Chalice Coral Care: A Definitive Guide (With FAQs)

Chalice coral care guide

Chalice Corals are true gems of the underwater world with their vibrant colors and unique shapes. These large polyp stony (LPS) corals bring life and energy to any saltwater aquarium.

Although Chalice Corals are moderately easy to care for, understanding their specific needs is the key to creating a thriving underwater ecosystem.

In this guide, we’ll dive into the care and maintenance of these marine creatures and explore various topics, from their suitable tank mates to their lighting and water flow needs.

How to Take Care of Your Chalice Coral

Chalice coral in a tank

Generally, Chalice Corals are considered beginner-friendly corals mainly for their easy-to-care nature.

My line of work allowed me to study chalice corals closely, and their diverse patterns and colors captivate me every time.

I recall adjusting water conditions and light settings for optimal growth and experiencing their gentle yet aggressive nature, which deepened my understanding of these remarkable corals.

In this section, I’ll share with you the things you need to know about caring for chalice corals.

1. Tank Size

A 30-gallon tank can serve as a good starting point for those new to coral care. This size provides ample room for the Chalice Corals to spread out and grow without compromising the quality of their environment.

However, if you plan to host a collection of chalice corals or a community of different coral species, you should opt for larger tank sizes.

A tank of 50 gallons or more is a good choice for a diverse and vibrant coral garden. It allows for more stable water conditions and minimizes the risk of aggressive competition for space among corals.

While considering the tank size, it’s also essential to consider the corals’ growth rates. Chalice corals are known for their moderate growth, and you need to ensure that the tank can handle their expansion over time.

A cramped space can lead to stress and impact the overall health of your corals.

2. Lighting

Lighting plays an integral role in the health and growth of Chalice Corals. These corals typically prefer low to moderate light conditions, in line with their natural habitats, which extend to depths of 40 to 80 feet in the ocean.

When setting up a tank for chalice corals, it’s prudent to recreate these conditions as closely as possible. Light levels of around 50 to 100 PAR (Photosynthetically Active Radiation) are generally suitable.

Chalice Corals are known for their strikingly bright and vividly colored bodies, which become especially noticeable under appropriate lighting conditions.

Actinic blue light, in particular, can greatly enhance their vibrant hues, making these corals a visual spectacle in your tank.

One of the remarkable attributes of Chalice Corals is their adaptability. They can adjust to a variety of lighting conditions.

However, this doesn’t mean abrupt changes can be made to their light environment. It’s best to introduce them slowly to any new lighting conditions.

3. Water Flow

Maintaining suitable water flow in your tank is crucial for the health of Chalice Corals. They require a low to moderate flow — too little can lead to debris accumulation, while too much can dislodge them from placement.

Some species of Chalice Corals naturally grow into a bowl shape. This unique formation can become a debris trap in low-flow conditions.

Nonetheless, be mindful not to create a powerful flow. If you observe the coral’s tissue swaying with the water, this indicates an excessive flow.

In extreme cases, the water’s strong current can detach the coral from the rocks, causing it to fall onto the substrate or another coral.

4. Aggression

When planning your coral tank, it’s crucial to consider the aggressive nature of Chalice Corals. These lively beings are known to defend their territory fiercely, using their body and sweeper tentacles to compete with nearby corals.

Not all Chalice Corals use sweeper tentacles, but their body contact alone can trigger aggression with other corals.

Chalice Corals are competitive, making it challenging for them to create a peaceful coral garden with various coral species, even among their kind.

Their aggressive behavior tends to escalate as they grow in size and health. Therefore, allowing at least three inches of space between them and other species in your tank is essential.

Monitor their growth regularly and adjust placements as needed to prevent clashes.

Watch this video to see a Chalice Coral swaying its tentacles:

Chalice Coral with Sweepers at night.

5. Feeding

Chalice Corals house tiny organisms called zooxanthellae in their bodies. These zooxanthellae use photosynthesis to produce food, supplying the corals with essential sugars and fats.

This incredible symbiotic relationship makes chalice corals partly self-sustaining. However, chalice corals are also active feeders, especially at night.

The trick is finding what they like to eat. You may need to experiment with foods like mysis shrimp, brine shrimp, or commercial coral foods like reef-roids.

Feeding these corals is not just about stuffing them with food; it’s also about monitoring their nutritional intake, including trace elements like calcium and strontium.

Pro Tip: When feeding, ensure that food is delivered near the coral’s mouth. Chalice Corals use a mucus coat to catch and draw in food. They might wait to ingest their meal, typically within five to eight minutes.

6. Propagation or Fragging

You can grow more Chalice Corals through a process called fragmentation. This involves taking a small piece from the coral using a clean, sharp tool and gluing it onto a substrate base with special coral glue.

The fragment should be dipped quickly in an iodine solution to avoid infections after cutting. It should also be rinsed in tank water and put on a frag rack.

The piece must be placed somewhere with lots of water flow to help it heal and stick to the substrate.

The propagation of corals like the Hollywood Stunner is easy. But you may need special tools like stainless steel coral snips or a scalpel for thicker chalice corals.

When you cut Chalice Corals, they release chemicals that can harm other corals if you use the same tools. So, cleaning your tools between working on different corals is a good idea to avoid this problem.

7. Water Parameters

Chalice Corals are adaptable and can handle different water conditions. However, you should aim for certain parameters to promote their health. 

When I added Chalice Corals to my tank, I kept the specific gravity between 1.023 and 1.025. My temperature range was maintained between 72 and 78°F while I monitored its pH, which was within 8.1 to 8.4.

What made keeping the corals a bit more challenging than usual is that I also had to monitor the KH levels (carbonate hardness) of my tank, keeping them between 8 and 12 dKH.

I also saw to it that the calcium levels should be around 400 ppm, and magnesium levels to stay between 1250 and 1350 ppm.

Additionally, aim for phosphate levels to be between 0.03 ppm and 0.25 ppm and nitrate levels from 5 to 10 ppm. Remember, consistency is critical in maintaining these water parameters.

8. Cleanliness

Clean water is crucial for the health of Chalice Corals. Regular checks for nitrate and phosphate levels are important, as these corals can handle some, but too much can affect growth.

Performing routine tank cleanings and partial water changes helps control nutrient levels and prevent unwanted algae growth.

Use a high-quality protein skimmer to remove waste before it breaks down and negatively impacts water quality.

Chalice Corals prefer steady, mature environments. Avoid abrupt changes, which can stress the corals, and aim for consistent water conditions.

Recommended Tankmates for Chalice Corals

Chalice coral perched on a rock

Chalice Corals make a captivating addition to a reef tank but should be paired with tankmates wisely due to their territorial nature.

They can exhibit aggression towards neighboring corals, extending their sweeper tentacles to ward off intruders.

Despite this, Chalice Corals can live harmoniously with several other marine species. Some types of corals, such as Brain and Torch Corals, can share the space if enough distance is maintained.

Some fish, like the Blonde Naso Tang, Kole Yellow Eye Tang, Snowflake Clownfish, Pink-Streaked Wrasse, and Pink Skunk Clownfish, coexist well with Chalice Corals.

However, avoid butterflyfish and angelfish as they often disturb corals.

Observe your chalice coral using a red torch to manage potential aggression at night. This will reveal the extended sweeper tentacles, giving you an idea of its territorial radius.

Keep in mind the coral’s potential growth, providing ample space to expand without conflict.

Chalice Coral 101

Chalice coral up close

Chalice Corals aren’t a single species but a vibrant mix of several varieties of corals. They hail from diverse genera, such as Echinophyllia, Echinopora, Oxypora, and Mycedium

This means that Chalice Corals offer a great deal of variety. Despite the confusion surrounding their classification, Chalice Corals’ popularity in the reef aquarium scene is unmistakable.

This appeal comes from the extraordinary colors and patterns they exhibit. Imagine brightly colored corals resembling neon, melted crayons — that’s the allure of Chalice Corals.


Chalice Corals are large polyp stony (LPS) corals celebrated for their distinctive and vibrant visuals. Their encrusting base grows in small cup shapes, often leading enthusiasts to refer to them as “Plate Corals.”

Their hues and patterns are incredibly diverse, lending a vibrant aesthetic to any reef aquarium.

One prominent feature of Chalice Corals is their flat, plate-like skeletal structure. The thickness of these structures can vary among species, adding to their overall visual intrigue.

The brightly colored mouths of these corals, resembling tiny gleaming eyes, contribute to their exotic appeal. Their textured surfaces, ranging from smooth to bumpy or ridged, provide an extra layer of visual complexity.

Chalice Corals’ polyps, which retract during the day and extend at night to capture food, add dynamic visual interest.

Their calcium carbonate skeleton, covered by a thin layer of living tissue known as corralite, contributes to their rigid base and distinctive texture.

Depending on species and environmental conditions, growth forms can range from flat, encrusting types to columnar forms and plate-like structures.


In a home aquarium, small Chalice Coral fragments, also known as frags, may start at around 1 to 2 inches in diameter. Over time, with proper care, they can grow to cover an area of a foot or more in diameter.

In the wild, Chalice Corals can grow quite large, with colonies often reaching 2 to 3 feet in diameter. In some cases, they can spread to cover an area of 4 to 5 feet or more.

The growth rate and the ultimate size of Chalice Corals can be significantly influenced by the conditions in which they are kept. Factors such as lighting, water flow, and nutrient availability can all impact how quickly and how large a Chalice Coral will grow.


Chalice Corals’ growth rate varies depending on the species and the thickness of their skeletons. Notably, the size of the coral’s skeleton is a critical factor in predicting its growth rate.

Chalice Corals with thinner skeletons often demonstrate rapid growth, potentially doubling in size every four months. On the other hand, Chalice Corals with thicker skeletons display a slower growth pattern.

These sturdy specimens add only about a quarter of an inch per month. Despite their slower pace, you should not underestimate the resilience of these corals. They’re built to withstand the test of time in various marine conditions.

Some Chalice Corals, especially those in well-maintained aquariums, can show astonishingly fast growth rates. Observing species doubling their surface area in just three to four weeks is possible.


Chalice Corals, often celebrated for their vivid hues and distinct patterns, primarily hail from the Western Central Pacific region.

These corals are accustomed to the environment of tropical reefs, where they showcase a solid resilience to varied living conditions.

As inhabitants of the wide-reaching Indo-Pacific waters, they’ve been discovered in locations ranging from Japan’s coasts to East Africa’s shores.

However, Chalice Corals are becoming rarer in the wild due to over-harvesting and environmental changes.

Countries like Fiji and Indonesia have set strict regulations on the trade of these corals to prevent their depletion. Consequently, Australia has stepped up as a significant supplier of Chalice Corals for the global market.

Frequently Asked Questions

Chalice coral glowing underwater

Are Chalice Corals Easy to Keep?

Yes, Chalice Corals are relatively easy to care for. They’re an adaptable type of large polyp stony (LPS) coral, appreciated for their vibrant colors and unique shapes.

However, they do require a certain degree of maintenance and care. Providing the right balance of food, light, flow, and filtration helps them thrive.

These corals are well-suited to most water conditions, but maintaining stable water parameters over time is crucial to success.

Where Do I Put My Chalice Coral?

In choosing a spot for your Chalice Coral, consider its aggressive nature and potential growth.

Place them where there’s enough room to grow and distance from other corals to avoid aggression. An area with low to moderate water flow is ideal to ensure their health and allow them to thrive.

Do Chalice Corals Need High Light?

Chalice Corals do not require high light intensity. They can adapt well to low to moderate lighting in your tank. Too much light can cause them to lose their vibrant color.

However, each specimen may have specific needs; thus, slight adjustments might be necessary to find the ideal light intensity for your Chalice Coral.

Are Chalice Corals for Beginners?

Yes, Chalice Corals are a good choice for beginners. These corals are adaptable, tolerating various water conditions, making them less demanding for new hobbyists.

However, providing space to avoid their aggressive tendencies toward neighboring corals is an essential aspect of their care.

While they are beginner-friendly, it’s also crucial to maintain stable water parameters and suitable lighting levels for them to thrive.

Do Chalice Corals Grow Fast?

Chalice Corals are not renowned for their speedy growth. Their growth rate can be classified as moderate, depending on the subspecies and the conditions in the aquarium.

Some types can grow at a reasonable pace with the right balance of light, water flow, and nutrition.

Do you have questions or other care tips regarding chalice corals? Let us know in the comments below!

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