LPS, or Large Polyp Stony, corals are some of the most varied and widespread corals. To a newcomer in the hobby, an LPS often seems like a soft coral. This is due to the very large polyps, which are usually soft or squishy. These polyps also are what really make these corals so unique in the coral trade since they take so many different structures, colors, and sizes.
Some time ago, LPS corals were considered some of the most difficult and expensive corals to own. Captive breeding was difficult and relied quite a bit on luck, and LPS brought directly from the ocean were often not kept stable enough in transit to survive once placed in a tank. Nowadays however, LPS coral are relatively easy to take care of. Modern tank technology has allowed the LPS trade to flourish, mostly in part due to how tanks can be much more easily balanced and monitored.
LPS coral have always been some of the flashiest corals kept in personal tanks. Their variable size, extreme variety in color and shapes, and relatively cheap pricing has given LPS coral the opportunity to be among the most popular corals bought today. Even within a specific species, there can be a huge amount of variance in appearance. For example, Frogspawn corals can come in almost any color of the rainbow, are able to be fragged down to tiny sizes or allowed to grow into massive behemoths, and can have tentacles shorter than an inch or over half a foot in length!
While each coral can vary immensely, on average LPS coral is right in the middle of the road in terms of care difficulty, aggression, and desire for food and space. Care for the most popular species such as Hammers and Candy Canes is easy, and don’t require much if any feeding. Most LPS coral love light, and will flourish in open and high lighting tanks. Waterflow should be kept away from both extremes.
One of the biggest downsides to LPS corals is their voracious appetites. While they are perfectly capable of sustaining themselves through passive feeding, many species are more than happy to try and eat their neighbors. Their long feeder tentacles are some of the more powerful ones. Euphyllia corals are especially deadly, some strong enough to make your skin itch!