coral variety question

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Well-known member
Jun 30, 2003
Mukilteo, WA

Thanks for all of the great info you have been posting. I feel like I am getting a PHD education on a beer budget...I love it.

I was wondering if you could talk a little about how we can establish some variety in our tanks (color mainly, but also growth form) and keep from having a garden type (one of these..one of those, etc.) tank. I wouldn't mind having a species tank if I can still have the variety of color (within reason) and some difference in growth form. I know you have stated in the past that most reef keepers try to keep too many different species (trying for a garden rather than a biotope), so I am hoping to get a little guidance on how to avoid this and still have a visually pleasing tank (I know...in the eye of the beholder).

Thanks again for all of the great info and I look forward to your input on this question.


Anthony Calfo

Well-known member
Feb 19, 2004
very welcome my friend :)

And what you seek is really quite practical and well withing reach. Many aquarists have shifted this way in recent years in particular with the plentiful supply of so many frags in various colors and morphs.

It could be as simple as dedicating a tank to just one family of coral like Mussids, Alcyoniids or Acroporids. Getting better/more specific like keeping one genera... you could make a fantastic display of Montipora (genus) Acroporidae (family). And you know that there are so many different morphs and colors of Montis alone: boulderesque, encrusting, digitate, etc... and numerous colors of individual species alone like the scrolling M. caps or the finger M. digitata. Literally dozens to be had just with those two species. A fine aquarist in Boston has a tank like this dedicated principally to Montipora.

One of the nicest tanks I've ever seen was a very simple tank of Alcyoniid leathers... mostly Sinularia, where a handsome collection of various colors and forms were all thriving in a magnificent and lush mass. But just imagine how many other Alcyoniids there are to be had. The number of shapes and colors or Sarcophyton or Sinularia alone is staggering.

And dramatically colored and obscenely overpriced Mussids like Acanthastrea seem to be all the rage as of late. I really cant wait until those folks buying these shamelessly marketed "rare" Acanthastrea for prices like $60-100+ per polyp realize that they are imported (weekly) to California for mere dollars per colony like any other "brain" coral. Hey - don't get me wrong... I'm a dedicated capitalist. But price gouging is just wrong and hurts us all including the merchant in the big picture (long term, happy, customers or even simply having/helping more customers stay in the hobby longer because they can afford it, etc.)

At any rate... you are not limited in the least. Start at least by keeping to one family, and then try to narrow it down as best as possible... grouping by genera or species as space permits.


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