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What Are the Differences Between LPS and SPS Corals?

Unsure of the differences in the care needed between Large Polyp and Small Polyp Corals? Read further to get the information needed for your LPS or SPS Tank

Here at Extreme Corals, we aim to provide you with the most unique corals in the hobby. LPS and SPS corals have different needs and functions within your reef tank.

by Scott Shiles • November 12, 2022

Corals, LPS Coral Care, SPS Coral Care

Here at Extreme Corals we have an extensive collection of both LPS and SPS corals to choose from. We understand that it can be a little confusing for those just getting into the hobby. Each coral type has its own unique set of care instructions. What works for some LPS corals may not work for all, so it is important to consult our Coral Care  page for tips on how to care for your specimen. So what are the differences between LPS and SPS corals? First of all, it is important to understand exactly what polyps are on a coral and how they function. Polyps are the main nutrient collecting animals that live within corals. Both LPS and SPS corals have a hard calcium carbonate skeleton where polyps are contained. Due to the difference in size of these polyps between LPS and SPS corals, their functionality in your reef tank will be different. Note that each LPS and SPS corals have their own specific needs.

Large Polyp Stony Corals (LPS)

The most obvious difference between the two is that LPS corals are going to have larger polyps than their SPS counterparts. For this reason, LPS corals are much less sensitive to higher levels of nitrates and phosphates in their environment than are SPS corals. On the contrary, hobbyists often must add calcium and alkalinity supplements to support their LPS coral’s growth. Since LPS corals have larger polyps, they are able to absorb more nutrition from their environment. Furthermore, LPS corals are more conducive to low flow and low light environments, making the setup for beginners much easier. That being said, LPS corals are loved by both beginners and experienced hobbyists alike, and are a great addition to most tanks.

Small Polyp Stony Corals (SPS)

As the name suggests, SPS corals have much smaller polyps than do LPS corals. SPS corals are generally regarded as being more difficult to maintain than LPS corals, however, do not let that discourage you. These corals tend to grow much more quickly than LPS corals due to their small size. SPS corals like faster water flow, more light, and are much more sensitive to nitrates and phosphates. What SPS corals lack in size, they make up for by branching out to absorb more vital nutrients. Since they have such small polyps, they tend to be less aggressive toward other corals in an aquarium. As with the LPS corals, anyone can take care of these corals by following simple instructions and keeping an eye on them.

Here at Extreme Corals, we aim to provide you with the most unique corals in the hobby. LPS and SPS corals have different needs and functions within your reef tank, so it is important for beginners to review the differences before making a decision. We have the largest online selection of corals in the US, so you are guaranteed to find something awesome for your growing hobby. Check out our LPS corals and SPS corals pages today to find something spectacular for your tank!

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