Lobophyllia Coral Care – Optimal Placement, Lighting, & Flow For These Brain Corals

Lobophyllia Brain corals are an extremely popular LPS (large stony polyp) coral that come in a wide variety of terrific color patterns and shapes. You are most likely to come across their alternative names – Lobed Brain corals or Lobo corals, probably because the name “Lobophyllia” is quite a mouthful! 

Because of their uniqueness, they will stand out from the crowd, making a great showcase in your saltwater reef aquarium!

Summary:

  • Common Name: Lobophyllia Brain Corals
  • Family: Mussidae
  • Origin: Indo-Pacific
  • Care Level: Easy-Medium
  • Temperament: Aggressive
  • Lighting: Moderate (PAR 100-150)
  • Water Flow: Low – Moderate 
  • Placement: Middle/Bottom Region

Lobo Coral Care

These corals are generally easy to care for, however, the challenge depends on the Lobo’s time in captivity. Lobo corals that have spent a long time in captivity are usually easier to care for and are more successful in aquariums than ones that are still experiencing stress from shipping. 

That being said, Lobophyllia are popular amongst both beginners and experienced hobbyists willing to take on the challenge, because that’s what being an aquarium hobbyist is all about right?! 

Interestingly, many hobbyists have mentioned that Lobo corals from Australia tend to do better than ones sourced from Indonesia, however, that is yet to be scientifically proven – maybe you could get one of each and make your own mini-study, or team up with some hobbyist friends to compare the two variations! 

Once your Lobo coral arrives, it is very exciting, and reefers often forget to acclimate the coral. Acclimating your Lobo coral to its new environment increases the chances of success. This starts with a visual inspection – checking your coral for any damage from shipping and unwanted hitchhikers. 

Unwanted pests can hitchhike on your Lobo coral during the collection and shipping process, which can make your coral sick and in severe cases, damage their tissues. Once damaged, your coral will become an easy snack for other residents such as fish and crabs that will munch down until there is nothing left.

So, when your Lobo arrives, use a coral dip (up to 15 minutes) before adding them into their new mini-ocean aquarium home.

Like all living animals, Lobos have specific requirements to thrive in saltwater aquariums, and this starts with keeping the following water parameters stable:

  • Temperature: 76° – 77 °F
  • pH: 8.1 – 8.4
  • Salinity: 1.024 – 1.026
  • Alkalinity: 8 – 11 dKH 
  • Nitrates: <10 ppm
  • Phosphates: <10 ppm
  • Calcium: 400 – 430 ppm
  • Magnesium: 1200 – 1350
  • Strontium: 8 – 10

If you notice your Lobo coral is not doing too well in your aquarium, check the above parameters, as it is likely one of them is slightly off. If the above water conditions fluctuate too much, particularly calcium, alkalinity, and magnesium, you may notice your Lobo coral losing its coloration. 

Lobo Coral Growth Rate – How Fast Do Lobo Corals Grow?

Lobo corals grow very slowly. Because their new growth occurs under their “meaty” edges, it can be difficult for you to see if they are growing at all! 

However, do not worry, they will get bigger, just much slower than other LPS corals you may have in your aquarium already. What many hobbyists like to do is to document their Lobo growth by taking photos and comparing them over time – this is also a great idea for checking on coral health! 

One thing you will need to consider as they grow is the amount of space they have as they can get very aggressive to neighboring corals if they get too close, which brings us onto placement… 

Lobo Coral Placement

Placement for your Lobo coral is key because, unlike most aquatic animals, they cannot walk around the aquarium if they feel uncomfortable. 

When selecting where to place your Lobo coral, you must think about their lighting and water flow needs… So, with this particular LPS coral, you should aim for the middle region of the aquarium, ensuring you allow enough space for your Lobo to expand and contract its polyps, without bumping into neighbors and causing chemical warfare. 

Another thing to consider is rocks. When Lobo corals move their polyps, their tissues can become damaged from rocks. If your aquascape has any loose rocks, either secure them with reef-safe glue or move them away from where you are placing your Lobo.

If your Lobo coral arrives already attached to a rock, not only does it save you the time of gluing it down, but it means you can place it anywhere in the sand, improving the landscape inside your aquarium!

Lobo Coral Lighting & PAR

Lobo corals are photosynthetic, which means they get their energy from light. Lucky for you, they are not very demanding, and are not fussy when it comes to what type of lighting; they will benefit from T5’s, LEDs, or Metal Halide lights. If you decide on using Metal Halides, Lobos tend to do better with indirect lighting, which is why we recommended using LED lighting that provides a lot of blue light. 

In terms of PAR, these corals thrive with a medium PAR range between 100 and 150. However, many Lobo species do not require PAR levels above 100, so always check with the supplier what PAR level your particular Lobo coral has been kept in and if it has any species-specific PAR requirements. 

If you are still unsure about the lighting, you can always experiment, as long as you make any changes slowly; changing the light dramatically over a short period can cause issues such as coral browning (too little light) or coral bleaching (too much light). 

Lobo Coral Water Flow

Your Lobo coral will be happiest with low to moderate water flow in the aquarium, so the middle region or the bottom of the aquarium on a sandy patch will make them feel right at home! A good way to ensure the flow is right, is to aim for the water flow to be strong enough to keep uneaten food and other waste away from their polyps, but not too strong it blasts them and damages their precious tissues.

Lobo Coral Feeding & Nutrition

Lobos are fairly hungry corals. In addition to providing them with proper lighting, you will also need to directly feed them. They crave foods that are small and meaty, such as Oyster Eggs and Mysis 2-3 times a week. 

To feed your Lobo, gently squirt the food near their mouth, making sure you do not blast them with too much food – a pipette is a great tool to buy for this as it helps control how much food your Lobo receives. 

Conclusion

Lobophyllia corals are undoubtedly very awesome corals. While they are generally easy to care for, you do need to follow their requirements for them to thrive and watch out for their aggressive nature with other corals.

However, their wide variety of colors and textures makes them every aquarium hobbyists’ dream – everyone will be talking about how cool your Lobo coral is!

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  • Roy Lee

    I have an unhealthy obsession with reef keeping and maintaining successful tanks. If you haven't noticed from the website, I love everything related to saltwater tanks like coral, fish, and everything else in between.

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