Living corals are a beautiful addition to any saltwater aquarium, adding an extra element to the aesthetic and the ecosystem. Reef tank hobbyists as well as fish hobbyists enjoy the challenge and the reward of growing corals. Enthusiasts can find live coral, often sold as coral polyps, with the guarantee of live delivery when they know the types of corals and how to select them.
Coral can be purely ornamental and plastic, natural corals that are no longer living, or live corals that require a specific ecosystem. Both nonliving and living corals are only suitable for salt-water aquariums. Natural corals are easier to maintain and usually last as long as the fish tank does. The purpose of natural coral is to bring the beauty of the sea in the fish home. Live corals add beauty and hiding places for small fish, but they are part of the life in the tank. The addition of live coral affects the balance of the aquarium's ecosystem, as they are part of the food and oxygen system within the aquarium.
Understanding corals, how they live, reproduce, and feed is essential to the successful propagation of a live reef. Although corals do not move about in their environment, they are living need the proper setting in order to thrive. Ensuring each coral has adequate space requires understanding the individual life cycle of different corals. Corals require lighting, a sand substrate, and an air stone to keep the water moving, which brings them the food they need to survive.
The size, shape, and water filtration of the tank, determine the type of coral to include. Adequate space for each coral protects them from predation by others. Individual corals have specific development needs, which change throughout their lifespan. Mushroom corals and soft corals are a good selection for the beginning aquascape. They are hardy and resistant to interference from fish and other invertebrates. Large polyp stony corals require a large amount of space due to their aggressive survival nature. Small polyp stony corals are visually stunning, but can require extreme water requirements, so they are best for experienced owners.
Before attaching new corals to an aquarium, owners should acclimate them. It is important to do a quarantine test and apply a coral dip. These steps remove all pests that may be affecting the other organisms in the tank. Once the tank is clean and ready for placement of corals, using a coral frag glue can help to attach the corals to the tank properly. It is important to remember that while corals are an attractive addition to your saltwater aquarium, they are living organisms and require care to maintain.