News / Species Spotlight / Highly Underrated Corals - Yellow Leathers (09/10/15)

Highly Underrated Corals - Yellow Leathers

In the Wild

Sarcophyton elegans is coral common on many tropical Indo-Pacific reefs. Unlike many "Leather" corals, this coral tends to inhabit locations that are very similar to that favored by many Acroporids, reef tops with good water flow and bright light, in fairly shallow water. The also tend to thrive in waters that are cool. In conditions like these, this coral will grow quickly and dominantly, making large stands of brilliantly colored yellow ruffles.

Unlike most Leather Corals that carry the "Toadstool" descriptor, Yellow Leathers generally grow on very short stalks. Because of this low growth form, it often has an appearance that is more akin to a huge yellow carpet anemone than a toadstool coral.

In the Aquarium

Given stable parameters and the brightly light conditions they like, these will be robust growers and a brilliant yellow showpiece in any aquarium. This is not a difficult coral to keep, though it is a touchier species than a lot of other soft corals. Yellow Leathers can be slow to acclimate, and are generally much more sensitive than a lot of their counterparts. These corals prefer at least moderate, random flow, and will accept moderate to high light, but with few exceptions these will do the best, and show the most brilliant color if placed in the highest light available. While there are examples of individuals successfully keeping these in warmer (in the low 80s) aquariums, a much better model for success is an environment more like that in their wild habitat, in the mid 70s.

While this is a physically peaceful coral, one area in which they are similar to other Leathers is that they can be chemically aggressive. Keeping them in areas with at least moderate flow will help keep them from building up too much of a slime coat. Aggressive chemical filtration is suggested for hobbyists attempting to keep these (or any soft corals for that matter) in a mixed reef environment. As with any invertebrate stability is a prime key to success, and even low levels of copper aren't tolerated.

Ronald L Shimek, PH.D., Marine Invertebrates, 1st ed. (T.F.H. Publications Inc, New Jersey, 2004).
QM Internal Sources: Eli Fleishauer, Adam Mangino