Bird’s Nest Coral: The Complete Care Guide

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If you are looking for a perfect, beginner-friendly SPS coral, you’ll love this guide.

In this complete guide, I’ll cover the most important things you need to know about Bird’s Nest coral care. And that’s not all.

We are going to talk about other things as well, such as Birds Nest coral placement, what is the best lighting system, and possible problems you may encounter too.

Let’s get started.

Birds Nest Coral


Bird’s Nest Coral Care

You’ve probably heard that keeping SPS corals is hard, and indeed it is.

But, the big question is:

Can you successfully keep them as a hobbyist in your home aquarium?

And the answer is… Absolutely yes. Despite the common belief that keeping SPS corals is hard, I believe that with proper knowledge and patience you will have success. My advice?

Start with the easiest among them, the Birdsnest coral. It won’t cause any problems, and if it does, don’t worry. It’s one of the cheapest SPS, it won’t break your bank, and you’ll learn valuable lessons even if you make mistakes in the beginning.

I know that losing corals isn’t fun, whether they are cheap or expensive, but sometimes it’s a necessary evil.

Natural Habitat

The Birds Nest Coral (Seriatopora hystrix) also known as the Finger Coral, Bush Coral or Needle Coral is a species of SPS (Small Polyp Stony) corals from the Pocilliporidae family.

It’s usually found in the Red Sea where it inhabits shallow waters and upper reef slopes. It can be found in East Africa and the Western Indo Pacific too, mostly at depths between 10 and 50 feet.

One of the most interesting things about these corals is their symbiotic relationship with the gall-forming crab, Hapalocarcinus marsupials.

In the ocean, symbiotic organisms take advantage of corals to shelter from predators or benefit from a food source. Coral gall crabs, such as the Hapalocarcinus marsupials, inhabit the skeleton of scleractinian corals and form a gall in their host’s tissue in the process.

The Hapalocarcinus marsupials female crabs remain in Birds Nest Corals their entire lives. Once they reach sexual maturity, free-living males move in the gal with the female for breeding purposes.

Very interesting, isn’t it?

Appearance & Types 

These corals have a structure and appearance similar to a tree, growing in branches. In areas with higher water flow, they form thicker branches. 

There are different color varieties of the Bird’s Nest coral. You can find it in pink, orange, brown and green colors. Those that are picked from shallow waters have lighter colors and need bright light.

Aquarium Care

It’s essential to have a well-established aquarium before you even consider to purchase the Bird’s Nest coral. To stay on the safe side make sure your tank is at least 1 year old.

All water parameters must be on point. Keep the phosphates at zero, and the nitrates levels low. Another thing you need to keep in mind is to do regular water changes. If required, add additional additives to maintain proper levels for growth.

Avoid salinity or temperature fluctuations at any cost. Having a stable system is one of the most important things for the health of these animals.

Birds Nest Placement & Lighting

In terms of placement, they need space on their own. If they are too close to other corals, can start to act aggressively.

In general, when people think of keeping SPS corals, they assume they need high lighting requirements. And it’s true. The most important thing that these corals depend on is lighting.

However, when it comes to the Birds Nest Coral, the lighting mostly depends on the type of these corals. Different varieties come from different regions of the reef. And they all have different lighting requirements, even though they are the same species.

For Example:

The Yellow Bird’s Nest Coral thrives in low light conditions. On the other hand, Pink Bird’s Nest needs more intense lighting. Make sure that you can recognize what type you have, and adjust your parameters according to that.

In terms of water flow, it needs to be moderate. Thinner branches can’t tolerate higher flow, and should not be exposed to it.

Bird’s Nest Coral Feeding

All SPS corals feed on the same way, through a symbiotic relationship with zooxanthellae. The Birds Nest Coral is not an exception.

In addition, they also consume smaller particles from the water column, such as plankton.

Birds Nest Coral Bleaching & Dying

In general, the Birds Nest coral is disease resistant. However, it won’t tolerate poor water conditions, like any other SPS coral. If you’ve noticed any changes different than usual, check your water parameters first.

If everything is on point as it should be, start looking into other things such as lighting and water flow. Sometimes too much light can result in coral bleaching. Other kinds of stress such as the change in temperature, low salinity or not enough nutrients can also cause bleaching.

Beginners tend to rush things out, oftentimes introducing SPS corals in a sterile tank that’s only a couple of months old. Even though the Bird’s Nest is the hardiest among them, it will be under stress in that environment. That’s why is so important to have a mature and well-established reef tank before you even consider buying these types of corals.

Another mistake that can lead to bleaching and dying of these beautiful corals is poor acclimation. Always acclimate properly to avoid such problems at the start of your reefing journey. As I said, the lights will be probably the most common problem that results in bleaching.

Final Thoughts

Start with an easy to care for SPS coral if you want to get into these types of corals.

As far as these corals go, the Birds Nest is one of the most beginner-friendly. However, even though is considered for beginners, like any other SPS coral, it requires an advanced level of care.

The Birdnest will tolerate some of the mistakes beginners getting into keeping SPS corals, make. It’s the least demanding coral in that category. But make sure you get it right on the first try.

Now I’d like to hear from you.

What’s the first SPS coral you bought for your tank?

Let me know in the comments.

Featured Image: Will Thomas CC BY 2.0  

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