Are you thinking of setting up a saltwater aquarium and feeling excited by the idea of adding some corals to it? If so, you aren’t alone, but you need to know how to successfully add these beautiful creatures to your new tank.
Corals need to be gradually acclimatized to the conditions they are going to be growing in. You will have to check that the site is suitable and the water parameters match the coral’s needs. You will need to glue the coral to a rock and make sure that it has the right amount of light, a good flow of water, and everything else it requires to survive.
In this article, we will look at everything you need to know before adding a coral to a saltwater aquarium. Follow this guide to give your corals the best chances of success in your setup.
How Long Should You Wait To Put Corals In A New Tank?
Before adding corals to any new saltwater setup, you will need to make sure the tank has finished cycling and the water parameters have balanced. New tanks are unstable and corals may quickly be killed by spikes and sudden drops in their levels, so you have to wait. This takes between 2 to 8 weeks.
You will need to judge this by constantly measuring the parameters of your tank and making sure they are stable. The process can be sped up by nitrogen cycling and getting rid of algal blooms, but it will take at least 2 weeks before everything is settled and ready for the corals.
How Do I Know When My Tank Is Ready For Corals?
The only way to tell if a tank is ready for corals is to test the water parameters regularly. They will need to be stable for at least a week before you put the corals in, and you should also make sure you know how to correct them if they become imbalanced again.
Sharp changes in the water are what is dangerous to your coral, so if you are confident that the levels are stable and you can deal with any changes quickly, it should be okay to add the corals to the tank. There are no other clear signs, unfortunately, so you will have to depend upon your water tests to know.
Should I Add Coral Or Fish First?
There is quite a lot of debate about this, but most people prefer to add the fish first because corals tend to be more expensive. If there are any teething problems with the tank, they will affect the fish and not the corals. You can let the levels stabilize again, and then add the corals once the tank is better established.
Furthermore, the fish will help the water balance and start building up healthy bacteria in the tank. If the fish become sick for any reason, it is easier to treat them without corals in the water, since corals are sensitive to most available medicines.
However, some people prefer to add corals first, because they don’t output as much waste as fish, which means the levels in the tank are more likely to stay stable. You won’t overwhelm the filters as easily as you will if you add lots of fish.
Adding anything to the tank is a delicate balance because you need to make sure that the microorganisms keep up with the new addition of waste. Fish can add a lot of waste at once, while corals only add a small amount. This makes it easier to keep everything balanced and minimize the risk of levels spiking.
You can do either, but you do need to make sure that you are only adding organisms slowly. Adding a lot of corals, a lot of fish, or a mix of both in a short space of time will almost always be disastrous.
Can I Put Dead Coral In A Freshwater Tank?
It is not a good idea to add dead coral to a freshwater tank for decoration. Dead corals will quickly increase the hardness of the water to levels that most fish cannot tolerate, and this can kill off the stock.
Although they may be decorative, dead corals will make your aquarium too alkaline, and should not be used in freshwater aquariums.
Putting Coral Frags In A Tank
To add a coral frag to your aquarium, you must first quarantine and dip your frags. Quarantine your frag in tank water in a separate container, and then immerse it in some coral dip to get rid of any unwanted organisms.
Next, identify a suitable position for the frag on some live rock. Clean the rock thoroughly, and make sure the parameters are correct, with suitable flow and sufficient lighting. Next, cut off the plug at the base of the frag, and attach the frag to the rock using epoxy or superglue.
Hold the frag in place for a few seconds to ensure it has stuck firmly, and then gently wriggle it. If it comes loose, try again. The frag will anchor itself too, but this will take time, and the glue will hold it in place while this happens.
Coral frags are much cheaper than fully grown corals, but bear in mind that they are small. You will need to envisage what the coral will look like when it is fully grown in order to decide where to place it in the aquarium.
Coral Dip For Algae
You can buy coral dip to get rid of any unwanted organisms on your coral, and you should always dip corals before adding them to your tank. Your local aquarium store should have some suitable dip that you can use.
Putting corals in a tank should be a fairly straightforward process, but you do need to make sure that the tank is suitable and has been sufficiently cycled, or the corals will get stressed and die. Check that they have enough light, sufficient current, and enough room to grow before anchoring your coral to a rock.