The Bubble Coral Resource

Bubble Coral

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“Bubble Coral”, “Pearl Coral”, and “Bladder Coral” are all common names that people call a Plerogyra sinuosa (a species of coral).


Bubble Coral Overview

Coral Type

This coral is classified as a Large Polyp Stony (LPS) coral.


The Bubble Coral was found and described by Dana in the year 1846. Its native habitat is the reefs of the Red Sea and Indian Ocean. It can also be found in Pacific Ocean expanding all around Australia’s shores excluding the south australian shore. It resides in shallower waters with low light and low water movement.

Taxonomic Status

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Cnidaria
Class: Anthozoa
Order: Scleractinia
Family: Caryophylliidae
Genus: Plerogyra
Species: P. sinuosa

Conservation Status

This species of coral has a Conservation Status of “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List.


In the wild, Bubble corals form in clusters making them look like a cluster of grapes. Colonis grow to be as large as 3 feet. The coral contains a very strong and rigid skeleton structure. The structure is a greenish white color. In addition to the skeleton, Bubble Corals possess large fleshy polyps which cover the skeleton in its entirety. These polyps come in faded shades of blues, greens, and browns. When these polyps are inflated, they will cover the entire skeleton.


The polyps on the Bubble Coral will inflate and deflate themselves according to the amount of available light. They will generally be inflated during the day and deflated at night. This coral also have long sweeper tentacles. These sweeper tentacles are designed to sting and they can extend as long as 2-4 inches


In the wild, there are a couple different ways in which Bubble Corals meet their nutritional needs.

Zooxanthellae) Bubble corals are Zooxanthellate species. This means that it is capable of having a symbiotic relationship with dinoflagellates. These dinoflagellates live inside the soft tissues of the coral and they provide energy to the coral through photosynthesis. This process can provide up to 90 percent of the Bubble Corals nutritional needs

Predation) The Bubble Corals polyps can capture and absorb planktonic organisms, food particles, and other small/dissolved organic matter


This coral has male and female counterparts that can reproduce both sexually and asexually.

Sexual Reproduction) The male and female Bubble Coral will sexually reproduce in the wild. The process begins with the male and female simultaneously releasing eggs and sperm. This results in one or more fertilized egg which after 2-3 days will be a free swimming larvae. The larvae are extremely prone to predators and often do not survive. Over time, if they avoid avoid being eaten, the larvae will settle down into the substrate and begin forming into a coral by excreting calcium carbonate.

A-sexual Reproduction) In some cases, the Bubble Coral has been known to also reproduce a-sexually. The tissue of the Polyps will extend outward and encrust itself onto nearby substrate. If the encrusting is successful, a bud will form which, overtime, will grow into an independent Bubble Coral colony.


Keeping The Coral

Handling Precautions

This coral exudes a slime that you do not want to get on your hands. Be sure to sue rubber gloves whenever you are handling them.

Also, be sure to only grab it by the skeleton. The bubble polyps on this coral are made up of a very soft tissue and if mis-handled.

It is also important to take precautions when removing from the water. Before removing it you must gently shake it, helping the bubbles deflate and recede. If you do not do this, the bubbles will tear when exposed to the air, causing both damage to the coral and potential infection.


When looking for a good Bubble coral, it is important to look closely for any visible damage to the skeleton or the soft tissues. If the bubbles are deflated during the day then there is likely a problem. There are a variety of ways for you to get a Bubble Coral Stem, including:

Local Pet Store) Buying a stem from your local pet store is definitely the most viable option, for obvious reasons. At a pet store, you are able to hand-pick the exact stem that you want, and you will be able to see, before you purchase it, that it is healthy and in good-condition. If you’re local pet store does not carry this particular coral, you can ask the store staff if they are able to order one from a credible supplier.

Online) Online purchasing can be a great option for those who don’t have the luxury of a pet store that carries Bubble Coral stems. Be cautious before buying online, though, as prices tend to get very high and you can never know exactly what you’re getting until it arrives. It’s best to ask for a picture of the exact one that you will be getting before you buy it to ensure you are getting a good enough stem

Fellow Hobbyist) Oftentimes, coral enthusiasts will sell stems from their own coral. This is a great way to acquire one for your tank because most people will sell their stems for a fraction of the cost that a store will.

The Wild) Although it is frowned-upon to take from the wild, this species is not listed on the IUCN Red List as “Endangered”, so it is legal to take a stem from the wild. If you are wanting to get it from the wild, it can be found in the reefs of the Indo Pacific in shallow waters with low light.

Disclaimer: The IUCN Red List is frequently updated. Be sure to educate yourself on this coral’s current Conservation Status before fragging it in the wild.


This coral requires a moderate level of lighting so that the algae that lives on them can photosynthesize and produce their food.

Water Flow

The Bubble Coral requires a low to moderate level of water movement.

Water Temperature

This coral requires a water temperature of 74-83°F (23-28°C).


This coral should be placed low in your aquarium, either on the substrate or a low-lying rock. Also, be sure to give it adequate room for its sweeper tentacles, as they will sting neighboring corals.


This coral is Zooxanthellate, so it will get all of its necessary nutrients from the lights. There should be no need for any additional supplements. If for whatever reason, your coral does not seem to be thriving, or you just want to see it grow faster, than you can add to its diet. For this you will want to use a baster to spray Brine Shrimp or Mysis around the polyp’s mouth once every few days.


Propagating The Coral

Because of its skeletal structure, the Bubble Coral is one of the more difficult corals to propagate.  Propagation will be most successful at night so that the polyps are deflated, helping minimise the chance of damaging it. Before beginning, make sure you have all of the following: 5 gallon container, dremel (or anything sharp enough to cut the skeleton), and a bamboo skewer.

Step 1) Put on rubber gloves

Step 2) Fill a large container 75%-full with the water from the coral’s aquarium.

Step 3) Transfer the the adult coral into the container.

Step 4) Using your dremel tool, cut a notch into the bottom of the adult skeleton. Cut deep enough so that two distinct sides are formed, but not too deep that you completely split it into two.

Step 5) Insert the bamboo skewer into the notch.

Step 6) Over the next week or two, each day, gradually increase the gap until two separate pieces are formed.

You can now support the new coral as you normally would. Refer to Keeping This Coral to learn more.


Before you go: