The giant aquarium-grown wall hammer coral at Neptune’s Tropical Fish has been a reef aquarium institution in the Denver area for nearly two decades. Generations of new and seasoned reefers have made the pilgrimage to this humble aquarium store on the southside of town just to see what a huge aquarium coral looks like, and what is possible when you follow basic mastery of aquarium fundamentals.
We first wrote about the ‘world’s largest hammer coral‘ way way back in September of 2008, at that time the jumbo Euphyllia ancora was actually bigger than it is today. Back then we felt pretty confident that this was in fact one of the largest aquarium hammer corals in the world, but in the intervening years reef aquarium skills have gotten much better, and we wouldn’t be surprised if some big reef tanks at public aquariums are growing a hammer coral that is approaching this size or bigger.
Regardless of its relative size, the giant wall hammer coral at Neptune’s is still a sight to behold, and an ‘ancient’ aquarium coral to be revered. You see, the huge Euphyllia has actually been this general size since 1998 and it has taken lots of generous fragging to keep this monster coral to a manageable size.
This fateful hammer coral started as a simple colony of Euphyllia ancora over 26 years ago in a 55 gallon tank equipped with the standard issue wet-dry trickle filter sump. The hammer coral grew and its tank was upgraded to a 90 gallon to give it more room to grow.
The hammer coral grew some more and in 1999 it received its first real major upgrade to a 200 gallon acrylic aquarium. This set up was outfitted with the latest and greatest technology of the day including power compacts by Custom Sealife, a venturi protein skimmer by Lifereef and it had a thick sand bed of fine oolitic sand.
More recently this aquarium was overhauled again, this time to a deep sea aquatics glass tank of the same dimensions, with a Vortech MP40 as the sole propeller pump in the tank, and four AquaIllumination Hydra 52 LEDs to cover the approximate four by three foot footprint of the coral. The tank still does some things old school though, such as the use of a wet dry trickle filter replete with bioballs, Lifereef protein skimmer and an Iwaki MD-70.
The filtration side of the Neptune Hammer’s reef tank may be somewhat basic by today’s standards, but in all honestly, the mass of tissue of this hammer coral is the filtration of this tank. On a similar note, there is almost no rock in the tank, just enough to prop up the Euphyllia’s huge skeleton making this coral the alpha and omega of the aquascape in this aquarium.
In the video above you can see what this coral looked like in fall of 2008, and this coral looks mostly the same, although the LED lighting brings out more of its internal green coloration and the better glass tank and much reduced sandbed allows this single hammer coral to be even more front and center. If you ever visit Denver and decide to see some LFS in the area, definitely swing by and see this freaky huge aquarium grown hammer coral, as it is well worth the visit.