How to Mix LPS and SPS Corals

Updated July 20, 2017

Large Polyp Stony (LPS) and Small Polyp Stony (SPS) corals, both require different types of care. They can be housed together -- if placed properly in the aquarium -- provided the aquarium is large enough. Proper care for these delicate corals requires time and dedication to the upkeep of the saltwater reef and it can be quite expensive. Keeping LPS and SPS corals should only be attempted by experience aquarists.

Place SPS and LPS corals appropriately in the aquarium. Keep SPS corals at the top of the reef and LPS at the bottom. LPS corals are aggressive and have long sweeper tentacles that will sting neighbouring corals. Use caution with the placement of any LPS coral. SPS are peaceful and can be kept close together and do not sting neighbours.

Provide proper lighting. SPS corals require a high-output light, such as VHO (very high output) or halide lighting. LPS coral require a medium light source such as T5 or power compact fluorescent (PCF). Depending on the tank size a VHO light or halide light may work, but the tank depth must be over 25 inches deep. Place SPS corals at the top of the reef, where they will receive the right lighting and water movement. Keep LPS low and to the bottom portion of the aquarium.

Provide constant water flow in the aquarium; however, certain requirements must be met. SPS corals require strong, multidirectional water movement for feeding and continued health. LPS require gentle flow for feeding and photosynthesis purposes. High-flow to a LPS will cause the polyps to retract; therefore, they cannot feed or gather the light needed to survive. Add a wave maker and multidirectional power heads to the surface of the aquarium for SPS corals.

Feed corals for continued colour and health. SPS and LPS corals require bi-weekly feedings. Feed SPS corals pulverised food specifically for SPS coral, zoo plankton and bio-plankton. Pulverised food requires the food to be mixed in with the reef water.

Shake pulverised food near power heads for distribution to the SPS. Using a pipette or baster to gently target feed SPS both zoo plankton and bio-plankton liquid. Feed LPS corals meaty foods such as live brine shrimp, mysis shrimp and cyclopeeze. Using tongs or tweezers, feed LPS corals tiny pieces of meat. Both SPS and LPS corals should only be fed if their polyps are extended. LPS corals have long tentacles that will grab the food and will feed themselves.

Add supplements on a weekly basis, along with a weekly water change. SPS corals require high levels of calcium. Both SPS and LPS require trace minerals for survival and continued health. Each week change 15 per cent of the aquarium water. Add trace minerals per the manufacturer's instructions. Adding a calcium reactor will automatically keep calcium levels appropriate for the SPS corals.


Never keep SPS and LPS in a nano reef environment. A nano reef is too small of an environment for these corals to coexist.

Things You'll Need

  • Wave maker
  • Power heads
  • Halide light
  • VHO light
  • T5 light
  • Power compact light
  • Coral supplements
  • Bio plankton
  • Zoo plankton
  • Mysis shrimp
  • Brine shrimp
  • Cyclopeeze
  • Baster
  • Pipette
  • Tongs
  • Tweezers
  • Calcium reactor
  • Protein skimmer
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