Soft corals are one of the easiest types of corals to house in a saltwater home aquarium. They have lower light requirements and are able to withstand major changes in water quality. One of my favorite types of soft corals are the mushrooms corals. They come in all different types and colors but most have the same care requirements. They enjoy low light and do well under a ledge or on the sandbed. Lower flow suits them well and they do enjoy a feeding every now and then. I like to use PolypLabs brand of coral food called Reef-Roids. Mix a little bit with tank water and use a long coral feeding tube to slowly put the food on the mushroom and watch them eat!
Another favorite soft coral is Xenia. There are a few types of Xenia on the market but most are known for their pulsing ability. They can create a beautiful scene of slow, yet constant, pulsating from each polyp. They also do well under lower lights. In order to really watch them in their prime they should be placed in an area with little to no flow. They will pulse in areas of flow but they do show off better with little to no flow.
Propagation of these soft corals is pretty easy. Some, like Xenia or Green Star Polyps, will spread steadily and rapidly on their own. Keep this in mind as they will expand to all surrounding rockwork in the tank! They can be propagated very easily. I’ll use Xenia as an example here. Start by scraping or cutting a stalk off a rock. Next, get a shallow bowl or container to use in the tank and fill with little bits of rock rubble. This can be the small pieces of rock that show up in the bottom of a box of rocks or you can buy a cheap, dry rock and go to town with a hammer and chisel. The idea is to have lots of little pieces no larger than an inch big. Place the bowl of rubble in a very low flow part of the tank and simply drop the detached Xenia into the bowl. Sometimes a screen can be helpful here to prevent the coral from leaving the bowl if there is any kind of flow. Now we wait a couple weeks until the Xenia has attached itself to a new piece of rubble. That rubble can be either glued to a frag plug or used as-is and placed elsewhere in the tank!
Mushrooms are another very easily propagated soft coral. Simply cut the old mushroom off the rock and place the top in a bowl of rubble, like mentioned above, and allow it to heal. The foot of the mushroom that is left on the rock will regrow into a new mushroom and the top part, in the bowl, will grow a new foot to attach to the rubble. Mushrooms also tend to split on their own, dividing into two or more new corals from time to time. I just had a large mushroom split into three parts the other day. When they do split on their own, it’s not uncommon for one of the new splits to drift off the rock they were attached to. You may find mushrooms in parts of your tank you didn’t want sometimes, but they are easily scraped off a rock.
While there are lots of soft corals, these just happen to be my favorite ones! A tank full of different types of soft corals can look very aesthetically pleasing.
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