Pom Pom Coral, Branch Coral, Branching Anchor CoralEuphyllia glabrescensPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy Greg Rothschild
The Torch Coral is not only beautiful, but can also be a great surrogate anemone for your clownfish!
The gorgeous Torch Coral E. glabrescens really stands out from the other Euphyllia spp. with its flowing tentacles. The tentacles are straight with no branching and are generally very long and thin, eliminating the use for sweeper tentacles. They are tipped in a contrasting color of cream, green, or white, hence its common name. It is also a branching species.
Colors of the Torch Coral vary according to location. Some are deep chocolate brown with white tips, grayish blue with bright green tips, and even a mustard color from the Marshall Islands. They form large colonies with corallite walls forming on the outer edges. Polyps extend during the day and only partially at night.
The Torch Coral can be a little harder to care for than other Euphyllia spp., but making sure it is well fed will help ensure its success. Like others of its genus, it will be the first to warn you that the water quality in the tank is less than acceptable. Provide it with sufficient lighting, a moderate but turbid water flow, and the availability of passing food. Keep the hair algae away from it too, and it will be a happy reef inhabitant.
The E. glabrescens has been propagated in captivity. These corals are not hermatypic, which means they do not contribute to reef structures. Yet in the wild it takes 2 years for a colony to repopulate, and there is concern about over collecting these corals. In some countries they have been outlawed for collection. Propagating these corals is very important in preserving the wild colonies.
Torch Coral, Euphyllia glabrescens
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An array of color
Torch Corals, E. glabrescens, needs the minimum of moderate light, yes does much better in stronger light. Moderate water flow that is turbulent, not linear is also appreciated. Keeping them well fed with spot feeding of mysis and other minced marine flesh is important. This is one of many corals that have been banned from collection, since they take 2 years for a colony to repopulate. They are more sensitive to low water quality than other LPS and small specimens do not do well with a clownfish hosting them. Wait until the colony is larger or if the clownfish is tiny.
Torch Coral, Euphyllia glabrescens, hosted by clownfish
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Torch Coral with a pair of True Percula
This Torch Coral is JUST about the right size to be able to host clownfish. True Percula are a good choice since they do not get as large as Ocellaris (NEMO), and tend to be more gentle. Even the Skunk Clownfish varieties are a good pick. Like an anemone, your Torch Coral should be 2.5 to 3 times bigger than the clownfish's length. They are hungry corals and appreciate daily feeding, high lighting and moderate turbulent water movement.
Torch Coral, Euphyllia glabrescens, gold
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Gold with white tips
This color is just another variation of this coral. The extreme length of the tentacles makes identifying this coral quick easy. Torch Corals resemble their name quite well. Like other LPS, they are hungry corals that should be fed daily. They like strong light, moderate water movement, good quality water parameters and need high levels of calcium to do well.
The family Euphyllidae, "... is a very large family of zooxanthellate scleractinans, that were previously grouped in the family Caryophylliidae (Mather, 1994). It includes such genera as Euphyllia, Catalyphyllia, Nemenzophyllia, Plerogyra, and Physogyra." Source: Tropical Marine Biology II, Classification of Scleractinian (Stony) Corals, by Pierre Madl, University of Vienna, 2001, Revised in Nov. 2002
Distribution / Background Euphyllia Coral Information: The Torch Coral Euphyllia glabrescens was described by Chamisso and Eysenhardt in 1821. Other names this coral is known for are Pom Pom Coral, Branch Coral, Branching Anchor Coral, and Brain Trumpet Coral (believe it or not!).
Where Euphyllia Corals Are Found: E. glabrescens are found from the Red Sea to the Marshall Islands and Samoa, and around Australia on the Great Barrier Reef, Coral Sea, and Houtman Abrolhos Islands.
Euphyllia Coral Habitat: The E. glabrescens are found in many different reef habitats. They live in colonies at depths down to 131 feet (40 m) in waters that are turbid, yet gentle, and enjoy indirect bright light. They have stinging cells to help capture small prey and to defend themselves against predators.
Description What do Euphyllia Corals look like: The identification of the Torch Coral E. glabrescens is determined more so by the shape of the polyp and not necessarily their delicate skeletal structure. They form large colonies with corallite walls forming on the outer edges with the polyps having the ability to completely retract into the skeleton. Polyps extend during the day and only partially at night. This is also a branching species.
The tentacles of the Torch Coral are straight with no branching and are generally very long and thin, eliminating the use for sweeper tentacles. The colors of the tentacles can be chocolate brown, gray-blue, or gray-green with cream, green or white tips. When feeding, the individual tentacles can elongate 2 to 3 times their normal state. Some colonies can reach over 3 feet (1 m). Lifespan is unknown.
Difficulty of Care Euphyllia Coral Care: The E. glabrescens can be easy to moderate to care for. Provide sufficient lighting and good turbid water flow, that is neither too strong or too weak. The availability of passing food will also contribute to their success. Using trial and error, by placing coral specimens in different areas of the tank, will eventually result in locating a favorite spot. This will be evident by full polyp expansion and feeding.
Due to collection procedures, they are often broken from parent colonies in the wild. A specimen may have soft tissue damage, especially if the skeleton has splintered into the fleshy polyp area. When purchasing your coral, make sure it has been in the store for a week or so and doing well before bringing it home. This will help you avoid a potentially sick coral, since they may take a few days after shipping to show ailments.
Foods / Feeding Euphyllia Coral Feeding: The Euphyllia corals, like other large polyp stony (LPS) corals, have developed several feeding strategies. Through a symbiotic relationship with a marine algae, known as zooxanthellae, they receive many of their nutrients. They also capture planktonic organisms, food particles from the water column, and can absorb dissolved organic matter.
In captivity, mysis, krill, brine shrimp and other smaller items can be fed. These corals can eat surprisingly much larger chunks of food as well. Chop up or dice whole fish or shrimp and feed the entire organism to the coral. Since different parts of the animal have varying nutritional qualities, this practice of feeding your Euphyllia in such a way will yield good results. These corals are hungry all the time, so feeding as needed with various foods is helpful.
Aquarium Care Typical water changes of 20% a month, 10% biweekly, or 5% weekly are needed. It has been noted that 5% weekly water changes replenish many of the needed additives and it is ultimately cheaper than purchasing additives for the water. With higher concentrations of coral with calcareous skeletons though, there may be a need put in additional additives to maintain proper levels for good growth.
The following water supplements are suggested for Euphyllia species:
- Calcium: 400 to 450 ppm. If a large poly stony (LPS) coral does not have enough calcium, it will not grow. (Seachem makes a calcium additive that states 385 as sufficient)
- Alkalinity: 3.2 TO 4.8 MEQ/L (8 to 11 dKh, 10 is recommended)
- Phosphates: 0, zero. Phosphates are the worst of all and all corals hate them.
- Magnesium: 1200 - 1350. Magnesium makes calcium available, so if your calcium is low, check your magnesium levels before adding any more calcium.
- Strontium: 8 - 10
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Be sure to have proper water movement. Water flow that is too strong can cause the polyps to not extend properly thus inhabiting their ability to capture food. Provide sufficient lighting, they enjoy indirect bright light. Do not place directly under metal halides or its polyps can be damaged, which can lead to rapid tissue necrosis or RTN. Make sure that no other corals can come in contact with your Euphyllia. This coral can be aggressive, especially when hungry, then their sweeper tentacles can reach over 10" (25 cm). Feeding them regularly will help alleviate this problem.
- Minimum Tank Size / Length: 50 gallons (190 L) or larger
- Marine Lighting: Moderate to strong, yet diffused light, but no direct metal halides.
- Temperature: 74° - 83° F (23° - 28° C)
- Salinity / Specific Gravity: 1.023 - 1.025
- Water Movement: Moderate / turbulent.
- Water Region: All areas of the aquarium, depending on light and water movement.
Compatibility and Social Behaviors Euphyllia corals can be aggressive if touching other corals and should be positioned away from all other corals. The Torch Coral is peaceful to its own genus, but will attack other genera within its family. The E. glabrescens tend to be sensitive to aquariums that have large collections of soft corals, specifically, some Sinularia species. When hungry, their sweeper tentacles can reach over 10" (25 cm) in large colonies, which poses a threat to nearby corals due to their strong sting. Feeding them regularly will help alleviate this problem.
Breeding and Reproduction The large polyp stony (LPS) corals are male and female and can reproduce both sexually and asexually. In the wild they reproduce sexually by releasing eggs and sperm at the same time, resulting in a fertilized egg which then forms into a free-swimming planula larva. Eventually the planula larvae settles onto the substrate, becoming plankters. This then forms a tiny polyp which begins to excrete calcium carbonate and develops into a coral. Planula larvae are extremely vulnerable to predation, and very few survive.
Euphyllia genus reproduce asexually as well. In captivity, the E. glabrescens will bud off small groups of polyps with little skeletons attached. They will also pinch off their own tentacles, which then floats off, and being sticky, will reattach and start a new colony.
To propagate you first you need to choose a healthy coral that is not showing any signs of distress. Propagation should be done with an electric saw at least 1 1/2" to 2" away from the top. Do not use a bone crusher or scissors, since they will splinter the skeleton and harm the polyp. Glue the frag to a plug or rock. You can use the 2-part epoxy or underwater putties.The slime that the coral will exude should not come in contact with any other corals and gloves are suggested. Give the frag ample water flow.
Potential Problems The Euphyllia spp. are fairly hardy, but are susceptible to a few maladies. The E. glabrescens is susceptible to brown jelly or protozoan infections, collection problems, and intense lighting.
- Brown Jelly
Brown jelly or protozoan infections can infect the rest of the colony if not treated. This brown jelly looks exactly like it sounds, and can be caused by poor water quality and/or tissue damage. To treat, remove the coral to a container with water from the main display, then brush or siphon off any visible brown jelly. Give the coral a freshwater dip in water with the same pH and temperature as the main tank for several minutes to kill a lot of the microorganisms.
Use an antibiotic paste on the infect areas and/or a Lugol's dip. Cyanobacteria and brown jelly infections can be treated with Neomycin sulphite, Kanamycin and other broad-spectrum antibiotics. The pill can be pulverized into a fine powder, mixed with sea water to make a paste, and then applied to the wound, or affected site of the coral with a simple artists brush.
Try to treat the coral with the least stressful method first. Place in a quarantine tank until coral recovers.
- Metal Halides
Do not place directly under Metal Halide, or the E. glabrescens's polyps can be damaged and can lead to rapid tissue necrosis or RTN.
- New Specimens
Collections from the wild may have soft tissue damage, especially if the skeleton has splintered into the fleshy polyp area. When purchasing your coral, make sure it has been in the store for a week or so, since they may take a few days after shipping to show ailments.
- Animal-World References: Marine and Reef
- Eric Borneman, Aquarium Corals : Selection, Husbandry, and Natural History , TFH Publications, 2001
- Anthony Calfo, Book of Coral Propagation, Volume 1 Edition 2: Reef Gardening for Aquarists, Reading Trees; 2nd edition, 2007
- Ronald L. Shimek, Guide to Marine Invertebrates: 500+ Essential-to-Know Aquarium Species, Microcosm, 2005
- Saltwater Aquarium Supplements, FishLore.com Tropical Fish Information, Copyright 2007
- Bob Goemans, Torch Coral, Euphyllia glabrescens, Animal Library, Saltwatercorner.com