Hammer corals and peppermint shrimp - oops...


Well...after fending off a small aptasia problem, my peppermint shrimp was traded back to the LFS after most literally sticking his nose where it didn't belong. After purchasing a small hammer coral frag with two branches (picture a wish-bone), I noticed over the course of two days that the polyps on the "left branch" looked pretty bad and were expelling their photosynthetic bacteria. I didn't see any overt signs of trauma, and the other branch was doing fine, so I attributed it to acclimation and decided to keep a close watch on it.

Sure enough, after returning home yesterday afternoon I found my peppermint shrimp ripping the guts (or whatever) out of the the hammer coral polyps! He totally destroyed the left branch, and damaged the polyps on the right - but, they don't look too bad and in fact look better after just one day. So, Mr. Shrimp was netted, bagged, and taken to the LFS for some store credit (luckily the folks at my favorite LFS are extremely nice and were happy to take the offending shrimp off of my hands). Just to clarify - there was no doubt about what the shimp was doing. IT's difficult to describe, but he was clearly ripping apart and devouring the hammer coral polyps.

So, the lesson that I've learned: expecting a peppermint shrimp to eat just one soft, juicy thing is fool-hearty...there is always the possibility that they will act against character (this probably applies to all supposedly "reef-safe" animals). And, my question: anyone know if the heavily damaged side of the hammer coral will grow back? I can still see what appear to be "baby polyps" down in the calcium skeleton, but when I say he ravaged it...I mean there's hardly anything left. Has anyone had a similar (hopefully positively ending) experience with hammer coral (or frogspawn, torch, other related species in the genus?) Sorry I don't have a picture, but there isn't much to see...other than a practically empty coral skeleton :mrgreen: