6 Reasons Why Finger Leather Coral Dying [Treatment]

Finger leather corals are one of the nicest species of corals that most hobbyists cherish out there. These are named leather corals because they are tough and have a leather-like texture. They are likely to be hardy, easy to grow, and more importantly, adaptable.

But unfortunately, you might find yourself wondering why your finger leather coral is dying! Yes, it happens because of some maintenance issues or maybe some other unknown issues. 

Nonetheless, finger leather corals are resistant to several adverse factors. But if still, they are dying then the reasons for it can be the tank water conditions, wrong lighting, unstable conditions, insufficient space, improper supplementation, or any diseases.  

Finger leather coral will require some optimum conditions for thriving. Stopping this process will lead them to death. So, let’s have a detailed discussion on the reasons and their treatment.

ReasonFixing Guide
Water ParametersObtain optimum pH, alkalinity, salinity, calcium, and magnesium level
Photo ShockMaintain photoperiod
Water FlowSlightly to moderate
Coral WarfareFriendly companions
Unsystematic SupplementationFollow instructions before applying
DiseasesMaintain water conditions and let not stress

Why is Finger Leather Coral Dying and Solution

Dying Finger Leather Coral

1. Water Parameters

Any reef tank must ensure the right water parameters required for the growth of your hardy invertebrates. Even though the corals can survive under wider ranges of conditions yet they might fail if the thriving process is interrupted.

Improper water conditions lead your hardy finger leather corals to death by stopping them from thriving. Hence, wrong water temperature, water pH, alkalinity levels, and other factors have to be obtained properly.

Acidic water is not suitable at all for any corals to thrive. In fact, highly acidic water can kill your finger leather corals. However, the corals grow fine in slightly alkaline soil.

Again, salinity also matters in this aspect along with specific gravity. Moreover, your leather corals might also die in the absence of calcium and magnesium. Hence, your coral reef tank must ensure these elements.

Excessive levels of these elements might act adversely. An excessive level of calcium in the tank might decrease the alkalinity level and lower the pH rate. Again, less calcium might slow the growth rate of your corals. Consequently, leads the leather corals to death.

Control Measure

  • Make sure the tank water is alkaline. The alkalinity level should be 8 to 12 dKH. This is the optimum level of alkalinity requirement for finger leather coral to thrive well.
  • Also, with the best aquarium pH meter measure the pH level. The tank water never should have a pH lower than 8.0 to 8.4.
  • Again, you also have to maintain the water salinity. Leather corals require an optimum salinity of 1.025 or 35 PPT for their living healthy.
  • Moreover, as we mentioned before, for wanting your finger leather corals not to die, you have to balance the calcium and magnesium levels. Ensure a calcium level of about 350 to 450 PPM and a magnesium level of 1250 to 1350 PPM.

So, you have to maintain these water parameters especially when the finger leather corals are in their growing periods. Also, you have to ensure stability among the parameters. Therefore, frequent monitoring and testing of water are very important to make adjustments accordingly.

2. Photo Shock

This could be another reason why your finger leather coral is almost dying. Finger leather corals tend to thrive toward the light. Hence, they must require light. But the sudden intensity of light will cause photo shock to your leather corals. This shock may lead them to death.

An abrupt increase in light can be very stressful to the corals. It can contract their polyps stunting the growth. Once the corals contract their polyps, they remain like this for a long period of time. However, this can happen if you put a fixture with a higher output in the aquarium bulb.

Again, if overshadowed, the finger leather corals will keep expanding their stalks. So, you might see them growing at any reef level. That is why to maintain their proper growth, obtaining the right lighting is important.

Control Measure

  • While upgrading the intensity of aquarium lights make sure you select the right position for them. Fix the position above the tank from its usual position. Then gradually lower the position of light after every several days to let the finger leather corals adjust with them.
  • Try to keep the light low to moderate in intensity. Normally, 50 to 150 PAR is required for the proper growth of leather corals. Less or excessive intensity might kill them. Hence, ensure this parameter properly.
  • For making sure your finger leather corals have a proper adjustment to light, you can add screening materials at several layers. Put the materials between the tank and the lamps. Then remove the layers gradually.
  • Again, you can reduce the time length of the photoperiod. Reduce the time of turn-on lights and then gradually take them back to normal time length.

So, these are some ways of preventing photo shock of your finger leather corals and saving their life big time.

3. Water Flow

Water flows play a big role in the survival process of finger leather corals. It is true for all living organisms in a reef tank. Too much water flow will not bring any help to the growth of leather corals. Rather it may become one of the reasons why the finger leather corals are dying.

Moreover, if the water flow is not non-linear then the tissues of leather corals will build detritus on them. Consequently, it affects the growth rate of corals and at a certain point might be threatening to the coral’s life.

Control Measure

  • Always keep the water flow from moderate to a slightly high level. Never achieve an excessive flow of water in the tank. However, you can set the flow too low in some cases. It will not cause any negative effects. But, obtaining the optimum flow is suggested.
  • Again, ensure non-linear water movement in the tank so that the finger leather corals can shed gradually.
  • To make your leather coral stalks to adapt the water flow real quickly, place them in different positions. Otherwise, they will bend down to the water flow over time.

Thus, maintaining the proper water flow in the tank is a bit tricky but you have to achieve it to protect your leather corals.

4. Coral Warfare

Hermit Crabs on Finger Leather Coral

It is another reason why finger leather cannot survive long in the reef tank. The companions you have kept with the leather coral can be the actual problem here. Many aquarists out there add several motile invertebrates or crawling critters like hermit crabs to the tank as cleaning elements.

They are part of cleaning crews. However, since leather corals are constructed with comparatively tougher tissues, these critters sometimes crawl over them. It feels irritating to the leather corals.

Thus, if it happens for a long time then the corals may contract their polyps and close up eventually. So, they might seem dead to you.

Moreover, there could be some other types of corals in your tank that might also cause the same problem. There is the possibility that the coral just next to your leather coral is exuding allelopathic components that are toxic and inhibit the growth of corals.

Or, maybe they are stinging the hard tissues of leather corals. These incidents are possible since many coral types are noxious.

Control Measure

  • To control coral warfare, you have to select your companions wisely.
  • Replace the crawl critters immediately if you see them hurting your finger leather corals.
  • Again, ensure enough space for your leather corals so that other corals can not come and start stinging them. Make sure there is enough space between other living organisms and competing corals inside the tank.
  • However, to deal with chemical warfare in the tank, you need to take up partial water-changing process.
  • Again, since you cannot see this warfare with bare eyes, you should come up with chemical filtrates or activated carbon.
  • Moreover, effective protein skimming also helps prevent chemical warfare.

So, these are some probable solutions to get rid of warfare in the tank to save the life of leather corals.

5. Unsystematic Supplementation

Yes, your coral reef tank indeed requires several formulations or supplementations for the proper maintenance of leather corals. These commercial products claim to offer healthy growth of corals.

However, not all coral types can tolerate the doses in the first place. Your finger leather corals may be one of them. Moreover, these formulations might also affect the water quality and its parameters.

Consequently, it can also affect every organism inside the tank. Sometimes, the finger leather corals refuse to expand in such situations and play dead eventually.

Control Measure

  • In such situations, stop applying such supplements or formulations to the tank for the time being.
  • If you are applying the commercial formulations to the tank water to achieve the best health of your finger leather corals then make sure to follow the instructions.
  • Never overdose the tank water with these formulation products. Follow the direction of manufacturers and then add them,
  • Try not to apply nonessential formulations or supplements just to experience. You better have good research before buying them.

6. Diseases of Finger Leather Corals

Even though finger leather corals are resistant to diseases yet in favorable conditions they might be affected as well. Finger leather corals are quite toxic and aggressive. In self-defense, they throw poisonous terpenes toward their enemies.

Thus, they are adaptable and hardy. Still, they can contract some diseases caused by flatworms or other organisms. Their diseases include black band disease, jelly infections, and others.

Control Measure

  • Water conditions play the biggest role to protect your finger leather corals from any diseases. Thus, maintaining the parameters is a must.
  • Let not the coral undergo any stresses or shocks.
  • Also, let not intrude any toxins or other harmful organisms intrude into the saltwater tank.

Signs Your Finger Leather Corals Are Dying

Sometimes your finger leather corals just seem like they are dead. But in reality, maybe they are just closed or not expanding or creating any polyps. So, knowing the dying signs might help you to inspect the situation better.


This is the first thing to notice. Corals have life and come with a vibrant hue appearance. But if the finger leather coral in your tank looks significantly white or almost transparent then yes, the coral is on the verge of dying.

Sediment and Discoloration

If the leather corals are diseased, they will show blotches or black spots on them by discoloring. Later the black and dark areas crumble up to sediments. Consequently, it spreads to other corals.

Seaweed Growth

If you discover seaweeds are growing from your finger leather coral then there are chances your coral is dying.


Why Is My Leather Coral Turning Brown?

There can be one specific reason why the finger leather coral is browning. That is the tissues of the coral might be producing excessive zooxanthellae. It is one type of algae. The algae do not allow the natural pigments to occur inside the coral. Thus, the leather coral turns brown eventually.

How Long Do Leather Corals Live?

Most leather corals have a wider lifespan. Some species can live even more than a hundred years.

How Do You Care For Finger Leather Coral?

Just ensure moderate to high lighting along with medium to high water flow. Again, to achieve better health conditions, you can add some components to the water including calcium or iodine, and strontium.

Read More-

Final Words

Now that you have clear ideas of why your finger leather coral is dying, you might still have the scope to save them. For being extraordinarily hardy and tough, these corals can survive anyway. Yet, sometimes they may fail.

That is why you have to keep an eye on them. So, if our article has been helpful to you, leave us your feedback. Also, your queries will be answered! 

Howard Parker

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