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What Are LPS Corals: Stony Corals Explained For Beginners

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Corals come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and breeds. Still, what kinds of coral can you put into a reef tank? In this post, I’ll be introducing you to LPS corals and defining exactly what they are!

LPS corals are a group of corals that are characterized by their stony structure and large fleshy polyps. LPS stands for Large Polyp Stony and corals in this group are generally easier to care for than Small Polyp Stony (SPS) corals.

I will talk more about what defines and separates LPS corals from other corals. In addition, you will learn how to care for and properly set up a tank with these types of corals! So, keep reading this post!

What Are LPS Corals?

LPS corals, also known as large polyp stony corals, are a type of hard corals. They have large soft polyps on their bodies. These polyps are a part of your living corals. They connect to the underlying skeletal base of your LPS coral and, like SPS corals this part of the coral helps to feed and protect the coral.

Unlike Small Polyp Stony (SPS) corals, though, what sets LPS corals apart from other corals is their much larger polyps. Again, polyps are a living part of your coral that are almost like individual animals. They have a stomach, tentacles that can sting, and roots. This helps bring in food and helps these types of coral stun and consume their prey.

Because LPS corals have much bigger polyps their tentacles and stingers are much larger. This can lead to higher levels of aggression from this type of coral. LPS, in particular, are known for their strong stinging abilities.

Their tentacles are usually longer, as well, and can even knock away smaller nearby corals. However, while this could be considered a downside, if you set up your tank carefully, you should have no issues with this coral type.

Differences Between LPS and SPS Corals

Still, what else defines LPS corals exactly? Well, along with having larger and softer polyps, LPS corals also tend to be easier to care for. I mentioned this fact, at the beginning of the post. But, beginners will be able to maintain the health of their LPS coral with much more ease.

Unlike SPS corals, the care requirements of this coral type are not nearly as strict. In fact, LPS corals were some of the first corals that could survive in man-made tank environments. This distinctly separates them from SPS corals which are notoriously difficult to care for.

Finally, LPS corals have a lot more variety in terms of looks. While SPS corals have more or a branched-off look. LPS corals can come in all kinds of shapes and have many different growth patterns. If you want a more unique looking coral this is the type I would suggest buying.

How to Choose Your LPS Coral?

So, how should you choose your LPS coral breed? With their variety of looks and sizes, you might be wondering which LPS coral is best for your reef tank. In general, though, you want to think about the cost of your coral first.

Some corals will be more expensive than others, and getting a coral in your price range is important too. This way you have enough money for the rest of your tank supplies. However, once you know your price range, choose a coral that suits your skill level and tastes.

LPS corals are not as difficult to care for, but some breeds of LPS corals can be harder to keep than others. So, do some research beforehand on the breed you choose. In addition, you want a coral that will fit well with your tank aesthetic.

Look up your potential coral’s growth pattern and coloring. By doing this, you can get a coral specimen that is perfect for your setup!

What Kind of Tank Should an LPS Coral Have?

The type of tank you purchase for your LPS coral will depend on the breed of coral you purchase. However, I suggest getting a sizable tank for your coral, especially if you have more than one coral species in your tank.

Coral colonies like plenty of space to grow. In addition, you don’t want to put different LPS corals too close to one another. Otherwise, they might lash out at one another with their tentacles.

Having a large tank will prevent these issues and make maintaining your tank much easier. At a minimum, I would go with a sixty-gallon tank. However, some reef tanks can be upwards of 200 gallons. Really, though, you want to get a tank size that fits in your home and matches your coral’s needs!

Water Parameters for LPS Corals

Preparing your water for LPS corals is important. You want the water parameters of your tank to be ideal for your coral breed. Calcium levels, magnesium levels, alkalinity, and salinity should be tailored to your specific coral.

Overall, your water should be warm between 76 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Levels of calcium and magnesium should be maintained, as well. Like SPS corals LPS corals absorb a lot of the calcium and magnesium in your water.

However, in comparison to other types of coral, the needs of LPS coral are a little less demanding. So, you have a little bit of leeway in terms of temperature and other water parameters.

These types of coral can also handle higher amounts of nitrates. SPS corals, on the other hand, can be in danger with even minuscule levels of nitrates. This does not mean that you can let the state of your tank degenerate.

However, this does mean that you will have to perform fewer water changes, won’t have to adjust water conditions as much, and will overall have an easier time maintaining the health of your LPS coral!

Lighting Conditions for LPS Corals

In general, LPS corals require less lighting than SPS and other types of coral. This is what makes them ideal for beginners. You won’t have to buy super expensive lighting systems to keep your coral thriving.

In fact, they do well in low to moderate levels of light. Though, this will vary by species, so make sure you do a little bit of research on your breed. And, remember that corals do use lighting as a food source during photosynthesis. So make sure your LPS coral gets their required amount of light.

Food Preparation for LPS Corals

For LPS corals, you will want to feed them additional nutrients. This is because the large polyps on your corals will need additional energy and sustenance to maintain their health. In particular, LPS corals like more meaty food that can fit into their mouths.

Food such as live zooplankton, brine, large food pellets, and other protein-rich foods are recommended. However, you can put in powdered or liquid coral foods to keep your coral well-fed and maintain calcium and magnesium levels in your tank.

Again LPS corals intake a lot of calcium and magnesium. So, it’s important to feed them and maintain these parameters in your tank.

Water Flow for LPS Corals

LPS corals tend to have softer polyps than SPS corals. So, you want to keep water flow at a lower level in your reef tank with LPS corals. The water flow will depend on the type of LPS coral you have, of course. But, in general LPS corals tend to favor low to moderate water flow.

Keeping this in mind, and make sure that you get a water pump with adjustable settings. This way you can tailor your water conditions to your coral’s needs. To check whether you have the water flow right, look at your coral polyps.

LPS polyps will stay closed if the water flow is too high or low. If you see this, try reducing water flow to see if your coral is experiencing too much turbulence. Or if you turn the water flow down and your coral is still closed, try turning water flow up.

Final Care Tips for LPS Corals

LPS corals are beautiful and perfect for people who are new to reef tanks. However, you want to make sure to do research on any coral you put into a tank. This way you get the best tank outcomes!

In addition, make sure that you handle your LPS corals with care and caution. The large polyps on your LPS are sensitive and should not be knocked around or touched as they go into your tank. I suggest putting a little bit of tank water on your coral’s polyps before putting them in the water. This way the polys stay retracted and are easier to put in your tank.

Furthermore, always remember to keep gloves on while holding or touching your LPS corals. As I mentioned before, these corals can get aggressive if they feel threatened. So, it is better to have gloves on to protect yourself. You also don’t want to contaminate your coral or get contaminants on yourself! 

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