The Colt Coral

I need to state straight away that the title of ‘Colt Coral’ is a commonly used name and misleading. There are other coral species that are also called colt corals, so identity by the common name alone when ordering is likely to end up with the wrong type. The coral is also commonly known as the Finger Leather Coral, again as are other types.

To properly identify the coral it should be called Alcyonium species. There are perhaps around 30 types under the Alcyonium banner. They are soft corals.

When they are extended they can be feathery or with more clearly individual polyps. They are branched and the branches could be thick or fairly slim. Again, some of the species are encrusting and are not so clearly branched.  The branches extend from a main stalk which is usually thick and fairly squat. If the coral is touched it will feel slimy because of its heavy mucus coat. Some soft corals could grow to large proportions in the aquarium, but this species is sometimes smaller. It is possible to obtain the coral in brown, green, red, orange and yellow, though if the aquarist is after a particular colour a search and wait could be needed.

Here’s a link, but remember there are different shapes and types, this is one of them:

As with other corals under the ‘leather’ heading, this coral is hardy and suited to all aquarists. They can be showy and make a great display along with other types that have been described in other texts.

The coral should adapt to aquarium lighting well, and doesn’t demand powerful lighting such as metal halides. An array of T5 fluorescent tubes should suffice. Seawater flow is not critical either; a moderate to fairly strong one is acceptable. As with any soft coral, the flow should not be strong enough to obviously cause the coral ‘discomfort’, or the coral will not extend properly – resistance to flow rate depends to an extent on coral shape.

Alcyonium corals are easy to propagate or ‘frag’ to use the aquarist’s phraseology. When the removed part is fastened carefully to a rock it should soon attach and begin to grow.

This coral is hardy and suited to the beginner as it will resist most common beginner’s mistakes. At the same time it is an attractive addition to the aquarium.