Corals live in close association with bacterial communities, but the nature of the relationship is still poorly understood. In this study, three scleractinian coral species, Galaxea fascicularis, Pavona cactus and Turbinaria reniformis were incubated under different laboratory conditions, and the composition of the bacterial community associated with their tissue or skeleton was compared between species or between species and seawater using denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE). The amount of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) excreted and the mucus glycoconjugate composition were also determined for each species. The aim of the study was to assess if the bacterial community composition was species-specific or linked either to the seawater composition, or to the quality and quantity of carbon released by each coral. Results obtained showed that DOC release was significantly different (P < 0.0001) for the three species, with the highest excretion rate for G. fascicularis. Also, the mucus of G. fascicularis and P. cactus mainly contained galactose and glucose whereas the mucus of T. reniformis contained more glucose and xylose. Cluster analyses of microbial community composition showed that the bacterial community was species-specific in the coral tissue but not in the skeleton, in all conditions. It remained specific when corals were incubated in the same or in different aquaria, and under different seawater renewal rates. Since DOC release rates and bacterial composition were both different according to the coral species considered, a link might be suggested between the two parameters. Sequencing of DGGE bands indicated that some bacterial phylotypes were consistently retrieved in all samples of a given species.