7 Causes of Birdsnest Coral Turning White [Control Measure]

Birdsnest corals are bright aquarium beauties. These are comparatively easier to maintain than the other SPS. That’s why these corals are the perfect pick for beginners.

However, birdsnest corals are a bit sensitive to certain environmental changes. Because of this, they may lose their vivid colors and bleach out easily.

If you are stuck in such a situation, let me tell you that you’re in the right place. In today’s article, I have come up with some facts related to the whitening of birdsnest coral. The major highlights will be water temperature, pH, flow; excessive light exposure; wrong placement; algal attack, and finally nutrient issues.

So, let’s jump in to check the deal.

Unfavourable water temperatureMaintain the temperature between 25.5°C to 27.7°C.
Improper pH of the waterAdd seashells, limestone, or dolomites to increase pH and to decrease put some moss or driftwood in the tank.
Decreased water flowInstall a water pump in your tank and clean the filters.
Too much lightAdjust your aquarium lights and add a diffuser.
Wrong placementPlace birdsnest corals at the upper portion of the tank with proper mounting.
Algae AttackAvoid excess lights and nutrients in the aquarium.
Lack of nutrientsAdd seashells or crushed corals or liquid calcium additives to the tank to increase the calcium level.

Why is Birdsnest Coral Turning White [Fixing the Issues]

whitening problem of birdsnest coral

1. Unfavourable Water Temperature

The water temperature of the aquarium has a great impact on birdsnest corals. If the temperature rises, your aquarium can reach the tipping point which is dangerous for coral growth. On the contrary, at low temperatures, corals may not be able to meet their metabolic needs.

As a result, your birdsnest corals can turn white with time. This is most prominent at the tip and basal region. Mainly, high heat is the reason for such discoloration.

Generally, birdsnest corals need a temperature between 25.5°C to 27.7°C to survive. So, let’s check what you can do to maintain this level.

Control Measures

First of all, you need to install a proper water testing kit in your aquarium. This will help you to trace the temperatures along with all the other necessary water factors. (Our Recommendation: API REEF MASTER TEST KIT)

To control high temperatures, you can turn off the aquarium lights for a while. This will reduce heat stress for some time. If there is direct sunlight passing through your aquarium, move it to a shady and cooler place.

You can also remove the upper covering of your aquarium. Instead of that, place a net hood at the top to prevent fish from jumping out. Then, let an air cooler or fan provide some blows across the aquarium.

Another trick is to put some ice packs in your tank. These will reduce the temperature quickly. So, you may follow this technique. But, do not let the ice packs be there for longer.

On the other hand, to increase the temperature, you may place it close to the sun for some period. You can also use a bit warmer water for a change. But, do not forget to check the water temperature before putting it in your tank.

Finally, always keep an eye on the temperature scale on your testing kit before and after adapting any of these methods to figure out your next move.

2. Improper pH of Water

Water pH is associated with different reactions among living organisms in your aquarium. Birdsnest corals need a pH ranging from 8.2 to 8.4.

These corals are quite sensitive to slight changes in pH level. So, if you are wondering why my birdsnest coral is turning white, pH can be an important factor to consider.

As the favorable pH range of birdsnest corals is pretty narrow, it might look a bit difficult to maintain. Therefore, let me help you with this.

Control Measures

Check your testing kit often. Normally after 6 months, the accuracy of such kits starts to reduce. So, it’s better to change the kit twice a year.

If the pH level drops, you may need to change the water more frequently. But don’t remove and refill the tank all at once. This can be a shock to your aquatic corals and fishes.

Just keep adding tap water to the previous one keeping an eye on the testing kit. When the pH reaches the desired level, stop at that point. You may need to do this several times a day. Also, clean the debris and leftover foods to keep the pH level constant for longer.

Another effective way to raise pH is by adding seashells. As these are high in carbonate, for each gallon of water 2 seashells would be enough. You can also use crushed corals, dolomite chippings or limestone in your aquarium to increase the pH. One teaspoon of each will be enough for 5 gallons of water.

Did you know baking soda can help in increasing the pH of water? Don’t worry, these are safe to use. Just add 1 teaspoon per 5 gallons of water.

On the contrary, to reduce the pH level, you may place some peat moss in your tank. Before adding them you need to put them in a mesh cloth to avoid scattering. However, sometimes your water may get discolored while following this method. To get rid of such incidents, place some activated charcoal in your tank.

Similarly, you can also place some natural driftwood to reduce pH. Initially, one or two pieces will be enough. These can be left for several years in the aquarium without damaging your corals.

To conclude everything, I would suggest you simply increase the oxygen level when the pH drops, and increase the carbon-di-oxide level when it goes high. 

3. Decreased Water Flow

Birdsnest corals generally prefer moderate to high water flow in the tank when they are fully grown. Reduced water flow can be a significant reason behind birdsnest coral turning white.

So, let’s check out how this issue can be resolved.

Control Measures

To speed up the flow, you can install a powerhead or water pump in your tank. This is quite helpful in increasing the water flow of a particular region. All it does is take water from input and push them to a direction. So, place it facing toward your birdsnest corals to give them a boost.  (Our Recommendation: VIVOSUN 800GPH Submersible Pump)

Also, clean out all the debris from your aquarium to maintain the proper flow of water. Keep checking whether the filter is working or not. You may need to clean the filters more often if the flow is reduced.

4. Too Much Light

Birdsnest corals need bright but mild lights. Normally they are adapted to light ranging between PAR 300 to 450. But too much heat or radiation can cause damage to them. Bleaching is one of these by which your bright corals can fade out easily.

If the water is apparently looking cloudy, this can be an indication of excess light in your tank.

Well, you don’t need to worry much. Here I got some effective methods to control excess light in the aquarium. Keep reading to know more.

Control Measures

At the initial stage of acclimation, you must reduce the light intensity to allow better adaptation. Then you can gradually increase it to brighter lights.

However, access to light can easily be controlled by source optimization. So, you can turn off the aquarium lights sometimes to reduce the heat intensity.

Also moving your tank to a shady and cool place is quite effective in such a case. You may place your aquarium a bit away from direct sunlight. If it gets harder, you can put some floating plants and rocks that will prevent direct sunlight from passing through.

Another brilliant option is to add a diffuser to your tank. This will absorb the excess light to reduce the intensity. But be careful to pick one which is free from any kind of toxic components.

5. Wrong Placement

You might have observed that birdsnest corals are pretty sensitive to growth. So, placement issues are quite prominent, right?

Wrong management and positioning of your corals can easily push them to turn white. There are several issues included. Keep going through to know the facts.


As birdsnest corals grow on the surface level in their natural habitat, it is advised to place them at the upper part of the tank. Sometimes birdsnests get changed in the presence of other types of corals. So, it’s better to avoid placing other corals near them.

Mounting in proper objects is also an important factor. You can place your corals on rocks or different ledges in the aquarium with the help of gel glue or putty to get them enough light and water flow to prevent bleaching.

Fragging is an excellent way to revive your birdsnest coral. So, if your corals are on the verge of death due to tissue distortion and bleaching, you may practice this propagation method.

All you need to do is to cut at least 5 centimeters of healthy fragments from your coral and place it on a rock with some glue. This process helps in reviving corals as well as faster growth as single fragments get better water flow.

By considering all these issues, you can provide your birdsnest corals a better habitat in your tank, and thus incidents of bleaching will be reduced to a great extent.  

6. Algae Attack

Algae are big destroyers of birdsnest corals. These come with excess lights in the aquarium.

You may have noticed that birdsnest coral tissues are coming off from their structure with some white tips and bases as a sign of the presence of algae in the aquarium. However, you can also trace the algae with close observation.

Now, let’s take a look at how you can get rid of these.

Control Measures

First of all, you need to keep your tank clean. So, keep changing the water regularly. Most of the time algal growth happens because of ignoring such facts.

You may need to clean your filters and pumps often to prevent algae. Also, keep changing them with time.

Additionally, you can think about placing your aquarium in a cooler and shaded place with controlled light. This will slow down the algal growth.

Finally, you may need to check the nutrition level in your tank. Too much nutrients can promote the growth of algae. So, go slow with feeding your corals and fishes.  Normally birdsnest corals do not need ammonia, nitrates, phosphates, and silicates. So, you can cut these off.

7. Lack of Nutrients

The nutrient issue is quite an important factor in birdsnest coral care. Normally, they need 400 ppm of calcium to survive. If the level drops, your corals may turn white with time.

So, let’s check how you can save your birdsnest in such a case.

Control Measures

Frequent changes of tank water with some added salt can help in increasing calcium levels in aquariums. Commercially graded sodium chlorides are available in the market to fulfill such purposes. Use them according to the instructions.

Besides this, calcium-rich substances are quite effective in raising the level of calcium in the aquarium. You can add some crushed corals, cuttlebones, or seashells to your tank. These will dissolve slowly and release calcium with time. But make sure to remove them when the level rises as desired.

Calcium blocks or liquid calcium can also work. These are fast dissolves and are quite effective in increasing the level of freshwater aquariums. (Our Recommendation: API MARINE CALCIUM Reef Aquarium Calcium Solution)

How to Prevent Birdsnest Corals from Turning White

A Birdsnest Coral in Aquarium

Preventive measures can reduce half of your job. These are related to proper monitoring and observations. 

At the initial stage, an inspection of your birdsnest corals can be quite helpful. Remove any bleached or diseased portions before putting them into the tank. If needed, you may grow them in the frag tank with healthy fragments and then place them in the reef tank.

Most importantly, you have to keep an eye on the water parameters often. To discard the chance of bleaching, you can adjust the water flow and temperature before these get out of your reach.

In the case of light exposure, I would suggest you to place your tank away from any outer light source. Your aquarium lights will do the job better, and as the intensity is adjustable you’ll have better control.

Read More-

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Why Is My Birdsnest Coral Turning Brown?

Birdsnest corals have a symbiotic association with a specific type of reddish-brown algae, zooxanthellae. When these algae are overproduced, your corals may lose their original color and turn brown.

Also, due to improper lighting and excessive nutrients in the tank, your corals may face stress conditions that promote browning. Basically, the maintenance of the environment is the main factor in such a case.

What If My Birdsnest Coral Is Already White?

Birdsnest corals lose their photosynthetic ability when they are bleached or turned white. Excessive light exposure in the aquarium can be a common reason behind it. So, try to lower the lights and feed your birdsnests to provide the necessary food.

However, until the polyps are okay and the tissues are intact in your corals, there is a pretty good chance that they’ll overcome in a few months.

Is Birdsnest Coral Hard To Keep?

Well, yes, it’s a bit tricky to maintain birdsnest corals. You need to have a close eye on the aquarium environment.
That’s why; installing a good quality testing kit is important. Keep an eye on the parameters and treat as I have mentioned before. Also, do not forget to change the kit once in every 6 months.
Adjust proper lighting and temperature along with adequate water flow. Also, keep the aquarium and its instruments clean. This will help a lot in keeping your corals healthy for longer.

How Fast Do Birdsnest Coral Grow?

Birdsnests are quite fast growers. They can grow approximately 2.5 centimeters in a month.


It’s time for the wrap now. Here I have mentioned all the possible aspects related to birdsnest coral bleaching along with the fixes.

So, let’s sum up now. All you need to do is maintain proper water flow, temperature, and pH according to the needs of your corals. Besides that, make sure that your corals are placed at the top of the tank with enough light exposure. 

Howard Parker

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