Duncan Coral (Care, Placement, Feeding, etc.)

Image Credit: Reef Tank Resource
Image Credit: Reef Tank Resource

Duncan Coral (Care, Placement, Feeding, etc.)


Duncan corals are one of the best beginner corals out there. Not only are they beautiful specimens with creamy green, purple, or white colors but their parameters and behavior are very manageable.

Duncan corals are a peaceful species that are very easy to care for. The species only require a low to moderate flow, and moderate lighting, and a healthy variety of foods with meaty food like Mysis shrimp.

Duncan Coral Description

Duncanopsammia axifuga or duncan coral is a large polyp stony (LPS) coral that has a disc-shaped body and green tentacles. They are sort of a tube in anatomy so it is prudent that you handle them with care since that one section of their body is so important. They come from Australia which is part of the reason they are so new to the hobby since Australia only recently started sending corals internationally.

Are Duncan coral SPS or LPS?

Duncan corals are considered LPS corals so you can begin to get a general idea of where their care needs will be at.

Are Duncan corals easy to care for?

Duncan coral or whisker coral, as they can also be known, are a friendly beginner coral due to due their adaptability and ease of feeding but remember they are still LPS corals, so they will require some research and forethought.

How do you take care of Duncan Coral?

Proper duncan coral care is just like any other organism you put in your tank.; pay attention to the water parameters, temperature, lighting, and water flow. These factors will play a huge role in caring for your whisker coral.

Duncan coral temperature

Duncan corals can have a wider range of temperatures than some other corals with temperatures between 73 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Large polyp stony corals like duncans are generally around the same range of temperature but there may be times where one species isn’t quite happy within another range and your will need to adjust to meet the needs of all the coral in your reef tank.

Duncan coral water parameters

The water parameters for the corals are crucial for their long-term success so make sure that you are monitoring these closely, especially if you are new to the hobby.

  • pH – 8.1 – 8.4
  • dKH – 8 – 12
  • Specific gravity – 1.032 – 1.025
  • Flow – low to moderate water flow is best


You will also want to ensure that you have some calcium and other trace elements present in your tank. These elements are very important for sustaining the coral.

Duncan Coral Lighting

Lighting is one of the most important factors for corals so make sure that you get a lighting fixture that will fit your needs.

How much light do Duncan corals need?

Duncan corals require quite a bit of light to thrive within your tank. You should invest in a good system that can provide moderate to high lighting. To accurately provide light to your coral, you should rent or invest in a PAR meter so you can gauge the light intensity at the placement of the corals.

Duncan coral par

Generally, moderate levels are between 50 and 150 PAR while high lighting is considered 150 and higher. The corals can need as little as 120 PAR to 250 PAR. If you are unsure, start in the middle and monitor your coral’s behavior carefully so you can make proper adjustments accordingly.

Duncan Coral Feeding

Yes, the corals, like many other corals, need to be fed on occasion but luckily they are one of the easiest species of coral to feed. You just need to know how, when, and what to feed it. Regular feedings are important to keep the coral happy and healthy.

Do you need to feed Duncan coral?

You should feed your duncan coral as it will help to pad out its diet and allow it to thrive in your tank. Without the additional nutrients, your coral could lack the necessary nutrients it needs to sustain itself and stop growing or even die.

What do you feed Duncan?

Duncans will eat just about anything that any other LPS coral might eat. That includes meaty foods like Mysis shrimp and Brine shrimp.

How often do you feed Duncan?

You should try to keep feedings for your duncan between 2-3 times a week to help promote a healthy diet.

Can you overfeed a Duncan?

You can’t overfeed it in the sense that it will die from overconsuming food but you can cause other problems. The food that is not immediately eaten will begin to waste in the coral polyps and affect the water quality.

The wasting food might also teach the other tank inhabitants that they can use the coral as a food source and peck at the food that was meant for the coral. That might make it harder to feed the coral in the future.

Do Duncan corals poop?

They most certainly do. The corals like other corals will shoot waste through their mouths.

Duncan Coral Problems

Duncanopsammia axifuga is an easy coral to take care of but it can still have its fair share of problems.

Duncan flatworms

Flatworms are not necessarily a problem until they get out of control but they can look ugly nonetheless. If you are trying to remove flatworms the best thing you can do is dip them.

How to dip Duncans

Dipping corals is really easy. Take aquarium water and place it in a plastic tub and about a gallon of tank water. Next, you will want to add some revive or coral RX into the plastic tub and stir the dip mixture up.

Follow instructions if unsure of the measurement for the additive. Place your corals inside the tub for about 15 minutes and then rinse them off with more reef aquarium safe water after which you can place your coral back inside your tank. The flatworms, eggs, and any excess algae should come right off.

Duncan Coral Acclimation

You can dip your corals and place them in your tank right away given that the water parameters are within an acceptable range for the species.

Duncan Coral Placement

The placement of your corals is really important to consider. You need to think about water flow, neighbors, and lighting requirements for the species you are placing because all of those factors can change depending on where in the tank you are placing your duncan.

Where should I put my Duncan?

These corals live further down in the sea so it might be prudent to place your coral lower in your tank. The only problem with this is if you are not generating enough light to reach the coral at that location, in which case you will need to move the coral higher in your tank but make sure you are adhering to their low to moderate water flow requirements no matter where you place them. Their tentacles should sway slightly.

Can you put Duncans in the sand?

These corals will be perfectly happy being placed in the sandbed.

Duncan coral flow

these corals will be happiest with a low to moderate level of water flow so that their tentacles are swaying slightly. You don’t want too little as they will receive fewer nutrients that way and you don’t want too much as that will damage their tentacles.

Does Duncan coral-like flow?

They like some flow. While flow is a healthy factor for duncans, you can have too much of a good thing. Make sure you are not stressing your duncans out with a flow that is damaging its tentacles.

Duncan coral compatibility

Duncans are a very peaceful coral and won’t pose a danger to other species. The only thing you need to keep in mind is if the other corals in your tank are a danger to the duncan like a hammer coral. If you have these corals you should make sure there is adequate space between them so no harm comes to the duncan. Your duncan also shouldn’t have any trouble with other fish unless those fish have begun to seek the duncans out for extra food that isn’t being eaten.

Can you put Duncan corals together?

Duncans will be perfectly fine with one another since they are peaceful corals, they pose no threat to one another.

Duncan Coral Growth Rate

Duncans can grow fairly quickly if given the right conditions like an adequate diet, lighting, and trace elements in the water.

How long does it take for a Duncan coral to grow

A single duncan can sprout as many as 5 new heads at a time. They can grow very quickly if you want them to.

How to make Duncan coral grow faster

Besides ensuring that your water parameters are perfect for the coral, the other two important factors to ensure are proper diet and lighting. You want to keep to that feeding schedule to enrich their diets to promote growth and you need to keep that lighting consistent and healthy.

Duncan coral splitting

Duncans don’t really split to grow or repopulate as much as they grow new heads.

Duncan Coral Dying?

There are some telltale signs that your coral may be dying and you can usually tell simply by monitoring its appearance and behavior.

How to tell if Duncan coral is dying

If you have trouble monitoring the behavior of your coral, the easy solution is to first check the water quality. If your tank’s measurements are off, the duncans are going to suffer.

if you are more astute, you can check for signs like discoloration, closing up, open mouth, shrinking, or really anything else that might seem out of the ordinary for your coral.

Duncan mouth open

If the mouth is open, it is usually a sign that something is wrong and your duncan is telling you it is stressed. Double-check flow, lighting, and other measurements to try and find out what your duncan is complaining about.

Will Duncan grow back?

Duncan coral can regenerate some tissue if it lost any in an accident. It can also regenerate its skeleton if the conditions allow for it. Remember calcium is a huge part of the growth process for duncans and their skeletons so make sure there is enough present for your coral to rebuild.

Why is my Duncan shrinking?

Shrinking can often be a sign of the coral being displeased at its lighting. If you have made a recent change to your aquarium lighting that might be the cause of the issue.

Duncan bleaching

Bleaching can be caused by anything that stresses the coral out. However, common reasons are temperature, lighting, and lacking nutrients. Check each of these factors to try to reverse the effects of the bleaching.

Duncan polyp bailout

The bailout is often caused by a sudden stressor in the coral’s environment. You should check out the parameters.

Duncan expelling zooxanthellae

If your coral is spewing zooxanthellae it is an indication that it is very stressed. The main issues are typically lighting or flow.

You also want to make sure that you are dealing with zooxanthellae and not poop. A very common mistake that could have you wasting your time.

Duncan closed up / retracted

It can be normal for your duncan to close if it is eating or sleeping but there can be occasions where the retraction is a sign of stress and that something in your tank isn’t quite right.

Do Duncans close at night?

Duncans are a little sensitive to changes in light so if you are seeing your duncan close at night it could just be a temporary thing. If you notice this every day around the same time, then you don’t have anything to worry about.

Duncan Brown Jelly disease

Brown Jelly disease is an affliction that can affect duncans and other types of corals. The disease is named because of the floating jelly-like substance that covers corals. The brown substance covers the coral and can have a terrible smell if you take it out of the tank. The disease can cause tissue loss for the coral and is highly contagious. It also appears to be exclusive to aquarium life.

  • What causes Brown Jelly disease? – As of now, we do not know specifically what causes Brown Jelly disease which makes it much more difficult to treat.
  • How is Brown Jelly disease treated? – There isn’t really a way to treat the disease directly quite yet but we do know that it appears to be exclusive to aquarium life and isn’t present in the wild. The best thing you can do is remove the inflicted coral, dip, and quarantine it in hopes that it clears up. If it doesn’t, you will need to throw the coral away since it will just infect the rest of your coral population.
  • Can Brown Jelly disease spread? – Brown Jelly disease is highly contagious so it is best to get a handle on the situation as soon as you become aware of the problem.

Duncan Coral Frags

Frags are just chunks of coral that are broken off to grow new corals in your aquarium. You can also buy premade frags from reputable dealers.

How to remove Duncan from the frag plug

You can just cut off the plug from the frag so it looks better. It isn’t hard just be careful to only cut off where the frag ends.

How do you attach Duncan to rock?

You will want to use epoxy on the live rock where the duncan coral will attach. You can use aquarium safe glue for double insurance or in the placement of the epoxy the decision is up to you and your comfort level.

How to frag Duncans

It might be hard to find fragged duncans on the market and you might want to do it yourself. The process is relatively simple if you have a duncan that is a worthy candidate. Also, remember that this species of coral has a different body makeup than other corals so we need to be careful while cutting anything off of it.

Use a saw like a dremel and cut a branch off but leave about 2 or 3 inches between the skeleton and polyps. Take the frag and rinse it in treated water and you can begin placing it within your tank.

Types of Duncan Coral

There aren’t really other types of duncan but they do come in a variety of colors that you can choose from to make your reef tank look exactly as you would like.

Duncan colors

Duncan corals can come in colors like:

  • Pink
  • White
  • Green

Are Duncan corals aggressive?

Duncan corals are peaceful corals and will get along with any coral or fish that gets along with them.

Do Duncan corals sting?

Duncan corals can sting but they won’t try to sting other creatures unless they feel threatened. Plus, their tentacles are short so they don’t really have much of a reach within the reef tank. However, other aggressive fish or corals might cause it to try and sting back.

Can Duncan Coral kill fish?

There are reports that duncans have eaten fish but those aren’t exactly common. Duncans are a peaceful coral and as long as you are providing for it and not causing additional stressors, there shouldn’t be any issues.

Are Duncan corals toxic?

No, they do have a mild sting that won’t feel great if you accidentally handle it carelessly.

Will a clownfish host a Duncan coral?

Clownfish will host anything if given the chance. The important thing is when each specimen is introduced into the tank. If you are trying to host a Clownfish somewhere specifically then it is always best to introduce it second.

How to get clownfish to host Duncans

The best way to encourage your clownfish to host anything is to introduce the host coral first and then the Clownfish. You can use a see-through pipe and, after acclimating your clownfish, send it through the pipe until it manages to swim into the duncan coral. It should recognize the coral as a potential host spot and move right in. Once it does, it should be happy to stay there for the rest of its time in that tank. If you would like more information about clownfish hosting, check out this article.

Final Thoughts

Duncans are great corals for any reef tank whether you’re a beginner or veteran. They’re beautiful and easy to care for. Now that we’ve covered almost every question and aspect of duncan corals you should be very well prepared to have them flourish in your own aquarium.

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