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Why Your Candy Cane Coral Is Not Opening!

The popularity of coral keeping is rapidly increasing be it as a part of a general reef tank with fish and other animals in it or in a dedicated coral only tank.

With this spike in the popularity of keeping coral, the number of problems that people are having is also increasing due to there being so many people new to keeping coral reaching out for advice with one common question being about their candy cane coral not opening.

Candy cane coral is a beginner friendly coral but it can have issues opening due to water parameters, tank lighting, nutrient levels in the water, and the salinity levels of your tank.

In some situations, if you have fish or shrimp taking bites out of your candy cane coral it will refuse to open up too but all of these issues can be easy to fix.

As we covered in our article going over how to stop your candy cane coral dying, one very common water parameters that people have issues with is their nitrate levels so be sure to double check your water parameters as soon as possible.

Due to the rapid growth in the coral keeping community, some people are selling low quality candy cane corals in an attempt to cash in on the hobby too so always be sure to purchase your coral from a reputable vendor who has a proven history of providing high quality corals.

Why Is My Candy Cane Coral Not Opening Up?

The most common problem that causes candy cane corals to refuse to open up is poor water parameters or water parameters that are constantly fluctuating.

This is generally very easy to fix in most situations and you can often get your candy cane coral to open up within two weeks of correcting and stabilizing your tanks water parameters.

One problem that we see time and time again within the coral keeping community is that the water test kit people are using is not fit for purpose and the cheap test sticks can work for general fish keeping but even beginner friendly corals are considered very sensitive compared to fish.

This is why we would recommend you pay a little extra to get a reef tank water test kit as it allows you to quickly and easily test all parameters of the water in your tank with a high level of accuracy to give you a much better idea of what may be causing problems with your candy cane coral.

As we mentioned above, problems with the lighting in your aquarium is another very common cause of candy cane corals refusing to open up.

Candy cane coral should be placed in an area of your tank with a low to moderate light intensity but some people accidentally place their coral in an area with high light intensity in a bid to offer better viewing of the coral.

Thankfully, if you correct this mistake early enough and reseat your coral in a suitable area of lighting it can open in as little as a week.

How Can I Get My Candy Cane Coral To Open Up?

There are a number of common issues that can cause candy cane coral to refuse to open up so you have to identify the cause of the issue and then apply the correct fix.

These can range from correcting water parameters to a suitable range, maintaining steady water parameters, tweaking the lighting setup in your aquarium, adjusting the salinity levels, and trying to discourage fish or shrimp in your tank from nipping or eating the coral.

If you have an aquarium with high water flow then lowering the water flow level in the tank may be enough to get your candy cane coral to open up. In some tank setups, even moderate levels of water flow can be enough to keep your candy cane coral closed and prevent it from opening up.

When it comes to water flow in your tank everything is a balancing act though as other corals or anemones in your tank may require a higher water flow level so remember to factor in everything living in your tank.

Water temperatures can be a another easy win to get your candy cane coral to open up but as far as corals go, this is rare and the coral will usually start to shrink if it is in water that is too hot or too cold giving you a better idea of the issue.

Please also note that some candy cane corals can reduce to open up for the first month or so when they are first placed in your aquarium tank even if the conditions are perfect, this is just one of those things that you have to factor in too.

How Long Does It Take For A Candy Cane Coral To Open Up?

Most candy cane corals will open up within two weeks of the issue that was causing them to stay closed being corrected.

In some rare situations, this can take as long as a month or slightly more but this really is rare and is usually due to whatever the issue was keeping the coral closed being present in the tank for an extended period of time.

This is common when the problem is fish in your aquarium eating or nipping the candy cane coral. They can do it once or twice per day making it difficult to identify as the problem allowing them to do it over a long period of time keeping your candy cane coral closed.

Once you have moved the offending tank mate into its own tank it may take way more than a month before the candy cane coral feels safe enough to open up.

On the flipside of that, overfeeding your candy cane coral can be a reason that it may refuse to open up but thankfully, this can often be an easy fix.

Simply reduce both the amount of food as well as the frequency of the feeding and within a week your candy cane coral should be starting to open up again.


That brings our article going over why your candy cane coral is not opening to an end. Even the beginner friendly corals such as candy cane corals can be challenging if you are brand new to coral keeping so having your coral refuse to open up is more common than most people think. Thankfully, with a candy cane coral, these issues are generally easy to fix and you will usually be able to fix the problem quickly.