The Hedgehog Coral comes in neutral colors ranging from amber to cream, tan, and dark brown. It also comes in vibrant green, mustard yellow, purple, and pink. The center of the coral usually has a contrasting color. There is a lot of variety in this interesting coral’s size and growth pattern, even within the same reef space. However, most grow to a large size.
In the wild, it forms long tree-like branches, extensions shaped like leaves, or a mix of both. The most common type of Hedgehog Coral seen in the aquarium trade is the Leafy Hedgehog Coral, which is the embodiment of this mix. From time to time, you will also come across a different type that forms tiers, whorls, and tubular shapes, though this is rare. Another rare formation has branches that twist, bend, and grow out of a base that is shaped like a plate.
Because it has developed various feeding strategies, this type of coral will never go hungry! The Hedgehog Coral has a symbiotic relationship with zooxanthellae, a type of marine algae, but also captures plankton and food particles from the water and can dissolve organic matter. In captivity, additional feeding is required. Do this at least once a week at night, when its tentacles are out.
The best environment for this type of coral is a well-fed live rock or reef aquarium along with some fish that produce organic matter. A mature tank is ideal. The Hedgehog Coral prefers high levels of light and high, turbid water.
As long as there is substantial water movement and strong lighting, the Hedgehog Coral should not be vulnerable to most issues. The only potential issue is that aquarium stocks should be kept relatively low because these corals are sensitive to chemicals produced by others. When their needs are properly addressed, this type of coral is strong and durable.
The Hedgehog Coral is a peaceful creature. Even though it has tentacles that emerge at night, it is not aggressive and actually is prone to being attacked. For this reason, it is crucial to place them at a distance from other corals. Carefully select tank mates for these corals. If you keep them in a well-stocked tank with many soft corals, they could get into trouble. Hedgehog corals are sensitive to the chemicals the soft corals produce.
If you have a Clown Goby fish in your aquarium, there’s a good chance that the Hedgehog Coral and this type of fish will be great friends. The interesting little fish has a toxic body slime, which stops other fish from bothering them. They are happy to live in the Hedgehog Coral, much like the relationship between the clownfish and anemones. If there’s enough space to set up individual territories, the Clown Gobies often end up spawning in the Hedgehog Coral.
Another interesting fact about the Hedgehog Coral is that aquaculturists that develop these corals have created intense color variations, including sky blue.