Corals are known for their exotic shapes and highly pigmented colors. These live specimens are truly diverse and come in all types of variations and breeds. So, it is no wonder that so many marine aquarists have gotten into the hobby of reef keeping! Corals liven up your tank space and create a beautiful and expressive aquarium aesthetic.
Still, if you have been a reef keeper for many years, you might be looking for something a little different to put in your reef tank. In this post, I’ll introduce you to some of the best SPS corals. These coral specimens are great for experienced reef keepers and will help keep your tank lively and exciting! So, keep reading to find out which coral you might put in your tank next!
1. Red Dragon
The Red Dragon, also known as the Tyree Red Dragon, is a newer coral type. It has gained much buzz over the last few years. In particular, its unique thin branching pattern and deep fuchsia color made it especially popular when it was first released.
Red Dragon is a type of deep water Acropora coral. This means that it is found in deeper water levels than most acro corals. As a result, lower lighting can be applied to this coral type. Still, some reef aquarists have been able to grow the Red Dragon in a higher light environment.
Overall, Red Dragon is an ideal option for experienced reef keepers. It has a smooth texture mixed with splashes of white, and it does not have too many polyps. This makes for an attractive combination of colors and shapes.
This breed is more widely available than it used to be, and the price point for a frag of Red Dragon is not too bad. You will have to experiment and figure out which light settings are right for your coral, as this can be a finicky breed of coral. Still, the unique look and branching pattern of this coral make it an amazing find for any coral lover.
BTW: if you’re looking for a list of corals that are a bit more forgiving and suitable for beginners, you can also check out my list of 15 beginner friendly corals right here.
2. ORA Pearlberry
The next coral I will be talking about is another popular SPS breed for experienced reef keepers. ORA Pearlberry, like the Red Dragon, is a type of Acropora coral. And, it is one of the most popular types of SPS coral.
ORA Pearlberry has some of the most beautiful colors among corals. It comes in striking blue and purple tones that are rich in some areas and lighter in others. Pearlberry thrives in high levels of light. However, you can also place this coral in a medium-light setting if you want to.
Just know that ORA Pearlberry can be highly difficult to frag and propagate. So, this type of coral is better left to an experienced reef keeper. This is because the Pearlberry has very short growths that can be hard to properly cut for a full-size colony.
In addition, Pearlberry takes time to grow and fully establish itself in a tank. Especially if you are putting it in as a frag. In truth, this breed requires patience, skill, and knowledge. Still, this makes it a great coral if you know what you are doing!
The Pearlberry can grow in a lot of different patterns, as well. It all depends on how you place your coral really and the type of flow your tank has. But, I would recommend putting your coral in the center of your tank with high flow. This way it grows more circular and uniform!
3. Tyree Purple Monster
Tyree Purple Monster has a truly different look in comparison to most corals. Its unique name also describes this coral type quite well. It has thick lumpy branches that contain an abundance of white polyps.
The combination of its many growths makes it look like it could be the appendage of a fictional monster. This is not to say that this coral is by any means ugly. It just has a different aesthetic in comparison to other coral breeds.
In terms of care, though, like the other corals on this list, Purple Monster is not easy to manage. So, again this is another good option for reef keepers with prior experience. Purple Monster grows slow and needs the right tank conditions to truly flourish in its tank.
You want to have a high-power lighting fixture this way Purple monster grows to its fullest extent. In addition, this SPS coral needs high flow. If you want, I also suggest adding in additional food or nutritional supplements to your reef tank. This will make the
Purple Monster grow a little bit faster and fuller.
All in all, if you want a deeply pigmented purple coral with a cool growth pattern I highly suggest the Purple Monster to experienced reef keepers!
4. Tyree Icefire Echinata
Tyree Icefire Echinata is one of the most beautiful and classical looking corals on this list. With this breed, you get elongated branches that have a mix of both blue and white.
The tips of this coral are a nice ice blue, while the rest of the branch fades into a snow-white shade. Tyree Icefire Echinata is not the most colorful color, but it is eye-catching!
The Icefire is also not the newest breed of coral. However, it is still highly popular and loved by experienced reef keepers. In fact, many collectors have this particular SPS in their collection! Still, you want to be careful when you put this specimen into your tank.
SPS coral, in general, requires experience and skill to keep them healthy and alive. The Tyree Icefire can be a challenge, though, even in comparison to other SPS corals. These corals enjoy medium to high levels of light. They also like to be in the top half of your aquarium.
In addition, I would not suggest putting the Icefire in a new tank on its own. Because of its delicate nature, it is best to put this SPS in a pre-established coral tank. You want to keep the Icefire with other SPS, as well.
And, be cautious when handling this breed. Especially when you dip and clean your coral. You don’t want to injure it or break it!
5. Oregon Blue Tort
If you are looking for a truly vivid coral, this next breed might be the best option for you! Oregon Blue Tort comes in a deep and rich natural blue color that is hard to stop staring at. The blue in this coral is so pigmented that you might wonder if it was injected with dye.
The Oregon Blue Tort’s color is entirely natural, though. And, you will need to adhere to certain care requirements to keep the pigment of this specimen looking amazing. As with other SPS coral, the Blue Tart requires high lighting and strong flow. I would recommend a lighting fixture with at least 400 watts, you can also add in other additional lights.
Really, this is one of the more challenging coral on this list. So, don’t attempt to house this coral unless you have experience with other SPS tanks, and have been able to keep other SPS corals alive and thriving! Also make sure this coral stays near the top of your tank, this way it gets plenty of flow and light.
In addition, I would recommend adding in supplemental food or nutrition to keep your coral looking healthy. This is not strictly necessary, but it will make it easier to maintain the health of your Oregon Blue Tort! You can also get a dosing pump for the Blue Tort. This way it is easier to maintain the water parameters of your tank!
6. Strawberry Shortcake Acropora
The Strawberry Shortcake Acropora first became available to reef keepers in 2009. This American coral is meant to be kept by experienced reef owners. And, is well known for its unusual color palette and its distinct looks. The Strawberry shortcake has intense pink polyps and ends and has a nicely contrasting green body.
Other versions of this coral breed have come out since its inception. But I recommend getting the Original Strawberry Shortcake Coral from Unique Corals. This specific coral produces the best pigment and growth. In terms of care, the Strawberry Shortcake is not the easiest coral to keep in a tank, as I mentioned.
Similar to other SPS corals, you will need to put the Strawberry Shortcake under high levels of light. 400 watt light bulbs are preferred for this breed, and you want to keep the Shortcake in the upper portion of your tank this way it gets the best access to light and flow. In addition, your water flow should be kept high!
Finally, make sure to check the water parameters of this coral. SPS corals need perfect water conditions, but the Strawberry Shortcake is especially picky when it comes to water conditions like magnesium, calcium, and alkalinity!
7. Forest Fire Digitata
The Forest Fire Digitata requires diligence and near-constant observation. Like its name suggests, this SPS coral grows rapidly like a forest fire! Well, it does not propagate quite that fast. But, this coral can quickly overtake your reef aquarium if you do not keep up with pruning and maintenance.
Keeping this in mind, I would suggest getting a larger tank for this particular breed of coral. This way it has plenty of room to grow. You can also put in other coral, but be careful and make sure they do not aggressively grow overtop your other species.
Overall, Forest Fire Digitata takes a lot of work to keep healthy. But they are a great looking coral species, and highly popular among SPS enthusiasts. The polyps of the Forest Fire are an entirely solid orange color and grow large thick branches. Their bodies have a green hue but are not too visible due to the number of small polyps on the Forest Fire.
In terms of lighting, this SPS coral can do well in low light and higher light. It’s just a matter of how much you want your coral to grow. However, you will want to make sure that your coral has plenty of water flow. I would go with a medium to high water flow, though, this way your coral develops strong hardy branches!
8. Tyree Pink Lemonade
The Tyree Pink Lemonade is a must-have SPS coral for collectors and experienced reefers. This delicately colored species boasts pink polyps and lemon yellow branches that make you think of hot summer days sipping pink lemonade.
However, know that this particular breed of SPS coral is difficult to grow. In fact, I would say that this coral needs expert level care to thrive in a reef aquarium properly.
I talked about how the Forest Fire can be a hassle to trim and keep in check. But, the Pink Lemonade Coral offers a different set of challenges for reef tank owners.
It is not a hardy coral at all, and needs very precise water parameters to grow! The tank environment for Pink Lemonade Coral needs to be stable at all times. This can be hard to do if you are new to reef tanks. So, you definitely want to have prior experience with other SPS coral.
Still, this makes Pink Lemonade a great choice for experienced reef keepers. If you can set up the right water conditions for your Pink Lemonade, you will have a classic and beautiful looking coral in your aquarium!
Just make sure to keep this coral in the upper portion of your aquarium, and make sure it gets high levels of flow and light! In addition, try and do a five percent water change every week to keep your nitrate levels down!
9. Green Stylophora Pistillata
The Green Stylophora Pistillata is not the most conventionally beautiful coral. However, reef keepers that want an eye-catching coral to change up their tank look should look into this breed. Green Stylophora has extremely thick branches that almost look like a cat’s paw.
These short sturdy growths are covered in an assortment of polyps. The colors of the polyps range from teal to green and make for a lovely combination of hues. However, know that the Green Stylophora Pistillata is not ideal for fragging.
If you plan on making frags with this breed it will be difficult. Green Stylophora has very plump and round branches that are hard to break off.
This SPS coral likes low levels of light but can also handle high levels of light too. Choose lighting that fits with the coral’s previous tank setting, and gradually adjust your Stylophora to your tank’s settings.
Finally, you can place this coral in any area of your tank. This is because they grow well in all areas of your tank. But, to really upkeep their growth, you will need to add supplemental nutrition. This particular coral needs plenty of calcium and magnesium to keep its bright colors present underwater! Green Stylophora also likes strong water flow.
10. Tyree Rainbow Stylophora
The last SPS coral for experienced reef keepers I will be talking about is the Tyree Rainbow Stylophora. This is another highly sought after stylophora that sports a cat’s paw type growth pattern.
Like the Green Stylophora, you will have short thick branches that create a highly round and robust coral colony. Unlike the previous Stylophora, though, you get more color options. The polyps on this specimen come in various hues of green and blue.
And, the body of the Rainbow has a mix of purple and pink that really makes this coral pop in your tank. Yellow and silver tones can show up on this coral, as well, if you take good care of this breed. This makes for a stunning multicolored effect.
Overall, Rainbow Stylophora is hardier than most SPS corals, but they do require experience and proper knowledge of SPS. So, make sure to do your research on this breed before putting it in your tank.
In terms of general care, Rainbow Corals light strong amounts of light. You should also have medium to strong water flow in your tank. And like other Stylophora ensure that calcium levels and magnesium levels are high, especially to maintain the color of this coral.
I would suggest adding in coral food like crushed brine shrimp, or coral additives that can keep your coral’s nutrition up to par!
Final Words and Advice
SPS corals are full of variety and have plenty to offer experienced reef keepers. In this post, I talked about some of the best SPS corals for reef tank owners with experience. These corals can be more difficult to care for, but the growth of these specimens is unparalleled.
So, take a look through the list again, if you can’t decide on what coral you want to try creating a tank space for next. And, if you have any more questions about SPS corals or corals in general look through my other articles on corals.