Birdsnest corals come in a variety of growth patterns and colors. In general Birdsnest corals grow thin branches ending in tapered or pointy ends. It seems like more and more color patterns are becoming available in the pet trade all the time but the two most common are the pink and green Birdsnest.
Common Names: Birdsnest Coral or Needle Coral
Skill Level: Difficult
Light Level: High
Water Flow: High
Water Conditions: 72-78° F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.023-1.025
First off I would like to quickly explain why I have listed this coral as a skill level of difficult. If you look around on the internet you will see this coral listed all the time as a skill level of moderate and sometimes even easy. I don’t necessarily disagree with this except for the fact that this coral is much more dependent on algae free clean water than many other SPS corals. The reason that this coral is affected by algae so much is because the algae gets caught in its thin branches which are so close knit and intertwined that the algae never comes out and will literally smother the coral.
If your Birdsnest corals do end up getting algae trapped in the branches I recommend you start snapping branches until you can completely remove the algae from the colony. If you don’t remove it the algae is going to most likely grow and smother your coral until you have nothing left.
If you have a look at the growth patterns of the green Birdsnest coral verse the pink Birdsnest coral the green Birdsnest coral grows more in a “swirly” pattern with nubby tapered ends as opposed to the very needle like growth pattern of the pink Birdsnest coral. As stated earlier the key to keeping the mother colony healthy is algae free water with a strong water current.
Placement of the Birdsnest coral should be in the upper region of your tank for high light and in an area of very high water flow. This doesn’t mean place your coral right next to the power head, to much water flow on any coral could actually cause tissue damage.
Birdsnest Corals are a photosynthetic coral and do not “need” to be directly fed. The coral can produce its food from the lights on your tank. The coral will survive and grow without directly feeding it, however for better growth and a more happy coral I would suggest feeding your coral something like Reef Nutritions oyster feast.
Propagation of this coral is handled like many other SPS corals. I personally use clippers and break off pieces from the main mother colony. I usually break off the branches where they “fork” off. Once the piece is removed I glue it onto another piece of live rock or a frag plug. It’s okay to have your coral out of the water for several minutes. Once the glue is dry place your rock back into the tank. Give your coral several days before you begin to see full polyp extension.
Some Growth Shots including the Green birdsnest used at the top of this article when it was written.
Keep in mind birdsnest growth can be much faster if going into an established tank. These particular colonys were put into a new tank which went through a high phosphate spike and changing lights several times.
Many Frags have been cut off this which is why the growth pattern is starting to look a little wierd
I glued a few other Green Birdsnest frags next to the main colony because i had no where else to put them.