Duncan Corals: Complete Guide to Care, Placement, Tank Setup, Propagation & More

 Duncan Corals: A Quick Summary

Duncan Corals, also known as Duncanopsammia axifuga, are a type of stony coral native to the Great Barrier Reef. They are known for their unique, branching structure and bright colors, which can range from green to purple. Duncan Corals are found in shallow, tropical waters and are popular in the aquarium trade.

Duncan Corals: Overview

If you wish to get Duncan Corals for your tank, it might be the best decision. Because of their beauty, you might feel the temptation to add the Duncan Corals to your reef saltwater system.

A close up of a sea anemone

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Also called daisy coral or whisker coral, Duncan corals can be a beautiful addition to a tank. Lately, they have become the darling of most hobbyists as they are quite easy to care for. They also grow very fast and have very minimal requirements. First-time hobbyists will find they need little attention, yet they can be extremely beautiful when all their needs are met.

They can be a beautiful addition if you wish to adorn your saltwater tank with the Duncan Corals. They are the community players and add green and purple colors to your tank system. 

You need not worry about the propagation of the Duncan Corals because they readily propagate themselves. They can be a perfect choice for aqua-scaping. 

If you’re looking to add the Duncan Corals to your tank but are doubtful if you can care for them properly, you can stop worrying because we’ll tell you everything there is to know about the Duncan Corals. 

Australia is the nation where the Duncan Corals originated. It comes from the Dendrophylliidae family.

You can find Duncan Corals in blue, green, and purple colors. The overall care of Duncan Corals does not require much effort. A disc-shaped body and short purple or green tentacles form their characteristics. It might seem interesting for you to know that Duncan Corals is the only species that belong to the Duncanopsammia genus.

Information ChartDuncan Corals
Scientific Name: Duncanopsammia Axifuga
Family: Dendrophylliidae
Care Level: Easy
Coral Type: LPS
Temperament: Peaceful to Semi-Aggressive
Color: Pink, Cream and White
Lifespan: Several decades (in natural habitat)
Size: Stalk - several inches, Center Disk - 1" in diameter, Tentacles - 0.5 to 1"
Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
Temperature: 76-82 degree F
Water Conditions: Warm
Tank Mate Compatibility: All other fishes, invertebrates and corals

You can find these Corals around the western and northern coasts of Australia. If you tend to explore more, you won’t have any difficulty finding them in the South China Sea.

Duncan Corals Appearance

If you look at the Duncan Corals from above, you will see they have a fleshy surface. However, they are a large polyp stony coral (LPS). Does this sound confusing to you? It only means that each polyp in the Duncan Corals gets support and shelter from a hard calcium carbonate skeleton.

duncan corals

It looks like a zoanthid with its large yet fleshy polyps. Sometimes it is confused with the button polyp species. The difference, however, is that it has a calcified skeleton. It stays healthy in high calcium concentrations and magnesium-rich waters.

You can easily identify a Duncan Coral if you know about its appearance. You can find Duncan Corals in the tight colonies. The polyp heads of the Duncan Corals have tentacles around them. 

There is also a mouth in the center of these Duncan Corals. Some of these corals have bigger tentacles than others. The polyp’s center stays under some inches. 

The polyps of the Duncan Corals have many colors in them. If you view it close enough, you might see blue, purple, and green colors in these corals.

However, you might see these colors changing if you place them under different lighting. Most of the Duncan Corals you will see will have a bluish-green color at the center. It will have light pink or purple tentacles.

Don’t worry about these tentacles because they don’t harm the fishes or other species in the tank. However, you should give these Duncan Corals a separate space in the tank or the aquarium. 

As we discussed before, there are only one species of these Duncan Corals. But, you will see a difference in their branches. When you shop for Duncan Corals, you will see that some corals have compact and tight branching.

On the other hand, long tree-like branches are the feature of some Duncan Corals. 

The coral often exhibits lovely flowing colors like pink, cream, and white. The color of the skeleton is usually a bright white. Unlike most corals, the tentacles are less in number and short. These few tentacles are far-spaced, allowing one to see the bright skeleton.

They are photosynthetic. They are also symbiotic zooxanthellae. Most of their feeds are obtained by hunting. After they capture their feeds, they are directed to their mouth and found at the center of the large fleshy polyps.

Lifespan of Duncan Coral

The coral can live for years under good care. Some have been able to live for more than a hundred years in the wild. In captivity, hobbyists have reported that a hardy coral stays healthy with the right water conditions and proper feeding.

Duncan Coral: Size

The Duncan Corals’ polyps can individually grow up to a 1″ center disk with 5-1″ tentacles and extend from the center disc. The Polypy’s stalk will also grow taller to a few inches. 

If you keep the Duncan Corals in pristine environmental conditions, there is no limit to how big the colonies will grow. The size and the growth rate of the Duncan Corals will depend on how they get fed.

In addition to it, water chemistry and available space are also the factors that contribute to the size of the Duncan Corals. They also consume calcium from the water, which promotes their growth. So, if you keep your tank well-stocked, it will improve the growth of the Duncan Corals. 

Duncan Corals: Natural Habitat & Origin

It lives on rocky, sandy beaches found mostly in Australia and Southern China in the wilderness. They live in colonies of clustered individuals or branching groups in the wild habitat. They often settle at the bottom of the low current sea or reef. Their scientific name is Duncanopsammia Axifuga.

The Duncan corals have been unique to Australia and China for a long time. There was a ban on the exportation of corals from Australia. That reduced their availability to other countries. However, after the ban was lifted, most aquariums worldwide were allowed to acquire it.

At the moment, the Duncan coral has become a darling of most US aquariums.

Duncan Coral: Care And Tank Set-up

If you wish for the Duncan Corals to flourish in the tank, you must ensure they have adequate lighting. 

The Duncan Corals require low to moderate lighting in the coral light spectrum. If you place the Duncan Corals in any other coral tank, you should ensure that the light gets adapted to the normal cycles of day and night. 

The lighting is one of the main concerns when trying to propagate the Duncan Corals and when you are looking forward to breeding the fishes and invertebrates in your tank. 

Let us explain how to care for the Duncan Corals through the different aspects of its maintenance.

Duncan Corals: Tank Size And Specifications

Optimum Tank Size for Duncan Corals

It is advisable to choose a bigger tank for your Duncan Corals. A tank that can easily hold 30 gallons of water will do the perfect job. 

Your tank should have enough salt water to keep the water parameters more stable. the 30-gallon tank size will provide adequate space for the breeding ground of the Duncan Corals. 

The bottom and the middle of your tank should get moderate to high lighting. It is also a place that experiences low to moderate currents. You should place the Duncan Corals in the bottom-middle portion of the tank. 

Tank Shape for Duncan Corals

There is no specific tank shape for the Duncan Corals. You can put them in any tank where the water movement ranges from low to moderate.

Filter Type

Sump filters and Canister filters are the best choices for your Duncan Corals. The Duncan Corals will work just fine with any of these filter types. You can place either of the filters in your small saltwater coral setup. However, if you wish to add any new arrival to the tank, make sure that you decontaminate them before placing them with the Duncan Corals.


Duncan Corals can thrive well without any Substrate. All that you should ensure is that there is enough space for them. It will encourage the Duncan Corals to thrive in the tank.

How Many Duncan Corals In 30 Gallons Tank?

You don’t have to worry about placing any specific number of Duncan Corals in your tank. However, you can put them in the middle of the tank to get low to moderate lighting. You can also place them at the bottom after ensuring enough water movement and current at the bottom of the tank.

Water Parameters For Duncan Corals

Let us now look at the water parameters you should be wary of while caring for your Duncan Corals. If the Duncan Corals do not get the required water conditions, they may face difficulty thriving. 

Water Temperature

The ideal water temperature for the Duncan Corals is 72 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit. They thrive the best in the low to medium flow of water. 

Do not forget to keep your Duncan Corals in the medium turbulence. Also, make sure that you keep the water warm enough to improve their growth. 

Do not stress too much about the water temperature, and maintain medium turbulence. If you keep the turbulence high for the Duncan Corals, you might destroy them. 

It should be your priority to maintain the normal temperature in the tank to avoid any disturbance to the corals. 

Water Flow Rate

The low to moderate water flow would be perfect for your Duncan Corals. You can avoid the very high water flow to protect the coral reef from any damage.

pH level

The perfect water pH level for the Duncan Corals is 8.1 to 8.4. If you fail to balance the pH, it might put the Duncan Corals in a risky situation. There should be harmony in the alkalinity and acidity of the water in which you place the Duncan Corals.

Maintaining the ideal pH level will protect your Duncan Corals and the other marine animals in your tank. If you find the pH in your tank higher or lower than the ideal pH, make sure you do a partial water interchange.

If the pH is lower than 8, you can consider adding the baking soda to the tank to raise the pH. On the other hand, if the pH is high, you can add some vinegar or lemon juice to lower the pH. 

However, make sure that you never buy muriatic or sulfuric acid, as they can jeopardize the growth of the Duncan Corals.

Water Hardness

The best calcium levels for the Duncan Corals are between 400 to 460 ppm. If there is a need, you can increase the water hardness for these corals. Calcium is the most crucial factor contributing to forming the tube of the large polyp stony (LPS). 

Therefore, you can begin with a calcium level of 400 ppm. However, you may have to add an extra ten ppm from week to week to maintain the hardness of the water. Also, the alkalinity of the water should range from 450 to 550 ppm. The desired alkalinity level for the Duncan Corals is 500ppm. You can be sure that if you maintain the average alkalinity levels, there will be no damage to any Duncan Corals.

Duncan Corals: Tank Landscape

The tank with more water tends to have stable water parameters. Therefore, you must ensure enough saltwater in the tank to offer an adequate breeding ground for the Duncan Corals. 

As we said before, you can keep a saltwater tank of about 30 gallons for your Duncan Corals. You can keep them in the middle or at the bottom of the tank to ensure that they get enough lighting and water currents. 

You can also place some sturdy materials in the tank to which the Duncan Corals can attach. 

There isn’t much hassle involved in getting the decorative pieces for the Duncan Corals, as they are not very picky. 

If you wish your Corals to live a long and healthy life, ensure the following things:

  • You put a heater in the tank because the Duncan Corals prosper when the environment is warm. They are a species that thrives in the tropical climate, and you must ensure you maintain the right temperature. 
  • Overheating can also be a serious issue when caring for the Duncan Corals. Therefore, you can make a Cooler part in the tank or the aquarium where you keep your Duncan Corals.
  • Also, ensure that your tank or aquarium has proper water flow, filtration, and lighting.

Decoration For Duncan Corals Tank

As discussed, the Duncan Corals are less demanding for tank decor. You can place the Duncan Corals with sand and add rocks to the tank. Or, you can add any decorative pieces that the Duncan Corals can stick with without hassle. 

Lighting For Duncan Corals Tanks

Duncan Corals requires moderate to high lighting to flourish. You can use compact fluorescent lighting for your Duncan Corals tank. UV and T5 fluorescent lighting will also be a good option for the tank. You can obtain these lightings easily from your local stores, or if you wish, you can also order them online.

The coral enjoys a high water current in its natural habitat. You can do that in the tank for it to thrive. Imitation of its natural surroundings can assure its longevity in captivity.

It is a saltwater coral, so you need to keep moderate to high amounts of calcium and magnesium in the water. To ensure the water concentration is just right, test the water occasionally to keep it healthy. If the concentration is too high, the coral may get wasted. Anytime the water parameters go beyond requirement, change the water to restore its quality. One way of doing this is by adding a part-2 reef supplement.

Other factors to consider:

  • Water temperatures of between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit can do
  • Water pH should be 8.2-8.4
  • Add some rocks into the tank to give it a place to rest
  • Add some sand as they love the feel of sand on their tentacles

How to feed Duncan Coral?

The Duncan coral knows how to source its food in the wild. It is different in captivity. Here, the hobbyist has to provide sufficient feed to stay healthy and grow fast. Appropriate feeds for the coral include:

  • Mysid shrimp and brine shrimp
  • Nauplii larvae
  • Tigriopus copepods or cyclops
  •  Meaty bits
  • Cyclops
  • Chopped pieces of shellfish

How often should you feed Duncan Coral?

Feed the fish at least twice a day. Target the mouth by placing the food in Julian’s Thing, which resembles a pipette when giving food. It will help direct this food into its mouth. If the food is placed away from it, keep the current to move the bits of food close to it.

Duncan Corals: Behavior And Temperament

Duncan corals are not blessed with sweeper tentacles.

For this reason, they do not have potent stings like other coral species. Therefore, they cannot sting other corals that stray to their side of the tank. Placing them in the same tank with corals possessing sweeper tentacles can be detrimental.

Ideally, keeping the Duncan corals is real fun. Apart from having little demands on a hobbyist’s time, they are generally hardy. They also exhibit unique yet lovely colors. They are likely to reward the hobbyist with fast growth and excellent color with proper care.

Duncan Corals: Tank Mates

Ideal Tank Mates For Duncan Corals

Duncan Corals have a very peaceful nature making them compatible with the fishes, invertebrates, and other plants of similar nature.

Bad Tank Mates For The Duncan Corals

Duncan Corals cannot shelter itself from other corals which invade its territory. Likewise, the same holds if it spreads across the territory of other corals. 

Because of this reason, you shouldn’t put your Duncan Corals with the corals that have an aggressive nature. You should avoid keeping them with the corals that tend to sting. 

If you are thinking of keeping some fishes in the tank with the Duncan Corals, ensure you keep the fishes possessing a peaceful nature.

Duncan Corals: Propagating

Like most crustaceans, the Duncan coral reproduces by binary fusion. In other words, part of its body separates, and another frag is formed. You can do this artificially to a tank of Duncan coral. Part of its stony branches can be seared using a Dremel tool or bone shears. The stony stalk’s bottom is then attached with cyanoacrylate glue to a piece of live rock.

Remember, the new frag will form a new colony. Carefully anchor this one to bare rock. The colony needs secure support. If not, it may be too heavy as the skeleton often grows vertically instead of horizontally. That may prevent it from attaching itself to surfaces.

Ensure the base is strong enough to bear the weight of the crown’s tentacles without falling over. Wounds that form due to tipping over often get infected, leading to their demise.

Duncan Corals Propagating Level


Duncan Corals: Common Diseases & Their Treatment

Some of the common diseases that Duncan corals suffer from are:


Aspergillosis, a common fungal infection among the Duncan Coral. The pathogen Aspergillus Sydowii causes this disease. It infects the Duncan Coral when the germination of spores happens on the coral surface. This pathogen infiltrates and extends hyphae in coral tissue, resulting in lesions. To be precise, lesions are the complete loss of tissue and skeleton.

Bacterial Bleaching

As the name suggests, this disease is caused by bacterial pathogens. This disease happens when the intracellular bacteria produce a toxin that further deteriorates the tiny plant cells inside the Duncan Coral. The two known pathogens that cause Bacterial Bleaching are Vibrio Shiloi and V. Patagonia.

Black Band

This disease can be identified as a dark ring separating healthy coral tissue from freshly exposed coral skeletons. The main job of this infection is to degrade the coral tissue across colonies. The band comprises numerous microorganisms, including photosynthetic cyanobacteria and white specks of sulfur bacteria.

Dark Spots

To date, no known pathogen has been discovered that causes this disease. As the name suggests, dark spots develop on the tissues of Duncan Carols. The infection can cause lesions and even the death of coral tissues.

Facts About Duncan Corals

Here are some facts about the Duncan Corals that you should know.

  • Duncan corals are scientifically known as Duncanopsammia axifuga.
  • These species were originally found in Australia and the South China sea.
  • Duncan Corals are popular among many aquarists because of their peaceful nature.
  • Duncan Corals thrive with a symbiotic relationship with zooxanthellae; zooxanthellae is a single-celled alga capable of photosynthesis.
  • You can find many colors in Duncan Corals, including blue, green, purple, and pink.
  • These corals grow the best in water with the maximum amount of calcium.
  • Duncan Corals require a warm and tropical environment to grow. However, you should avoid overheating the tank to prevent damage to the corals. 
  • Moderate to high lighting is the best prospering condition for Duncan Corals.
  • The perfect pH range for the Duncan Corals is between 8.1-8.4. You can maintain the tank pH by adding baking soda or vinegar/lemon juice.

Are Duncan Corals Right For You?

Duncan Corals are a hardy LPS coral that adds beauty to your tank. Of course, you need to care for your Duncan Corals, but the job is not very complicated. Therefore, Duncan Corals seem like a good fit for your tank. 

The maintenance of the Duncan Corals is not very hard. You can easily find all the pieces of equipment to protect your Duncan Corals from damage. However, if you already have any aggressive corals in your tank, you might want to skip adding the Duncan Corals. 

If the fish and other species in your tank are peaceful, there is no question or doubt about making this beauty a part of your tank or aquarium.


What Kind Of Corals Are Duncan Corals?

Duncan Corals belong to the class of LPS or Large Polyp Stoney coral. Duncan Corals grow larger polyps than other corals over their calcified inner skeleton. 

If you wish to place the Duncan Corals in your tank, make sure that there is enough calcium and alkalinity in the tank or aquarium. 

What Size Can I Expect Of A Duncan Coral?

The Duncan Coral polyps will grow a 1″ center disk individually with 0.5-1″ tentacles. You can expect the stalk of the Duncan Coral to grow up to a few inches. 

What are the Required Water Parameters To Maintain The Duncan Corals?

The Duncan Corals are widely popular because of their low maintenance. However, you should adhere to the ideal water parameters to ensure that the Duncan corals grow in the best possible way. Here is some information about the ideal water parameters for the Duncan Corals.

  • Temperature – 72 – 78° F
  • pH – 8.1 – 8.4
  • dKH – 8 – 12
  • sg Levels – 1.023 – 1.025

Which Species Should I Avoid Placing With The Duncan Corals?

You should avoid keeping the corals that have an aggressive nature in the tank that holds Duncan Corals. The Duncan Corals cannot defend themselves if the other corals come into their territory. As a result of this, the health of the Duncan Corals could adversely get affected, and they may not flourish. Also, the species that you keep in the tank should have a peaceful nature. 


Duncan Corals are easy to maintain. They don’t require much attention, so they could be the right thing to get for your tank. They grow very fast without interfering with the existence of other species in your tank. Therefore, you can get the Duncan corals for your tank without hesitation.

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