Have you noticed your Torch Coral growing another section off of its main body? This is something you shouldn’t worry about, and is totally normal. When corals split, it is a very exciting time for a reef hobbyist!
Corals routinely reproduce themselves via splitting or budding. Splitting is when a coral polyp forms two mouths, eventually dividing down the middle to create two coral heads, whereas budding is when a section falls off and forms a new polyp.
In the wild, split spawning occurs over two consecutive months because they occur when there is a full moon. Scientists have found that the full moon will either “fall on the first week of the spawning month, or the last week of the previous month”. However, as your Torch Corals do not follow the Lunar cycle in your aquarium, they can start splitting whenever they feel ready!
Can Torch Corals Split?
Your Torch Coral has the ability to split, and when it does, it is a very exciting time!
Torch Corals are valuable members of the reef because they can reproduce via budding and by splitting. Because your Torch Coral is a branching LPS (large stony polyp) coral, they are fairly quick to split and are also easy to frag.
When your Torch Coral splits, it starts to grow calcium between the first head. When the calcium connects, the mouth splits into two heads, and “voilà”, now you have two Torch Coral heads! From the two heads, your Torch Coral can split again, going from two heads, splitting the mouth, and creating 4 heads. Next, you will have 8, then 16, then 32, and so on.
Sometimes Torch Corals appear “shy” when they are in the splitting process If you notice your Torch Coral slightly retracting when everything is stable inside your aquarium, do not worry, this is normal, particularly if you have an Aussie Gold Torch as they tend to retract their polyps when splitting.
How Long Does It Take For Torch Corals To Split?
Corals do not follow a timed schedule like their owners. Some corals take longer to split than others. However, you are likely to witness your Torch Coral splitting within the first 6 months after introducing it to your tank. This time allows your Torch Coral to acclimatize into its new home, grow and maintain its skeleton, and finally split into another head.
However, many hobbyists have found that Torch Corals do not split as fast as their Euphyllia buddies (Hammer and Frogspawn Corals), but, do not fear, Torch Corals don’t linger, when they go, they really do go!
So, you are probably wondering if there are any special requirements for your Torch Corals to split. Unfortunately, it isn’t magic, if that’s what you were hoping for.
Keeping your calcium and alkalinity levels stable is vital during the splitting process. If you notice an alkalinity drop or spike, it can make your Torch Coral very stressed, and they may hit the reset button on their growth. To avoid this, get yourself a good water testing kit (API is fantastic) and keep on top of your water changes. If you want to go a step further, grab a dosing pump that adds all those minerals your Torch Corals need.
Torch Coral Not Splitting
Our understanding of coral behavior is very limited. However, if your Torch Coral is not splitting, it may be a sign something is not quite right in the aquarium. This could be due to:
- Lighting intensity.
- The amount of water flow, and if it is indirect or direct.
- Spot feeding (as this can increase Torch Coral growth).
- The size of the “mother” colony (the larger the mother colony, the more nutrients can be absorbed and used for growth).
*The best advice during the splitting process is to always check your Torch Coral’s requirements!
If everything looks stable and your Torch Coral is still not splitting, fragging your coral will give it a helping hand to successfully multiply. Once Torch Corals are fragged, they can grow into little colonies on their own.
Fragging your Torch Coral is quick and easy! This can be done using a saw, pliers, or gently snapping it off, however, it is always best to use a proper propagation kit.
Once you have your piece of tiny Torch Coral, place it in a spacious area (remember, Torch Corals can be quite aggressive!) and wait. You can expect a single coral frag to grow into a multi-head colony within 12 months if the water conditions are under control.
Torch Coral Splitting Or Dying?
If your Torch Coral is showing any exposed skeleton, it is probably dying, not splitting.
When your Torch Coral splits, it should have plenty of tissue around the middle region (between the two heads). However, take this time to check if it is an exposed skeleton or just an indent from the fragging process.
An indent between the two heads is normal and is actually one of the biggest signs Torch Corals are in the middle of splitting. Do not mess around with your Torch Coral at this point, but ensure it is in an area of low light and low flow – stability is key at this stage of splitting.
But, if your Torch Coral is exposing its skeleton, check the tank conditions, try spot feeding it, and give it time to recover.
Torch Corals are part of the Euphyllia gang, known for their splitting nature. With one Torch Coral head, you will soon get 2, then 4, then 8, and I think you know how this goes!
If your Torch Coral has still not split after 6 months, it may be an indication that something is not quite right inside their home. Always check your torch coral requirements like water parameters, lighting, water flow, and nutritional needs.
Only a happy and healthy Torch Coral will split into other colonies, and when they do, it is fantastic!