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    SPS/LPS Hard Corals 101 (With Pictures!)

    SPS/LPS Hard Corals 101


    Stony corals are characterized by having a calcareous skeleton. There are many genera of stony corals, ranging from hardy and easy to keep to demanding and difficult to keep alive in captivity. Some will thrive under low to medium lighting (Tubastrea, Platygyra) while others require high lighting and flow (Pocillopora, Acropora).
    Generally speaking, the stony corals are more difficult to keep and more demanding of water quality, especially chemistry, than the soft corals.
    Stony corals are often categorized using the terms "SPS" and "LPS". In fact, these generalizations are manufactured and do not have a real bearing on the specific corals in question.
    The SPS corals, or Small-Polyped Stony corals, have the reputation for being the most difficult to keep, demanding excellent flow and lighting, stable tank conditions, and pristine water quality.
    However, many exceptions apply. Some of the easier-to-keep SPS corals include some species of Montipora, Porites and Pavona. More difficult SPS corals include Acropora, Stylophora, Seriatopora and Pocillopora.
    Overall, wild-collected specimens prove to be the most difficult to keep, requiring a lengthy adjustment period to captivity and a greater likelihood of suffering from Rapid Tissue Necrosis.
    Captive-propagated SPS corals, on the other hand, seem to be much hardier than their wild-collected counterparts.

    Furthermore, with each generation of captive-propagated corals, the hardiness seems to increase, and fewer numbers of wild specimens are being caught, which helps to preserve natural reef bodies and oceanic ecosystems.

    LPS, or Large-Polyped stony corals, are beautiful and varied corals including the open brains, the euphyllids (including the Torch, Hammer, Frogspawn and Bubble corals) the closed brains, the mussiidae (including acanthastrea, blastomussa and micromussa) and many others.
    Oftentimes, LPS corals are the next step an advancing hobbyist takes after successfully keeping some of the hardier soft corals. The largest difference in husbandry comes with lighting requirements (generally being much higher), and having to pay closer attention to the calcium and alkalinity of the tank water, and supplement accordingly, either with 2-part Ca/Alk additives, Kalkwasser or a Calcium Reactor.
    Stony corals require appropriate levels of calcium and alkalinity in the water, and also remove these from the water, in order to grow and build their calcareous skeletons. Furthermore, Magnesium has an effect on these levels in the water and may need to be monitored and adjusted accordingly.





    Methods of controlling calcium and alkalinity levels include:
    • Two-part supplements: These are easy to use and convenient, but may be quite expensive long-term in larger tanks.
    • Kalkwasser: An excellent solution, though it requires more work from the reef aquarist.
    • Calcium Reactors: Expensive and potentially difficult to dial in. If misused they may also lead to tank crashes. However, when used properly, CA reactors add a level of stability and control not possible with the other methods.
    In addition to those, there are severl other elements and supplements which must be added to the aquarium containing SPS and LPS hard corals. Below you will find a list of essential supplements for maintaining a healthy and thriving reef. Kent Marine is an excellent manufacturer of these supplements and carries an entire marine line of the below elements and supplements.

    * Strontium
    * Molybdenum
    * Iodine
    * Iron
    * Trace/Essential Elements
    * Calcium
    * Pro Buffer dKH

    And a few foods which these corals depend on outside of photosynthesis;

    * Micro-Vert
    * Phytoplex
    * Coral Vite
    * Coral Accel
    * Zooplankton
    * Baby Brine Shrimp
    * Chromaplex

    Kent Marine also carries a full line of these micro-foods for the fine filter feeding corals. Baby Brine Shrimp is packaged by several manufacturers and can easily be obtained through most local fish stores fresh or salt.

    While generally speaking, Calcium, Strontium and Trace/Essential Elements are the most "in demand" elements these corals require, it is important to remember that in order for an overall healthy reef system, one must take in the full spectrum of natural elements found within oceanic ecosystems and replicate accordingly, as each of the above play their role and are vital in their own right.

    There are several hard corals which are readily available and popular in the hobby, but to list each and every one of them would be excessive for your average reef enthusiast as several not listed below are of the more rare and/or expensive, and exceptionally difficult species for even the experienced aquarist to obtain and raise.




    COMMON SPS CORALS



    Birdsnest Coral
    (Seriatopora hystrix)
    Care Level: Difficult
    Temperament: Peaceful
    Lighting: High
    Waterflow: Medium
    Placement: Middle to Top
    Water Conditions: 72-78 F, sg 1.023-1.025, pH 8.1-8.4, dKH 8-12
    Color Form: Pink, Orange
    Supplements: Calcium, Strontium, Trace Elements
    Origin: South Pacific
    Family: Pocilloporidae
    The Birdsnest Coral is also referred to as Seriatopora Bird's Nest, Needle, Finger, or Brush Coral. It is a small polyp stony (SPS) coral with very delicate, thin branches with needle-like tips. It is found in a variety of shades of pink. These are very delicate, but beautiful corals that offer a variety of shape and bright coloration to a reef aquarium. The Birdsnest Coral needs strong lighting and moderate water current to maintain its bright colors. For continued good health, it will also require the addition of calcium, strontium, and other trace elements to the water. While it does not require additional food to maintain its health in the reef aquarium, it will feef on micro-plankton and foods designed for filter feeding invertebrates.




    Cauliflower Coral, Pocillopora
    (Pocillopora damicornis)
    Care Level: Moderate
    Temperament: Semi-aggressive
    Lighting: High
    Waterflow: Strong
    Placement: Middle to Top
    Water Conditions: 72-78 F, sg 1.023-1.025, pH 8.1-8.4, dKH 8-12
    Color Form: Pink, Red, Green, Sometimes Orange
    Supplements: Calcium, Strontium, Trace Elements
    Origin: Eastern Asia, Fiji
    Family: Pocilloporidae
    The Pocillopora Cauliflower Coral is a SPS coral that is also referred to as Bird's Nest, Lace, Cluster, or Brush Coral. The appearance of the colonies with polyps extended actually gives this species its more common name, Cauliflower Coral. They have a very fuzzy appearance, and are a very colorful addition to a reef aquarium. The most common colors are brown and pink.
    It is a semi-aggressive coral and adequate room for expansion should be provided between itself and other corals. The Pocillopora Cauliflower Coral can be difficult to acclimate to the aquarium, but once established, becomes quite hardy for an SPS coral, and may grow rapidly. Provide enough space between this and other corals to allow for this growth. It requires a high light level combined with strong water movement, and good water quality. For continued good health, it will also require the addition of calcium, strontium, and other trace elements to the water.
    Its diet should include additional feedings of micro-plankton or other micro-foods twice a week.




    Spiny Cup Pectinia Coral
    (Pectinia sp.)
    Care Level: Difficult
    Temperament: Peaceful
    Lighting: Moderate
    Waterflow: Medium
    Placement: All
    Water Conditions: 72-78 F, sg 1.023-1.025, pH 8.1-8.4, dKH 8-12
    Color Form: Blue, Green, Tan
    Supplements: Calcium, Strontium, Trace Elements
    Origin: Indo-Pacific, South Pacific
    Family: Pectiniidae
    The Pectinia Spiny Cup Coral is a SPS coral, also referred to as a Lettuce, Hibiscus, Palm, Carnation, or Cabbage Coral. They form cabbage-like colonies with ruffled branches that terminate in very sharp points. The coloration within these corals vary, and typically darken towards the center of the colony. They add a unique form and presence to a reef aquarium.
    Its behavior is peaceful and can be placed in close proximity to other peaceful-natured corals. The Pectinia Lettuce Coral is not a coral for the novice reef keeper as it is moderately difficult to maintain. Its home will require medium lighting combined with a medium water movement. For continued good health, it will also require the addition of calcium, strontium, and other trace elements to the water.
    It will benefit from additional food in the form of micro-plankton or other foods designed for plankton feeding animals, and should be fed when its tiny tentacles are visible during the evening.




    Pavona Coral
    (Pavona decussatus)
    Care Level: Moderate
    Temperament: Semi-aggressive
    Lighting: Moderate to High
    Waterflow: Strong
    Placement: All
    Water Conditions: 72-78 F, sg 1.023-1.025, pH 8.1-8.4, dKH 8-12
    Color Form: Green, Tan
    Supplements: Calcium, Strontium, Trace Elements
    Origin: Indian Ocean
    Family: Agariciidae
    The Pavona Coral is a small polyp stony (SPS) coral, and is referred to as the Cactus, Potato Chip, or Lettuce Coral. Its common name "cactus," comes from its appearance which resembles that of a cactus. These corals form thin plates as branches that are covered with polyps giving it a fuzzy appearance. Its color varies from shades of light and dark brown to green with cream or white margins. They have a fluorescent glow that can be seen beneath the polyps, giving these corals an interesting look.
    Usually SPS corals tend to be more difficult to care for when compared to LPS corals. Once established, though, the Pavona Coral is fairly hardy but requires a moderate to high light level and strong random currents within the aquarium. Calcium, strontium, and other trace elements should be added to the water for its continued good health.
    It will benefit from additional food in the form of micro-plankton or brine shrimp fed in the evening when its tentacles are visible.




    Montipora Coral, Encrusting
    (Montipora nodosus)
    Care Level: Moderate
    Temperament: Peaceful
    Lighting: Moderate
    Waterflow: Medium
    Water Conditions: 72-78 F, sg 1.023-1.025, pH 8.1-8.4, dKH 8-12
    Color Form: Green, Orange, Blue/Purple, Pink/Red
    Supplements: Calcium, Strontium, Trace Elements
    Origin: Solomon Islands
    Family: Acroporidae
    The Montipora Encrusting Coral is a small polyp stony (SPS) coral often referred to as Cabbage, Lettuce, Velvet, or Velvet Rock Coral. The Montipora Corals come in a vast variety of forms and colors. This variety is encrusting, and is green in color. The polyps of these corals are very small, giving it a velvety appearance.
    The Montipora Encrusting Coral is peaceful and can be placed in close proximity to other similar peaceful corals in the reef aquarium. It is moderately difficult to maintain and should be housed in a mature reef aquarium. It will require medium lighting combined with a medium intermittent water movement within the aquarium. For continued good health, it will also require the addition of calcium, strontium, and other trace elements to the water. It will also benefit from additional food fed weekly in the form of micro-plankton or foods designed for filter feeding invertebrates.




    Cup Coral, Turbinaria
    (Turbinaria sp.)
    Care Level:Moderate
    Temperament:Peaceful
    Lighting:Moderate
    WaterFlow:Medium to Strong
    Placement:Bottom to Middle
    Water Conditions:72-78 F, sg 1.023-1.025, pH 8.1-8.4, dKH 8-12
    Color Form: Green, Tan, Yellow
    Supplements: Calcium, Strontium, Trace Elements
    Origion: Eastern Asia, Fiji
    Family: Dendrophylliidae
    The Turbinaria Cup Coral is a small polyp stony (SPS) coral. Corals may be bright yellow, green, brown, gray, or cream. Depending on the conditions that it is exposed to, it can grow horizontally or vertically. species may be referred to as Pagoda, Turban, Vase, Bowl, or Scroll Corals. The genus name, (cone-shaped) because it usually grows in a conical or cup shape while living on the reef. It may also be found in the form of cups, ruffled ridges, plates, vases, or scrolls. Although the
    Turbinaria sp. vary in the amount of care they require. Those that are highly convoluted or have thin plates are the most difficult to care for. It is a peaceful reef inhabitant and does not bother other corals that are placed in close proximity to it. However, it should still be provided with ample space away from other corals because it does grow quickly. It will require moderate lighting combined with moderate water movement within the aquarium. For its continued good health, it will also require the addition of calcium, strontium, and other trace elements to the water.
    It will benefit from additional food in the form of brine shrimp or plankton.




    Acropora Coral
    (Acropora sp.)
    Care Level: Difficult
    Temperament: Peaceful
    Lighting: High
    Waterflow: Strong
    Placement: Middle to Top
    Water Conditions: 72-78 F, sg 1.023-1.025, pH 8.1-8.4, dKH 8-12
    Color Form: Blue, Pink, Purple, Green, Yellow
    Supplements: Calcium, Strontium, Trace Elements
    Origin: Fiji, Tonga
    Family: Acroporidae
    There are many different species of Acropora corals with many different growth forms. The most common growth form imported into the country is bushy in appearance with short, compact branches. The branches of this coral will remain relatively short, and will form secondary branches as it grows. Occasionally, other growth forms like table top, bottle brush, staghorn and others will be imported, but are in high demand.
    The ideal conditions for the Acropora coral is an established reef aquarium with bright lighting provided by preferably intense metal halides. They can also thrive under multiple T-5 or compact fluorescents if placed high in the aquarium. Under the right conditions, the growth rate of the Acropora coral is much more rapid than most of the other corals found in an established reef aquarium.
    To maximize their growth rate, it is imperative to maintain a high pH, alkalinity and calcium levels, and to keep phosphate and nitrate levels as close to zero as possible. If conditions are ideal, it can also be cultured and grown into a new colony from living fragments or broken pieces.
    Along with lighting and water quality, Acropora corals prefer strong, intermittent water flow within the aquarium. This is best accomplished with a wave-maker and multiple power-heads.
    Acropora corals receive a majority of their nutritional requirements from photosynthesis, but will benefit from the addition of various types of phyto and zooplankton.






    COMMON LPS CORALS




    Candy Cane Coral
    (Caulastrea furcata)
    Care Level: Easy
    Temperament: Peaceful
    Lighting: Moderate
    Waterflow: Medium
    Placement: All (Depending on strength of lighting)
    Water Conditions: 72-78 F, sg 1.023-1.025, pH 8.1-8.4, dKH 8-12
    Color Form: Green, Tan, pink/purple
    Supplements: Calcium, Strontium, Trace Elements
    Origin: Fiji
    Family: Faviidae
    The Caulastrea Candy Cane Coral is a large polyp stony (LPS) coral often referred to as the Trumpet, Torch, Candy, or Bullseye Coral. Its genus name, Caulastrea, comes from the Latin kaulos (stalk), and aster (star) describing its skeletal structure consisting of tubular stalks with stars on each tip. The plump circular polyps are vibrant green, yellow, or blue and brown, with the Candy Cane Coral from Fiji being a brilliant translucent green to teal and brown, and each tip is white. Under actinic light its colorful polyps will stand out from most other corals. It is hardy and a relatively peaceful reef inhabitant, with very short sweeper tentacles. It requires moderate lighting and moderate water movement, along with the addition of calcium, strontium, and other trace elements to the water.
    It will benefit from additional food fed weekly in the form of brine shrimp or micro-plankton.




    Elegance Coral
    (Catalaphyllia jardinei)
    Care Level:Moderate
    Temperament: Aggressive
    Lighting:Moderate
    Waterflow:Low to Medium
    Placement:Bottom
    Water Conditions:72-78 F, sg 1.023-1.025, pH 8.1-8.4, dKH 8-12
    Color Form: Green, Purple, Red, Yellow, Blue
    Supplements: Calcium, Strontium, Trace Elements
    Origin: Australia, East Asia
    Family: Caryophylliidae
    The Catalaphyllia Elegance Coral is often referred to as Elegant Coral, Wonder Coral, or Ridge Coral. It is truly the most unique and interesting stony coral known. Its polyps are extended during the day showing off its vast array of color-tipped tentacles. Under actinic lighting, the fluorescent qualities are beautiful with lime green, blue, orange, or purple-tipped tentacles which vary between branched or round and bulbous shapes. The most common color variety available to aquarists is gold with pink or purple-tipped polyps. The Catalaphyllia Elegance Coral is moderate to maintain in the reef aquarium and makes an excellent choice for the beginner to expert hobbyist. Provide ample space in the aquarium between it and other neighboring corals as it will expand to twice its usual size during the day and will sting other corals in close proximity to it. It is best to place the skeleton of the coral into a soft substrate. The soft substrate is less likely to irritate the fleshy underside of the coral when compared to the rockwork. Clownfish may accept this coral as its host if no anemone is present. Use caution when handling, as it is very fragile and can also sting its handler.
    Ideal reef aquarium conditions for the Elegance Coral should include moderate lighting with moderate water movement. For continued good health, it will also require the addition of calcium, strontium, and other trace elements to the water.
    It will benefit from additional food fed daily in the form of micro-plankton or brine shrimp.



    (Closed Coral, Polyps Receded)

    (Coral open, Polyps Extended)
    Tube Coral, Orange
    (Tubastrea aurea)
    Care Level: Moderate
    Temperament: Peaceful
    Lighting: Low
    Waterflow: Medium to Strong
    Placement: Bottom
    Water Conditions: 72-78 F, sg 1.023-1.025, pH 8.1-8.4, dKH 8-12
    Color Form: Orange, Pink
    Supplements: Calcium, Strontium, Trace Elements
    Origin: Eastern Asia, Fiji
    Family: Dendrophylliidae
    The Tubastrea Orange Tube Coral may be referred to as the Orange Cup Coral. Its genus name, Tubastraea, is derived from the Latin words tubus (tube) and astron (star), describing its skeletal structure which is tubular, with stars at the tip of each tube. The center skeleton is round with the tubes branching off in all directions. It is a colonial coral with a peach-orange coloration when open; it is a more delicate color than its relative T. faulkneri which is bright orange. In the wild, it is often found on reef ledges or steep reef slopes. The Orange Tube Coral can be quite fragile and must be handled with extra care. When placing in the aquarium, it must be picked up by its underside. It should have moderate to high water current combined with low lighting levels. It will also benefit from the addition of calcium, strontium, and other trace elements to the water. It is a hardy coral for the reef aquarium, but is classified as moderate because of the special care that it requires.
    It is one of the few corals that does not contain a symbiotic algae, so it must be fed vitamin-enriched brine shrimp or micro-plankton from an eye dropper directly to each one of its polyps. It will usually only expand its polyps in the evening or when it is hungry.




    Torch Coral
    (Euphyllia glabrescens)
    Care Level: Moderate
    Temperament: Aggressive
    Lighting: Moderate
    Waterflow: Medium
    Placement: Bottom
    Water Conditions: 72-78 F, sg 1.023-1.025, pH 8.1-8.4, dKH 8-12
    Color Form: Green, Tan, Yellow
    Supplements: Calcium, Strontium, Trace Elements
    Origin: Indo-Pacific
    Family: Caryophylliidae
    The Euphyllia Torch Coral is often referred to as Trumpet Coral or Pom-Pom Coral. It has long and flowing polyps with single rounded tips which are visible throughout the day and night, hiding its branching skeletal base most of the time. It may be brown or green with yellow on the tips of its tentacles. The yellow will sometimes appear to glow under actinic lighting. Provide plenty of room between the Euphyllia Torch Coral and other sessile animals, since at night, its sweeper tentacles can extend up to several inches from its base and sting other coral species. It is moderately difficult to maintain, but it is a popular coral that will thrive under proper conditions and excellent water quality parameters. Ideally, it needs to have moderate lighting combined with moderate water movement within the aquarium. Its aquatic home will also require the addition of calcium, strontium, and other trace elements to the water for its continued good health. It will also benefit from additional food fed weekly in the form of micro-plankton or brine shrimp.



    Bubble Coral
    (Plerogyra sinuosa)
    Care Level: Easy
    Temperament: Aggressive
    Lighting: Moderate
    Waterflow: Low to Medium
    Water Conditions: 72-78 F, sg 1.023-1.025, pH 8.1-8.4, dKH 8-12
    Color Form: Green, White, Pink/Blue undertones
    Supplements: Calcium, Strontium, Trace Elements
    Origin: Fiji
    Family: Caryophylliidae
    The Bubble Coral is a beautiful LPS coral that originates from the reefs of Fiji. It has a white-ridged hard skeleton that can be seen when the polyps are deflated. When inflated, the large fleshy polyps will cover the entire skeleton, and are neon green or pearly white in color, and can have a variance of undertones ranging from pink to blue. Like many other LPS corals, they do posses sweeper tentacles that can harm other corals within reach.
    Bubble Corals require a moderate level of lighting combined with low to moderate water movement in the aquarium. Too much water flow may impede the coral from fully expanding. The fleshy polyps of Bubble Corals are very fragile and will puncture easily. Be careful when handling these corals, to only handle them by the hard skeleton. Because they can form long sweeper tentacles, be sure to provide plenty of room to prevent damage being done to its neighbors. For continued good health, it will also need the addition of calcium, strontium, and other trace elements to the water.
    It will benefit from additional food fed weekly in the form of brine shrimp or micro-plankton



    Tooth Coral
    (Galaxea spp.)
    Care Level: Moderate
    Temperament: Aggressive
    Lighting: High
    Placement: Mid to Upper
    Waterflow: Medium
    Water Conditions: 72-78 F, sg 1.023-1.025, pH 8.1-8.4, dKH 8-12
    Color Form: Green, Pink/Red, Tan, Black, Blue undertones
    Supplements: Calcium, Strontium, Trace Elements
    Origin: Eastern Asia, Fiji
    Family: Oculinidae
    The Galaxea Coral is a large polyp stony (LPS) coral and often referred to as the Tooth, Star, Crystal, Starburst, Brittle, or Galaxy Coral. Its genus name, Galaxea, is derived from the Greek word galaxaios (milky), describing the polyp's milky-white tips. While bright green is the most common, some species can be found in a variety of colors. It is an aggressive coral in the reef aquarium, and therefore, needs adequate space between itself and other corals. Its polyps can extend up to several inches at night and will sting and cause damage to other species of corals that it can reach. The Tooth Coral requires strong lighting combined with moderate water movement within the aquarium. For continued good health, it will also require the addition of calcium, strontium, and other trace elements to the water.
    It requires additional food in the form of micro-plankton or brine shrimp twice a week.





    (Full shot under dim natural sunlight)

    (Close up of polyps/tentacles under metal halide lighting)
    Slipper / Tongue Coral
    (Polyphillia sp.)
    Care Level: Easy
    Temperament: Aggressive
    Lighting: High
    Waterflow: Medium
    Placement: Bottom
    Water Conditions:
    72-78 F, sg 1.023-1.025, pH 8.1-8.4, dKH 8-12
    Color Form: Green, Tan, Pink/Purple undertones
    Supplements: Calcium, Strontium, Trace Elements
    Origin: Indo-Pacific
    Family: Fungiidae
    The Polyphyllia Slipper Coral is a large polyp stony (LPS) coral often referred to as the Tongue, Mole, or Hairy Tongue Coral. Its genus name, Polyphyllia, was derived from the Greek words polys (many) and phyllon (leaf), which describes the leafy shape of its calcareous skeleton. Colonies of this species are often long and narrow, and arched or flat in profile, hence the common name "slipper" or "tongue." It is usually brown, but may also be cream or green. The Polyphyllia The Slipper Coral is a solitary, aggressive coral with short tentacles tipped in white which can inflict serious damage to other corals in which it comes in contact. A preferable location would be on the bottom of the reef aquarium, lying on a fine sandy substrate, with adequate space between it and its neighbors. It is easy to maintain in the reef aquarium, which makes it an excellent candidate for the beginning through expert reef aquarist. It will require bright lighting combined with moderate water movement, and the addition of calcium, strontium, and other trace elements to the water.
    It will benefit from additional food fed weekly in the form of micro-plankton or brine shrimp.





    Frogspawn Coral (Branched)
    (Euphyllia paradivisa)
    Care Level: Moderate
    Temperate: Aggressive
    Lighting: Moderate to High
    Waterflow: Medium
    Placement: Bottom
    Water Conditions:
    72-78 F, sg 1.023-1.025, pH 8.1-8.4, dKH 8-12
    Color Forms: Green, Tan, Pink undertones
    Supplements: Calcium, Strontium, Trace Elements
    Family: Caryophylliidae
    The Frogspawn Coral is a large polyp stony coral (LPS) often referred to as the Wall, Octopus, Grape, or Honey Coral. Its polyps remain visible throughout both the day and night, resembling a mass of fish eggs or frog eggs, hence one of its common names Frogspawn. Its coloration is green or brown to tan in color. With its appearance and coloration it would make a nice addition to any reef aquarium. During the evenings, its sweeper tentacles can extend up to six inches beyond its base into the reef aquarium surroundings. It will sting other neighboring corals in the reef aquarium, therefore, it is best to leave plenty of room between itself and other types of corals. It is moderately difficult to maintain, but it is a popular coral that will thrive under the proper conditions. It will need to have moderate to heavy lighting combined with moderate water movement within the aquarium. For continued good health, it will also require the addition of calcium, strontium, and other trace elements to the water.
    The symbiotic algae zooxanthellae hosted within its body provides the majority of its nutritional requirements from photosynthesis. It will also benefit from additional food in the form of micro-plankton or brine shrimp.








    Hammer / Anchor Coral
    (Euphyllia ancora) Care Level: Moderate
    Temperament: Aggressive
    Lighting: Moderate
    Waterflow: Medium
    Placement: Bottom to Middle
    Water Conditions: 72-78 F, sg 1.023-1.025, pH 8.1-8.4, dKH 8-12
    Color Form: Green, Tan, Yellow
    Supplements: Calcium, Strontium, Trace Elements
    Origin: Indo-Pacific
    Family: Caryophylliidae
    The Hammer Coral is a large polyp stony (LPS) coral and often referred to as Euphyllia Hammer Coral or Anchor Coral. Its common names are derived from the appearance of its hammer-, or anchor-shaped tentacles. Its polyps are visible throughout the day and night and hide its skeletal base. It may be green, tan, or brown in color, with lime green or yellow tips on the ends of its tentacles that glow under actinic lighting. Some varieties may be branched which makes them look similar to a Torch Coral (E. glabrescens).
    It is moderately difficult to maintain, but with proper water conditions in the aquarium, it will thrive. It will require moderate lighting combined with moderate water movement within the aquarium. At night, its sweeper tentacles can extend up to six inches in the reef aquarium, stinging other species of corals and animals. Allow plenty of room between it and other neighboring corals. For continued good health, it will also require the addition of calcium, strontium, and other trace elements to the water.
    It will benefit from additional food fed weekly in the form of micro-plankton or brine shrimp.



    (Pink)..........................(Green)...................... (Red)

    Flower Pot Coral (Goniopora sp.)
    Care Level: Difficult
    Temperament: Aggressive
    Lighting: High
    Waterflow: Medium to Strong
    Placement: Bottom to Middle
    Water Conditions: 72-78 F, sg 1.023-1.025, pH 8.1-8.4, dKH 8-12
    Color Form: Red, Yellow, Green, Pink, Tan, White
    Supplements: Calcium, Strontium, Trace Elements
    Origin: Indonesia
    Family: Poritidae
    The Flower Pot Coral is often referred to as Goniopora Flower Pot, Ball, Daisy, or Sunflower Coral. The flower names refer to its appearance when all of its polyps are opened. It takes on the visage of a bouquet of flowers. The color forms are always bright, and illumination by actinic lighting will highlight its true beauty. Once open, the Flower Pot Coral is a gorgeous hard coral with free-flowing short or long polyps, depending on maturity.
    It is aggressive, and ample space should be provided between itself and other neighboring corals. Its polyps can extend far past its base into the reef aquarium, where they can sting other species of corals. Clownfish, will often play in its polyps if no anemone can be found in the reef aquarium. This may actually be detrimental to the coral.
    Goniopora sp. require PERFECT water conditions, the proper trace elements and the habitat must match its requirements. In general, the Red form of the Flower Pot Coral does better in an aquarium than other Gonipora sp. However, any damage to the meaty section of the Flower Pot Coral almost always means a lost specimen. One can only do this Goniopora Coral justice by leaving its care to the experienced hobbyist with the expertise and time to keep the coral properly.
    The symbiotic algae zooxanthellae hosted within its body provides the majority of its nutritional requirements from photosynthesis. It should be fed phytoplankton or brine shrimp several times weekly.





    Fox Coral
    (Nemanzophyllia turbida)
    Care Level: Easy
    Temperament: Peaceful
    Lighting: Low to Moderate
    Waterflow: Low
    Placement: Bottom or Lower Levels
    Water Conditions:
    72-78 F, sg 1.023-1.025, pH 8.1-8.4, dKH 8-12
    Color Form: Green, Tan, White, Soft Pink Undertones
    Supplements: Calcium, Strontium, Trace Elements
    Origin: Indo-Pacific
    Family: Caryophylliidae
    The Nemenzophyllia Fox Coral is commonly referred to as Jasmine Coral, or Ridge Coral. Its calcareous skeleton is very fragile and needs extra care when placing it between rocks in the reef aquarium. It is a peaceful coral that lacks visible tentacles during both day and night. Its polyps are white to pale green and are quite large, extending two to three times the width of its skeleton during the day. The Nemenzophyllia Fox Coral is an easy coral to maintain, making itself a great candidate for the beginning through seasoned reef aquarist. It requires moderate lighting combined with low water movement within the aquarium. For continued good health, it will also require the addition of calcium, strontium, and other trace elements to the water. It will also benefit from additional food fed weekly in the form of micro-plankton or brine shrimp.




    (Closed Plate Coral)

    (Plate Coral Open)
    Plate Coral, Short Tentacle(Fungia repanda)
    Care Level: Easy
    Temperament: Semi-Aggressive
    Lighting: Moderate
    Waterflow: Low to Medium
    Placement: Bottom
    Water Conditions: 72-78 F, sg 1.023-1.025, pH 8.1-8.4, dKH 8-12
    Color Form: Green, Pink, Purple, Tan/Orange
    Supplements: Calcium, Strontium, Trace Elements
    Origin: South Pacific
    Family: Fungiidae
    The Short Tentacle Plate Coral is often referred to as a Disk, Mushroom, Chinaman, Fungia Plate, or Tongue Coral. It comes in a variety of colors, some very bright. They are very hardy corals that do not require intense lighting nor water flow.

    It is a solitary, semi-aggressive coral with shorter tentacles than its cousin the Long Tentacle Plate Coral (Heliofungia sp.). Even with short tentacles, it can still damage other corals that it comes in contact with. With placement in the aquarium, keep in mind that it will often inflate itself with water and expand to twice its size. It will do best on the bottom of a reef aquarium, preferably lying on a fine sandy substrate. The Short Tentacle Plate Coral is easy to maintain in the reef aquarium and makes an excellent candidate for the beginner reef aquarist. Care should be taken in handling it however, to prevent damage. It requires moderate lighting combined with moderate water movement within the aquarium. For continued good health, it will also require the addition of calcium, strontium, and other trace elements to the water. It is ideal to feed Plate Corals a few times per week with brine or mysis shrimp, and small chopped meaty foods. Only offer food when the polyps of the coral are fully extended.





    Brain Coral, Favites (Favites spp.)
    Care Level: Easy
    Temperament: Aggressive
    Lighting: Moderate
    Waterflow: Medium
    Placement: All
    Water Conditions: 72-78 F, sg 1.023-1.025, pH 8.1-8.4, dKH 8-12
    Color Form: Green, Orange, Red, Tan, Yellow
    Supplements: Calcium, Strontium, Trace Elements
    Origin: Indo-Pacific
    Family: Faviidae
    The Favites Corals are often referred to as Moon, Pineapple, Brain, Closed Brain, Star, Worm, or Honeycomb Coral. They are the most common and prolific coral in the world, and are very similar to the genus Favia, sharing many of the same common names, and sometimes being very difficult to differentiate. Favites Corals are found in various color forms and polyp shapes. "Pineapple Coral" is the name commonly given to those that have smaller circular patterns.
    The Favite Corals are aggressive, expanding their sweeper tentacles at night well beyond the base. It is important to leave space between them and neighbors in the reef aquarium. Maintenance for the Favite Corals is relatively easy, making them excellent choices for the beginner to expert hobbyist. They require moderate lighting combined with moderate water movement within the aquarium. For continued good health, calcium, strontium, and other trace elements should be added to the water. It will also benefit from the addition of supplemental food in the form of micro-plankton or brine shrimp, fed twice per week in the evening while its tentacles are visible.







    Sources: Myself, Jstor, basic coral profiles from LiveAquaria.com, modified by myself when applicable, Multiple Internet Sites for Pictures including photobucket.com and reefcentral.com, Cross-reference searches for accuracy provided by several sites, Aquaticcollection.com, Reefkeeping.com, FLMNH, Collegues, and mbayaq.org.





  2. #2
    NZ Storm-Trooper-Mod #2 water_baby83's Avatar
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    Let me know if there are additional corals you would like highlighted within this sticky. Thanks.



  3. #3
    Redtailed Catfish cassharper's Avatar
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    very nice article! Something even us reef n00bs could understand!
    Quote Originally Posted by Aqua Sanctuary;3572322;
    Im starting cat escort service based on the sucess of today.
    Quote Originally Posted by rmorse;3616452;
    I love meat.


    Wait, that doesn't sound right.



  4. #4
    Bluegill
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    i like this article,its a good guide when getting new stock
    but i wonder what exactly its means by aggressive ,peaceful ,etc
    i mean with what , the fishes ,the keeper or the other corals .



  5. #5
    All Gr8KarmaSF's fault.... Reefscape's Avatar
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    Aggressive usually refers to how it will react to other corals that are placed within distance of stinging tentacles.



  6. #6
    Bluegill
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    so i'll have to make the aggressive ones a lil bit separated from the others to make sure it won't reach them ?



  7. #7
    All Gr8KarmaSF's fault.... Reefscape's Avatar
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    Spot on dude....else you'll be having chemical warefare in there....LOL



  8. #8
    Exodon
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    "Methods of controlling calcium and alkalinity levels include:
    • Two-part supplements: These are easy to use and convenient, but may be quite expensive long-term in larger tanks.
    • Kalkwasser: An excellent solution, though it requires more work from the reef aquarist.
    • Calcium Reactors: Expensive and potentially difficult to dial in. If misused they may also lead to tank crashes. However, when used properly, CA reactors add a level of stability and control not possible with the other methods."


    Regarding methods for "controlling calcium", there are two that I would recommend:

    Live sand
    Kalkwasser top-off

    Both methods are quite easy to implement if you follow the basics.

    Live sand - Create a "plenum" in your tank or in a "refugia" tank connected to your main tank. With either method, use a 4+ inch deep sand bed. Over time, the calcium from the sand will dissolve and "calcify" (buffer actually) the water. There's a lot of information about "deep sand bed" or "Jaubert method" or "plenum". Google's your answer. I would never use either method without sufficiently researching it.


    Kalkwasser top-off - The "automated" way to top off your fresh water and ensure your corals thrive:

    You'll need a box (you could build it out of whatever or buy something), a solenoid valve, a float switch, two timers, a freshwater supply line, a Reverse Osmosis filter, a powerhead and some plumbing. Start by connecting the solenoid to your house's water supply. Then connect that to the in-line of the RO filter. The RO filter's water is plumbed into the "box" which you'll fill up with fresh (RO) water. In the bottom of the "box", add a sufficient quantity of "kalkwasser powder".

    Set the timers so that a couple hours after your tank lights go off, the timer on the RO unit opens the solenoid valve. IF the float switch in your sump indicates that your tank needs to be "topped off", then the fresh RO water is allowed to flow into the "box" (near the bottom). At the top is an "overflow" pipe which runs by gravity to your sump (or tank).

    There should be enough time during the non-lighted hours to properly top off your tank. Be sure to make the size of the "box" larger than the amount of water you'll be needing.

    After the timer shuts off the top-off part of the system, the second timer turns on a powerhead in the "box". This stirs up the powder at the bottom of the "box". That powerhead only needs to run for a short time (enough to stirr up the powder). When that powerhead shuts off, the kalkwasser powder will settle and the calcium-rich water will be ready to go into your tank the next evening when the top-off timer turns on.

    This system not only adds calcium, but also buffers the pH in the evening when your lights are off.

    There's a lot of info online about these processes. So do your homework! It was a lot harder learning this stuff in the early 80's without the internet I can tell you!



  9. #9
    Darter
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    can these go in freshwater?



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