The coral is the key to a saltwater reef tank and what makes it a reef tank. Our natural coral reefs have been formed over millions of years and there is a strong appeal of capturing a small bit of this beautiful part of nature in the home aquarium. We have broken down the corals in the 3 main types in order of difficulty to keep, with Soft corals being considered the easiest and SPS hard corals being the hardest to keep, this is just a generalisation though and research should be done with all corals before you consider purchasing them to keep. If you just want to browse all types we have also grouped together all marine coral profiles in one place for you too.
We have grouped all soft corals including Zoa, Mushrooms and Leathers together. Often thought of as more aimed at the beginners to the hobby of keeping corals, soft corals are generally the hardiest however doesn’t mean they are not as popular and shouldn’t be considered even by the most experienced aquarist. They will offer good movement to the tank and can come is vibrant and exciting colours.
The Large Polyp Stony Coral (LPS Hard Coral) group is generally larger calcareous corals with large fleshy polyps than the SPS hard corals. The amount by which the tentacles extend depends upon the amount of food the coral is taking as well as the water flow and lighting in the aquarium. The LPS hard corals keep other corals away and out of their area with long sweeper tentacles. Considered to be slightly harder to keep than Soft Corals but not as difficult as LPS corals, some are accessible to the novice hobbyist and are a good stepping block to the finer details of reef keeping.
Most Small Polyped Stony corals (SPS Hard Corals) have small polyps on a calcareous skeleton. In many instances they are either branching or plated. For the most part the SPS hard corals are considered more difficult to keep than the LPS Hard Corals or Soft Corals due to their sensitivity to conditions and change and are recommended for intermediate or expert aquarists only.