How to Properly Care for SPS Corals

How to Properly Care for SPS Corals

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  1. Caring for SPS corals in a saltwater reef environment are somewhat difficult to keep, and are best kept by experienced aquarists. Stony polyp corals require constant water movement in the aquarium, specific lighting such as (VHO) very high output or metal halide lights, supplements and feeding. 

    Recommended Items

    VHO light

    T5 light

    Metal halide light

    Calcium reactor

    Coral supplements

    Wave maker

    Power heads



    Calcium additive


    The lights used for SPS corals strictly depends on the aquarium’s depth. Shallow aquariums such as a nano tank only require T5 lighting. VHO use on a nano tank will be too intense for the corals; however, a reef aquarium that is over two feet in depth require a more intense lighting called metal halide or VHO. Halide and VHO lights can penetrate to the bottom of the aquarium and will reach SPS corals housed at the bottom of the reef.

    Water Movement

    SPS corals require plenty of random current. Ocean like conditions should be simulated in the aquarium. This can be accomplished by attaching power heads at random positions, along with the use of the wave maker. SPS corals should not have a single directional current. Single directional currents do not allow for the polyps to open and expand to their full potential.


    SPS corals require biweekly feedings of bioplankton and zooplankton. Since SPS corals do not have tentacles, they must be target feed. This can be done by turning off all water flow to the aquarium. Make certain that the power heads and wave makers are all off. Using a pipette or small baster gently distribute the liquid around corals that have their polyps extended. Feed the appropriate amount according to the manufactures instructions on the bottles.


    Saltwater reef aquariums that house SPS corals require weekly water changes between 15 and 20 percent and replacement of calcium and other trace minerals. Consider adding a calcium reactor to the aquarium to control the calcium levels in the reef. Proper balance of calcium in the aquarium allow the corals to survive or grow. Keep in mind weekly cater changes and calcium levels are a requirement for SPS only reefs. Several brands of trace minerals and calcium are available for purchase on-line and in pet stores. Add these treatments per the manufacturer’s instructions on the bottle. SPS corals become bleached and die without proper care; if bleaching occurs, break off the branch that has bleached to keep the rest of the colony from dying.

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