Best Coral for Reef Tanks: The Ultimate Guide

5 Min Read
Feather star on the reef

Choosing the Best Coral Species for Your Reef Tank

As an aquarist, you know the living artistry that corals bring to a reef tank. Their vibrant colors and alien forms create an underwater world that’s uniquely yours. But with hundreds of coral species to choose from, how do you pick the right ones for your tank? This definitive guide explores the top beginner corals and most dazzling show stoppers. You’ll learn the water parameters, lighting, and care each variety needs to not just survive, but thrive. Read on to master the living palette that will make your reef tank a masterpiece.

Beginner Corals: The Easiest Species to Keep

When selecting best coral for reef tank, consider the following factors:

– Lighting requirements: Choose coral with similar lighting needs to ensure optimal health for all inhabitants. Soft corals and some LPS corals like low to moderate lighting, while SPS and some LPS corals demand high intensity light.

– Water flow preferences: Place coral with comparable flow requirements in the same area of your tank. Low flow corals should be positioned away from high flow pumps and powerheads. High flow acropora and montipora corals thrive in direct flow.

– Aggressiveness: Group non-aggressive coral together and avoid placing them near more aggressive species to prevent damage from stinging tentacles or overgrowth.

– Growth rate: Fast-growing coral like acropora can quickly overtake slow growers. Place similarly paced coral in proximity for best results.

– Difficulty level: As a beginner, choose hardy, easy to care for coral until you gain more experience. Fragile SPS and some LPS coral demand pristine water conditions and careful feeding.

– Color and contrast: For visual appeal, place coral with complementary colors and shapes together. Contrasting textures also create an attractive reefscape in your tank.

With some research into the characteristics of different coral species, you’ll be able to create a thriving mixed reef tank. Start with a few hardy, easy-to-keep specimens and build from there as your experience grows. Striking a balance between the needs of each addition will result in a healthy, colorful reef.

Advanced Corals for Experienced Reefkeepers

As a new reefkeeper, it’s best to start with corals that are easy to care for until you get the hang of things. Some of the most beginner-friendly options include:

– **Soft corals:** These corals have no hard skeleton and are very hardy and forgiving of water conditions. Popular choices include leathers, mushrooms, and Xenia. Provide medium lighting and flow with weekly feeding.

– **Large polyp stony (LPS) corals:** LPS corals have fleshy polyps and a hard calcareous skeleton. Good starter LPS corals include open brain corals, bubble corals, and hammer corals. Place under moderate lighting and flow and feed 2-3 times per week.

– **Zoanthids:** Zoanthids are colorful mat-forming colonial anemones that do well in a wide range of conditions. They require medium to high light and moderate flow. Feed zoanthids 2-3 times per week for the best expansion and color.

– **Duncanopsammia and Acropora corals:** Certain species in these genera, like Duncanopsammia axifuga and Acropora millepora, are more tolerant of varied water conditions and easier to care for. They need medium to high light, moderate flow, and feeding 2-3 times per week.

By starting with some of the easier corals, you’ll gain valuable experience in keeping your tank parameters stable and providing proper lighting and flow for different coral types. Once you’ve mastered the beginner species, you can move on to more advanced corals with confidence. The key is to go slowly, learn as you go, and enjoy this rewarding hobby!