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Coral turf in reef tank





In a natural reef, the corals are in a completion for space and spread out to the extreme covering as much of the substrate as may be available. Most corals have a tendency to spread their branches as much as possible. This is why most people think that keeping corals in a tank is quite difficult especially when their growth is so difficult to be controlled. Yes, it is true that the corals in a reef tank also claim their turf and indulge in a somewhat completion with other corals try to propagate near them. While non-aggressive corals do not harm other corals in the process, the aggressive one knows no sympathy and might harm the soft corals that come in their claimed territory.


Humans fight for space and province. Nature has created very object with some resemblance and some divergence. Fight for space is one such law of nature that applies to humans, animals as well as corals and amphibians. In the conflict for turf in reef tank, your corals might harm each other so it is equally important to know if the coral you are about to place will be compatible with the neighbors or not. This is something that your LFS executive will not tell you about so you should rather research on this aspect before buying a coral or before deciding its place for attachment.

There are some signs that can let you identify that your corals are in a turf war. If you spot these signs it is time you do something about the space problem:

• Drooped coral polyps.
• Emergence of skeletons on existing corals.
• Development of sweeper or marginal tentacles.
• Corals redirecting growth pattern.
• Termination of coral growth.
• Dead or dying fish.

While the safest way is stock only non-toxic corals like Tunicates, you obviously do not want to miss out the more attractive soft corals, gorgonians and holothurians. They can also learn to co-exist with time but it is better if do not keep these closer to each other. While they may get compatible with each other over a period of time, any change in conditions or stress can cause them to show passive behavior. If you detect such aggression at any point of time, you have the following options to consider:

1.Move either the offending coral or the victim coral to another location in the aquarium which is not close to the previous position and as away from each other as might be possible.

2.Remove the coral from the tank. In case one is badly injured and there are chances of them spreading toxin in the entire tank, it is better if you remove them from the tank.

3.Reduce or eliminate water movement in the tank. This will localize the damage.

4.Ride the event out, hoping for an acceptable outcome. Carbon filtration system can help prevent much damage.

You must also consider the reproduction rate of the coral before placing it in a tank. If it reproduces rapidly you must provided it enough space to spread or else it might show stress and cause problems. When you target feed the corals, make sure you distribute the food evenly to the corals or else the less fed ones might spread to locate food. Aggression and defense are the two factors that corals use in order to survive turf conflicts. While most of the corals have good means of defense, very less of them are aggressive too. And to win a battle both the factors are equally needed; the ability to sustain damage and the aggressiveness to fight.

Some corals expel digestive filaments which contain cnidocytes on the nearby coral and the other use their sweeper tentacles as a weapon which is otherwise used for searching food. Stinging Nematocysts have their own defense and attack weapon. Acrorhagi also have their defense and attack system that work only when the target is at closer distance. Mucus of corals is another of their weapon that can travel longer with water current and stick to the coral depleting tissues with toxins.

There are simple methods too that some corals use in order to win the turf battle. Some vigorously growing corals might overgrow on top of the other coral blocking light from reaching them and hence starving and killing them. Some corals attach to the branch of the victim coral and draws nutrition from them until the victim coral dies. It is a real pain to see the corals harming each other. If a coral has already been harmed you can quarantine them until they show recovery and if there are signs of a war that is about to happen, better buck up and break the ice before it is too late to regret.