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Nathans_Reef

Best Sps corals for a beginner?

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Nathans_Reef

I am currently in the planning stages of my second tank! This time its going to be a 20 Gallon tank with a canister filter packed with rock rubble, bio bricks and a pad of filter floss at the top that i will change every couple of days so that the detritus doesnt produce nitrates, The total amount of water in the system is around 25 gallons. 

 

I have always been researching more about corals since i have been in the hobby and i have started to get a good amount of corals in my 6 gallon tank now, they are all soft corals, and i know that they are a lot easier to keep than sps but i try to have the mindset that i am looking after water and as long as i keep all of the conditions right (lighting, flow, water parameters) then the corals i add to the tank will hopefully thrive. So i would say that i am not exactly a beginner in the hobby.

 

I have researched the best sps corals for beginners and i am sure that i might get the same answers but i thought i would just ask if anybody has any sps corals that they think would be suitable for my system and a first time sps owner.

 

 

Edit- I should also mention that i plan to do a water change every two weeks or so and i dont want to make the tank high maintenance, i will probably test my water every week or whenever i do a water change. I will dose all-for-reef when and if necessary.

 

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seabass
1 hour ago, Nathans_Reef said:

i have started to get a good amount of corals in my 6 gallon tank now, they are all soft corals, and i know that they are a lot easier to keep than sps

LPS is generally considered easier than SPS.  I'd probably try some LPS first.  But to answer your question, montipora are probably the most forgiving SPS (and they come in a number of shapes and colors).

 

Soft corals (with maybe the exception of Blue Ridge Coral, Heliopora coerulea) aren't reef-building corals.  Or in other words, they don't have calcium carbonate skeletons.  This is important because stony corals require stable alkalinity (as well as calcium and magnesium) levels.  The consumption of these elements to build their skeletons must be replaced (either through water changes or by dosing).

 

Eventually, water changes alone won't be enough to support larger colonies of SPS corals.  You can monitor alkalinity to determine consumption, because it is consumed the quickest.  However, once you determine that water changes are no longer enough to maintain alkalinity levels, you will need to start dosing alkalinity, calcium, and magnesium.  Stability should be the goal (and not to elevate levels).  When dosing, you are just replacing the consumed elements.

 

In addition to maintaining stable levels, SPS usually require more intense lighting than what is required for soft corals.  Higher flow rates are also usually required.

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Daniel92481
2 hours ago, Nathans_Reef said:

I am currently in the planning stages of my second tank! This time its going to be a 20 Gallon tank with a canister filter packed with rock rubble, bio bricks and a pad of filter floss at the top that i will change every couple of days so that the detritus doesnt produce nitrates, The total amount of water in the system is around 25 gallons. 

 

I have always been researching more about corals since i have been in the hobby and i have started to get a good amount of corals in my 6 gallon tank now, they are all soft corals, and i know that they are a lot easier to keep than sps but i try to have the mindset that i am looking after water and as long as i keep all of the conditions right (lighting, flow, water parameters) then the corals i add to the tank will hopefully thrive. So i would say that i am not exactly a beginner in the hobby.

 

I have researched the best sps corals for beginners and i am sure that i might get the same answers but i thought i would just ask if anybody has any sps corals that they think would be suitable for my system and a first time sps owner.

 

 

Edit- I should also mention that i plan to do a water change every two weeks or so and i dont want to make the tank high maintenance, i will probably test my water every week or whenever i do a water change. I will dose all-for-reef when and if necessary.

 

Montipora, stylophora, pavona, pocillopora, seriatopora, and cyphastrea are some good options for you. You should try some LPS corals first, such as a Duncan or euphyllia.

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burtbollinger

purple stylo

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blasterman

Purple stylo, blue digipora, common pocilopora. All 3 of these are tough SPS that require considerable effort to kill and will tolerate conditions that most LPS wont. 

 

Avoid birdsnests, montipora caps and flame digipora. They require more specific nutrient conditions than the above 3 and should be considered intermediate corals. 

 

I can't stress this enough: you must keep stable nutrients in a small tank or you will fail with SPS - period. Nitrates should be around 10....but can be a bit higher or lower. Not 0...not 50. Phosphates between .03 and .1. If your tank cant handle these levels without blowing up in algae its not mature enough for SPS- period.

 

Water changes remove nutrients from the tank, so if your nutrient levels are low water changes hurt coral. Phosphate is the hard one because in a small tank its typically at 0 due to algae or too high due to over feeding. 

 

Birdsnests and montipora caps for instance can't handle phosphate swings, which is why they are hard to grow in small tanks but thrive in bigger ones. If I let my phosphate get below. 03 my birdsnest corals stop growing immediately. 

 

Calcium between 350-450 and alk between 8-9 ish. These levels aren't nearly as critical as the nutrient levels. 

 

I have a 20L that's wall to wall grapefruit size SPS growing like weeds. I throw montipora in the trash its such a weed.. No water changes in a year. I keep the params at the levels I list and everything thrives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Nathans_Reef

Thanks Everybody for replying, i should have mentioned that i do plan to keep lps first. I will probably get a Duncan frag first then try some small hammer frags or something, once i have a nice collection of corals then i might consider seeing how a small hardy sps frag will do in the tank but only when the tank is stable and mature. Thanks again. 👍

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Jakesaw

@Nathans_Reef 

 

I'm probably newer to hobby than you, and i skipped the soft coral altogether.  Largely b/c softies didn't appeal to me. 

 

I went easy LPS and so far so good ( probably 3 weeks in ).  

 

My ACAN can quickly change appearnce when I blow detrius out rocks / or turn off water flow, but so far going well ( i think ).  Spot feeding left over Mysis / brine every few days. 

 

My Green Candycane has formed a 2nd mouth and is in the process of splitting into two head.  Spot feeding left overs every few days.

 

Frogspawn is somewhat moody but largely looks healthy and happy most of the time

 

Encrusting coral seems pretty happy all the time

 

My 5th coral I don't know what it is, but it's finicky to when it wants to extend polyps.  Thought it was a GSP when I got it, but the local reefer went downstairs to grab it, and i didn't look before bringing up in bag.   I'm pretty sure it's not a GSP, but it's interesting so I'm happy with it.

 

As far as testing, I largely don't do it ( so far ) but I probably should do some weekly testing.  Had a few issues early on from low nutrients, but that's the learning process we all go through in the hobby.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Murphych

Yep skip SPS for a while yet. LPS is great and can accept some decent swings in just about every parameter, I made some decent mistakes over the years and only ever lost 1 candy cane years back due to a.major mis-read on a refractometer

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banasophia

Montipora digitata (forest fire), mint pavona... both fairly easy, but montipora can carry nudibranchs so be sure to dip and plan for a pest eating fish. They are not difficult... I do not test or dose my tank and they do just fine, I do have fairly high flow. 

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banasophia

Here are a couple pics:

D53BCC3B-2938-4500-B6E6-03AAB1FBD050.thumb.jpeg.9747677ced902c3d2baad7b6b18715c8.jpeg
 

63907679-31D4-4C75-A8B2-132FE2343425.thumb.jpeg.cb79a117fa4a1511382f53bcb1eaa534.jpeg

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Zer0

How old is that piece? It looks incredible!

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banasophia
2 hours ago, Zer0 said:

How old is that piece? It looks incredible!

Thanks. I think I’ve had them around a year... I’m sure they would grow much much faster if I actually dosed and tested and did more frequent water changes, but I haven’t really done much with my tanks since the pandemic started... I’ll be fully vaccinated as of this weekend though, so I hope to start spending some time on it now that I can spend more time at my LFSs. Also I’m really a horrible SPS keeper... I accidentally frag them all the time. 

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