Torch corals are considered slow to moderate growers. They can propagate one to two new heads every three to six months. At this rate, you can grow four to six new heads each year.
Torch corals are great to keep in reef tanks and add a flair of color to the fish that swim around them. However, they do require certain parameters to ensure that they grow and stay healthy.
In this article, we will cover how big torch corals get and whether or not they like high flow water. We will also review how long it takes for a torch coral to split as well as whether or not torch corals provide good hosts for clownfish.
How Big Do Torch Corals Get?
Like most corals, torch corals will grow to fix the size of your tank. If you host a particularly large reef tank, you can have a torch coral grow up to a foot and a half in diameter. In the wide, torch corals have been measured at twice that size.
Torch corals will grow sufficiently as long as you provide them with the food they need to sustain themselves. The zooxanthellae that live in their tentacles photosynthesize while the polyps will supplement this food by filter feeding.
To ensure maximum growth for your torch coral, be sure to feed it with a healthy mixture of fish and shrimp bits. If you want to help the growth along, Reef Roids can provide extra nutrients the torch coral can use when expanding and creating new tissue.
Do Torch Corals Like High Flow Water?
Torch corals should be kept under moderately flowing water. They need active flow in order to oxygenate their tentacles and allow them to grab food particles as they pass by. However, torch coral tentacles are also very delicate.
High flow water can damage their tentacles causing them to break off which leaves the coral defenseless and unable to acquire food for itself. Not only can high flow water due physical damage to the tentacles, but it can also be detrimental to the zooxanthellae which live inside the tentacles.
These delicate algae can be very sensitive to their environmental conditions. With too much water flow, they may not be able to uptake the carbon dioxide needed for photosynthesis and eject from the coral causing it to bleach and possibly die.
How Long Does It Take for a Torch Coral to Split?
Torch corals are known for fragmenting themselves and growing new heads via asexual reproduction. You’ll know when your torch coral is beginning the process because a second mouth will appear. Within three to four months after the appearance of another mouth, the corl will split itself into two individuals.
Another indication that the split is about to occur is the appearance of brown strings being exuded from the coral. The torch coral’s tentacles will begin to shrivel up and then suddenly the one coral head becomes two.
If you don’t want to wait for your torch coral to split by itself, you can manually fragment it. The best way to do this is by cutting the skeleton between where the tentacles begin to branch and the transition of skeleton to flesh.
Bone cutting tools are the safest, cleanest, and most effective way to fragment your coral. Even if you don’t fragment it manually, your torch coral should produce at least three to six new heads every year given the water parameters are kept within the correct tolerances.
Can Clownfish Host Torch Coral?
Clownfish are typically not very good fish for torch coral hosts. Although the torch coral will not hurt the clownfish because of the mucus the fish exude, the clownfish could damage the coral. The way that clownfish become accustomed to their new host and its stingers is by nuzzling its tentacles.
Torch corals can be very sensitive and will retract their tentacles at this sort of tactile stimulus. Eventually, the clownfish could actually damage the torch coral’s tentacles because they are very delicate. The clownfish would not find torch coral to be a suitable host because they require a coral or anemone with extended tentacles to provide cover.
Torch coral can also be semi-aggressive so if they perceive the clownfish as a threat, they may try to sting the fish. Since clownfish are immune to coral and anemone stingers, this will further weaken the torch coral as they will be left defenseless until they can grow new nematocysts.
There are much better choices for reef fish to pair with the torch coral such as tangs, gobies, cardinals, blennies, wrasses, anthias, and damsel fish. Some fish you may want to avoid putting in a tank with your torch coral in addition to clownfish are triggerfish, puffers, butterflyfish, parrotfish, groupers, and angelfish.
Torch corals are slow to moderate growers that can naturally produce new heads about four to six times per year. They can reach up to eighteen inches in diameter if housed in a reef tank. In the wild, they have been known to grow up to three feet.
Torch corals prefer moderate water flow. They need substantial movement to oxygenate and allow their tentacles to catch passing food particles. However, if the water flow is too high, it could damage the tentacles or cause the zooxanthellae to evacuate their home in the coral.
Torch coral usually takes about three to four months to split once the process starts. The formation of a new mouth is an indication that fragmentation is starting and the appearance of brown stringy stuff and shrunken tentacles indicates imminent splitting. Torch corals can also be manually split if done carefully using a bone saw.
Clownfish are generally not good fish to pair with torch coral. Torch coral tentacles are very sensitive to tactile stimuli and may easily break off when clownfish perform their nuzzling ritual to test out their new home. Less aggressive reef fish are more appropriate to put in the same tank as torch coral.