kenya tree coral

Kenya Tree Coral Care

Albert B Ulrich III beginner coral, Coral, propagation, soft coral 13 Comments

Kenya Tree Coral Care Guide

The Kenya Tree coral, Capnella sp., is a hardy soft coral species that is tolerant of a range of living conditions, which makes it great for beginner aquarists. In terms of color, this rapidly growing soft corals species is somewhat drab and is generally available as a brown/pink frag or colony. The more rare and desirable kenya tree corals tend to have a green coloration.

In addition to being generally very hardy and tolerant of life in a saltwater aquarium, kenya tree corals are fragging machines. A small colony will grow quickly in a tank and form other small colonies by dropping branches. This self-propagation is a form of fragging that a growing kenya tree coral specimen will undergo all on its own. New colonies are quickly formed from new buds, and frags may detach from their place and float away in the tank, in search of a better place to live. This is why they need constant monitoring and pruning if you want to keep them under control.

So this is a great coral species if you are just starting out or are just starting to get interested in fragging corals (coral propagation).

kenya tree corals capnella species

Ideal habitat

The Kenya Tree coral hails from the Indo-Pacific Ocean area and the Red Sea, in deep reef areas, with clear water. They prefer strong water currents, which help them float away and develop large colonies.

In the tank, these corals can adapt to a wide range of tank environments, but they usually do best under moderate light and medium water flow. Keep them shaded from metal halides, by placing them under rocks or larger corals.

You could arguably keep these corals in just about any-sized tank, including a nano aquarium, with one big caveat. These are fast growing corals that will eventually take over a fairly large space in the tank. Because of this, you will need to prune back (frag) the coral to keep the size in check. You also want to allow enough space for the kenya tree coral to grow without overgrowing its neighbors.

Feeding

Kenya Tree coral has symbiotic zooxanthellae that will produce some of the necessary nutrition through photosynthesis. It is also thought that the kenya tree coral gets some of its nutritional needs by absorbing nutrients from the water as well as by capturing tiny plankton.

Behavior and tank mates

The Kenya Tree coral is considered to be semi-aggressive. It doesn’t have sweeper tentacles or another way to overtly hurt a neighboring coral, other than the fact that it will grow into and over them.

Keep in mind that this coral will also seem to move about your tank and colonize new areas by dropping branches and attaching to the substrate.

Some aquarists that have had success growing these corals and have since moved on will affectionately call the kenya tree coral a weed because of this habit of springing up in areas of the tank where it is not wanted.

If you are new to the hobby and have never kept corals, or have tried and struggled to keep corals, you may be thinking this way of thinking shows a bit of a snobbery and  reflects the type of problem one can only have after having significant success in this hobby.

Fragging and propagation

Fragging or trimming is essential to keep these corals’ rapid growth under control. Kenya Tree corals can be fragged easily with a sharp blade, by simply cutting a limb off, then you can just attach it with a rubber band to a frag plug, rock or shell.

In a few days, the cut branch will attach itself to the rock or rubble and start growing by itself.

As mentioned earlier, Capnella species will also create their own coral frag clones by dropping buds that will float in the current and attach themselves to nearby rocks, forming a genetically identical colony in the new location.

kenya tree coral

Pros and cons

Now that we already know what keeping Kenya Tree Corals means, let’s have a quick look at the pros and cons of having this invertebrate in your reef tank:

Pros

The Kenya Tree corals is:

  • Hardy
  • Easy to care for
  • Will adapt well to most reef aquarium living conditions
  • Easy to propagate by fragging
  • Readily available
  • Inexpensive (you may even find aquarists that would give them away for free, especially in reef clubs)
  • Grow rapidly

Cons

Here are a few cons about keeping the Kenya Tree coral (cappella species)

  • You will not be able to keep this coral ‘in its place’. Branches or buds will detach, float away and grow anywhere and everywhere it can
  • Grow so rapidly they may overtake some slower growing coral species if you are not careful and do not prune back the growth
  • You may in fact never rid your tank of the kenya tree coral once introduced–they are that prolific
  • It may be difficult to keep them in the same place, as Kenya Tree Corals tend to detach and float away, as well as drop buds next to them, and form new colonies;

kole tang

Conclusions

The Kenya Tree coral was one of my first coral species. For you veteran salties out there, you might cringe when I say this, but I still have the Kenya Tree coral in my current display tank. If you are looking for a low maintenance, rapidly growing coral, this is a great choice.

Albert B Ulrich IIIKenya Tree Coral Care

Comments 13

  1. Bob Escher

    I have two on plugs, been trying to figure out how to frag, now I know how. But mine have not dropped any branches or anything like that. One stays in its place where I placed it the other I have moved around due to it being pretty big.
    I have had them relatively high in my tank but will move them lower now that I know
    Thanks great article

  2. Alex

    Mine recently dropped a small branch. I attached it to a small rock and will trade it in at my LFS. I don’t want to have a second one. It seems easy enough to notice and catch the frags before they take hold. ? Same with my Xenia on the other end of the tank (on an island in an attempt to control it.) It has reached the goal size (quickly! ) and I have started pulling off the buds as they slide to the wrong side of the island to smother/shade the other two corals. This may be a weekly exercise.

    My Kenya Tree is as big as I want it. If it keeps growing, I may trim it. It is about the size of a softball. Will the mother keep getting larger, or is that a normal size and it will just drop babies to spread?

    And do you think it might have a chemical war agent that affects Euphyllia like leathers? I have a torch coral and it doesn’t seem as happy as it was before the KT got so big.

    Mine is a pink color with nice feathery fronds. I think it is very pretty. On the other end of the tank from the Xenia, it has a nice compliment of movement.

  3. Kelly Peissner

    I’d love to try one, but I don’t know what I would do with all of the babies. I can’t just throw them away. 🙁

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    Albert B Ulrich III

    Alex, thanks for the note. Softball size is a good size. I have a colony that has been growing in my tank for a few years and it has gotten quite big, so you may need to trim it to keep it the size you’re hoping for. But, hey, that’s more frags to trade in (if they’ll let you). While you can expect some chemical warfare, I wouldn’t expect big problems from this coral (besides having too much success with it).

  8. Bob escher

    The bigger one about 7 months, he’s on a plug up rather high and he’s about 3 -4 in tall. The smaller one also one a plug is about 2 in tall ( with tentacles extended)

  9. Jose Scott Sr

    I have a Kenya tree and it’s not looking to well, now that I have read the article I think too much light is in play ,,,so your saying they like the shade

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    Albert B Ulrich III

    Jose Scott Sr., thank you for the comment. The Kenya Tree is a great and usually very hardy coral. They will occasionally “not look well” and nothing is wrong–a lot of the soft corals like the Kenya Tree will clam up, release their mucus (thought to be expelling bad stuff) and then re-open again. If it was otherwise healthy/happy and acclimated to your tank and is just not looking well for a few days–it could be just that.

    However, if you recently bought the coral, placed it in the tank and it never opened up–it might be water chemistry (how are your parameters?), specifically pH, Alkalinity and salinity? it could also be water flow (insufficient or way too much) or light.

    Those would be the areas I would trouble shoot first. Try to pick the perfect place with this move, if you move it, you also don’t want to keep moving it.

    Good luck, keep us posted. are there other healthy corals in the tank, doing well or is this the first?

  11. Jose Scott Sr

    Thanks for the info Mr Ulrich my tree reopened and is doing well and so is my other coral which is a green star polyp my parameters are good I test them weekly if I have any more questions I will definitely be asking you once again thank you.

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