Adding New Corals To Your Tanks

Adding New Corals To Your Tanks

Choose your own adventure!

The simple way:

Are you ready? This is it: Just put the coral in your tank.

That’s it. It’s simple. All you have to do is take the coral out of the shipping container and put in your tank.

The corals have already been shocked by the rigors of travel. Acclimating them slowly isn’t likely to improve their happiness at this point. They’ll adapt just fine to being placed in a nice happy tank with good lighting and flow and nutrients.

The simple way +1: Saltwater rinse:

This is nearly as simple but involves one more step.

Before you take your new coral and plop it in your tank, swish it around in some clean salt water.

This has the added benefit of washing away some of the water that the coral has been sitting in from your seller’s tanks and from the shipping container. This also gives you the chance to inspect the coral carefully on your own terms. You can identify any problems with the coral or any obvious hitchikers on the coral during this step.

The simple way +2: Rinse and inspection:

This is one of those old-fashioned things that works remarkably well to protect yourself from bad things: visually inspect your new corals in and out of the water and remove everything that isn’t the live coral that you care about.

Many people cut off the frag plugs or tiles from their new corals. You can also scrape down dead skeleton of a coral to remove vermetid snails, aiptasia, unwanted sponges and other things growing there. If you are worried about a particular coral you can even frag off the questionable parts and just keep the parts that look good.

This is perhaps the single best way to ensure that you don’t get things you don’t want in your tanks. Visual inspection and mechanical removal relies on your eyes, brain and hands – some of the greatest tools we have!

The dipping way:

Our tanks at Corals Direct are pretty clean (we depend on it to keep our stock of corals happy and healthy). Many sellers sell fairly pest-free corals. But there is a lot of variation in the corals you’l receive, and it is impossible for anyone to eliminate all hitchhikers in a coral. After all, if you kill all the bacteria and algae and little creepy crawlies from a coral you’ll kill the coral too– corals need some life in and around them.

To protect yourself from big, and potentially harmful hitchhikers or pests on your new corals you can dip them in any number of products before putting in them in your tank. We use coral RX quite a bit and sometimes an insecticide dip.

When you dip we suggest that you follow the dip-makers directions – the directions on the bottle. Swish the dip around with turkey baster to ensure thorough coverage and to knock off any hapless baddies. And pay attention to the time that you keep the corals in the dip – this stuff is generally pretty tough on living organisms. If you leave the corals in for significantly longer than the directions call for you may harm your corals. (In fact, you probably will damage corals at some point if you regularly dip them. Many people who dip consistently find this to be an acceptable loss for the added piece of mind that comes from knocking off potential pests).

If you dip, make sure that you rinse your corals at least once in fresh saltwater before placing in your tank. It is really important to wash out that nasty dip solution. This is especially important for small tanks, and especially important for powerful insecticide or medicated dips. That stuff can be strong and lasting, and you don’t want it polluting your tanks!

The thorough method: Dip and quarantine:

If you like dipping and rinsing and want to take one more step to protect your tanks from the dangers of a bad parasite or infection then add this too: quarantine your corals in a dedicated quarantine system.

This isn’t easy or cheap, but needn’t be terribly burdensome.

Here are the steps:

  • Maintain a reef tank system for quarantining that includes all the basics needed to support your corals: good water, auto-top-off, regular parameter measurements, water changes, nutrient export, decent lighting AND no sand.
  • Keep newly arrived corals in your quarantine tank for a while – maybe a month.
  • Monitor your quarantining corals regularly.
  • If you see anything amiss then re-dip the corals as necessary and treat the tank as necessary to kill off the parasites or other badness.
  • After some time without any problem go ahead and rinse your corals once more and place them in your display tank.

Quarantine systems require an extra level of dedication from the reef keeper to keep more, separate systems running happily (you may wish to have multiple quarantine systems, too, if you’re quarantining fish and corals). It’s widely lauded as a sensible thing to do, but it comes at a cost and you’ll have to decide if it’s worth it for you.

Remember why we do this:

To be sure, our motivations for keeping reef tanks can vary, but we all love keeping this piece of the reef in our houses or workplaces. We want to keep the detrimental pests and illnesses out of our tanks. BUT we rely on a diverse biological soup for our tanks to thrive. It should never be our goal to kill everything before it goes in to our tanks.

AND if you have a pest that sneaks by your routines that’s ok! If you are in this endeavor for any length of time you will have brushes with unwanted pests of one kind or another. You’ll have to take the problem in stride and use one of the many tools at hand to deal with it. Thank goodness for all the information available on the internet (some of which is quite good) and the folks like us who might know how to help you - and will certainly try (call or email at any time).

What to expect (when you’re expecting something from your new corals):

What now?

Now comes the art of placing your new corals according to their probable preferences, watching them, and maybe moving them around a bit.

Your new corals may fluff right up only to pull in for a few days or more. They may start out unhappy and then extend more over time.

Pay attention to where they seem to do well in your tank. Keep track of rules of thumb about each type coral: each coral has its own needs and wants but in general SPS tends to like strong light and flow, while LPS often likes dirtier and darker spots in a tank, for instance.

For any types of corals that you haven’t kept before we’d recommend googling the bejeezus out of them to find out where they’d be happy in your tanks. And we’d be super happy for you to call us or email us for some pointers too!

Your corals should act more and more happy over days, weeks and months if their basic needs are met.


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