Are you looking for a coral that is easy to care for and is known to grow pretty well in aquariums? If so, a leather coral is a perfect choice for you!
Leather corals get their name from their leathery textured skin. As leather corals are easy to look after, it is not only this and their appearance that makes them so popular, but they are also one of the fastest growing aquarium corals and are easy to care for, which is why they are ideal for beginner reef tanks and coral enthusiasts.
How Long Does It Take For Leather Coral To Grow?
Leather corals are some of the most dynamic coral species in aquariums, in the way that they can grow under a very wide range of conditions. While some leathers will grow very fast, some leather corals will grow more slowly.
You cannot expect your leather coral to grow to its maximum potential overnight. Just like any other animal, it takes time to grow, however, you should notice it growing a few days after it has fully acclimated to your aquarium.
How Big Do Leather Corals Grow?
Many leather corals can grow fairly big under the right conditions, however, it depends on many factors. These include:
- The type of leather coral you have
- Conditions inside the aquarium (water flow, lighting, etc.)
- Food supply
Leather corals such as toadstools and finger leather corals are the fastest growing ones you can get your hands on at your local fish store or online. These popular corals are known to grow up to 12 inches or more!
As leather corals are known to get pretty large, it is important to give them plenty of space to spread out inside your aquarium. There should be enough space between your corals, so they do not touch each other – a distance of 5-6 inches is highly recommended!
How Big Do Toadstool Leather Corals Get?
If you have a toadstool leather coral, you are in luck, as these corals are known to grow very quickly. You can expect your toadstool to grow to twelve inches from a one-inch fragment, possibly even more within the first few months after they have settled into their new home.
Providing your toadstool leather coral with proper care will help them blossom inside your aquarium.
As toadstool leather corals are known to grow fast, sometimes they get a little too excited and start to dominate reef tanks. If this is the case, you can easily frag your toadstool or cut it back, just like you would a plant.
How Long Do Leather Corals Live?
In the wild, corals are known to live up to 5,000 years old, making them one of the longest living animals on Earth. However, many factors in captivity can affect how long your leather coral will survive. These include the size of your tank, the water conditions, and how they get their nutrition and supplements.
Some colonies of leather corals can live over 100 years old in aquariums. So, if your leather coral lives in a well-maintained aquarium, it can even outlive you!
Leather Coral Lighting Requirements
Your leather coral will feel right at home with low to moderate lighting. Your lighting fixture PAR range should be set to 50-150, depending on the type of leather coral you have.
As leather corals have a symbiotic relationship with zooxanthellae, expose your coral to 9-12 hours of lighting every day. Without adequate lighting, your coral will shrivel up and die from lack of nutrients.
Leather corals are not fussy with the lighting fixture you decide on, because they can grow well under T5’s, metal halides, or LED lighting when the proper PAR levels are provided. However, to enhance your leather coral’s coloration, a 14-20K color spectrum is highly recommended, with some blue lighting. Blue and actinic spectrum lighting are great for growing your leather coral and showing off their mesmerizing colors!
With everything set to go, remember that your coral needs to adjust to its new home. Never expose newly added corals to intense lighting, as this can turn your coral white. To acclimate your leather coral to your aquarium’s lighting, turn down the intensity or use a light dimmer for a few weeks.
Do Leather Corals Like Flow?
Yes, your leather coral likes good flow, so it is recommended to provide your coral with a moderate to high water flow.
You want to ensure the water flow is strong enough to keep detritus off your coral’s tissues, but not too strong that your leather is being blasted, as this can tear your coral’s tissues, exposing it to bacterial infection, and in severe cases, death.
Sufficient water flow not only helps your leather coral grow to its greatest potential, but it also keeps your leather coral happy and healthy.
What To Feed Leather Corals?
Like most corals, leather corals live in symbiosis with microscopic algae called zooxanthellae. The zooxanthellae provide your leather coral with the majority of their nutritional needs, however, in captivity, your leather coral will also happily be fed.
Foods that are meaty such as brine shrimp and plankton will help promote better growth and coloration for your leather coral. Your leather coral will also benefit from occasionally dipping their foods in vitamins to maintain optimum health.
As leather corals are a soft coral, they do not have large polyps to catch prey, so, it is recommended you target feed your leather coral. This not only ensures your leather coral has been fed a decent sized meal, but it also reduces the amount of waste, keeping those pesky nitrate and phosphate levels under control!
How Long Does It Take For A Leather Coral To Shed?
Leather corals shed their outer mucus layer as they grow.
The majority of leather corals take one week to fully shed their membrane, however, some leather corals like the devil’s hand can take a couple of weeks. During the shedding process, your leather coral utilizes the time to clean its surface of dirt and debris and feel ‘as good as new’.
If your leather coral takes a long time to shed, do not worry, and be patient. Unless your leather starts melting or severely drooping, there is nothing to worry about it.
Leather corals not only create the ultimate coral reef illusion in your home, but they are also easy to care for and have a fairly fast growth rate. Some leather corals like toadstools and finger leathers can grow to 12 inches in the first few months!
Keeping corals is no walk in the park, and maximizing coral growth is an even bigger challenge. Maintaining a stable environment is key to maximizing both coral growth and coloration in a reef aquarium, and remember, the best results come from hobbyists that are patient!