View Full Version : SPS, LPS, softies??

07-06-2008, 12:00 AM
When I hear all the reef experts on here talking about SPS, LPS, softies...etc. coral I am always wondering what type of coral, and what it means, falls in each category. Could someone please clear this up for me? And like tank requirments, lighting for each, like general things.


07-06-2008, 01:27 AM
IN very general terms (since books have been written about corals, their care and characteristics, etc)...

SPS and LPS are hard corals, the designators are used to describe polyp size (SPS/small polyp, stony; LPS/large polyp, stony). Not all corals within those groupings, however, live up to their name (for example, my leptastrea has small polyps, even though it's an LPS, and my encrusting hydnophora has what may be considered medium-sized polyps, even though it's an SPS). In some circles, there's a move to move away toward SPS and LPS terminology.

Soft corals are those lacking a calcium skeleton (though there are soft corals which have slivers of small 'calcium bodies' to strengthen their structures, they just don't have skeletons).

Generally, SPS corals are usually 'deemed' harder or more difficult to maintain due to their requirements (they tend to demand INTENSE lighting, calcium-rich high-flow prestine 'nutrient-free' water quality with as little fluctuation in certain water parameters as possible. While LPS and soft corals generally not as demanding, there are difficult corals within each of the three categories.

Corals can also exhibit territorial behavior (they're animals), and will challenge or defeat rival corals using stingers, encroachment, chemical warfare and overshadowing as methods of doing so. Coral placement is important (for example some corals can sting others which are 6" away, and the toxins some corals employ can affect any coral in the tank).

Different corals have different needs and requirements (lighting, flow, calcium & trace element levels, prey items, water quality, etc), so it is imperative that those requirements are understood and in place prior to adding the coral to the tank.

I currently keep representatives of all three types (SPS, LPS and softies) in my tank.

More on info in the coral section of this link

07-06-2008, 01:33 AM
SPS = small polyp stony corals. Acros, birdsnest, montipora, Echinata...etc.... High flow required as well as high lighting for most. There are a select few that can be kept under PC lighting but care must be taken to maintain calcium and alk as well as 0 phosphates.

LPS= Large polyp stony corals. Calaustrea (AKA trumpet coral AKA Candy cane) Blastomusa, Frogspawn, Acans, Favia, Brain corals, many others. Good lighting and flow but needs vary alot in respect to lps. Can be kept under pcs....some will do better under halides or t5. Can be kept with softies with care taken in the case of some with sweeper tentacles.

Softies = Zoanthids, Palythoa, star polyps, Xenia, leathers. Needs also vary in regards to flow and coloring....but can be kept under pc. some will tend to color up better under higher lighting. One species of zoanthid may look totally different under halides than it does under pcs.

07-06-2008, 01:34 AM
LOL What kaybee said.....he said it way better than I did.

07-06-2008, 05:26 AM
WOW! Thanks so much. THat has helped me out alot! Now I will know what you all are talking about on the forum. I didn't know that SPS and LPS had to do with size of the polyp and such. This is very neat. I guess there is ALOT I need to learn before I start getting coral for my tank. ALOT. haha. So I will hold off on the coral for a while. Thanks so much!

07-06-2008, 07:59 PM
Ok so I have another question. When you buy coral, when it is a frag there are sometimes on plugs, or something like that, right? Well do you have to glue it down? What type of coral do you actually have to glue down? Some come on pieces of LR already right?

07-06-2008, 08:13 PM
nice post Kaybee!

You would glue down anything that comes on a small piece of rock, or a plug, just to hold it in place. If a coral comes on a big rock (which is sometimes the case), you would not need to glue anything.

There are also times when you can wedge a plug (or piece of live rock rubble) into your rock work, so that you do not need glue to hold it in place.

Many types of coral will eventually spread out and anchor themselves on the rock, so in some cases, the glue is just a temporary anchoring device.

07-06-2008, 08:16 PM
Ok so I have another question. When you buy coral, when it is a frag there are sometimes on plugs, or something like that, right? Well do you have to glue it down? What type of coral do you actually have to glue down? Some come on pieces of LR already right?

frags are usually on plugs or small chunks of LR, the guy i buy from attaches them to LR. You dont have to glue it down, personally i dont incase i want to move the frag. Most of my frags grew off of the piece of rock i bought them on, like my anthelia which has covered a 4lb rock, and my zoas that have spread 6" longer than my original colony.

07-06-2008, 09:27 PM
Ok, so if it is a plug and I can't wedge it I should just glue it somewhere? What kind of glue do I use? I was hoping you wouldn't have to glue them down because, like cocoa said, I may want to move them. But in a little tank like mine I wont have much room to move stuff in.

Also, when you frag something, do you have to glue that little piece you cut off onto a plug or LR? Or do you use something else? I have always wondered.

07-06-2008, 10:46 PM
you can buy reef safe epoxy glue, ebay sellers have it for a few bucks. If you frag coral yourself, you should glue to a plug or LR

07-06-2008, 10:54 PM
You can also use super glue gel. It works pretty good. For epoxy, you can use AquaMend from Home Depot. It's reef safe and works pretty good as well. I usually put super glue gel on both sides of the epoxy before I use and it that holds very well.

Also, not all corals can be glued down very easily. Some need to be held to a rock or plug by some other means until the coral grows to the surface.

07-06-2008, 11:04 PM
Corals are hard to glue sometimes such as rics and shrooms. Set these on the rock you want them to be on and put them in a dead spot in your tank for about 2 weeks.

07-07-2008, 12:47 AM
Like Bill said, superglue gel works good for glueing plugs or rubble to your LR. It is also easy to pry off if you decide you want to move.

I agree with Cocoa, that it is always better not to glue, if you can get away with it. But there are many times when you have no choice.

If you are fragging your own stuff, you will have to worry about mounting coral frags to plugs, but if you are just buying frags, they almost always come pre mounted.