There’s nothing understated or subdued about chalice coral!
This coral is bright, bold, and brilliant – we are talking about borderline fluorescent – and will quickly become the star of the show inside of your aquarium.
Super popular (we are talking almost foolishly popular right now), it’s not at all uncommon for chalice coral to be some of the most expensive options on the market today. Deals can be found in less expensive options are available, but the demand – and the price – for this kind of coral is only going to climb higher and higher.
If you’ve been thinking about adding chalice coral to your tank, but aren’t quite sure of how to go about it or if it’s even the right move for you, you need the inside information we highlight below.
Let’s jump right into it, shall we?
Chalice Corals 101
The term “chalice coral” isn’t specifically set aside for one type of coral alone, but instead is a bit of an umbrella term that encompasses at least six different coral options from the Pectiniidae family:
- Pectinia and
Trying to decipher the difference between these coral can be a bit of a head scratcher unless you are a deeply committed researcher or hobbyist.
At the same time, all of the classifications are highly regarded as LPS corals – and all of them have bright, brilliant, vibrant colors on display all the time.
You really can’t go wrong with any one of them.
While this kind of coral can be found throughout the Pacific Ocean, traditionally throughout Southeast Asia down to Australia, right now Fiji as well as Indonesia have serious bands on all chalice coral exportation.
This is why today the overwhelming majority of chalice coral found around the world are coming out of Australia!
As mentioned a moment ago, all those different species of coral falling under the chalice umbrella are the reason behind the major discrepancies and prices.
Some chalice coral can be had for around $40 or so, others are going to set you back $500 or more, and the rest fit somewhere in between those two extremes.
At the end of the day it really comes down to finding a reputable source for this kind of coral, particularly if you are after a specific color.
How Do Chalice Corals Grow?
How each individual chalice coral grows is highly dependent on each and every individual option.
The “Hollywood Stunner” version of chalice coral, for example, is one of the more delicate variants with a paperthin skeleton but an almost foolishly fast growth rate.
Another variant, one with more of a central mouth surrounded by a bunch of tiny other mouths, called the Oxypora is going to have a thicker skeleton and a much slower growth rate.
All the same, the flow rate inside of your aquarium is going to have a major impact on how quickly – or how slowly – these coral develop.
Coral that have thicker skins and skeletons are going to require a stronger current to support that sort of growth. Those that have thinner skeletons, though, will become damaged – or potentially killed off – in those same strong currents.
You really want to be sure you dial flow rate in before you start to add coral to the tank.
The amount of mouths that pop up on these kinds of coral will give you an idea of how much they need to be fed as well.
If you feed chalice coral often (and a lot) it’s not at all uncommon for a ton of mouths to develop, but less actual tissue. Less food less often will cut down on the amount of mouths that the coral have, but you’ll usually see significantly more tissue buildup.
It can be a bit of a balancing act for sure but you can dial things in with just a little bit of practice.
Are Chalice Corals Fast Growing?
It’s really important to understand that chalice coral are really different from one subspecies to the next, with some of them being really fast growers (we are talking about amazing growth inside of 3 to 6 months) and some of them taking the slow road to maturity (growth at a snails pace).
This is why it is so hugely important that you invest in the kind of chalice coral that has the type of features you are looking for.
Do a little research and a little digging, match the chalice coral growth rate to your goals, and then jump in with both feet.
Are Chalice Corals Easy to Keep?
All the different subspecies of chalice coral aren’t all that challenging to keep, though you do need to make sure that their water conditions, their lighting conditions, and their food is pretty dialed in before you expect incredible results.
These may not be “set it and forget it” coral in the traditional sense, but they aren’t going to drive you crazy with babysitting, either.
Light of a moderate level (around 100 PAR is sufficient) will do a great job, and your water flow should be dialed into the kind of chalice coral that you have and that you are supporting. Thicker skeleton chalice coral require a stiffer current, thinner skeleton chalice coral like things a little lighter.
Do You Feed Chalice Corals?
By and large you’re going to find that chalice corals are photosynthetic, giving them a true symbiotic relationship with the dinoflagellates that live inside their bodies.
These tiny little organisms are the ones handling the heavy lifting of photosynthesis, but the byproducts produced during that photosynthetic activity are going directly to support the chalice coral themselves.
At the same time, you’ve probably noticed that chalice coral have a couple of miles on each head – and that means that they can be fed with targeted feeding if that’s something you’re interested in.
Targeted feeding (couple of quick blasts of zoo plankton or Misys shrimp work well) can be used to strategically to spur growth rates as well, especially if you are looking to build up your chalice coral colony a little bit faster.