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Why Your Clove Polyps Are Not Opening!

There are a number of different types of clove polyps that are becoming increasingly popular within the coral keeping hobby right now making them a popular option for both normal marine ranks and reef tanks.

Although most types of clove polyps are beginner friendly corals, some are more difficult to keep and corals in general can be tricky for people new to keeping them so we do commonly see people asking why their clove polyps are not opening.

Most people who are having problems with their clove polyps not opening will often find that their water flow rate, light intensity, and water parameters are not in line with what the coral requires.

Less common problems that may prevent your clove polyps from opening include a tank mate eating the coral as well as a number of potential problems with nutrition in your tank.

As we covered in our article on leather coral not opening, even a “beginner friendly” coral can be difficult to keep for someone who is brand new to corals.

The term beginner friendly in the coral keeping sense usually means that you already have a year’s worth of experience keeping an aquarium without coral in it letting you build up experience of maintaining water parameters and other important factors with this being the same for clove polyps.

Are Clove Polyps Hardy?

Most types of clove polyps are hardy by coral standards and most people who are having problems getting their clove polyps to open should usually be able to identify the issue and correct the problem quickly.

The hardy nature of clove polyps is one of the main reasons that they are such a common coral option for people new to the hobby as they can be quite forgiving.

As with most things that can cause problems with corals, the sooner you notice a potential problem and get to work on trying to fix it, the better the chances of preventing any long term problems with your coral.

The issue with this is that many beginners to coral keeping are not sure what their coral should look like at various stages of growth so may miss signs of potential problems with their clove polyps that experienced coral keepers can easily identify.

Unlike some other types of corals that may take weeks or even months to normalize back to their regular state after correcting a potential problem in their tanks, clove polyps do tend to react quickly to positive change, often within a week.

This means that if your clove polyps are not opening and you correct the problem preventing them from opening, you will often be able to see any positive results quickly.

Why Is My Clove Polyps Not Opening?

The most common reasons that clove polyps may not open include poor water parameters, problems with water flow in their tank, and issues with lighting intensity.

There are less common problems that may affect clove polyps opening such as being eaten by a tank mate or nutrition levels in their tank but some clove polyps can just take longer to open than others.

This is especially true if you have only recently added your clove polyps to your tank as they can take a little longer to get used to being in a new environment and clove polyps not opening within the first week or two of being in a new tank is common even if everything is perfect for them in the tank.

One issue that we see time and time again with people new to keeping corals is that they will not use a reef tank test kit to check their water parameters in their aquarium.

The cheaper water test kits are often inaccurate and may not test all water parameters that can prevent your clove polyps from opening.

For a couple of dollars more, you are able to get a specialist reef tank water test kit that is usually more accurate while also testing for a wider range of potential issues with your aquarium’s water supply giving you a much better idea of whats going on in your tank.

How Long Does It Take for Clove Polyps To Open?

Clove polyps can take anywhere from a week to a month to open after having problems in their tank.

Some clove polyps can be more sensitive than others and take longer where as some can be hardier than others and open within a day or two so there really is no real time scale that can be applied to all clove polyps opening.

The amount of time that the clove polyps have been exposed to the problem causing them to stay closed as well as what the specific problem was can also come into effect too.

For example, issues with water flow or lighting intensity can be easy to fix and clove polyps will often respond to such changes quickly and start to open up within days.

If your clove polyps are not opening due to being eaten by a tank mate or due to problems with water parameters then these can not only take longer to fix but they will usually take longer for your clove polyps to respond and start to open too.

Some clove polyps can be having issues with multiple problems in their tank too with you having fixed one problem but your clove polyps still not opening due to a secondary problem in the tank keeping them closed.

Clove Coral Placement To Get It To Open!

Most clove polyp corals will do well in an a placement in your tank that offers the coral both moderate water flow and moderate light intensity but different types of clove polyps can prefer slightly different tank placements to get them to open up.

Due to the hardy nature of clove polyps, they can be kept in areas of the tank with higher water flow levels without issue though.

We know that there are plenty of photographs and video of clove polyps on social media where the corals are in areas of the tank that don’t have moderate water flow or lighting and the coral can work in this area.

Our moderate recommendation is for if the coral is new to the tank or if you are having problems with your clove polyps not opening as moderate water flow and lighting intensity tends to offer the best chances of getting the coral to open up.

More experienced coral keepers can get very creative with their clove polyp coral placement though and still have the coral thrive without issue.

Just remember that coral keeping is more of a balancing act so one factor may be poor but provided everything else that the coral requires is optimal, it can still thrive and grow at a rapid pace as some types of clove polyps are known for.

Do Clove Polyps Need A Lot Of Light?

Clove polyp corals tend not to need a lot of light compared to some other types of corals and a high light intensity can be enough to prevent clove polyps from opening up in some tank setups.

They usually do best in moderate lighting intensity but can still do very well in tanks with a low light intensity provided that everything else in the tank is optimal.

Problems with light intensity are definitely one of the most common problems for clove polyps though and it could be argues that it is the most common problem that people new to keeping corals have that can prevent their corals from opening.

You also have to factor in that many people who are new to coral keeping use cheaper lighting units for their tanks and the intensity dials on some cheaper lighting units are not as reliable as they should be.

This means that even if you have your aquarium lighting unit set to a moderate light intensity level, it may be providing your coral a high light intensity.

Thankfully, this is not as common as it used to be and the number of modern lighting units that have this problem is much lower than it once was so it is unlikely to be the issue for most of our readers but if you are using a pre-owned aquarium with an older lighting unit, this can be worth considering.


That brings our article going over why your clove polyps are not opening to an end and we hope that we have been able to help our readers work out any potential problems in their aquarium that were causing problems with their clove polyps. As we mentioned earlier in the article, clove polyps do tend to respond quickly to positive change making it much easier to fault find potential problems preventing clove polyps from opening compared to some other types of corals.