Soft Coral in Your Reef Tank

In discussions of positioning soft coral in your reef tank, subjects such as spacing in between colonies, range from the source of light, level of water flow, sweeping arms, and coral chemical warfare typically predominate. But there are special considerations beyond these that one needs to consider when identifying the best placement for certain soft coral in your reef tank. Here are some tips:

Expansion and Contraction

With particular soft corals, such as leather corals, this distinction can be rather significant, with their completely broadened state easily doubling or tripling their size when contracted. The degree of expansion can differ not simply based on daytime/night time, however also the aquarium lighting, water quality, water flow and other factors.

If you don’t take this into consideration when putting a new soft coral in your tank, a neighbouring coral that requires lots of space today might be overshadowed tomorrow.

Soft Coral Colonies

You might want that pulsing Xenia to remain right where you put it, but it more than likely has other ideas. Pulse corals can actually move around the tank and fairly rapidly to locations with more favourable conditions.

Some soft corals have a nice compact tree-like development when they’re reasonably little, but as they grow, they tend to end up being more top-heavy and after that ultimately lie over – usually cascading the rock work. This can present an issue for colonies located below them. So always look ahead before positioning any soft coral in your tank.


Certain soft corals tend to encrust every offered surface area. The biggest transgressors are types that spread rapidly through mats or runners of tissue, such as green star polyps for example.

To prevent these polyps from spreading too much and taking over, position the coral far from any other rock work or surfaces you don’t want them to grow on and/or to prune away any development that is extending where it’s not welcome.

What are your thoughts of positioning soft coral in your reef tank? What do you do to stop them taking over your aquarium or attacking other corals? Leave your comments below!

Guest post by Paul Cobb.