Hammer Coral: Euphyllia ancora
Along with their Euphyllia cousins the Torch Coral and Frogspawn, Hammer Corals are often among the first hard corals that reefers will add to their tanks. They are relatively easy to keep, and this, combined with their beautiful colours and mesmerizing movement, make them a popular addition to a home reef.
Unlike most other members of the Euphyllia family, Hammer Corals come in two distinct varieties, branching and wall. Branching Hammer Corals grow in a classic branching fashion, with single headed specimens growing into a large colony in a fairly short period of time. This type can also be easily fragged if it gets too large, as heads can be cut with either bone cutters or a dremel. These extra heads can then be placed in other areas of the tank or traded with other reefers.
The other, less common, type of Hammer Coral is the wall variety. These grow as a single large head and generally cannot be fragged with hobbyist level equipment without risking the health of the coral. However, they often are available in more vibrant colours than the branching type. Due to the fact that they cannot be fragged if they grow too large and are generally considered slightly more difficult to keep, they are generally more popular with experienced hobbyists with larger tanks.
Hammer corals are generally placed in the bottom third of the tank but they are adaptable to a wide variety of lighting levels. Like all corals they should be slowly acclimated to higher light levels. Due to their growth pattern Wall Hammers are almost always placed on the sandbed, whereas the branching type can be placed either on the sandbed or the rockwork. One popular technique is to mix a variety of Hammer Coral colours in order to create the ever popular “Hammer Garden”. It is important to remember to leave enough space between the corals to allow them to grow, especially if they are initially added as small frags.
Flow should be strong enough that the tentacles sway gently the current but not so strong that they are blown around aggressively. If the flow is too strong the tentacles may stay retracted or they may become stringy and unattractive. When choosing placement for a hammer coral, it is important to give them enough space that they won’t sting other corals. They can, however, be placed with other members of the Euphyllia family, although they may be stung by Torch Corals.
Like other members of the family, Hammer Corals are photosynthetic and can use aquarium lighting to meet their energy and growth needs. They can, however, be fed a high quality coral food if desired. This may help with their long term health as well as increase their growth rate and improve colouration. Due to their absolutely stunning colours, hypnotic movement and relatively hardiness, Hammer Corals make a popular addition to the tanks of reefers of all experience levels.