Hammer Coral Care Guide: Everything You Need To Know!

Hammer corals, scientifically known as Euphyllia ancora, are a popular choice among reef enthusiasts for their unique hammer-shaped tentacles and vibrant color range. These large polyp stony (LPS) corals are prized for their adaptability and compatibility with other Euphyllia species, making them an attractive addition to a marine aquarium.

However, proper care for these fascinating corals is essential for maintaining their health and growth.

When setting up an environment for hammer corals, it is important to consider factors such as tank size, water parameters, lighting requirements, and suitable tank mates. Providing the optimal conditions for their growth and well-being requires attention to these factors, along with proper feeding and nutrition, to ensure their long-term success in a home aquarium.

This is why we decided to publish our own, dedicated hammer coral care guide in the hope of being able to help as many of our readers as possible get their hammer corals to thrive in their tanks.

Key Takeaways

  • Hammer corals are popular LPS corals with unique hammer-shaped tentacles and adaptability to various aquarium conditions.
  • Proper hammer coral care involves considerations such as tank size, water parameters, lighting, and suitable tank mates.
  • Attention to feeding, acclimation, tank placement, and propagation methods is crucial for maintaining hammer coral health and growth.
An infographic going over our Hammer Coral CARE SHEET

Getting To Know Hammer Coral

hammer coral care

Hammer corals can have an aggressive temperament and their sweeper tentacles can cause problems for neighbouring corals. That is why it is important to carefully consider the placement of both your hammer coral and any other coral tank mates in your aquarium.

Keeping your hammer coral with other Euphyllia corals such as torch corals and frogspawn corals can sometimes overcome this issue but it is not always guaranteed.

When it comes to caring for Hammer Coral, a moderate level of expertise is required. If you are new to coral keeping, we would recommend you start with something like a dedicated zoanthid tank as they are far easier to care for than hammer corals.

Zoanthid corals can be a great, beginner-friendly alternative to hammer corals
Zoanthid Corals

Hammer corals can grow up to 6.5 inches in size and have a remarkable lifespan of up to 75 years in favorable conditions so they can be a big commitment, especially if you have smaller aquarium tanks.

In summary, Hammer Coral is an interesting and distinctive species to have in an aquarium. Providing them with moderate care, proper feeding, correct placement, and optimal conditions, these corals can thrive and become a fascinating addition to any reef tank.

Hammer Coral Color Range

Different Colored Hammer Corals In Their Tanks

Hammer corals are known for their captivating display of colors, making them a visually appealing addition to reef aquariums. Their color range includes stunning shades such as green, yellow, pink, peach, blue, purple, orange, and gold, with lime green or yellow tentacle tips providing a radiant contrast under actinic lighting.

These corals exhibit diverse color patterns due to their genetic makeup and, in some cases, the conditions of their habitat. The presence of the symbiotic algae, zooxanthellae, also plays a significant role in the coral’s pigmentation.

It’s important to note that some color morphs are rarer than others.

For instance, orange, yellow, and gold hammer corals are not as commonly found as green or tan ones but can still add an extraordinary visual appeal to any aquarium setup. If you are new to keeping hammer corals, we would recommend you stick to the more common options due to their lower price until you build up some experience with keeping hammer coral.

White Hammer Coral
White Hammer Coral

There is a constant debate about “white hammer corals” with some people saying they are real and other people saying they are bleached versions of other pale colors. It can be very difficult to confirm this either way so we usually recommend our readers avoid white hammer corals if possible.

Factors like lighting, water chemistry, and overall tank environment can influence the development and maintenance of these vivid colors in hammer corals. Maintaining proper lighting and water parameters can help ensure that the coral’s coloration remains vibrant and attractive. This includes optimal calcium levels, consistent water temperature, and suitable water flow.

In conclusion, the hammer coral color range is diverse and captivating, offering aquarists the opportunity to create visually stunning reef environments. Ensuring optimal tank conditions and responsible coral acquisition will enhance the health and vibrancy of these stunning creatures.

Tank Size For Hammer Corals

A white tipped hammer coral in a quarantine tank

When it comes to housing hammer corals in a reef aquarium, it’s crucial to provide them with an appropriate tank size. Smaller tanks can be suitable for younger corals, but as they grow and mature, it’s essential to transfer them to a larger environment to ensure their continued well-being.

Fully grown hammer corals typically require a 40 or 50-gallon tank to thrive. This size allows them ample space to expand and develop their large polyps. Additionally, a larger tank provides good water quality and stability, which is important for maintaining the health of hammer corals and preventing stress.

There is no real upper size limit for the tanks you can keep your hammer coral in and we have seen them thrive in some huge reef tanks without issue.

Always try to use the largest tank possible when keeping hammer corals
Try To Use The Largest Tank Possible

Keeping the hammer coral in a tank that is too small can lead to stunted growth, reduced coloration, and potential harm to other corals from their aggressive sweeper tentacles.

The right tank size also promotes proper water circulation, nutrient availability, and waste removal, all of which contribute to the coral’s overall health and satisfaction. If you are a beginner, keeping your hammer coral in a larger tank will usually be far easier than keeping it in a smaller tank.

Tank size for hammer corals is relative to the available space in the tank

Please keep in mind that tank size is relative to the amount of free space in your tank. Taking a 50 gallon tank and filling it with different types of coral is usually no better than keeping your hammer coral in a tank that is too small. When it comes to hammer corals, less is almost always more.

In summary, selecting a proper tank size for hammer corals is a crucial aspect of their care. Younger corals can initially be housed in smaller tanks, but it’s essential to transition them into a 40 or 50-gallon tank as they mature. Ensuring that your hammer coral has a comfortable and appropriate environment is a vital component of responsible reef keeping.

Water Parameters For Hammer Corals

Hammer corals thriving in an aquarium with optimal water conditions

Hammer corals (Euphyllia ancora) require specific water parameters to thrive in an aquarium environment. Maintaining appropriate conditions is critical to ensure the health and growth of these corals.

Temperature: Hammer corals prefer a water temperature between 76-83 °F. Consistency in temperature is important, as sudden fluctuations can lead to stress and potential coral death, as discussed in this article.

Water Flow: Moderate water flow is important for these corals, as it helps to deliver essential nutrients and to maintain proper water movement. Adequate water flow also prevents detritus and other debris from accumulating on the coral.

pH: The ideal pH range for hammer corals is between 8.1 and 8.4. This slightly alkaline environment allows proper calcium carbonate deposition, which is essential for the growth of their stony skeleton.

Specific Gravity: Hammer Coral require a specific gravity of 1.022 – 1.025 to mimic their natural habitat in the ocean.

Maintaining suitable water parameters for your hammer coral is key

Key additional water parameters to monitor include:

  • Alkalinity: 8-12 dKH
  • Calcium: 400-500 ppm
  • Magnesium: 1200 – 1350 ppm
  • Phosphate: ≤ 0.03 ppm

Additionally, it is crucial to monitor the levels of ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite in the aquarium, as elevated levels of these waste products can negatively affect coral health. Ammonia and nitrate should be kept as close to 0 ppm as possible and nitrite levels should be kept under 5 ppm if possible.

Proper water movement and regular maintenance help maintain a stable environment for the hammer coral.

Following these guidelines for water parameters, along with appropriate lighting and placement, will promote healthy and vibrant hammer corals in your marine aquarium.

Hammer Coral Lighting Requirements

Different hammer corals in a reef tank

Appropriate lighting conditions are crucial when keeping hammer corals in your aquarium tanks with many beginners making mistakes in this area.

In general, hammer corals thrive in moderate light intensity. To achieve this, aim for a photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) level between 80 and 150.

This range ensures that the coral receives enough light for necessary biological functions without being subjected to excessive or harmful levels. It’s important to use a reliable PAR meter to accurately measure and maintain the recommended light intensity.

The light source should also simulate a natural daytime cycle. A 10-12 hour light window per day is ideal for fostering healthy hammer coral growth. A 30-60 minute ramp up and ramp down cycle at each end of the primary lighting window is also recommended.

Lighting is key when keeping healthy hammer corals

Properly utilizing a programmable aquarium light or timer can help recreate this environment, allowing the coral to adjust and adapt to its new surroundings. During this period, avoid abrupt changes in lighting conditions, as this can stress the coral and negatively impact its overall health.

Keep in mind that lighting requirements may vary depending on the specific hammer coral variety and its placement within the tank. Monitor its response to the provided light conditions and make any necessary adjustments. Additionally, be mindful of nearby corals, as they might have different lighting preferences, and placement plays a key role in maintaining balance within the tank.

By maintaining the recommended lighting conditions, alongside other factors like water quality and feeding, your hammer coral should remain healthy and contribute to the beauty and diversity of your reef aquarium.

Tank Mates For Hammer Corals

Multiple hammer corals in a reef tank

Hammer corals are compatible with other types of Euphyllia corals, including torch, grape and frogspawn corals while also doing well with other hammer corals. Additionally, many species of reef-safe fish and invertebrates can live harmoniously with Hammer corals.

Coral Tank Mates

torch coral
Torch Coral

Torch corals are commonly kept with hammer corals due to there being minimal aggression between the two while also having plenty of cross over in their water parameter requirements.

Grape coral
Grape coral

Grape coral can work well in tanks with hammer corals and the similar look but slightly different color range allows you to create better contrasts to make your corals pop. There is usually minimal aggression between hammer corals and grape corals too making them ideal for the same tank.

Frogspawn coral
Frogspawn Coral

Frogspawn coral can work in some tank setups with hammer corals but depending on your location, it can be a little tricky or expensive to purchase compared to the other options.

Regarding coral aggression, Hammer corals have elongated sweeper tentacles that actively sting neighboring corals if placed too close together. To minimize the risk of coral aggression, allow sufficient space between Hammer corals and other corals in the aquarium. A general guideline for placement is to maintain a distance of at least six inches between coral species.

Fish Tank Mates

Most reef safe fish will work well with hammer corals but there are some that tend to do better than others.

Clownfish
Clownfish

Clownfish are easily one of the most commonly kept marine fish within the reef tank side of the hobby and they tend to work well in tanks with hammer coral. Most people who want a clownfish in their tank also want an anemone for it to host and our article going over the best anemone for different types of clownfish can help ensure you get a good pairing.

Yellow Tang
Yellow Tang

Yellow tang will often work well in a reef tank with hammer corals but there are a small number of yellow tang that may bite, nibble or eat the coral. If possible, only move a yellow tang into your tank with your hammer coral if you know for a fact that it is coral-friendly.

Firefish can work in tanks with hammer coral
Firefish

Firefish can work well in aquariums with hammer coral but it may take them a little while to work out that they should avoid the hammer coral due to its sting. A healthy firefish should always be able to escape a hammer coral but their curiosity will probably result in them getting stung once or twice.

On the other hand, some species are not advisable as tank mates because of their aggressive or predatory nature. For example, fish such as triggers, pufferfish, and most angels are known to cause problems in a reef tank environment. It is best to avoid these species to maintain a peaceful coexistence within the community tank.

In summary, carefully selecting compatible tank mates, avoiding overcrowded conditions, and providing enough space between corals are essential steps for a successful and peaceful reef aquarium incorporating Hammer corals.

Feeding And Nutrition

Hammer coral thriving due to its healthy diet

A large portion of the nutrition for your hammer coral will come from it’s symbiotic relationship it has with zooxanthellae. This is why optimal lighting is so important for hammer corals as the zooxanthellae thrives in good light resulting in your hammer coral thriving too.

It is still usually a good idea to offer your hammer coral food 1-3 times per week with most hammer corals loving high-protein marine food sources.

Here are some great food options when manually feeding your hammer coral:

  1. Mysis Shrimp: These are small, saltwater shrimp that are packed with protein.
  2. Brine Shrimp: Particularly when enriched with additional nutrients, brine shrimp can be a great option.
  3. Rotifers: These microscopic organisms are a natural food source for many corals.
  4. Marine Fish Eggs: These are rich in protein and fatty acids.
  5. Copepods: Tiny crustaceans that can be a nutritious food source.
  6. Squid: Finely chopped squid can be an excellent source of protein.
  7. Clams and Oysters: These can be offered in a minced form and are a natural food source for many coral species.
  8. Krill: These small crustaceans are protein-rich and can be fed whole or in pieces.
  9. Coral Specific Prepared Foods: Many manufacturers offer coral foods that are specially formulated with a blend of proteins and other nutrients.
  10. Reef Roids: This is a popular commercial product specifically designed to feed corals, containing a mix of naturally occurring marine planktons and other protein sources.
An infographic going over Protein Sources For Hammer Coral

Manually feeding your hammer coral is far easier than most people initially think too and lots of beginners over complicate the process.

If you are using a solid food then use some aquarium tweezers to give your hammer coral the food, if you are using a liquid or suitable food then use something like a turkey baster. There are a number of coral feeding kits on the market that include everything you could every need too with most of them being budget-friendly.

Acclimation Process For Hammer Corals

A hammer coral in a reef tank

When introducing a Hammer coral to a new tank, a proper acclimation process is vital to ensure its health and well-being. Taking the time to acclimate Hammer corals will reduce stress and minimize the risk of infections.

Beginners often try to rush this process resulting in otherwise easy to avoid mistakes so always take your time with both the quarantine and acclimation process.

The following steps outline a basic procedure for acclimatizing Hammer corals in a new reef aquarium:

1. Quarantine New Corals: Always begin by quarantining new corals to prevent the introduction of pests, diseases, and parasites into the main tank. A dedicated quarantine tank should be set up with appropriate water parameters, lighting, and filtration. Hammer corals should be quarantined for at least 2-4 weeks before acclimatizing them to the main tank.

2. Floating the Coral: Once the quarantine period is complete, float the sealed coral bag in the main tank for around 30 minutes. This step helps equalize the temperature, so the coral will not experience a sudden temperature shock upon placement.

3. Drip Acclimation: Prepare a separate container and a slow-drip acclimation kit. Move the Hammer coral to the container, and start the drip, allowing water from the main tank to gradually mix with the water in the container. Adjust the drip rate to 1-2 drops per second to maintain a slow and steady pace. This process should take approximately 1-2 hours to complete, depending on the coral’s size and sensitivity.

4. Final Transfer to the Main Tank: After drip acclimation, gently transfer the Hammer coral to its designated location in the main tank using a coral speculum or a similar tool. Avoid direct contact with the coral’s polyps, as they are delicate and can be damaged easily.

During the initial weeks following acclimation, closely monitor the Hammer coral’s health and behavior. Proper lighting, water parameters, and placement should be maintained to ensure the coral thrives in its new environment.

Hammer Coral Tank Placement

A hammer coral living in a large community reef tank

Hammer corals typically thrive when positioned at the bottom of the tank, where they receive moderate light (PAR 80-150) and water flow. This placement provides the coral with the optimal environment to grow and expand without interfering with other tank inhabitants.

However, in some cases, hammer corals can also be placed in the middle of the tank if the setup is perfect and meets their needs. If you are a beginner, we would highly recommend you stick to placements in the bottom of the tank if possible.

It’s crucial to consider the lighting and water flow in your tank when deciding on the placement for your hammer coral. Stronger lighting may necessitate that the coral is moved up in the water column, while weaker lighting might require it to be placed closer to the light source. Always tailor the position of your hammer coral to your specific aquarium conditions.

A hammer coral placed on the bottom layer of its reef tankCa

Another important aspect of tank placement is giving the hammer coral enough space to grow and spread its polyps without obstructing the movement or growth of other aquatic species in the tank. Be mindful of the coral’s temperament, as it can be aggressive towards its neighbors. Provide ample distance between the hammer coral and other corals or invertebrates to prevent potential conflicts.

Hammer corals can do well on sandy or rocky substrates but you should always take care to avoid placing them in an area of your tank where they may rub against rocks in your tanks water flow.

In summary, ensuring a proper placement for your hammer coral in the tank is essential to its well-being. By providing a suitable location with moderate light and water flow, while ensuring enough space for growth and avoiding conflicts with tank mates, you can enjoy the beautiful addition of a hammer coral to your aquarium.

Hammer Coral Growth Rate

A slow growing hammer coral

Hammer coral growth rate is unpredictable as it can be significantly affected by various factors such as lighting, water flow, calcium levels, and the overall health of the coral. This results in some hammer corals growing a couple of heads within months while others have the same growth rate in years.

This is why the maximum growth rate of hammer corals is also unpredictable with some seemingly maxing out at 2-3 inches in size. The average size for a hammer coral that has reached maturity is around 6.5 inches though and most people should easily be able to grow their hammer coral to this size.

One major factor that influences the growth of hammer coral is the lighting conditions. It has been observed that providing optimal lighting can lead to better growth rates, more vibrant colors, and a healthier coral overall. This is not only due to the lighting being used to encourage growth for the coral but the zooxanthellae also performing better under optimal lighting so your coral gets more nourishment.

Hammer coral growth rates are very unpreditable

Calcium is another essential component for the growth of large polyp stony (LPS) corals such as hammer coral. Maintaining a calcium level of around 400 ppm in the aquarium water is recommended for optimal growth. Maintaining a magnesium level of around 1200 ppm can also help to encourage healthy growth in your hammer coral too.

Last but not least, the overall care and maintenance of the hammer coral greatly influence its growth rate. Providing a suitable environment with appropriate water temperature, water flow, and lighting conditions is imperative. A well-maintained tank will ensure the coral remains healthy, reducing the chances of stress and disease, ultimately leading to steady growth.

In conclusion, hammer coral growth rate can be optimized by monitoring and adjusting factors such as lighting, water flow, calcium levels, and overall tank maintenance. By catering to the specific requirements of this species, one can achieve healthier and more vibrant hammer coral in their reef aquarium.

Hammer Coral Propagation

A hammer coral in a reef tank under blue light

Hammer coral propagation is a straightforward process, allowing reef enthusiasts to grow new corals from fragments of their existing ones. This section will discuss the necessary steps for successful propagation, including the fragmentation process, post-fragmentation care, and essential tips for success.

If you are a beginner then we highly recommend that you focus on providing optimal conditions for your hammer coral and leaving it to naturally self-propagate rather than trying to artificially propagate the coral.

The fragmentation process, commonly known as fragging, is the first step for hammer coral propagation. Before starting, ensure you have the necessary equipment, such as a sharp, sterile razor blade or coral cutter, frag plugs or tiles, glue or rubber bands, and gloves for protection.

To frag a hammer coral, carefully remove the coral from the aquarium and place it on a clean surface. Identify a healthy branch and make a clean cut at least 1 to 2 inches from the base of the coral colony. It is essential to minimize stress on the coral, so make the cut as precise and swift as possible.

Once you have successfully fragged the hammer coral, it is crucial to provide proper post-fragmentation care to promote healing and new growth. Attach the coral fragments to the frag plugs or tiles using glue or rubber bands, ensuring they are secure but not too tight.

Hammer Coral Propagation

Place the newly fragged corals in a quarantine or frag tank with similar water parameters, lighting, and flow as the main tank. Keep them in a low flow area initially, as high flow can cause irritation and might dislodge freshly secured frags. Gradually increase the flow as the coral heals and securely attaches to the plug or tile.

Just remember the more propagation that goes on, the higher the bioload on your tank and you may have to upgrade to a larger tank far sooner than you initially thought.

Monitoring the water parameters is vital during the healing process, as stable conditions promote faster recovery. Maintain optimal levels of pH, temperature, salinity, calcium, and alkalinity, while also monitoring for any signs of infection or stress, such as excessive mucus production or retraction of polyps.

Dealing With Common Diseases

A yellow hammer coral in a reef tank

Hammer corals, like any other coral species, can be susceptible to various diseases and infections. To maintain a healthy coral, it is essential to identify signs of stress or illness and know how to treat common diseases and prevent problems.

One of the primary indicators of stress in hammer corals is a change in their color or appearance. Keep a close eye on your hammer coral for any discoloration or shrinking, as this may be a sign that the coral is not in its optimal health.

Brown Jelly Disease is a common ailment that affects hammer corals. This disease usually appears as a brown, jelly-like substance surrounding the coral. To treat Brown Jelly Disease, remove the affected coral from the aquarium and clean it with a soft brush. It may also be necessary to treat the remaining water with a broad-spectrum antibiotic to prevent any further infection.

Dealing With Common Diseases

Another issue that hammer corals may face is infestations from parasites, such as bugs or flatworms. To manage these parasites, introduce cleaner animals, like cleaner shrimps, into the aquarium to help keep them under control. The aquarium should always be properly quarantined to ensure that no additional parasites are introduced.

Preventing infections in your hammer coral starts with proper care and maintenance. Clean the filtration system regularly and dip new corals before introducing them into the aquarium. Moreover, ensure that the water parameters are stable, with appropriate temperature, pH, and calcium levels. Finally, provide the coral with adequate lighting and flow to ensure they receive essential nutrients.

By promptly identifying signs of stress or illness, treating common diseases, and taking the necessary steps to prevent problems, you can help ensure the health and longevity of your hammer coral.

Maintenance And Regular Care

A red hammer coral in a reef tank

Maintaining Hammer corals in an aquarium requires diligence and attention to detail. Staying on top of routine tasks and closely monitoring water parameters will ensure the corals thrive.

Regular water changes are essential for maintaining optimal water conditions. It is recommended to change 10-20% of the water every week or two. During this process, make sure to remove any debris and clean the tank surfaces, ensuring the coral’s environment remains clean and free of harmful substances.

Monitoring water parameters is crucial for a healthy Hammer coral. Key parameters to keep an eye on include temperature, pH, alkalinity, calcium, and salinity levels. Hammer corals prefer a temperature range of 75-80°F (24-27°C), a pH of 8.1-8.4, alkalinity between 8-12 dKH, calcium levels of 400-450 ppm, and a salinity level of 1.023-1.026 SG.

Keep the coral’s environment stable by maintaining a consistent lighting schedule as well. Hammer corals enjoy moderate lighting, with PAR values between 80-150. Use high-quality LED lights and timers to regulate the lighting duration and intensity.

Proper water circulation is essential for Hammer corals to receive vital nutrients and oxygen. Ensure a moderate water flow in the aquarium, taking care not to direct strong currents towards the coral, as this might cause stress or physical damage.

In addition to routine maintenance and water parameter monitoring, observe the coral’s appearance and behavior as an indicator of its overall health. Expand the coral’s sweeper tentacles, vibrant colors, and responsiveness to light as signs of a thriving specimen.

By consistently performing these maintenance tasks and monitoring water parameters, aquarium hobbyists can provide Hammer corals with the care they need to grow and flourish in a home aquarium.

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