Trumpet corals are very popular among beginner and advanced reef keepers alike. These corals don’t offer the most coloration, but they are easy to keep and can be placed in a variety of places among the reef.
Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about the trumpet coral and if this coral is right for your saltwater aquarium!
Caulastrea furcata goes by many names: trumpet coral, torch coral, candy cane coral, bullseye coral, or just Caulastrea coral.
Their horn-shaped polyps give them a trumpet-like appearance and grant them their brass instrument name, while their candy name comes from the alternating light and dark stripes along the rim of their polyps. Altogether, the coral can resemble a target, too!
Caulastrea furcatais most commonly referred to as candy cane coral but can also be labeled as any of the above names. It is a large polyp stony coral (LPS) species with a hard calcium carbonate skeleton.
Like most corals, trumpet corals originate from the warm waters of the Indo-Pacific. It is believed that their populations may stretch even farther west towards Thailand, away from the famous reefs of Australia and Indonesia.
These beautiful corals can also be found in shallower and more sheltered lagoons among soft coral species. Trumpet coral colonies can grow very large as long as they remain out of the direct flow of waves and currents.
Some specimens of candy coral may be named after their area of collection. Since they are so easy to grow, though, they are considered aquacultured coral and given a brand name most of the time.
Trumpet corals are a pretty hardy coral and easy to identify as they don’t come in very many varieties. There are two main color options of trumpet coral available: green and purple and green.
Green trumpet coral is uniform in color with a green center and green rim; some varieties might be labeled as ‘neon’ and have much more intense highlighted tones.
Depending on the lighting, some shades of green can also look like a light blue. Whether they appear green or blue in your tank will greatly depend on the current water parameters and lighting conditions.
Green and purple trumpet corals are another color variation and can bring extra interest to the colony. These corals have a green center with a purple rim; sometimes, the green will be present on separated ridges on the rim, which leads to their candy cane common name.
No matter the color, these corals grow the same. A colony will start with a single polyp that eventually branches out through hard calcium carbonate skeleton structures.
Eventually, the coral will grow to create a tight cluster of fleshy polyps. Depending on flow and lighting, this colony may grow very tightly together so that no branches are exposed, while other times, the branches will have reasonable space between them.
When the polyps are closed, the branches are very easy to see. The underlying calcium carbonate underneath the polyp will also become more visible.
However, the flesh should always be covering these ridges. If it starts receding to expose the white skeleton below, there is a problem somewhere in the tank.
Trumpet coral tank requirements
Candy cane corals are considered some of the easiest LPS corals to have in the saltwater aquarium environment. They don’t require much extra care and can withstand some fluctuations in aquarium water conditions.
These corals do best with moderate lighting and moderate water movement. They do best with photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) between 75 and150. This usually means they can be placed towards the middle and lower portions of the rockwork, depending on the reef tank lighting.
For higher light intensity, they will need to be slowly acclimated and moved up the rockwork, or else they can bleach out from receiving too much light.
Trumpet corals also need moderate flow. As mentioned before, they can grow relatively dense colonies that need water to flow through freely. Water flow helps deliver nutrients while also carrying away any waste.
Water flow should not be direct, though, as the too strong flow can damage sensitive flesh.
As the coral colony grows, water flow may need to be increased to maintain nutrient delivery. Either this or the coral will need to be fragged to increase circulation once again.
Trumpet coral water parameters
Apart from lighting and flow, these corals need relatively stable tank water parameters, though they are pretty tolerant of beginner mistakes.
Here are the major parameters that should be regularly tested and maintained:
- Temperature: 75-82° F (23.9-27.8° C)
- pH: 8.0-8.4
- Salinity: 1.022-1.026 or 35 ppt
- Alkalinity: 8.0-12.0 dKH
- Calcium: 350-450 ppm
- Magnesium: 1250-1350 ppm
Most importantly, alkalinity, calcium, and magnesium levels should always be balanced against each other.
What should you feed your trumpet coral?
Candy cane corals grow well in response to supplemented foods, though they will get most of what they need naturally from fish waste and photosynthesis.
These corals can be target-fed or broadcast-fed a variety of coral food and other meaty food, like zooplankton and brine or mysis shrimp. Trumpet corals have sweeper tentacles that can be used to catch food and sting other corals, which we’ll discuss later.
Corals tend to extend their feeding tentacles at night, but can they emerge at any sign of fish food particles entering the water column. Because of this, hobbyists will usually give a little taste test to their corals before providing a full serving of food to get them to expand and be ready to eat.
While additional food will definitely help your trumpet coral grow in the beginning, once established, these corals can grow two or more new polyps a month without any additional nutrients.
Trumpet coral tank mates
Trumpet corals can be kept with any species of reef-safe fish or invertebrates. These corals are pretty resilient, and their long branches make it difficult for even the most determined hermit crabs to climb up.
Due to the many different PAR levels these corals have been kept under, they can successfully be kept in soft coral, LPS coral, or SPS coral setups. Just make sure to leave enough space between your candy cane colony and the next one over.
Do trumpet corals sting?
Yes, trumpet corals sting, though they’re not usually a problem.
Candy cane corals have very short sweeper tentacles compared to other LPS coral species. However, these corals are still capable of stinging nearby coral colonies and causing damage.
In general, it’s always recommended to allow a good amount of space around every coral you add to your tank to account for aggression and potential growth.
Fragging trumpet corals
Trumpet corals are easy to keep, and they’re incredibly easy to frag.
If you’re new to fragging, the whole concept of taking a sharp edge to your coral can be intimidating. Luckily, trumpet corals are very forgiving of the process.
Simply use a bone cutter or electric saw to cut through the calcium carbonate branch of the individual polyp. Use superglue (cyanoacrylate) to attach the frag to a frag plug, dip it in iodine or another coral recovery solution (optional), and put it on a frag rack or the sandy substrate of the aquarium.
During this process, you want to make sure that you don’t crack the skeleton. Fragging may be done in or outside the tank as long as a firm hold and exact cut are possible.
After a few days, the colony and the new frags should be fully extended and on their way to creating more polyps.
Trumpet corals might not offer the most movement or color in the aquarium, but they’re a great species to fill empty space or introduce into a beginner’s tank. They are very willing to eat and incredibly easy to frag as well.
If you have any questions about trumpet corals, other easy beginner LPS corals, or have had experience fragging a particularly large colony of candy cane coral, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!