Is good polyp extension necessary if you want to have success with SPS corals? Not necessarily. However, if you dig fuzzy sticks then there are a few things you can do to fulfill this desire. Here are my Top 5 Tips to Maximize SPS Polyp Extension:
  1. Avoid Fish with a Hankering for SPS – Perhaps this is a no brainer, but you should bypass fish with a tendency to snack on SPS. Certain angelfish can be problematic. For example, the Centropyge species, commonly called dwarf or pygmy angels, are known to nip and are high risk. Angels in the Genicanthus species such as Swallow Tail or Bellus Angels are considered reef safe.
  2. Maintain Good Water Conditions – This is really two parts, but I am wrapping them into one because I want a Top 5 List, not a Top 6 List 🙂 Part 1 is to keep your parameters steady. It is critical to have stability for things such as salinity, nitrate, magnesium and calcium. Stable phosphate is important as well, but perhaps most important for SPS is keeping alkalinity at a consistent level. Any swings with this parameter over a short period of time usually spells trouble and can impact polyp extension. As for Part 2, keep a “slightly” dirty tank and have some levels of nitrates (2.5 – 5 ppm) and phosphates (.03-.05). You don’t want to starve your corals with non-detectable nutrients.
  3. Provide Strong Random Flow – To replicate what happens in nature, give SPS strong random flow using a good re-circulating pump like an EcoTech MP40. Proper circulation helps to deliver food and nutrients to corals. But don’t go overboard and blast SPS with constant, full-on direct flow.
  4. Be Mindful of Lighting Requirements – SPS corals with low light requirements placed under high light will not be happy campers. By the same token, corals that thrive under strong light will not do as well with when placed in spots with less light intensity.
  5. Keep an Eye Out for Pests – SPS will become stressed when Acro Eating Flatworms (AEFW) and Red Bugs are in the house. Red Bugs are easily eradicated but nuking AEFW is much more difficult.


 

Other Sources of Information

These tips will certainly increase your odds of having better SPS polyp extension and some will lead to more overall success with SPS. For a complete list of how to optimize SPS colors and growth, you can check out my Top 10 Tips For Keeping a SPS Reef Tank. And for even more details you can pick up a copy of my book, A ReefBum’s Guide To Keeping an SPS Reef Tank: A Blueprint For Success.

 

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If you are looking for additional insights and information, please explore my many other reef tank and SPS related articles. And you can see all of my reef tank videos online now as well as my Live HD Webcam.

 

Happy reef keeping!