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

Image Credit: David Davies via Flickr
Image Credit: David Davies via Flickr

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

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Hammer corals can be a beautiful addition to your reef aquarium with their florescent coloring and swaying tentacles, but you must take the proper precautions to ensure that they will have a pleasant experience in your tank.

Hammer corals can be a tricky species to care for beginners. You need to ensure that their temperature is around 78-79 degrees F while at the same time giving them plenty of flow to secure nutrients and the occasional Mysis shrimp. However, they can be a little aggressive too so ensure that their neighbors are part of the same family to keep tensions cool.

Hammer Coral Description

Euphyllia Ancora or hammer corals are a type of LPS coral that can come in a variety of colors like gold, blue, and green. The colors are even fluorescent under the right lighting which only adds to aquarists’ interest in the species. The coral’s tentacles can branch and have various tips on the ends like t-shapes, anchor shapes, and just bulbous dots. Euphyllia Ancora is found in tropic waters about 130 feet below the surface and tends to get along well with other coral euphyllia. The species of coral can come in two types: the wall hammer and the branching hammer. The type that you have might dictate your hammer coral care and the placement with your tank.

Is hammer coral SPS or LPS?

Hammer coral is a large polyp stony so keep that in mind when you are preparing your tank for their inclusion. Knowing whether your coral is a soft coral, LPS coral, or SPS coral can give you a general idea of where their needs will fit in the grand scheme of needs, including temperature, water flow, and water quality.

Are hammer corals easy to care for?

Hammers are not the toughest coral to care for within the hobby but they will still require more know-how than the average species. The most important thing you can do with any new species you are trying to introduce to your tank is to research it thoroughly to ensure that you are going to be ready to meet its needs for the foreseeable future.

How do you take care of Hammer Coral?

Caring for your hammer requires that you are not only willing to monitor its required temperature and water parameters but that you are willing to directly feed it on occasion and provide tank mates that it will get along with.

Hammer coral temperature

Temperature is important for everything in your tank so it is important to know the temperature requirements of all your tank’s inhabitants and ensure that they do not conflict with one another. Hammer corals need between 78 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit to thrive.

Hammer coral water parameters

The temperature is only one piece of the overall puzzle of hammer coral care. Being able to meet all of these needs is equally important and will determine the health of your hammer corals.

  • Salinity – 1.025
  • pH – 8.1-8.3
  • Water flow – Moderate flow
  • Lighting – Moderate
  • Calcium – 400-450 ppm
  • Alkalinity – 8-11 dkh

Hammer coral lighting

Arguably, lighting is one of the most important requirements to hammer coral care. You will want to ensure that you are getting quality lighting to ensure proper growth and health.

How much light do hammer corals need?

The coral will need moderate lighting to thrive but know that they are fairly adaptable so you have some time to get the correct lighting. The main thing you want to watch out for is how your hammer corals are reacting to the light that they are given. Monitor its color and behavior, if the coral is bleaching you might have a lighting problem.

Hammer coral par

Proper hammer coral care will require that you are meeting a PAR rating generalized for moderate levels of light. That should be between 50 and 150 PAR and you can better determine this by investing in a PAR meter. However, you can also rent one if your local pet store allows it since you only need the meter for a short amount of time typically.

Hammer Coral Feeding

An often overlooked part of the hammer coral care is ensuring that they are manually fed.

Do you need to feed hammer coral?

That’s right, hammer corals need to be physically fed on occasion to keep their diet well rounded. The good news is that, unlike other LPS corals, hammer corals do not need to eat as often so it might not be as bad if you miss a feeding day.

What do you feed hammer coral?

These corals will be at their happiest if you can provide meaty food like Mysis shrimp to their diet now and then. Just take the shrimp and push it into the coral’s polyps and that should be a job well done.

How often do you feed hammer coral?

You don’t want to overdo it on feeding. Remember that corals also get some nutrients from lighting and nutrients in the water, hence the need for a moderate level of water flow. The feeding is really only to supplement other dietary needs. You can get away with feeding your corals 2-3 times a week but make sure to space it out. Don’t feed your wall hammer Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Can you overfeed a hammer coral?

Like any organism, corals can only eat so much. While they won’t necessarily kill themselves by overindulging the excess food that is left in the tank will begin to waste and create water quality issues which in turn could hurt your corals.

Do hammer corals poop?

Yes, they wall hammer corals and branching corals do poop. Just another waste product being created in your tank’s ecosystem.

How to dip hammer coral

Dip your LPS corals by taking a plastic tub and about a gallon of tank water. Next, you will want to add about 2 scoops of reefdip into the plastic tub and stir the dip mixture up. 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.

Euphyllia eating flatworm

Flatworms can be a pain in the butt and cause your euphyllia corals a lot of stress. You might consider dipping your euphyllia corals to remove the flatworms and eggs from the coral but that could cause additional stress to your coral if you are not careful. To potentially avoid that, you might try flatworm exit to extricate the worms but make sure that you have carbon and water ready to remove the additives once their job is done.

Hammer coral acclimation

There are two trains of thought for this process. Many people swear that you can dip your corals and place them in your tank right away given that the water parameters are perfect. If that makes you nervous you can always do the trusted drip method of acclimation to get your wall hammer ready for the tank. We have an article that covers the drip method of acclimation.

Hammer coral placement

Placement is really important for coral care as corals aren’t the most mobile of species, where you place them can have a large effect on their happiness.

Where should I put my hammer coral?

The placement has two factors: lighting and water flow. Where you choose to place your euphyllia coral will be immediately affected by these factors. If you have a high flow to better accommodate SPS corals then you will need to find a section of the tank where the water movement isn’t as pronounced while at the same time ensuring that the corals are receiving adequate lighting. A PAR meter can be very helpful here if you don’t have a lighting fixture that isn’t adaptable.

Can you put hammer coral in the sand?

Hammer coral are fairly adaptable and can go pretty much anywhere in your tank as long as the water flow and lighting match their needs, including the sand.

Hammer coral flow

The corals should be flowing with the current of the water. Remember swaying is ideal but bent over is not. There should be some polyp movement but not so much that they look like they are careening only in one direction.

Does hammer coral-like flow?

Yes, hammer corals are a type of LPS coral and they require some flow to thrive.

Hammer coral compatibility

Hammers can be aggressive to their tank mates so it is important to give them neighbors that won’t be hurt by their sweeping tentacles and give them plenty of room to grow in their own way.

Avoid including other non-euphyllia coral and try to only have fish that are known to not attack coral.

Can you put hammer corals together?

Hammer corals are perfectly fine with other euphyllia coral including other wall hammer coral and branching hammer coral.

Hammer coral growth rate

These corals can grow pretty quickly if their needs are being met correctly.

How long does it take for a hammer coral to grow

The growth rate for hammers can grow pretty big within only a few months or it might take a few years. It all depends on how accurately you can meet their needs with lighting, diet, and water parameters.

How to make hammer coral grow faster

If you want to make your coral grow faster pay attention to the PAR level they are placed in. Are they receiving enough light or do you need to move them? Also, are you feeding them meaty foods directly or are you only relying on the light and water flow to get your hammers all their nutritional needs? If you can take a more proactive step in caring for your corals then they will begin to grow much faster.

Hammer coral splitting

As your corals begin to grow, they will eventually reach a point where they will want to expand and will split to form a new head. However, this process relies heavily on calcium to build the skeleton properly so make sure you are providing adequate levels of calcium in your tank.

Hammer coral has a bubble

If your hammer coral has a bubble, it could mean that your coral is dying or that it is completely fine. That’s frustrating but in these circumstances, the best thing you can do is make sure that you are meeting the needs of your coral, If everything is correct, then there is a good chance that the bubble will go away and everything will be fine just as it always has.

Hammer coral dying?

The last thing we want is a dying coral and sometimes that is unavoidable. However, knowing how to spot the signs of a struggling coral can help in what direction you can take your actions to help prevent any future issues.

How to tell if hammer coral is dying

Monitoring your coral’s behavior is important to get an understanding of where its health is at. Is your coral closing up or losing a lot of its color? Those are signs that it could be dying and you should begin to try to identify what the issue might be. You can tell if it is still kind of alive by running blue light and seeing if there is a little bit of color present.

Hammer coral mouth open

When a hammer coral has its mouth open it can be a sign of distress. If their tentacles are looking shriveled or it is shooting out brown discharge there could be an issue. Check your water flow and water parameters to ensure those are not the issues.

Will Hammer coral grow back?

It is possible that your coral can create a new skeleton over its old one. It is a common practice in natural reefs and how the reefs achieve their size. However, it also isn’t guaranteed and depends largely on your ability to match that natural reef environment.

Why is my hammer coral shrinking?

If your coral is shrinking there is an issue. You should check your water quality. Are you adding any additives to your water? These are the things that will create the shrinkage and you should begin to remedy them to preserve the coral. To help remove additives, perform small water changes.

Hammer coral bleaching

If your hammer coral is bleaching, the lighting is not at an appropriate level for the coral. Get a PAR meter and check the spot where your coral is placed. If it is accurate then you might need to change the lighting schedule for a less intense light at night.

Hammer coral bailout

The bailout is when a polyp will detach from the coral skeleton. This process is done either because the coral is stressed or to reproduce. Ensure the water quality and flow are within accepted requirements. If water quality and flow are okay then it is most likely because the organism is trying to reproduce and you don’t need to worry as much about that.

Hammer coral expelling zooxanthellae

Zooxanthellae are often expelled from hammer corals that are stressed out, usually a sign of poor lighting conditions or flow. The zooxanthellae will be expelled from the coral’s mouth and often can be mistaken for poop.

Hammer coral closed up / retracted

Again, retracting coral is a sign of stress and that something is wrong with the coral’s environment. Check that the salinity, temperature, flow, and phosphate levels are at appropriate requirements.

Do hammer corals close at night?

Yes, this is completely normal for hammers and many other kinds of corals.

Hammer coral Brown Jelly disease

Brown Jelly disease is an affliction that can affect hammers and is named for the way it affects the coral. It will cover the coral in a brown substance that appears to float over it like jelly and can have a terrible smell if you take it out of the tank. It can lead to the loss of tissue for the coral and kill it.

What causes Brown Jelly disease?

We aren’t entirely sure what specifically causes the disease but it appears to be restricted to aquarium environments only.

How is Brown Jelly disease treated?

There are no surefire ways to treat the disease since the cause isn’t known as of yet. There are two common options that people could try. First, you can dip the coral and then quarantine it and monitor it for change. Don’t reintroduce the coral until you are sure that the disease has run its course. Or you have to throw the coral away to avoid further contamination.

Can Brown Jelly disease spread?

Yes and very quickly. The disease will target any corals within your tank and will get there very quickly. As soon as you spot this disease, you should begin extricating the infected coral.

Hammer coral frags

Frags are pieces of coral that are broken off to help grow new corals. They are also sold prepared by retailers so you don’t have to injure your own corals.

How to remove hammer coral from the frag plug

The best way to remove the plug from the hammer coral is to cut off the stem or you can use a pair of pliers to carefully snap the plug off.

How do you attach hammer coral to rock?

Grab some epoxy and use it on the live rock where the hammer coral will attach to. You can also opt to use aquarium safe glue for double insurance.

How to frag hammer coral

You want to cut the stems with a broad blade and ensure that you are avoiding the heads of the coral. You are trying to only cut the stems of the coral to use as frags.

Types of hammer coral

There are two types of hammer coral which include branching and wall hammers. The main difference between types is how they will grow in your tank.

Wall vs branching hammer coral

Wall hammers will grow in one bunch sort of like a head of broccoli. The branching coral will grow in a branching form out and upwards.

Hammer coral colors

Hammers come in a variety of colors from green to yellow/gold to tan, brown, and purple.

Hammer coral vs frogspawn

Both species are a part of the euphyllia coral family but have subtle differences. Frogspawn will grow with tentacle tips that are dotted while the tips of the hammers will look like hammers or anchors

Hammer coral vs torch

Both species are a part of the euphyllia coral family so they are compatible to be in the same tank. Torches are characterized by their long flowy polyps.

Are hammer corals aggressive?

Hammers are aggressive towards any species that is not a part of the euphyllia family. Be careful when planning what tank mates to provide your hammer coral with.

Do hammer corals sting?

Hammer corals can use their sweeper tentacles to attack and sting the corals around them.

Can Hammer Coral kill fish?

They won’t harm your fish and your fish should generally avoid the sweeper tentacles of the hammer. However, keep in mind that the tentacles can still sting you if you aren’t careful.

Are hammer corals toxic?

hammer corals can provide a sting that can kill other corals and the sting can most certainly hurt you if you aren’t careful. However, the majority of your tank’s ecosystem should be fine.

Hammer coral sweeper tentacles

The sweeper tentacles are one of the defining characteristics of the hammer coral. The coral will use the tentacles to attack other corals around it and can reach about 7 inches above the top of its own head.

Will a clownfish host a hammer coral?

Clownfish will host a variety of different organisms and objects including hammer corals.

How to get clownfish to host hammer coral

The best way to encourage your clownfish to host anything is to introduce the desired host object first and then the clownfish. You can grab a clear pipe and, after acclimating your clownfish, send it through the pipe until it finds the hammer. It should recognize the coral as a potential host spot and move right in. If you would like more information, be sure to check out our article about clownfish hosting.

Final Thoughts

Hammer corals are a great addition to most reef aquariums. With a little knowledge, hammer coral care really isn’t too difficult.

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