Corals – Soft Corals
Soft corals are another broad group of corals which are only loosely related. Some of these species are well suited for the average reef aquarium but others are still difficult to keep and grow. They are commonly called leather, toadstool, devil’s hand, young and colt coral.
Soft corals come in a range of shapes but they all lack a solid supporting skeleton. Most colonies are supported by a thick central stalk which culminates into branches, fingers or a cap. Soft corals can expand and contract the colony and polyps which greatly alters the appearance of the coral. Some species can grow quite tall and broad while other species might stay short and prefer to spread laterally.
Care and feeding
Although soft corals can be really hardy, this often leads to neglect of their specific care requirements. Most species require abundant water movement around the colony, whether it is fast or slow flow speeds. Tall graceful colonies tend to be suited for moderate flow speeds and moderate lighting intensities. Short, thick or stubby colonies tend to be better suited for intermediate to high flow speeds and intermediate lighting intensities. Many species grow faster in high nutrient water.
Most soft corals contain the symbiotic algae zooxanthellae within their bodies, and receive nutrients from the algae when exposed to high light levels. Members of the genus Dendronephthya do not contain zooxanthellae, and require the supplemental feeding of micro foods designed for filter-feeding invertebrates. Soft corals benefit from the addition of calcium, strontium, and iodine, along with trace elements, to promote growth and maintain the health of the specimen.
Soft corals will sometimes shed their protective coating within the aquarium in order to clean detritus and bacteria from their bodies. This mucus often irritates other corals and should be removed from the aquarium.
Soft coral cuttings should be made with a sharp tool to prevent tearing tissue. Re-attachment is usually done by gently tying the cutting to a substrate or skewering it with a toothpick until the fragment attaches.
Pictures and information about the Soft Corals in my reef tank:
Florida Ricordea Coral – Ricordea florida
- Date Added: 02-05-2012
- Tank: Cardiff 24 gallon
- Status: Active
- Purchased at: Coral Corral
- Cost: $20.00
- Coloration: Blue Green with neon green eye
- Lighting and Camera:
- 250w MH 14000K Phoenix
- Canon Rebel Xi
- Aperture photo software editing used trying to adjust to actual viewable color
- Description: Ricordea florida mushroom corals are heralded for their bright and highly variable coloration that often change within the aquarium depending on their environment. It is easily identified by its raised dots across its surface.
- Light & Flow: They adapt to wide variety of lighting but care should be given to placing under metal halide lighting. They prefer low flow areas for best inflation or tissue loss.
- Supplements: It will require maintaining stable levels of calcium, magnesium, pH, alkalinity, and other trace elements as you would with other types of corals.
- Feeding: All mushroom corals included are photosynthetic and a majority of their nutritional requirements are obtained from the symbiotic algae zooxanthellae hosted within each coral. They also eat plankton and smaller invertebrates, such as crustaceans and brine or mysis shrimp.
- Care: Growth pattern can lead to encroachment on its neighbors. Ricordea appears to be able to effectively kill other corals that it comes into contact. Since they are slow growing corals, this does not generally create a large issue.
- Range: Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean
- Other Names: Mushroom Coral
- Other Colors: Various
Toadstool Leather Coral – Sarcophyton sp.
- Date Added: 11/04/2008
- Status: Active
- Purchased at: Marine Warehouse Aquarium
- Cost: $45.00
- More Info: na