Corals encompass a broad and interesting range of species. Some of the most popular corals for beginners in the saltwater aquarium hobby include LPS corals; which is simply an acronym for large polyp stony corals.
There are a few SPS corals (small polyp stony corals) that are also recommended for beginning enthusiasts, but these require a lot more care than their large polyp stony coral relatives.
Difference Between LPS vs SPS Corals
The main defining differences between an LPS coral and an SPS coral are (obviously) the difference in the size of their polyps, and the difference in their light and food requirements.
The larger the polyps on the coral are, the easier it is for the coral to feed appropriately. This is because the polyps on the coral contain the incredibly tiny organism known as zooxanthellae, within their tissue.
This zooxanthellae; or photosynthetic algae; provides the coral with food; but only if there is enough light absorbed through the polyps.
Why LPS Corals?
Large polyp stony corals are popular amongst beginner aquarists for several different reasons.
They require far less light than many other species, and therefore require less expensive lighting equipment for their aquarium set up.
They are far more likely to breed or successfully fragment in captivity than small polyp stony coral are.
They require less maintenance, such as; water changes, chemical adjustments, temperature regulation, etc… This is not to say however that they are easy to care for.
Like any salt water marine animal, these LPS corals are rather sensitive and will not thrive unless all of their needs are met consistently.
10 Easy LPS Corals to Start With
I’ve constructed a short list of very aesthetically pleasing, easy to care for, large polyp stony corals that are great for beginners. Don’t feel limited by this list by any means however; as there are dozens of others that are equally easy to establish and care for.
There is a lot of research involved in putting together a well balanced, healthy salt water coral aquarium. This list is just a helpful starting point for those who have enough knowledge that they’re prepared to just jump right in and get started.
Final Words on LPS Corals
It should also be noted that your tank must be set up and have a healthy, well established eco system before you begin placing corals of any kind in the aquarium.
You may have to adjust things like water turgor, flow and quality after placement of your large polyp stony corals; they require careful observation during their settling period. If they do not colonize, keep an eye on them to make sure that they are not damaging or harming one another.
Many species have long ‘sweeper’ tentacles covered in cytoplasts that they use to clear the area around them and establish their territory.