By Bob Goemans
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Ocean Nutrition 


Psammocora contigua

(Esper, 1797)

Cat’s Paw Coral, Sandpaper Coral

Likely Reef Tank Suitable

Likely Fish-Only Tank Suitable

Range: Indo-West Pacific Ocean: Widespread.

Natural Environment: Inhabits very shallow reefs with soft substrates and generally seen at depths between 30 to 50 feet (10 - 15 m).

General Husbandry: Occasionally seen in the trade.

One of the easier-to-maintain photosynthetic stony corals and a good beginner coral since it's not overly fussy about water quality, available light, or even water movement.

Best initially placed in lower-aquarium areas where light and water movement are not as good as they are at higher levels.

However, with that said, cultured specimens are available, and if having intense colors, it may be best to begin by placing the specimen where it will receive moderate light, e.g., PAR 250 - 300. Move to slightly higher PAR levels only after becoming fully acclimated to initial surrounding conditions and if the specimen is beginning to lose some of its more intense color. Patience is the key with specimens that come from unknown environments.

Capable of producing its nutritional needs via photosynthesis, yet benefits from once or twice a week feedings of various plankton-like foods, such as Oyster eggs, cyclops, baby brine shrimp, Spirulina, enriched adult brine shrimp and mysis.

Nevertheless, for general health and growth, average water conditions and lighting will suffice.


    Kingdom: Animalia

    Phylum: Cnidaria

    Class: Anthozoa

    Subclass: Hexacorallia

    Order: Scleractinia

    Family: Siderastreidae

    Genus: Psammocora

FYI: In the wild, has flattened branches and form large colonies and generally dark greyish brown.

Experience Level: Beginner

Diet: Photosynthetic/Plankton feeder

Temperament: Peaceful

Aquarium Environment: Reef or fish-only aquarium

Coral Safe: Yes

Fish Safe: Yes

Invertebrate Safe: Yes

Acclimation Time: 30 minutes+

Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy

Calcium (Ca): 380 - 430 mg/l

Alkalinity: 2.5 - 3.0 meq/l

Phosphate (PO4): <0.05 mg/l

Magnesium (Mg): approx. 1350 mg/l (relate to specific gravity)

Strontium (Sr) 8 - 10 mg/l

Temperature Range: 72 - 83°F (23 - 28°C)

Minimum Tank Size: 100 gallons

Lighting: PAR 300 - 400+

Water Movement: WM 2

Specific Gravity: 1.023 - 1.025

pH: 8.0 - 8.4

Iodine/Trace Elements Monitor/as necessary to maintain quality seawater.

 Psammocora contigua (Cat’s Paw Coral, Sandpaper Coral)
Photo © Bob Goemans
 Psammocora contigua (Cat’s Paw Coral, Sandpaper Coral)
Photo ©
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