What’s up everyone, welcome to a Tidal Gardens
coral spotlight. If you are new to this channel, Tidal Gardens
is a coral farm located in Copley, OH and here we talk about all things coral reef tank
related. This video is all about Psammocora. Psammocora are an uncommon stony coral in
the aquarium trade. They are infrequently imported compared to
other corals and fly under the radar of most hobbyists. I don’t typically see a lot of reef keepers
go out of their way to track down this genus of corals. That is not to say that they are not abundant
in the wild. Psammocora are found throughout reefs in the
Indo-Pacific including Fiji, Tonga, Solomon Islands, and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. It is an oddball coral in the sense that most
reef hobbyists, even those that are enthusiastic about SPS tanks, are unfamiliar with it. Its appearance in many ways resembles other
encrusting small polyp stony corals such as Montipora, Leptastrea, Pavona, or Leptoseris. When they grow out, the coral encrusts over
the surface of the rock and can make for a bright and beautiful landscape. Some varieties can form branches but most
of them are encrusting. There are structural variations from species
to species within Psammocora so is understandable for hobbyists and vendors to misidentify this
coral. There is a surprising number of color morphs
that Psammocora express. In the past there were only green ones that
I was aware of, but over time our collection of color morphs increased to the point that
it is now one of the most diverse SPS corals we are culturing. It will be interesting to see if there are
more color morphs that will turn up in the future. Now that we have covered some background on
the coral, let’s talk a little more specifically about the care requirements for Psammocora…
starting with Lighting. When it comes to lighting and placement in
the tank, Psammocora are pretty flexible. We have kept Psammocora in different lighting
intensities, however we favor keeping them in aquariums with medium to high light. Anything around 100-200 PAR is a good starting
point. Psammocora have consistent coloration meaning
they won’t completely shift color palate in the way Acropora or Montipora will, but
that is not to say that better lighting won’t bring out more desirable coloration. In my tanks at least they seem to have brighter
colors and better highlights when provided more intense light than say in a dimmer aquarium
under 50 PAR. One thing to always consider is to not fry
corals under too much light too quickly. Even if you plan to keep it under 200+ PAR
lighting it is always a good idea to acclimate it slowly to those intensities. Lighting that is too intense will kill off
a coral much faster than lighting that is too dim, so when in doubt, go with dimmer
light and slowly move the coral into higher light. If you start to see Psammocora starting to
bleach out, the most likely cause is high lighting intensity and I would recommend relocating
the coral immediately or turning down the light if you can. Let’s move on to water flow for this coral. Psammocora appreciate medium to high flow. Water movement serves two main functions for
corals. The first is that it carries away waste and
helps prevent detritus from settling on the coral. The second function that strong water flow
provides is transporting nutrients to the coral. As a practical tip, pay attention to the flow
in the tank over time. Corals like consistency and Psammocora is
no different in that regard. Unfortunately, water flow is one of those
things that tends to be inconsistent as a tank ages. Coral growth, especially with fast growing
species reduces flow in the tank. Also, other organisms like to grow on aquarium
pumps and plumbing which will reduce flow. Some pumps are really sensitive to any obstruction
so it is best to routinely clean them out. Psammocora have small polyps are you would
not expect to see dramatic feeding displays, but Psammocora are a surprisingly good feeder. I say surprising because their polyps are
very small and much of the time corals with very small polyps tend to shy away from direct
feeding. Psammocora though can grab onto small food
particles and quickly consume them. I would not go out of my way to spot feed
them, but they are more than capable of eating small pieces of mysis shrimp if given the
opportunity. Going back to our talk of water flow, some
hobbyists like to turn off the pumps to feed the corals to give them more of an opportunity
to grab food because if the flow is too strong, it usually just blows around them. Having said that, even in strong currents
these corals are likely taking in other forms of nutrients in the water such as amino acids. I did a video all about amino acids so if
you want to learn more about them be sure to check out that video, but to summarize,
amino acids are simple organic compounds that play a major role in building proteins as
well as other biological functions at the cellular level. Corals regularly take in available amino acids
from the water column so it is easy to provide them with adequate quantities by broadcast
feeding an amino acid solution. There have been some studies that suggest
water flow increases the efficiency in which the corals take in amino acids, so it is possible
that what the corals lack in prey capture, they can make up in increased amino acid uptake
when provided stronger flow. Let’s talk briefly about chemistry. I’ll break it up into two sections, growth
parameters and pollution parameters. Starting with the growth parameters, because
Psammocora are stony corals, there are three major chemical parameters that are needed
to power that skeletal growth. These parameters are Calcium, Alkalinity,
and Magnesium. Real quick, Calcium is one of the major ions
in saltwater. In the ocean, its level hovers around 425
parts per million (ppm). As a coral grows calcium is absorbed from
the water and used to forms its calcium carbonate skeleton. Alkalinity on the other hand is not a particular
ion, but rather a general figure of carbonate availability in the water. There are over a dozen different ions constantly
interacting with one another. Technically it is the amount of acid required
to lower the pH of saltwater to the point bicarbonate turns into carbonic acid. If you have more alkalinity, it can soak up
more acid. Less alkalinity and you have less buffering
capacity making the tank more susceptible to chemical changes. This is why in practice alkalinity tends to
be the parameter that fluctuates the most. There are a lot of different ions that could
be potentially thrown off balance resulting in a dip in alkalinity. In the wild, the alkalinity of the water is
around 8-9 dkh so try to keep it steady in that ballpark. Remember, consistent levels is much more important
than chasing a specific number. Even if your levels are low, I would be more
inclined to just keep it there if the corals are doing well. If you do decide to elevate the levels to
more closely match natural sea water, I recommend doing so slowly over a long period of time. That brings me to the next point. Raising both calcium and alkalinity together
can be tricky because of how they interact. Calcium ions and carbonate want to react with
one another. Addition of a calcium supplements often comes
with a corresponding fall in alkalinity levels and vice versa. If you are experiencing this in your systems,
it is normal, but you really want to avoid wild swings. If you are experiencing wild swings of calcium
and alkalinity every time you use an additive, you may want to look at your Magnesium levels. Magnesium behaves chemically similar to calcium. It can bind up carbonate ions thus increasing
the overall bioavailability of alkalinity compounds in the water. If you are tweaking calcium and alkalinity
and getting strange results, you may want to make sure it is not your magnesium level
that is low. In the ocean, Magnesium sits at about 1350
ppm and it tends to be the most stable of the three parameters. Moving on to the pollution parameters, we
have Nitrate and Phosphate. These two parameters are the measurements
of water cleanliness most commonly performed by hobbyists. We recommend shooting for 10-15 ppm Nitrate
and .05 ppm Phosphate but in practice here we keep both levels higher. If Nitrate levels get too high corals may
react negatively by taking on drab coloration or suddenly dying back. If Phosphate levels are too high, it may feed
into an unwanted algae bloom. There can be trouble as well if these two
parameters are too low. Some people keep their systems insanely clean
and that may lead to other problems because corals do need to have some present for their
nutrition. Nitrate and Phosphate are compounds that they
cannot get from photosynthesis alone. The corals first take on a shrunken emaciated
look and then they start dying off. That should give you a little bit of background
on the chemical parameters to keep an eye on. Let’s move onto the topic of aggression. Psammocora isn’t any more or less aggressive
than any other SPS coral. If it touches another coral, it is going to
fight so I always recommend giving it plenty of space to grow and to keep an eye on it
to make sure that it does grow and touch another coral or get dislodged and fall into something. I have not noticed them extend sweeper tentacles. Ok, that about does it for Psammocora. So who is Psammocora best suited for? I see it as an SPS coral for someone that
is just looking for something different. It is a nice change of pace from a sea of
fuzzy sticks in an SPS dominant reef. Anyway, that does it from here. Hopefully this video is helpful for those
looking to try them for the first time. If you would like more information or perhaps
purchase Psammocora for your home aquarium, I invite you to visit us at tidalgardens.com
and see what we have in stock. We are always on the lookout for new and interesting
color morphs of this coral to add to our collection. Until next time, happy reefing.