Soft Coral for Beginners

Provided you have a good handle on the maintenance of your tank with regular water changes there should be no reason to avoid trying a few of these soft coral for beginners listed below.  Purchasing and introducing soft coral to your aquarium for the first time can be very exciting and a bit daunting at the same time.  

There are three types of coral that you will inevitably begin to learn about in the reef keeping hobby: Soft Coral, LPS and SPS.  Soft coral are what we will concentrate on in this article.

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What corals should I start with?

Soft corals are by far the easiest to keep in a marine tank. They are not very fussy (compared to LPS and SPS) and are always the first choice of soft coral for beginners.  The name ‘Soft Coral’ is derived from its physical structure.

Unlike both LPS and SPS, soft corals have no skeletal or bone-like structure.  They are simply comprised of soft tissue.  In fact some soft corals are purely gelatinous with no structure at all out of the water.  

You will encounter this when you transfer from a fish bag into your tank, and will need to keep the transfer process under water. Above water these gelatinous corals are similar to a blob of goo. 

Best Soft Coral for Beginners

Here are five of the most popular soft coral for beginners:

1. Pulsing Xenia

Pulsing Xenia is a fantastic coral for beginners. It is quite happy in calm flowing water, with it’s up-stretched arms ending in fine haired fingers. These fingers slowly open and shut, giving it the name ‘pulsing’, to extract food from the water.

This coral is a rapid grower given the right environment. It will spread over the rocks by extending its ‘foot’ further and further until eventually it splits, leaving part of itself behind. This part will then become a fully formed coral. 

Xenia are easy going with other corals too. Whereas some corals have the tendency to sting their neighbours, Xenia do not.

Due to its rapid growth it should be kept on a separated rock.  This will ensure it cannot spread to the rest of the tank … unless you like the idea of having a tank full to the brim with Pulsing Xenia.

2. Green Star Polyp

Green Star Polyp, or GSP, as it is more commonly known, is an excellent soft coral for beginners.  It is a fairly sought after coral because of it’s striking colour (although there are less vibrant greens too).  It is comprised of a soft leather-like purple base that grows over the rocks.

Protruding from the purple base are hundreds of extended polyps that sway with the current.  This is another great coral for beginners. It is not fussy and will grow fairly quickly.  

Like the Pulsing Xenia, GSP should really be kept on a separate rock if you don’t want it spreading everywhere.

GSP are not very aggressive, and tend to get on with most other corals. 

3. Mushrooms

Mushrooms are another great soft coral for beginners and come in all sorts of colours and sizes.  Depending on the type of mushroom they can range in prices with the Ricordea Florida being the more expensive.

Mushrooms can be a little aggressive towards other corals, particularly the Ricordea Yuma.  By and large though they are a pretty easy going addition to any new tank.  In fact you can group different mushrooms together to end up with a rainbow of colour.

As long as the aquarium is being well cared for, these will be a lovely burst of colour.

4. Zoanthids (Zoa)

Zoanthids, better known as zoa, are a favourite of new keepers and seasoned keepers alike. They certainly qualify as a coral for beginners, with their ability to proliferate in just about any tank.

They come in every colour under the sun and are called a myriad of catchy names, with the most colourful being the most expensive.

Names such as Rasta, Darth Sidious, Utter Chaos, Blueberry Pie and Whammin’ Watermelons adorn the tank of enthusiasts. These become highly prised and collectable which is why they demand such a high price…but all you need is one to start.

Zoas are easy going and don’t bother other corals. Some can grow very rapidly while others take their sweet time.

Advisory: Some Zoa belong to a genus of coral called Palythoa which contain a toxin called Palytoxin.  For this reason when handling Zoa or Palys you should wear glove and eye protection.

5. Clove Polyp

Clove polyps are hardy, fast growers.  They look amazing under blue lighting due to their varied colouring and provide movement in the tank with their arms gently swaying in the flow.

Clove polyps do well in a low to medium flow and can thrive when being fed zooplankton.  

So there you have it!

I hope you found the run down of some of the most popular soft corals for beginners useful.  Of course there are more but these are great to get you going and there are so many varieties.  

You might also wish to take a look at our list of non aggressive marine fish if you’re a beginner to saltwater aquariums.  

Soft Coral For Beginners to Saltwater Aquariums
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