“Duncan Coral”, “Whisker Coral”, and “Duncanops Coral” are all names that people call a Duncanopsammia axifuga (a species of coral).
An Overview Of The Coral
This coral is classified as a Large Polyp Stony coral.
This coral was discovered by a Milne Edwards H & Haime J in 1848. Today, it can be found 8-30m below the surface of the water in the sandy and rocky seabeds of Australia, surrounding Vietnam, and in the South China Sea.
This coral has a calcified skeleton that is covered in a thin layer of flesh (usually colored green or pink). When looking down on it, its polyps have a wide, flat, circular disk (usually colored brown or green). At the center of this circular disk, its polyp’s mouth is present. Surround the circular disk are the polyp’s thin tentacles – which are lined with small cells (called “Nematocysts”). And lastly, covering the entire surface of the coral, is a protective layer of mucus.
This coral satisfies its nutritional intake needs in multiple different ways:
- The Algae (called “Zooxanthellae”) that lives within the coral’s polyps use the sun’s rays to photosynthesize. All of the nutrients that are produced from the photosynthesis process are then ingested by the coral. This method of ingestion actually accounts for around 95% of this coral’s nutritional intake.
- When the polyp opens up and stretches its tentacles, it’s tentacles connect with Zooplankton and other food particles flowing through the water. When the tentacles connect to these things, the small cells on the tentacles (called “Nematocysts”) pierce the food and inject harmful toxins into it, killing it. After it’s dead, the polyp then uses its tentacles to place the food into its mouth, where it is ingested.
- The layer of mucus that covers this entire coral acts as an adhesive for dissolved nutrients in the water. When a nutrient comes into contact with this mucus, hair-like projections (called “Cilia”) drag the nutrients toward the corals mouth, where is ingested.
This coral will open and contract its polyps depending on its environment. If a strong current is in contact with this coral, its polyps will usually close. If this coral is in correct lighting, current strength, and temperature, its polyps will be encouraged to open.
This species of coral has a Conservation Status of “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List.
This coral utilizes two different methods to propagate:
- Fragmentation – Animals and natural disasters can sometimes break a piece (called a “frag”) off of this coral. When the piece settles on the ocean floor, it begins to grow again as its own independent coral.
- Sexual Reproduction – This coral releases eggs and sperm cells simultaneously, forming fertilized eggs. These eggs eventually develop into free-swimming planula larva. When these planula larva settle onto the ocean floor, they become plankters. These plankters then form tiny polyp which excrete calcium carbonate – eventually developing into an independent coral.
Keeping The Coral
The layer of mucus that coats this coral can irritate the skin of humans. Be sure to wear rubber gloves so you can protect the coral, as well as yourself.
The most common way to get this coral is by “fragging” – by removing a stem from an existing Duncan Coral and planting it in an aquarium. You can gather these stems multiple different ways:
- 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, ask the store staff to order one from a credible supplier. It shouldn’t be an issue.
- Online – Online purchasing can be a great option for those who don’t have the luxury of a pet store that carries Duncan Coral stems. Be cautious before buying online, though, as prices tend to get very high. Just ask for a picture of the exact one that you will be getting before you buy it to ensure you are getting a good deal.
- 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 only bad thing about this option is it can sometimes be difficult to find someone who is privately selling coral.
- The Wild – Although it is frowned-upon to take from the wild, this species is not listed on the IUNC Red List as “Endangered”, so it is legal to take a stem from. If you’re looking to remove a stem from one, it can be found in the sandy and rocky seabeds of Australia, surrounding Vietnam, and in the South China Sea.
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 low-moderate lighting so that the algae that lives on them can photosynthesize and produce their food.
This coral require a low-moderate strength of water flow.
This coral requires a water temperature of 75-80°F (24-27°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 an area of solitude in your aquarium so they can relax, move around, and grow without restraint.
Since this coral satisfy most of its nutritional needs just through the process of photosynthesis, manual feedings aren’t necessarily required. If you do want to feed your coral, though, use a baster to spray Brine Shrimp or Mysis around the polyp’s mouth once every three days. Just be careful doing this, though, because it will surely accelerate the growth of this coral.
Propagating The Coral
While this coral will naturally propagate in an aquarium setting through the process of “fragmentation”, its occurrence is nearly impossible to predictable. To make it happen now, follow these steps:
How to Propagate The Coral
- Put on rubber gloves
- Fill a large container (Container A) 75%-full with the water from the coral’s aquarium.
- Transfer the coral from its aquarium into Container A.
- Using any sort of tool that can smoothly cut through this coral, sever a piece of the coral off.
- Be sure you cut from the base of the coral.
- Be sure you dip the coral back into the water every 30 seconds throughout this procedure.
- Place the coral stem into Container A and place the parent coral back into its location in its aquarium.
- Place a frag plug into a slot on a frag rack.
- Apply a small amount of Reef Glue to the top of the frag plug.
- Place the stem on top of the frag plug that is covered with Reef Glue.
- Wait for the Reef Glue to dry.
- Be sure to drip water from Container A onto this coral frag while you’re waiting.
- Place the frag rack that is holding the frag plug and stem into your aquarium.
- Continuously provide the stem with the proper aquarium setting.
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