Skip to Content

Why Your Leather Corals Are Dying And How To Stop It!

Leather corals are beautiful marine invertebrates that live in shallow waters around the world. They look like tiny sea fans, and they’re often found near coral reefs.

Leather corals are important reef builders because they provide shelter and food for other animals.

Unfortunately, leather corals are declining rapidly due to overfishing, pollution, climate change, disease, and ocean acidification.

Leather corals are being killed off at alarming rates, and scientists don’t know why. The good news is that we can save them.

We need to protect their habitat by limiting fishing, reducing pollution, and restoring degraded areas. We also need to reduce our carbon emissions so that oceans stay alkaline.

Plenty of people also like to keep leather coral in their homes as a decorative piece. If you do this, make sure you get your leather coral from a reputable dealer who cares about sustainable practices.

In this guide, we’ll be going over how you can tell if your leather coral is dying or showing signs of decay, as well as telling you what to do if it is.

How To Tell If Leather Coral Is Dying

Leather Corals Dying

The first thing to check is the texture of your leather coral. If it is squishy and falls apart when you touch it in the water, it is most likely already dead.

However, if the coral is still firm and stays together when you prod it, it is probably still alive – even if it’s not particularly healthy.

Another indicator of whether your leather coral is dead or dying is to smell it.

Just remove it safely from the water and smell it. If it smells bad, then it may be decaying or potentially already dead.

Of course, another indicator is the color. If the leather coral has turned brownish yellow, then it is most likely dying.

If it has turned black, then it is definitely dead.

What Causes Leather Coral Decay?

There are several factors that can cause leather coral to die in the wild and sometimes even in peoples’ homes. Here are some of the main causes:


Overfishing is one of the biggest threats to leather corals. This happens when fishermen take too many fish out of the water at once.

When leather corals are removed from the water, they cannot breathe properly and will suffocate.


Many pollutants kill leather corals. These include heavy metals such as mercury and lead, pesticides, fertilizers, and industrial waste.

Climate Change

Climate change is causing more frequent and intense storms, which can wash away large quantities of sediment into the ocean. This can damage leather corals’ habitats.


A number of diseases have been linked to leather coral deaths. Some of these include white plague, red tide, and soft tissue syndrome.

Ocean Acidification

As the oceans absorb increasing amounts of CO2, they become less alkaline and more acidic. This makes it harder for leather corals to build shells.

How To Save Leather Coral From Decaying

How To Save Leather Coral From Decaying

To help prevent leather coral from rotting, you should try to limit its exposure to sunlight.

You can do this by keeping your leather coral in an aquarium with lots of natural light. You could also place it under a lamp with a UV filter.

Furthermore, you can also try placing it on top of rocks where there is shade.

If you want to keep your leather coral in the home, you might consider buying a plastic bag that you can put around it.

This way, it won’t dry out in direct sunlight.

Once you’ve tried all of these methods, you can use the following tips to save your leather coral.

Keep It In The Water

Keeping your leather coral in the water is essential. When it isn’t kept in the water, it dries out and becomes brittle.

Keep It Clean

Your leather coral needs to stay clean so that it doesn’t get dirty. Dirt can make it rot faster.

Don’t Overfeed It

Don’t overfeed your leather coral. Instead, feed it only what it actually needs.

Check For Disease

Check your leather coral regularly for signs of disease. If you notice any sores or lesions, don’t touch them.

Similar Corals To Leather Corals

Here are some other types of coral that look similar to leather corals.

Staghorn Coral

Staghorn corals are often confused with leather corals because both are hard-shelled corals. However, staghorn corals grow much larger than leather corals. They can be up to 10 feet long!

Sea Fan

Sea fans are very similar to leather corals, except that they grow vertically instead of horizontally. Sea fans tend to live in shallow waters.


Pectinarias are another type of hard-shelled coral that looks like leather corals. They’re usually found near reefs.

The first thing we need to know about leather corals is that they are not true corals. They belong to the phylum Cnidaria, which means that they are related to jellyfish and sea anemones.

The second thing we need to know is that leather corals are not really corals at all. They are marine invertebrates.

What Are Marine Invertebrates?

Marine invertebrates are animals without backbones.

They include shellfish, sponges, starfish, crabs, lobsters, shrimp, clams, octopuses, squid, cuttlefish, worms, snails, echinoderms (sea urchins), bryozoans, and many others.

Marine invertebrates are important members of our ecosystem. They provide food for fish and other marine life.

They also protect coastal areas from erosion.

In fact, marine invertebrates are responsible for cleaning the ocean’s surface.

They remove dead plankton and algae from the water.

The third thing we need to know before learning how to care for leather corals is that leather corals aren’t even real corals.

They are actually cnidarians, which are closely related to jellyfish and anemones.

Final Thoughts

We hope that you learned something new today. As we said at the start, leather coral is one of the most beautiful additions you can make to your current aquarium.

Think about what kind of marine life will look the most impressive when deciding what to add to your tank but also make sure that they can all survive healthily together.

Thanks for reading and happy reefkeeping!