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The Torch Coral is a brightly colored and beautiful type of coral that can be found in reef aquariums around the world. They are characterized by their long tentacles, which they use to feed on plankton from the water column. When cared for properly, Torch Corals will grow and thrive in your tank. In this blog post, I am going to show you how to care for a torch coral so that you can enjoy them for years!
We’ll cover what types of lights are best for Torch Coral growth and maintenance as well as other factors that can make or break your Torch Coral experience. We’ll also go over feeding schedules and anything else you need to know about caring for a Torch Coral. I hope this article helps you better understand how to keep your Torch Coral happy and healthy so it can be admired by all!
A Brief Overview Of The Torch Coral
|Scientific Name||Euphyllia glabrescens|
|Common Names||Torch coral, pom-pom coral, brain trumpet coral|
|Origin||Indo-Pacific, Australia, Indonesia|
|Common Colors||Greens, Purple/Pinks, Browns, Oranges/Yellows|
|Temperament||Semi-Aggressive to Aggressive|
|Lighting||Moderate (50-150 PAR)|
|Tank Placement||Bottom, Middle|
|Temperature Range||76-82 degrees F|
|pH Range||8.0 – 8.4|
|Salinity||1.025 or 35 PPT|
|Alkalinity||8 – 12 dKH|
|Calcium Level||350 – 450 PPM|
|Magnesium Level||1250 – 1350 PPM|
Origins And Habitat
Like many other corals available in the aquarium trade, the torch coral comes from the warm waters of the Indo-Pacific around Australia and Indonesia1.
There, torch corals can be found among other large-polyp stony corals (LPS) and small-polyp stony corals (SPS). However, torch corals have long sweeper tentacles that are used for catching food and stinging nearby corals and sessile animals that might try to steal resources. Because of this, the area surrounding the torch coral is usually clear around all sides.
Torch corals are very forgiving of water parameters but may struggle in conditions with higher nitrates. Interestingly, they have been found in waters with varying levels of turbidity which is much different from the sparkling, pristine waters of our home aquariums.
These corals cannot withstand higher flow rates as their delicate flesh can be easily damaged.
What Does The Torch Coral Look Like?
The torch coral resembles a flickering flame when submerged under a decent flow. These corals have polyps with long tentacles that can be a mixture of greens, purples, pinks, browns, oranges, and yellows.
Torch corals are stony lps corals that are part of the Euphylliidae family, which makes them close relatives to frogspawn corals (Euphyllia divisa) and hammer corals (Euphyllia ancora). While care and appearance are similar between these species, they can be told apart by some key features.
Mainly, torch corals have long, skinny tentacles. The bottoms of the tentacles are usually noticeably darker than the round tips of the tentacles and are typically a different color altogether. A frogspawn coral has thicker, branching tentacles while a hammer coral has shorter, wider tentacles with flattened tips.
Each torch coral polyp can measure up to 10 inches across with another 10 inches in tentacle. Transparent sweeper tentacles maybe even longer than normal tentacles as they extend their reach for optimal feeding and territory defense.
As a type of large-polyp stony coral, torch corals have hard calcium carbonate skeletons. Unlike other euphillyas the Hammer Coral, torch skeletons are branching. Branching torches have defined coral polyps each with its own skeleton base whereas wall corals are a straight line of coral polyps with one connected skeleton.
Many varieties of torch coral have been brought into the aquarium hobby with differences in color, tentacle length, and hardiness; in general, the more attractive the color, the more expensive the coral. Luckily, care doesn’t differ too much between the varieties.
Here are the more rare and expensive varieties of torch coral you’re likely to come across:
- Indo gold torch (AKA Holy Grail Torch). The gold torch is named after its deep orangey-green tentacles and lighter green tips. This variety has longer, skinnier tentacles and is said to be more forgiving of unfavorable water conditions than the Aussie gold torch.
- Aussie gold torch. The Aussie torch is similar to the Indo gold torch but has orangey-gold tentacles with bluish-purple tips. The easiest way to tell these two torches apart is by looking at the difference in tentacle length; Aussie gold torches have much shorter and stubbier tentacles.
- Black torch. The black torch is named after its intense purple coloration with neon green tips and does not require special care.
Placement And Temperament In The Aquarium
Torch coral placement varies in the aquarium. Some hobbyists prefer keeping them in lower lighting with the lower flow for the greatest tentacle extension. Other hobbyists like to keep their torches in moderate lighting with a higher flow to deter algae.
There doesn’t seem to be any benefit to placing torch corals under higher PAR (150+ PAR), and they might actually start to bleach if exposed to unfavorable conditions for too long; some hobbyists like to keep them on the sandbed if lighting and flow allow in order to keep other corals from getting stung. Most reef leds will support a Torch coral. The main thing will be to adjust light intensity or placement to get them within the desired PAR level.
Torch corals tend to do better under moderate flow, Higher rates of flow will cause your coral to not extend as far. Higher flow rates are beneficial for delivering food and keeping algae off the skeleton. As long as the water current isn’t directly hitting the polyp, then your torch coral should be able to withstand most flow rates.
Torch corals are moderately aggressive corals and will defend their place in a reef aquarium. At night, these corals will extend their sweeper tentacles in order to feed and to keep other corals from getting too close. Because of this, they should be given enough room to expand and release their sweeper tentacles; this is especially true for other corals that are behind the torch as the sweeper tentacles move with the water flow.
Overall, torch corals are relatively easy to keep and are recommended for beginner to medium-skilled coral enthusiasts. That being said, they do tend to be more sensitive to fluctuations in water parameters and poorer water conditions than other coral species of Euphyllia.
Even though torch corals have sweepers, they heavily rely on the water column to provide the nutrients they need to grow and develop new skeletons. Surprisingly, the problem that most hobbyists run into is having too clean of a tank.
Torch corals need nitrate and phosphate; running 0 PPM phosphates and 0 PPM nitrates deprives the coral of important nutrients needed for development and sustaining their vibrant colors. At the same time, these corals don’t do well in high nutrients either.
Ideally, nitrates should be kept under 40 PPM and phosphates below 0.1 PPM. Torch corals also require steady magnesium levels (1250-1350 PPM), calcium levels (350-450 PPM), and alkalinity levels (8-12 dKH) to continually grow.
Of course, hobbyists have gone above and below these ideals with success. As long as conditions are stable and your corals look happy, then you have no need to worry.
Torch corals do not require any special filtration. More importantly, placement and flow need to be correct.
As long as your torch is getting enough light and a strong enough current to carry food and keep off algae, then hang on the backs, sumps, protein skimmers, and canisters work just as well.
As mentioned before, stability is key. Even though torch corals are more influenced by water parameters than other Euphyllia, as long as your tank is testing within a given range and staying accurate, then your torch coral will stay fully extended.
It is generally agreed that dosing is not required for torch corals and other Euphyllia corals; for the most part, these corals will get the nutrients they need from food, fish waste, and the salt mix being used.
However, if keeping a larger colony of torches or a mixed reef with SPS, then some hobbyists might choose to dose for alkalinity, calcium, and other trace elements to help with skeleton growth.
Testing Water Conditions
If choosing to dose for alkalinity or calcium, then you will want to regularly test water conditions to see how your corals are incorporating those additives.
In order to do this, test water parameters right after dosing. Before the next dose, test the nutrients that you have been targeting. Keep a record of the numbers to watch how they interact and decrease between doses.
What Are Good Tank Mates?
Torch corals can be kept with any reef-safe fish or invertebrate. This includes:
- Damsel Fish
- Select wrasses – like the yellow coris wrasse
It is possible that clownfish will attempt to host a torch coral, but this can cause the coral to stress out and keep its tentacles retracted.
It should also be noted that ‘reef-safe’ invertebrates, like emerald crabs, hermit crabs, and some shrimp, may not be reef-friendly for fleshy large polyp stony corals. Too many times hobbyists have had a helpful crab become hungry for corals overnight and destroy a reef. For the best security, stick to herbivores instead.
Tankmates to avoid are:
Anything that has noticeable teeth or pincers is not a good combination for a reef tank!
What Do They Eat? (Feeding)
Torch corals don’t eat the same way other animals do that have a mouth in the middle of their polyp, like the similar-looking anemone. In fact, most torch corals will refuse larger foods, like shrimp and other pieces of meat.
If really interested in feeding torch corals for the extra nutrition, brine shrimp, zooplankton, and coral foods, like Reef Roids, are good choices.
Feeding your LPS corals will promote good health and growth. Reef Roids is the best in the business for coral food
How Much And How Often To Feed
If choosing to feed your torch coral, you should not overfeed. Some hobbyists never spot feed or give additional supplements to their corals and have substantial growth and vibrant colors. Others feed high-quality foods and see little to no growth. Coral success is largely based on water quality, lighting, and flow.
That being said, torch corals should only be fed once a week at maximum in order to allow time for your coral to digest and to keep water conditions more stable.
Health And Disease
During the daytime, your torch coral polyp should be fully extended with bright coloration. If purchasing a new coral, remember that coral will never look like how it does in the store or on online websites. This is simply due to differences in lighting and sometimes, color enhancement.
Euphyllia corals are very susceptible to brown jelly disease, which can cause the coral to die within a few days. Other bacterial infections are also very likely to come in on new torches, and the corals should be dipped and preferably quarantined before being placed in the display aquarium.
Like all corals, torch corals can bring in unwanted pests. Common pests you will need to look out for are:
In order to eliminate the threat of pests as much as possible, a coral dip should be used and the frag plug should be removed; again, quarantine will improve the chances of catching pests, but even then, it’s possible that they still slip by undetected.
How To Propagate
Fragging corals that are branching like torches are easy to do but will require some extra tools to ensure success. The best way to frag torches is by using an electric saw or bone cutters. Carefully, you want to cut the skeleton between the start of the flesh and where the coral branches. Use iodine to help disinfect and superglue the frag to a plug. Branching corals are easier to fag with proper bone cutter tools.
Leave the piece near the sand bed and in low to medium flow until ready to acclimate to higher lighting and water current.
Wall corals are more difficult to frag and have a lower success rate. This is because you will need to cut through the flesh of the coral, which can fatally injure it if not careful. Because of this, it is highly recommended to use a sharp electric saw like a Gryphon bandsaw to cut through the piece of the skeleton.
Use the best coral disinfectant product available and keep the frag in a low-stress environment until ready to move to its final location in the aquarium.
Where To Buy
Over the past few years, torch corals have been hard to find and the prices reflect that. On average, be prepared to spend upwards of $150 for a high-quality torch coral frag.
Torch Corals are an amazing looking LPS coral. Unique looking with lots of exotic varieties
These corals ship well overnight and can be purchased online or in-store. If you purchase online, my preference would be to purchase only what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG) corals
Torch Coral care is a rewarding experience, but it can also be challenging. I hope this article helped you better understand how to keep your Torch Coral happy and healthy so that you can enjoy its beauty for years to come! Comment below if there are any more questions I haven’t answered in the article or on our site. I know caring for these beautiful creatures isn’t always easy, but hopefully, with some knowledge from this post, things will get easier as time goes by. Happy reefing!
Mark is the founder of Aquarium Store Depot. He started in the aquarium hobby at the age of 11 and along the way worked at local fish stores. He has kept freshwater tanks, ponds, and reef tanks for over 25 years. His site was created to share his knowledge and unique teaching style on a larger scale. He has worked on making aquarium and pond keeping approachable. Mark has been featured in two books about aquarium keeping – both best sellers on Amazon. Each year, he continues to help his readers and clients with knowledge, professional builds, and troubleshooting.
Great job I read most of your articles. Very helpful