Corals 101- An Essential Guide

People who are looking to add soft corals in their saltwater tanks have to keep a few things in mind. There are certain essentials of these animals that you have to know. These include which species are better and which are better for your budget and tank.

Known as internal soft skeletons, soft corals sort of have a harder skin. They are less expensive than other types of corals namely hard and polyped corals. They also have a decent reputation of adapting to different environments and conditions well.

Their Background

Located in Phylum Cnidaria, soft corals such as anemones, sea pens and jellyfish, have a basic body shape and they have a single opening that functions from their mouth and anus. Their movement is coordinated by a nerve web which is largely decentralized and by simple receptors.

Soft corals tend to reproduce through asexual and sexual means. The sexual reproduction involves release of both eggs in the sperm in the water. When the egg becomes fertilized, it develops in to a big larval stages called planulas. The planula then turns into polyps.

On the other hand, if reproduction is asexual, a tiny clone of the parent clone will be developed through the coral’s flesh. When this happens, it releases from the parents body and becomes a separate polyp.

Soft corals also reproduce asexually through fission. This is when the parent coral starts to pull itself apart half longitudinally and results in two different half lives, chocking the capitulum. The capitulum will then flow in the current in order to attach and develop a new base. In this case, the parent coral will develop a new capitulum or die off, it will all depend on the living conditions. When this happens, it is a measure known as transverse fission.

Care Of Soft Corals

Soft corals have to be taken care of and they have to be taken care off well. In order to care for them properly, one should try to realize that these animals have individual needs. At times, these animals do not need the same amount of lighting.

There are certain soft corals that flourish well on overhangs and the shadows. On the other hand, there are others who need the same and consistent amount of lighting. Others need a high spectrum. It basically and essentially depends on the type of soft coral.

Types of Soft Corals

While there are many different types of soft corals, the main types are:

Star Polyps

Belonging to the clavulariidae family, these corals are available in brown, green and white colors. Their ideal supplements happen to be iodine and trace elements. Moreover, their water flow is medium to strong whereas they require medium to high light. These corals can be taken care of with ease.

Moreover, these soft corals also benefit from weekly feedings of micro plankton or foods that are designed for filter feeding the invertebrates.

The Yellow Tree Coral

Another famous type of the soft corals is the Yellow Tree Coral. Belonging to the nephtheidae family, their range is the indo-pacific and they are available in brown, tan and gray colors. Their ideal supplements are trace elements, strontium and iodine. Moreover, these soft corals require medium to high light and they generally tend to be semi aggressive.

The Yellow Tree Coral are a symbol of algae zooxanthellae. They feed in their bodies, certain nutritional needs through light driven processes called photosynthesis. Moreover, these corals have to be fed right, with the right food such as baby brine shrimp and micro plankton. However, they should be blown regularly through the polyps.

Sea Plume Gorgonian

Belonging to the plexauridae family, they range from the Atlantic to the Caribbean. The color of these is either purple, gray, brown or yellow. The best supplements for sea plume gorgonian is iodine, calcium, strontium and other trace elements. Moreover, they are also reef compatible. Sea Plum Gorgonian require medium to high light and their water flow tends to be medium to strong. Their placement is done on all levels and they require medium to moderate care.

The Sea Plume Gorgonian is a type of soft coral that relies highly on photosynthesis. They eat a range of diet such as the baby brine shrimp, micro plankton and other different foods that are designed specifically for them.

Devil’s Hand Coral

Belonging to the alcyoniidae family, the range of the Devil’s Hand Coral is indo pacific. They are available in different colors including pink, yellow, gray and tan. The best and ideal supplements for these corals are iodine, strontium and trace elements. The Devil’s Hand Coral is reef compatible and good for medium to strong water flow. They require medium to high light and their dominance is peaceful. They do not require much care and their care level is said to be easy.

Usually, the Devil’s Hand Coral tends to have enough in its skin to meet its nutritional needs or it meets those needs through photosynthesis. It also benefits from many other important foods such as baby brine shrimp, micro plankton and others.

Pipe Organ Coral

Belonging to the family of Tubiporidae, the Pipe Orange Coral is available in gray, green, maroon, red and white colors. They are reef compatible and their placement ranges from medium to low. They require a moderate care level. They generally have to be fed twice a week and you can feed them with either micro plankton or brine shrimp, whatever you might deem necessary.

Zoanthus Button Polyps

Belonging to the Zoanthidae family, the Zoanthus Button Polyps range from the indo-pacific. They are available in a range of colors including tan, white, pink and green. Their ideal supplements are trace elements and iodine. Moreover, these are reef compatible and they are good for a medium water flow. The Zoanthus Button Polyps work on high light and they tend to be semi aggressive. Their placement tends to be medium to high and they do not require a lot of hardwork or care because their care level tends to be easy.

Zooxanthellae provide and cater to some of their nutritional requirements easily through photosynthesis. Every individual polyp of the colony should also be given extra feelings of the baby brine shrimp to make it work. Generally, Zoanthus Button Polyps are easily reared and can survive in 72 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit.

Elegant Moon Button Polyps 

Another famous type of soft corals is the Zoanthidae. Their range is the South Pacific and they are available in brown color form. Moreover, their ideal supplements happen to be iodine and trace elements. These polyps are reef compatible and survive well in 72 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Moreover, they work well in high light and their dominance is said to be semi aggressive. Moreover, their placement is said to be medium and their care levels easy. These soft corals tend to benefit from weekly findings of brine shrimp that are given to the colony individually.

Ricordea Mushroom Coral

Belonging to the Ricordeidae family, their range is the indo-pacific. They are available in different color forms namely green, brown, pink and purple. The ideal supplements for these are trace elements and iodine, both work well. They are also reef compatible and they survive well in 72-78 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures. Moreover, they require a low water flow and their dominance is semi aggressive. With their placement medium, their care level is moderate which makes them easy to have.

The Ricordea Mushroom Coral fulfills its nutritional requirements through photosynthesis. Moreover, it also eats smaller invertebrates and plankton.

Giant Cup Mushroom Coral

The Giant Cup Mushroom Coral belongs to the discosomatidae family. Their range is the indo pacific and their color form tan, brown and green. Moreover, their ideal supplements are iodine and trace elements. They are also reef compatible and they have to be handled well and with caution. The ideal tank condition for these corals is 72 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit and they work well in low to medium water flows. Moreover, these corals can work well in medium light and their dominance is said to be semi aggressive. Moreover, with their placement medium, these corals can be taken care of with ease. When they are kept in a reef aquarium, the giant cup mushroom coral should be fed big amounts and meals of artemia and other important foods that are close to plankton. On the other hand, these corals also tend to receive most of their nutritional requirements from the symbiotic algae zooxanthellae that is available inside of its body.

Soft corals are interesting. Other common names for soft corals include flower coral, bulls eye mushroom and disc anemones. Some of these are one of the easiest soft corals to find and you can easily keep them in a reef aquarium.

Soft corals tend to prefer medium to slow light. They are generally non aggressive and they are less sensitive to changes in the water parameters. Soft corals can be fed but they generally tend to rely on zooxanthellae.