Birds Nest Coral (Seriatopora hystrix): Ultimate Care Guide

Caring for any coral isn’t a task that inexperienced aquarists shouldn’t undertake. Birds Nest Coral is no exception to that. But with enough research and careful planning, you’ll be able to add this gorgeous polyp stony coral to your tank.

Birds Nest Coral, also known as purple birds nest coral, needle coral, brush coral, or finger coral, depending on where in the world you live. Birds nest coral are native to warm waters off the coast of Australia, Africa, Madagascar, and several other smaller islands. They are also found in various colors such as green, yellow, pink, and purple. The brighter colored Birds nest coral are usually picked from shallow waters. The name birds nest coral comes from the fact that when it’s fully grown, its branches grow into an entangled mess, which just so happens to resemble a bird’s nest.

Birds Nest Coral Care

Caring for coral, especially SPS (Small Polyp Stony) coral, can be an intimidating task for any level of aquarist. With that in mind, Birds Nest Coral is the easiest SPS for anyone to care for. One of the essential factors of caring for Birds Nest Coral is to ensure you have the proper light level. Water flow is another crucial factor; if you don’t get it just right, the Birds Nest Coral won’t open its polyps. If it doesn’t open its polyps, it will starve to death. Temperature and pH levels also need to be very precise in order to keep the Birds Nest Coral healthy.

Birds Nest Coral (Seriatopora hystrix)
Birds Nest Coral (Seriatopora hystrix)

Are Birds Nest Coral Hard to Keep?

Birds Nest Coral can be difficult to keep in a tank, especially for beginners. All small polyp stony corals are hard to keep, but Birds Nest Coral are the easiest in that family. With a bit of trial and error, plenty of patience, and some research, anyone should be able to keep Birds Nest Coral in their tanks. Ensure you have the right light level and water flow. Regularly check your temperature and pH level to ensure you catch any changes before they become a significant issue. And, make sure that your Birds Nest Coral isn’t touching any other coral; they don’t like that.

Birds Nest Coral Placement

There is not a perfect placement for Birds Nest Coral. Their lighting needs tend to dictate where they should be placed in your tank. But, generally, most Birds Nest Coral should be placed towards the top of your tank in high places. This placement puts them closer to the light and helps emulate their natural habitat. It’s where they usually grow in the wild, near the water’s surface, in order to get plenty of sunlight. Another vital thing to keep in mind when placing them is to ensure that they aren’t near other coral. Birds Nest Coral aren’t usually aggressive, but that changes if they are in contact with another coral.

Do Birds Nest Coral like high flow?

Birds Nest Coral usually prefer a moderate or high water flow. Some experienced aquarists believe that the higher the water flow, the better. But when it comes to your Birds Nest Coral in your tank, you should evaluate the thickness of coral’s branches. If the branches are thicker, they should be fine in strong water currents. If the branches are thin, you won’t want high water flow as it will likely break the branches. You can increase the water flow as the branches grow stronger and thicker.

Birds Nest Coral Lighting Requirement

Birds Nest Coral is found at different depths in the wild, which means they need different levels of light in order to prosper. You cannot follow a foolproof guide to determine what amount of lighting your Birds Nest Coral needs. You’ll need to experiment with different light levels until you find the right one for your Birds Nest Coral. Finding the right light level is imperative because Birds Nest Coral use photosynthesis to eat, so they need the proper light levels to achieve that.

Birds Nest Coral Temperature

Temperature is a critical component of any tank. That is even more so the case when raising and propagating Birds Nest Coral. Birds Nest Coral is native to warm locales, which means they need to live in a warm water tank. Birds Nest Coral’s recommended water temperature is around 78-82 degrees Fahrenheit or about 25.5 – 27.7 degrees Celsius. You’ll likely need a heater to achieve and maintain those temperatures.

Birds Nest Coral pH

It would be best if you emulated the native environment of any species in the tank you set up for them. That is the case for fish species, and especially for SPS coral. They are more susceptible to any slight changes in the water and environment they live in. The recommended pH level for Birds Nest Coral is between 8.2-8.4. With such a small range of acceptable pH levels, you must ensure that it stays in that range. You’ll need to regularly check the pH level to ensure you catch any changes before they become a more significant issue.

Birds Nest Coral Growth Rate and Height

The growth rate of Birds Nest Coral is entirely dependent on their environment and care. If they are well cared for and kept in the proper environment, they will flourish. Once they’ve fully gotten acclimated and comfortable in their tank, Birds Nest Coral grow at around a rate of 1 inch per month. A fully grown Birds Nest Coral averages approximately 12-18 inches in height. You need to make sure you have enough room in your tank to accommodate that growth rate and height.

How to Frag Birds Nest Coral

Fragging or fragment is the most effective and efficient way to propagate or reproduce your Birds Nest Coral. You can frag your Birds Nest Coral by cutting off a branch that is around 2 inches in length. Next, you should glue the fragment to a rock or something similar. Make sure it is glued on its side. It will promote faster growth because it will get more water flow. You can repeat this process as many times as you like, as long as you ensure the fragments are long enough to grow properly.

Birds Nest Coral Dying

If you notice your Birds Nest Coral has changed color or bleached, then you know that you have a significant issue that needs to be addressed. Birds Nest Coral are disease resistant, but that doesn’t mean they’re immune to everything. Birds nest coral are very susceptible to changes in water parameters. Poor water can quickly and negatively impact your coral. It is imperative that you routinely check the water to ensure you catch and prevent any water issues before they become a more significant issue and cause your birds nest coral to perish.

Why is my Birds Nest Coral bleaching?

Birds Nest Coral will become paler or bleach when there is an issue with it. Pinpointing the problem that caused the bleaching isn’t always easy. Too much light could cause it to bleach and is usually the most common cause. Stress is another major issue that may cause this to happen. Stress can be caused by changes in the water temperature or the pH level. Another common mistake is poor acclimation. If you do not adequately acclimate your Birds Nest Coral to your tank, it could easily result in bleaching or even death. You can easily find out what’s wrong with your coral, fix the problem, and help it heal with enough research.

Birds Nest Coral Not Opening

Birds Nest Coral sometimes won’t open its polyps, which can be an issue. Birds nest Coral use their polyps to feed, so if they don’t open, then they can’t eat. One of the most common reasons for the polyps of Birds Nest Coral not opening is too high of a water flow. That is an easy issue to remedy; you just have to slightly reduce the water flow so that the polyps will open the Birds Nest coral can eat.

Where can I find Birds Nest Coral for Sale?

Birds Nest Coral comes in a wide variety of colors, all of which are easily accessible for purchase. Some online retailers sell them in a bundle where you can get a few different colors together for one price. You can also likely find Birds Nest Coral for purchase in person at most aquarium specialty stores. The price for Bird’s Nest Coral seems to vary based on where it was found and its color. These prices can range from $25 to $100, which the more vibrant colors such as pink and purple landing on the higher end of that spectrum. 

If you are confident in your ability to care for it or just in your ability to research how to care for it, Birds Nest Coral could make a vibrant and entertaining addition to any of your tanks. Don’t hesitate to get your hands on some Birds Nest Coral today if you’re up for the task. You likely won’t be disappointed.