For Beginners: Top Corals to Avoid

Top Corals to Avoid

Luckily for us, there is no shortage of corals that make an excellent choice for beginner reefers. However, there are some species that entry-level reef hobbyists should avoid due to their complex care requirements or aggressiveness towards other corals. For these reasons, we recommend doing a little research before deciding if a particular variety is a good fit for you and a good fit for your aquarium. In this week’s article, we cover the top corals to avoid for new hobbyists.

Xenia & Green Star Polyp

Top Corals to Avoid: Green Star Polyp
Green Star Polyp

Reason to Avoid: Explosive growth; growth needs to be reigned in to prevent them from negatively impacting other corals.

Both Xenia & Green Star Polyp are popular choices for beginners because they are easy to keep; however, they also grow so explosively that they can quickly take over your system. Pulsing Xenia has incredible movement within a reef tank; however, they will drop arms that can attach themselves all over your tank as they grow. Controlling their growth is critical as they are difficult to remove. Green Star Polyp or GSP is an encrusting species that can grow all over the rock work and over the top of other corals if not correctly managed. If you are prepared to address their growth, both of these species can be an excellent choice that brings a tremendous amount of movement to a reef tank. However, if you don’t want to trim back your coral constantly, it may be best to avoid Xenia and GSP.


Top Corals to Avoid: Gorgonian

Reason to Avoid: High maintenance; needs to be directly fed at least twice per day.

Non-photosynthetic corals are challenging to keep as they do not utilize light to grow and instead rely on food within their water column to remain happy and healthy. Gorgonians are the most common non-photosynthetic species in reef hobby; however, they are not ideal for beginners. To start, these corals must be fed at least twice a day, which can be challenging for hobbyists with busy lives. Additionally, these frequent feeding will negatively impact the water quality and increase the amount of maintenance required for the tank. Combining their needs for continuous feeding and pristine water conditions makes Gorgonians and other non-photosynthetic corals challenging for hobbyists of any skill level.


Top Corals to Avoid: Green Goniopora
Green Goniopora

Reason to Avoid: Aggressive; stinger corals can hurt nearby corals.

Goniopora or flowerpot coral is another challenging species that beginner reef hobbyists should avoid. Goniopora is known for its polyp-extension and color diversity. While their polyp extension gives the coral a unique look, these polyps are capable of stinging and hurting nearby corals. Fully tank-raised, aquacultured specimens can be hardy; however, it does not guarantee success. Finding fully aquacultured pieces is also easier said than done. For care, Goni’s require moderate to high amounts of flow and light in addition to consistent water parameters. As a result of their complex care requirements and ability to harm other corals, we recommend reserving Goniopora for the more experienced hobbyists.


Top Corals to Avoid: Blue Acropora
Blue Acropora

Reason to Avoid: High maintenance; requires pristine water conditions.

Acropora is the darling species of the SPS coral family; however, they are also one of the most challenging to keep. Acropora requires high light, flow, and pristine water conditions, which can be challenging for hobbyists of all skill levels, let alone beginners. Acropora, for example, needs just the right amount of nitrate and phosphate to thrive, and they are susceptible to even minor fluctuations in temperature, salinity, alkalinity, pH, and more. However, most hobbyists love Acro’s, so they are certainly a coral that many hobbyists aspire to keep after gaining more experience.


Rose Bubble Tip Anemone
Rose Bubble Tip Anemone

Reason to Avoid: High maintenance; requires pristine water conditions and can move around inside the tank.

Our next coral to avoid isn’t a coral at all but an invertebrate. Anemones are popular additions for aquariums, and they come in a wide variety of sizes and corals; however, they are not an ideal option for a beginner. Most anemone varieties are sensitive to fluctuations in water chemistry which is a common issue in many beginner systems. Most anemones also possess the ability to move around an aquarium using their detachable foot, and their movement can cause all sorts of issues. These issues include getting stuck in pumps and smothering other corals. Additionally, anemones often carry a powerful sting that can damage or kill other corals. All of these considerations make a majority of anemone species a poor choice for beginner hobbyists.


Maxima Clam
Maxima Clam

Reason to Avoid: High maintenance; requires pristine water conditions.

Our last species is also an invertebrate; however, they have similar care requirements to some of the more challenging to keep coral species. Clams require both extremely stable water chemistry as well as intense lighting. There are four main clam varieties commonly kept within reef tanks; Derasa, Squamosa, Maxima, and Crocea. The Derasa is comparatively the easiest to support; however, it is still not great for beginners. Any fluctuations in water chemistry can stress them out, eventually leading to damage or death. When owning a clam, it is also essential to consider what fish and other invertebrate species are kept with them as some Angelfish and crab species are known to make clams an expensive meal. In our opinion, clams present too many care requirements and considerations to be a good choice for any beginner reef tank.

Final Thoughts on Top Corals to Avoid for Beginners

We hope this guide has helped bring to light some coral varieties that beginner reefers should generally consider as the top corals to avoid. While these corals and invertebrates are not a great choice for beginners, they can certainly be something you aspire to keep as your experience grows. Once you establish proper reefkeeping habits and your system matures appropriately, you may have a tank that is ready to add one of these species. If you’re not sure if a specific coral would be a good choice for your skillset, feel free to contact our support team.

To learn more about some tools that will allow you to keep these corals in the future, check out our website at

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