A Colorful Coral That’s Accessible for Beginners

08 May, 2019

Pectinia alcicornis, a vibrant coral that's accessible to reefkeepers of all skill levels and budgets.

Pectinia alcicornis, sometimes called Antler Coral, a vibrant large-polyp species that’s accessible to reefkeepers of all skill levels and budgets.

I know that many who are new to saltwater aquariums have searched for colorful corals that can be kept without the experience and expensive equipment many seasoned reef keepers possess. There is a large number of corals that do not require precise and perfect seawater to thrive. When trying to create a piece of a coral reef in an aquarium for one’s personal luxury, having the knowledge to choose the right animal makes the project somewhat easier.

This coral, Pectinia alcicornis, is a unique and beautiful coral, in my opinion. This particular cultivar is known as the Space Invader Pectinia. It does not demand extensive expertise or exacting parameters to grow and thrive. The specimen shown here started as a tiny seed fragment and has grown into a 3-inch mini colony in less than a year. It is a great species for beginners, as it will do well in lower light and less-than-perfect parameters. My recommendations for light are PAR levels of 100-200; it can handle higher light levels if gradually acclimated to them. This coral does well with a low but random flow.

In my opinion, captive-grown corals are hardier than wild-sourced ones, so starting with a proven coral that has been in cultivation for a fair amount of time will be best. Keeping a piece of a coral reef in your home does not need to be difficult; it can be easy if you take time and put effort into not choosing animals that are extremely challenging to accommodate in captivity.

The good news is, there are many less-demanding corals that can be kept with just a little research. Pectinia alcicornis is only one of them.

The mother colony of the author's frag. Image couresty Greg's Corals , Levittown, PA.

Space Invader Pectinia. The mother colony of the author’s frag. Image courtesy Greg’s Corals , Levittown, PA.


Read more about this and other Pectinia spp. “antler” and “lettuce” corals in the July/August 2019 Issue of CORAL.
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Pectinia lactuca in the wild. Sold in the aquarium trade as “Lettuce”, “Plate”, and “Hibiscus” Coral. Image by Scott Michael from Aquarium Corals by Eric H. Borneman.

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About the author

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Dan Rigle

Dan Rigle has been keeping saltwater aquariums since 1988. He served as the president of the Reef Conservation Society for several years. Rigle studied biology and chemistry at Pennsylvania State University, and remains a lifelong learner. Rigle is now semi-retired and keeps a thriving 1200-gallon system of coral aquariums in his Pennsylvania home.

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