Over the years as my coral collection has accumulated to beyond what is considered normal.As a result I have found several ways to accommodate them throughout my small aquarium.After my extensive trial and error here are some ways that you too can maximize your coral hoarding capacity!**Please see my disclaimer below before reading further!
1- Group identical species together.Many hobbyists create colorful Acan and zoanthids rock gardens.Just be certain that you have the exact same species.Even still,many corals may not ever be compatible.Take for example the Acropora.Sometimes they will live in complete harmony.Other times certain death will occur within hours.The only way to know is to try it.The best way to attempt a grouping of Acros is to start with frags from your mother colonies.Glue them to a rock and step back.For large polyp corals,I suggest placing one's that might be compatible about 4" from each other.Watch for signs aggression frequently over a period of days,weeks and months.If nothing melts,then you can slowly inch them closer together.This works well for the Echinophyllia chalice corals.In the case of lobed brain corals, I have found that leaving a 3" margin is mandatory.This is because you want them to have plenty of room to eat ,grow and fully expand. Some good candidates for cohabitation are;
Zoas and Zoas of course!
Zoas with Palys
Montipora stacked upon Montipora
Montipora growing next to zoanthids
Lobos next to Lobos -with extreme caution!
Chalice corals with Chalice corals -with moderate caution! Only try this with the Echinophyllia types.Never with a Mycedium chalice.There are many types of corals that are grouped under the common name chalice.So when in doubt ,don't try it out!
Acan lordhowensis grouped with other Acan lordhowensis
Acropora and Acropora -With caution.Again,It's best to test drive your theory with frags first.
Galaxea next to zoas or Palys.The zoanarthia are somewhat resistant to the brutal tentacles of the tooth coral.Do not try this at home with your designer zoa colony that cost you a small fortune.Use your pesty ones if you got them.
Euphyilla next to Zoanthids or Palys
Acan Enchinata next to mushrooms.Not your name brand $10,000 bounce shroom! That said,just about any really aggressive coral can be attempted next to a corallimorph.This includes ricorda and those little ball anemones . Keep in mind that.Mushrooms will cause some serious damage if they directly touch something! Give them space and let them catch the stinger tentacles instead.
2-Make it difficult for the corals to reach each other.Create caves and stagger the rockwork.Raise bridges or shelves to arrange and rearrange your pieces.You can use small rocks and overgrown zoa colonies as barriers between specimen s. Try mounting your frags onto small rocks and shells.You can even mount them onto coral skeletons for stability and a more natural look.This will allow you to easily relocate them if problems should arise. Make those sweepers work hard to inflict damage!
3- Be certain to give the less vigorous varieties the advantage.In other words,put the slower growing corals higher up in the display.Fast growing corals will attempt to shade out the competition.This is especially true of Montipora where you will see them contouring up and around their neighbors.If a coral gets overgrown be sure to trim,frag or relocate as needed.
4- Consider adding a frag rack.Permanently if you can stand it.Create your own for a empty corner or as a thin strip along a wall.Build one around the return pump or skimmer if the lighting is sufficient in those areas.
5- Magnetic frag plugs are awesome.If you don't think you have room for one more frag,think again! Additionally,a magnetic thermometer can double as a birdnest holder.Simply super glue a clip from a submersible heater onto it.
6- Add a sump if you have not done so already.Doing so will significantly benefit the health and stability of the display.If a war does breaks out ,you will have a place to quickly separate fighting corals.It is also a great place to keep activated carbon when things do get rough.Consider keeping your low maintenance or weedy corals in the sump.Often times soft corals will do just fine in a sump environment provided with light and a few rocks.Give it a try!
7- Last but absolutely not least,take notes! Record the various interactions taking place inside your ecosystem.When something melts away within hours,jot it down as to learn from the mishap.When you actually see the six inch sweeper tentacles of death swaying from your Favia,take a picture.It will serve as a friendly reminder in case you decide to completely reorganize the inhabitants.If you notice two corals that work splendidly as counterparts,don't hold it back! Past it around for the benefit of the whole reef community.
Please feel free to reply with your observations,opinions and data regarding coral compatibility.If I am horribly wrong about something please let me know.If you have any pictures to contribute I would really love to see them.Thank you for reading.As always have a wonderful reefing day!
DISCLAIMER**I give all these suggestions in good faith.Bottom line is all corals will fight with one another.Place corals adjacent to each other at your own risk.If you are new to keeping corals please do not attempt the ideas in this article at all.I highly that recommend hobbyist preform frequent water test and regular water changes to maintain stability in all aquariums.