Organ Pipe Coral (Tubipora musica): Ultimate Care Guide


Native to the Indian Ocean, Organ Pipe Coral has many horizontal, organ-pipe like tubes which give it the name. A soft coral, it is often mistaken for a hard coral because of its red, external skeleton. This colorful skeleton is usually obscured in the daytime by extended polyps. Organ Pipe Coral polyps are often gray or green but are also seen in white, silver, light blue or purple.

A well behaved coral, the Organ Pipe doesn’t have sweeper tentacles and can be placed near other peaceful corals. Capable of fast growth in the right conditions, this species isn’t aggressive enough to take over a tank.

Meeting the needs of this coral can be a challenge, making it moderately difficult to care for. Strong lighting and specific water flow requirements are essential for best growth.

If you are planning on adding this coral to you tank, you’ll need to know some facts first. Let’s take a deeper look at this finicky yet eye-catching species!

Is Organ Pipe Coral endangered?

Organ Pipe Coral is listed as a near-threatened species with 50% of the population lost in the last 10 years, according to the IUCN. Species categorized as “Near Threatened (NT)” are at risk of becoming endangered in the future but don’t currently qualify for threatened status.

Organ Pipe Coral is valued for jewelry and has high medical and scientific value. Many colonies in the wild show signs of harvesting. Due to these facts, scientists are calling for increased protections for this species.

Organ Pipe Coral Care

Organ Pipe Coral needs proper lighting and water flow, along with correct water parameters. Many elements need to work together for success with this species.

Are Organ Pipe Coral Easy to Care for?

Caring for Organ Pipe Coral is moderately difficult. This coral does best in established aquariums where lighting and water flow can be adjusted for best growth. Beginning hobbyists will need to do their research to ensure a proper living environment.

This coral is not suitable for new aquariums. Only established aquariums will have the extra nutrients and microfauna this species needs.

Organ Pipe Coral (Tubipora musica)
Organ Pipe Coral (Tubipora musica)

Organ Pipe Coral Placement

Organ Pipe Coral doesn’t have sweeper tentacles and can be placed next to other peaceful corals. Frags can be attached to rocks with a spot of super glue. Organ Pipe can be picky about water currents. Strong flow will stress this coral and may prevent it from extending polyps. Inadequate current will allow detritus and brown algae to collect and possibly cause harm. Depending on your tank and hardscape configuration there may be an ideal location where flow is just right. If you need this coral to have a specific placement be prepared to adjust wave makers and other current sources to create the right balance.

Ideally Organ Pipe Coral would be exposed to chaotic water currents, but this is difficult in a home aquarium. You may need to apply higher water flow occasionally to clear debris.

Organ Pipe Coral Prey

While Organ Pipe Coral can feed on phytoplankton or zooplankton, most nutrition is obtained via symbiotic zooxanthellae. These microorganisms grow via photosynthesis and provide nutrition to their host Organ Pipe Coral. The majority of this coral’s nutrition in a home aquarium will be the result of these organisms.

What do Organ Pipe Coral feed on?

In a home aquarium, Organ Pipe Corals need more light than food. However they are carnivorous and can feed on phytoplankton and zooplankton. This can be either purchased, cultivated or obtained in dry form in products such as Coral Frenzy or Reef Roids.

When feeding prepared foods it is best to temporarily cut sources of water flow and apply feed with a target feeder. After 30 minutes, flow can be restored.

Organ Pipe Coral Predators

Organ Pipe Coral are at risk from aggressive corals with sweeper tentacles and tank mates that aren’t reef safe. Fish that pose a hazard to soft corals can also threaten this species.

Though not a true predator, this coral is susceptible to various algae growths which can choke off its tubes. These are usually easily removed with a blast from a wavemaker. The best defense against algae build-up is chaotic water flow. Organ Pipe Coral don’t like the pressure of constant strong water current but can benefit from an occasional blast to clear algae and debris.

Organ Pipe Coral Lifespan

Organ Pipe Coral exists as a colony of individual members. As some die off they can be replaced by others. This means a single colony can live indefinitely–in theory.

Organ Pipe Coral Lighting Requirement

Organ Pipe Corals need mid to bright lighting. This is the most critical element for keeping this coral alive and healthy. In a home aquarium they will obtain most of their nutrition from the photosynthesis of symbiotic zooxanthellae. Depending on your existing lighting you may need to install a separate light source specifically for this coral. See how it reacts to your lighting and adjust as needed.

Organ Pipe Coral Temperature

Organ Pipe Coral prefers a water temperature between 77° – 82° F.

Organ Pipe Coral Water pH

Organ Pipe Coral needs water alkalinity between 8.1 and 8.4 pH.

Organ Pipe Coral Growth Rate

Organ Pipe Coral growth rate can vary depending on factors such as lighting and nutrition. In the right environment, Organ Pipe can grow surprisingly quickly. The main cause of slow growth is not enough lighting. Ensure your lighting is bright enough and install an extra light source if necessary.

Organ Pipe Coral Growth Height

Organ Pipe Coral can grow over 12 inches high and 24 inches across.

How to Frag Organ Pipe Coral

When fragging Organ Pipe Coral for propagation it is important to split it vertically from the top to the base. This can be accomplished with a chisel or diamond band saw. If any of the individual tubes are cracked the coral inside that tube will die, so work carefully.

Before fragging coral, make sure polyps have retracted before removing from the water. Have a bucket of tank water with a coral tissue supplement added such as Brightwell Aquatics Restore. This is not a miracle supplement: damaged tubes will still result in the death of the coral inside that particular tube. Freshly fragged coral can benefit from soaking in this solution to heal small damage suffered during fragging.

Organ Pipe Coral Dying

Organ Pipe Coral is a delicate species and can be sensitive to water flow and lighting intensity. If it seems to be dying off, check that you have enough lighting and haven’t exposed it to improper water currents–either too much or too little.

Another reason for Organ Pipe Coral dying is not placing it in an established aquarium. New tanks may not have enough microfauna or water chemistry stability to sustain this coral. Sometimes even established tanks will have issues if there is excessive filtration. The symbiotic organisms that Organ Pipe relies on for nutrition like to have some nitrogen for their photosynthesis. Water can be too “clean” for these organisms to thrive; this can negatively effect your coral’s health.

Check your water chemistry and make sure micronutrients are included in your tank water. This species needs strontium, iodine and other trace elements.

Organ Pipe Coral Not Opening

Organ Pipe Coral will often not open if water currents are too strong or when acclimatizing to a new tank. If your Organ Pipe is not opening–but has opened before–something may have changed in your tank. Make sure your temperature and water chemistry are stable.

Sometimes Organ Pipe Coral can experience a “funk” for no particular reason, and not open. It may be a temporary situation which will correct itself after a few days.

Where can I find Organ Pipe Coral for sale?

Organ Pipe Coral can be hard to find for sale. Internet sources may be your best bet. Be prepared to join a waiting list if you have specific size or color requirements.

Organ Pipe Coral Price

Organ Pipe Coral prices by size, color and place or origin. Expect to pay between $90 and $200 USD for most specimens.

Organ Pipe Coral Types

Organ Pipe Coral comes in different varieties and colors. These can add color and texture variation to your tank. Some are harder to obtain than others. Here are some of the types you can look for:

Green Organ Pipe Coral

Green Organ Pipe Coral is a common variety. Its polyps are bright green but it still has the red colored skeleton Organ Pipe Coral is known for.

White Organ Pipe Coral

White Organ Pipe Coral originates from Australia. Polyps are bright white when extended. This variety can be hard to find in stock, particularly for hobbyists in the US.

Purple Organ Pipe Coral

Purple Organ Pipe Coral has light purple polyps when extended. This variety is often hard to find and is frequently out of stock.

Shaggy Organ Pipe Coral

Shaggy Organ Pipe Coral is a striking multi color coral. The hairs along the polyp tentacles are purple, making this coral appear “shaggy.” This variety is rare.

Fish Laboratory

With decades of collective fishkeeping experience, we are happy to share the fish care tips that we've picked up along the way. Our goal at Fish Laboratory is to keep publishing accurate content to help fishkeepers keep their fish and aquarium healthy.

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