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Learning The Basics Of Corals

Coral is among the most amazing aspects of any healthy reef. In general, it refers to the hardened calcium formation that essentially makes up the “back bone” of a coral reef. Soft coral is somewhat malleable and free flowing. It gives reefs their texture and colors, while also providing a sense of structure.

If you’re building an aquarium, you don’t need corals as a rule. You have to keep in mind however that they support as much as a quarter of all marine life in their natural environment. As such, they can also help provide a vibrant ecosystem for your aquarium. Plus, they’ll increase the overall aesthetic value as well!

With that said, let’s go into a bit more detail. There are hard and soft corals, and misc. corals as well. But first, what makes up a coral in the first place?

No matter what type you’re dealing with, corals are incredibly gorgeous formations that are truly essential to all sea based lifeforms. As it turns out, even corals themselves are living things. It’s a bit odd to think about, but they’re actually comprised of a number of smaller lifeforms known as coral polyps. When they die out, they leave behind skeletons that give way to the overall appearance and composition of coral that we’re more familiar with. Now, let’s dive a bit further into the differences between hard and soft corals.

1 – Hard Corals (Also Referred To As Stony Corals)

There are two unique types of hard corals known as LPS and SPS. Those designations refer to the size of the polyps. LPS stands for “large polyp stony”, and as you can imagine, SPS stands for “small polyp stony”. Hard corals typically grow quite large, and they form classic coral reefs like you’re probably most used to seeing. The skeletal structure is essentially made of limestone, which then gives way to the rocky structures that coral reefs are famous for. SPS corals live off of small algae colonies known as plankton. LPS corals on the other hand thrive off of smaller forms of fish, as well as amphipods and copepods.

2 – Soft Corals

Soften corals are akin to trees or plants in nature. They’re very interesting in that they don’t have stony skeletons. Their cores are more wood-like in nature, and they’re protected on the exterior by flesh-like rinds. Soft corals do not form reefs, and they can go without algae for survival. They’re usually found in tropical climates, but they can form in cooler parts of the world as well. If you want coral for your aquarium, this is a fantastic choice since it’s quite easy to take care of.

3 – Coral Tips

You have to be careful with coral, since you can easily be stung. The polyps have tentacles that are used to catch small sea life, and they can be quite harmful. If you’re new to owning corals, you should start out with something like the mushroom soft corals. You’re also going to need a high quality light supply, and excellent water. There are many more resources available to help you from there, so don’t hesitate to do a bit of research!

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