How to best deal with receiving a cold cold cold shipped coral.

Discussion in 'Coral' started by anathema, Dec 15, 2010.

  1. anathema

    anathema Supporting Member

    I ordered a coral online this week, it arrived today in very poor to maybe dead condition. I've been searching online for ideas for how to handle this coral, since I haven't ever bought online before this year I don't have much experience dealing with poorly shipped corals. I'm also not having much luck finding good threads addressing the issue on this or other forums. Since we have a huge wealth of experience here maybe we can make one. It's looking unlikely that I'll save this one, but I thought it might help to have a how-to thread for this situation.

    First, what I did:

    I received the coral from fed-ex in the early afternoon, and the first thing that struck me was that they shipped me a single coral in a HUGE full sized shipping box. Immediately upon opening the box, and moving aside the heat packs that were on the very top, I could see from the murky water that things weren't perfect. The heat packs were still warm, but since they were in the top of the box I doubt they had much affect on the huge internal volume of the box. I cut open the bag and drained it into my acclimation container, while noticing the water was extremely cold. I examined the coral, which in this case was a red fungia, and saw that it had bleached almost completely. Little specks of color remained in a few places, and I could see that the tissue appeared to still be intact. I could discern the mouth and tentacles clearly, even though the coral was tightly conforming to the skeleton. At this point, I called the company that had shipped it and informed them of the situation. They instructed me to acclimate the coral and call them the next day to apprise them of it's progress.

    I drip acclimated the coral over the next 20 mins, with the container it was in floating on the surface of the tank water to maintain the temperature. I then placed it in the tank, under full lighting and normal tank conditions and took a picture. At no point in the acclimation process did I see any tissue movement on the coral's part. It's mouth is partially open, and it's tissue and tentacles are all tightly deflated. 4 hours later it remains in this same posture, but is shedding what appears to be mucous. When it came out of the bag, it smelled slightly "fishy" but not rotten, and some of the particles floating in the bag were mysis shrimp coral food pieces, so I would attribute the fishy smell to it's being fed before it was shipped out and expelling it's stomach contents when it bleached. I'm fairly certain the coral is dead at this point, but because of the cold water it has not begun to rot. Tomorrow morning should give me a better idea, though interestingly, none of the detrivore snails I have investigated it, and they are usually quick to notice anything dead.

    I am going to attempt to feed it tonight, though if the mouth has not closed by then I doubt that will succeed. I'd love to hear anyone's opinions on what I should have done differently, and what I can do now. I'm specifically curious about the following:

    1: Would it be better to place this in a shaded location, with mild flow, or leave it in a medium flow, high light spot.
    2: In order to get a refund, the shipper will ask for me to ship the skeleton back. has anyone seen cold shocked fungia bud off from the dead skeleton? Should I try to argue to keep it or is it completely dead under these circumstances? I'm out the shipping cost either way, and at this point do not plan on ordering from this company again because I feel their packaging was sloppy and caused the loss.
    3: Should I have acclimated it carefully, like I did, or should I have dumped it in clean, warm water immediately in order to minimize it's exposure to cold dirty shipping water?
    4: Is there anything I haven't done that I should have?

    Any input is appreciated, except that I do not plan on saying who the shipper was so please don't ask.
  2. patrickb

    patrickb Supporting Member

    I would put it in the shade with low flow until you get some coral inflation or polyp extension. Then put it in an appropriate place in the tank after 3 or 4 days. What kind of coral did you get by the way?
  3. phishphood

    phishphood Guest

  4. patrickb

    patrickb Supporting Member

    Nooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!! I hope it survives. Keep us in the loop Gusty
  5. yellojello

    yellojello Supporting Member

    Should be ok. I've gotten a few shipments of corals, sps, shrooms, acans, zoos, etc... Water was cold. I freak out that they wont survive but They look fine after a day or two.
  6. iani

    iani Guest

    If a coral comes in poor shape, the one thing you don't want to do is a drip acclimation. The best thing to do would be to get the coral out of the bad water immediately. With that being said, I think you would get much better suggestions if you could post a picture of how it looks right now.
  7. anathema

    anathema Supporting Member

    Unfortunately, I'm fairly sure you all know what a fungia skeleton looks like.

    As of this morning it's officially dead. Some small shreds of necrotic tissue still remain but there is zero chance of it pulling through. Looks like they are letting me keep the skeleton but I've been unable to find any examples of cold shocked fungia budding. Sucks too, because this one was very very cool.

    Strike three on a red fungia. I'm out $300+ so far on my search, it's pretty ridiculous. They credited my purchase price back to paypal, and credited the shipping with their company so I'm actually out $0 on this one, but that's of course if I order from a company I don't feel like doing business with again...
  8. anathema

    anathema Supporting Member

    Well since they credited me and I don't think there is any way people can construe this as an "attack" here's what it looked like:



    *edit might work now, I rehosted it*
  9. anathema

    anathema Supporting Member

    Eh whatever I forgot pics are buggy on here.

    More to the purple side of dark red, green in the valleys, and at each tentacle junction a bright orange dot. When it arrived I could see the red and orange colors in several spots fairly clearly, so I think the color was pretty true on that pic.
  10. anathema

    anathema Supporting Member

    Arrival shot, it might be difficult to tell, but the tissue on arrival was 100% intact, just not alive anymore.


    Looks fairly similar today, except the tissue is mostly gone. Couple fragments of the mouth left, rotting away...
  11. sfboarders

    sfboarders Guest

    That looks like a goner. I ordered 2 plate corals online and one of them looked just like that and the other one looked fine (actually you have a frag of it :) ) That looked like a beauty though. Looking at that pic you sure like those plate corals.
  12. GreshamH

    GreshamH Guest

    Heat packs are always put on the top and for good reason.... any water contact and they're dead.

    FWIW it's pretty bad idea to order online in the dead of winter, especially from Wisconsin. I don't care how good of a shipper they are, they can't control the shipment once it leaves their door and it's the -20f tarmac.
  13. anathema

    anathema Supporting Member

    I agree Gresham, and that's why I called them beforehand to ask if they thought it would make it safely. To further add to your comment, it's still a bad idea to order online in the dead of winter even when the company asssures you it will ship just fine and you really want the coral. However, I certainly don't want this to turn into a discussion about this company, and it's unfortunate they watermarked their picture otherwise they wouldn't be mentioned.

    I typed out a long reply regarding the details of this situation, but I don't think it really leads the discussion the way I want it to go. I didn't order because of a refund policy, I ordered on their assurance that the coral would ship safely. I personally think that it didn't because of an inappropriately sized box. However, I'm perfectly fine accepting the blame for this coral's death, but I think blame isn't really helpful. If anyone is truly interested in the whole story, and my reasons for ordering a coral from the midwest in the dead of winter, feel free to PM me. I don't think it's all that original of a story though, and it's possibly been told before by a few other people about a few other companies.

    Let's talk about the best procedures for handling this situation instead.

    And yes, I am kind of in the midst of a plate coral obsession at the moment. So you should all stop buying them, they are ugly and should be sold to me cheaply. ;)
  14. GreshamH

    GreshamH Guest

    I have not bought a plate in months. I own (2) so I don't know what you are on about.

    Best procedure is the same as any stressed coral... proper water quality, good flow. Not much else you can do.
  15. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    Seems so much simpler to just go to BAR meetings and get all the freebies.
  16. patrickb

    patrickb Supporting Member

    That would be a sweet find at a BAR swap.

    Anathema, how is your purple and green fungia doing from the last swap?
  17. anathema

    anathema Supporting Member

    It's doing great, it's grown a bit of skeleton in response to the current. When i first got it I had problems keeping it from puffing up at night and blowing around the tank, but it stays in one place now. My fungia only tank has less flow as well so that helps.

    Yeah I wish I could find a red fungia frag at a swap lol... For that matter I wish I could find one anywhere!
  18. ryanjiang

    ryanjiang Guest

    Interesting, so coral tolerant sudden water change better than fish?
  19. Mr. Ugly

    Mr. Ugly Past President

    After shipping/transport, the container water can have high ammonia and depressed pH. Ammonia is less toxic at lower pH, and acclimation raises pH and can cause problems for the fish/coral. So if the water is bad, don't bother acclimating.
  20. r0ck0

    r0ck0 Guest

    Save that coral skeleton, don't take it out of the tank and see if it comes back from the grave!

    Partial mortality and the Phoenix Effect in stony corals


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