Candy Cane coral (Caulastrea furcata) is one of the most popular choices of coral for beginners to the reef and marine hobby, being peaceful and relatively easy to keep. When cared for properly, Candy Cane corals can live for between 50 and 75 years in the tank environment and are regarded by some hobbyists as family heirlooms!
In this guide, we introduce you to these beautiful corals and show you how to care for them.
What is Candy Cane coral? Candy Cane coral is an LPS (Large Polyp Stony) coral species and is also known as Torch, Trumpet, and Bullseye coral. These gorgeous corals originate from the warm, tropical waters of the Indo-Pacific, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Fiji.
This stunning coral species is named for the appearance of stripes on their polyps. Candy Cane coral comes in several colour variations, including vibrant, neon green, blue, cream, and brown, typically with white, alternating stripes. When viewed under blue moon fish tank lights, the corals fluoresce, which looks absolutely stunning.
Candy Cane coral care
Candy Cane corals are hardy and pretty easy to look after, and they make a stunning addition to any reef or marine setup.
Feeding These corals have zooxanthellae that enable the coral to gather some of the energy they need through light.
However, the primary growth-limiting factor for Candy Cane corals is food. When the tank lights are off, the corals’ tiny feeder tentacles emerge, and it’s then that you need to feed your corals.
At feeding time, switch off any powerheads or other equipment that causes water agitation and use a sea-squirt feeder to slowly introduce the food over the corals’ extended tentacles. Candy Cane corals will accept micro-plankton, brine shrimp, Mysis shrimp, and specialist coral foods, and they should be fed a few times per week.
Provided that the corals are fed correctly, they will display an accelerated growth rate and more spectacular colouring.
Candy Cane corals also benefit from the addition of strontium, calcium, and other trace elements to the water.
Lighting and flow
Candy Cane corals enjoy a moderate flow and moderate to low lighting. However, you can acclimate them to accept a slightly lower or higher flow and lighting provided that you do it slowly. However, you shouldn’t expose the Candy Cane to a very strong flow, as that can inflict damage on the coral’s flesh and could ultimately kill it.
To begin with, we recommend that you place your Candy Cane corals in a shaded, low-flow area of your aquarium and then slowly move them to your preferred location over a period of several weeks. If the corals’ polyps retreat, move the Candy Canes lower down in the tank where the lighting is more subdued.
Candy Cane corals do best in water with a pH of between 8.1 and 8.4 and a water hardness of 8o to 12o dH. Calcium levels should be between 400 and 450 ppm, and the salinity in the tank should remain stable between 1.023 and 1.025.
These corals require magnesium levels of between 1200 and 1350, and phosphates should be as close to zero as possible.
This coral species is quite sensitive to water temperature and doesn’t do well in an environment where the temperature exceeds their preferred range of 75o to 82o Fahrenheit.
Candy Cane coral grows each time a polyp develops a second mouth. When the mouth appears, the coral splits and forms branches. This budding process takes a little longer than with some coral species but accelerates impressively once budding has begun, quickly forming whole new colonies.
You can help to promote the coral’s growth by not moving it around, providing the correct lighting and water conditions, and feeding the corals the correct diet.
Candy Cane corals are generally considered to be non-aggressive. However, if you place them close enough to other corals for their short tentacles to touch, the Candy Canes may cause harm.
Is your Candy Coral stressed?
Like your fish and other living tank residents, Candy Cane corals can become stressed if they’re not thriving.
The most obvious sign of stress in these corals is a reluctance to put out its tentacles. Healthy Candy Cane corals extend their tentacles to feed, in the morning before you turn the aquarium lights on, and at night. If you notice that the corals are not extending their tentacles at all, it’s likely that they are stressed.
Check the water flow around the corals. If the water flow is fine, check the water temperature, salinity, calcium, and pH levels in the tank. Carry out a partial water change and check the water parameters again, making any adjustments that are necessary.
If your Candy Cane coral is extending its tentacles at night time but not at feeding time, it could be that the coral feels threatened. Check your pairings. It could be that one of the other tank residents is hassling the corals and stressing them out.
Candy Cane corals make an absolutely stunning addition to any saltwater setup, especially when the coral fluoresces at night time. These corals are relatively easy to care for, and they’re not considered aggressive, making them an excellent choice for a beginner.
These are one of our favourite corals, and we know you’ll love them, too.