Placement of Corals for Long Term Success

Discussion in 'Reef Aquarium Articles and How To's' started by coral reefer, Nov 9, 2008.

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  1. coral reefer

    coral reefer Giant Squid

    Jan 9, 2006
    These are some important criteria to address for the long term success and health of your corals within your tank!
    One thing to remember, is that addressing one of these issues alone doesn't warrant that your coral will thrive but the accompanyment of this in addition to other factors such as proper water parameters, temperature and salinity consistency, regular routine equipment maintainence and cleaning, frequent water changes, dosing of trace elements and vitamins, varied food stuff, and lighting(including ways to get the most intense light to your corals, bulb color rendition, and lux(wattage). These are the most common variables that should be addressed as well as what I shall briefly explain regarding coral placement in efforts to have coral health, growth and reproduction!

    When you purchase a coral for your tank, many of you don't take into consideration the placement of your coral with regards to various factors. I am also guilty of this at times. We tend to get side tracked and just think of the overall picture and what the future holds for your tank and coral as it grows, reproduces and spreads hopefully! We need to take our blinders off and be more conscientious to placement issues!!!!!!
    Some of these issues are listed below with why these are pertinent to the overall success of your coral investment!


    This can make or break a tanks population of coral! Many of us don't realize how important water flow is to coral, not to mention the overall condition of our tanks! If water flow is could cause our corals to become detritus collectors and detritus could stock pile up on the tissue causing the corals zooxanthellae to not receive the beneficial light required to carry out photosynthesis thus the coral doesn't receive ammonium which is the biproduct that zooxanthellae produces as a food source for coral.
    Optimal water flow also helps to bring food and trace elements to our coral and carry out proper gas transfer between the water and respiration/waste from our corals.
    The other side to the equasion is not to have too much water flow to a particular coral!!! Corals require different water flow speeds for their success and we need to understand this in order for our coral to benefit. If the flow is too strong, you run the risk of stressing out the coral, causing the coral to starve, or bleach due to their polyps not being able to expand and open up fully!


    The fact that different corals contain different ways to ensure their protection, growth and success, we need to address this as well.
    Nematocysts, mucus, leeching of toxic chemicals are corals means of defense. This chemical warfare enables a coral to have a chance of survival, to grow and spread without being cluttered, overtaken or deprived of the light that coral need to live! Corals have a better chance through their toxic chemistry make up to keep other corals from crowding them and possibly over taking them by completely growing over them such as what happens with Millipora(fire coral) growing over a Gorgonian to spread and grow, at the expense of the Gorgonians weaker defense.
    Many corals have a more specialized way of ensurring their survival. Sweeper tentacles such as those displayed by Galaxy, Bubble and Echynophyllia to name a few are clever means of injuring or even killing a coral if it gets to close to it. These sweeper tentacles are like a anemones tentacle which has nematocys on the end of the sweeper tentacles. These nematocysts contain toxins that attach to other corals tissue and sting the vulnerable coral. These tentacles can also be released into the water column in hopes that they will land on corals in the area as oppossed to just coral residing next to them.
    Corals have varying toxic compound make up! Therefore some corals are able to injure or kill others that are less toxic. The potency of a coral needs to be addressed as well so that if a coral touches another or falls onto another you don't run the risk of a disasterous effect happening to the less dominant one. An example if this is Montipora Digitata... if it happens to grow and touch an Acropora species or fall and land on it, the Montipora Digitata species will always lose and give way to the more toxic Acropora. Bleaching, neucrosis and death of that part of the corals tissue will result.
    Some soft corals can release mucus and chemicals into the water column affecting other corals in your tank and they can be on opposite sides of the tank. An example of this is soft corals in the Sinularia family can injure and kill Acropora species in a closed system due to their potent chemical makeup. If these corals are to be housed together, carbon, strong filtration and weekly water changes should be administered!


    The last point to be viewed when deciding on the proper place for your coral is lighting.
    Lighting has a profound effect on the success, growth and overall health of your coral over the long run!
    Things such as the amount of light(PAR-photosynthetic available radiation) measured in terms of lux/lumens. This amount of light changes due to many factors not limited to bulb wattage, (DOC-dissolved organic compounds like gelbstoff(yellowing coloration in your water) salt creep, glass tank cover and turbidity. These have to be looked at in terms of the success of your coral. Too much light or not enough will effect the likeliness of your coral living or dying!
    As we are aware, different corals require different lighting intensities just as they have varied water flow requirements as mentioned above! Those corals that receive too much light may not open up all the way, such as what happens many times with Mushrooms. This could cause stress in a coral and lead to its demise through bleaching, RTN or other disease forms.
    At the other end of the spectrum comes the idea of too little light! Most Small polyped stonies require intense light for their long term success, whereas most LPS' and Octocorals can live under moderate lighting at best!
    If these light loving corals do not receive the proper lighting, they will not be as vibrant and you run the risk of the coral dying due to their zooxanthellae not receiving the necessary lighting to carry out photosynthesis!
    So, with this in mind when we add corals to our tank we must address these issues of light as well!
    Another very important thing with regards to your coral addition is the acclimation process! YOU must
    Acclimate your coral to your lighting setup or disasterous results will ensue!!
    This can be done two different ways IMO!
    First, you can cut the lighting duration(period of time the lights remain on in the course of the day) then slowly increase the time til you get to the desired time for your tank.
    The second way of acclimating your coral is to place your new addition low in your tank to start. Then over the next few weeks gradually raise the coral higher in your tank to eventually end up in its desired location.
    You can also cut down the wattage over your tank and slowly increase that to the full intensity though I don't really advise this as it could affect your other coral in your tank!

    In concluding, I hope you now have a better understanding of the importance and the issues at hand, that have to be addressed, in order to ensure that our corals grow, reproduce, spread and prosper in our tanks for more than a few months which was the case in the infant stages of the reef hobby.
    If we don't visualize the total scope of our corals compatability and husbandry needs, your corals are sure to flounder and ultimately lead to their demise!
    Researching and reading about our existing corals and the new corals we intend on purchasing for our tanks will go along way in determining if WE will be successful or NOT or should I say our corals will be successful or not!!!
    When you think about it, our corals are amazing animals...I mean for them to grow, reproduce and prosper in a closed environment such as our tanks is a compliment to them-however, we need to help them at time to ensure that they have a ongoing chance at making our tank what we want
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  3. reef_guru

    reef_guru Humpback Whale

    Apr 4, 2007