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Why might a well-established coral suddenly die?

Many avid marine aquarists will have a well-established reef tank that provides the perfect conditions for growth thanks to proper water changes and the right doses of essential chemicals. But, even with all that work, they still get some corals that suddenly start looking poorly before slipping away. So what are they doing wrong?

If there was a product that could solve this problem, it would undoubtedly make its inventor rich. Basically, the issue boils down to the simple fact that no aquarium can completely reproduce the conditions of the ocean.

It’s always worth visiting your local Maidenhead Aquatics store and speaking to a member of staff for advice, as a quick chat can sometimes unlock a factor you may not have considered before. Additionally, some corals simply fare better in certain tanks than in others and this is largely down to the minute differences between tanks and the husbandry that goes into them.

When you lose an established coral for seemingly no reason, there are a few factors to consider beyond water parameters. The addition of any new coral can cause upset to your established stock. Corals, like any other animal carry viruses, bacteria and parasites that cannot be detected by normal methods. If your tank has been isolated from new stock for a long time and then you suddenly introduce new corals, then a number of microscopic factors may well be changing and this always carries certain risks with it. Realistically, this is an unavoidable part of the hobby and the only way to mitigate it would be to stock your aquarium with all the corals you want within days of each other and during the post establishment period.

Additionally it’s worth remembering that corals die on healthy reefs every day. For example, the initial settlement of a coral planula and subsequent development into a small colony might have been set in the perfect positions, but when the colony develops further, it may suddenly find that light has now become a diminishing factor, resulting in the eventual loss of the colony. An examination of any reef will reveal a vast array of species, and very specific corals will dominate different zones on the reef. Normal domestic aquaria tanks are highly diverse as well, and what is good for a small Fungia might not suit a developed Acanstrea, so that same Fungia might reach a critical point later in life where the tank parameters stifle its growth.

For those worried about the environmental impact of losing corals, Maidenhead Aquatics works with coral farms in the South Pacific where sustainability and ethics are at the forefront of the operation. Farms will regularly take 10% of all grown stock back to the oceans to start new reefs, and this is only possible thanks to your love of corals here in the UK.

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