The Plate Coral is one of the few LPS corals that beginners will find easy to care for and include as part of their reef aquarium setups. There are different types of Plate Corals available to reef aquarium hobbyists, so you are sure to find one that strikes your fancy and fits in with your aquascape. In this article, you will learn everything there is to know about the Plate Coral and how to care for it in an effective and practical manner.
What is a Plate Coral?
The Plate Coral is a charming large polyp stony or LPS coral that is known for its disc shape. This type of coral comes in a host of different colors and may sometimes grow to have a more irregular shape than the usual circular shape seen in aquarium shops.
Plate Coral Stats
There’s a lot to learn about the Plate Coral, but it’s always a good idea to begin acquainting yourself with its taxonomy and basic information. Read the information provided in the tables below to get a better feel of the Plate Coral. After this section, you should find that you have a better idea as to whether or not this kind of coral is a good fit for your fishkeeping style and your reef aquarium.
|Ideal Temperature Range||73 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit|
|Light demands||Low to Moderate|
|Growth speed||Moderate to Fast|
|Ideal PH range||8.1 to 8.4|
|Ideal GH range||8 to 12|
|Cultivation difficulty||The Plate Coral is recommended for both beginner and expert aquarists due to its generally low-maintenance nature.|
Furthermore, you should familiarize yourself with the scientific classification of the Plate Coral so that you have a better idea of its compatibility with your tank and other aquarium members.
|Species||Variable (examples include concinna, corona, echinata, and gravis)|
While the Plate Coral is most known for its circular and flat shape, it is also a part of the Fungiidae family because it may sometimes have more mushroom or dome-like features. As such, the Plate Coral is also called the Mushroom Coral or the Fungia Plate Coral. This type of coral can be found in the reefs of Indonesia and Australia. Today, Plate Corals are quite readily available in aquarium shops due to their popularity among aquarists.
Note as well that there are so many different species of Plate Corals. If you want to find out more about a particular Plate Coral, you will first need to ascertain its scientific identity, particularly its species name.
Plate Coral Care
Though Plate Corals might look complicated and delicate, caring for them can be as easy as positioning them properly in your aquarium, feeding them occasionally, and keeping their environment parameters consistent. In this section, you will learn more about these aspects of caring for Plate Corals, and you may pick up other expert-proven tips as well.
– Tank and Water Parameters
The minimum tank size you can use to house a Plate Coral is 20 gallons. However, if you plan to care for more than one Plate Coral, or if you want to include other aquarium members in your reef tank, you should look into setting up the largest tank size you can afford and maintain in your home.
Aim to provide at least 10 to 20 gallons of additional capacity per coral that you intend to include in your aquarium; this way, your Plate Corals are assured of enough room for movement and growth even if they are housed with other coral species or reef fish.
Plate Corals thrive in an environment that has a low to moderate water flow, a salinity level of 1.025 specific gravity, a calcium value of 400ppm, and 0ppm for other substances such as ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates.
– Light Requirements
Consider placing your Plate Corals in areas that receive low to moderate lighting. As mentioned earlier, this type of coral is not demanding so you do not need to worry if it is getting enough light in a slightly shaded area of your tank.
You might also want to invest in an LED lighting system for your Plate Coral tank. This kind of lighting system allows you to provide your corals and fish with just the right light intensity without risking drastic temperature changes. Some LED lighting systems may also come with a timer, which means that you will be able to control how often and how long your Plate Corals are exposed to light.
– Substrate Requirements
When it comes to its preferred substrate and Plate Coral placement, the rule of thumb is that they should always be positioned at the lowest level of your aquarium. Nestle them in a soft and sandy substrate or in an area that is clear of fauna and other corals. Avoid positioning your Plate Corals on mounted live rocks or on elevated platforms in your reef tank.
This type of coral can move an average of ten to twelve inches per day. If you insist on placing it on a high layer of your aquarium, you might just witness your Plate Coral tumble back into the substrate. While the Plate Coral is perfectly capable of returning to an upright position, a fall from a high place could injure it considerably or provoke it to release venom.
If you notice that your Plate Corals are not thriving in your aquarium, you may opt to use a gravelly substrate instead of a sandy one. This will prevent fine particles from crowding your Plate Corals’ ridges and will also serve as an easier substrate to traverse.
– Fertilizing Requirements
The Plate Coral is one of the many photosynthetic corals beloved by aquarists all over the world. As such, the Plate Coral does not need to be fertilized or fed as frequently as non-photosynthetic corals. This type of coral can survive on the fish waste, floating food particles, and trace elements found that naturally occur in the aquarium. Still, it certainly does not hurt to fertilize or supplement your Plate Corals’ diet every once in a while.
If you have other corals that you target feed already, consider occasionally extending the feeding session to cover your Plate Corals. You can, for instance, shoot food or nutrient-enriched water at the mouths of your Plate Corals once every two weeks or just on a monthly basis if you want to be more conservative.
In fact, some aquarists have shared that they feed two or three coral pellets to their Plate Corals at least once a month and that the corals seem to appreciate the extra nutrition. Simply ensure that the food you provide for your Plate Corals is of the highest quality possible and you should find that they respond positively to this kind gesture by growing faster and perhaps even boasting brighter colors.
You will only need to trim your Plate Corals if you notice that they are encroaching on another coral’s territory or if their shape and size are getting out of hand. To do this, be sure to use proper coral scissors or blades so that you do not hurt your Plate Corals and cause irreparable injury or trauma.
Cut off only the parts of your Plate Coral that are obviously new growths or additional layers. Avoid cutting into or too close to the center of your Plate Coral as much as possible. This may result in trauma that causes your Plate Coral to close for an indefinite period of time. Dispose of trimmed coral fragments according to any environmental guidelines you might have in your area.
If you want to propagate more Plate Corals for your reef aquarium or to use in other setups, you can either frag them or rely on a more natural way to multiply your Mushroom Corals.
Mature Plate Corals will inevitably have polyps that fall off. You can rescue these polyps from the aquarium bed and attach them to a layer of mesh for extra stability and protection. Then, wait for these polyps to grow larger and begin to have coral parts of their own. This method is the most natural and non-invasive method of propagating your Plate Corals, but it does take a lot of time and patience.
If you are confident of your coral handling skills, you might want to try fragging your Plate Corals. Our experts recommend using a wet saw over a Dremel or bone cutter. Cut off portions of your Plate Coral as cleanly as possible, and ensure that each of the resulting pieces has a part of the original coral’s mouth.
If you are new to fragging corals, you might be better off asking more experienced aquarists to do it for you first while you watch and learn the technique of fragging Plate Corals properly.
The Plate Coral is considered one of the consistently semi-aggressive corals of reef aquariums. They can be particularly nasty to other species of corals that they deem to be a threat.
Plate Corals will spray other coral species with a thick, slime-like substance that is slightly toxic. This can provoke other coral species to fight back and sting your Plate Coral in defense. That said, you need to exercise caution when housing your Plate Coral with other coral species.
– Ideal Tank Mates
The best tank mates for your Plate Corals are other corals of the same species. Plate Corals will tolerate other Fungia Corals that are spaced at least three to five inches away. This is honestly the easiest and safest option you have if you are looking for corals that are compatible with Fungia Corals.
Plate Corals tend to move around the aquarium, so keeping them together with only a few other corals will prevent frequent episodes of aggression or chemical fighting.
In addition, Plate Corals are also easy to house with other reef fish that do not possess nipping or digging behaviors. Some of the best fish to keep with your Plate Coral include Clownfish, Blue-Green Chromis, and the Six Line Wrasse.
Be sure to double-check the water parameters that your fish will need. They should be aligned with or close to the range of your Plate Coral’s environment parameter preferences.
– Tank Mates To Avoid
Now, some of the coral species that you will want to avoid housing with your Plate Corals are those that are overly large and aggressive. As mentioned previously, Plate Corals have the tendency to move around their aquarium.
That said, you do not want to place your Plate Corals in an enclosure with highly aggressive corals that will not take kindly to their wandering. Some examples of the coral species you need to avoid are Frogspawn Corals and Torch Corals.
If you really want to keep a mixed reef tank, you will need to ensure that each of your corals has more than enough space between them and that they do not touch at all. Furthermore, consider the flow and direction of the water in your tank. You will want to keep aggressive corals in an area where their chemical discharges are less likely to spread to the more docile corals in your aquarium.
Moving on, the kinds of fish that you should avoid if you intend to keep Plate Corals are large and aggressive species that like overturning corals or digging through the substrate. Some examples of coral-aggressive fish include the Clown Triggerfish and Coral Hogfish.
These fish are known to be aggressive against small reef fish, as well as for their constant destruction of carefully constructed coral aquascapes. They will nibble, break, or bounce off of your Plate Corals, provoking the latter to release chemicals into the water.
1. What Are the Types of Plate Corals?
There are a total of 13 different types of Plate Corals known today. Apart from the Fungia and Heliofungia, other types of common Plate Corals include the Diaseris, Cycloseris, and Lithophyllon. Differentiating these genera of Plate Corals can be confusing, so the easiest way of categorizing Plate Corals is by their tentacle length. Plate Corals have tentacles that may be long or short, depending on the species that takes your fancy.
The Long Tentacle Plate Coral is perhaps the more popular variant due to the surreal appearance of the coral upon reaching its full size and peak maturity. Long tentacle Plate Corals fall under the Heliofungia genus. The scientific name Heliofungia is derived from two Latin words: helio, meaning sun, and fungia meaning fungi or mushroom. This particular type of Plate Coral has extensive and aggressive tentacles that make it easy to mistake for an anemone.
2. What are the best Plate Corals for Beginners?
The Short Tentacle Plate Coral is more sought-after by beginners because it is arguably easier to maintain than its counterpart and it is less likely to sting any neighboring corals. This type of Plate Coral has tentacles that are hidden away during the day, making it coral look flat and uninteresting at first but becoming a beauty to look at when night falls.
Where the long tentacle Plate Coral usually only presents itself in brown, green, or muted shades, the short tentacle Plate Coral comes in a myriad of colors and combinations. Some of the rare colored short tentacle Plate Corals are sold for over $200 per piece!
The Rainbow Plate Coral is an example of a short tentacle Plate Coral that has hypnotized many aquarists with its stunning combination of colors. Many Rainbow Plate Corals have neon colors around their mouths and different hues on the tips of their tentacles.
A single Rainbow Plate Coral placed strategically in a reef aquarium is sure to grab the attention of even the most disinterested passerby. However, due to its popularity, the Rainbow Plate Coral is quite difficult to source and also expensive depending on the piece’s size and age.
We covered a lot of information about the Plate Coral as well as the things you should know when you decide to care for this type of coral. Here is a rundown of the key points that we discussed in this article.
- The Plate Coral is a Large Polyp Stony Coral that is most abundant in the reefs of Indonesia and Australia.
- This coral can be classified into two distinct groups: the long tentacle Plate Corals and the short tentacle Plate Corals.
- The Plate Coral is not extremely aggressive, but it can and will release venom if it is provoked or if it feels threatened.
- This type of coral does not need to be fed on a daily basis because it can catch food on its own, but it does appreciate the occasional treats.
- You can propagate this coral by fragging if you cannot wait for mature polyps to fall off from their mother coral.
With all of this information, you should now feel more confident and prepared to take on the fulfilling challenge of raising and caring for Plate Corals in your own reef aquarium.
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