Euphyllia Polyp Bail-out. A small phrase that no LPS lover wants to utter. It’s utterly disheartening when it happens to you, especially when seemingly, your water is “good”.

Polyp Bailout when a coral lets go of its polyp, and the fleshy bit detatches from the hard skeleton. It is not the same as a polyp dying. It is thought to happen for one of two reasons. Reason 1, stress. Reason 2, reproduction.

Reason One, Stress

If you water parameters are not ideal, your corals can become stressed. This can be caused by:

  • Alkalinity being too high or too low (ideally 8 – 11 dKH)
  • pH being too high or too low (ideally 7.6 – 8.4)
  • Temperature being too high or too low (ideally 24 – 26 degree Celsius)
  • Calcium/Magnesium being out of balance or being too high or too low (ideally calcium should be 3 times less than magnesium levels. Calcium should be between 400 – 500ppm, magnesium between 1180 – 1460ppm)
  • Phosphate being too high or too low (ideally between 0 – 0.1ppm)
  • Having zero Nitrates or Nitrates above 20ppm
  • Too much or too little flow directed at the coral
Torch Polyp bail out
Torch Polyp bail out

If your water parameters fall outside of these ranges, or you have big swings/unstable parameters it is likely that your corals will become stressed.

Stressed corals can react in several ways to undesirable water parameters, one of these includes polyp bailouts.

Reason Two, Reproduction

It is though that in the wild, some Euphyllia will purposefully induce a polyp bailout as a way of starting a new colony several miles away from the mother colony. This allows corals to spread over fast distances and increases the amount of territory each colony can claim for itself.

Polyp Bailout
Polyp Bailout

Mortality rates are not thought to be good for corals that choose to reproduce in this way, as it relies on pot luck of the coral being able to settle somewhere (if it’s not eaten or bashed to bits) with favourable conditions. The same is true in captivity, with a poly bail-out the free floating polyp is unlikely to survive.