Leptastrea are a relatively new species to the hobby and have never been a popular coral to the mainstream reef aquarist. They are a subtle short tentacled encrusting coral that appeal to veteran hobbyists that are looking for something different in their tanks. Novelty is a big thing when you have been in this hobby a long time and tanks start to suffer from sameness-syndrome. Sometimes a change of pace is necessary and uncommon corals like Leptastrea are just what the doctor ordered.
Prior to 2012 Leptastrea were assigned to the Family Faviidae but they have since been reclassified as Scleractinia incertae sedis which is Latin for ‘uncertain placement’. This classification change is due to the Faviidae group being reanalyzed and it showing that it was actually a large group of corals without a common ancestry that had been grouped together and is now being separated out. Such is the nature of coral classifications – they are ever changing.
The lighting requirements for Leptastrea depend in large part on the particular color morph. Generally speaking, Leptastrea do not like direct, intense light. Their color will be the best indicator of the position they prefer with green morphs tending to do better in a slightly higher PAR than orange morphs. Leptastrea are also pretty good at letting you know they are in too little light as their colors will fade or in the case of some green morphs they will brown out. 100 PAR would be a good final position for most aquacultured colonies which is a moderate light level.
Low light translates to about 30-50 PAR
Medium Light is between 50-150 PAR
High Light is anything over 150 PAR
Lighting is a loaded topic, so for a more in-depth discussion of lighting, please see ourDeep Divearticle.
Leptastrea will benefit from enough flow to keep them clean and to ensure that detritus does not build up on top or around them. For this, a moderate, indirect flow pattern is best.
Leptastrea relies heavily on the products of their zooxanthellae. This coral may benefit from the addition of phytoplankton and other small morsels as a food source. They can more easily handle those smaller items although don’t be surprised to see one of those tiny polyps hanging onto a Mysis shrimp or a chunk of squid it has managed to snatch from the water column! There are plenty of foods that would be suitable on the market in either a dried or frozen form depending on your preference although in our experience a more concentrated dried formula initiates a better feeding response. You want something that is Zooplankton based and comprises of Rotifers, Cyclops or Copepods in either form.
If you are considering propagating these corals at home they make an excellent candidate for aquaculture. Initially they will encrust over new cuts and thinly spread out over their immediate surroundings but given time they will grow into larger boulder shapes.
Proper acclimation is extremely important considering the stress imposed on the animals by the shipping process. Please take a moment to review ourAcclimation Guide.
The images were taken with a Canon 5D mk II and 100mm macro lens under T5 Fluorescent lighting. Quite a lot goes into how we go about shooting the corals and anemones you see on Tidal Gardens. For an in-depth look at our methods, check out our comprehensiveReef Aquarium Photography FAQ.