There are quite a few SPS corals that you can get for your reef tank. While it is true that LPS corals are comparatively easier to take care of, with proper knowledge, you can get your fish tank to shine with SPS corals too.
Keeping this in mind, we are going to review some of the SPS corals that you can get and we will also see the ways with which you can keep these corals in your home aquarium.
So, without wasting any more time let us get into the review and see some of the best SPS corals for you!
What is an SPS Coral?
Well, if you are a newbie then, it is crucial to understand the underlying idea behind SPS corals.
SPS stands for Small Polyp Stony. A polyp is the individual unit of all corals, it’s shaped like a cylinder with two ends; foot and mouth.
Commonly, SPS corals are considered to be the ones that are a bit difficult to keep while LPS corals are seen as easy to keep corals.
But that is not the case anymore. Recent discoveries have suggested that an average person can totally take care of an SPS coral as well.
Many species like hydnophora and acrophora are commonly kept in aquariums all over the world.
SPS corals tend to take cover reef flats in turbulent waters. They need high light levels.
Stable temperatures and impeccable water quality are some other features crucial for SPS corals.
In terms of supplements, they need a good supply of calcium, strontium, and other trace elements.
Ideal SPS Tank Parameters
To keep SPS corals, your tank should meet some requirements. As we all know that SPS corals aren’t really great to adapt to change, it must be made sure that these corals get a proper environment to flourish. To do this, the following criteria must be met:
The total salt dissolved in the water is referred to as “Salinity.” The salinity of the water is measured by Specific Gravity. If the readings are high then the salt in the water is more. The needed water level is somewhere around 1.020 to 1.028 Specific Gravity.
Temperature is a crucial factor for your SPS corals. Since SPS corals are pretty inflexible when it comes to their environment, it is necessary to have the water temperature at around 79 to 84 degrees. We must try to replicate the actual water surroundings
SPS corals cannot survive in Impure water, the kind of impurities that can plague SPS corals are Nitrates and Phosphates. Therefore, these impurities need to be checked regularly.
The nitrate level recommended is below 5 ppm and the phosphate level is 0.03 ppm. High phosphate level can reduce the coral calcification while high nitrate feeds algae and dinoflagellates.
As with any other living organisms, Corals need food too. The best coral food should supply all the macro and micro nutrients that are essential for healthy coral growth and coloration.
One of the main things to remember though is that food causes the increment in Phosphates and Nitrate level in your tank. To get rid of the excess amount of nutrients you need to install a protein skimmer.
The water itself in the tank can get dirty after a while. So, you should have your filtration system in place and also do some regular water changes. That will make sure the tank doesn’t get any impurities.
Required Equipment To Successfully Keep SPS Corals
Some of the best equipment that you can use to successfully keep SPS corals are given below:
RO/DI and Auto Top Off
Saltwater’s Quality determines if your tank is good enough for SPS corals. Since SPS corals are pretty difficult, it is hard to keep the water quality intact without a quality RO/DI System.
As there are contaminants and compounds that need to be removed, a good water filtration system becomes a necessity. If you are lazy to change water on a weekly basis, it is important that you replace the water for evaporation with an Auto Top Off system.
Protein Skimmers are used to remove leftover food from the water. Organic materials are removed by these skimmers and they also add oxygenation to the water.
There are quite a few ways to light up your tanks, equipment for lighting are discussed below:
Metal Halide: Metal Halides gives a really good shine to the water and it seems pretty natural which is beneficial for the SPS corals.
T5: SPS love T5, it’s our personal experience. One thing that’s a bit annoying about T5 is that it needs frequent bulb replacement. Aside from that, T5 are the way to go if you don’t have Metal Halide.
LEDs: LED lights are very much popular these days because they are comparatively cheap and produce astonishing results. Intensity, spectrum etc are easy to control in a LED lighting system.
You heard us right, one requirement for SPS corals is the Salt too, there is plenty of salt manufacturers around.
Each of these manufacturers claim that they produce the best salt but that’s a debate we can’t really answer.
Some people tend to use cheaper salts while some prefer expensive ones. It really depends on your budget and liking.
We would recommend getting a salt that has high consistency and is of quality. Don’t get a salt riddled with impurities.
5 Best SPS Corals For Beginners
Stylophoras are also called Stylos. They are available in a wide range of colours. The most common colours are green, purple and pink. They are pretty bright and they can also grow. It is a good idea to give them proper space to let them grow. A Tyree rainbow stylo is the perfect Stylo that you can buy.
2. Montipora Digitatas
The corals belonging to the Montipora genus is comparatively easier to take care of. These corals can be seen in bright colours such as orange, green and even purple. They have delicate branches. ATL Forest Fire Digitata and Tubbs Stellate Montipora are some of the widely kept versions of this coral.
3. Birdsnest Corals
With unique colours like neon green and pink, the Birdnest Corals are definitely some of the best corals that you can buy. They can grow in weeds pretty quickly and there are two types of Birdnest corals; one sporting sharp tips and the other is rounded tips. ”
4. Green Bali Slimer
Green Bali Slimer, as the name suggests is green in colour. It is a branching coral with bright colours and it grows fast as well.
5. Montipora Caps
Another coral from the Montipora gene, the Montipora Caps need a large area to grow. If you have a colony of Montipora Caps then, your Aquarium will have a really great feel to it. The caps also help you create intriguing colour patterns.
Some Common Issues With SPS Corals (with solution)
There are a few issues that can be seen with SPS corals. SPS corals can’t handle extreme conditions. They need pure water, good space and proper nutrition.
They also have to be fed in the proper time and you should take proper care. Even if you do these things, there can be problems such as bleaching.
Coral Bleaching occurs in coral when they react with dinoflagellates like Zooxanthellae. Bleaching is the release, rejection or loss of zooxanthellae from the coral tissue.
How are corals bleached?
Zooxanthellae are produced in a limited amount and a coral can eject zooxanthellae. When it happens, the corals get bleached. Although this doesn’t happen very often, it is still a possibility and thus regarded as a major issue with the SPS corals.
How to stop Coral Bleaching?
There are certain things you can do to somewhat stop corals from bleaching.
For instance, the best solution is to give a proper amount of nutrients to the coral. Giving such nutrients will repopulate zooxanthellae. It will also provide zooxanthellae in the form of least energy requirement. so that a good supply of nitrogen is dissolved in the water.
High nitrogen level benefits the coral as it helps in the recovery process. Many aquariums already have an ample amount of nitrogen and it won’t really need any increment.
Coral bleach happens because of the stress for the corals. So you need to avoid stressing your corals at any cost. There are many factors that may cause stress like temperature, salinity, water parameters etc.
Additional Read: How To Frag Corals
SPS corals is not a primary choice as they can be a bit hard to take care of. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t fill your tank with them.
As these corals look awesome, they are an excellent choice for your aquarium.
Yes, Bleaching is a very visible effect but that can be solved if you take proper care of your tank.
So, yeah If you really want to keep SPS coral, being an amateur won’t really be a factor. You can definitely get the corals that we have covered in this article.