Friday, September 10, 2010

Venturing into LPS Coral (Stonies!)

Our aquarium with Mrs. Roper (actually a Mr.), the clowns (Bonnie & Clyde) and Merry Maids (shrimp).
Not to be outdone, Phillip, the Royal Gramma, makes an appearance.

LPS stands for large polyp stony coral. As opposed to the soft coral, they have a more calciferous skeleton and require slightly more care. However, contrary to popular belief, many will do well in an aquarium with less light and flow than required by the finicky SPS (small polyped stony) coral cousins. Although the SPS coral is typically what we all think about when we think of coral (stony, cool, calcified formations under the sea, forming branches, skeletons, and intricate networks of amazing, brilliant colors and patterns), these guys are not the easiest to maintain in the average home aquarium. Because of this, we've decided to stick to some of the easy corals: soft and LPS. Keep in mind, because LPS corals are still fairly soft and fleshy, many extend long sweeper tentacles at night to sting competing, neighboring corals that stray too close. These guys claim a lot of real estate!

We've already added a lot of soft coral: mushrooms, zoanthid, leather finger coral, toadstool, and xenia. We even added an LPS coral (frogspawn).

It was time for something different. Something more daring. Something more bold. I went with 2 new additions:

Open Brain Coral (Lobophyllia)
Other names: Lobed Brain Coral, Flat Brain Coral, Open Brain Coral, Wrinkle Coral, Meat Coral, Modern Coral, Large Flower Coral, Carpet Brain Coral, and Brain Root Coral.

All I can say about this guy is, Wow! Wow! Wow! So many intense colors. This guy (aptly named, "Brain") opened up more brilliantly than in the shop from the instant I put him in our tank. I think he loves it! He's in a spot with lots of light and moderate-to-high flow. In addition to photosynthesizing, I supplement his diet (along with all my LPS corals) with a mixture of live phytoplankton and some oyster eggs 1-2x/week (I dilute this with some tank water in a cup; then, I spot feed with a turkey baster while the pumps are off). This guy is considered quite hardy and excellent for the beginning aquarist. Like many LPS corals, he does extend long, stinging sweeper tentacles at night so he needs lots of room. Other interesting facts? Unlike many LPS, this guy can be propagated pretty easily in captivity.
Elegans Coral (aka "Elegance Coral")
Catalaphyllia jardinei

I was told this was a very hard LPS coral by my LFS (local fish shop). However, after reading about it on-line, this line-of-reasoning is somewhat controversial. Apparently, they were over-collected, and more recently, the ones being collected are coming from deeper and deeper ocean regions (in Australia). These new, deeper Elegance Corals are much more finicky and perish in captivity. Therefore, the care listed for these has changed from "Easy" to "Moderate".

It's also known as "Elegant", "Ridge", or "Wonder" Coral. It likes low to moderate water flow and moderate lighting. Use caution when handling to avoid being stung. It's considered "aggressive" towards other competing corals because of its stinging tentacles. It likes to be placed directly on the substrate as rockwork can scratch and irritate it's fragile skeleton. When the Elegance Coral opens up, it expands up to 2x as much as at night. Clownfish often take up residence in it when no anemone is present (we're keeping our fingers crossed). Like other LPS corals, it likes to be spot fed a mixture of phytoplankton and brine shrimp 2x/week.

This coral is by far my favorite. It's like an alien creature with so many brillilant colors.


  1. That elegance is amazing! have one almost identical, just a little smaller, but exact colours.

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