‘Leather’ corals are generally hardy and suitable for the beginner and the more experienced. The Finger Leather Coral is of the soft variety and differently shaped to toadstools (Sarcophyton sp.) and cabbage (Sinularia dura) corals permitting a good attractive, varied and colourful display to be achieved.
Probably the most used common name is the one quoted but they are also regularly called colt corals. As said in other texts, common names are notoriously poor for identification and the proper name is Cladiella sp. There could be around 40 types under this heading. Here is one of them:
Cladiella species are generally more similar to the usual mental image of a coral in that they are branched. The branches are usually fairly thick and quite short protruding from a short stalk which itself is thick. If the coral is touched it will usually be slimy as they have a heavy mucus coating.
The coral is, as corals go, undemanding. There isn’t a requirement for high powered lighting, an array of T5 tubes should suffice. Seawater flow is not particularly critical either, as fairly strong to moderate should be fine.
Coral cutting or ‘fragging’ is becoming more and more popular and quite rightly so. Cladiella sp. corals are good for cutting and should not present any problems. A clean cut to remove an appropriate ‘branch’ should be made and the branch gently fastened to a rock. It should attach and become a new coral to give to another aquarist or exchange at the LFS.
Just because the coral is hardy does not mean that seawater quality should not be at its highest as any coral, hardy or more difficult, will respond best in a quality environment. If kept by an experienced aquarist there should never be a problem, if kept by an inexperienced aquarist this type coral should survive most of the problems that beginners could generate.