The Ultimate Live Coral Buying Guide

The seas are filled with living creatures, both plant and animal, that provide interest, intrigue, and opportunities to learn about this beautiful world we inhabit. For many, coral reefs (and the colorful animals that live and thrive in their nooks and crannies) provide some of the earth’s more mysterious and enchanting features.

Most don’t realize it’s possible to bring the oceans home by creating an aquatic environment where beautiful coral species will thrive. There might be many questions at first. How is a coral aquarium established? Where can a hobbyist find saltwater corals for sale? Which are the best types to start with? Buy wisely, and you will get a head start in the basics of getting started in this delightful and fascinating hobby of creating habitats for coral.

First of all, trends might be enticing, but building the best coral reef starts with the basics. Later, exotic corals (expensive items that have seen recent bursts of popularity, such as mushroom polyps or sunburnt coral can be added) Going with the trends might fill your reef with corals that are extremely expensive and difficult to care for, so succumbing to this temptation is a no-no unless you have an unlimited budget.

Instead, find saltwater corals for sale that are grown with care. There are various ways vendors grow coral, including wild colonies, matriculated colonies, or aqua-cultured coral fragments. Wild colonies are basically pieces harvested from coral growing in the wild. They have spent their lifespan acclimating to the conditions in the wild, so there may be some adjustment required while they acclimate to the new environment provided by an aquarium. It is important to make sure any coral harvested in the wild has not been recently harvested, and has been given time to adjust to more artificial conditions.

Matriculated colonies are produced from smaller fragments removed from a wild colony. Sellers then place them in special areas of the ocean so they can grow. The idea is similar to planting cuttings when growing plants. They are separated out and allowed to mature and increase. Because the colonies are somewhat managed, they tend to carry fewer issues and pests than their totally wild counterparts. They tend to be better for bringing into an artificial aquarium, but there still may need to be measures taken to assure they are problem-free and pest-free. The greatest benefit of matriculated coral is that a reef-keeper can start right out the gate with a somewhat large and perhaps showy piece of coral. Since the matriculated types are produced in all kinds of beautiful hues encouraged by growers.

Aqua-cultured fragments are essentially either wild or matriculated colony pieces that were allowed to fully adjust and mature for a long time within an artificial aquarium environment. As explained before, purchasing such coral is usually the best choice for the novice coral reef hobbyist who is just learning about coral. Buyers can be more certain they are buying coral that is hearty and will work well when transferred to the home aquarium.

What route taken is a personal choice, but getting into the hobby by practicing with the lower-cost brown or green corals is a good way to get started. Once some knowledge and experience have been gained, however, the sky’s the limit.

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