Candy Cane Coral Care & Info

Candy cane coral (Caulastraea furcata) care & info

If you’re just getting started with your first reef or simply just don’t want any hassle, sticking with easy corals is your best bet. One of our favorite easy choices is Caulastraea furcata, also known as the candy cane coral. Not too challenging to care for and still spectacular in appearance!

Keep reading for everything you need to know about keeping candy cane coral in your aquarium.

Name (Common, Scientific)Candy cane coral, trumpet coral, bullseye coral, Caulastraea furcata
Temperature74-83 °F
Difficulty levelEasy-intermediate

Candy Cane Coral

Candy Cane Coral Appearance

Caulastraea furcata is an LPS (large polyp stony) coral that has many common names. It lends its most well-known one, ‘candy cane coral’, from its appearance. Light stripes around the center of the polyps somewhat resemble the pattern on a candy cane or peppermint. Most feature brown polyps with a green center but selective aquaculturing has lead to this species appearing in various other colors including blue and yellow.

The coral consists of a stalk covered by a fleshy bulb, the polyp. This makes for a trumpet-like appearance (hence the other common name, trumpet coral*), although you usually won’t be able to clearly see this as the polyps can grow very dense.

*Trumpet coral is a general name used for multiple species in the genus Caulastraea.

Candy Cane Coral Care

As mentioned before, candy cane coral is not the most challenging coral species to care for by any means. In fact, it’s very popular due to its relatively low lighting needs and the fact that it’s not very aggressive. It can technically deliver a good sting but its tentacles are very short, so it’s fine with other corals as long as you keep a bit of distance between them. It also doesn’t require very strong water flow nor intensive feeding and it can handle some swings in water quality that might kill other corals.

Be sure not to place your candy cane coral in the top layer of the tank, as the lighting in this area might be too bright. You’ll note the polyps retracting if things are getting a bit too sunny for this species.

To keep your candy cane coral happy and healthy, make sure you perform weekly small water changes and keep the water values in check. Phosphates should be low at all times (.05-.07) and nitrates under 10. Also keep an eye on the calcium and magnesium values, which should be around 400-440ppm and 1200-1350 respectively. If anything is wrong, the polyps will retract in order to show their unhappiness.

Candy Cane Coral

Feeding Candy Cane Coral

As mentioned before, candy cane corals don’t need heavy feedings: around twice a week should be fine. They’ll capture whatever tiny bits float around the aquarium by themselves. Additionally, they receive some of their nutrients from zooxanthellae, symbiotic algae they carry within that are able to photosynthesize.

You’ll see your candy cane corals extend their tentacles during the morning hours, as well as whenever food is present in the aquarium. Some reefers report much better growth in this species with the regular addition of mysis and other small coral foods, so if you’re not seeing much happening then you could bump up the feedings.

How to Frag Candy Cane Coral

Dividing your candy cane coral should be a breeze due to the way it grows, with polyps on elongated stalks. All you need is a very sharp utensil like a coral bone cutter, which helps avoid damaging the delicate polyp flesh. Cut through the stalk and voilà, you’ve fragmented the coral!

Take the frag and glue it to a rock or frag plug, after which you can gently place it wherever you want it.

Need Help?

A marine aquarium filled with amazing corals like this one is a beautiful addition to any living room or business, but it’s also a challenge to set up and maintain without the proper knowledge. If you’d like to own a reef but don’t want the hassle, contact us here with your ideas and we’ll see how we can help you!