Keeping corals in a healthy aquarium might make beginner saltwater aquarists a bit nervous but with recent technology and knowledge about how to be successful with these beautiful creatures, it’s easy even for beginners to keep corals in a saltwater aquarium.
There are many easy to care for and hardy low light corals that are perfect for beginner aquariums.
When we talk about low light, we are talking about fluorescent lighting with few bulbs or some inexpensive low output LED options. Find out which low-light corals will be perfect for your aquarium with the list below.
Polyps, Mushrooms, Soft Corals or Leathers
The easiest corals to care for are Polyps, Mushrooms, Soft Corals, or Leathers. They prefer low lighting in the 50-150 PAR range.
Most of these species don’t require too much effort to maintain and are fast-growing which allows you to quickly add color and movement to the tank.
Button Polyps (Protopalythoa sp.) come in various colors and are an excellent choice for a beginner reef tank hobbyist.
They will survive under low light (2-4 watts of light per gallon) but they will thrive with higher intensity lighting. They also do best when placed near the bottom middle of the tank.
They are easy to raise and do not require supplementary feedings. They also get along well with other corals and tank inhabitants but if they are not kept in check, they may overgrow a tank.
The green and brown Button Polyps are inexpensive but if you are looking for color morphs or various bright-colored Button Polyps, they will cost more.
Green Star Polyps
Green Star Polyps are great for beginners because they are very hardy and easy to care for and maintain.
They will do well in intense as well as low-level lighting and different water flow intensities.
They also make great indicators of water quality and will close their polyps quickly if they are unhappy with the water conditions.
Green Star Polyps are fast spreading and can grow too large for your tank and may take over the territory of other corals if there is not enough room. They require similar lighting and placement as the Xenia (#5 in this list)
Toadstool Leather Corals
Leather corals are easy to care for and are popular due to their less demanding nature. They are hardy and will thrive in most water quality and do best in low to moderate lighting.
Commonly referred to as finger leathers, cabbage corals, toadstool corals, and mushroom corals. These corals will grow quickly and get very large but will stay put and not bother any other tank inhabitants in a reef tank.
Mushroom corals come in various ranges of colors and textures. They will grow under 3 watts of light or less with low water movement. Too much water movement will not allow the mushrooms to fully expand.
They love being placed near the bottom of your tank or in a dark and shady spot. They are very hardy and will be able to tolerate less than ideal water conditions. Because they are semi-aggressive, they will require ample room between other inhabitants.
Sometimes referred to as the ‘pulsating’ Xenia because of its soft fleshy polyps, which will pulse and pump open and close. The Xenia is a wonderful coral that makes for a beautiful centerpiece in any reef aquarium.
They do best in low-medium light (3-4 watts of light) and prefer to be placed halfway up the tank. They have a rapid growth rate and may bud and transfer rock to rock which may disrupt other corals and be hard to remove.
Kenya Tree Corals
The Kenya Tree Coral is very hardy and does well in only 3 watts of light per gallon. It’s popular because of its tree-like appearance and elegant looks that add movement to the aquarium by gently swaying in the current. It has some pretty basic colors usually in the range of cream to brown with hints of green.
It is not a demanding coral and it is difficult to kill. It is a great indicator of water conditions and it will let you know when the water parameters need a check-up by closing up.
LPS Corals (Large Polyp Stony) corals are large calcareous corals with big fleshy polyps. Some LPS will require a bit more effort to care for because they have a calcium-based structure and therefore, it’s important to have steady water change cycles.
Here are some LPS Corals that grow well with low light, (PAR 50- 250 range) low to medium water flow and are easy for beginners to take care of.
Its name is derived from its appearance. It has hammer or anchor-shaped tentacles. It comes in a rainbow of colors such as green, yellow, brown, and tan. They come in two skeleton forms: wall and branching.
Branching Hammer Corals will grow upwards and out to the sides whereas wall Hammer Corals will grow outwards and only to the sides.
They will sting other corals so they must be placed where they will have enough room to grow.
Sun Corals get their name from their bright orange and spherical appearance. They also come in monochrome colors and black and white. They will do well in most types of light including low light.
They may be a little more difficult to maintain as they will require frequent feedings and must be fed while their tentacles are expanded, which happens most frequently at night. Their beautiful color and hardiness make them a popular choice for beginner hobbyists.
Candy Cane Corals
The Candy Cane Coral is often referred to as the Torch, Bullseye or Trumpet Coral. They come in a variation of colors ranging from vibrant green, blue, brown, and yellow.
They have short tentacles that will come out at night. They require low to medium light (4-watts) and will do well when placed in the middle or top of the tank. It’s a hardy coral but it will require calcium to grow successfully.
The Frogspawn Coral will do well in low-moderate light (4 watts of light per gallon). As you can see from the image above, the Frogspawn Coral acquired its name from the way its tentacles resemble a cluster of frog eggs.
Their tentacles extend during the day and provide nice movement to the reef. Because they are aggressive and have long tentacles, they will sting corals that encroach on their territory.
The Blasto Coral comes in some spectacular color variations. The Blasto Coral Blastomussa Wells is a more desirable species due to its colors that include yellow, green, purple, pink, red, and blues. They have a peaceful temperament, require low water flow, low light intensity, and are easy to care for.
With these low-light corals, it’s also important to know that the water conditions must be kept stable. As mentioned above, when water conditions are not to the preferences of your corals, they will let you know by either not growing successfully or closing up their polyps.
In order to keep corals successfully, you will need to make sure that you: have done the proper research about each different coral you plan to keep, know the water parameters required, and know whether or not they would be compatible with other species of corals and fish in your tank.
What’s Your Experience?
Have you had any experience with any of the easy low light corals listed above? Or do you have any suggestions to add to the list?
Please feel free to let us know in the comments section below.
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