly healthy specimens is to order FRAGS