How to Increase Coral Growth in Your Reef Tank?

Many people want to increase their corals’ growth, but this isn’t something that can easily be pulled off. Caring for these corals, I had to keep an eye on water conditions, optimum diet, and other things that added to their growth. This post will truly help you in configuring the very system you need to care for and increase these corals’ growth.

Coral growth can be increased by getting a mix of factors right. These include water conditions, lighting, and a healthy diet. Corals should be acclimated first to tank’s conditions before they grow properly. The growth of the corals is determined by how perfect tank conditions are.   

Many guides that you can find on the internet will say that getting the lighting, water conditions, and pH right is going to help your corals grow faster, but there is more to it. Corals require a delicate environment that is nurturing their growth and provide long term support instead of cutting it short. Only getting a few factors right won’t help your situation in the long run.

Factors you must get right for optimum coral growth.

Corals are sensitive organisms and heavily rely on an optimum set of tank conditions for them to thrive and grow faster. If those conditions are met by any means, then coral will grow exquisitely and lay the further ground for other corals to get acclimated with the current tank condition as fast as possible.

Like fish, coral reefs require a set of conditions that should remain consistent through and through because they get acclimated with those conditions, and any change would affect their growth drastically. Keeping ideal conditions is necessary, which will be revealed shortly.

What are the ideal conditions for coral reefs to grow?

Corals prefer clear and shallow water to grow naturally. Their growth is best recorded in warm water setting anywhere between the 70-85o F. Sunlight that gets filtered through the symbiotic algae is also essential for their development. Corals also require an influx of inorganic nutrients for the photosynthesis process that adds to their growth and stability within the reef tank community. Other than that healthy diet that is packed with rich nutrients also affect coral’s health and, ultimately, their growth.       

Lighting can play an important role in coral growth.

Most of the corals kept in a reef tank are photosynthetic, and these rely on light for their energy needs. Symbiotic algae within the reed tank use that light to prepare food and provide nourishment to corals, and corals, in return, provide algae with protection and Co2 for photosynthesis. That is why lighting plays a vital role in acclimating corals within the reef tank; not only this, but it is also essential for corals to build a nurturing community to thrive in.

What kind of light spectrum is best for coral growth?

For photosynthesis to take place, light is required, but for it to be successful, a specific spectrum of light is required. Most land plants need sunlight for photosynthesis that favors colors in yellow, orange, and red. Corals, on the other hand, favor blue spectrum light for photosynthesis purposes.

As you know that corals are mostly placed at the bottom of the reef tank, and not much light can reach there. You need to make sure that your corals get efficient light for them to grow properly. But the most astounding thing about corals being at the bottom is that they get to have more blue light as most of the orange and yellow spectrum light can’t travel that far.

But to ensure optimal growth of your corals, you require a mix of different lighting spectrums, including red, orange, yellow, and blue as well. Make sure that the light that reaches your corals is more inclined on the blue spectrum.       

Using the right mix of nutrients and a healthy diet to boost coral growth

Photosynthesis can only take care of so much nutrition that corals require, and that is why you must provide them with a healthy diet for them to thrive properly. Most of the corals are hunters, and they eat by catching the nearby floating animals known as zooplanktons.

The hunting occurs at night or when light availability is not that great because that is the time when most of these crustaceans that corals prey on are out.

Food that helps coral to grow faster

If you believe that there are not many zooplanktons or other crustaceans for your corals to prey on and fulfill their energy requirements, it is best to provide them with a healthy diet. Like most fish, the coral diet should have all the necessary nutrients required for its optimum growth. It should be a wholesome diet with enough nutrients to help them grow rapidly. You can feed the following foods to your corals, and it will definitely help them to grow better;

  • Diced small fish
  • Thawed frozen plankton
  • Phytoplankton
  • Krill
  • Pieces of shrimp
  • Squid
  • Clams

You can find all or a mix of the foods mentioned above if you wish to see them thrive and maintain their health through and through. Only maintaining the tank and water conditions is not going to help; your corals require a good and healthy balanced diet to reach their maximum growth. 

How nutrients play an essential role in coral growth?

Corals require nutrients such as nitrate and phosphate for their optimal growth. A consistent supply of these nutrients should be provided to corals if they are to thrive; there cannot be too much or too little of these nutrients. If these nutrients are present in excessive amounts, it will allow for rapid algae growth occurring within the coral tissues and the whole coral turning brown.

On the other hand, if the nutrient levels are not sufficient enough, then it may cause the surrounding algae to die off and corals to lose their vibrant colors; that is why a balance is necessary.

Frequent testing of the phosphate and nitrate levels should be done on a consistent basis if those levels are to be maintained at a standard point. If there is even a slight up and down within these levels, then you need to step up and take some action. Maintaining a sense of balance between these levels will help you to be able to maximize coral growth.  

Water flow can help corals reach their maximum growth rate.

Corals don’t breathe or excrete as fish do. Freshwater fish can use their gills to respire through water and directly excrete the waste that it has produced into the water. On the other hand, corals require a consistent and robust flow of water to make this happen.

It needs ambient water flow to be able to respire, and again, such flow is required to excrete waste it has produced. This way, they can use fresh oxygen and be able to flush away their body waste. The water flow requirements would change depending on the type of coral you are considering it for.

What should be considered regarding water flow?

As discussed earlier, the water flow parameters are different for different corals that you have housed in your reef tank. Some require high water pressure while others not so much. Soft corals that don’t have a stony structure don’t require any increased amount of water at all, while SPS (small polyp stony) corals require high water flow to be able to respire and excrete properly.

You should check the water flow requirements for your corals beforehand, or otherwise, it can hinder their growth pretty drastically. These requirements can be searched online and can be adjusted within your reef tank accordingly.

How should water flow be directed onto the corals?

Water flow needs to be random and indirect for corals to use it to their full potential. If your water jet is blasting water directly onto the corals, then the chances are that their growth might remain stunted. This is the very reason why the water supply needs to be indirect and haphazard rather than directly blasting it onto the corals.

This affects their respiration rhythms and excretion, which is not to be tampered with if you are to maximize your coral growth. If you could set-up the water blaster so that water arrives towards corals at different times, from different directions, and with different intensities, it would become a solid effort on your end regarding coral growth.

Keeping corals safe and fulfilling various requirements for their nurturing and effective growth is a challenge beyond measure. But when it comes to maximizing coral growth, there is nothing more intense and devouring in terms of patience. Although using the right tools and subjecting your corals to consistent parameters can help you grow vibrantly colored corals with exceptional growth.

Final Thoughts

If you wish to see intense color on your corals and increase their growth, specific parameters such as light, food, nutrients, and water flow are key here. Everything takes patience and time, and it is the same with maximizing coral growth; it will happen but slowly and over time.          

Bart Sprenkels

I have been keeping multiple aquariums since I was 18 years old. Just like many of you, I started with two goldfish but quickly learned they were not suitable for aquariums. Later, I switched to a tropical community tank and I also have two pet musk-turtles in a bigger aquarium. You can read more about me here.

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