Top 10 Beginner Corals for Nano Reef Tanks

Updated on November 26, 2020 by

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It’s only natural for any fish-keeper to think about a marine setup at some point. When that thought kicks in, in most cases, we start with a nano reef tank. In that sense, let’s talk today about what we think are the top 10 beginner corals for a nano reef tank.

If you’re still in the planning phase of building your first marine setup, we recommend the following best nano tanksdry rock, but also sand and gravel options.

When to start adding corals to a reef tank?

To add corals to a reef tank, we should wait for at least a month before doing that, although it’s best to wait a bit longer, say three months. It’s the same principle before any fish to a new tank. The nitrogen cycle has to be finished, and also any algae bloom should have passed before adding our first coral.

Another rule of thumb is that, of course, ammonia and nitrites levels should show absolutely zero. Then it’s safe to add corals, inverts, and ultimately some fish gradually.

How long should my reef tank lights be on?

For every reef tank, suitable LED lights are mandatory to sustain healthy coral growth. It’s essential to provide a consistent lighting cycle for a reef tank. That can be best achieved using a LED lighting solution that’s equipped with a timer.

You should keep the LED lights on for about 10 hours every day for the coral in our reef tanks.

In case you’re also looking out for lighting systems, you might be interested in checking out our article on the best LED lighting systems for reef tanks.

What to consider before buying the first coral?

Drawing up the best reef tank corals for beginners it’s an essential task with more and more fish-keepers getting into the saltwater aquarium hobby and jumping straight into nano reef tanks.

With a small nano reef tank, some things can be a little bit more challenging to keep in control compared to a larger marine tank. That’s because things can go wrong much faster in a nano reef tank.

In this sense, when looking out for the first corals to add to your nano reef tank, it’s crucial to have a stable nano reef tank running smoothly within the optimal parameters.

There will be some fluctuations in temperature, salinity, and other nutrients or elements within your tank. Still, all of these parameters are very important when it comes to successfully keeping corals.

How we chose the top 10 corals for nano reef tanks

Some of the top criteria we considered when drawing up this list were how big and fast the corals can grow. You obviously wouldn’t want in your reef tank a coral that you’re continually going to have to nip and tuck and frag every month.

That’ll help you maintain the desired look or aesthetic for your nano reef tank. The next thing we considered when choosing the corals in this list was, of course, diversity. We didn’t want to select just one type of coral, but a different bunch of corals to cover the entire spectrum and offer various colors and shapes.

Anyway, time to get started with our list of the top 10 beginner corals for nano reef tanks.

1. Hammer Coral (Euphyllia ancora)

This is a coral you’ll certainly fell in love with if you haven’t already! I’ve recently discovered a love for the Hammer coral, I’ve always thought they were pretty, but I’ve been looking for different variations of this coral.

Hammer Coral (Euphyllia ancora)

If you’re buying a Hammer coral for the first time, I’m going to recommend you to choose the branching variety. There are two different varieties of this coral. There’s the Hammer coral walling variety, which is essentially just a skeleton mass, and there’s the large polyp stony, which’s suitable for a larger aquarium.

But since we’re talking about nano reef tanks, I’d recommend that you go with the branching Hammer coral type because it’s going to make your life a lot easier if you have to frag it.

Even though the Hammer coral is an LPS coral, it does show some movement, it has long tentacles that kind of flow with the water, and that’s something that you’re going to need to consider as well with this coral.

Another aspect to keep in mind is that the Hammer coral needs a little bit of water flow to stay healthy. Anyways, an excellent beginner coral for nano reef tanks, the Hammer coral is something to consider!

It will display a sleek movement and stunning colors in your reef!

2. Duncan Coral (Duncanopsammia axifuga)

The Duncan coral made it to this as it’s probably one of my favorite corals at the moment. I picked my very first Duncan recently, and I can’t be any happier with it.

Top of it all, you can definitely have your Clownfish start hosting a Duncan coral!

Duncan Corals (Duncanopsammia axifuga)
You can feed Duncan corals, which is great fun because it will wrap its tentacles around the food and ingest it, typical of these alien movies. This is incredibly awesome when you’re starting in the saltwater hobby and want to have a coral that will react to something you do.

Duncan corals are very hardy. Perhaps Duncan corals won’t offer you a whole lot of coloration, but they have an exciting growth pattern, and they are going to be able to withstand a lot of changes in the tank’s parameters.

So that’s something important that needs to be in place about an excellent nano reef tank coral for beginners.

3. Pavona Coral (Pavona decussatus)

The only SPS (small polyp stony) coral to make it to our top list of the easiest nano reef corals for beginners is the Pavona coral. If you’re worried about seeing the SPS, relax as the Pavona coral is a very hard SPS coral.

Pavona Coral (Pavona decussatus)

That’s why it made it on this list. It’s going to offer some unique growth patterns and some incredible coloration. Sometimes also referred to as the Cactus coral because some of their growth patterns of Pavona coral resemble cacti.

4. Hollywood Stunner Chalice (Echinophyllia aspera)

In general, chalices are not good nano reef tank corals, but the Hollywood stunner one is probably one of the most bulletproof chalice corals out there in the hobby nowadays.

Hollywood Stunner Chalice (Echinophyllia aspera)

There have been cases of chunks of salt that fell on this chalice coral, causing a rather severe burn, but guess what? The Hollywood Stunner recovered successfully from even a dead spot right in the middle of it.

It didn’t even take a lot of time to make that happen, as it was fully recovered within a week. As such, the Hollywood Stunner Chalice is absolutely a hardy and awesome coral for any beginner’s nano reef tank.

5. Mushroom Coral (Actinodiscus sp.)

Following up on our top 10 beginner corals for nano reef tanks is the mushroom. Now, this might be a familiar name among other corals as well, but you’ll recognize the mushroom easily in any live marine store.

Mushroom Corals (Actinodiscus sp.)
There’s a wide variety of different mushroom coral morphs, and particularly the red one is absolutely stunning.

But all in all, mushrooms are a very hardy coral. They’re going to show some unique colorations and growth patterns. Mushrooms are also easy to cultivate because as they move around the tank, they will leave little bits, which will grow a little tiny mushroom.

Mushrooms are great corals because they are very hardy and prefer moderate lighting but will withstand different lighting schemes too.

6. Acan Coral (Acanthastrea echinata)

You’ve probably wondered already where are the Acan Corals on our list – well, here they are! The Acan is a large polyp stony coral and what that means is that it has a skeleton base and large polyps.

Acan Corals (Acanthastrea echinata)

Their name is just a hobby generated term based on the scientific name, but next to their name, you have to admit that these corals are stunning. Acan corals offer various color morphs, and they’re going to do best in dimly-lit tanks, making them a perfect candidate for nano reef tanks.

We’ve seen Acans do very well in various marine environments, and they are very hardy. So in that sense, that’s why they are great coral for beginners, and you should consider them when you are looking for corals for your nano reef tank.

7. Ricordea Coral (Ricordea yuma)

Next on our top 10 beginner corals for nano reef tanks is the Ricordea.

Ricordea Coral (Ricordea yuma)

Now, this is one of the very first corals that we ever got, and you’ll be amazed by their types and color variations, but green is the most common.

They’re are hardy corals and very tolerant of change. Ricordeas will love to be placed at the bottom of the reef tank, with moderate to high lighting. That’s why it makes Ricordea an excellent beginner coral for nano reef tanks.

8. Candy Cane Coral (Caulastrea furcata)

Next on our top ten list for beginner corals and nano reef tanks is the Candy Cane Coral. This is probably a favorite coral among beginners that comes in fantastic color variations to satisfy all sorts of expectations from marine enthusiasts.

Candy Cane Coral (Caulastrea furcata)
The Candy Cane Coral it’s a very hardy LPS coral that stands for large polyp stony. Although it’s an LPS coral, it’s a branching LPS coral, which makes it very easy to frag, and its growth structure isn’t similar to other LPS corals.

It’s a coral that grows out, and it becomes very stocky, which is an exciting growth pattern. You can put Candy Cane Corals anywhere in the tank top, middle, or bottom.

However, Candy Canes will generally do best with moderate flow & lighting, but they can also get slowly acclimated to accept slightly lower or higher lighting & flow.

9. Green Star Polyps (Pachyclavularia violacea)

The Green Star Polyps or also known as GSP, is a soft coral that’s very common among marine enthusiasts. Probably most of us even had it as our first-ever coral for our nano tank.

Green Star Polyps (Pachyclavularia violacea)

Green Star Polyps are an excellent starting coral for beginners, as they’re incredibly hardy, which is a benefit, especially with a small aquarium that’s potentially going to have a lot of variances in water parameters.

In short, the Green Star Polyps will be able to withstand change. They’re easy to care for, and they’re tolerant of a range of water conditions, which is essential in the case of a nano reef tank.

They are also fast-growing, so it’s something that you need to take into consideration. But we think those are important things to consider for somebody who’s just starting in the hobby and is a little bit nervous about getting a beginner coral and keeping it.

If you decide to get it, you’ll surely find a fair amount of success with Green Star Polyps, and that’s why it made it on the top 10 beginner corals for nano reef tanks.

10. Zoanthids Corals (Zoanthus sp.)

The first thing you should keep in memory when referring to Zoanthids is the fact that some of them have a toxin within them, which is potentially fatal if ingested or entered into the human bloodstream.

Varieties of Zoanthid coral-like Palythoa species and Zoanthus species may contain a highly toxic, naturally-occurring, and potentially lethal substance known as Palytoxin.
Zoanthids Corals (Zoanthus sp.)

So whenever you’re handling Zoanthids, I strongly urge you guys to wear safety glasses and gloves and all that protective stuff to keep yourself safe. Besides that, make sure if you’re ever fragging Zoanthids that there aren’t any pets around and that you’re making sure that everything is taken care of properly because the toxin could potentially kill a small pet.

Zoanthids are excellent and beginner-friendly corals because they are resilient and can withstand just anything that a new fish-keeper could throw at them. That’s what makes them part of our top coral for beginners and nano reef tanks.

To conclude – What’s your favorite coral for reef nano tanks?

We took our time narrowing down this top 10 beginner corals for nano reef tanks and we hope you can make your coral choices now if your nano reef tank is cycled and ready to welcome some beautiful corals.

Do your own research as well and talk to your coral supplier, make sure you understood all that it takes to properly take care of a nano reef tank. The corals from our top need a moderate lighting and water flow. Different corals have different needs as well when it comes to their food, but we shall cover these needs in a separate article.