Coral Care

 

To help you provide the best home and care for your corals, we've prepared the following care guide. It provides basic information on lighting, flow, etc. required for each of the corals we sell. You'll also find additional general info and reefkeeping advice from Michael, our resident husbandry manager.

Please note that although we've been doing this for a long time, much of this information is based on our own experience and is not "written in stone". These are just general guidelines to point you in the right direction. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.


Lighting
  • L - Low light (Normal output lights stacked over the entire tank)
  • M - Medium light (Power compacts, VHO, few H.O. T5s)
  • H - High light (Metal halides, A lot of H.O. T5s, or equivalent)

Flow
  • S - Slow current
  • N - Normal flow (should never be linear and directly flowing across the coral)
  • E - Extreme flow (should never be linear and directly flowing across the coral)

Difficulty
  • B - Beginner (easy to keep, generally very hardy corals)
  • I - Intermediate (requires very clean water and/or feeding)
  • A - Advanced (hard to keep and/or other special requirements)

Food Size
  • P - Phytoplankton/Dissolved nutrients
  • T - Tiny (Rotifers or smaller)
  • V - Very small (about the size of mysid shrimp)


Scientific NameCommon NameLightingFlowDifficultyFood Size
Acanthastrea MS-NIT-V
          Feed regularly to prevent tissue loss.
Acropora HEAT
          Very dependent on good water quality with an emphasis on calcium and carbonates.
Alveopora MS-NAP/T
           
Astreopora HN-EIT-V
          Great corals that are only recently being made available on a large scale. High light and feeding will give some impressive looks to this coral
Australogyra MNIT
          Target feed 2-3 times per week for best health.
Blastomussa L-MSB-IT-V
          Feed every other day foods enriched in HUFAs to promote health, growth, and color.
CapnellaTree CoralL-MNBP
          Feed Phytoplankton 2 times per week
Catalaphyllia HS-NAT-V
          Has become difficult to keep in last 5 years. Feed every other day foods enriched in HUFAs to promote health, growth, and color.
CaulastreaCandy CaneL-MS-NBT-V
          Target feed 2-3 times per week for best health.
CynarinaMeat CoralM-HSIV
          Feed every other day foods enriched in HUFAs to promote health, growth, and color.
Scientific NameCommon NameLightingFlowDifficultyFood Size
DiploastreaMoon CoralL-MNBT
          Target feed 2-3 times per week for best health.
EchinophylliaChalliceL-MS-NB-IT
          Develops multiple different color patterns. Does best in lower lighting, but needs more than just standard fluorescents.
Euphyllia M-HSIT
          Strong stinging abilities. Keep away from other corals.
Favia MNB-IT
          Target feed 2-3 times per week for best health.
Favites MNB-IT
          Target feed 2-3 times per week for best health.
FungiaPlateL-MSB-IT-V
          Place on the sand.
GalaxeaGalaxyL-HS-EB-IT
          Strong sweeper tentacles. Give more flow to reduce their size and prevent nearby corals from being damaged.
Goniastrea MNIT
          Target feed 2-3 times per week for best health.
GoniporaFlower PotM-HS-NAP/T
          Reds and purples more hardy. We don't sell Gonipora stolki. If you do get one place it on the sand only.
HeliofungiaLong Tentacle PlateM-HSAT-V
          Place on sand. Regular feeding is a must.
Scientific NameCommon NameLightingFlowDifficultyFood Size
Herpolitha MS-NB-IT
           
Hydnophora L-HS-NBT
          Target feed 2-3 times per week for best health.
LemnaliaTree CoralL-MNBP
          Feed Phytoplankton 3 times per week
Leptoseris MNIT
           
LobophylliaOpen BrainMS-NIT-V
          Feed every other day foods enriched in HUFAs to promote health, growth, and color.
Merulina MNIT
          Target feed 2-3 times per week for best health.
Micromussa L_MNIT-V
          Feed foods enriched in HUFAs to promote growth and color.
Montastraea MNIT
          Target feed 2-3 times per week for best health.
Montipora HN-EIT
          Very dependent on good water quality with an emphasis on calcium and carbonates.
Mycedium L-MNIT
          Feed every other day foods enriched in HUFAs to promote health, growth, and color.
Scientific NameCommon NameLightingFlowDifficultyFood Size
Nemenzophyllia L-MSB-IT
          Target feed 2-3 times per week for best health.
Nepthea L-MS-NIP
          Feed Phytoplankton 3-4 times per week
Non-photosynthetic GorgoniansSea FanNONEN-EAT
          Needs advanced feeding. Every species requirements are different.
Oulophyllia MNIT
          Target feed 2-3 times per week for best health.
OxyporaElephant NoseL-MS-NIT
          Feed every other day foods enriched in HUFAs to promote health, growth, and color.
PachyserisElephant SkinMNBT
           
PalythoaButton PolypsM-HS-NBT-V
          Will grow fast with direct feedings, but not necessary for survival. Feeding enriched foods adds coloration.
Pavona M-HNB-IT
           
PectiniaElkhornL-MNBT
           
Photosynthetic GorgoniansSea FanM-HNBT
          Easy to keep with good lighting. Makes excellent perches for seahorses as they tend not to sting and are easy to grab.
Scientific NameCommon NameLightingFlowDifficultyFood Size
Physogyra MNIT
          Target feed 2-3 times per week for best health.
Platygyra M-HNB-IT
          Target feed 2-3 times per week for best health.
Plerogyra MNIT
          Target feed 2-3 times per week for best health.
PocilloporaCat's PawHEAT
          Very dependent on good water quality with an emphasis on calcium and carbonates.
Porites HHIT
          The best biological indicator of water quality.
PropalythoaMoon PolypsM-HS-NBT-V
          Will grow fast with direct feedings, but not necessary for survival. Feeding enriched foods adds coloration.
Psammocora MNBT
           
Rhoadactis mushrooms L-HSBP
           
Ricordea M-HS-NIP/T
          True Florida Ricordea requires more light and flow than Pacific counterpart. Ricordea yuma can have diverse requirements
Sarcophyton elegansYellow Fiji LeatherHN-EIP
          Higher light closer to 10K will give the best yellow coloration
Scientific NameCommon NameLightingFlowDifficultyFood Size
ScolymiaDonutM-HN-EIT
          Feed every other day foods enriched in HUFAs to promote health, growth, and color.
SeriatoporaBird's NestHEAT
          Very dependent on good water quality with an emphasis on calcium and carbonates.
Stylophora HEAT
          Very dependent on good water quality with an emphasis on calcium and carbonates.
SymphylliaOpen BrainMS-NIT-V
          Feed every other day foods enriched in HUFAs to promote health, growth, and color.
Trachyphyllia L-MS-NB-IT-V
          Feed every other day foods enriched in HUFAs to promote health, growth, and color.
Tubastraea NONES-NB-IT-V
          Must be fed at least 3-4 times a week. Feed foods enriched in HUFAs to promote growth and color.
Turbinaria M-HNBT
           
XeniaPulsing HandsM-HS-NBP
          Needs good dissolved organics. Pulse rate seems to coincide with pH levels.
ZoanthidZoos/ZoasM-HS-NBT-V
          Will grow fast with direct feedings, but not necessary for survival. Feeding enriched foods adds coloration.
 Clove PolypsL-MS-NBP
          Feed Phytoplankton 2 times per week
Scientific NameCommon NameLightingFlowDifficultyFood Size
 Star PolypsL-MS-NBP
          Feed Phytoplankton 2 times per week
 Finger LeatherL-MNBP
          Feed Phytoplankton 2 times per week
 Toadstool LeatherL-MNBP
          Feed Phytoplankton 2 times per week
 MushroomL-MSBP
           


Extreme Corals General Information and Advice


The Importance of Age

It is unwise to add any coral to a reef tank from one to three months after initial setup. This varies depending on your specific tank and the speed of cycling. During this time there can be dramatic swings of ammonia, nitrite, and pH. Calcium, carbonates, and other critical elements are also lacking at this point.

After this time soft corals are generally the best animal to place in the tank first. You should have no more diatom algae or "local problematic" areas in the tank. Soft corals for the most part they are less susceptible to any small fluctuations that happen from here on out. They are a lot less dependent on calcium bicarbonate for skeletal growth and digestion. The nutrient pathways needed for the survival of soft corals is also usually establish by this point.

The next step is probably adding corals referred to LPS (large polyp stonies). The best time to start adding these animals is after the tank has been set up for 5-7 months. Ideally you should have started to see small patches of coralline algae with a diameter of 3mm or more.

The last corals should be the SPS (small polyp stonies). These require excellent water conditions and good advanced knowledge and experience. These are also some of the most rewarding and colorful corals in the world. It is well worth your time and money to wait 9-12 months before adding these animals. They need vary stable and specific conditions. When you start to see many patches of coralline algae larger than the size of a quarter it is a good biological sign that your tank may be ready for these corals.


Suggested Filtering Methods

Biological Needs:
  • We recommend a light fish load.

  • The tanks should ideally have between 1-2 lbs of live rock per gallon depending on the porosity of the rock.

  • A layer of sand will give further surface for beneficial bacterial to grow, help buffer the tanks parameters, and allow beneficial organisms to breed in the tank

  • We recommend a sump for a refugium that is growing Chaetomorphia to further help nutrient levels and provide additional food supplies. On a reverse daylight cycle this will also stabilize pH levels at night. The turbulent flow will facilitate gas exchange and devices such as heaters and calcium reactors can be easily put in this space.

  • Filter the freshwater using an RO or DI system before mixing with your salt. Make sure you are using a high quality salt and mix the saltwater at least 24 hrs before use.

  • It is critical to use this same filtered fresh water to replace water that was evaporated out of the tank. Using ordinary tap water invariably leads to algae outbreaks.
Mechanical and Chemical Needs:
  • We strongly recommend using a skimmer on the tank at all times. It is the most critical tool to keeping your tank and its inhabitants healthy. The skimmer removes organic waste before they become ammonia and cause nutrient issues. It works with the biological filtration and increases the water quality. Running skimmer-less is for experts only who fully understand the dynamics of their tank and even then there are risks of bad situations developing at an alarming rate.

  • Some carbon or other organic resins may be needed from time to time to keep water quality ideal. We do not recommend a canister filter however as this can lead to an increase in nitrates.

  • A wet dry filter has no place in a reef tank. These are great for fish only tanks, but is a nutrient problem waiting to happen in a reef environment.
Equipment used to Control the Environment:
  • Heaters, fans, and/or chillers are recommended if there is not a stable temperature. Temperatures ranging from 78-84 are generally acceptable to corals. The most important thing is consistency. There should NOT be more than a 2 degree fluctuation throughout the day.

  • Water movement and circulation is one of the most important parts for long term health. You want as much no linear flow as you tank and its inhabitants can handle. In the wild most of these animals have hundreds of thousands of gallons pass over them daily. Get high flow but make it turbulent so it does not become a straight stream of water that will strip the flesh from the corals. Wavemakers are recommended, but not absolutely necessary.

  • Chemical supplementation can be done trough many different methods, but the most important aspects to keep up are Calcium (~440), dKh (12), and pH (8.2).

  • Last is the great light debate. We believe that it is virtually impossible to give a coral too much light. Some animals may need to be acclimated to the higher light levels, but in general the more light you can give them the better off the corals will be. Sunlight is about 6500K, 10000K is the color temperature around a depth of 8m, and 20000K simulates light around 17m. In general 65K gives the best growth rates as higher wattage bulbs, while lights toward the other end of the spectrum tend to highlight the phosphorescence colors of the corals. We primarily use very high wattage 20K metal halide lights to get the benefits of both growth and color.
Apart from this there are many different aspects of the modern reef aquarium that simply is not in the scope of this text. We encourage you to research different methods with these guidelines as a foundation.

Please send us an email or give us a call if you have any questions or concerns. Thanks!


Single best general coral book currently available: Aquarium Corals by Eric Borneman

Good online resources: www.reefcentral.com and www.reefs.org

Also check out your local Marine Aquarium Society!


"In a reef aquarium, only bad things happen quickly."


Above all be patient and research the needs of the animals under your care. If you stock your aquarium too quickly or before it has cycled properly, you will have ammonia and or nitrites in your tank that probably will kill your animals. The best case scenario would be that you will have severely stressed animals, nuisance algae, and an unstable system. Please understand that we want you to be in this hobby for a long time. Many of these animals will live for over decades if treated properly and we want to do our part to ensure that this happens. This is general advice that we want our customers to understand before a purchase is made from us and we would encourage you to reconsider buying animals from us if you feel that your tank does not fit within these suggestions.