Elegance coral (Catalaphyllia jardinei) is an excellent large polyp stony (LPS) coral for the mixed reef tank. This elegant coral is an anemone look-alike and has long, flowing tentacles, although it is more closely related to frogspawn, torch, and hammer corals than sea anemones. Several different color morphs/varieties are available, so if you shop around, you can find the perfect look you crave.
Let’s dive right into the guide on how to care for the Elegance coral in a saltwater aquarium!
Table of Contents: Elegance Coral
- Quick Facts
- Elegance Coral Ideal Habitat
- Feeding the Elegance Coral
- Behavior and Compatibility
- Elegance Coral Tips and Advice
- For More Information
- Scientific Name: Catalaphyllia jardinei
- Common Names: Elegance coral, Elegant coral, Wonder coral, Ridge coral
- Minimum Tank Size: 30 Gallons (114L)
- Aggression Level: Aggressive; Elegance corals will sting any neighbors within reach with sweeper tentacles.
- Compatibility: Extremely compatible with Euphyllia species (torch, frogspawn, etc.)
- Care Level: Moderate
- Lighting: Moderate
- Flow: Moderate
- Feeding Recommended? Yes, target feeding of small, meaty zooplankton-like foods is recommended.
- Calcium Supplementation? Yes, supplement to maintain calcium >400ppm
In the wild, these majestic invertebrates can be found in the Great Barrier Reef around Australia and some areas near Japan, Vanuatu, Micronesia, and Mozambique. They stay in the shallower and mid-range parts of the reed, not straying too much further than 130 feet (40m). And you almost always spot them in sandy parts of lagoons and seagrass beds.
Because this coral will grow to a relatively large size if healthy, Catalaphyllia jardinei is best suited to larger tanks. A 90-gallon saltwater tank would be perfect and allow plenty of room. However, that’s under the assumption that you would like to keep this coral along with several other species. If you wish to support this coral in a smaller tank, consider making it the focal point and provide plenty of room to grow.
Elegance corals generally thrive when placed within the bottom to the middle of the tank, depending on the relative intensity of your lights and the depth of your tank. They also need to be placed a significant distance from neighboring corals.
The bottom of the tank is generally an area of moderate-to-lower lighting and moderate-to-lower flow, which is ideal for this species.
Always acclimated any coral, including these LPS, gradually when introducing them to new lights.
Give Catalaphyllia jardinei plenty of room.
C. jardknei is a coral type with long stinging tentacles called sweeper tentacles. These specialized structures are designed for one purpose--making room to grow by stinging their neighbors. They can extend as much as 6-inches beyond the usual polyps, so be sure to give these corals a wide berth.
Another important consideration is that they may reach an adult size of 12x 8 inches (30.5x20.3cm) in the wild, with tentacles extending out an additional 6 inches (15.2cm). Suffice it to say, this is a reasonably large coral, which you should consider when placing it in your tank.
Elegance corals require a moderately high amount of light to support photosynthesis. But that doesn’t translate to intense light. LEDs, fluorescent, or other reef-caliber lights will be sufficient. You want to aim for a PAR of about 80-120. PAR stands for Photosynthetically Available Radiation, which is how you measure the quality of the light.
Water flow is vital in every reef tank containing coral. Since elegances have large (elegant, right?) fleshy polyps, the critical descriptor here is MODERATE. (Think Goldilocks and the three bears) You don’t want the flow to be too hard or too soft. “Just right” means the tentacles flow gently, like leaves in a light wind. Too little and Catalaphyllia jardinei will not thrive. Too much flow, and you risk tearing the delicate polyps.
The proper flow brings nutrients to the polyps, ensuring they remain nourished. And you’ll see the typical “sweeping” movement as they drift in the current. You’re not going for a cyclone, more of a dramatic sweep.
The Elegance coral has photosynthetic algae, called zooxanthellae, living inside its body tissue. These algae help provide the coral with some of the nutrition they need. However, they also benefit from regular feedings.
What should you feed your elegance coral?
Care should be given to the size you feed this coral. Preference is given to high-quality foods that are relatively smaller in size. An Elegance coral may greedily accept larger-sized food, but it may get regurgitated later if it is too large to reach the digestive tract.
Clownfish and other species with symbiotic relationships with anemones are excellent tank mates for Elegance corals. If you’re lucky, these animals may take a liking to your corals and settle in as a new home. Some individual colonies will tolerate this well; others may seem bothered by it.
Considered a highly aggressive member of the LPS coral group, you’ll need to think carefully about the community in your reef tank. Like anemones, elegances sport sticky tips at the ends of their tentacles. The “stickiness” helps them to catch hold of prey items. But it ALSO works when they’re waging war with everything fighting for space in the aquarium around them.
As long as you can provide enough room between colonies/frags, Blastomussas, Scolys, Plate Corals, Favia, and Acans all enjoy similar conditions and would make good companions. The key, as mentioned before, is allowing sufficient room between colonies.
Catalaphyllia jardinei has relatively large sweeper tentacles that WILL sting neighboring corals. So it’s best to provide a lot of free space around it. The tentacles will extend ~6 inches (15.2cm) around the base. And the base continues to grow over time (hopefully), so be sure to give it ample room or be prepared for your neighboring corals to get ZAPPED.
You will also want to keep this coral away from other corals with potent sweepers to prevent it from getting damaged.
Avoid keeping this coral with fish species that are notorious polyp nippers, as Catalaphyllia jardinei may end up the target of their nipping desire.
If you are thinking about adding an elegant coral to your tank, here are a few elegance coral tips:
- Look at the coral polyps carefully before purchasing. Avoid buying a specimen with polyps damaged in transit. Sometimes, these corals don’t recover from serious injuries.
- Don’t forget that corals are animals, not plants, and this coral likes to eat. So be sure to feed it regularly to get the best growth.
- Give it space to grow into. Then, even a year or two from now, make sure it will still be far enough away that it can’t sting its neighbors.
Elegance corals ARE prone to elegance coral syndrome (ECS). The infection targets Catalphyllia species, particularly individuals gathered from Indonesia. You’ll see swelling around the oral disc and unopened polyps or a white mucus coating. Unfortunately, there isn’t a cure for ECS. This is why you want to quarantine any new purchases – AND ask where they were harvested in the first place. DON’T attempt to frag “healthy” portions, either. You could kill the coral in the process.
If you are looking for a hardy LPS coral that looks great and is relatively easy to care for, this Elegant coral, if you prefer) is a good choice. Keep lighting and water flow moderate and give it space to grow.
Want to learn more? Watch this handy YouTube video:
If you are looking for other LPS corals with similar care requirements, check out:
Now it is your turn. Do you have an Elegance coral in your tank? What has your experience been keeping them? Do you recommend them?