Overview and appearance
Pocillopora Corals are an SPS (small polyp stony coral) which is one of the fastest-growing SPS corals and is considered to be one of the easiest SPS to keep along with the Green Birdsnest coral.
If you can provide the proper lighting, water flow and tank parameters, this coral will thrive and a small frag can become a large colony in a short amount of time.
Pocillopora corals are available in many different colors with the green and pink ones being the most popular. They have a shape similar to cauliflower (hence the name cauliflower coral) and look like short and stumpy fuzzy trees.
There are over 35 known species of Pocillopora which originate from the Red Sea, Eastern Africa, Indian, and Pacific Oceans. Some other species of Damicornis are found around the Great Barrier Reef and other parts of Australia.
These corals are not recommended for beginners, and although they are one of the most forgiving SPS corals, it’s important that you have a mature and well-established tank to keep them healthy.
Types of Pocillopora corals
Damicornis Corals are not overly popular with hobbyists who keep SPS reef tanks, but they are not difficult to find online or in reef stores. There are over 35 known species and are available in many different sizes, colors, and shapes.
They are known to easily grow and spread throughout your tank. It’s very common to see them pop up in odd locations throughout the tank.
There are many different names of Pocillopora including cauliflower, lace, brush coral. A few different types include:
- and many more.
An interesting study of Pocillopora types can be read on the NCBI website here.
Ideal water parameters
Like all SPS corals, it’s important to have as pristine water parameters as possible if you plan to keep Pocillopora. As mentioned above, this coral is one of the more hardy SPS and will adapt well to your aquarium environment once established.
Here are some specific requirements for keeping them healthy.
- PH: 8.1-8.4
- Temperature: 72-78F
- Specific Gravity: 1.023-1.025
- KH: 8-12 dkh
- Calcium: 400-450ppm
- Magnesium: 1350 – 1500ppm
Temperament and compatibility
The Pocillopora coral is an overall peaceful coral and shouldn’t bother others in the tank. It’s important to provide plenty of space for them to grow and avoid placing other corals that may sting them nearby. Certain corals like the Cyphastrea can cause damage to Pocillopora if placed close by.
Pocillopora corals will receive most of their nutrition through photosynthesis from the zooxanthellae algae. Although it is not required to feed these corals, it’s highly recommended. Target feeding will allow them to show their amazing colors and provide for better growth and overall health.
Its diet should include additional feedings of micro-plankton or other micro-foods twice a week.
If you decide to target feed, it’s best to mix the food in a separate container with your aquarium water. Then use a target feeder like this one to make feeding a breeze.
Fragging Poccilopora corals can be done quite easily. Even more so if you have the proper fragging tools. A basic pair of cutters can do the job, but it’s best to use proper tools. These corals are known to frag themselves.
Polyps commonly fall off and reemerge in other places in the tank. You need to be careful when handling these corals as they can break easily if you are moving the colony or bumping it.
Most Poccilopora corals are sold in frag sizes of 1-2″. So very small. But they will grow quickly into larger pieces that you can frag if desired. They are also very easy to glue onto a frag plug or disc.
Proper lighting is essential to ensure the growth and overall health of the Pocillopora coral. They require high lighting from a good quality light. Although they have been kept in low to medium lighting conditions, they will show their colors better and have higher growth rates under high lighting.
Because of the high lighting demand, you should place these corals in the middle to upper regions of your tank. Not only will the lighting be higher, but they will generally get more water movement there.
You will need to ensure that you acclimate these corals properly to your tank’s lighting. A longer acclimation period is important if using metal halides or high-intensity LEDs as this will give them a better chance of surviving the initial introduction to your tank and improving the overall health of the coral.
I recommend using the Kessil A360 LED for these corals.
Poccilopora corals prefer to be in the medium to high water flow areas of the tank. In the wild, these corals are found in strong water surge zones, so they will appreciate the high flow.
This water flow should be indirect and not pointed directly at them. Low water movement will cause the coral to not open up, lose its coloration, and struggle to maintain its health.
A quality wavemaker or alternating powerheads capable of providing strong water flow patterns in the tank is recommended, like the EcoTech 43118822.
This provides better filter feeding opportunities and removes waste from the coral.
Due to the fact the Pocillopora coral needs high lighting and water movement, you should place these corals in the middle to upper regions of your tank. They are easy to place on top of rock formations where they can meet these demands.
It’s important not to place them in low areas of the tank like the sandbed, or in between rocks where they can be sheltered from light and water flow.
As mentioned, these corals can grow quite fast, so they need extra room in the tank. Also, to avoid encounters with other corals. But if you provide enough space between corals and place them accordingly in the tank, there should be no issues.
Illness/signs of dying
If you notice your Pocillopora corals are not looking normal, there is a chance that its health is failing and death could result. Look for the following signs:
- Apparent loss of color
- Shrinking in size
- Algae like cyanobacteria on the polyps
Keeping your water parameters in check and ensuring proper lighting and water movement will help prevent these signs from showing.