What Are The Different Types Of Coral?

You’ve bought your aquarium and decided on saltwater. To build the best possible environment for your fish and marine life you need living coral. So you scan the internet looking for live corals for sale. But there are hundreds to choose from. How do you find which ones are best for your aquarium?

Well, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s start by covering the basics. First of all, coral is an animal that comprises a multitude of forms. Each of these forms provides various fish and aquatic creatures with an abode.

Coral itself is formed via symbiosis. That means a mutually beneficial partnership between two or more organisms. In this case, coral forms a series of tissues that algae called zooxanthella then inhabit. The zooxanthella provides food for the coral using photosynthesis.

In addition to the food for lodging tradeoff between the coral and the algae, the zooxanthella, also influence the coral’s form and color. That is why when looking at the different types of coral, you have probably seen some corals that resemble rocks and others that resemble plants.

Color combinations can and do vary widely based upon the concentration and combination of zooxanthella present. Common colors include: green, brown, pink, yellow, red, purple, and blue. Next, you need to consider the size. Corals do come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

To create your aquarium reef you need to think about the kind of reef in your building. How fast is the coral going to grow? What type of reef does it like to build? Oh yes, and, what kind of aquatic creatures and fish live compatibly with this coral?

Let’s take a moment to discuss coral reefs. There are three main types of coral reefs.

First, there are the fringing reefs. A fringing reef borders the shore. Specifically, the coral’s anchor to the shore then grows directly out towards the sea.

Second, there are barrier reefs. Barrier reefs also border shorelines. Essentially these reefs grow directly up acting as a barrier between the land on one side and the vast deepwater expanses on the other.

Third, is the atoll reefs. An atoll reef is in between barrier and fringing reefs. These are corals which ring a submerged volcano or other submerged geological structure. As they grow up they eventually crest the water’s surface. Often creating circular or oval shapes. Atolls can eventually become sand bar islands.

Now let’s look at the types of live corals for sale. There are eight categories listed here.

First, is the massive corals. These are extremely slow-growing, varying in size from a chicken-sized egg to a large two-story house, and resemble boulders.

Second, is the foliose corals. Commonly called salad or leaf corals, for their resemblance to them.

Third, is the table corals. Like their name suggests these corals grow from a central trunk with fused branches that spread horizontally.

Fourth, is the encrusting corals. These are fast-growing corals found growing on shipwrecks, artificial reefs and any number of artifacts.

The fifth is the Elkhorn corals. These corals resemble the branched hones of elk and deer. The most common of these is the stag-horn coral.

Sixth is the digitate corals, which strongly resemble fingers or large clumps of cigars.

Seventh is the mushroom corals. These solitary corals grow from a sole polyp that lays on the ground totally unattached, and yes they do resemble mushrooms.

Eighth is the branching corals. Small colorful corals with a tree-like structure, that is to say, branches and secondary branches going in all directions.