Thought to be a coral that only expert aquarium keepers should attempt to have in their reefs, carnation coral is almost irresistible to those within the hobby. Also known as Cauliflower Coral or Tree Coral, Carnation Coral originates from the tropical Pacific and Indian Oceans. This coral attaches itself to caves, in the ill-lit areas of reefs or on the ledges of reefs.
There are over 250 members of the Dendronephthya species. Carnation coral is found in a wide array of flamboyant colors, with the most common being red or orange. Carnation coral has many tentacles and each tentacle has eight polyps. Because it is a soft coral, its body tissue has calcareous spicules to retain its body structure.
Carnation coral do not contain the symbiotic algae zooxanthellae. Their diet should include live baby brine shrimp, micro-plankton, and other small food designed for feeding invertebrates in order to survive in the reef aquarium. Because these foods must be available to them almost constantly, they are only recommended for the most expert reef keepers.
If one is brave enough to attempt to keep a healthy colony of carnation coral, water temperature should be kept at 72 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Only low to moderate illumination is required, because it generally lacks the ability to be photosynthetic. Alternating moderate water flow in the aquarium is required.
This type of coral looks very interesting if attached to a reef ledge or in a cave in the marine aquarium. Carnation coral rarely if ever breeds in an aquarium environment. Many of the samples of this type of coral that are on the market are very unhealthy, and maintenance of this coral is not easy. A perfect habitat for carnation coral is very difficult to achieve.
By all accounts, carnation coral should only be cared for by the most dedicated and experienced reef keepers for ultimate health of this coral. It requires constant care and a very acutely trained eye to notice any differences in the health and well being in the reef environment. Moderate water flow with a constant supply of high-quality nutrients is required to maintain its health and nutrition. Though it is extremely beautiful to have in the aquarium, make sure you at least consult experts before adding carnation coral to your tank.