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Coral Color and What Is
To Maintain It
courtesy of Orphek LED Lighting,
to 90% of SPS coral's nutritional needs are obtained by the food
produced by Zooxanthellae. These dinoflagellates are single celled algae
that reside and grow within the coral’s tissue. Several million of
these algae cells live in just one square inch of a coral’s tissue.
These microscopic algae use energy from sunlight to make food for the
coral through photosynthesis. This is accomplished by converting
carbon dioxide into oxygen and carbohydrates (sugars). This process
requires plenty of sunlight and is why coral colonies are only found in
clear, shallow water. Hard corals are very dependent on Zooxanthellae
and will not survive long without them.
The Zooxanthellae are also what
determine more than 90% of a coral’s color. Without Zooxanthellae,
the coral’s tissue would appear white or translucent. For a coral
to maintain its colorful hues, correct lighting intensity and spectrum
must be given to them. In addition to lighting, different colored
corals use different major and minor trace elements to maintain their
coloration and these elements must be provided in our closed systems if
we wish to continue to observe their colorful beauty. Many reef
aquarists have observed that after bringing home their beautiful pink
Acropora, its color rapidly changed and this is due to lack of the
proper elements needed to maintain the pink, or any other color for that
We will identify the numerous
elements and some of their benefits to corals.
Iodine and Halogen – Two elements that promote the color in pink
Potassium and Boron – Promotes the red in red corals.
Iron, Manganese, Cobalt, Copper, Aluminum, Zinc, Chrome and Nickel
promote the green coloration in green corals. These are all
considered light metals and should not be confused with heavy metals.
The above elements provide more than just color stability, but for
this article we are just focused on maintaining our coral’s color.
Amino acids – Amino acids consists of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen,
and hydrogen. Amino acids are important in nutrition as they serve
as the building blocks for protein. Amino acids cannot be created
from other compounds and must be taken in as food or vitamin
supplements. Marine phytoplankton is a good food source that is
rich in amino acids.
It must be understood that many
of these elements are depleted quickly due to their high oxidative
abilities and reactions with organic materials and removal by protein
skimming and/or carbon and chemical filtration. Therefore, they
must be supplemented on a regular basis by doing weekly water changes
with a good quality salt such as Seachem’s Aquavitro Salt and/or by
using supplements specifically developed for coral coloration such as
Red Sea’s Color Program.
A clean low nutrient tank also
provides a vital role in the actual color of your coral. Efficient
protein skimming, controlled feeding, and bioload will all help
significantly in increasing water quality.
Fortunately, the lighting problem
is solved by the use of Orphek LED lighting systems which provide the
ideal intensity and spectrum for maintaining good coral health. As
to the needed elements, there are several manufacturers that market
these products. Red Sea, Tropic Marin, and Brightwell are highly
This article is provided by James Gasta
(firstname.lastname@example.org ) who is
employed by Orphek LED and generates blogs and articles for the Orphek
website, www.orphek.com .
James also volunteers his time as a crew member for wet web media