Updated: January 19, 2021 - By: - Categories: Reef aquarium

SPS corals are the most diverse and difficult to keep in a reef aquarium. They should only be kept in well-established aquariums by experienced hobbyists. This article comprises many species of SPS corals with quick care stats (including PAR) that you can choose for your reef tanks.

Acropora sp – Staghorn corals

Image (click to enlarge) Scientific name Common name Care level Lighting PAR Water Flow Feeding Placement Aggressiveness
Acropora-abrolhosensis-Blue-Tip-Staghorn Acropora abrolhosensis Staghorn Moderate to difficult for SPS experienced hobbyists Moderately strong lighting 400-450 Strong alternating flow filter feeder foods, 2-3 times a week on rockwork, middle to upper level Low. Has short polyp reach but will need some room for growth
Acropora-abrotanoides Acropora abrotanoides Staghorn Moderate to difficult for SPS experienced hobbyists Moderately strong lighting 400-500 Strong alternating flow 2-3 times a week middle to upper level low
Acropora-aculeus Acropora aculeus Staghorn Moderate to difficult for SPS experienced hobbyists Moderately strong lighting 400-500 Strong alternating flow 2-3 times a week middle to upper level low
Acropora aspera Staghorn Moderate for SPS experienced hobbyists Strong lighting 500-600 Strong alternating flow 2-3 times a week mid to high low
Acropora-austera Acropora austera Staghorn Moderate for SPS experienced hobbyists Strong lighting 400-500 Strong alternating flow 2-3 times a week mid to high low
Acropora-awi-Deepwater-Bottlebrush Acropora awi Staghorn Moderate for SPS experienced hobbyists Fairly strong lighting 400-500 Strong alternating flow 2-3 times a week middle to upper level low
Acropora-carduus Acropora carduus Staghorn Moderate for SPS experienced hobbyists Moderately strong lighting 350-400 Strong alternating flow 1-2 times weekly mid to upper level low
Acropora-derawanensis Acropora derawanensis Staghorn Moderate for SPS experienced hobbyists Moderately strong lighting 400-500 Strong alternating flow 2-3 times a week middle to upper level low
Acropora-echinata Acropora echinata Ice-Fire Echinata Moderate for SPS experienced hobbyists Fairly strong lighting 350 Strong alternating flow 2-3 times a week low to mid level depending on the lighting moderate
Acropora gemmifera Staghorn Moderate for SPS experienced hobbyists Fairly strong lighting 400-450 Strong alternating flow 2-3 times weekly middle to upper level low
Acropora-horrida Acropora horrida Staghorn Easy for SPS experienced hobbyists Moderately strong lighting 400-450 Strong alternating flow 2-3 times weekly middle to upper level low
Acropora-kimbeensis Acropora kimbeensis Staghorn Easy for SPS experienced hobbyists Fairly strong lighting 400-500 Strong alternating flow 2-3 times a week middle to upper level moderate
Acropora-Lokani Acropora lokani Staghorn Moderate for SPS experienced hobbyists Fairly strong lighting 400 Strong alternating flow 2-3 times a week low to mid level low
Acropora-microclados Acropora microclados Strawberry Shortcake Moderate for SPS experienced hobbyists Fairly strong lighting 400-500 Strong alternating flow 2-3 times a week middle to upper level low
Acropora-millepora Acropora millepora Staghorn Easy for SPS experienced hobbyists Moderately strong lighting 400-450 Strong alternating flow 2-3 times weekly mid to upper level low
Acropora-multiacuta Acropora multiacuta Staghorn Moderate for SPS experienced hobbyists Fairly strong lighting 400 Strong alternating flow 2-3 times a week low to mid level low
Acropora-nana Acropora Nana Staghorn Moderate for SPS experienced hobbyists Fairly strong lighting 400-450 Strong alternating flow 1-2 times weekly middle to upper level low
Acropora-ocellata Acropora ocellata Staghorn Appears to be easy for SPS experienced hobbyists Strong lighting 400-500 Strong alternating flow 2-3 times a week mid to upper level low
Acropora parilis Staghorn Easy to moderate for SPS experienced hobbyists Moderately strong lighting 400-450 Strong alternating flow 2-3 times weekly middle to upper level in the tank depending on lighting low
Acropora-prostrata Acropora prostrata Staghorn Moderate for SPS experienced hobbyists Fairly strong lighting 400-500 Strong alternating flow 2-3 times a week middle to upper level low
Acropora-rosaria Acropora rosaria Staghorn Moderate for SPS experienced hobbyists Moderately strong lighting 400-500 Strong alternating flow 2-3 times a week middle to upper level low
Acropora-samoensis Acropora samoensis Staghorn Intermediate for SPS experienced hobbyists Strong lighting 500-600 Strong alternating flow 2-3 times a week middle to upper level moderate
Acropora-spathulata Acropora spathulata Staghorn Moderate to Difficult Moderately strong lighting 400-450 Strong alternating flow System fed 2-3 times weekly middle to upper level low
Acropora-subglabra Acropora subglabra Staghorn Moderate for SPS experienced hobbyists Moderately strong lighting 300-400 Strong alternating flow 2-3 times a week middle to upper level low
Acropora-tenuis Acropora tenuis Staghorn Easy for SPS experienced hobbyists Fairly strong lighting 400-450 Strong alternating flow 2-3 times weekly middle to upper level low
Acropora-tortuosa Acropora tortuosa Cali Tort Moderate for SPS experienced hobbyists Fairly strong lighting 500 Strong alternating flow 2-3 times a week middle to upper level low
Acropora-valida Acropora Valida Staghorn Moderate for SPS experienced hobbyists Fairly strong lighting 400-450 Strong alternating flow 1-2 times weekly middle to upper level low
Acropora-vermiculata Acropora vermiculata Staghorn Moderate for SPS experienced hobbyists Moderately strong lighting 400-450 Strong alternating flow 2-3 times weekly middle to upper level low
Acropora-yongei Acropora yongei Green Slimer Easy for SPS experienced hobbyists Fairly strong lighting 400-450 Strong alternating flow 2-3 times weekly middle to upper level low

On-sale Acropora corals

Staghorn or Acropora corals are among the most important and abundant groups of reef builders (SPS corals). There are over 300 species of Acropora corals found throughout the world, many of them in the Indo-Pacific and three species in Hawaii.

They are found in a wide variety of habitats from the surface to depths of 100 feet. Many small reef fish live near Acropora colonies and retreat into the thicket of branches if threatened.

Depending on the species and location, Acropora may grow as plates, slender or bushy with branches. Dramatic changes in colony form are also seen within a single species.

Some Acropora corals may form rounded colonies in shallow water, but flattened plates in deeper water where greater surface area is needed to capture the diminished light. The most common growth form imported for the aquarium trade is bushy in appearance with short, compact branches.

With many species are currently known, grow forms, and colors, identifying individual species can be a tricky task.

acropora-corals

Acropora corals grow quickly and individual colonies can exceed 3.5 feet across in the wild. In a well-maintained reef aquarium, finger-sized fragments can easily grow into basketball-sized colonies in 1 to 2 years.

Acropora corals are some of the more difficult corals to maintain in the reef tank, but most will do well if certain conditions are provided. Most require strong lighting which can be achieved with high-powered LED reef lights and placing them near the water surface where the PAR can peak up to 400-500. Along with lighting, Acropora corals prefer strong, intermittent water flow.

The water quality should be carefully monitored for Calcium and alkalinity, in addition to the normal parameters of a reef aquarium. In addition, nitrates and phosphates should be kept low to optimize the coloration of the coral.

Acropora corals generally do best in tanks that house primarily SPS and LPS corals. They do not do well with toxins that can be released by many soft corals, therefore the number of soft corals kept in Acropora tanks should be kept fairly low.

Acropora corals can subsist on adequate lighting, water motion, and good water chemistry alone if they are housed in a tank with a fair number of well-fed fish, but they can also benefit from occasional feedings of small zooplankton foods.

Reef-Roids coral food for faster growingReef-Roids coral food for faster growing

We recommend 2-3 weekly feedings consisting of a mix of oyster eggs and powdered reef foods such as Reef-Roids and Benereef as well as foods such as Seachem Zooplankton and phytoplankton.

Buy Acropora corals

Montipora sp

Image (click to enlarge) Scientific name Common name Care level Lighting PAR Water Flow Feeding Placement Aggressiveness
Montipora-digitata Montipora digitata Easy for SPS experienced hobbyists Moderately strong lighting 250-300 Moderately strong alternating flow filter feeder foods, 2-3 times weekly On rock work mid to upper level in the tank Low. Has short polyp reach
Montipora-folioso Montipora foliosa Easy for SPS experienced hobbyists Fairly strong lighting 400 Strong alternating flow 2-3 times weekly On the rock work. Grows in a plating or whorl fashion and can grow fairly large. Moderate. Has short polyp reach, but will need some room for growth
Montipora samarensis Easy for SPS experienced hobbyists Strong lighting 500-600 Strong alternating flow 2-3 times weekly On rockwork mid to upper level in the tank Low
Montipora-stellata Montipora stellata Easy for SPS experienced hobbyists Moderate bright lighting 200-250 Moderate alternating flow small filter feeder foods 1-2 times weekly On rockwork low to middle level, depending on the lighting Low. Has short polyp reach
Montipora-undata Montipora undata Easy for SPS experienced hobbyists Moderately strong lighting 300-350 Strong alternating flow filter feeder foods 2-3 times weekly On rockwork Moderate

Montipora corals are similar to Acropora in their care requirements, but are generally more tolerant of or may require less light intensity and lower water flow than their Acropora counterparts.

Most require moderately strong to strong lighting which can be achieved with LED lighting. Water flow must be moderate to fairly strong depending on the species.

As with all stony corals; calcium, alkalinity, and magnesium levels should be monitored and maintained at proper levels for the long-term health of this specimen. In addition, nitrates and phosphates should be kept low to optimize the coloration of the coral.

Montipora corals generally do best in tanks that house primarily SPS and LPS corals. They do not do well with toxins that can be released by many soft corals, therefore the number of soft corals kept in SPS tanks should be kept fairly low.

Montipora corals can subsist on adequate lighting, water motion, and good water chemistry alone if they are housed in a tank with a fair number of well-fed fish, but they can also benefit from occasional feedings of small zooplankton foods.

We do twice-weekly feedings consisting of a mix of oyster eggs, Reef-Roids, Reef Chili, frozen Cyclopeeze and live newly hatched brine shrimp.

Pocillopora damicornis

Pocillopora-damicornis

Pocillopora corals are one of the easiest to maintain SPS corals and can grow rapidly in an established reef aquarium. They require medium to strong lighting which can be achieved with most LED lighting systems.

Growth can be quite rapid under good conditions. Pocillopora damicornis is one of the few SPS corals that will occasionally spawn in the home reef tank and spontaneously form new colonies.

Seriatopora sp – Birdsnest coral

Seriatopora-guttatus

Seriatopora (Birdsnest) corals are some of the easiest SPS to keep. Birdsnest corals have similar requirements as Acropora corals but they tend to do OK with less intense lighting and water flow than Acropora.

Pink Birdsnest prefers brighter lighting than the green varieties and colors will intensify under strong lighting. Brighter lighting tends to give brighter and lighter colors.

On-sale Seriatopora corals

Stylophora sp

Stylophora-sp

Stylophora corals are one of the easier SPS corals to keep and a good choice for hobbyists looking to try SPS corals.

They will normally adapt to moderate to strong lighting and moderate to strong water flow.

Coloration will tend to change based upon the intensity and spectrum of the lighting that is provided. Stronger lighting generally gives lighter but brighter colors.

How to propagate SPS corals?

coral-frag

SPS corals reproduce sexually or asexually. Sexual reproduction occurs via the release of eggs and sperm into the water. Asexual reproduction occurs via fragmentation, when a branch breaks off a colony, reattaches to the substrate, and grows.

For SPS such as Acropora, it is as simple as breaking off a branch and attaching it to a piece of rock or frag plugs. For plating SPS such as Montipora, you should carefully handle to break off one of the plates by moving it up and down many times in order not to destroy the rockwork.

One of the best way to attach frags is to use Super Glue Gel or any cyanoacrylate based gel glue (make sure you buy a gel-type glue).

Coral Frag Rack with magnet holdsCoral Frag Rack with magnet holds

Coral Frag Plugs 30 Pack Tiles for SPS LPSCoral Frag Plugs 30 Pack Tiles for SPS LPS

Place the frag on a frag rack or directly in a well-lit place on the rockwork where it receives the same lighting and water flow as the mother colony.

Lucas has keeping successful fish, planted, and reef tanks for many years. He loves to collect aquatic organisms and have as many aquariums as he can afford.

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