So, you have noticed your leather coral drooping, and are wondering if this is normal…
Leather corals, from the phylum cnidaria, are pretty resilient aquarium corals, but they are known to be a little weird, catching hobbyists off guard with their strange behavior, such as drooping.
Why Are My Corals Drooping?
Corals sometimes start drooping, and from a hobbyist’s perspective, it can look very bad. However, if your leather coral is drooping, but the polyps are out, do not worry, it will be back to its normal self within no time, they can just be a little ‘moody’ sometimes!
So, let’s take a look at the main reasons why your leather coral may start drooping.
When leather corals reproduce, they split in half, right down the middle. If your leather coral is splitting, it may start drooping as it splits into two.
Your leather coral may also start drooping if it is in the middle of shedding which is a very natural process. This is where the coral sheds the outer mucus layer, similar to how a snake sheds its skin as it grows. In addition to growth, your leather will start shedding if it senses any unwanted debris on its polyps.
Poor Water Flow Conditions
Check your flow! If leather corals do not have good water flow, they will droop like a wet noodle. Leather corals like random flow to keep them upright, because they are naturally found in turbid waters. Linear flow can cause them to lean to one side and start drooping.
Also, ensure that the flow is strong enough to keep your leather coral upright, but not too powerful that it starts tearing its tissues. Coral tissue tears can lead to bacterial infections, which can later lead to coral death.
Poor Water Chemistry
Leather corals are not too demanding when it comes to water chemistry, however, large fluctuations can make your coral stressed, forcing them to close their polyps and start drooping to one side.
Ideal water parameters for leather corals:
- Temperature: 76-82℉
- pH: 8.0-8.4
- Salinity: 1.025
- Calcium: 350-450 PPM
- Magnesium: 1250-1350 PPM
- Nitrates: <10 PPM
- Phosphates: <0.10 PPM
NOTE: To maintain tank stability, you must test the aquarium water before and after any water changes.
What To Do When Leather Corals Droop?
If your leather coral is drooping, do not try to prop it up, as they really hate being touched. If it is healthy, it will lean and attach to another rock.
If it continues to droop over a few days, and it doesn’t attach to another rock, then you can think about moving it further down your aquascape.
Make sure you also test the water and perform a water change if things are outside the recommended ranges.
Indications That Your Leather Coral Is Dying
Newly added leather corals can look a little worse for wear, which is why some leathers will start drooping, but that is usually because they are acclimating to their new home.
However, if your leather coral shows any of the following signs, it may be something more serious than just drooping.
Things To Look Out For:
- Tissue necrosis/decomposition of your coral’s tissues
- A significant change in your leather coral’s coloration and shape
- The stalk will start to shrivel
- Tissue detachment from its rock or substrate
Check out our article for more information on why leather corals start dying.
How Much Light & Flow Do Leather Corals Need?
With leather corals, it is all about good lighting and water flow!
Leather corals thrive in low to moderate lighting (PAR 50-150 – always check what PAR level your particular leather species requires).
It may be that your aquarium lighting is stronger than the one at the store it came from, so it might just need time to become accustomed to its new home.
If possible, turn down the lighting intensity, because as already mentioned, leather corals do not like to be moved around. If you cannot adjust the lighting fixture intensity, move it down to the bottom of your aquascape, where the lighting is not so strong.
In terms of water flow, leather corals require medium to high flow. You want to ensure it is strong enough to keep debris off your coral’s tissues, but not too strong that your leather is being blasted, as this can cause its precious polyps to tear, exposing your coral to infections.
It is always best to check what lighting and water flow conditions your leather coral was kept/grown under from the store or vendor you bought it from.
Are Leather Corals Hard To Keep?
As already mentioned, leather corals are fairly resilient soft corals. Unlike their stony friends (LPS and SPS corals), leathers are relatively easy to keep in a well-maintained aquarium.
This means keeping your lighting, water flow, and water parameters stable, and carrying out regular maintenance such as water changes, testing parameters, dosing where needed, and running carbon filtration.
Leather Corals Great For Beginners:
- Long Polyp Leather
- Green Nepthea
- Finger Leather
- Toadstool Leather
- Colt Coral
When leather corals start drooping, many hobbyists will start to freak out. However, a drooping coral is no cause for concern unless your leather is showing signs of dying.
Drooping is usually seen when leather corals start splitting, are not receiving adequate water flow, or are stressed from fluctuations in the water parameters.
So, if your leather coral is drooping, wait a few days before you start to worry, and if it starts to shrivel up, or you notice significant discolorations, then you know something is seriously wrong, and it needs some reviving!