Care of Coral in a Home Aquarium

Care of Coral in a Home Aquarium

Maintaining a reef aquarium in a healthy state can prove to be an overwhelming task if you do not know the basic needs of corals. To help you keep corals alive and thriving, here are a few things you should know:


Like all living things, corals need a balanced, healthy diet. It is important to know not only the type of food you eat, but also your eating habits. This mixotrophic species can produce its food and indirectly consume other living organisms in its environment.

With the energy of sunlight, corals can be created and fed by so-called zooxanthellae, which provide a large part of their daily energy needs. But they still need additional proteins, lipids and carbohydrates to grow. You can get these nutrients by ingesting foods such as zooplankton, phytoplankton, floating plankton and bacterioplankton.

Before feeding your corals, it is best to study the specific species that they possess. Not all corals prefer the same type of food. And if you do not get the right amount of nutrients, your coral reef may die.

Some can swallow small pieces of the same food with which they would feed their aquarium fish. As for others, perhaps it is better to buy commercial coral food, such as sea snow, minced meat crops and phytoplankton. You can also try to make your own coral food by mixing shrimp, shellfish, krill, commercial products and fresh vegetables in puree, which facilitates the digestion of some species of coral.

Water quality

In order to preserve the corals, the water quality in your aquarium is just as important as the food. For example, the correct concentration of trace elements and elements in the water of your aquarium is necessary so that all corals can produce the necessary chemical reactions for processing, reproduction and thriving. In general, the concentrations of these minerals and other parameters should be close to the following:

  • Calcium: 400-450 parts per million.
  • Magnesium: 1200-1400 parts per million.
  • Alkalinity: about 2.1-2.5 meq/L
  • Specific gravity of natural sea water: from 1.023 to 1.025.
  • Temperature: about 76 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Ammonia, nitrites, nitrate and phosphate: 0 ppm.

Ammonia, which is usually found in saltwater aquariums, can be harmful to your corals, invertebrates and fish. To keep the ammonia content at zero, you can make it a habit to conduct regular checks. Regular tests will help you figure out when you should adjust the water to reset the ammonia content or other parameters to their corresponding level.

Water movement

It is best to study the water movement requirements for your coral, as they vary depending on the species. But usually most corals develop well in turbulent water conditions. This is because stormy water tends to bring food closer to them. If the water is restless, it also helps to clear the corals of mucus or sediment that may get on or into them.

To create a water turbulence effect in your aquarium, you can first set the flow rate to 20 or 30 times per hour. Then move the nozzles or the closed circulation outlets so that the streams flow in different directions or collide with each other. You can also purchase a special device that is attached to the end of your power heads and helps to create circular or wavy movements.


As with other basic needs of corals, it is important to study your coral species first to find out the right amount of light needed to maintain their health. For example, soft corals require less light than their hard counterparts, which require intensive lighting. If your particular species lacks the appropriate amount of light, this can cause corals to discolor when they lose their color.

Before adding corals to your aquarium, you should consider one more point. Given the cost of lighting and electricity consumption, you may find that lighting an aquarium for coral housing can become expensive. Not to mention that lighting can increase the temperature in the aquarium, which will force you to purchase other devices to cool your aquarium.

Further care tips

Here are some more useful tips for caring for your corals:

  • Although you can keep them in small aquariums, corals grow best in large reef tanks.
  • Be sure to wear protective glasses, face masks and gloves to protect yourself from coral poisons.
  • You can use coal to limit the amount of toxins in the water.
  • For beginners, it is easier for reef keepers to take care of soft corals than hard corals.
  • Make sure that no different corals mix in your aquarium. They can behave aggressively with each other and compete for territory.


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