I started my first saltwater tank more than a decade ago, but I can still remember the feelings of excitement, anticipation and fear about selecting my first few aquarium corals. As a beginner in the aquarium hobby, it can be a bit daunting to figure out which corals are easiest to care for, affordable, and likely to thrive in your tank. This list of the 14 Best LPS corals for beginners should help you take the guesswork out of the decision-making process and help you start to get the hang of it.
|Coral type||Care level||Placement||Aggressiveness level|
|Blastomussa wellsi||Easy||Bottom to Middle||Peaceful|
|Acan echinata||Easy||Bottom to Middle||Aggressive|
|Bubble||Easy||Bottom to Middle||Aggressive|
|Duncan||Moderate||Bottom to Middle||Peaceful|
Best beginner LPS corals
Here are the 14 Best LPS Corals for beginners, organized by coral type
If you are a beginner at caring for corals, one of the first LPS Coral types you should consider are the Candy Cane Coral and Trumpet Coral The first two LPS corals you should consider. These closely related species are peaceful, meaning they won’t sting neighboring corals. They are easy to care for and prefer placement in the bottom of your tank.
1. Candy Cane
2. Trumpet Coral
You don’t have to be a zombie to love the popular and easy-to-care-for brain corals from the Favia and Favites genera. At first glance, it can be challenging to determine the difference between the two. But if you look closely, you can see one important difference in the honeycomb structures.
FAVITES coral polyps share a wall with the neighboring corals (please don’t ask who’s going to pay for that wall), and Favia coral polyps each have their own walls, resulting in a double-wall appearance.
Favia and Favites corals are aggressive. They will attempt to straight-up murder any corals within reach. So it is best to give them some space. They also generally prefer placement at the bottom of the tank, assuming you have some bright reef tank lights.
The Acans and “Mussa’s”
Perhaps the most popular and in-demand of the invertebrates on this list of the 14 Best LPS Corals for Beginners are ACANS and Blastomussa. These corals are more commonly called Blastos, ACANS, Aussie lords or even ACAN lords .
5. Blastomussa wellsi
Blastos are peaceful corals that won’t attack their neighbors, and are easy to care for, which makes them perfect as a beginner LPS coral. Their preferred placement is middle of the tank or lower (bottom).
6. ACAN echinata
The lesser known Acan coral, A. echinata is another example of an LPS coral that is perfect for beginners. They are aggressive and will attack neighbors that get too close, but are otherwise easy and prefer placement at the bottom of the tank, sometimes also doing well in the middle.
7. Micromussa Lordhowenensis ACAN lord
The “ACAN lords” go by a lot of common names, which is why common names can sometimes be confusing. They used to be classified as Acanthastrea lordhowensis (aka. ACAN lords). But in 2016, they were reclassified as Micromussa lordhowensis. I wouldn’t typically include Latin names and long-winded taxonomic updates in an article for beginners, but just wanted to point this out because you may see any or either of the names listed for them.
They also originate from the coral reefs around Australia, which is why they are sometimes called Aussie lords.
But whatever you call them, it isn’t hard to see why they are so popular.
Fungia Plate corals
Did you ever notice that some of the common names we use for aquarium corals is uninspiring? The good news here is that the humbly-named Plate corals are gorgeous and hardy, with large, fleshy polyps and semi-aggressive, making them one of the best LPS corals for beginners.
8. Fungia plate
Remember that witty anecdote above about coral names? Okay, it wasn’t that witty. I suppose it was a bit straightforward and unimaginative, just like the naming convention it was attempting to troll.
9. Bubble coral
The Bubble coral is aggressive and will use sweeper tentacles like a taser to sting nearby corals. So it is best to give it some room towards the bottom of the tank where it prefers to be located.
Moderately challenging LPS corals that are still suitable for beginners
The first 9 corals on this list are all considered to be an Easy difficulty rating, but the last 5 are considered moderately difficult. But even with a slightly harder rating, these corals are still some of the best LPS corals for beginners. I share that based on my own experiences and the experiences of people whom I know and trust.
I have two personal stories related to the Duncan coral. They are sometimes finicky when first introduced into a tank, but once they get growing, they’re hard to stop. Years ago, a friend in our local aquarium group literally had trouble getting rid of it. The colony had a tendency to pop up polyps and keep growing, despite being cut back in an attempt to all-but-remove it from the thank.
The second story, I’m embarrassed to say, is that I actually didn’t realize they were LPS corals for longer than that should have happened…but just look at the large fleshy polyps. They look like a cross between anemones, zoanthids, and LPS.
Duncan corals will peacefully coexist with neighboring corals, as long as you consider rapid reproduction and crowding to be peaceful. They prefer the middle of the tank or lower and can sometimes do well even in low light areas.
I saved the best and most popular of the LPS corals for beginners for last. The Hammer, Torch, Frogspawn and Grape coral are all closely related. They are aggressive towards their neighbors. Death-by-stinging is how they prefer to control which corals they hang around with. They have sweeper tentacles that extend alarmingly past where you might otherwise think they could reach.
Interestingly, however, they are quite peaceful towards other Euphyllia corals, which means you can keep a mixed garden of Hammers, Torches, Frogspawn or Grape corals all in close proximity without any problems.
Caring for each of these corals is largely the same. They all prefer to be placed towards the bottom of the tank. Moderate water flow is recommended. Enough to keep the polyps swaying in the current (which is why most of us drool over them), but not so much current that they pull their polyps in, or worse, get damaged.
Another fun fact bout the Euphyllia corals is that you will occasionally encounter silo-busting hybrid species that share polyp features from both parents.
The 14 Best LPS Corals for Beginners that are easy to care for
- Fungia plate
- Acan echinata
- Micromussa Lords
When should you start thinking about adding LPS corals?
If this is your first saltwater tank, and it is the first time you’ll be adding LPS corals, I recommend you wait for a period of 3 months of relative stability in your tank. It is possible, but probably best not to introduce them right away, into the relatively hostile and sterile environment of a brand new tank. You also don’t want to add them when you’re having other troubles or when the water parameters are swinging or are out of control, or if you have animals dying in the tank.
It will be natural, at around 3 months to still be dealing with some algae challenges. If that describes your situation, you will want to use some judgement whether or not it is better to add the corals now, or to wait.
Adding corals to your tank can actually help suppress algae growth, within reason. You want to weigh that benefit against the risk that the algae win the right…and damage your coral. With that said, you should not corals while fighting a major, plague-proportions infestation, nor shod you place the corals into an active ‘warzone’ where algae are growing uncontrollably.
Here are a few guides to help you battle with the problem algae:
What other corals can you keep with these beginner LPS corals
The LPS corals on this list are going to be compatible with just about any other aquarium coral. The major types of corals are: Mushrooms, Zoanthids, Gorgonians, Small Polyp Stony another Large Polyp Stony corals.
The secret to keeping these beginner corals with each other or with other coral types is to allow enough room for them to grow out fully. Since several of the species on this list are aggressive or semi-aggresive, you want to allow enough space between colonies to rent from the first day you get home and after they grow out in your tank.
Tips for beginners on having success with LPS corals
Lighting is probably the first and most important key to success with your beginner LPS corals.
Too much light too quickly will cause your corals to bleach and die a quick death. Too little lighting will cause them to slowly starve and waste away. Neither is a good outcome for you, or especially for them, however, as you can see, it’s better to start off with lower light first.
LPS corals are a bit like me. They like to eat. Best to feed them, if you can. If you do, you’ll be rewarded with faster-growing, larger, happier corals.
Alkalinity and calcium matter. If you are adding one of these beginner LPS corals to your tank and you only cared for saltwater fish before, you may not have been watching those levels too closely.
Learn more about the most important water parameters here. Good water always starts with the right salt mix.
You should invest in ALK and Ca test kits and record your results in a Reef Journal or or notebook.
What to read next
Here are a few other articles I strongly recommend you check out next:
- Arrigoni, R., Benzoni, F., Huang, D., Fukami, H., Chen, C.A., Berumen, M.L., Hoogenboom, M., Thomson, D.P., Hoeksema, B.W., Budd, A.F. and Zayasu, Y., 2016. When forms meet genes: revision of the scleractinian genera Micromussa and Homophyllia (Lobophylliidae) with a description of two new species and one new genus. Contributions to Zoology, 85(4), pp.387-422.
- Borneman, Eric H. Aquarium Corals. Microcosm Ltd; 1st Printing Edition (March 1, 2001)
- Ulrich III, Albert B. How to Frag Corals: Step-by-step guide to coral propagation and filling your frag tank with thriving polyps.www.SaltwaterAquariumBlog.com (January 20, 2015).
- Ulrich III, Albert B. The New Saltwater Aquarium Guide.www.SaltwaterAquariumBlog.com (April 8, 2014)