Many aquarists, new or existing, are moved to start a marine reef aquarium. Successful aquariums of this type are beautiful. The marine reef can house fish too, provided attention has been given to the maximum load. The number one requirement is high seawater quality (so the total fish load needs to be correct), and not far behind is correct lighting. A marine reef aquarium can be set up from the start, experience or not – just make sure all the parameters are met. Answers are easily found on the internet and in books (make sure the book is modern, that is, up to date by being recently published).
The coral is the Kenya Tree Coral (Capnella imbricata). The common name suggests the appearance of the coral and the suggestion is correct, it grows in a tree-like manner (but much smaller strangely enough!). It’s a soft coral as can be guessed.The polyps are not erectile, that is they open and close but do not retract. The coral can collapse when it expels water. The polyps are in clusters at the end of and on the ‘branches’.
The coral is attractive as suggested by the picture. Their colour can be brown to cream, sometimes with green tints, the polyps usually are brown. The polyps grow in clusters on the branches and at the ends. If there is a long stalk without polyps this part of the coral could be sterile. The usual location in the wild for the coral is in clear seawater down to deeper reef areas though they grow in other areas as well. Reproduction is by dropping branchlets, which doesn’t happen regularly. Propagating the coral is generally easy by cutting (fragging). The coral is said to have less zooxanthellae than others and so could feed from dissolved substances.
When introducing the coral to the aquarium it’s important, as with other aquarium life, to give time for it to get used to the new seawater. This is easily done: remove seawater from the bag making sure the coral is still fully submerged. Then run a drip from the aquarium to the bag. An airline tube can be used for this with a clip at the ‘out’ end to control the flow. Ensure the seawater in the bag doesn’t cool excessively. In due course place the bag in the aquarium and allow the seawater temperature to equalize. Once this time has been given the coral can be carefully placed with minimal handling.
If, after time, the coral does not appear to be doing well, a feeding problem could be indicated. As said, the coral is not difficult to keep but because of the reduced zooxanthellae could be attempting to feed from the seawater. Obtain dissolvable coral food and try.
To repeat, the coral is not hard to keep and makes a great addition to the aquarium reef. As with other inmates, time, care and patient observation is required.