Favia Coral: Ultimate Guide to Growing, Caring, and Fragging

| Updated: April 23, 2023
Favia coral close up macro view

If you are looking for a colorful, easy, and rewarding coral to add to your reef tank, you might want to consider Favia corals. These corals are also known as brain, moon, or pineapple corals because of their round shape and bumpy texture. They belong to the LPS (large polyp stony) coral group, which means they have a hard skeleton and large fleshy polyps.

Favia corals are popular among reef hobbyists because they are relatively inexpensive, adaptable to different lighting and flow conditions, and come in a variety of colors and patterns. They can also grow into large colonies, creating a stunning focal point in your tank.

However, Favia corals are not without their challenges. They can be aggressive towards other corals, prone to some diseases and pests, and require some specific care requirements to thrive. This article will cover everything you need to know about Favia corals, such as their natural habitat, identification, care requirements, feeding, growth, reproduction, fragging, and potential problems.

Species Overview

Origin Indo-Pacific region
Common names Brain coral, moon coral, pineapple coral
Scientific name Favia sp.
Class of coral LPS (large polyp stony)
Temperature 75-82°F (24-28°C)
Water flow Moderate to low
Light PAR 50-200
Feeding Once or twice a week with various food sources
Fragable Yes, by cutting along the corallite boundaries
Difficulty Easy and suitable for beginners

Natural Habitat

Favia corals are found in warm, tropical reef waters around the world, especially in the Indo-Pacific region. Some locations where divers regularly see Favia corals are Australia, Japan, and parts of Africa. Luckily, this species of coral hasn’t been greatly over-harvested and is still growing well in the ocean.

Favia corals typically inhabit shallow lagoons, reef slopes, and rubble zones where they can find plenty of light and moderate water flow. They form massive colonies that can be round or dome-shaped and cover large reef areas. Like most corals, they also have a symbiotic relationship with zooxanthellae, which are microscopic algae that live inside their polyp tissues and provide them with nutrients.


One of the challenges of keeping Favia corals is identifying them correctly. This is because they are very similar to another genus of LPS corals called Favites. Both Favia and Favites corals have round or polygonal corallites (the individual cups that house each polyp) that are separated by grooves or valleys. They also have similar feeding habits and care requirements.

The main difference between Favia and Favites corals is that Favia corallites have two distinct walls, while Favites corallites share a common wall. This means that Favia corallites have a gap or bridge between them, while Favites corallites touch each other directly. Sometimes, this difference can be hard to see with the naked eye and can require practice. Once you understand what to look for, it will feel like it should have been obvious all along.

Some examples of Favia species and their common names are:

  • Favia Fragum (golf ball coral): This species has small round corallites that resemble golf balls. It usually has green or brown colors with contrasting oral discs.
  • Favia Gravida (knobby brain coral): This species has large irregular corallites that resemble knobby brains. It usually has brown or gray colors with green oral discs.
  • Favia Lizardensis (lizard island brain coral): This species has medium-sized polygonal corallites that resemble lizard scales. It usually has bright red, orange, yellow, or green colors.
Favia Coral Colony
Photo: Fotosearch/ Gettyimages

Care Requirements

Favia corals are generally easy to care for as long as you provide them with proper conditions. Here are some of the main factors that you need to consider when keeping Favia corals in your tank:

Water Parameters

Favia corals need pristine water as any other coral; however, they can somewhat tolerate poor conditions. That’s why they are perfect for beginners. But, like in everything, stability is the key. Ensure you have stable alkalinity and calcium levels in your tank, especially when you keep LPS corals. Regular water changes are mandatory to replace depleted trace elements.

The ideal water parameters for Favia corals are:

  • Temperature: 75-82°F (24-28°C)
  • Salinity: 1.023-1.025
  • pH: 8.1-8.4
  • Alkalinity: 8-12 dKH
  • Calcium: 400-450 ppm
  • Magnesium: 1250-1350 ppm
  • Nitrate: <10 ppm

Placement and Lighting

Favia corals are adaptable to a wide range of lighting and flow conditions in home aquariums. However, they generally prefer moderate to low lighting and flow, which means they are best placed at the bottom or the edges of the tank, where they can be slightly shaded and not exposed to direct or strong lighting.

Too much light can cause bleaching, which is when the coral loses its zooxanthellae and turns white. Too much flow can damage the polyps or prevent them from extending fully. On the other hand, too little light or flow can cause poor growth, dull colors, or algae growth.

To find the optimal spot for your Favia coral, you can start by placing it at the bottom of your tank and gradually moving it up until you see signs of stress or discomfort. You can also use a PAR meter to measure the light intensity at different locations in your tank. The ideal PAR range for Favia corals is between 50 and 200. This is a relatively large range; depending on the exact species and even the colors it exhibits it may need higher or lower than another Favia.

Space and Aggression

Favia corals are aggressive corals that can defend themselves against other corals by extending their sweeper tentacles at night. These tentacles have stinging cells that can harm or kill nearby corals. Therefore, you need to provide enough space between your Favia coral and other corals to avoid aggression.

The sweeper tentacles can reach up to 6 inches (15 cm) long, so you should keep at least that much distance between your Favia coral and other corals. You should also consider the direction of the water flow when placing your Favia coral, as it can carry the tentacles toward other corals.

If you notice signs of aggression, such as tissue damage, slime, or mucus on your corals, you should move them away from each other as soon as possible. You should also use coral dip or medications to treat any infections or injuries caused by the stings.

Favia Coral green with orange mouth
Photo: Cagdas Son/ Gettyimages


Favia corals are photosynthetic, which means that they host symbiotic organisms called zooxanthellae inside their polyp tissues. These zooxanthellae provide most of the nutrients for Favia corals by converting light energy into sugar. However, Favia corals can also benefit from supplemental feeding to boost their health and growth.

Favia corals have large mouths that can capture and consume a variety of food sources, such as phytoplankton, zooplankton, mysis shrimp, scallops, diced fish, or coral pellets. You can feed your Favia coral once or twice a week, depending on your tank conditions and coral needs.

The best time to feed your Favia coral is at night when their polyps are fully extended and ready to catch food. You can use a turkey baster or a pipette to deliver food directly to their mouths. You should also turn off the pumps and skimmers during feeding time to prevent food from drifting away.


Favia corals are slow to moderate growers that can form large colonies over time. Their growth rate and pattern depend on factors such as lighting intensity, water flow, nutrient availability, and tank parameters. Generally, Favia corals grow faster under higher light and flow conditions and with regular feeding.

Favia corals have two main growth forms: massive or encrusting. Massive Favia corals grow into round or dome-shaped colonies that can reach up to 3 feet (1 m) in diameter. Encrusting Favia corals grow over rocks or other surfaces and form irregular shapes.

You can measure and monitor the growth of your Favia coral by using a ruler or a caliper to measure their diameter or length, taking photos or videos over time to compare their size and shape, or using a coral frag plug or tile to track their encrusting progress.

Reproduction and Fragging

Favia corals have two main modes of reproduction: sexual and asexual. Sexual reproduction occurs when Favia corals release eggs and sperm into the water column to fertilize externally. This happens yearly during a mass spawning event synchronized with the lunar cycle and water temperature. While these events have been noticed in the ocean, they are highly unlikely to occur in an aquarium.

Asexual reproduction occurs when Favia corals produce new polyps or break off pieces of their skeleton that can grow into new colonies. This happens naturally due to physical damage or environmental stress. Hobbyists can also induce asexual reproduction by fragging Favia corals.

Fragging is the process of purposefully cutting a coral into smaller pieces that can be attached to new substrates and grow into new colonies. Fragging is a fantastic way to propagate many different species of coral, which puts less demand on coral sourced from natural reefs.

How to Frag Favia Corals

Fragging Favia corals is a great way to propagate them and create new colonies for your tank or for trading with other hobbyists. Fragging Favia corals is not very difficult, but it requires some tools and precautions to do it safely and successfully.

Here are the basic steps to frag Favia corals:

  1. Pull out the rock or plug that the Favia is attached to and place it on a clean and stable surface. You can use a towel or a cutting board to protect your surface from scratches or water damage.
  2. Take a wet band saw (our safest recommendation) and cut along the corallite boundaries of the Favia coral. Try to make clean and straight cuts and avoid cutting through the polyps or the valleys. It is possible to score the top of the coral with a Dremel and break it along the score lines.
  3. Fill a small bowl or container with aquarium water and drop the coral frags inside. You can also add some iodine solution or coral dip to disinfect the cuts and prevent infections.
  4. After a brief dip in the bath, take the frags out of the water and place them on a frag plug, a rock, or another substrate. You can use super glue gel, epoxy putty, or coral glue to attach them securely.
  5. Return the newly attached coral to a new container with aquarium water to rinse off any dip solution you use.
  6. Place the frags back in your tank in a low-light and low-flow area where they can heal and recover. You can also use a frag rack or a frag tray to hold them in place. Monitor their condition and look for signs of stress or disease.
  7. After a few weeks, you can move the frags to their desired location in your tank, where they can grow and thrive.

Fragging Favia corals is a fun and rewarding activity that can help you expand and share your coral collection with others. Following these steps, you can safely and successfully frag your Favia corals.

Diseases and Pests

Favia corals are generally hardy and resistant to most diseases and pests, but they can still encounter some problems that can affect their health and appearance. Some of the common problems that Favia corals may face are:

  • Brown jelly disease: This bacterial infection causes brown mucus to cover the coral tissue and lead to tissue loss. It can spread quickly and kill the entire colony if not treated promptly. The best way to prevent and treat this disease is to maintain good water quality, remove any affected corals or frags, and dip them in an iodine solution or antibiotics.
  • Tissue necrosis: This is a condition that causes the coral tissue to die and peel off, exposing the white skeleton underneath. It can be caused by various factors, such as poor water quality, physical damage, chemical warfare, or parasites. The best way to prevent and treat this condition is to maintain good water quality, avoid overcrowding or overfeeding, and use carbon or ozone to remove toxins.
  • Flatworms: Small worm-like creatures that can infest Favia corals and feed on their tissue. They can multiply rapidly and cover the entire coral surface, blocking light and reducing growth. The best way to prevent and treat this infestation is to quarantine new corals, remove any visible flatworms manually, and dip the corals in Coral Rx or other solutions.
  • Nudibranchs: Colorful slug-like creatures that can also infest Favia corals and feed on their polyps. They can be hard to spot because they often match the color of the coral they are eating. The best way to prevent and treat this infestation is to quarantine new corals, remove any visible nudibranchs manually, and dip the corals in Coral Rx or other solutions.
  • Bristle worms: These are segmented worm-like creatures that can sometimes irritate Favia corals by crawling over them or biting them. They can also compete with Favia corals for food and space. The best way to prevent and treat this problem is to keep a balanced population of bristle worms in your tank, manually remove any excess bristle worms, and use natural predators such as arrow crabs or wrasses.

Where to Buy Favia Corals

If you are interested in buying a Favia for your reef tank, you have several options to choose from. You can buy them online from reputable vendors that offer live arrival guarantees, fast shipping, and healthy specimens. You can also buy them locally from your nearest fish store or reef club that has good reviews and customer service.


Favia corals are one of the best choices for reef hobbyists who want a colorful, easy, and rewarding coral to add to their tank. They are relatively inexpensive, adaptable to different conditions, and come in a variety of colors and patterns. They can also grow into large colonies, creating a stunning focal point in your tank.

We hope you found this article helpful and informative. If you have any questions or comments about Favia corals, feel free to leave them below. We would love to hear from you and share your experiences with Favia corals.

Happy reefing!

More Coral Species

If you’re interested in learning about other coral species, check out:


Q: How often should I feed my Favia coral?

A: You can feed your Favia coral once or twice a week, depending on your tank conditions and coral needs. You can use a variety of food sources, such as phytoplankton, zooplankton, mysis shrimp, or coral pellets.

Q: How can I tell if my Favia coral is healthy?

A: You can tell if your Favia coral is healthy by looking at its color, polyp extension, and tissue coverage. Healthy Favia corals have bright and vibrant colors, fully extended polyps, and no exposed skeleton.

Q: How can I prevent algae from growing on my Favia coral?

A: You can prevent algae from growing on your Favia coral by maintaining good water quality, avoiding overfeeding, and providing adequate lighting and flow. You can also use algae-eating fish or invertebrates, such as snails, hermit crabs, or tangs, to keep algae under control.

Q: How can I make my Favia coral grow faster?

A: You can prevent algae from growing on your Favia coral by maintaining good water quality, avoiding overfeeding, and providing adequate lighting and flow. You can also use algae-eating fish or invertebrates, such as snails, hermit crabs, or tangs, to keep algae under control.

Q: How can I identify the species of my Favia coral?

A: You can identify the species of your Favia coral by looking at the shape and size of their corallites, the color and pattern of their tissue, and the presence or absence of ridges or bumps on their surface. You can also use online guides or books to compare your coral with pictures and descriptions of different Favia species.

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Shane Elliot Author Image
Shane Elliot

Shane Elliot is a pet lover and a coral enthusiast. He has been keeping saltwater aquariums for over ten years and enjoys sharing his knowledge and expertise with other hobbyists. He writes about coral care, fish compatibility, aquarium equipment, and more. He also covers topics related to other animals, such as dogs, cats, horses, and reptiles. Shane works as a freelance writer and editor when his menagerie of pets allows it.

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