Candy Cane – Caulastrea sp.
Caulastrea Coral: C. furcata and C. curvata
Caulastrea corals are excellent beginner corals for Nano and other reef aquariums thanks to the fact that they are not all that demanding on water quality, and also not on the kind of lighting and its intensity that Hobbyists who wish to add them to their tanks have to pay attention to and provide.
Referred to as Candy Cane (C. furcata) and Trumpet corals (C. curvet) they are mainly differentiated by their growth form and shape. The former tends to grow in a more compact shape, whereas the latter exhibits a more branching type of growth, which of course for those who are interested in fragging corals is an advantage, as nipping or snipping individual branches off will be a lot easier to accomplish.
Both are widely available and easy to care for and are not known to be prone to invasions by pests, although there are always exemptions as is the case with just about anything in our Hobby,
Both species grow branches from a common base, and grow them fairly rapidly (relatively speaking of course), as long as general reef aquarium water quality parameters are maintained, or are close to the ones that are typically recommended. C. furcata tends to grow in a compact form with the branches growing fairly tightly together, whereas C. curvata (Trumpet Coral) grows it branches also from the base, but not as close together as C. furcata (Candy Cane Coral).
So what parameter ranges are recommended to successfully maintain and grow these corals?
- Temperature: 78° to 82 F°
- Salinity / Specific Gravity: 1.023 – 1.026
- Water Flow: moderate and not laminar
- Lighting: moderate, 6500 K degrees or higher or LED mix
- Calcium: 400 ppm to 450 ppm
- Magnesium: 1250 to 1400 ppm maximum
- pH: 8.0 to 8.2
- Alkalinity: 8 to 11 as measured in dKH
- Strontium: 8 to 10 ppm
- Phosphate: not measurable with a low range test
- Nitrate: 2 ppm to 5 ppm
- Silicate: < 0.05 ppm
- Oxygen at saturation for the tank’s pH and temperature
- Ammonia and Nitrite: 0.00 ppm
- DOC : low – a good skimmer running on the tank will achieve this
Maintain the above generally recommended levels and your Candy Coral will do jut fine.
Caulastrea is an LPS coral and therefore derives a good amount of its required nutrition from its symbiotic algae, however it is the experience of most Hobbyists who maintain Candy Canes that supplemental feeding is beneficial and enhances growth and the development of new heads.
Small meaty foods that are target fed are a good approach to feeding but other foods can be used as well e.g. Cyclop-eeze, shredded clam or mussel meat, and similar foods. Note that the coral will also extract some of the organic material form the water in the tank as well as any zooplankton that is floating around in the tank and that it can trap.
Once a number of heads have developed and sort of crowd each for space, preventing some of them from opening and extending properly, it may be time to frag some of the heads to alleviate the space constraint. This tends happen sooner with C. furcata than with C. curvata.
More on fragging in another post, as it is a topic that applies to more than just this particular coral.