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What Influences Coral Coloration? 

by David Rains
What Influences Coral Coloration? 

One of the things that we love about coral is its vibrant and beautiful color. However, maintaining that color takes a bit of time and care. Several different tank factors can affect the coloration of coral. Getting those factors just right can keep your corals from fading and can provide you with a beautiful showpiece for years to come. 

UV Light 

In most cases, coral gets its color from a symbiotic relationship with tiny algae called zooxanthellae. In exchange for shelter and nutrients, zooxanthellae provide the coral with food from photosynthesis. Zooxanthellae come in various types and, depending on what kind, can be susceptible to UV rays. Too much UV can destroy coral tissue in large doses, often making them turn shades of blue, purple, or pink to project themselves. 

Light Intensity 

Light intensity also plays a significant role in affecting the coral’s color. Since zooxanthellae provide nutrients through photosynthesis, high amounts of light often result in brighter colors. However, the reverse is also true. When there is less light, the production of nutrients slows, and coral tends to be darker in color. For more information on how to maximize lighting intensity, click here

The Light Spectrum 

The light spectrum or color temperature of the aquarium will also alter the appearance of the coral. In general, light with lower Kelvin ratings will appear "warmer", while light with higher Kelvin ratings will appear cool white to blue. Different light fixtures with varying outputs will affect the way coral looks. There is a common misconception among many reef keepers, especially those just starting, that color changes in new coral indicate unhealthy coral. Often coral can change color as it adjusts to its new environment. As such, it is essential to pay attention to the lighting requirements of any new coral you receive. Allow your coral time to acclimate to their new conditions and establish their coloration. 

Have a few questions about your corals' current appearance? Contact us today - we're happy to help.

by David Rains

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