Ever wonder about coral? You’ve seen them in tanks, scuba diving while visiting the islands, and have often wondered if they would work in your aquarium at home. In order to decide on the best coral to introduce into your tank, let’s find out what coral is and other facts to think about.
What is Coral?
Coral is made up of tiny, see-through polyps and are related to jelly fish. The polyps work to create hard limestone skeletons that protect, and they get their ‘color’ from the algae they host. The polyp attaches to a rock and then divides, known as ‘budding,’ growing in size and shape. Calicles are used to connect to each other, creating a colony. Colonies join and become the reefs we see and enjoy today!
Corals are either hard or soft. Hard corals are the reef-builders and get their food and energy from working together with the algae they host. Hard corals are found in shallow water so they can make the best use of sunlight and let the algae do their job to keep everyone happy.
Soft corals are vibrant and look like feather-like plants or wispy trees. Soft corals are not reef builders because they do not create a boney skeleton like hard corals. You can tell soft coral from hard coral because soft corals have eight arms (tentacles), while their cousin, the hard coral, has six arms (tentacles).
For those of you with tanks at home, soft corals are a little easier to keep than hard corals. Soft corals can get by with less light and less than perfect water quality. If you are moving from a fish-only tank to a reef tank with corals, then soft corals are your best bet. Below are some of the soft corals that you can put into your tank.
- Mushroom corals do not like bright lights or swift currents. When it comes to lighting, they do well with fluorescent or power packs. The should be ‘spaced out’ so as not to ‘over crowd’ each other once inside your tank. Try using red or blue mushroom corals, purple mushroom corals or Bulls eye mushroom corals for a great looking tank.
- Zoanthid Polyps come in a wide range of colors, stripes and polka-dots. They can be round and vibrant, or look like fields of wheat swaying back-and-forth in the breeze on a summer day. They prefer moderate lighting, can handle stronger water currents, and are quick to reproduce. You can also help them along by cutting a piece and attaching to a nearby rock.
- Button Polyps are similar to the Zoanthid Polyps. Their color range goes from green, to red, to blue, to yellow. They are hardy and strong, so they are a great place to start for new tank owners. Give them low to medium water currents, low levels of light and they will thrive. TIP: If you want to create brighter colors, increase the lighting to a higher level.
There are some hard corals that will also work with patience and help.
- Pagoda Coral can thrive with low to medium levels of lighting. It prefers a medium to strong water current and is very hardy against disease. Keep it off of the sandy bottom of your tank, and keep it clean by blowing or sweeping away debris.
- Another good hard coral to start with is the Montipora. It can adapt itself to various levels of lighting and water currents. They produce in a wide range of colors and have lacey skeletons. Most Montipora corals are brown, pink or green. If your tank is well-lit, they can grow into colonies the size of a basketball and end up being the only thing left in your tank!
I hope that all of this has given you a good place to start when thinking about putting corals into your home aquarium. But if you are still a bit ‘leery’ – that’s ok! Seatech is your Scottsdale aquarium maintenance experts. The team at Seatech has years of experience with freshwater, reef, and saltwater tanks, offer clients a 6-month live stock guarantee and can install and maintain tanks ranging from 30 gallons on up to 900 gallons! Visit their website or give them a call. Whether your tank is for your home or your office, Seatech will take you step-by-step and make sure that your aquarium is just the way ‘you’ want it to be!
Want more information about coral? See http://ocean.si.edu/corals-and-coral-reefs