The Definitive Guide to Keeping Corals in Your Aquarium

Even Beginners Can Keep Coral Reefs Happy and Healthy

Not everyone has the opportunity to go deep sea diving where they can see the stunning colors and shapes of coral reefs. With a bit of effort though, anybody can have a reef aquarium with a stunning selection of corals in their home. Keeping corals in an aquarium can get complicated, but it is 100% worth the effort. By following this basic guide, even beginners will be able to successfully maintain coral in their tank.

Corals Are Sensitive Creatures

Just like a human being, corals need basic things like food, water, and light to survive. To help them thrive, it is important to try to mimic their natural conditions as much as possible. Corals survive happily in natural seawater, so once they are taken out of it, it is important that their new environment be as similar as possible to that which they are accustomed.

1. To Feed or Not to Feed?

There is a lot of debate about this in the aquatic community. The truth is that some corals almost always need to be fed and some don’t. Your best bet is somewhere in between. Start by only keeping corals suited to beginners, such as a variety of button polyps, green star polyps, mushroom leather corals, and finger leather corals. Give them small quantities of coral food when the lights are out and their polyps are extended. As your collection grows, so will your knowledge about their food needs.


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2. Light

Different corals also have different needs when it comes to light. In nature, it depends on how deep they are located in their natural ocean environment. Generally, softer corals need less light than harder corals. If you stick to the beginner corals mentioned above, you’ll be okay with reasonably bright light. A high intensity LED setup with around five to nine watts for every four liters is about right. Speak with the person you buy the coral from for more specific instructions.

3. Water Conditions

What is an aquarium without healthy water? It is crucial that aquarium water have the right amount of nutrients, elements, and trace minerals to allow the corals to process food, grow, and reproduce. Salinity, calcium, magnesium, and alkalinity levels have to be maintained and kept as stable as possible.

Optimum levels are around:

  1. Salinity – 1.024 to 1.025 (32 to 33 ppm)

  2. Calcium – 400 to 450 ppm

  3. Magnesium – 1250 to 1350 ppm

  4. Alkalinity – 6 to 11dKH

Don’t stress too much if the numbers are not spot on; this is far from an exact science. It’s also important to note that corals should be in water that is somewhat turbulent so that their food can get to them and so that any developing mucus can be washed off.

Do You Have Coral Fingers?

Some people believe that taking care of corals is similar to looking after plants. People with “green fingers” just seem to have great luck with plants without too much effort. Something similar may apply to corals. While some people struggle to care properly for these beautiful aquatic creatures no matter how hard they try, others are able to keep them with minimal effort. In any case though, the best overall advice is to start out slowly and only add more once your aquarium is stable and your corals are thriving. And don’t forget to research and read as much as possible on the subject.


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