Is the hobby producing overly delicate corals?


New member
With the perfect water conditions, constant light, constant tempatures, and in general constant flows are we producing corals that are way more sensitive than corals in the wild? I'm thinking it would be simular to a tree, a tree that grows in a pertty stable part of the country will grow up thinner and weaker so when a storm comes along just a medium gust of wind or heavy rain comes the tree either snaps, spinters or the roots come out of the ground, Same species that is exposed to more extrem contions on a regular basis will grow thicker and have deeper roots and will be able to withstand alot stonger winds and rain. I just seem to see more and more tanks crash when just 1 pramater drifts out of the perfect range for even a short period of time.


New member
No matter how hard we try, our tanks' environment is nowhere near as "perfect" as the ocean. Our lights are not nearly as bright, our tanks aren't nearly as nutrient free, etc. Our "small" drifts are much larger than happens on a reef.


New member
Lights not as bright but we still get bleaching due to to much light. nutrient free but we can't supply enough food to feed alot of corals. We have no storms, no cold or warm water ocean flows no days without sun. In general no stresses on the corals. Just observations.


New member
This leads me to an observation while I was snorkeling in Okinawa. It was May, and the water was COLD! I went out at low tide and snorkeled in some pools, water was pee warm. Tide came in and I was frozen! Surely this was a huge temp swing, and it happens all the time. I doubt this had any affect on the corals on the reef there.
Yet we flip out if there is a 5F temp swing in a day in our tanks. I imagine this happened in less than an hour, it went from nice and warm to too cold to swim, even with a wetsuit.



Staff member
RC Mod
hot4---I don't worry much about a temp drop below 80; I do worry about spikes upward that verge on 85. When things get cooler their chemistry slows. Hotter---it speeds up. So re the adage that nothing good happens fast in a tank---it stands to reason you're marginally better chilling than boiling. My tank has fallen to 74 in a winter heater crisis and I've had no problem: corals and fish just slowed down and got back to business once the lights warmed it up. It got to 85 once, and that WAS a problem---bleaching.

Some people theorize that bleaching doesn't just involve the higher temp, but light---and that might certainly be the case. If I ever confront a temp spike again [and I have two thermometers to prevent it] I will immediately douse the lights, never mind other measures, and bring the temp down slowly.


Cyprinius carpio
Team RC
This is one of those why does the ocean work and my tank does not issues that often plague us reefers. What sets nature apart from our tanks is that nature, ie temperature swings, occur on a daily basis as in Okinawa and the corals have adapted unlike our tanks where they are conditioned to stay in a smaller range. When something goes "wrong" or happens differently then we see our fish and corals stressed.
How often have you talked or read about someone's tank that was not in the norm and when asked they reply, "Don't know, just always have done it that way." Then people harp on why their tank should fail and what should be done differently such as PaulB and his 30+ yo tank using an undergravel filter. We also do this when a reefer from Asia shows how their tanks are thriving with a different set-up than our American tanks.
This is where the biology and good observations beat the equipment everytime.
If you look at the reefers who succeed vs. those that simply keep a tank they all share one common trait: they are able to observe what is going on in their tanks and what it means.


New member
i to have wonderd if we are breeding a weeker strain, or coral in our tanks. yes i under stand that we can never keep our tanks lise the sea but we don't nesseseraly try de we. the real key to good husbedry in this hobbie is sability. we do everything that we can to mantain a constant in our liveing room ecosystems. so for the most part the streeses that our tank mates see are very minor. in natuer only the strong survive, but in the tank we nercher all to servive. yes we have casulties but we can not nor will not just let things die off in our tanks. (which i fill is a good thing)
we all have seten things in our tanks that do great and uther things that you wounder if it is ever going to adapt to it new inviroment and grow or is it going to die. in nature thes would be the week and simply be lost. but we as good reefers move them around in differnt lights subsraights and flow to keep them going. IDM just my 2 cents.


New member
All I've experienced is that wild specimens are more delicate and easily affected by tank life than tank-raised colonies and frags that come from them.


New member
The corals in our tanks may end up a little different then their wild brothers. Natural selection tells us that since our tank enviroment is different then the wild, some traits will allow some to survive that wouldn't have in nature and others die that would have lived in nature.

Sort of like wild wolves turning into mans best friend over 10,000 years. If we select based on our likes and not what the creature needs to survive in the wild, then the species will change. We select based on "amazing colors' and 'crazy cherry picks' then do everything in our power to help them to survive in our tanks.

I don't think it is a big deal though. Mostly because we do this for our own enjoyment and we are not raising these to be released into the wild.


Cyprinius carpio
Team RC
Kent: I don't think this is an absurd subject. Different people have different experiences/successes/failures and they often wonder why. If one looks at the genetic level, and the livestock is inferior then their offspring should be also such as the inability to cope with changes in the environment regardless of ocean or tank.
Your experiences are similar simply reversed. If the specimen is unhealthy to being with, stressed due to shipping, and then moved again to a different tank, it is pretty incredible that anything lives.
What are the chances that a tank raised coral or fish would be able to cope any better if released into the ocean? Because it is in a bigger "tank". Again it is a different environment.

A question that should be asked is how often do corals experience dramatic shifts in their environment and how well are they able to cope?

Steve Atkins

New member
I think corals cope pretty well with extremes, probably better than fish, but they do not cope at all well when the average moves.


Paul B

Premium Member
Corals in our tanks have all sorts of stresses. A tank no matter how well designed is loaded with stress issues for corals. Most of our tanks are lit instantly by timers, in nature the corals have ample time to adjust for lighting intensities. In a tank they are fed (if at all) with about the same un nutritious frozen food every week. In the sea they get fresh fish with all the internal organs intact. They also get natural sunlight. Whatever lighting you are using, natural sunlight is far better. Corals in the sea are designed to be very successful. If you ever went SCUBA diving after a major storm you will see corals turned over and buried. If you go bact in a few years you will see that they have regenerated and started to grow in the position that they are now living. They are hard to kill.


Cyprinius carpio
Team RC
Have you ever wondered how new reefs are formed? Hurricane action is one of those methods. Disturbance is actually a good event because it allows for species to establish a foothold that otherwise would be unable.
A closer example of this is the importance of forest fires and flooding events. It is all part of the cycle.
Another thing to keep in mind is the time scale. Nature is working on changes over decades, centuries and even longer. We put on a new piece of equipment, don't see the results we want in days and think something is wrong. Or we keep a tank for a couple years get board with it and decide to "upgrade".


New member
So will captive grown corals morph to be more stable to life in an aquarium? stay pertty much the same? or slowly deginerate?
Talking only captive raised and fraged corals.


New member
I thought the opposite. I was thinking we were producing the opposite of delicate.

Wild cought colonies are unlikely to live in our tanks. Pretty much fact of reefing. However, wild colonies that do live, are fragged and aquaculture. Those adapt to our tanks and become very hardy in our tanks.

I believe if frags that has been in systems for decades, and have lived in various tank conditions, they would be able to survive in a really stable enviroment such as the ocean.

I believe that our corals recieve limited nutrients to grow and abundent negatively impacting nutrients to its growth, but with an abundent goodness of the ocean, it should to great since it was deprived of those nutrients of our systems.

It is true that, corals in the ocean are much heathlier than the ones in our system. Thats why we cherry pick them with wild bright colors and when they are in our systems, they loose some of their brightness.

In conclusion, I believe that we are producing hardier corals, which can take more extreems than their wild counterparts.


New member
Evolution does not happen in a few years. Sure, some fish can be taught to accept the foods we can provide, but that is not that same as a coral changing its physiology/biology to thrive on (relatively) sub-optimal lighting, unstable water, and minimal feedings, with future generations becoming even better-suited to those conditions. It's not evolution. It's just an attempt to adapt to something that is (relatively) short term. When your corals are growing like they do in the wild and are in the shapes they are in the wild you can say they have adapted.