How to Acclimate LPS Corals to Your Saltwater Fishtank

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LPS corals, or large polyp stony corals, are a popular type of corals for the marine aquarium thanks to the incredible diversity of color, shape, and texture that they add to the aquarium environment. Some LPS corals are very difficult to keep in aquariums, while others are quite easy. The most important thing to remember about LPS corals, however, is that they are a form of animal, not a plant or an insect. As such, they do display territorial tendencies, particularly those LPS corals that have “sweeper” tentacles, which are intended to sting and kill any nearby corals with whom your LPS coral may be in competition for space.

It’s generally a good idea when keeping LPS corals to keep them in a saltwater tank that is greater than 55 gallons in capacity. Smaller bodies of water, such as those tanks below 55 gallons, can be easily polluted with chemicals. Even small trace elements on your hands can contaminate your aquarium water and cause your LPS corals to become sick. Tanks larger than 55 gallons, however, with their greater volume of water, can more easily absorb the minor trace chemicals and filter them out before damaging the marine life in the aquarium.

When you add an LPS coral to your aquarium, you have to begin by selecting a spot where the coral can attach or be attached. Once you have found a good place for the coral, you can begin the acclimation process.

When keeping a saltwater aquarium, it is best to keep the water in your tank as close in salinity as possible to the supplier from whom you purchase your tank stock, particularly corals. Many reputable saltwater aquarium suppliers will sell pre-mixed water. When keeping valuable corals, it is best to use this water regularly for water changes. This will prevent the introduction into your aquarium of harsh minerals from your tap water. Match your aquarium to the salinity and temperature of the supplier’s stock tanks, and allow the tank to rest at this level for at least one day.

Like other aquarium specimens, the LPS coral has to be temperature acclimated before it can be added to the aquarium. While the coral is still in its shipping bag, float the entire bag in either your tank or in the sump. This will raise the temperature of the water in the shipping bag (which would have fallen slightly during transport) Fifteen minutes of acclimation time is the absolute minimum. Ideally, the coral should be left to acclimate for between 30 and 45 minutes. Adding the coral immediately to the tank will almost invariably kill it because it will shock the creature’s system. Even a minor fluctuation in the temperature can cause shock.

To acclimate your LPS coral to its new salinity, you will have to add small amounts of your aquarium water to the shipping bag during the temperature acclimation process. Starting at 15 minutes, add a small amount of your aquarium water to the shipping bag. Continue in this fashion every fifteen minutes until the shipping bag is full.

You can now open the bag and place the LPS coral in its designated position, remembering that you have to seat the coral firmly to prevent it from falling from its position. In most cases, you can simply wedge the stone that the LPS coral is attached to into a crevasse in your live rock. With plenty of light and occasional drifting food, your LPS coral will stay healthy, and be as happy as it’s possible for an invertebrate to be.

“The Saltwater Aquarium Handbook”; George Blasiola; 2010