What’s more fascinating than seeing your corals thrive and adding enticing colors to your aquarium? Given their lively colors and exotic touch, it’s tempting to see how they make your reef tank POP. But ever wonder why beginners or even expert aquarists are leery when it comes to adding marine corals to their reef tank. It’s because of the “Difficulty in handling” that considerably varies within different types of corals.
Even the most adept aquarists would agree that successful maintenance of any coral type requires skills, keen efforts, and due diligence. In this blogpost, we’ll be discussing everything you need to know about the 3 main types of corals in detail. So, let’s dive in:
Types of Corals- What’s the perfect fit for your Reef Tank?
There are many different types of corals but the corals we use for our reef tanks are divided into 2 main groups:
Soft Corals: Soft corals don’t have a stony structure and are considered the easiest for the hobby. The best thing is they are generally much more forgiving to poor water quality parameters than the other type.
Hard Corals (LPS and SPS corals): Owing to the different sizes of polyps, Hard corals are further categorized into two main types. Large Polyp Stony coral (LPS) requires more effort and care than soft corals whole Small Polyp Stony Corals are the most challenging in the category and require a certain level of skills.
Choosing the right type of corals is important while setting up a reef tank as it will directly impact the success of your aquarium. For the beginners I highly suggest starting off with relatively easier forms and then gradually proceed with more advanced forms.
Let’s learn more about the different types of corals in detail and see which one is the perfect fit for your Aquarium and why!
- The First Type – Soft Corals
Soft corals don’t have a hard external skeletal structure, so they don’t contribute to reef formation. However, they have the ability to form colonies but at a much slower pace than hard corals. They provide matchless visual effects to your reef tank and always seem to be swaying in the breeze.
Appearance: Soft corals form colonies that may be bushy, fan-like, massive, tree-like encrusting or whip-like in appearance. Talking about the color, they can be varying from having a matt finish to the most vivid colors. Soft Corals add the most enticing, ethereal colors to your tank that seem to be out of the world.
Diet: If you have a healthy live rock aquarium with a good lighting system, you shouldn’t bother about soft coral’s diet. They feed on the micro-organisms already present in the tank and also add to the maintenance functions. Furthermore, you can also add supplementary coral food if you feel the need.
Lighting and other needs: Soft Corals are the most beginner friendly as they perform really well in moderate water flow and low to moderate lighting.
Popular Soft Corals for Reef Tanks: You might want to consider Mushroom Corals, Green star polyps, Leather Corals, Blue Corals, and tree corals for their obvious benefits.
- Small Polyp Stony Corals (SPS)
Nonetheless, these are the most demanding corals and hence, the most difficult to look after. In retrospect, you may face 2 conditions; either your SPS thrive and give you the most fulfilling experience or they might just wither away leaving you annoyed and helpless.
Appearance: When we think about Corals, the first image that our mind portrays is actually of Small Polyp Stony Corals. Owing to obvious differences than the other two types, they are easy to identify. SPS totally lack the flesh and are more like stag horns present in smaller units.
Diet: SPS get their nutrients from the digested food of your fish in the form of feces. So, you have to feed custom home blends to your fish so SPS can get all the required nutrients. Moreover, you can also add commercial coral supplements but testing from a smaller proportion and gradually increasing.
Higher Sensitivity: Another quality that differentiate from other types of corals is the higher sensitivity. Even minor fluctuations in water chemistry can have drastic effects on SPS, so you have to be more careful.
Lighting and other needs: Ideally SPS require medium to gyre movement of water. In addition, the water movement helps with absorption and excretion of nutrients and rinses away detritus. SPS thrive in beautiful colors in the presence of t5s, LEDs and metal halides.
Popular SPS Corals for Reef Tanks: You might want to consider Velvet Corals, Green Bali Slimer, Horn Corals, Acropora Corals and Leaf Corals for their stunning colors and look.
- Large Polyp Stony Corals (LPS)
Large Polyp Stony Corals are highly affordable and easily available. Getting LPS to grow and thrive is not that hard of a process. Besides, if you are a fan of colors and aesthetics, LPS is the right choice for you. Moreover, they are way more forgiving to environmental changes than SPS and are perfect for novice hobbyists.
Appearance: LPS are relatively fleshier than the other types. The best thing is they add wholesome aesthetics and stunning color display to your reef tank. Their tentacles’ extension and thickness directly depend upon water currents, light, and nutrient intake.
Easy Propagation: The quality that makes them the most desirable is their “Propagation.” If you carefully cut between the LPS polyps, the pieces or “frags” formed can create a whole new colony of these beautiful corals. In fact, you can attach these fragments to the live rock in other aquariums, and they grow well.
Lighting and other needs: Like the soft corals, they also require low to moderate lighting. Talking about ease of keeping, LPS are somewhat complex than soft corals but relatively easier to keep than SPS corals.
Popular LPS Corals for Reef Tanks: The most popular LPS corals for reef tanks are Frogspawn Corals, Hammer Corals, Trumpet Corals, Torch Corals, Can Coral, Bubble Coral, and Disk Corals.
And that’s it. Now that you have all the information about different types of colors, it might be a whole lot easier to choose the perfect coral for your Reef Tank. It’s always a great idea to start out with simpler types that are a lot more forgiving. Once you have gained worthy experience, you can always go for your desired coral types. I hope this little piece of information will be a great help in enjoying a seamless and exciting first-time experience of Coral Keeping. You’re Welcome!
Related article: The Best Corals for Reef Tank Owners
I am the founder of J. Louis, a digital marketing agency focused on providing innovative solutions and strategies built on a foundation of creative design and technology. A family man who loves travel and reef tanks, I’ve been coined as a jack of all trades, master of a few of them, most specifically website and sales funnel design, monetization and growth strategies, and viral marketing. I began pursuing my passions for business by cutting my neighbor’s lawns when I was just 8 years old and never looked back. Over the past 20 years, I have amassed significant experience providing consulting, design and development services for Fortune 500 companies, government, retail, private individuals, and A-list celebrities.