One of the best things about corals is their versatility and variety. From hard stony corals to soft bendable ones, there is a world of possibilities for your aquarium. Leather corals are some of the most interesting species around.
Leather corals thrive in almost any condition. The placement in a reef tank is not as critical as for other species. Leather corals can do well regardless of the place as long as they have enough space. Something to take into consideration is that leather corals do not like to be moved around a lot.
Leather corals are a practical option for beginners because they don’t need extensive care. However, there are some insights that can help you provide the optimal conditions for your leather corals. Keep reading to discover everything you need!
What are leather corals?
Leather corals are species of soft corals that have a leathery surface. Leather corals are great for beginners as they do not need extensive care to thrive. These species have visible polyps all over their surface, giving them many forms and colors.
I’ve composed a list of great soft corals for beginners, which you can check out here on my website.
Since leather corals are soft corals, they do not have an exterior carbonate skeleton. Leather corals live in colonies, which means that they attach to the substrate of your tank. These species have eight tentacles in each polyp.
Leather corals have different mechanisms of defense. With their polyps, they can sting other corals to protect their territory. When they are threatened by other species like fish, crabs, or snails, they can also use their sting.
Furthermore, leather corals secrete toxic chemicals that can prevent other species from growing near them. For this reason, it is crucial to give enough room to these corals. Otherwise, they could harm other species around.
Leather corals are perfect for beginners because they are not too demanding. And besides, there are some really beautiful specimens!
What is the best placement for leather corals?
Due to the hardiness of leather corals, they can be placed almost anywhere. The height or the light exposure is not extremely vital for the wellness of these species. Leather corals can adapt to virtually any environment without suffering.
In most cases, leather corals will adapt to your reef tank as soon as you introduce them to it. They can start acclimating faster than other species, making them a perfect match for beginners. Leather corals will thrive in your aquarium easily.
Something to be careful with is the space around the coral. Due to the growth and defensive characteristics of these species, leather corals need enough space in your reef tank. Without enough room, they could harm your ecosystem.
It is advisable to leave at least 5 – 6 inches around leather corals to ensure their growth will not affect other species. For most leather corals, the bottom of the tank is a fantastic place. These corals like settling near rocks and far from other coral varieties.
Apart from providing enough room, leather corals don’t have many other requirements regarding placement. They will react well to almost any lighting and water flow condition. You don’t need to worry too much about these aspects when placing your leather coral.
Remember that leather corals are live species. In some cases, they will not like the first place you put them in. You will be able to notice this in their behavior. The positive side is that your coral will let you know when you need to change its place.
Some species remain closed even after a few days from placing; some others change or lose color. If this happens, try to move the coral around your tank. You can take it up a couple of inches and see its reaction.
When you move your leather coral, you can see how it reacts to the new place and act accordingly. If its behavior does not change after a couple of days, you might need to move it a bit more until you find the best spot for your coral.
However, once the leather coral has settled and started the colony, you should avoid moving it. Corals don’t like being moved once they have settled. Moving them could affect their health and growth.
If you are looking for hardy corals to dive into this enjoyable hobby, leather corals might be the best option for you! Give it a try and enjoy the ease of their care and the beautiful specimens!
How to care for leather corals
Leather corals are not difficult species to care for. Yet, you can provide them with the best conditions to help them grow in your reef tank.
In the table below, you can see some of the best water conditions for your leather corals:
|Temperature||Around 80 degrees Fahrenheit|
|pH||8.0 – 8.4|
Leather corals prefer to have moderate lighting. However, they can do well without trouble in other conditions. They are resistant to higher or lower levels of lighting. Lighting will not be a determining factor in the health of your leather corals. This is one of the reasons why they are perfect for beginners.
Leather corals benefit from moderate water flow because it emulates their natural habitat. Furthermore, leather corals are soft corals, and they can bend with the flow. This movement makes corals look as if they danced. Yet, if the water flow is higher or lower, leather corals will thrive without a problem.
To provide the best conditions for leather corals, emulating their natural habitat conditions is one of the most beneficial options. In most cases, corals will prefer temperatures surrounding 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
To know more about the optimal temperature of a reef tank, you can check my article about it here.
Keeping your acidity and alkalinity balanced will result in the best conditions for your leather corals. Try to keep your pH around 8.0 and 8.4 to ensure the best environment for your corals. If the pH is lowered or raised too quickly, corals could enter shock and die.
Try to regularly monitor the pH to provide the optimal water conditions for your leather corals.
Do leather corals need feeding?
Although most leather corals are photosynthetic species, they need feeding to obtain all the necessary energy. Leather corals use their tentacles and polyps to feed on zooplankton and other creatures in the water.
Most leather corals are photosynthetic species, so they benefit from the lighting. Leather corals have zooxanthella algae all over its surface. This algae provides energy in exchange for a safe environment.
Leather corals take most of the energy they need through photosynthesis, but they need extra energy as well. By feeding your corals, you ensure they will have enough energy to reproduce and defend themselves.
Most species of corals take their energy from three different sources: photosynthesis, nutrient absorption, and feeding.
Feeding leather corals can be beneficial for these species. However, they don’t need the most extensive and regular feeding. Just give them spot feeding from time to time to ensure their growth and health, and you will be providing the best conditions!
If you want to know more about the best time to feed your corals, you can check this article I wrote about it.
Can leather corals be harmful to your ecosystem?
Leather corals can create toxins that could harm other species in a reef tank. However, they will not cause any damage when given enough space to grow and reproduce. Using carbon in the set-up of the tank can neutralize some of the chemicals produced by leather corals.
When leather corals feel attacked, they secrete toxic substances to protect themselves. These toxins are their first line of defense. Try to provide enough room for your leather corals to grow. That way, you can keep the other species safe.
Some leather coral species can grow rapidly and take over other coral species around. Leather corals don’t like to live near other coral species that could compromise their territory. When this happens, leather corals use their toxins and tentacles to attack the other species.
It is quite unlikely that your fish will bite your leather corals because they already know the toxic properties of these species. Your fish will steer clear from these corals, making it hard for the leathers to harm them.
Just ensure enough space for your leather corals, and your ecosystem will not suffer from it. On the contrary, your ecosystem will benefit from the variety of your species and their many advantages!
It is paramount to understand that this is a general guide englobing all species of leather corals. Thus, these are just general parameters. Each leather coral can have its particular care specifications.
The best way to care for your corals is to know them. Conducting research about your species will give you the knowledge to care for them.
If you have toadstool leather corals and want to learn how to care for them, you can check my article about them here.