Discussion in 'Reef Aquarium Discussion' started by melypr1985, Feb 25, 2017.

Beginner Corals - Leathers

Leathers are one of the best starter corals around. Some of them can grow quickly enough to be considered invasive (the Kenya tree comes to mind...
  1. melypr1985

    melypr1985 totally addicted R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Article Contributor Expert Contributor Moderator Emeritus

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    Beginner Corals- Leathers
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    All photos by: Melypr1985

    Leather corals encompass a wide range of species. While there are many different types with different sizes, shapes, growth patterns and rates and even colors, they all have similarities. They are easy to care for, grow quickly, enjoy lower light and are beautiful especially when they get larger. It is an exceptional choice for the beginner who hasn’t learned enough about water chemistry or tank maintenance to be comfortable keeping more difficult corals like LPS (Large Polyp Stony) and SPS (Small Polyp Stony). They are also a great option for those that want corals but also a heavy fish load.
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    Leathers are soft corals, so named for their lack of hard skeleton made of calcium carbonate. They are often leathery or grainy in feel and appearance which is where they get the slang name of “leathers”. They do, however, have tiny skeletal bits called sclerites within their tissues. They can focus these sclerites into the base of their structure firmly attaching them to the rocks. This element also gives them the leathery look and feel we spoke of and the added benefit of making them a little less appealing to predators. Most of the corals in this category are photosynthetic and rely on nutrient rich water along with light to produce energy. These corals don’t need to be fed directly like you would an LPS coral that has a mouth and feeder tentacles. They will feed off of Phyto plankton in the water or other very small particle foods suspended in the water. You will find the colors are more subdued than you might find in SPS or LPS corals, but there is quite a bit of beauty there. Creams, whites, soft blues and purples, green and neon green, even yellow!
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    These corals can be grown fairly quickly compared to most LPS corals and they don’t get real picky about water quality. Lighting can vary as well, from the old compact fluorescent bulbs, T5HO, metal halides and LEDs, they can adjust to most light intensities. Most of the tanks I care for have been upgraded to LED but there are different spectrums and intensity with each tank. I have leathers in each tank at different levels and all have done very well. The leathers in the tanks with higher light had to be acclimated to that light over time, though it was done within a week or two and I had no ill effects from it. Flow is another requirement for leathers. Most people will tell you they need low flow, but I’ve noticed that they do much better in a higher flow environment. While they will do ok in a low flow tank, it’s better to be able to (at a minimum) adjust the flow a bit higher on occasion or to be able to move the leather to that higher flow area when needed. The main reason for this is as the coral grows it will become waxy looking buildup. The coral uses this as a defense mechanism and helps it keep from being overgrown by other surrounding corals. Knowing that, it can be useful to us as well. Seeing it several times a year is normal, but seeing it for a long period is not. If the waxy appearance doesn’t get blown away by the current, infection can set in and cause the coral harm. It can also show that the coral is stressed either by a new tank or a neighboring coral.
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    Fragging leathers can be very simple and straightforward. A sharp blade and a steady hand are often all that are needed. For the most part, just cutting off a bit of the coral at the edges will be sufficient to start a new coral. Toadstools, cabbage and crown leathers are like this. You can cut a piece off the edge, or a wedge shaped piece, rubber band it loosely to a rock or frag plug and in a couple weeks you’ll have a new coral growing for you. Finger leathers are just as easy. Take a firm hold of a “finger” or stalk of the coral and cut close the main, center stalk. You’ll want to use a sharp blade and clean strokes for cutting. These corals are easy to frag but they aren’t indestructible. I have a toadstool in the display at the shop that was severely injured during the “remodel” of that tank. The stalk and head of the toadstool was roughly sheared off and subsequently died. The bit of the stalk, or “foot” that was still attached to the rocks grew back a whole new toadstool in about 6 months.
    This is the exact toadstool that I speak about that died and regrew.
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    Leathers are one of the best starter corals around. Some of them can grow quickly enough to be considered invasive (the Kenya tree comes to mind here), but most are moderate growers, easily fragged, and won’t break the bank to purchase or care for. Some people even keep leathers in angel tanks or predator tanks because, yeah.. the angels may take a bite every now and then but they grow quickly enough to recover well and they can handle the dirty water that preds can cause. What leathers do you keep in your tank? What do you love about them?
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    Discuss This Article Here
     
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  2. Lonny

    Lonny Well-Known Member

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    Great article!!
     
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  3. azbigjohn

    azbigjohn Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Partner Member 2019 R2R Secret Santa Build Thread Contributor

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    Another awesome article Meredith! You are getting to be quite the producer of quality literature here!

    I personally love my neon green nepthea leather. It has survived plenty of water cleanliness / chemistry 'boo-boos" and is quite bright, colorful and attractive when the lights are on. It is also the first coral I successfully grew into a full-size from a tiny frag, and even fragged a "finger" to give to someone else....
     
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  4. Brew12

    Brew12 Electrical Gru Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter Reef Squad Leader R2R Excellence Award Partner Member 2019 Reef Tank 365 Article Contributor Build Thread Contributor North Alabama Reef Club

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    Fantastic work Meredith!

    I have to ask. If you were going to recommend a soft coral for a beginner that wouldn't be invasive but would look great, what would it be?
     
  5. melypr1985

    melypr1985 totally addicted R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Article Contributor Expert Contributor Moderator Emeritus

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    Toadstool hands-down. Also the nepthea, finger leather, crown leather, cabbage leather - in that order. The cabbage leather can actually drop pieces of itself off to float around the tank, attach and start growing again. Not as quickly or as bad as the kenya tree, but it happens.
     
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  6. Brew12

    Brew12 Electrical Gru Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter Reef Squad Leader R2R Excellence Award Partner Member 2019 Reef Tank 365 Article Contributor Build Thread Contributor North Alabama Reef Club

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    Thanks!

    Ok, another question I should probably know the answer to. Since "soft" corals are soft, does that mean ich and velvet won't attach to them in their cyst form?
     
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  7. TonapahNorth

    TonapahNorth Reefed In R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    Thanks. Nice write up.
    The wife wants toadstools now: 'Those are cool looking"
     
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  8. melypr1985

    melypr1985 totally addicted R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Article Contributor Expert Contributor Moderator Emeritus

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    You are correct. But it can be carried in on the rock or plug it's attached to.
     
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  9. TonapahNorth

    TonapahNorth Reefed In R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    They sure are pretty. Wife bought this for her nano tank. But she has no idea what it is. And neither do I since I don't have any leathers.
    Is this a finger leather? Kenya tree?

    FullSizeRender.jpg
     
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  10. melypr1985

    melypr1985 totally addicted R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Article Contributor Expert Contributor Moderator Emeritus

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    looks like a kenya tree to me. Watch it. It will get large quickly and start dropping limbs off everywhere.
     
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  11. TonapahNorth

    TonapahNorth Reefed In R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    Will do. I'll pass it along. This might be a live and learn situation for my wife. Fortunately it's in a 12g nano. It can't get too far lol
     
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  12. Bob E

    Bob E Active Member Partner Member 2019

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    Great article
     
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  13. Ayzel1

    Ayzel1 Member AZ FRAG Member

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    Thank you for the info @melypr1985 A friend of mine sent me this pic from a Petco. It looks great, and will look good in my tank. Would you be able to identify for me please? Because I do plan on getting it. IMG_8578.JPG
     
  14. melypr1985

    melypr1985 totally addicted R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Article Contributor Expert Contributor Moderator Emeritus

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    That looks like a toadstool that was fragged in long strips. Weird for sure, but it looks healthy enough. It will probably grow that way for a bit, but fatten up and round itself out in time.
     
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  15. revhtree

    revhtree Owner Administrator Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Photo of the Month Award Partner Member 2019 Cyber Monday Sponsor R2R Secret Santa Article Contributor Build Thread Contributor

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    Love the neon green leathers! Also a sucker for BIG toadstools! LOL!
     
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  16. miyags

    miyags Valuable Member

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    Looks like a piece of crown leather
     
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  17. miyags

    miyags Valuable Member

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    Nice write M. I just started collecting leathers again. Aqua SD had some killer leathers in R2R sale.
     
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  18. melypr1985

    melypr1985 totally addicted R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Article Contributor Expert Contributor Moderator Emeritus

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    I love toadstools so much. Those neon green cabbage leathers have been difficult for us to find more of at the store! I've been hording that little bit and only fragging it once in the last year.

    Man! I missed out on that! :(
     
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  19. Preme

    Preme Valuable Member

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    Sweet write up!
     
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  20. Greybeard

    Greybeard Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Build Thread Contributor

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    Excellent :)

    At one time, I had a 75g tank full of leathers, xenia, star polyps, mushrooms, and a big colony of colt coral. Didn't have the neon colors that folks are trying for these days, but it was healthy, and in my mind, a very beautiful aquarium.

    Took a tour of Inland Aquatics many years ago, they had a toadstool leather that was like 5' across it's surface. Impressive. Wonder what they did with all of their big colonies when they decided to scale down.
     
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