Best Corals for Beginners (Soft, LPS, SPS)

corals for beginners

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I bet you searched on the internet to find out the answer to one question. What are the best corals for beginners? 

Or was it cheap beginner corals? Easiest corals to keep? Best hardy corals for your first reef tank?

It doesn’t matter. 

In this article, you will find the answer to the ultimate question. 

Is coral keeping for you?

Learn how to make that decision, and how to get started if you decide to get into this rewarding and fulfilling hobby. To help you achieve that, I’ve put together this beginner guide. It’s full of information and advice about keeping corals. 

Whether you are a beginner reefer or experienced saltwater aquarium hobbyist yet to dive into coral keeping, this guide will give you all the knowledge you need to be successful. 

Before we dive into our list of best corals for beginners, let’s talk briefly about general coral care.

Keeping Corals for Beginners 

It’s used to be hard to keep corals alive in home aquariums. People back then didn’t have the right information or knowledge about taking care of corals as we do today. 

Keeping corals was only an option for people with extreme knowledge, people willing to experiment and people with bigger budgets. Even if you were interested and eager to learn more, you couldn’t find reliable information about keeping corals. 

However, the situation has changed. Today, more than ever, people are getting involved in the coral keeping hobby. And it’s never been easier. With all the available information about these marine animals, the real question emerges. Why not? 

Different types of corals have different requirements. However, they all have one thing in common. Let’s take a look at what you need to know to successfully keep corals.

Water Parameters

It’s no secret that every reef tank needs to have stable water parameters in order to sustain the life of corals. What are the optimal water parameters, you might ask? In general, you want to be in between these numbers. 

  • Temperature between 75F and 79F
  • pH between 8.2 and 8.4
  • Specific gravity at 1.023 to 1.025
  • Alkalinity between 2.1 to 2.5 meq/L
  • Calcium between 400 to 450 ppm

And of course, ammonia, nitrates, and nitrates at 0 ppm. Some of these elements can be replaced with regular water changes, which you should do anyway. In some cases, depends on what kind of and how many corals you have in the tank, you need to add additional supplements. 

Compatibility 

Compatibility is another important aspect of the reef keeping hobby. Some types of corals can live with each other, others can’t. Be careful, and always research before you purchase a new coral. For example, most of the LPS corals are quite aggressive. It’s advisable to keep them apart at least 6 inches to avoid problems. 

Water Flow 

In the wild, most of the corals live in turbulent waters. If you want to have success in taking care of them, you need to replicate those conditions in your home aquarium. Corals need high water flow and the reason is simple. 

Higher water flow brings more food to the corals, it prevents algae outbreak and most importantly it keeps the corals clean from detritus. However, keep in mind that too much flow can have negative effects, as well. Moderation is the key. 

Lighting & Placement 

You can’t keep corals without lighting. It’s their primary source of food. Different types of corals have different lighting requirements. The same principle applies to Coral Placement.

Feeding 

In general, corals don’t need additional feeding. The lighting in your aquarium will be sufficient. However, some types will benefit from additional feeding, and they will see accelerated growth.

What are the easiest corals to start with? 

I put all the beginner corals in their representative groups, which you can see below in this article. It’s just easier to differentiate them from each other. Every coral has a short description followed by a link to the complete care guide. However, if you are interested only in finding out what are the easiest corals to start with, then here it is. The ultimate list of corals for beginners. 

Top 10 Best Beginner Corals

 

  1. Zoanthids 
  2. Toadstool Coral
  3. Green Star Polyps 
  4. Mushrooms 
  5. Duncan Coral 
  6. Sinularia Leather 
  7. Pulsing Xenia 
  8. Candy Cane Coral 
  9. Frogspawn Coral
  10. Bubble Coral

Soft Corals for Beginners 

Soft corals are ideal for everyone interested to start with the reef keeping hobby. It’s the most recommended type of corals by more experienced reefers, often referred to as the best corals for beginners. The name comes from the fact that they don’t have calcium carbonate skeletons, like the other types of corals such as LPS and SPS. In general, they are peaceful corals. Here are some of the most beginner-friendly soft corals.

LPS (Large Polyp Stony) Corals for Beginners 

People love LPS corals for many different reasons. They have an unusual appearance, they add movement to the tank and most importantly they are great beginner corals. 

What’s the difference between Soft and LPS corals? Unlike soft corals, the LPS corals are larger calcareous corals with large fleshy polyps. They are also known as one of the most aggressive corals. Here are some of the most beginner-friendly LPS corals.

SPS (Small Polyp Stony) Corals for Beginners 

SPS corals are known as one of the most difficult corals to keep in a home aquarium. They are major reef builders in the ocean and belong in the group of stony corals just like the LPS. These types are not recommended for beginners, however, for the sake of this guide, here is the most beginner-friendly SPS coral. 

Where & When To Buy Corals 

If you want to save yourself from headaches down the road, you need to buy healthy specimens from reputable sources. I can’t stress enough how important this is. Especially for beginners. 

In this section of the article, you’ll learn all the necessary steps you need to make, which will help you in the final buying decision. Let’s get started.

Visualize Your Ideal Reef Tank

Why is this step so important, you might ask? 

It’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? Before you purchase any coral, you need to know what type of a reef tank you want to have. Do the corals you want to keep are compatible with each other? Do all the corals have similar caring requirements? 

Those are questions you must take into consideration if you are serious about keeping corals. Now, after you’re done with the initial step, let’s take a look at the second important thing. 

Choosing the Right Time to Introduce the First Coral 

You’ve made the plan, and now you know what types of corals you are going to keep. Excellent. However, that’s the easiest step, even though it takes some time to learn about coral compatibility. Now, you need to pay close attention to what stage your aquarium is. 

Don’t buy corals if your tank is not cycled yet! It will go bad both on the coral’s health and your budget. Even if it’s cycled, wait until it stabilizes and it’s mature enough to handle corals. In my opinion, the best time to introduce corals is after six months. 

You can start earlier if you want, of course. There are hardy, easy to keep corals that can survive in less than ideal conditions and many hobbyists have had success starting early. But, why to rush things out. Be patient, set the tank properly, and I am sure you’ll have success in no time. 

Find a Reputable Source to Buy Corals 

The last but not the least step is finding a good place for buying corals. In general, you can go in two directions. Buy online, or buy from fish stores. Both ways have their own pros and cons, which will discuss it below in this article. 

Local Fish Stores 

Local Fish Stores are the backbone of this hobby. A long time before the internet existed, those were the only places where you could find corals. Even though the online shops have overtaken them, there are still exceptional fish stores out there.

How can you distinguish a good fish store from a bad one? 

In general, a good store will have high hygiene standards, they’ll have quarantine tanks for the newly imported corals and will sell mostly aquacultured corals. Those are the most important qualities you must search for when looking for a good fish store. 

Buying Corals Online 

Nowadays, buying corals online is the most convenient way for a lot of people. And we can see why? Buying online has never been easier. You can browse from one to another shop in a matter of seconds. Despite all the benefits, buying online has one con. You can’t see the corals in person. Some of the pictures may not represent the corals in true lights. That’s why it is so important to buy from online websites that already have a great reputation.

How To Acclimate Corals

You’ve ordered some corals online and finally, they arrived. Or you were in a fish store and you bought them in person? It doesn’t matter. 

Now, it’s time to proceed to one of the most important steps. It’s the time when your actions will determine whether you will be successful or not in keeping corals. However, don’t worry. 

This process is straightforward and once you’ll learn the procedure you will never forget it. 

Corals are fragile animals and can easily get stressed out until they arrive at the desired destination. Your job is to acclimate them slowly, and then put them in the tank as soon as possible in order to avoid any unnecessary health issues. 

Turn the lights off 

Before they’ve arrived in your home, they probably have been in complete darkness for a whole day. You don’t want to shock the corals by introducing them in a tank where the lighting is on, with full intensity. Turn the aquarium lights off, and slowly increase the intensity so the coral can adjust to the new environment. 

You can also place them at the bottom of the tank and then slowly increase their position based on the coral reaction. 

Temperature, Salinity & pH 

Corals are sensitive animals. Slight fluctuations of the temperature, salinity and the pH of the water can have an effect on their health. Place them in a container and slowly add water from your tank. 

The whole process will take you a time of approximately 30 minutes from start to finish. You might think it’s not worth the effort, but believe me, it’s something you need to do if you want to have success keeping corals. 

The final step, of course, is releasing the corals in your aquarium.

Conclusion 

Once you become a reefer there is no coming back. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. From the day you buy your first coral, your wallet will never be full again. The addiction is real. 

Just kidding, of course. Even though there is a lot of truth in that statement, keeping corals will be one of the most rewarding and fulfilling hobbies you’ll ever have. I can assure you that. 

After all, who wouldn’t enjoy having a part of the ocean in their homes. 

There is a lot to learn from these amazing creatures, as well. The way they live, their interesting behaviors and most importantly the effect they have on our lives. Coral reefs provide food to millions of people. 

And what’s the best way to learn all of this information, then from keeping them at our home aquariums. Not to mention the fact that the reproduction of corals in captivity can dramatically increase the chance to restore the coral reefs, which are declining at alarming rates. 

We are wrapping this article out, and now, I like to hear from you. Are you ready to dive into the coral keeping hobby? If it’s yes, what’s going to be your starter coral?

And, of course, what’s your definition of the best beginner coral? 

Leave a comment in the comment section below.

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