How to achieve a beautiful coral reef

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Lavey29

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I am new to the hobby and have started added a few corals to my 3 month old tank. I always admire the beautiful reef systems people have created but how did you start your dream? I look at these beautiful creations and the corals are lush and vibrant while being right next to each other touching or covering each other. How do you achieve this look?

I am aware that certain species or subspecies can be close together but almost all the basic beginner soft and LPS corals that I have looked at say they are aggressive and need 6" of space around them. There are exceptions of course like certain euphylia or zoas, etc...

When starting your coral choices and placement is it better to focus on a specific area of the tank like bottom or middle first? Do you just spread a variety of corals around the tank according to flow and lights and give them a year to mature and then fill in the gaps on the rocks if you can?

What is the best approach to eventually have that lush coral thriving garden in your tank? I know it takes considerable time just wondering what the best way to start might be.
 
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SPR1968

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Design the aquascape so you get a natural look and then start adding corals and gradually build up the reef as you enjoy the hobby

You have to try and leave space between the corals so they can grow into it, but that’s easier said than done as you get ‘addicted’!

I tend to start at the higher levels with SPS so the top gets filled up quickly and then gradually work down. So in my large system the top is pretty full but there’s still plenty of room lower down

Sit back and over a few years provided you maintain water quality you will have a thriving reef in your home
 

zoa what

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Sit down and write on a piece of paper the absolute maximum amount of money you're willing to invest in this hobby

Now move the decimal point over to the right one digit....Theres the price of your beautiful creation

Shocked Bad News GIF
 
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Lavey29

Lavey29

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start with small frags and they will eventually grow into the space around them.

This is what I am doing because it says corals may be aggressive towards other corals but in the pictures of the perfect reefs it appears corals touch and are all over each other even those that shouldn't be in close proximity?
 
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Lavey29

Lavey29

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Design the aquascape so you get a natural look and then start adding corals and gradually build up the reef as you enjoy the hobby

You have to try and leave space between the corals so they can grow into it, but that’s easier said than done as you get ‘addicted’!

I tend to start at the higher levels with SPS so the top gets filled up quickly and then gradually work down. So in my large system the top is pretty full but there’s still plenty of room lower down

Sit back and over a few years provided you maintain water quality you will have a thriving reef in your home

I have essentially done what you suggested but working from the bottom up. Soft and LPS typically need lower light and flow so that is why I'm working from there. Once the tank matures I would like to add a few SPS to the top portion.
 

ninjamyst

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Be very very deliberate in your coral placement. Research how the corals grow and how it affects other corals. Some examples (based on personal experience):

Ugly zoas >> Pretty Zoas
Acros >> Zoas
Encrusting monti, lepto, pasmmocora >> Acros and Zoas
Ricordea >> Lepto (big surprise!)
GSP and Xenia = Destroyer of all living things

It is usually best to put same type of coral close to each other so they get into a stalemate.
 

mattdg

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First off, wait for the tank to get through the ugly stages before adding any cora, LPS or SPS. If you don't you may place your frag where a future HA outbreak is due to develop and either have to move it or brush around it. Either way, the coral will be irritated and might not make it.

Research each coral's care requirements first. Some species will be more aggressive than others, while others will get along and might even thrive, grouped together. When the tank is ready, place your coral based on flow (observe tissue and polyp movement) and future growth patterns. Look at other peoples mature tanks, to decipher what might grow out of control, or shade a coral underneath. Remember, some coral will do very well in dimly lit caves, such as blastomussa merletti and some chalice species, while other LPS species will need a bit more light and water movement. For LPS, you can get away with an average PAR of 50-100, so start low to stay in the safe zone.

Generally, if you place coral frags where they are happy, the tank will grow into itself, in a very natural way, over the years. When it starts to grow in, you can then decide what gaps should be filled. Just remember, each coral you add might set off a chain reaction, where another you love will get stung or crowded out. Unfortunately, there are too few reefers with mature, jam packed tanks, sharing that simple fact.

Perform regular water changes to maintain major elements and start dosing once the tank begins to take up Alk/Cal/Mag, beyond what water changes can replenish.

There is no magic to having a beautiful reef. That is the artistic side of this hobby and one where you are slowly and methodically nudging your system toward your visual goal, while respecting the limitations of your closed reef system.
 
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Lavey29

Lavey29

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just start doing things. One thing at a time. Add a coral. See what happens. Add another. You’ll learn as you go much better than trying to plan so far ahead and researching without gaining the experience at the same time.

This is essentially what I am doing but just trying to envision how my placement will eventually fill in completely as the tank matures and really just wondering how I see beautiful tanks that appear to have corals that should not be close to each other yet seem to be thriving and living in harmony?
 
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Lavey29

Lavey29

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First off, wait for the tank to get through the ugly stages before adding any cora, LPS or SPS. If you don't you may place your frag where a future HA outbreak is due to develop and either have to move it or brush around it. Either way, the coral will be irritated and might not make it.

Research each coral's care requirements first. Some species will be more aggressive than others, while others will get along and might even thrive, grouped together. When the tank is ready, place your coral based on flow (observe tissue and polyp movement) and future growth patterns. Look at other peoples mature tanks, to decipher what might grow out of control, or shade a coral underneath. Remember, some coral will do very well in dimly lit caves, such as blastomussa merletti and some chalice species, while other LPS species will need a bit more light and water movement. For LPS, you can get away with an average PAR of 50-100, so start low to stay in the safe zone.

Generally, if you place coral frags where they are happy, the tank will grow into itself, in a very natural way, over the years. When it starts to grow in, you can then decide what gaps should be filled. Just remember, each coral you add might set off a chain reaction, where another you love will get stung or crowded out. Unfortunately, there are too few reefers with mature, jam packed tanks, sharing that simple fact.

Perform regular water changes to maintain major elements and start dosing once the tank begins to take up Alk/Cal/Mag, beyond what water changes can replenish.

There is no magic to having a beautiful reef. That is the artistic side of this hobby and one where you are slowly and methodically nudging your system toward your visual goal, while respecting the limitations of your closed reef system.

Nice post, thanks. I have been doing extensive research trying to educate myself in all aspects of the hobby. I dont have many corals in the tank at all as I anticipate some ugly stages but hopefully have seeded the tank well enough to minimize the overall impact. Fish seem fine, corals in the tank seem fine, weekly water changes, N04 was elevated but now down again seem to be after a good substrate siphon.

Which corals can typically be placed together in close proximity and do well? I know some like hammer and frogspawn can because they come from same species same like having trachyphylia touching but some of these great looking reefs seem to completely break the distance barrier between corals yet everything thrives. Perhaps if corals are happy with their placement they are not that aggressive towards others?
 

sp1187

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Sit down and write on a piece of paper the absolute maximum amount of money you're willing to invest in this hobby

Now move the decimal point over to the right one digit....Theres the price of your beautiful creation

Shocked Bad News GIF
that was the old formula. it's 2 to the right these days.
 
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