A Sea Fan's Life Cycle in a Saltwater Aquarium Explained
Very true to its name, sea fans are fan-like creatures thriving underneath the sea along with other sea anemones.
Sea fans (also called gorgonians) are nocturnal sea animals that can be found throughout the oceans in the whole world; most especially in tropics and sub-tropic areas.
Sea fans are colorful and vary in shape, color and size depending on their kind. They are normally erect, with flattened branches that resemble a fan, and form into a colony. Their colonies may grow up to several feet high and usually appear in red, purple, and yellow colors.
Just like other marine animals and coral, sea fans can likewise become pets.
So little has been written about the sea fan life cycle. But as an animal that belong to class Anthozoa, the following are the typical life cycle stages of that class:
Sperm/Egg--Class Anthozoa both have male and female reproductive organs which release sperm and eggs into the water at the same time. These releases could be in season, during lunar cycles and any other circumstances.
Gamet--When an egg and sperm meet, gamet is formed and it stays in the ocean floor until it turns into a polyp.
Polyp--This is the stage where the sea fan begins to take shape, and through reproduction by asexual budding can be formed into a colony.
Colony--Colony is the fully grown stage of the animal and is composed of polyps connected by a living tissue called coenenchyme.
However, most sea fans especially those who are used as pets, can be reproduced through laceration or detaching a tentacle from the parent colony. If the tentacle has enough tissue, it will reproduce and can form into a new colony.
As a pet, sea fan needs extra care in order to make them thrive longer ,even if they are not in their natural homes. They are very sensitive to touch and can react badly to some chemicals unknown to them. Here are some tips on how to handle sea fans as pets in order to prolong their life span.
1. Try using severing or clean cuts in propagating the sea fans. Tearing them might result in infection, which eventually will lead to their death.
2. Be cautious in using glue. They may have chemicals which could badly affect the animal. Try asking some sea fan breeders about what to use in keeping the fragments in place inside the aquarium. Some breeders said that an underwater epoxy is quite helpful for this purpose.
3. To keep the fragment in place during their growing period, it is important to keep them contained to avoid movements that may derail their growth. It is advisable to put the fragment in a small PVC container arranged upright with sand and rubble at the bottom where the sea fan can take root.
4. Most of all, provide a live rock or reef aquarium where they can grow along with other marine animals. Rocks are important to keep them in place. Provide proper water movement and the aquarium should have enough water flow to prevent any diseases.
5. Feed your sea fans on a regular basis. Sea fans are usually fed with plankton like foods, live baby brine shrimps and other foods designed for feeding sea fans.