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Marine Invertebrate of the Month
Issue: December 2007

Heliopora coerulea

(PALLAS, 1766)


Bob Goemans

Common Names: Blue coral, ridge coral

Phylum: Cnidaria

Class: Anthozoa

Order: Helioporacea

Family: Helioporidae

Range: Pacific Ocean: south of Japan, west to Africa’s east coast, and throughout the Red Sea

Natural Environment: This photosynthetic soft the order Helioporacea, is one of the few soft corals that actually contribute to reef building. It is quite abundant in the wild, especially in brightly lit, shallow, intertidal reef-flat areas, e.g., at 20 to 30 feet (6 to 9 met

Captive Care:

This is a very hardy and disease-free coral, and quite common in the trade due to its abundance in the wild. It requires strong light, and that coming from metal halides would be better than that of fluorescents, as several specimens have shown in my systems. As for water movement, it should be placed where currents are fairly swift, yet not directly in front of outlets where the force of the flow would damage its polyps. No special feeding is required for this photosynthetic soft coral, but if placed in areas receiving inadequate light, the white edging of its branches that indicate new growth will turn brown. This indicates that the coral is increasing its zooxanthellae numbers (which are brown) to satisfy its present nutritional needs, therefore abandoning growth for the present.

The specimen seen here in my aquarium under metal halide lighting had doubled its size in only two years without any special attention to its needs other than bright light and good water movement. Occasionally, this coral will shed a thin layer of skin, a normal process, and I have used a turkey baster to completely remove any remaining pieces. Otherwise, this soft coral, which actually feels like a stony coral, is exceptionally easy to maintain, given adequate light and water movement.

Unfortunately, dried specimens are still sold in the ornament trade because of their blue coloring.

Water Requirements: Water Quality Requirements: Calcium 380 to 430 ppm, alkalinity 3.5 to 4.0 meq/l, pH 8.1 to 8.2, specific gravity 1.024 to 1.026, Mg approx. 1272 ppm, phosphate < .05 ppm, and a temperature range of 76° to 84°F (25° to 29°C).

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