In this article, we’re going to be talking about a highly desirable large polyp stony coral (LPS), that I personally have a love-hate relationship with that being torched corals. The difference between torch coral and some other LPS corals, growth rate, colors, water parameters, lighting, and feeding this coral.
What is the difference between torch coral, frogspawn, and hammer corals?
Torch corals are from the genus Euphyllia, so that includes other very popular LPS, such as hammer corals and frogspawn corals. The main difference that from a practical sense between all of this different euphyllias, it’s the shape of their tips on the tentacles.
So torch corals, essentially have what looks like a single dot, whereas frogspawn have kind of this multi-branching tentacle and hammer corals have either an anchor hammer shape, possibly, like a T shape.
There are some variants of hammer corals, though, that essentially look like a torch, and that’s kind of where you get into the real way to differentiate these different species, is to look at their skeleton under a microscope. So a lot of what I’m describing as far as identification goes, it’s really for the layperson, it’s a very surface-level distinction.
You can always find instances of let’s say a torch coral that might have a tentacle that’s bifurcating so it’s kind of similar to a frogspawn, you can always find a hammer coral, that the tip of their tentacle doesn’t really take on any kind of hammer shape it looks more or less like a torch.
But again, once you’ve been around these euphyllia for long enough you can really easily differentiate them. As far as their growth pattern goes, I’ve only seen them in a branching variety, I’ve never seen a wall torch for example. The nice thing about branching varieties of coral is that once they get fully established and start replicating, propagation becomes a lot easier.
Having said that, from a commercial propagation perspective, torches don’t really make for great candidates, their growth rate isn’t that fast. And so the amount of space that a coral farm would have to allocate to something like growing torches long term, it doesn’t really make a lot of financial sense. So a lot of the aquaculture activity, it’s going to be done at the hobbyist level and that’s in its own way fantastic.
I mentioned earlier, having a love-hate relationship with torches and the main reason for this is that there are concerns about their hardiness. I would say across the board euphyllia are middle-of-the-road LPS. Most people that have been in the hobby for any length of time, can have a degree of success with hammers torches frogspawn.
Torches, however, occupy this really weird space. First off, they don’t really import that Well, oftentimes, new specimens that just come in, fresh off the boat let’s say, a lot of times they have some kind of like latent bacterial thing going on, and so it’s very common for you to lose torches just brown jelly infections of that sort. So that’s an immediate concern.
The next concern is pest-related, always keep an eye out for something like these flatworms and always be on the lookout for these tech kinds of eggs.
Torch coral colors
So having covered my hate portion of that relationship. Why do I love torches? The thing I really like about torches is the colorations that they come in. One of my favorite varieties is this orange-gold variety that comes out of Australia.
Is Torch easy coral to keep in your reek tank?
They happen to be one of the most difficult to care for, but their appearance is just incredible. Oftentimes you get this color variation in the tentacle itself, so half of each tentacle is purple, and the other half is gold.
Part of the reason why this particular torch might be challenging, is I was talking to one of the collectors in Australia, and he had mentioned that some of these torches are collected, basically at the mouth of a river, so they’re getting all kinds of weird sediment, and all kinds of brackish water interaction and extremely turbid water, essentially, completely different from a typical home aquarium.
It’s very likely that we’re all providing, like the wrong environment for the specific torches, which is kind of a shame because like I said this is one of my absolute favorite color morphs.
Do torch corals like high flow?
As far as flow, torches need a little bit more flow than a typical euphyllia. The additional flow might even help with those bacterial issues that we talked about earlier. So, unless I’m seeing incredible signs of stress related to the flow, I’m always looking to give these guys, practically maximum flow, think something along with the order of what you would provide to Acropora for example.
I have seen torches in lower flow, they tend to extend better, but I think the therapeutic benefits of having a more active water movement around these corals will greatly outweigh whatever kind of aesthetics that you’re kind of looking for.
Lighting and par
As far as lighting is concerned, we tend to stick towards the medium range of intensities, so something in the neighborhood of, like, 50,75,100 PAR. I don’t really notice a big benefit to going higher than that. At most I would say 200 PAR. But again, the benefits of higher intensity light, it’s kind of lost on me for these guys.
Do they like high light?
They don’t need high light, the real big worry that I would have is just to over-expose them cause them to bleach, making them further susceptible to infection. So anything around 100 PAR, you should be fine. A lot of people keep these corals lower in the aquarium. As a result, and maybe a little bit off-axis, just to not get the direct intensity right underneath like an LED, for example.
Water parameters needed for torch coral
Real quick let’s cover water chemistry. Like with any stony coral, you’ll want to make sure that your water chemistry is up to par. I don’t look for particularly elevated calcium, alkalinity, or magnesium.
Anything hovering around natural saltwater levels is fine, but the one parameter that I would pay special attention to is to make sure your nitrates are under control. Again, these corals tend to be a little bit more sensitive than the other euphyllia, and as a result, higher nitrates could cause them to stress out a bit and that stress could open the door to latent infection.
Torch coral feeding
Let’s now quickly go overfeeding and nutrition. Generally speaking, we don’t go out of our way to feed torches, but they do accept food a little bit better than the hammers and frogspawn.
In the featured image of this article, you can see torches, eating some pellet food even this pellet food is from sustainable aquatics it’s their hatchery diet, and for whatever reason, some of the large polyp stony corals tend to take to this food a little bit better than most other prepared foods.
You can also try small pieces of mysis, small pieces of ground-up krill, or maybe even another high-quality pellet. If you do decide to go with a feeding route, I would recommend turning down the flow just to give the coral an opportunity to grab onto the food.
I would also consider getting a feeding cage if you happen to have fish or shrimp or something like that, that might irritate the coral during the feeding. As always, you don’t want to overfeed, so just remember a little bit goes a long way, and don’t risk a nutrient bloom, or trying to feed these torches.