by: Cameron McMath
So, you’ve started a saltwater tank and you’re looking to make the jump to a coral reef. First ask yourself, “is my tank ready for this kind of animal?” You have the right lighting, the proper salt, enough live rock and the tank has been running for at least a week… so now where do you start building your very own reef?
When we talk about corals in reef aquaria, there are hundreds of different types and species of coral with new ones being discovered and/or created all the time. (Created? What?) To simplify things, we talk about corals in two main groups: soft corals and hard or stony corals. When starting your first reef tank, the soft corals such as zoanthids, mushrooms, etc. are your doorway to the wonderful world of reef keeping. Most soft corals do not have a bony skeletal structure, and so are able to grow more quickly and tolerate a wider range of water parameters.
Take for example the Green Star Polyp. Fast growing and very hardy, this soft coral does well in most areas of the tank. In truth, it tends to grow so quickly it’s best contained to specific areas/rocks in the tank. It’s adaptability and great coloration make it a great frag to dip a toe in with.
Another relatively easy and fast growing group of coral for beginners and pros alike are the mushrooms. Vibrant and bouncy, mushrooms capture the attention of both novices and seasoned experts alike.
One final newbie coral to send you out into the wide world of reef keeping… the zoanthids. This is where the funky names and mind boggling color combinations start to come out the rockwork. From Rastas and Sunny D Zoas to Armageddon and Utter Chaos and everything in between. Just watch out, as some zoanthid types can be harmful to you. You should always ask questions about an animal before purchasing it, both to take care of that life but also to protect yourself and the rest of your reef community.
In our previous blog we stressed the importance of thinking ahead, for corals will take up as much space as you give them. For this reason, it is important not to go crazy adding a bunch of fast growing corals into your tank from the get-go. As corals grow you will need to trim and cut back so as to avoid encroachment, so choose wisely and do your research before diving in head first to the fragging community!