Hammer Coral

Close up of Hammer Coral Tentacles Green Tips

The Hammer coral gets its name from the hammer or anchor shape of its tentacles. During the day the tentacles are extended and provide nice movement to the reef which is much like the movement you would normally find only in soft corals. On top of the nice movement the tentacles fluoresce under actinic lighting adding vibrant color to the reef.  Hammer corals come in a variety of colors some of the most common are brown, purple tentacles with green tips, and green tentacles with pink tips.  Also found but a tad more rare are green tentacles with purple tips, orange tentacles, all purple, or a light peach color.

 

Common Names: Hammer Coral or Anchor Coral

Skill Level: Moderate

Classification: LPS

Disposition:  Aggressive

Light Level:  Moderate to High

Water Flow: Moderate

Water Conditions: 72-78° F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.023-1.025




 

Hammer corals fluoresce under actinic lighting

 

Close up of Hammer Coral with purple tips

With Hammer corals it is especially important to realize that when the lights are off this coral will extend its sweeper tentacles. These tentacles can reach up to six inches long. Their purpose is to sting any corals which might be encroaching on its territory.  This is why you have to be careful with placement of this coral.  This trait is what classifies the coral as aggressive and it can deliver a very nasty sting to other corals.  The picture below is of a Green Pocillopora coral frag which was accidentally blown into a hammer coral frag. You can see that the hammer coral killed off any of Pocillopora it could touch.  The exception to this rule is that you can keep hammer corals in close proximity to corals of the same family such as frogspawn corals.

Pocillipora lost vs Hammer coral

Hammer corals are a photosynthetic coral and do not need to be directly fed. The coral produces its own food from the lights on your tank. However, you can feed your hammer coral and it will accept pieces of meaty foods by catching them in their tentacles.  Once a week I will shoot small pieces of shrimp into the tentacles of my hammer corals. I have noticed an improved growth rate when feeding the coral directly.

It has been my experience that too much flow will make the coral unhappy and the tentacles will not get full extension and this will give the coral an overall unhealthy look.  For this reason I would say that moderate water movement is best.  I have my Hammer coral placed in moderate lighting on the floor of my tank, but I have seen other reef tanks with the coral placed much higher and the coral still looked great. Moderate to High lighting is the correct lighting range

 

Hammer Coral Placement

Hammer coral propagation is handled like many other LPS corals. In the picture below you will see where this Hammer Coral is growing new heads. These will eventually grow into full heads and begin growing branches off the main stalk.  Use snips and break off heads from the main mother colony, break off the branches where they “fork”.  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 see full polyp extension.

Notice the new heads growing off the main stalk of the coral

 

 

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