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Tips on The Best Placement for SPS Corals in Your Tank

Tips on The Best Placement for SPS Corals in Your Tank

Tips on The Best Placement for SPS Corals in Your Tank

Have you just bought some SPS corals, and now you are overwhelmed about where to place them in your tank? 

Do not panic...

We have put together our top tips so your SPS corals will thrive in your home coral reef!

Corals are live animals that require a variety of light intensities and water flow to produce food and grow. 

When it comes to placing SPS corals in your tank, it is one of the most exciting parts of keeping corals, but, you will want to take into consideration their care as each coral is different. This includes water flow, feeding capabilities, whether they can be aggressive, the lighting they require, and if they have any special requirements.

When not given enough space corals will try to outcompete one another, we documented what happens in “The Battle of Two Acros”, which is why placement in your reef aquarium is so important.

How & Where to Place SPS corals in Your Reef Tank

You are probably wondering how to arrange SPS corals in your tank, and in a controlled environment (your tank) placement is key to their survival. 

Understanding and anticipating growth rates and patterns is important when deciding where to place your SPS corals, failing to take into consideration these factors is a common mistake with reef hobbyists, even some expert aquarists. 

Even if your corals are taking a long time to grow, be patient and always give them lots of space to avoid conflict between species. Cramming corals next to each other will limit water movement and is likely to stress them out and negatively impact their long-term health. 

So, let’s talk about water flow…

Water flow is vital for coral health. You must consider this when placing SPS corals in your tank. Despite arranging the water flow as best as you can, there will be areas where two currents of water will meet. This is called flow collision

Flow collision is when a third current is created that is much stronger than the original flow (usually two times as powerful). If a coral is in the firing line, it could cause tissue damage. To prevent this, always check where the water flow intersects when deciding where to place SPS corals in your tank. 

If you have brightly colored or uniquely shaped SPS corals, growing them can be quite challenging! This means their placement is critical. 

These colorful beauties require a high water flow and intense lighting, so placing them near the top of the aquarium is highly recommended. However, always be mindful of their future growth. 

Do note, that when first placing SPS corals in your tank, you will want to acclimatize them to your aquarium conditions. Never place them in intense lighting when they are first introduced as you could risk bleaching them.  

SPS Coral Chart

Below is a chart to help you understand the placement of your SPS corals in your tank. 

Genus 

Water Flow

Light Intensity

Aggression

Acropora

Medium-High

High

Medium-High 

Distichopora

Medium-High

Low

Low 

Millepora

Medium-High

Medium-High

Medium-High

Montipora 

Medium-High

Medium-High

Medium-High

Pavona

Medium-High

Medium-High

Medium-High

Pocillopora

High

High 

Low-Medium 

Porites

Medium-High

Medium-High

Medium-High

Psammacora

Low-Medium

High 

High 

Seriatopora

Medium-High

High 

Medium 

Stylocoeniella

Medium

Medium-High

Medium-High

Stylophora

Medium-High

Medium-High

Medium-High


SPS Tank Set-up & Placement

Firstly, the best advice we can give is to plan ahead and think about what your coral reef will look like in a couple of years when it matures, and your SPS frags grow into colonies. 

In the beginning, every reef hobbyist is the same, starting with a blank canvas to create the masterpiece you want, which is super exciting! 

Some people will opt for SPS frags, enjoying watching them grow into small colonies, while others will get satisfaction from bigger pieces of coral. 

We always recommend being patient and starting with fragments, trimming them as they grow. This way your SPS corals will grow more organically, providing a natural look as they grow in your aquarium. 

SPS-Dominated Reef Tank Water Parameters

Temperature

24 – 26°C (75 - 78°F)

Salinity

35ppt

Nitrate

~5-20 ppm

Nitrite

0 ppm

Ammonia

0 ppm

Phosphate

< 0.15 ppm

Calcium

350 – 450 ppm

Alkalinity

7 – 10 DKH

pH

8.0-8.4


Can You Mix LPS & SPS Corals?

Although not recommended by most reef hobbyists, yes, you can, but placement in the aquarium is crucial! SPS corals must go at the top and LPS corals in the middle range and bottom. 

SPS corals do not tolerate aggressive behavior due to their differences with feeding, light, water flow, and reef habitat. Therefore,  it is best to only keep one or the other, or do your homework into which LPS corals, SPS corals can tolerate. 

Placement of Different Corals 

When adding soft and hard corals into an aquarium, you will want to create different areas, also known as zoning

Soft corals, generally, should be placed at the bottom of the aquarium. They require less water flow and less lighting. The next level would be your LPS corals. They do not need as much light or flow as SPS corals. 

Then as you go up you can start mixing non-aggressive LPS and SPS corals that can handle the high-intensity lighting and stronger water flow.

NOTE: Remember if you want to add reef fish, make sure they do not have a reputation as “coral nippers”. Removing fish from an established reef can be difficult, so do your research and save yourself the  headache. 

To Finish

Every SPS coral has different needs. Placement depends on their requirements such as water flow and how much light they need to grow. 

If you are still unsure where to place your corals you can contact us

If you haven’t decided on what SPS coral to buy yet, you can read our article on the best SPS corals for beginners for more information.