The Salty Side: Saltwater Aquariums for Beginners

Best fake coral

Artificial coral are considered by many for a number of reasons.   Perhaps you only want fish to feed in your tank, not worry about what corals need to thrive or maybe you’re on a strict budget.  Whatever the reason, fake coral can look pretty much like the real thing in a saltwater tank, if you choose wisely.  Below I’ve listed my top 3 best fake coral.

Great looking artificial coral can sometimes be a bit hit and miss.  With so many that truly do look cheap and a bit nasty if I’m honest, I’ve narrowed it down to the most realistic looking coral that will look great in any tank.  And, these won’t break the bank.

For more information, why not take a look at this article on the pros and cons of using fake coral in your saltwater tank. 


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My Top Picks for the Best Fake Coral for Reef Tanks

Bestseller No. 1
PietyPet Fish Tank Decorations Plants with Resin Coral, 8 pcs Aquarium Decorations Small Plants Plastic, Fish Tank Accessories, Aquarium Decor
  • Fish Tank Accessories includes: 2 pieces resin coral aquarium decorations and 6 Pieces aquarium plants (2.2 - 4.9 inch, including green, pink, purple and orange).
  • All fish tank plants with pedestal: every fish tank plant in this set has a pedestal at the bottom, heavy and firm, and with the pedestal, those plants will not float around in the aquarium.
  • This corals are made of resin, non-toxic and safe. The plastic plants are made of soft and healthy material, no harm to water and fish.It is good for both fresh and salt water, do not affect the PH in the tank.
Bestseller No. 2
EastVita Artificial Plants Aquarium-Decor-Coral, White
  • ★ Vibrant Colors: Revitalize aquarium decor with vibrantly colored artificial plants, add a splash of bold color to brighten up your aquarium landscape. The realistic aquatic plant ornament gives you a feeling of water flowing aquatic plants.
  • ★ Low Maintenance – Unlike live plants, artificial plastic plants do not require specialized lighting or other substrates. they won't die, grow too big or break and unattractive. They need no pruning and will stay beautiful season after season.
  • ★ Natural Environment: Replicates the natural environment, once it's in the tank you can't even tell it's made of plastic. Your fish will enjoy the environment these tall plants provide. They can swim and hide through the leaves.
Bestseller No. 3
KAIMIO Aquarium Decorations 11 Pieces Colorful Coral Reef Set Eco-Friendly Natural Resin Simulation Coral Reef Artificial Coral Decorative Plants for Aquarium Environment Fish Tank Accessories
  • The colorful aquarium coral reef set is made of non-toxic and environmentally friendly synthetic resin, which is harmless to humans and fish.
  • Suitable for both fresh and salt water, it will not affect the pH value of the aquarium or release any harmful substances even if it is left in the water for a long time.
  • Package includes: 11 pieces of resin aquarium plants in different heights: various heights from 2 to 6 cm. (0.85 in. to 2.35 in.), 11 different coral styles to combine into your reef landscape.

What to look for in fake coral

You wouldn’t want to put anything in your tank that could harm any of it’s inhabitants so it’s important to check what the coral is made from.  Resin is the most popular substance used to manufacture more rigid artificial coral whereas silicone is used to make the softer, wavy corals.  

Never buy handmade coral that is made of plaster of paris or anything that has flaking paint.  

Particular corals, like fans, aren’t going to be easy to clean so I’d definitely go for ones that you can get a soft toothbrush into.  (See our instructions here on how to clean fake coral.)  Yes, it can be a bit of a pain having to clean artificial coral but a lot of work goes into looking after and maintaining real coral too.

Before adding fake coral to your saltwater tank

Just like when adding dry rock to your reef aquarium, artificial coral should be soaked in RO water before insertion.  This will remove any dust, loose debris or contaminants so they do not end up in your tank.  

How to attach coral to rock

Artificial coral can be attached to rock in your fish tank by using any type of cyanacrylate glue like Loctite Superglue Gel.  I even use this for my gluing my live coral frags to their frag plugs and I certainly wouldn’t be doing that unless it was completely safe.   

You don’t need to spend a fortune so don’t be misled by fancy reef glues and silicones to attach your coral to your reef. 

So there you have it!

There are of course a lot more expensive artificial coral for saltwater aquariums out there.  Reef inserts have been around for a while.  They come with coral built on the rock and you place the entire lot straight into the tank.  The only downside is that they can be expensive.  So, if you enjoy the ease of this type of coral over real coral perhaps start saving now!  

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