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Coral types and requirements, A simple guide.

If you are a newcomer to this fascinating hobby you might not realize that there are many types of corals available for your aquarium. You firstly need to know why and how they are different, also what this means to the amount of time you will need to spend caring for them.

Soft corals.
These are the easiest corals to keep in your reef aquarium and ideal for the beginner. These corals generally have a leathery texture to them and have no skeleton structure to them. They rely on photosynthesis to grow. These and many others corals have an algae present called zooxanthellae. Both the coral and the algae rely on each other, if one was not present the other would simply die. So in order to keep these corals you will need lighting such as T8's or T5's will be more than adequate.

Examples of Soft corals include: zoas, button polyps, mushrooms, ricordias, toadstools and more.

Hard corals.
These make up the majority of the remaining corals but come in two forms LPS and SPS. Large polyp stony and small polyp stony. Both types consist of a skeleton type structure this makes them much more demanding and require stable water parameters in magnesium, alkalinity and calcium. without this the coral will simply die and all that will remain is the skeleton.

LPS or Large poly stony corals are some of the nicest corals available with amazing colors and interesting features. These corals Have a fleshy appearance some have tentacles, some almost flower like in appearance, many have branching formations. Some just appear flat and have little if no movement at all.
Most LPS corals require feeding as well as stable conditions. Good lighting is also required. T5 minimum right through to metal halide, although many reefers are now keeping these corals under LED lighting. Medium to strong flow is best for these corals.

Examples: Torch, hammer coral, Duncan's, brains, scollys, acans, favia, and many more.

SPS, Small polyp stony corals have a skeleton like LPS, but have tiny polyps on their tree, branch like appearance.  These corals require strong lighting like LPS but need strong flow to help them thrive. You will soon learn when keeping these that extra equipment such as a calcium reactor or balling light salts will be needed to keep up with their consumption of alkalinity and calcium. If a newcomer to the hobby i would avoid these until you understand these corals and the methods for maintaining their needs.

Examples: Acroporia, montiporia, and more.

To conclude this article, I would have to suggest starting at the top and working you way down as experience and understanding progress. This is a simple, tip of the iceberg type article that should help guide your way  to the basic types of corals available. There are many more that maybe covered in future articles.


Usman said…
Great information. Excellent for beginners.
Mike said…
We have been asked to conduct a review on coral diseases in the wild and those within aquarium, we do however need some photographs of these specific diseases' and those predicted to be the casual agents of said disease/syndrome.
Therefore this is a call to anyone who has high quality photographs from the list below to aid in the review;

A list of the photographs we require are below;

1. White syndrome in aquarium
2. Vibrio harveyi
3. Brown Band Disease in the field
4. Helicostoma ciliate sp.
5. Brown Jelly Syndrome
6. Cyanobacterium responsible for black band
7. red slime algae in aquarium
8. Cyanobacetrium responsible for red slime algae
9. red bugs Tegastes acroporanus in the wild
10. close up of T. acroporanus
11. red bugs in aquarium
12. Acropora Eating Flatworm (AEF) in aquaria
13. flat worm infested coral, Wamineo sp.

Obviously all photographs will be acknowledged in full, please attach the reference you would like us to use and if you would like to aid substantially in the review this would also be welcome as co-authorship.

Please email any figures and attached refs to As high res photographs as possible would be desirable

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