Wilsoni Coral Care: Placement, Lighting, and Feeding

Are you considering adding a Wilsoni coral (Australophyllia Wilsoni) to your saltwater tank? Make sure you think it through and read this first, as the Wilsoni coral is known for being difficult to care for successfully. 

The Wilsoni coral is a very unique coral that you don’t tend to see very often in the saltwater tanks of regular hobbyists, but when you do see it, you can instantly understand what people find so enticing about it! The coral is beautiful and intriguing, and a showstopper in any tank.

It is generally not recommended for beginners, but if you are willing to put in the work and do your research, it can be done.

About Wilsoni Corals

The Wilsoni Coral has the scientific name Australophyllia Wilsoni, but was previously known as Symphyllia Wilsoni. You may come across this name in older publications. It is no secret that the Wilsonis are stunning corals that will take your tank to the next level.

These breathtaking corals grow in the Indian Ocean, and they can be found both in colder and warmer water. The two are sometimes considered different types of this coral, and the care requirements differ depending on whether you are dealing with a cold-water coral or a warm-water coral.

Unlike all other known corals, the Wilsoni coral is also found growing in Kelp forest areas, and it makes a stunning and colorful addition to any saltwater reef tank.

The Basics of Wilsoni Coral Care

Before you run out to get your Wilsoni Coral, there are a few things to consider. It is important that you have some knowledge when it comes to caring for this coral, or otherwise, it might be short-lived in your tank, unfortunately.

The tank needs to fulfill certain criteria, but you also need to ask yourself if this is a coral you are ready for. Caring for it is far from impossible, but it requires more than many of the other corals and organisms you may already have in your reef tank.

It can take a while to get these corals to color up, and they require patience and an environment where they are not exposed to too much light.

Quick Guide

Even experienced tank hobbyists can attest to having tried to keep Wilsoni corals in their tanks without much success, and it is the dream of many to find the key to incorporating it in their tank.

Below is a list of basic facts and requirements to successfully care for a Wilsoni coral.

Level of Difficulty: 

Difficult

Character: 

Semi-aggressive

Family:

x
Mixing sps lps and soft corals

Mussidae

Water Temperature:

76-79 degrees (Fahrenheit)

Water Conditions:

  • pH 8.1-8.4
  • 72-78° Fahrenheit
  • SG 1.023-1.025
  • dKH 8-12

Water Flow: 

Medium

Additives: 

  • Strontium
  • Calcium 
  • Additional trace elements

These are recommendations and general requirements, but they may vary somewhat due to the overall circumstances of your tank, and on whether you have a Wilsoni coral accustomed to warm or cold water.

Placement in the Tank

If you have had your tank for a while, this should come as no surprise: It is important for the conditions in your tank to be as similar as possible to the Wilsoni coral’s natural environment.

The more research you do on where your coral comes from, the easier it will be to mimic the conditions and create an environment for your Wilsoni to thrive.

The same applies to where in the tank you place your new coral. In the wild, these corals are often found close to dead coral and within seashells, and it is recommended that you attempt to recreate these conditions.

You can also place it on shallow substrate.

Placing these corals with the sole intention to make sure they’re visible is rarely a good idea, and especially if this means placing them alongside stones or rocks in the tank. 

When the coral starts growing and expanding, the rocks could cause friction which could damage the coral tissue – resulting in tissue recession or an undesired change in color. Prevent this from happening by giving your new coral enough space to grow.

Feeding a Wilsoni Coral

When it comes to nutrition, Wilsoni corals do require plenty, as they come from parts of the Indian Ocean that are very rich in nutrients.

What appears to have worked for other hobby practitioners, and what has helped them achieve a healthy coral with quick tissue expansion and strong, vivid colors, is adding potassium additives and amino acids to the water. 

The idea is once again to try and replicate what the coral is used to nutrition-wise, and aid the coral in growing strong and thriving even in a saltwater tank. For beginners, this is one of the hardest aspects of successfully keeping one.

Feeding should be high-quality and regular, and the Wilsoni coral does well on phytoplankton, oyster eggs, smaller (frozen) fish, and cyclop-eeze, and can also be fed HUFA (Highly Unsaturated Fatty Acids)

Water temperature

Keeping the water temperature stable is very important when you have a Wilsoni coral in your tank, and it is smart to invest in a chiller, for example. Not only do you need to make sure that the water is not too warm or too cold, but you also want to avoid exposing your coral to big and frequent changes in water temperature.

The problem with fluctuating temperatures is that it could cause coral bleaching due to the repeated stress on the organism.

Lighting

Lighting is the other thing you want to pay close attention to. It makes sense that you would want to highlight your new coral with plenty of lighting, but even though it may make it look beautiful – it could harm it.

Instead, start with very low lighting and work it up to medium lighting if you want, but allow for the transition to take time as your coral needs a chance to adapt.

Conclusion

Wilsoni corals are considered difficult to care for, but the truth is that anyone can do it, as long as you are willing and able to do the necessary research and preparation. 

These corals need low to medium lighting, nutritional additives, the correct water temperature, and water hardness, and it is a coral that should be placed strategically within the tank – not alongside rocks as it could cause friction.

If you are interested in becoming the owner of this coral, don’t hold back, but take the time to educate yourself on its needs and requirements.