Rethinking LPS and SPS classifications

Do you think classifying corals by water depth would be less confusing and intimidating?


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Jansen

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Hello All,

This is actually my first post, I've been in the hobby for 15 years and have actually worked in the hobby in the past as well. I was recently thinking about how we use the LPS and SPS classifications for corals still within the hobby and how this is somewhat antiquated.

We have corals such as Cyphastrea, Leptos, etc, that probably more closely resemble SPS but have requirements more like LPS, especially when it comes to lighting.

So I was thinking that perhaps a better way of separating out corals would be based on where they are found instead of polyp size since that can be mis-leading, something along the lines of deep water and shallow water.

In this case a cyphastrea for instance would be considered deep water so new comers would better understand its needs.

Any Thoughts? I'm looking forward to what both new comers and more experienced hobbyist think.

-Jansen
 

mdbannister

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Hi Jansen! Welcome to R2R! This will pose an interesting discussion for sure. I personally am not sure a classification by depth would really be that much more helpful than the current classification system. I'd also suspect that it might be difficult because of finding many corals at a variety of different depths...or am I wrong on that one? In any case, I'm looking forward to following the discussion. :)
 

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Welcome to reef2reef!
I get what your saying, it would be nice for new reefers to know that info. Lps and sps in my eyes refers to the size of food they eat. When in actuality it’s based off the actual skeleton. Maybe someone can elaborate.
 

NotASpammerDude

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In my admittedly novice opinion, I think that since many corals in the hobby are "selected" for aquarium fortitude either through selective propagation or targeted harvesting (my made up terms), the depth at which corals are collected loses it's meaning.

The biggest value I find in the LPS/SPS designation is that LPS generally have a more robust tissue "body" which allows for more leeway in the "punishment" a coral can take before it its unrecoverable... for instance I can feed an LPS and I know it will help it survive, even if I have subpar lighting or water quality. An SPS is different in that regard.
 
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Jansen

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Hi Jansen! Welcome to R2R! This will pose an interesting discussion for sure. I personally am not sure a classification by depth would really be that much more helpful than the current classification system. I'd also suspect that it might be difficult because of finding many corals at a variety of different depths...or am I wrong on that one? In any case, I'm looking forward to following the discussion. :)

I agree that it still wouldn't fix the problem completely, but I think I'm imagining more of a generalization than exact depths, and would allow hobbyist to maintain parameters more like those where acropora are found, ie) high light, low nutrient, turbulent flow; compared to the conditions where euphyllia are found, ie) subdued light, increased nutrients, pulsing flow. Then consider elegance coral, they require conditions much more similar to that of acropora actually but are currently sold based on polyp size and therefore people place these in lower light, higher nutrient environments where they don't flourish.
 
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Jansen

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In my admittedly novice opinion, I think that since many corals in the hobby are "selected" for aquarium fortitude either through selective propagation or targeted harvesting (my made up terms), the depth at which corals are collected loses it's meaning.

The biggest value I find in the LPS/SPS designation is that LPS generally have a more robust tissue "body" which allows for more leeway in the "punishment" a coral can take before it its unrecoverable... for instance I can feed an LPS and I know it will help it survive, even if I have subpar lighting or water quality. An SPS is different in that regard.

That's an interesting point, yes aquaculture is changing a lot of this, but I guess I'm referring mainly to those fringe corals that don't neatly meet those criteria, like far more sensitive "LPS" like gonis, elegance, etc.

Also I think that this may help prevent what I consider the "Mixed reef mistake." I started using this condition categorization back when I worked in the hobby at an LFS and I saw customers achieve much more success and less frustration this way, which keeps people in the hobby, which is ultimately the goal right?
 

Ike

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I think there are problems with just about any classification other than the scientific name... "Deepwater" has been misused so many times in this hobby and it's misunderstood by most. Many corals that people think are deepwater in this hobby are found in shallow depths and vice versa. Also, if something is photosynthetic, is it really deep water? I don't think so... I also think deep water and shallow water comes with a lot of assumptions and if you wanted to go a direction like that I think "lagoonal" "reef basin", "reef flat", etc.refering to the locales where they're collected would be far more helpful. Just my .02

Jansen, welcome to Reef2Reef!
 
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Jansen

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Welcome to reef2reef!
Lps and sps in my eyes refers to the size of food they eat. When in actuality it’s based off the actual skeleton.
I think this very much sums up what I'm trying to say, LPS and SPS could very easily refer to food particle size, but then think about particle size for a cyphastrea and it would need a more SPS suitable food, but the lighting requirements of a cyphastrea are vastly different than those that you would find in a "SPS" tank.
 
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Jansen

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Something else that I've always considered would be great, and I've seen some of this recently online, is that when a coral is advertised, along with the ideal conditions of the coral, other corals that thrive in the same conditions have been listed alongside of it as examples of other animals that you may want, I wish I could remember where it was online because it seemed like a great educational idea, but also a brilliant marketing plan too, which spoke to me because I'm in sales and marketing, so I figured it spoke to me more than it would the average consumer, haha.

What do you all think about this?
 

Hemmdog

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Something else that I've always considered would be great, and I've seen some of this recently online, is that when a coral is advertised, along with the ideal conditions of the coral, other corals that thrive in the same conditions have been listed alongside of it as examples of other animals that you may want, I wish I could remember where it was online because it seemed like a great educational idea, but also a brilliant marketing plan too, which spoke to me because I'm in sales and marketing, so I figured it spoke to me more than it would the average consumer, haha.

What do you all think about this?
I like that. Like same region and depth, cool idea.
 

Ike

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I think this very much sums up what I'm trying to say, LPS and SPS could very easily refer to food particle size, but then think about particle size for a cyphastrea and it would need a more SPS suitable food, but the lighting requirements of a cyphastrea are vastly different than those that you would find in a "SPS" tank.
But then consider that there are cyphastrea that like to be blasted with light and others that will struggle with a lot of light... Then there are some that will do well in a variety of lighting and conditions.
 
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Jansen

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But then consider that there are cyphastrea that like to be blasted with light and others that will struggle with a lot of light... Then there are some that will do well in a variety of lighting and conditions.
Exactly so that's why those individual cyphastrea that require high light should be in turn classified by the condition, and would meet the current "SPS" requirement and the others would need to be classified by their comparable conditions, I guess what I'm getting at is maybe a conditional classification for corals on an individual basis would be ideal, and also quite achievable based on the knowledge within the community.
 

NotASpammerDude

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I just wish specimens were identified to the species level as an industry standard, without that, it's harder to classify them IMO
 

FishDoc

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All in all, I believe the current classification serves it purpose in that those familiar with what each means can make decisions about whether it’s suitable for purchase for them and what they’re capable of caring for (in theory...). After all, The SPS/LPS classification are somewhat arbitrary only relevant within the hobbyist realm anyways. To start to rethink the way corals are marketed and as a result sold would simply add unnecessary confusion.
 
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Hello All,

This is actually my first post, I've been in the hobby for 15 years and have actually worked in the hobby in the past as well. I was recently thinking about how we use the LPS and SPS classifications for corals still within the hobby and how this is somewhat antiquated.

We have corals such as Cyphastrea, Leptos, etc, that probably more closely resemble SPS but have requirements more like LPS, especially when it comes to lighting.

So I was thinking that perhaps a better way of separating out corals would be based on where they are found instead of polyp size since that can be mis-leading, something along the lines of deep water and shallow water.

In this case a cyphastrea for instance would be considered deep water so new comers would better understand its needs.

Any Thoughts? I'm looking forward to what both new comers and more experienced hobbyist think.

-Jansen

I think at least adding that info would be beneficial for sure. I'm not convinced we as hobbyists can convince the scientific community to do the same however..

I always tell people light requirements when sharing frags and its something I give consideration to as I place them, I jut say the name and tell if its high/low light and flow as well as grow patterns so they are prepared..
 
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Jansen

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All in all, I believe the current classification serves it purpose in that those familiar with what each means can make decisions about whether it’s suitable for purchase for them and what they’re capable of caring for (in theory...). After all, The SPS/LPS classification are somewhat arbitrary only relevant within the hobbyist realm anyways. To start to rethink the way corals are marketed and as a result sold would simply add unnecessary confusion.
I understand the point you are making but like you said the current distinctions serve a purpose for those familiar, I'm suggesting hat this system is confusing to new hobbyist, so whether LPS and SPS are comfortable to someone who has been in the hobby doesn't actually address the situation I'm referring too. I also believe it is much easier for long term hobbyist to adopt new terminology, if it means helping those that are new.
 
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Jansen

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I think at least adding that info would be beneficial for sure. I'm not convinced we as hobbyists can convince the scientific community to do the same however..

I always tell people light requirements when sharing frags and its something I give consideration to as I place them, I jut say the name and tell if its high/low light and flow as well as grow patterns so they are prepared..
Exactly and the current classification has problems because it doesn't address the different growth requirements of corals, and these animals do not tend to follow trends, so lumping corals together by one collective trait such as polyp size just isn't the best way of classification, and that is all I'm suggesting.
 

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