Today we will be talking about Euphyllia glabrescens, which is commonly known in the hobby as Torch coral, and how to care for it.
The Torch coral is a popular large polyp stony (LPS) coral species notable for its long fleshy tentacles that sway in the tank. These fleshy tentacles have round tips with contrasting colors that make it look like a torch within the reef tank, hence the name Torch coral.
This species is related to the Frogspawn (Euphyllia divisa) and Hammer corals (Euphyllia ancora), since they all belong to the same genus Euphyllia, which are all renowned in the marine aquarium hobby. Corals from this genus are generally known for their ease of care, attractive color burst, hardiness, and aggression towards other marine corals.
Keep reading for more information about this fascinating coral and how you can grow Torch corals successfully in your reef tanks.
Quick Notes about Torch Corals
||Pom Pom Coral, Cornet Coral, and Trumpet Coral|
|Scientific Name||Euphyllia glabrescens|
|Tank size (minimum)||20 gallons (~80 liters)|
||Moderate to high|
|Optimal Temperature||23 – 28°C (~74°F – 83°F)|
|Optimal Salinity||SG = 1.023 – 1.025|
|Optimal PH||8.1 – 8.4|
|Optimal KH||8 – 12|
|Nitrate||Less than 20 ppm|
|Tank placement||Bottom to Middle|
|Growth Rate||Slow to moderate|
|Color Form||Red, purple, grey, yellow, blue, green, brown, pink, orange, etc.|
Note: The species Euphyllia glabrescens was described in 1821 by Adelbert Von Chamisso and Karl Wilhelm Eysenhardt.
Habitat of Torch Corals
Torch corals inhabit a wide range of reef environments scattered all over the world. Their colonies can be usually found in reef slopes of fairly deep turbid waters to a depth of 40 m (130 ft).
This is a widely distributed coral species common to the Indo-Pacific reef regions: Fiji, Solomon Islands, The Great Barrier Reef, Australia, Asia, and rare to the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.
Description of Torch Corals
Torch coral is a species of large polyp stony (LPS) corals characterized by the presence of a calcified skeletal base and the formation of colonies that are phaceloid (having individual corralite tubes joined at the base). The corralites of Euphyllia glabrescens are 20 – 30 millimeters (0.8 – 1.2 inches) across and 15 – 30 millimeters (0.6 – 1.2 inches) apart.
The corralite walls are thin and sharp-edged, the polyps are long and fleshy, and are able to completely retract into the skeleton. Their sweeper tentacles can range from 1 – 4 inches (2.5 – 20 cm).
Septa are not exsert and columellae are inexistent. Colonial polyps are connected by the coenosarc, this allows them to interact and share nutrients.
The polyps of Euphyllia glabrescens have large tubular tentacles with a round or knob-like tips. The color of the tentacles varies in a range of color patterns, this can be brown, grey-blue, grey-green, yellow, purple / pink with cream, green, pink, or white tips at the end of the individual tentacles.
Note: The golden torch is a rare and most sought-after variety.
In the aquariums, a Torch coral colonies usually reach approximately 5 – 10 inches (12 – 25 cm). While in nature, the size of a Torch coral colony can be up to 1 meter (3 ft).
Torch corals do not grow very fast but under optimal conditions, they can live for dozens of years.
Behavior of Torch Corals
The torch corals are active throughout the day and they will frequently extend their tentacles to draw in food been fed to them into their mouth.
Torch corals are sessile and generally aggressive, and they will tend to compete with other corals for space in the reef tank.
A rule of thumb is to leave plenty of space in between your torches and any other coral or tankmates in the aquarium. This is important as they possess cnidocyte, an explosive cell containing a giant secretory organelle known as nematocyst, and this is used by the corals to deliver a painful sting to competitors or nearby organisms.
In essence, these stinging cells help Torch corals immobilize and capture prey in their environment, and it also serves as a defensive mechanism against predators.
It is not advisable to keep them even with the closest relatives like Frogspawn (Euphyllia Divisa) and Hammer corals (Euphyllia Ancora and Euphyllia Paraancora). Torch corals will reduce them to a bare skeleton in no time. However, you can keep Torches with other Torche corals.
Warning: Even though Torch corals usually cannot penetrate human skin, you should always be careful whenever you handle corals. Their slime coating can still cause some skin irritation. Therefore, always wear rubber gloves when you are touching them.
Feeding Torch Corals
As with all other LPS corals, Torch corals have a symbiotic relationship with zooxanthellae hosting in their tissue and this enables them to obtain nutrients through photosynthesis. Although this feeding mechanism ensures they get enough nutrients to survive, Torch corals would also benefit hugely from supplemental or manual feeding.
Important: Do not overfeed. Overfeeding is one of the reasons why Torch corals may have a brown jelly infection.
They can be fed:
- mysis shrimp,
- vitamin-enriched brine shrimp,
- specialised pellet food,
- reef roids (link to Amazon)
It is best to spot feed corals by mixing meals with a bit of saltwater and squirting the mixture directly on the head using a turkey baster or pipette.
Feeding torch corals several times a week will result in increased growth, more polyp extension, and puffier body tissue.
Tip: Turn off the flow, this way it will be way easier to spot feed them.
If you have fish and shrimp that may interfere in the feeding process. Unless you distract them with other food, consider using a feeding cage.
Tank Requirements and Water Parameters
Considering the fact that the Torch corals should be separated from other corals and that they can grow big enough, I would say that a 20 gallon (80 liters) tank should be the minimum size for these corals.
Of course, larger tanks with more capacity are even better as they allow for adequate spacing of the corals and stability of water parameters.
Water type, Temperature, Hardness, and pH:
Temperature: The optimal temperature range for keeping torch corals is between 76 – 83 ° F (24 – 28 ° C).
pH: The ideal pH level is between 8.1 – 8.4.
Hardness: This coral will thrive best in tank water with a value of 8 – 12 dKH.
The torch corals need moderate to high lighting for best growth and coloration, and also to maintain good health condition. At the same time, be careful, too much light can cause them to bleach.
They do enjoy diffused light and will appreciate lighting from metal halides, but the light from this source can be too intense for the corals if they are placed directly under it. Metal halides give off way too much heat which may damage the polyps resulting in rapid tissue necrosis.
The output from LED lighting around 75 – 150 PAR value, is sufficient for the lighting needs of the corals.
Another interesting feature of Torch corals is that they generally will change colors depending on what kind of lighting you have. Whether it is white light or blue light, they will not stay the same color.
The water flow / movement in reef tanks housing this species should be moderate, not too weak or too strong. It should be good enough to keep detritus from settling on top of the coral.
Bear in mind that strong water flow can be too harsh and it may damage the corals or make the polyps unable to extend fully. So, if you see that Torch corals do not want to open, check out the flow rate, it may be too strong for them.
However, it also depends on the Torch corals species you have. For example, in nature, purple-gold Torch corals are found at the mouth of rivers (with very strong water flow and brackish water interaction) where they have different types of sediment.
Care and Maintenance of Torch Corals
Always endeavor to make partial water changes of either 20 – 25% monthly, 10 – 15% bi-weekly, or 5% weekly to maintain good water quality and replenish the needed trace elements.
Note: Refrain from changing more than 25% of the aquarium water at one time, you would be doing more harm than good.
In addition, the corals should be inspected on a regular basis, this aids in prompt detection of any damage, infection, or unusual changes in their behavior.
Routine checks and a good water change schedule is key to the effective management of the water chemistry and ensuring good health of the corals. These additional water parameters should be consistently maintained.
Calcium: Between 400 to 450 ppm. Calcium is the major building block of large polyp stony (LPS) corals.
Magnesium: 1,250 – 1,350 ppm
Salinity/Specific Gravity: 1.023 – 1.025
Strontium: 8 – 10 ppm
Phosphate: < 0.05 ppm
Ammonia: 0 ppm
Nitrates: < 20 ppm
Note: There are some reposts that Torch corals do not like nitrates. It stresses and weakens them.
Placement in the Tank
Torch corals can be aggressive when placed in close range with other coral species, except the corals are those from its own genus. Therefore, marine corals other than its kind should be adequately spaced out or positioned away from Euphyllia glabrescens to avoid harm.
When placing Torch corals in a reef tank, the focus should be on where they will feel completely comfortable, lively, and avoid getting blasted by high currents and/or direct lighting. This process can be subjected to a trial and error exercise; by placing the coral in different areas within the reef tank till a good spot is found.
As observed, the Torch corals will do best when placed in lower sections of a reef tank, and they can be either placed directly on the tank substrate or fastened to a live rock.
Placing corals on a substrate (sand bed) allows them to receive indirect diffused lighting and moderately turbulent flow, but this comes at an expense of sand getting trapped in their calcified base.
The better option here is placement on a live rock as this allows them to receive moderate currents, thereby preventing damage to their delicate tissue.
Common Problems Associated with Torch Corals
Brown Jelly: As the name suggests, this condition is characterized by a brown jelly-like goo. Brown jelly can be caused by poor water quality, tissue damage, overfeeding, etc. When it occurs, there is a presence of brown jelly floating on the surface of the coral and this can easily spread to the whole colony or other corals within the tank if not treated.
Solution: Brown jelly can be treated by taking the coral away to a different tank or container, brush, and siphon off any visible trace of brown jelly, infected areas (heads) can also be fragged to reduce spread. The unhealthy coral should be dipped in a freshwater dip (15 ppt) or iodine solution to eliminate the infection.
Broad-spectrum antibiotics are also potent enough to cure brown jelly infection. Afterward, place the treated coral in a quarantine tank to recover fully before returning it to the main tank.
Flatworm: Torch corals tend to carry hitchhikers like coral-eating flatworms. Even though they can grow pretty large, they also hide very well. Usually, you can find them hiding right between the coral flesh and the bone stalk.
Solution: Quarantine and disinfect corals before putting in the display tank. Do not put corals in the main tank right after treatment, they may still have flatworms’ eggs. Therefore, you may have to repeat the treatment a couple of weeks apart.
Mishandling: The corals should be handled with utmost care especially during fragging, there have been several instances where the Torch coral skeleton shattered due to fragging with bone cutters, and this could injure the fleshy polyp area resulting in tissue damage.
Solution: The use of band saw allows for a safer and precise cutting of the corals when compared to bone cutters and sheers.
Fragging and Propagation Torch Corals
Torch corals are capable of carrying out sexual and asexual reproduction. In the wild, the corals will release mature gametes (eggs and sperm) into the water, fertilization takes place, and this will give rise to coral larvae, otherwise known as planulae.
Under the right conditions, the free-swimming planulae will metamorphose into polyps that will attach themselves to the surface they have settled on.
In asexual reproduction, the mature polyps reproduce by budding. This enables smaller polyps to form around the base, these polyps will remain connected to the colony or break-off in response to environmental conditions to establish a new colony.
If you see long strings coming out of the Torch coral, do not worry, it just a sign that its heads are about to split soon.
Another means of propagation is through the fragging of a healthy coral.
This process is simple, but you have to be cautious.
- You should ensure your hands are clean or wear a pair of gloves.
- Take out the coral and irritate it a little bit, so that it will retract the tentacles.
- Cut it down. The Torch coral can be divided into several parts by cutting through the branching corralites (where the flesh is totally separated), two to three inches (5 – 7 cm) below the head. We do not want to damage the flash of the coral.
Note: This can be easily done using a band saw.
- Attach the new frags to a frag plug or live rock using cyanoacrylate gel before placing them back into the reef tank.
Tip: Take a frag plug and put it in the water for a couple of minutes to release the air bubbles that might be in the ceramic frag plug.
Tip #2: Treat the new frags with an iodine solution (for example, Lugols Solution – check the price on Amazon) to prevent them from contracting diseases, then you can attach them to a live rock before placing them back into the tank.
Things that you might need depending on your method:
Torch Corals and Tankmates
As I have already said, Torch corals are aggressive and should not be kept too close to other corals. Their stings can be lethal to some of them. Make sure that they are placed at least 15 – 20 cm (6 – 8 inches) from any other corals.
Also, in the absence of sea anemones, Clownfish are known to host in Torch corals in marine aquariums. Is it good? No, it is not.
Clownfish may accidentally damage Torch corals that can cause infections like brown jelly. Basically the same can be said about hermit crabs, crabs, etc.
Torch corals do not like to be disturbed.
Buying Torch Corals
Corals from the Euphyllia genus are widely available, and the Torch corals are no exception. These attractive corals are commonly sold at pet stores offline, they can also be sourced online from reputable reefers.
A specimen of this species goes for $50 or more, the major price determinants being the size, color, and rarity (for example, the Golden Torch costs as much as $500).
Torch coral is a striking and interesting addition to reef tanks. The swaying of its long fleshy tentacles in the tank water is absolutely remarkable and delightful to watch.
This coral species is moderately hardy and relatively easy to care for. You need to ensure that the tank water stays clean always, maintain stable water parameters, keep an eye on the corals, feed them regularly, and they will be fine.
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