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 Torch Coral Care

Euphyllia have been a fixture in reef aquariums seemingly since the hobby began. Torch corals have long tentacles tipped with a ball. This large polyp stony coral (LPS) is one of the most popular stony corals in the hobby because if the way it sways in the current. It is very similar in growth and care requirements to it Euphyllia cousins, the Hammer coral and the Frogspawn coral. Please see below for additional care tips for Torch corals as well as checking out our Top 5 Tips for setting up a reef.




 Location

Euphyllia corals are found all over the tropical waters of the Pacific. In particular, they are regularly harvested from the islands of the Indo-Pacific including Fiji, Tonga, Solomon Islands, and the Great Barrier Reef.



 Lighting

Hammers, Torches, and Frogspawn (Euphyllia sp.) do not require as much light as some other corals. It can be kept under normal output fluorescents without much difficulty. In some cases, Torches may extend more readily under subdued lighting, however it may display more attractive colors when placed under stronger lighting.

Low Light

Low light translates to about 30-50 PAR

Medium Light

Medium Light is between 50-150 PAR

High Light

High Light is anything over 150 PAR

Lighting is a loaded topic, so for a more in-depth discussion of lighting, please check out our Blog all about Lighting or see our detailed lighting video below.




 Water Flow

Moderate to strong water movement is recommended. One of the main draws to this type of LPS coral is how it sways in the current. Water flow is both healthy for the coral and is pleasing aesthetically.

 Water Chemistry

Torch corals are LPS meaning as stony corals, they require consistent levels of calcium, alkalinity, and to a lesser degree magnesium in order to grow their calcium carbonate skeleton. The amount of supplementation needed to maintain calcium, alkalinity, and magnesium depends a lot on the size and growth rate of the stony corals in your tank.

In the video below, I cover three different aquariums that utilize different techniques to manage their chemistry.


Agonizing over these levels might be mental overkill for this coral, but it is good to periodically test just to make sure everything is in the ballpark of natural sea water levels. A couple parameters worth paying closer attention to is nitrate and phosphate. LPS corals are sensitive to declining water quality and elevated levels of nitrate and phosphate are an indicator of declining water quality. Low nitrate levels around 5-10ppm are actually welcome for large polyp stony corals, but around 30-40ppm of nitrate you might start running into some issues such as tissue recession. In extreme cases, you might see a torch coral go through full-fledged polyp bailout which we will cover in a little bit.


 Feeding

Like most coral, Euphyllia rely to a large extent on the products of their zooxanthellae, however, in our experience, they also benefit from direct feeding. Hammers, torches, and frogspawn do not seem to aggressively feed like other LPS, so finding the right food can be a challenge. We have had some good luck with a dry pellet food called Sustainable Aquatics Hatchery Diet. It is intended for use with small fish, but we have tried feeding it to corals like the Euphyllias, which tend to be finicky eaters, with good results.



 Coral Aggression

Corals developed all kinds of adaptations to gain a competitive advantage in the battle for real estate on the reef. In our home aquariums we have to be conscious of these in order to create the best environment for them long term. Torch corals are one of the corals that extends long sweeper tentacles. Sweeper tentacles are often used as a means of defense against other encroaching coral colonies. Their white tips contain a concentration of nematcysts that can damage more delicate tank mates. Most of the time, this is not a major problem but to be safe, we recommend placing it in a location far from other corals initially.

The video below provides an overview of the different manifestations of coral aggression and ideas on how to mitigate some of the risks inherent in keeping corals in close quarters.



 Propagation

This genus for the most part has been propagated extensively in captivity and is an excellent candidate for aquaculture. The branching varieties tend to be much better candidates compared to the wall varieties. It is reasonable to believe that a sustainable harvest can be achieved in time.

There is however a much less common method which is polyp bailout. Polyp bailout is a stress response to unfavorable tank conditions that certain stony corals can activate as a last ditch effort to save themselves. During polyp bailout, polyps are killing off their own connective tissue through apoptosis. For those that are unfamiliar with the term, apoptosis is programmed cell death as opposed to necrosis which is traumatic cell death. Apoptosis is a highly regulated and controlled process so the coral polyps bailing out due to stress are doing so in a direct calculated response to an exogenous threat. If you want to learn more, take a look at the video below:


 Summary

So who are torch corals for? Torches have become one of the most desirable corals in a mixed reef that emphasizes LPS corals. They are less commonly seen than hammer corals and frogspawn so aquarists that are looking for something slightly different often gravitate to torch corals. Also, their appearance is the closest one might find to a long tentacle anemone with he added benefit of not roaming the aquarium.

That pretty much does it for torch corals. Hopefully you found this article helpful. Until next time, happy reefing!

Than Thein

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