I checked the boards about what could be bothering my torch coral, and thought "Hmm. Maybe somehow an evil nudibranch got in. I will squirt a little water on it with the turkey baster and see if I see any alien intruders!"
Half the tentacles fell out of the polyp.
I did the only logical thing, which was to scream bloody murder, because an animal--a simple animal, perhaps, an animal without a brain or much of a nervous system, an animal that doesn't feel pain as we know it, but nevertheless an animal--had just dismembered itself in front of me. That was not restful. Most of the zen I have acquired over the last six months from gazing into a fish tank got undone in about three wrenching seconds as dead tentacles rained through the tank.
Well. Once I calmed down and fished out most of the dead bits, at least I had a diagnosis. Torch Bob has brown jelly, a bacterial infection that affects large stony corals. Unfortunately, on torches it gets way down inside the polyp, and you don't see it until the torch starts acting upset, by which point it's already rotted out half the base of the tentacles and you're left with a very sick coral.
So, off to the fish store I went. Torch Bob is currently sitting in an iodine dip. He may live, he may not--just have to see.
I am wracked with coral owner guilt. If he dies, I'm probably just getting a rock of palys for his spot--they're the only thing that seems utterly unkillable. *sigh*