10 Corals That Will Add Movement to Your Reef Tank

While building a reef tank, the first thing that you have to do is choose the right corals. Now, there are all sorts of corals out there. But if you are looking for some corals to add some movement and liveliness to your tank, then soft corals are what you should be looking for.

Soft corals are the best options for adding movement to your tanks, such as the Duncan and Sun coral. Even if they do not move on their own, most soft corals will sway along with the water flow, making them seem livelier.

Corals are a tricky component for a reef tank. Depending on the species, they can also be quite expensive. You will need a lot of patience and diligence to make them grow. So, it is vital to choose the perfect coral at the start. With that in mind, I’ll talk about 10 corals that will add movement to your reef tank to help you decide. Now, without further ado, let’s begin.

Best Corals for Generating Movement

It’s not hard to have a lot of movement in your tank if you have a fast enough flow, but having corals that move on their own adds a bit of extra motion. In this list, there will be many corals that are explicitly known for their eye-catching motion and color. Let’s get down to it, shall we?

1. Duncan coral

Duncan coral is a large polyp stony coral. It is one of the best corals in terms of generating movement in the reef tank. Not only is it soft and sways along with the flow, but it can also move its tendrils around on its own.

Duncan corals also happen to be one of the most beginner-friendly corals out there. They are resilient, so you don’t need to worry about them dying out with the slightest bit of negligence.  They can survive under a broad range of water parameters and even in sub-optimal flow and lighting conditions.

Another selling point of this coral is that you can feed them. That’s right! You can directly feed them and provide additional nutrition when they start to fall off. Not only does it provide extra survivability for the coral, but it also makes it generate more movement for your tank.

Duncan corals have the signature fast growth rate that most large polyp stony corals have. It ensures that you don’t need to wait years for it to grow. It will soon provide your tank the liveliness that you want.

2. Tubastraea Sun Coral

Sun corals are bright yellow and almost look like a bunch of moving sunflowers. That’s how they got their name. They are a type of large polyp stony coral.

They open up when they want food, and after feeding, the tendrils will contract inward. They also sway with the flow. So they will have at least some movement at any given time.

One of the main features of this coral is that it does not need a lot of lighting. They aren’t photosynthetic. Which means you need to be extremely careful about feeding them. People often feed these corals too little and cause them to die. So be careful if you plan on keeping them.

It’s a deeper water coral. It can survive with no lighting at all. However, too much lighting can have a detrimental effect on it.

Sun corals are beautiful and generate a lot of movement in the tank. It’s generally not advised for complete beginners because it doesn’t have a supplementary means of producing its food. However, if you can keep feeding it and have a powerful filtration system, there shouldn’t be any problems.

3. Elegance Coral

Elegance corals are another large polyp stony coral. You might be wondering why I’m putting so many stony corals in this list. The reason is, most stony corals are easier to keep, and they are better at coexisting with other tank-mates.

Elegance coral has long tentacles that generate a very harmonious motion. It is very graceful to watch. That’s how it got its name. This stony coral almost resembles an anemone in terms of mobility.

Elegance corals are adaptable to lighting conditions, so you can keep them in any reef tank without worrying too much. Their pigmentation does not change much, no matter what sort of lighting you have. Always place these corals at the bottom of the tank. Preferably on the sand, as that’s where they do best.

Elegance coral’s tentacles can extend way beyond their skeletal base. Even with a skeletal base of 4-5 inches, these corals can extend over a foot in length. So, the polyps are very mobile.

4. Hammer Coral

Hammer corals are from the Euphyllia family. You can identify them by their hammer-shaped tentacle tip. Even though its name sounds very blunt and immovable, I assure you that is not the case.

Hammer coral tentacles are extremely long, and they are very fleshy. As a result, they interact with the water current a lot more than most soft corals. Once they are fully grown, they will always stay in a constant state of motion, as long as you have a decently strong water flow.

Hammer corals are harmless. As a result, a lot of marine pets like to stay in them. You would often see seahorse, clownfish, and goldfish moving under the tentacles of hammer coral. This creates even more movement in the tank.

Euphillia corals, in general, are known for being easy to keep. As a result, both beginners and novices love these corals. It doesn’t have any lofty lighting and feeding requirements, and it can survive in pretty much any sort of parameter as long as it’s not too extreme.

5. Frogspawn corals

This is another coral from the Euphillia family. Frogspawn has been a fan favorite for years now because of its pleasing appearance. To be perfectly honest, they share quite a few similarities with hammer corals, but their distinct tentacles set them apart. They kind of look like clusters of giant frog eggs on a branch.

These corals come in two different varieties. One is the wall variety, which is essentially one large polyp that develops into a large colony. Another is the branching variety, which has a skeleton that branches out into different segments.

Frogspawn corals are among the fastest, if not the fastest-growing, coral in the Euphylliia family. They can multiply pretty fast and consistently. They are also hardy, which shouldn’t be a surprise since they are a type of Euphyllia.

In terms of movement, Frogspawn generates about the same amount of motion as its hammer-headed cousin. However, Frogspawn tends to have slightly longer tentacles, which makes them sway more in the current.

6. Green star polyps

These corals come in different shades of green, so from afar, they kind of look like grass. The polyps extend and develop small, green tentacles surrounding the eye. The tentacles are all soft, and they move around with the flow of water.

Green polyps are an invasive species. They will cover up any rock you place them on. They grow extremely fast too. As long as the conditions are not too bad, they will easily cover the rock you set them on.

Green star polyps are probably the most beginner-friendly corals out there, as they don’t have strict requirements. They grow fast, can live in any lighting condition, and the water parameter doesn’t affect it much. They are also photosynthetic, so you do not need to feed them.

The movement they produce in the tank looks like a grassland being swept by a gentle breeze; needless to say; it is quite pleasing to the eye.

7. Finger Leather Coral

Finger leather coral is a type of soft leather coral. It could be either Sinularia or Nepthea coral. It doesn’t matter which one you get; they are almost identical in looks and behavior.

These corals are shaped like wriggling fingers. They grow into large colonies and should add a lot of motion to your tank. If you need to fill up vertical space in your reef tank, these corals should be your first choice.

Finger leathers are not invasive, and they can peacefully coexist with almost anything. And you only need to feed them once or twice a week. They don’t have any harsh cultivation conditions, so they’re fairly easy for beginners to handle.

Since they are soft corals with extended limbs, they produce a lot of motion in a well-circulated tank. They usually come in shades of blue, purple, and green. You can place them on any rock in the tank, but keeping it close to the strongest flow will net you the best results. Mainly because it allows the coral more motion.

8. Pulsing Xenia

In terms of movement, Xenia is probably the most prominent coral on this list. Most people looking for a lot of motion in their tank would fall in love the first time they are introduced to Xenia. This coral pulses its tendrils on its own even without the aid of water flow.

It looks majestic and beautiful. However, Xenia is a notoriously invasive coral. They multiply faster than almost everything. If you leave them unchecked, they will take over your entire tank. On top of that, these corals are almost impossible to get rid of.

If you really love the motion they generate, then you could keep them, as long as you follow some tips. The first rule about keeping Xenia is that they should always be placed on a separate rock. Place them as far away from other corals and rocks as possible.

Xenia has another annoying trait. It can multiply by generating buds from its body. These buds then float and land everywhere else in the tank. You can circumvent this by catching the buds before they find another place to sprout, or you can prune these buds out from places you don’t want them to grow.

However, they only grow buds once the rock they are on is full. And the majestic pulsing effect of xenia is worth the extra trouble because it adds so much more vitality to a reef tank.

9. Long Tentacle Plate Coral

There are many popular plate corals out there, but they are generally very stationary and do not produce much movement in the reef tank. However, long tentacle plate coral or Heliofungia is an exception.

Most plate corals are solitary bottom dwellers, so you’ll see them on the sand laying around. Heliofungia also follows this trend. However, unlike its calmer cousins, Heliofungia is extremely aggressive and will sting anything it comes into contact with.

They have long, extended tentacles on top of their mushroom-shaped plate. These tentacles are extremely mobile and will sway all the time, generating a lot of movement in your tank. Heliofungia is often mistaken for anemone because of its mobile tentacle and solitary positioning on the sand.

If you want to keep this coral, you need to place it on the sand far away from other corals. Keep in mind, it absorbs water and inflates from time to time. The inflation process increases its effective range by a lot, so consider while placing them.

Heliofungia does best in moderate lighting in reef tanks. They need trace elements in the water, such as calcium, and you need to feed them from time to time. They usually prefer microplankton and brine shrimp.

Even though they are aggressive and somewhat dangerous, they are not an invasive species like pulsing Xenia. As long as you keep them far away from other corals, they won’t cause you any problems. Despite their somewhat crooked nature, they are easy enough to maintain.

10. Torch Coral

Torch Coral is another type of Euphyllia coral. It’s a large polyp stony coral with extremely long tentacles. Torch corals have colors between green and blue, and they have a bead-shaped head. They generally add a lot of movement to any reef tank.

Torch coral does not have a wall variety, unlike its toadstool cousin. The polyps can extend far beyond the skeletal base and create a lot of movement in the tank. However, these corals are sort of hard to keep for beginners.

Torch corals have a bad growth rate, meaning it does not grow very fast at all. On top of that, they are somewhat susceptible to parasites. The parasite problem is often so severe that traditional dipping and cleaning cannot solve the issue. You need to periodically check for parasites on this coral and clean them out.

In terms of lighting, torch corals don’t have strict requirements, but it’s best to keep them in medium light. Too low lighting conditions will hinder its photosynthesis, while too much lighting will stress it out.

Since they are sort of troubled by parasites, it’s better to keep them under strong water flow. Keeping them in stronger flow will also increase the amount of movement they add to the tank. However, try to make sure that the flow isn’t so strong that your coral feels stressed.

How to Introduce New Coral to Your Tank?

Just adding new corals to your tank might not be the optimal choice if you want to ensure their safety and longevity. After you get your desired coral, dip the bag into your tank. This will allow the water temperature of the tank to synergize with the water in the bag slowly. This process ensures that your coral does not get stressed.

Next, you should clear out a suitable space for the coral. Generally, it would be best if you placed all the new corals away from any other corals. Aggressive corals will harm others around them, and peaceful corals will get damaged. So regardless of your new coral’s temperament, always place it away from older ones.

Before you place your coral in the tank, get some pest cleaners and dip your coral in it as the instructions suggest. That will help reduce the chance of your new coral carrying any pest into your tank. Once that’s done, you’re free to start nurturing your coral in the tank.

Conclusion

Corals are an essential component of a reef tank. Softer-moving corals are easier for beginners. They add a lot of movement to the tank making it livelier to look at. However, we all know that some corals are infinitely more expensive than others and have varying degrees of difficulty. So, it’s important to know what you’re getting into before you buy them.

For that, I tried to explain the pros and cons of the 10 best corals that will add movement to your reef tank. Now you can choose which moving coral suits your taste best. Whichever you go for, diligence and patience are a must. Corals need a lot of time to grow, so do not expect a vibrant reef tank right away.

Hope you found what you were looking for in this article. Thanks for stopping by and good luck with your reef tank.

Bart Sprenkels

I have been keeping multiple aquariums since I was 18 years old. Just like many of you, I started with two goldfish but quickly learned they were not suitable for aquariums. Later, I switched to a tropical community tank and I also have two pet musk-turtles in a bigger aquarium. You can read more about me here.

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