One of the most exciting parts of setting up a marine aquarium for the first time is the introduction of corals, but the process can be nerve wracking, especially to the newcomer to the hobby. This page is for those newcomers who need information on the first corals to put in their system and how to take care of them. These are the coral we here at Triton Marine suggest for the beginner:
Zoanthid coral, affectionately called zoas by aquarium hobbyists are an extremely popular type of coral kept in reef tanks. Because they are relatively easy to grow, maintain, frag, AND they are available in amazing, brilliant, fluorescent colors. They are hardy and will grow well in most reef tanks, which makes them a great soft coral for beginners. The majority of zoas are best kept with at least moderate aquarium lighting. Some of the more brightly colored morphs will tolerate even intense lighting from metal halide or newer generation LED lights if acclimated properly. Most species are capable of actively capturing prey. For fastest growth of these corals, it is recommended that you feed them periodically with an appropriately sized food, although feeding is not usually required. Place zoa corals in an area of low-medium to medium-high flow. Too much flow may make it hard for the polyps to open. You will know your zoanthids are ‘happy’ if they open up and are fully extended without seeming to stretch so far upright.
Leather corals are another very hardly coral making them a very good choice for people that are new to the hobby. They are best in moderate lighting but can tolerate higher and lower levels of lighting as well. Leathers also prefer moderate flow. Just as with any coral, you water parameters should be in line and stable for your corals to thrive and grow. As leathers do not have a calcified skeleton structure, they can be more tolerant of swings in the alkalinity, calcium, and magnesium when compared to other corals. However, they will not be very tolerant to swings in PH, Temp, or salinity which is no different than any other coral or fish. Leathers commonly have the ability to sting other corals and some fish along with emitting chemicals to ward off other corals from entering their space. For this reason it is very important to understand how big your leather coral can get and plan for enough space between your leather coral and other corals. As these corals contain zooxanthellae inside their body, they will be able to get most of their required nutrients through your tank lighting. This is why it is important to have at least moderate levels of lighting in your tank. Leathers can also get nutrients from the water. They can collect microplankton and zooplankton with their polyps to obtain the nutrition they require. They would certainly benefit from the occasional spot feeding. You can compensate for lower lighting with manually feeding a leather to sustain for short periods of time. Most leathers will do best when they get their needed nutrition from both the water and your tank lighting.
Mushroom corals are a multi colored and beautiful group of soft coral species which are fantastic beginner corals and bring a beautiful range of colors to your aquarium. I would recommend that you place your mushroom corals at the bottom of your tank and in low flow if possible. If you’re placing it in a high light or high flow area, watch it for a few days. If it’s unhappy it will have a shriveled look to its disc, a happy mushroom coral is a fully extended flat disc. The average size of a fully grown mushroom coral is typically between one and two inches. Mushroom corals are a photosynthetic coral and do not need to be directly fed. The coral produces its food from the lights on your tank.