Is Your Hammer Coral Dying? Here’s What to Do

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Do you think your hammer coral is dying, but you don’t know why? If so, you are in the right place. In this article, you will learn about all the reasons that may cause hammer corals to die, how to recover them, and why dipping your corals is one of the best practices in the saltwater aquarium hobby.

The hammers are one of the favorite corals in my reef tank. I like their colors, the different varieties, and the way they gently sway in the current. 

And the best part, they are not difficult to keep, assuming you have a mature tank with stable water parameters.

I would be devasted to see something happen to my hammer corals. 

That’s why I always act proactively. I try to prevent anything that might occur by researching it and reading about other hobbyists’ experiences. I don’t need something to happen and not be prepared for it.

Here’s what I learned.


Why is my hammer coral dying?

There are a lot of reasons that may cause hammer coral to recede and die. Unstable water parameters, inadequate lighting, flow, or bacterial infections can cause hammer coral to die. 

Here is a more detailed explanation of those reasons.

Water parameters

It’s not a secret that corals need stable water parameters to survive in captivity. Some corals are more forgiving and can tolerate mistakes that beginners often do.

Hammers are not one of those corals, even though some guides suggest they are beginner corals and easy to keep. They are easy to take care of, but only if you have a stable and mature tank, a task that requires knowledge and patience.

If you see that your hammer coral is not happy, you should immediately start testing your water. Often simple things like increased salinity or temperature may cause your hammer coral to shrivel. Luckily those conditions are reversible and easily fixable.

Alkalinity swings can also negatively affect your hammer coral and the other water parameters. Make sure that you regularly test your alkalinity level and maintain it stable.

Low magnesium levels are notorious when it comes to hammer corals. Keep your magnesium level stable through regular water changes or by adding supplementation.

Light intensity

Hammer corals don’t like high-intensity lighting, so be careful when you add them to your tank. Place them on the sandbed and slowly acclimate by moving them higher on the rocks.

When I first got my hammer corals, I placed them on the sandbed with the intention to move them to the rocks when they acclimate to my tank conditions. 

However, they liked that position so much that I decided to leave them there. My hammers are healthy, thriving, and growing well.


Hammer corals prefer low to medium flow. If you place your hammer coral under a direct, strong flow, it won’t be happy and most likely cause a polyp bailout.

If your hammer is not doing well, consider placing it in low light, low flow area.

Brown Jelly Syndrome

Brown jelly is a disease that primarily affects LPS corals, and its caused by bacterial infection. It manifests through rapid coral tissue loss resulting in the death of the coral.

It is challenging to save coral from this disease, but it’s not impossible. The infection spreads quickly and may affect all the corals in your tank. 

Immediate action is required.

See Also: Does the Hammer Coral Need Feeding

Can hammer coral recover?

Hammer corals can recover, but you need to find out why your hammer coral is dying? Without knowing the reason, you won’t know how to act. 

Here’s what you should do:

Test your water parameters

Test your water parameters to see if anything is off. If you have a problem with the parameters, slowly adjust them to the desired level. You should never make large changes.

Dip the hammer coral

If all the water parameters are on point, the next logical step is to dip your hammer to prevent bacterial infections spread.

Place the hammer in low flow area

After the dipping, place your hammer coral in a low flow, low light area, and let it recover. Preferably, you should do this in a separate quarantine tank to avoid spreading whatever your hammer has.

Remove infected heads

If you confirmed that your hammer coral has a brown jelly disease, remove the infected heads immediately to avoid spreading to the other heads of the coral.

There is no guarantee that the colony will survive, but it’s worth trying.

See Also: Hammer Coral Care

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of reasons that may cause your hammer coral to die. Some of them are preventable, others happen overnight, and there is nothing we can do.

Always dip your corals before adding them to your main display tank to avoid introducing unwanted hitchhikers and diseases. It’s the only way to save the organisms we put so much time and money into it.

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