Encrusting and Overall Coral Health

Discussion in 'SPS Corals' started by justonwo, Jan 10, 2016.

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  1. justonwo

    justonwo Fire Shrimp

    Aug 7, 2015
    Albany, CA
    I have noted that the coral frags in my tank that have managed to encrust seem to be the hardiest and fastest growing. Is that my imagination? Furthermore, it would seem that some of my corals are taking forever to encrust, if at all. Although they may be growing up and branching out, they just don't seem to be encrusting.

    Is there a way to promote faster encrusting? If I had it to do over again, I would have removed most of these frags from their plugs entirely. The plus are unsightly and it seems more difficult for the coral to encrust of them (though that may be my imagination).
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  3. kornaco40B

    kornaco40B Spaghetti Worm

    Apr 11, 2011
    Wylie, TX.
    I'm curious about this as well. From what I came across last night, corals may grow uniquely in captive reef tanks. From what I gathered----I'm thinkin' it just depends, haha. Good answer, huh? I imagine it's a matter of lighting, flow, parameters even, other inhabitants, stimuli in general which encourage the coral to grow, and/or adapt by growing in a particular shape (encrusting it's location) or not... Guess we will see what others have to say...
    DSC reef likes this.
  4. DSC reef

    DSC reef Giant Squid

    Dec 16, 2012
    Cocoa, Florida
    Normally encrusting is a sign that said coral is doing well from the original frag and most of the time I won't buy a frag unless it's encrusting so I know it's healed. I've bought freshly fragged pieces but most of the time I like to wait. Basically it's up to your tanks params, lighting and such that depends on encrusting since it's a form of growth. I've got corals that arrived on all types of plugs and I haven't noticed any growth difference between them at all. I won't remove a coral from its plug, I just cut the stem off the plug and glue it to the rock and in a few months the plug is gone.
    cody3819 and kornaco40B like this.
  5. Eco Marine Reef

    Eco Marine Reef Astrea Snail

    Dec 21, 2015
    like kornaco40B8 and DSC reef stated, it comes down to a variety of environmental parameters. Lighting, flow, chemistry, and nutrients are all major contributors to coral growth and overall health. Corals need time to acclimate properly to their new environment. Wherever they came from, the general parameters (lighting, flow, nutrient level, etc.) will vary from their current conditions.
    • A good analogy would be traveling to a foreign country. How long does it take your body to adjust to the time, how long does it take for you to learn the language, learn the streets, learn where the best restaurants are, etc. This stuff takes time, and the corals are the same way.
    All coral need time to adapt to their new conditions. Many of the coral's physiological functions can be altered during the process of collecting from the ocean and being introduced into your aquarium (or even from your local LFS to your aquarium). The amount of stress involved in this process can wreak havoc on the overall health of the coral. Ever wonder why that gorgeous coral in your LFS didn't look so perfect in your aquarium for the first few days or even weeks?

    For example, in a heavy flow tank you will find many of your hard corals are thicker. They might not be as tall, but they sure are thick. In order to combat the high flow and not become brittle, the coral will allocate much of its energy into growing a thicker skeleton. Afterward, it will then continue to grow taller and encrust to take over more rock space. This is only one example and the environmental conditions for every tank varies. With that being said we could go on and on about different environmental condition's and why some coral survive while others do not.

    With the coral(s) that you are concerned about, how long have you had them in your tank?

    If it has only been a few month's, do not get discouraged. Keep in mind that stability and patience (hardest of them all) are among the key factors in maintaining a successful aquarium. Most of us know how frustrating it can be, and we all want our corals to grow to the size of a basketball over night ;) Unfortunately this isn't the case. I have several favia that have taken almost a year to show any signs of growth. Their color is amazing and they feed like pigs, but for some reason I never notice any growth. Maybe it could have been I was anxious like you to see my corals grow. When you try watch something everyday, it is difficult to see the incremental progress.

    On a side note to your question, as it is a great question that deserves much attention. Many ground breaking studies in the realm of coral physiology are being conducted everyday. Take a look at this photo....


    A research group (Vicente I. Fernandez, Orr H. Shapiro, Melissa S. Garren, Assaf Vardi, and Roman Stocker) from Massachusetts Institute of Technology conducted a study on how corals engineer their environment. It is no wonder this photo made the cover of Science magazine, it is absolutely breath taking. The photo represents the coral's cilia (thin and tiny hair like structure) beating the water into a vortex. As a result, the corals are actively enhancing mass transport of nutrients toward their mouth, while simultaneously sweeping waste products away.

    As we begin to acquire more knowledge about the coral's physiological abilities to adapt and engineer their environment, we may one day be able to explain the unexplainable within the hobby. Best of luck and keep us posted on how your corals do over time.
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2016
    chris adams, Jim Bonds and kornaco40B like this.
  6. civiccars2003

    civiccars2003 Great Blue Whale

    Mar 18, 2010
    Akron Ohio
    DSC reef likes this.