A Plethora Of Corals!

We enjoy our lovely reef aquariums as aquarists. The color, arrangement, and complexity of corals that can contribute to a tank is unprecedented. As proud aquarists, our aquariums also offer excellent educational opportunities for family and friends, as well as for ourselves, of course. 

Currently, scientists have described over 2,000 species of corals, with potentially many more to be discovered. Corals cover approximately 2 % of the marine environment, but inhibit at least 25 % of marine species. Because they are so diverse, coral reefs are often called the rainforests of the sea, being responsible for building the beautiful reef ecosystems found around the world. 

Coral Structure

Corals have two separate components: a living part and a skeletal part. Corals are, in fact, animals, although many take on the features of plants, with their flower-like polyps. The polyp is part of a live coral component. In essence, each polyp is a small animal with a mouth, a digestive system, a reproductive tract, and a basic nervous system called a nerve net. Most of the polyps emerge in communities called colonies. 

The corals fall into seven main categories: SPS Hard Corals, LPS Hard Corals, Soft, Mushroom, Polyp, Hydrocorals, and Sea Fans. The categorization of corals continues to be in flux; the final answer may come from DNA analysis. Corals have many forms; some are leafy, some look like a brain or a moon, and some look like a cactus. Often the same species can take several forms depending on their environment. These traits make identifying corals rather confusing. Multiple species may be called the same common name, and a single species may have many common names. 

Corals have a variety of pigment forms in their tissues that eventually determine their coloration. Coral colors can also vary based on the amount of different minerals and vitamins found in their structures and the algae present within them. Some corals are also translucent. One coral can contain a plethora of vivid colors in stunning patterns. 

Different Types Of Corals

For most first-time aquarists, simply discovering that the dream of caring for and successfully growing corals is not as unrealistic as they would have thought. Your first coral garden doesn't have to cost you a lot or be impossible to take care of. In this guide, we will show you the corals that are easy to care for, vibrant, fast growing, and hardy or tolerant of typical new aquarist errors. 

Zoanthids and Payl’s 

Zoanthids (Zoanthus sp.) and Payl's (Palythoa sp.) are tiny polyps that come in a number of bright colors and occur in close clusters of individual polyps, the form of which almost matches the arrangement of small flowers. Polyps share a mat of tissue that ties them together. Zoanthids are a fast-growing coral that can tolerate a wide variety of light and water temperature. Because of the speed at which these soft corals can grow, we suggest that each color of zoanthid be put in the sandy bottom of your aquarium so that you can monitor the growth and preserve the diversity of colors.  Rare zoanthids also make an excellent addition to your zoa garden.


Mushroom corals are present in a number of species, including Rhodactus sp. and Actinodiscus sp. Mushrooms are distinguished from all other corals by their oval disk shape. They have a flat or round disk-shaped umbrella around the opening or the mouth. They have tentacles on their disks that look almost like tiny bumps. Mushrooms are definitely the best coral to take care of. They are a perfect beginner coral because they are not challenging in terms of the conditions they need to thrive, even though they do well in low flow. Besides being affordable and their range of gorgeous colors, it's hard not to make space in your tank for a coral mushroom. 


Ricordea florida are really vibrant and really give a much-needed pop to most water tanks! Color variants include green, brown, yellow, blue, and purple, with a contrasting color in the center of the polyp. Due to the striking color morphs available, Ricordea, like the Tri Color Orange Ricordea is one of the most sought-after corals available. This coral demands mild care and is not as abundant as the other species on this series. To keep Ricordea satisfied and safe, you will need to ensure a proper amount of magnesium and iodine, as well as a 10% bi-monthly change of temperature. If they stay satisfied, they will evolve and reproduce slowly but gradually. This little soft coral isn't hostile, so it's a positive thing. 

Leather Coral 

Leather coral like Sarcophyton sp. is a very rare and common gem. It has a silky, single stem with a flared, flat top that can be folded or funnel-shaped. They will change their form by expanding or deflating their body, creating an interesting addition to your aquarium. This kind of soft coral comes in a rich array of colors and shapes, while being immune to a range of aquarium conditions. Since they have a calcified skeleton system like rough corals, they may withstand alkaline, calcium and magnesium swings. Interestingly, if a sufficient anemone is not present, certain leather corals may also host a clownfish.  


Acropora Coral is a small branching coral available in a striking color mix. Like other Acroporas, it is hardy and quick growing under a number of conditions. While this coral can grow under mild lighting, higher-intensity lighting should be used to achieve the best coloring. However, photoacclimating the Acropora Coral to very intense lighting should be done slowly to prevent losing its vibrant color. 

Brain Corals 

Brain Coral is a large polyp stone (LPS) coral that resembles a human brain. There are many different species widely available that are commonly referred to as the Brain Coral. These corals can be incredibly long lived, more than a few hundred years old, or much longer in the wild. 

These corals are certainly not very fast growers relative to Acropora or Montipora, but they are more resilient in hurricanes and tropical storms. Like other photosynthetic corals, they use zooxanthellae living inside them to provide food for development and reproduction. But they also benefit from additional aim feeds. Moderate lighting and moderate flow, steady temperatures and stable water parameters can provide a good atmosphere for Brain Corals.