Tips For SPS Care and Increasing Chances of Success


I have often been asked many of these questions, and thought it would be useful to post here. I'm basing my observations and tips here on what I have seen work and not work over the years, what seems to work better in my opinion, and offers the greatest chance of success. There is not a "one size fits all" and there are certainly success stories that follow different "rules", so to each their own. But for me, this has the highest % of success, so here it is!

Let's start with receiving SPS. For me, no matter where they come from, I follow these same steps. First, I check the temperature with an infrared temp gun. If it's lower/higher(?) than mine, I float the bags with the lights off. SPS don't want to float 6" from your lights after coming out of a dark box they spent 18+ hours in. I do this solely to adjust temperature slowly. Usually never takes more than 20 minutes.

Once that is done, if they have a frag plug or in the case of an aquacultured piece, they often have a "base" they come on, I remove it. I cannot stress enough removing plugs/bases. On occasion if something is super encrusted, I'll cut off as much as I can, and then superglue over everything I can't cut off, and put onto a new plug or base. This way I am covering any pests/eggs/etc I can't see. On maricultured pieces, you want as little as possible of that base in your tank. It will have all sort of nasty algae and stuff that it introduces to your tank.

I do a quick inspect for pests, and then into QT they go. I do not ever dip them right away as dipping stresses them. They are already stressed enough from shipping, and dipping them often reduces the chances of survival even more. I will dip them 2-3 days after receiving once they have had a chance to recover. Dips are never more than 10 minutes long. I will keep them in QT for 2-4 weeks, and do two dips. If no signs of pests, then they are generally safe and I'll keep them in QT for a while more to grow. If I see encrusting/growth, after that time, then they are healthy and ready to go!

On my QT setup, I run the same lights as I do on my main system, T5 lights. If budget affords, I would do the same lights for QT and Main System. With MH/T5 - I do NOT do any light acclimation. In my experience, SPS don't need it when using MH and T5. Depending on the SPS, if I know for example it's a high light acro or if it's a wild acro, it will get the full 400 PAR of T5 in the middle of my frag tank. Lower PAR of 200-300 on outer edges etc for SPS that do not mind it or can take lower light.

If you have LED, I strongly urge light acclimation, but don't starve them. Often people put SPS in too low of light to start and it starves the acro. But I suggest a different light acclimation. Give them more PAR but lower the light period. So for example 250 PAR for 4-5 hours to start, etc. Increasing the period a bit more every 3-4 days until you reach your normal light period.

Ideally your QT setup will have fish and a skimmer at an absolute minimum. Nutrient export can be done via water changes, or another natural method such as ATS/macro/fuge if you have it for your QT system. Coral need fish, it helps them with nutrients.

Now for the biggest and most often asked questions - paramaters? In my experience, SPS do best at alkalinity near 7 DKH. Wild and mariculture even as low as 6 DKH. I keep all of my tanks these days between 6.5 and 7.5 DKH. I have found this level to provide the highest success rate and least amount of problems with SPS. There are certainly tanks that have success at higher ALK, but in my opinion, the lower alk is greater chance of success.

For nutrients, I never run things like Vodka, GFO, or other such "unnatural" nutrient export methods as I call them. When using these things, you can strip your water of nutrients to dangerous levels. I prefer natural methods such as an algae turf scrubber or a fuge with chaeto or other macro algaes. These methods will not strip your water of nutrients. You may measure very low amounts such as .01 phosphate or .5 nitrate, but it would take an extremely lean tank (almost no fish, very light feeding etc) to get to a dangerous level. If your algae is growing, so are your corals. An ATS or macro algae will not "out-compete" coral in my experience.

I hope this helps! And now for some pics because everyone loves pics.



About author
Aquaculture Coral Addict

Latest reviews

Definitely a solid approach and I respect and agree with avoiding the "unnatural" approach.
  • Like
Reactions: eskimoman

Article information

Article read time
4 min read
Last update
4.75 star(s) 40 ratings

More in SPS Corals

More from BoomCorals