The torch coral (Euphyllia glabrescens) is an LPS (large polyp stony) coral that originates from the Indo-Pacific. Thanks to its long, thick, flowing, fleshy polyps that emerge from their impressive calcified stone base, they are one of the most popular corals to add to saltwater reef aquariums.
Their name comes from their “torch-like” appearance; each tentacle is tipped with a ball, providing an eye-catching spectacle for viewers – in fact, they are quite the show-off with their bright colors and elegant movement.
Keep reading and you will learn everything you need to know about caring for the famous torch coral, and soon enough, you will see why they are one of our favorites in the reef-keeping world!
What Are Torch Corals?
Torch corals, or torches, are an LPS coral, part of the Euphyllidae family that lives in a variety of reefs. You may already be familiar with their close relatives: the frogspawn coral and hammer coral, which are also some favorite aquarium additions for many hobbyists!
Like most corals in the aquarium trade, these stunning corals originate from Indonesian and Australian coral reefs. If you have ever been lucky enough to go scuba diving or snorkeling in these regions, you are probably already familiar with this coral, because of their unmissable long fleshy polyps that extend and move according to the water flow.
The torch coral also goes by the names pompom coral or trumpet coral, so bear that in mind when searching for them online or in your local fish store (LFS).
Torch Coral Summary
- Scientific/Latin Name: Euphyllia glabrescens
- Family: Euphylliidae
- Common Names: Torch, Trumpet, PomPom
- Care Level: Medium
- Temperament: Aggressive
- Lighting: Moderate
- Water Flow: Moderate
- Placement: Low – Middle Region
- Growth: Slow -Medium
The torch coral will make a great addition to your reef aquarium because of their medium care level, however, as they are aggressive towards their neighbors, placement is key – which you’ll learn about later in this article.
Now, you may have heard from your hobbyist friends that the torch coral is adaptable to different water environments. While they can tolerate more murky water than most corals, this does not mean they should be living in poor water conditions. They still need moderate lighting and water flow to show off their mesmerizing polyps, and controlled nitrate levels to thrive in your mini-ocean display.
These corals are known to have a very long life expectancy; in the wild, torch corals are known to live up to 75 years, so, you can expect your torch to outlive you if you keep everything stable inside their home. Remember that stability is key to keeping corals.
Torch Corals That Are A MUST!
There are many varieties of torch coral that, like most corals in the aquarium trade, come with some funky names! Generally, the most attractive torches are the most expensive ones on the market, but, luckily for you, one thing that doesn’t differ is the level of care for these popular corals.
Reef Tank Advisor’s Top Picks!
- Green Torch
- Aussie Gold Torch
- Joker Torches
Torch Coral Colors & Sizes
The torch’s base is solid, composed of a calcified skeleton. From their base, these fascinating polyps emerge with rounded tips giving them a distinctive shape, resembling a torch or flickering flame when submerged underwater in decent flow.
Their bouncy polyps vary in color from pink to green to golden. If you have a green torch coral, they are best showcased under actinic lighting to show off their mesmerizing colors.
Torch corals vary in size, but they are known to grow fairly large. Each polyp can reach up to 10-inches wide and another 10-inches in tentacle length. However, don’t let this put you off, as some smaller varieties are only about 1-inch wide.
Torch Coral Water Chemistry
Torch Corals are overall easy corals to keep, making them great for both beginner hobbyists and coral experts. However, they do seem to be more sensitive to water chemistry fluctuations than other Euphyllia corals.
Their long sweeper tentacles are very impressive, but they still heavily rely on nutrients in the water column to grow, reproduce, and develop their skeleton. The issue many hobbyists run into is a pristine tank. Torch corals surprisingly thrive in water that is a little dirty, however, this must not be confused with poor water chemistry.
To keep your torch coral happy and healthy, the following water conditions are recommended.
Ideal Water Conditions
- Temperature: 75° – 80 °F
- pH: 8.1 – 8.4
- Salinity: 1.024 – 1.026
- Alkalinity: 8 – 11 dKH
- Nitrates: <10 ppm
- Phosphates: <0.10 ppm
- Calcium: 420 – 440 ppm
- Magnesium: 1260 – 1350
- Strontium: 8 – 10
As you can see, the ideal water parameters for your Torch Coral are very similar to the “usual” reef aquarium conditions, but alkalinity and calcium should be the two you keep a close eye on.
Alkalinity is an important factor to the health of your torch coral. Bicarbonate production relies on alkalinity, which your torch coral requires for optimal growth.
Calcium is equally important for growth because it is an essential component for your coral to maintain a healthy skeleton.
The good news is, your torch coral doesn’t require a special filtration system, but placement and flow are essential.
Provided your torch coral has sufficient lighting and flow to circulate food and keep algae off their fleshy polyps, a sump, protein skimmer, or hang on the back filtration system will work perfectly.
If you only have a few torch corals, dosing is generally not required because torches are pretty nifty at getting the nutrients they require from food, fish poop, and other nutrients like salt in the water.
However, if you have an impressive collection of torches or a mixed reef including SPS (small polyp stony) corals, it is suggested you dose alkalinity, calcium, and other essential trace elements to boost skeletal growth and appearance.
Stability is key when keeping corals. Regularly testing the aquarium water with an accurate kit such as APIs Saltwater Master Test Kit, particularly before and after water changes, is vital.
A good rule of thumb is to perform a 10-15% water change every week. If your aquarium is heavily stocked and/or you dose your tank, a 25% water change is recommended.
Torch Coral Lighting Requirements & PAR
Torch corals do not do well under intense lighting, therefore, it is best to place them in an area lower down in your aquarium where the lighting is moderate.
Because of the ultraviolet elements in LED actinic lighting, your torch coral will become center stage in your aquarium. Under the right LED lighting, torch corals love emphasizing their bright colors but give them too much and you can damage their precious tissues and can also stunt their growth; this is why alternatives like metal halide lighting is generally not recommended for Torch Corals.
PAR stands for Photosynthetically Active Radiation. It is the amount of light that penetrates the aquarium water, which is important for photosynthetic corals, like your torch. A PAR range between 80 and 150 is recommended, however, some torch corals like the Aussie Gold prefer a higher PAR range (150-250).
If you are worried about the PAR levels, the best way to monitor your aquarium’s lighting is to get yourself a PAR meter.
Torch Coral Water Flow
Water flow provides your Torch Coral with the minerals it needs to grow, flourish, and helps keep aquarium waste off its polyps.
A moderate flow is enough to provide this service without damaging their polyps and surrounding tissues. Water flow that is too strong can tear their long polyps from their skeleton, and in worse cases, it can kill them.
Your Torch’s polyps should look like they are swaying in the breeze, not like they are caught up in a cyclone.
Torch Coral Feeding & Nutrition
Feeding corals play a vital role in growth and reproduction. Torch corals are photosynthetic, which means they rely on photosynthesis for nutrition from the symbiotic algae that live within their tissues, called zooxanthellae.
As the zooxanthellae undergo photosynthesis, creating sugar from the aquarium lighting, it is possible to keep torch corals without directly feeding them. However, it is recommended you still feed your Torch a couple of times a week. If you feed your torch corals, you should be rewarded with rapid growth and brighter colors.
Torch corals eat a variety of foods such as mysis and brine shrimp, or coral powder foods like Reef-Roids.
Although it is okay to broadcast feed your corals, target feeding ensures that they are getting a good meal. To target feed your torch coral, prepare a pipette or turkey blaster with food and release it over your torches.
Torch Coral Growth
Torch Corals are considered slow-growing corals compared to other stony corals because they have a skeleton structure to maintain.
However, if you give them stable water conditions, you can expect your Torch to grow nice healthy heads in no time! Fragging them will also help them develop into more mesmerizing colonies.
Torch Coral Acclimation
Acclimation is vital to prevent shock from the shipping process.
If you are unsure how to acclimate your torch coral, do not fear, we have a quick step-by-step guide, just for you!
- Turn your aquarium lights off.
- Grab a container and place your torch coral inside.
- Slowly drip aquarium water onto your torch coral. About ½ a cup every few minutes is recommended.
- Add your pest treatment – this is optional, but we highly advise you to do this.
- Place your torch coral in the aquarium!
Torch Coral Placement
Once your torch coral is acclimated, it is time to get them in the aquarium – YAY!
As with any coral, where to place your torch coral is a key step for its survival and happiness. The best placement for your torch coral is the middle to the lower region of your aquarium.
It is also important to give your torch coral lots of room. They are not the most welcoming neighbors in aquariums due to their long sweeper tentacles that can sting their coral buddies.
When placing torch corals next to each other, 4 inches is enough space to allow growth. But, if you are placing torches near different coral species, 6 inches is advised. This includes other Euphyllia Corals, because torch corals can sting frogspawns if they feel threatened.
If you are unsure if your torch coral is happy in its location, do not worry, they are pretty good at showing you, here are some of the common signs:
- Polyps not extending/closing = water flow too strong.
- Polyps stretching towards the light = not enough light.
How To Attach Your Torch Coral
When you have found the perfect placement for your torch coral, you can safely secure them with IC gel glue or reef-safe putty.
If your torch arrives already fixed onto a plug, I advise you not to try to remove it, as this can damage it. Instead, you can use gel glue or putty to attach the plug to a rock. If it doesn’t look pretty now, do not worry, as your Torch Coral will soon grow over the exposed plug.
Torch Coral Tank Mates & Compatibility
Torch corals are known for their aggressive behavior, however, they are only an issue near other corals. Torch corals are compatible with almost any reef-safe fish or invertebrate that will not crawl or take chunks out of your coral’s polyps when they feel like it.
Fish & Invertebrates Safe For Torch Corals
- Clownfish (only if they do not attempt to host your Torch Coral)
A good way to check if a fish or invertebrate is not safe for your torch coral is noticeable teeth or pincers as these are usually designed for chomping on corals.
Torch Coral Propagation & Reproduction
The sex life of a coral is complicated, for example, corals do not have a specific gender, making identification very difficult.
Torch corals can reproduce both sexually and asexually, however, asexual reproduction is more common among corals via budding/splitting.
If you notice your torch corals splitting, do not worry, this is normal. This is how they form new heads to create those fantastic colonies we all love.
Torch corals are branching stony corals, making fragging a walk in the park!
You can easily cut, saw, or gently snap off branches of coral, so they can grow into more beautiful colonies. When fragging corals, it is important to wear PPE, this includes protective eyewear and gloves.
The thought of snapping pieces of your torch coral may seem scary, but hopefully, you can gain some confidence with some of these fragging tips below!
- Wearing your PPE, remove the rock your Torch Coral is attached to. The reason we do this is to reduce stress in the aquarium. Imagine giant hands and pliers coming through the roof of your house – pretty scary, right?!
- Set the rock on a towel or in a container to reduce mess.
- Take your blade of choice and gently slice a piece of coral off your colony, or “mother colony”. You want to slice horizontally, taking the entire torch coral cap off, making sure you leave the foot behind.
- Fill a small container with aquarium water and place your frag inside. You can also place the rock with the mother colony back into the aquarium, or you can do this later on, in step 7.
- Grab a piece of rock you want to attach it to.
- Grab some plastic mesh and gently wrap your rock and coral frag. Gently place a rubber band around the mesh to secure it.
- Place your torch frag into the aquarium where there is low flow. Many hobbyists create a coral frag rack for ease.
- The next step is my least favorite…waiting! The attachment process can take 2-4 weeks.
- Once your torch coral has attached to the rock, glue the rock to its final location in the aquarium.
- And there you have it, you can now help your friends out if they want to frag their corals too!
You can expect a single coral frag to grow into a multi-head colony within 12 months if the water conditions are under control.
Common Issues With Torch Corals
Keeping corals does not come without some common issues, however, overcoming them only makes you a more experienced reef hobbyist!
During the day, your torch coral should look happy. Make sure its polyps are fully extended, and the coloration is nice and bright. If your torch coral has just arrived, it is ok to give it some slack… Newly added corals take a little time to get used to their new surroundings, so do not expect them to flourish within 24 hours of arrival.
If your torch coral is releasing brown slime, it doesn’t necessarily mean your torch coral is dying…this is usually poop. However, if it is something more serious like brown jelly disease, you should be fairly concerned.
Euphyllia Corals, like your torch, are very susceptible to the dreaded brown jelly disease. If you have a brown jelly infestation, you will soon have a “house of horror”, or should I say, “aquarium of horror”!
Brown jelly disease can cause your torch coral to quickly deteriorate and die, which is why it is so important to treat it fast. Educate yourself on the signs of brown jelly disease and possible treatment options so you can act quickly if it does appear on your torch coral.
Torch coral pests are a real nuisance because they can easily hitchhike their way into your aquarium. Common pests to look out for are:
- Sundial Snails
- Coral-eating Flatworms
Dipping corals before adding them to your aquarium is a no-brainer! You should be dipping new corals in a solution like CoralRX or ReVive Coral Cleaner. This way, you reduce the chances of pests making their way into your aquarium.
Are Torch Corals Easy To Care For?
Keeping torch corals is very rewarding but often challenging at times, however that is all part of the fun! They are moderately easy to care for but you will need to implement the care points discussed in this guide.
Introducing a torch coral into your reef tank will be one of the best decisions you make in your hobbyist journey. Just remember to give torch corals lots of space, but with this guide, you should be more than prepared to welcome your torch and enjoy its bouncy polyps for many years!