Write-Up Wednesday: Keep This In Mind If Your Coral and Tank Don’t Get Along


Every tank I’ve ever run has at least one type of coral that it doesn’t like. No matter if the water parameters are perfect, the lighting and flow is right and no fish are picking on the coral, there are still some corals that just don’t like my tank.

For example: chalices. Every tank I’ve ever run kills chalices. Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. I look at all the pretty chalices out there and I say to myself, “that’s nice, not for me.”

Besides killing chalices consistently, I’ve also found that every tank I’ve run has a certain type of genus or species of coral it didn’t like. My old 90 gallon tank didn’t like millepora but would grow acropora like weeds. My 375 gallon tank killed Trachyphyllia radiata, but would grow Trachyphyllia geoffroyi.

If you’ve never been able to keep a certain type of coral, the first place to look is if your tank is wrong for the coral. If you have a high nutrient system, then SPS likely won’t be happy. If you have a ultra low nutrient system, then your LPS and zoanthid corals will likely hate you.

However, if your tank is setup right for the type of coral you are trying to keep and the coral still isn’t doing well, the coral may not like your tank and your tank may not like the coral. This fact can be frustrating especially when you see all the pretty pictures of tanks that appear to be stuffed with every type of coral. While there is no rational explanation why corals and tanks don’t get along, remember, you’re dealing with a biological organism. Biological organisms don’t always follow the book. It’s nothing personal, it’s just nature.

If you find your tank hates a certain type of coral, you’ve got two choices:

  1. Build another tank for that type of coral
  2. Avoid that type of coral and buy more of what does well in your tank

I stick to choice #2. I’d love to keep some of those insane chalices that I see and I won’t even try. I’m ok with that. More money for acros!

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Comments for this article (7)

  • Aron says:

    I agree 100%

  • Bob Paterson says:

    I can grow rhodactis indosinensis hairy mushrooms like weeds but ricordia, yuma and other rhodactis mushrooms just melt away. My montipora digitata’s are busting out but my monitipora caps live but just don’t grow. I popped in a Sherman anemone and it shriveled down to almost nothing before I took it back to the LFS to revive it. Zoas are doing great! Perplexing!

  • BoB Bishop says:

    The answer is out there . . . lighting, water quality (have you tried a lab test on your RO water?), water flow/circulation, placement, temperature, depth. Why not experiment with a small tank (nano) and test different cultural parameters one at a time until you find the problem?

  • I agree 100%,, its is reassuring to hear it though from a professional, its can be very frustrating at times,, thanks Mark

  • Bob…I’ve seen plenty of tanks that have perfect parameters, lighting, flow, etc and still not grow coral. There is lots we don’t understand about saltwater aquariums even if we think we do!

  • Roger…I’ve certainly got my list of corals that I can’t keep!

  • Gus Z says:

    I think it’s good to have a simple setup, sometimes I feel like I over complicate things, and chase parameters etc. I’ve also been running LED’s for the past 3yrs and they never grew coral like my cheap eBay t5’s did.

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