Why Is My Torch Coral Dying?

Have you recently walked up to your aquarium, taken a look, and noticed your Torch Coral all shriveled up, or looking a little worse for wear? 

As a reef hobbyist, you will go through stages where your Torch Coral will thrive and other times when it will struggle, possibly even lose tissue, and in some cases, they may die. 

When a Torch Coral starts dying, it is a sign that something is not quite right. From water conditions to hitchhikers infecting your Torch Coral, we are here to help you identify what is going wrong.

Water Parameters

The number one cause of corals dying is poor water parameters, particularly if all of your corals start showing signs of dying. 

There are four main water parameters you should take a look at if you notice your Torch Coral, or any other corals dying, these are:

  • Salinity
  • Alkalinity
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium

Salinity 

When you test the aquarium water, it should read between 1.024 and 1.026, however, 1.025 is ideal. 

To reduce salinity levels, remove some saltwater from your aquarium and replace it with fresh RODI (reverse osmosis deionized) water. To increase salinity in your aquarium, simply add saltwater into the tank and let the excess water evaporate. 

If the salinity is really off the above range, you should perform large water changes until they are more stable, testing all the water parameters after each water change.

Alkalinity (Alk)

Maintaining stable alkalinity levels is also key to successfully keeping corals. This should be between 8 and 11dKH.

Calcium (Ca)

Calcium is important for your Torch Coral’s growth. Keep it between 420 and 440 ppm to maintain healthy corals.

Magnesium (Mg)

The recommended magnesium levels are 1260-1350, however, some hobbyists have found raising levels to 1600 have been successful to help combat algae outbreaks. If you do raise your magnesium levels, keep Ca and Alk levels within range.

If alkalinity, calcium, and magnesium are very far off the above ranges, you can add some calcium chloride into the aquarium. This is a cheap and easy method to get these three parameters back under control.

To make your life easier, we recommended using a dosing pump that automatically doses the aquarium water with Ca, Alk, and Mg a few times a week. This means you can sit back and relax if you have to go away for the weekend, knowing that your corals will be in safe hands. 

Lighting & PAR

If you had a healthy coral, everything else is stable, but all of a sudden your coral is dying, high lighting could be your issue. 

Providing too much light and a higher PAR range than needed can become toxic to your Torch Coral, potentially killing your coral in a matter of days. But this does not mean you should turn the lighting dramatically down. Providing your Torch Coral with not enough light can take weeks to show signs of distress and even months to start dying; this is a slow and painful way to end. 

So, how do you know if your Torch Coral is unhappy with the current lighting?

If your Torch Coral is stretching its polyps and turning brown, this is a sign of poor leveled lighting. But, if you blast your Torch with intense lighting, they will shrivel up or close completely, start turning white (coral bleaching), and you may start to notice tissue recession.

If your Torch Coral is new and exhibits any of these signs, move it to a more suitable location and give it a few weeks or even months to recover before moving it again.  Investing in a PAR meter is a good way to monitor and control the light levels in your aquarium. 

Water Quality

Unintentional contaminants (for example, spraying aerosols near your aquarium), excessive waste from fish excretion and/or uneaten food, or poor waste practices can also cause your Torch Coral to deteriorate. Take the time to test your nitrate and phosphate levels, as elevated levels can cause extreme stress for your Torch Coral. 

If water quality is the issue, perform a few 30% water changes over a few days to remove any pollutants, remembering to test the water with a reliable kit like API’s test kit or taking it to your local fish store for testing. 

Pests & Diseases

If a single coral is dying or only one type of coral is dying, it is most likely a pest or disease. If that is the case, get your Torch Coral out of the aquarium ASAP and either treat it with a coral dip or get ready for a visit to your personal veterinary clinic.

Prepare a coral dip such as CoralRX to treat your infected Torch Coral. If you are new to coral dipping, here’s how to use CoralRX.

Depending on which CoralRX product you buy, will depend on the recommended treatment. After shaking your bottle of CoralRX, you will need to create the dip.

Dosage per gallon (3.8 liters) of aquarium water:

  • CoralRX: 20 ml or 4 caps of solution per gallon. 
  • CoralRX Pro: 30 drops of solution per gallon.
  • CoralRX Industrial: 10 drops of solution per gallon.

Instructions:

  1. Grab a container and pour the dip in. 
  2. Place your Zoanthid in the dip and gently shake it, or if you have a spare powerhead, use that to keep a constant water flow. 
  3. While your Zoa is in the dip, take a turkey baster and blast your Zoa with the dip solution, ensuring you reach between the polyps and the underside. 
  4. Continue to do this for 5-10 minutes.
  5. After 5-10 minutes, discard the coral dip and rinse your Zoanthid with clean aquarium water. Your Zoanthid should hopefully be pest-free!

The most common infection your Torch Coral will likely face is brown jelly disease. This nasty disease will cover your Torch Coral in a jelly-like slime, which if left untreated, will kill your Torch Coral, therefore, this is one to not ignore!

If you see any signs of brown jelly occurring on your Torch Coral, you should be very concerned and act fast, as in most cases, it is extremely fatal, known to kill infected corals within a few days or weeks. The nightmare unfortunately doesn’t stop there. Brown jelly infections are contagious, meaning they can be spread to other corals in your aquarium if you do not treat your Torch Coral in time. However, if your other corals are healthy, they should be able to fight off the infection, but, if you have any injured corals, they may be the next victim of brown jelly. 

Brown jelly is very difficult to treat, and often Torch Corals are not strong enough to fight it once infected. However, there are a few things you can do to try and treat your Torch Coral, these include:

  • Increasing your aquarium’s water flow.
  • Fragging your Torch Coral.
  • Trying an iodine dip such as Seachem’s Reef Dip.
  • Using a UV light – UV rays can help reduce free-floating algae and fight diseases.

Another thing we must mention is how delicate your Torch Coral is. Euphyllia corals, like your Torch, can become easily damaged if handled without care, especially when they extend their polyps. If your Torch Coral’s polyps become damaged, it increases the chance of infections (like brown jelly disease), which means it may not be strong enough to fight infections, and therefore not survive. 

When corals become infected, their natural response is to cover themselves in slime and turn into a brown mush. You could revive your coral if you catch it quickly by gently extracting the slime with a pipette or turkey baster. Allow it to sit in a low flow area with medium to low light. Sit and wait, and hopefully, it will make a full recovery!

Conclusion

When one of our corals starts dying, we can’t help but feel we could soon be losing a family member. There are a few things that may be causing your Torch Coral to start dying, from poor water conditions to diseases and parasites. If you quickly identify the issue and get the problem under control, your Torch Coral should make a full recovery. 

If you are still struggling with a dying Torch Coral, take some detailed photos and post them within the reefing community – we are a friendly bunch, and are always happy to help out where we can!

  • 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.

    http://reeftankadvisor.com reeftankroy@gmail.com Lee Roy

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