Candy Cane Coral Care- Complete How To Guide

Candy cane coral or trumpet coral is a shallow-watered tough LPS coral preferring sandy habitat. These are great for beginners to start their reef journey as they are less affected by several mild changes. Even losing control of salinity and calcium levels also doesn’t bother them for some periods. So, you can cut them some slacks.

But if some facts are ignored for longer, your candy cane corals can be affected negatively. That’s why you need to know when it’s time to hold the reins. In this article, I’m going to show you when you need to do so with basic maintenance and candy cane coral care.

So, keep reading to find out.

How to Take Care of a Candy Cane Coral

It’s not that hard to deal with candy cane corals. Before jumping into the details you may need to be aware of their preferences. Let’s have a quick check first.

Candy cane coral requirements at a glance-



Preferable locationBottom of the reef tank
Tank sizeMedium to small
BehaviorNot aggressive
Difficulty levelBeginners friendly
Temperature74°F to 83°F
Lighting50 to 70 PAR
Water flowLow to moderate
Water pH8.1 to 8.4
Hardness8 to 11 dH
Specific gravity1.0221 to 1.025

Placement of Candy Cane Corals

Placement of Candy Cane Corals

Candy cane corals need a habitat like their natural ones. So, you need to try your best to provide a similar one so that they can grow comfortably. Let me help you with some tricks and tips.

First, you need to pick your tanks wisely. Normally candy cane corals do not need a large tank to survive. They can be grown even in a nano tank. So, keep that in mind.

While thinking of trumpet coral placement, the best place to suggest is the lower parts of the aquarium. If possible, manage some sand and put your candy canes on them. As they grow on sands in the sea, this will be a treat for them.

It’s also a great idea to place them on rocks at lower portions of the tank or on some middle shelves. They can easily stick themselves on such rocks. You can try to place them on multiple sites in your tank to observe how they perform. Then put them according to their preference.

You also need to provide your candy cane corals with enough space to grow. Normally candy canes can live happily with other meek little corals at the initial growth stages.  But as they get bigger, more expansion in size is observed. At this stage, they can kill the nearby corals with their tentacles. So, try to increase some room for them. You may remove some other corals or plankton to save both.

Water Parameters for Candy Cane Corals

Water Parameters for Candy Cane Corals

You need to take care of several water conditions to initiate your candy cane coral growth. Though they might tolerate stress up to some level, it’s always a wise decision to keep monitoring your tank condition to mimic the standard saltwater parameters.

Installing a good quality water testing kit is very much important to keep an eye on your candy cane corals. I would suggest you replace this with a new one every year.  (Our Recommendation: API FRESHWATER MASTER TEST KIT)


Now, let’s take a look into the basic management of water parameters.


Candy cane corals need a temperature ranging between 74°F to 83°F. Extreme temperatures can cause stress conditions which may lead the associating zooxanthellae algae to leave them. In such a case, candy cane corals face nutrient loss.

So, it’s very much important to maintain the proper temperature in the aquarium. To do so, you may need to keep an eye on the testing kit’s reading more often. If it goes high, move your aquarium to a cooler place as fast as possible.

In the case of a comparatively larger tank, turn off the lights for a while and keep the upper lids open for some time. This will balance out the temperature fluctuation.

Now you might be thinking of how to take care of a candy cane on freezing days. Well, I got the fix too. Just do the opposite; increase the light intensity for a while. But be careful not to put your candy canes in extreme light for longer.

However, changing the water every 24 hours can help in keeping the temperature under control.


Candy cane corals prefer low to moderate lighting in the tank. Normally lights of 50 to 70 PAR is enough for them. To put it another way, high-intensity lights are not necessary for them. Most of the time it’s advised to place them away from hot white lights.  

Because under high light intensity, their tissue will get damaged. On the other hand, if the light intensity is too low, they won’t be able to grow properly. As per your concern, you may need to pick adjustable lights for your tanks having candy canes. Modern reef aquarium LED lights are highly customizable, so make sure to pick some LED lights that provide both blue and white light spectrums. 

On sunny days, try to keep your corals away from direct sunlight. With prolonged exposure, you may notice your candy cane corals are not opening after several periods of deflation. If such happens, move them to a shade and cool place as soon as possible.

Normally, the ideal light duration of candy cane coral is around 10 to 12 hours a day. I figured that mimicking natural day night conditions in the aquarium helps to maintain the coral’s natural biological process. 

Last but not the least, keep observing how the corals are responding to lights. If the lights are insufficient, you might see the corals are either not growing properly or have started to turn pale. This is when you need to make adjustments in the aquarium light intensity and its duration.

Water Flow

Intense flow is never welcomed by candy cane corals at the initial stage of growth. In extreme water flow, they tend to lose their proper shape. Tissue damage and discoloration are also observed if there is too much flow near the surroundings. However, as they grow they may adapt to a bit faster water flows.

So, it’s quite important to maintain this parameter in your tank. Basically, you may need to start with a low to moderate flow just after placing your candy canes. Even such flow will also be needed while feeding your corals.

I would like to advise you to install a good quality water pump or powerhead pump. These are very much effective in regulating or diverting water in or from a particular place in the tank. (Our Recommendation: VIVOSUN 800GPH Submersible Pump)

Water pH

Candy cane corals are adapted to a pH of 8.1 to 8.4. Accumulation of large amounts of organic matter can lead to dropping the pH.

Most of the time this organic stuff comes from dead fishes or decayed coral parts. Also, uneaten foods from your candy canes can add biological residues to the tank. So, it’s suggested to clean your tanks more often if you are having such issues.

Growers swear by adding baking soda to the water tank to increase the water pH. Four grams of baking soda in 5 gallons of water is a standard ratio to maintain here. You can practice this whenever the pH level drops in your aquarium.

When you are performing water changes make sure to add water that matches with your existing tank water parameters. This will prevent any sudden pH fluctuations. If you need to raise the tank pH, you can add some crushed corals in the water as it will release calcium and make the water a little alkaline. 

Besides, ensure that your tank has enough airflow around it. Because I’ve noticed that excess build up of carbon dioxide lowers the pH that has a negative effect on the corals.

Candy Cane Coral Fragging

Fragging is a normal phenomenon in candy cane corals. A healthy one normally grows lots of branches as they grow and thus fragging is initiated. Inside those branches, they grow a stone like skeleton.

Candy cane corals can frag on their own or growers pick fragments from large growing colonies to make larger ones. While doing such, you may use some wire cutters or bone cutters as they are quite hardy. Make sure these tools are made of stainless steel. You can also use a Dremel-type rotary tool to cut pieces from the branches.

Sometimes, many growers cut the candy canes haphazardly. This may lead to infections and damage to the polyp. So, it’s discouraged to proceed with artificial fragment cutting by this method. 

Feeding Candy Cane Corals

Feeding is an important part of Candy Cane coral care. These corals are fond of flake and marine pellets, meaty foods like shrimp and fish bits, Copepods, Amphipods, and some coral feeds. With proper feeding, you can maintain their vivid outlook and healthy appearance. So, try to introduce them to different types of foods with proper inspection.

Also, be consistent with the feeding techniques. It’s better to follow the same pattern of feeding too. Normally, your candy canes are okay with feeding once every two days.You can try feeding the Candy Cane Corals with liquid coral foods that are very small and can be directly delivered to their polyps.

Also, use metal tongs or Turkey baster to place food on them. Touching them directly is not a good idea. You can also offer them some frozen foods like planktons and brine shrimps. However, make sure to thaw the food before feeding them and carefully place the food near their tentacles.

While feeding, you may need to take care of the water flow too. Moderate water flow in the aquarium helps to disperse the food particles around the coral and makes it easier for them to capture the food.On the other hand, excessive water flow can take away the food from the tentacles of your corals. So, adjust the flow with the help of the water pump before putting food into your candy canes.

Did you know clown fishes can filch the foods placed for the corals? If you have some in your tank this might be a common issue for you, right? In this case, either you need to place foods more often or keep those frisky eaters away from your candy cane corals.

As you know candy canes are mostly dependent on the symbiotic zooxanthellae algae, you must take care of them too by maintaining proper water parameters. In stress conditions, these algae tend to leave the corals. In such a case, your candy cane coral may end up dying with time.

Nutrient Requirements

While growing candy cane corals, you may need to take care of the nutrient levels as follows-

  • Ammonia: 0 ppm
  • Nitrite: 0 ppm
  • Phosphorus: 0 ppm
  • Nitrate:< 10 ppm
  • Calcium:350-450 ppm
  • Magnesium: 1200-1350 ppm

Nitrate buildup is a common problem in aquariums. To fix this issue I would like to suggest you avoid feeding your corals and other aquatic creatures large amounts at a time. Rather than that, place foods in small portions several times.

To maintain the calcium and alkalinity level, using two parts of calcium and alkalinity supplements are recommended. These are easily available in the local reef shop.

When it comes to balancing calcium levels in the tank, add Epsom salt to increase the level and always keep it between 1200 to 1350 ppm.

Some Abnormalities in Candy Cane Corals

As I have mentioned before, candy cane corals are quite easy to maintain. But did you know some changes may tell you that they need some of your extra attention? If these are overlooked, your candy cane coral may end up dying.


Sometimes you may notice your candy cane corals are losing their vivid colors and turning white. This condition is known as coral bleaching which is very much common among different types of corals.

Excessive stress and too much exposure to lights can cause such discoloration in candy cane corals. Changes in water quality and temperature can also initiate bleaching.

In such a case, care should be taken in adjusting the proper light and temperature management in the tank. It is advised to strictly follow up with the desirable lighting (50 to 70 PAR) and temperature (74°F to 83°F) for at least one month. Then you can lose the rope for some days again.


Deflating or shrinkage in candy cane corals can be a serious issue. Prolonged shrinkage can be a symptom of dying. Deflating and inflating is a normal phenomenon in these corals. But if they fail to inflate within 2 to 3 days, it might be concerning.

However, keeping all the water parameters in favorable condition for candy cane corals can help to get rid of this problem. Also, try not to keep them under stress while showing such symptoms.

Exposed Skeletons

Losing the tissues can expose the internal structure or the skeleton of candy cane corals. This may be because of falling off from placement rocks or due to fluctuation of water parameters.

In such a case, it is suggested to allow them to heal on their own. At this time adjust the water parameters, especially the light and temperature. Hopefully, your corals will get well soon.

Read More-

  1. Goniopora Coral Not Opening- 5 Reasons and Their Solutions


Are candy cane corals easy to keep?

As candy cane corals are hardy and less prone to be affected by minor stresses, they are not that tricky to grow and maintain. That’s why it’s also considered to be a good pick for beginners.

How fast does candy cane coral grow?

Candy cane coral’s growth rate is quite fast. They can grow bigger and healthier without any rearrangement. You can see the progress in growth with proper feeding and by acclaiming necessary water conditions. However, within one and a half years you may notice 7 to 8 heads in your candy cane corals.

Do candy cane corals shed?

No, they don’t. If you notice something like this, maybe your corals are under severe stress and need to be managed with proper care.

The Bottom Line

In this article, I tried my best to share my ideas on Candy cane coral care. By this time you may have figured out that to maintain coral regular follow-up is needed. Sometimes, little ignorance can cost you a lot in the long run.

Well, I kept things quite simple. All you need to do is to maintain proper water parameters and follow the preferable feeding techniques for your candy cane corals. If some issues arise, try to balance out the parameters and avoid the mistakes I mentioned and you’re all set to go.

Moreover, the comment section is open where you can ask for any queries and suggestions. So, roll your sleeves up and start pampering your bright corals.

Howard Parker

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