What Do Aquarium Corals Need to Survive and Thrive?

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What Do Aquarium Corals Need to Survive and Thrive?

Corals are among the most popular aquarium plants. With their low maintenance lifestyle and resilient nature, corals are a beautiful addition to any tank. The variety of species and colors you'll find when shopping for the perfect aquatic garden is sure to delight both experienced aquarium owners and beginners alike who enjoy vibrant displays and fun, unique tank decor.

Simplicity is key when it comes to caring for corals. These wonderful filtration helpers need four main elements to survive; water quality, water movement, food, and light. Take a closer look at each with the experts on our team.


Water Quality

Get your tank coral ready by maintaining ideal water quality. Corals are heavily dependent on the water around them to supply necessary vitamins and minerals. Calcium should be kept around 450 ppm, while strontium, iodine, and magnesium should be readily available at a minimum level of 400 ppm. Ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates should be kept as close to zero as possible (barring a few trace amounts).

Lastly, you'll want to keep a healthy phosphate range of below 0.3 ppm along with a pH of 8.2-8.4 for raising aquarium coral.


Water Movement

Water circulation helps move food and sunlight through the tank. Invest in a high quality aquarium pump to ensure the tank stays properly oxygenated and to create a natural flow of motion that mimics the ocean's currents. Depending on the species of coral and where your coral falls in the water column, you'll want to adjust the speed of filtration to best mimic their natural environment. Deep water corals thrive in calmer currents, while reefs are more adapted to fast moving water.



Corals are the discerning foodies of the fish world who enjoy variety in their diet. They derive the bulk of their nutrients from light, their primary "solid" diet consists of dissolved organic compounds in the water around them. Menu favorites include diced small fish, thawed frozen plankton, phytoplankton, krill, pieces of shrimp, squid, or clams.

Not ready to invest in a full buffet? Aquarium owners can simplify feeding with pellets, dried fish, and supplements designed specifically for coral.



Light is the single most important factor in getting coral to thrive in captivity. Exposure and intensity will vary heavily depending on coral species. While it's important to determine species specific requirements, a good rule of thumb is that hard corals require more light than soft corals. Coral that require less light are found in the depths of the ocean, while coral reefs thrive in warmth and direct light exposure.

This is a key detail to take into account depending on the other species in your tank. 

Looking for more amazing aquarium tips? Contact our experts and share your DIY tank projects with us!