There is a well known saying out there that says good things come to those who wait. This saying is certainly relevant to keeping an SPS reef tank since patience is a critical component to having success. Years ago folks, including myself, started reef tanks with either maricultured or wild colonies. In essence, you could create a nearly instant reef.
Today the most common way to start a reef is to plant frags. Frags can evolve and grow more organically with the reef, providing a more natural look versus starting a tank with colonies. A new tank with just frags does look a bit barren and can test a reef keeper’s patience. One way to “move things along” is to add some fast growing corals. With that said, here is my list of the Top 5 Fastest Growing SPS Corals:
#1 Green Bali Slimer
The Acropora Yongei or “Green Bali Slimer” is a beautiful staghorn. This coral, which has been around the hobby for a long time, is vivid green and has wide, spidering branches. As the name suggests, they do “slime” when touched or disturbed so it is wise to minimize contact. This coral is very hardy and does not need a ton of light. Why is this coral number one on my list? Well, I had one in my old 225 gallon tank and in no time it took over the whole left corner of the tank. It grew so fast the tips seemed to be growing out of the water!
Any branching monti is a good bet to quickly fill space up in a tank. I have the ATL Forest Fire Digi and the Tubbs Stellata Monti and both grow very fast. Another benefit with these corals is their ability to withstand less than ideal water parameters, making them great additions to a new tank. Montis also do not require a lot of light and a ton of flow. Cupping or encrusting montis such as an Orange Cap or Sunset Monti are fast growers as well.
#3 Birdsnest Corals
Birdnests come in a variety of colors, including neon green and pink. Once they get going they can grow like weeds. There are two types of Pink Birdsnests, with one sporting sharp tips and the other rounded tips. I have found the sharp tip variety to grow at a faster clip. If you like bright, solid colors then give this coral a try.
#4 Milka Stylo
Many Stylophoras grow quickly and the Milka Stylo is one of them. According to Reef Builders, this coral was first kept in captivity at the Monaco Aquarium in France. It has gorgeous, deep purple coloration. A true stunner that can be a centerpiece of any aquarium. It too is hardy and can adapt to a variety of conditions.
This beginner coral grows aggressively and is typically either pink or green. Pocillopora can actually reproduce and spread in a tank. This happens when its polyps separate from its base skeleton and reattach elsewhere in the reef, forming new colonies. Be cautious when adding this coral since it can take over a tank.
#6 Cali Tort (honorable mention)
Ok, I said Top 5 but I wanted to add the Cali Tort as a bonus. Why? Well, it made my list since I have one that is eighteen inches wide! The Cali Tort is an Acropora tortuosa and has blue corallites and branches with hints of green. Under certain lighting conditions the green will not be visible, causing some to misclassify it as an Oregon Blue Tort. In terms of placement, I recommend keeping this coral high in the tank under medium to bright lighting. It should also receive a moderate to high amount of flow.
Note that fast growth can be both a blessing as well as a curse. Yes, fast growing corals make it possible to have a more mature looking tank sooner rather than later. However, aggressive corals will require more attention since they will have to be cutback more often to prevent them from encroaching on other corals. As such, they should be given a wide berth versus other corals when introduced to a tank.
If you would like some help with a new tank build, including help designing a custom aquarium, or help re-configuring your current setup then you can visit this page for more information. And if you are looking to add some equipment, I do sell GHL, Pax Bellum, Reef Octopus Calcium and Kalk Reactors and Royal Exclusiv products, including Dreamboxes, which is the equipment I use and recommend. I also sell Reef Brite metal halide and LED fixtures as well as Maxspect & IceCap Gyres.
As for additional insights and information, please explore my many other reef tank and SPS related articles as well as my YouTube channel. For an even deeper dive into reef tank care you can check out my Reef Keeping Master Class. This online course is an immersive and one of a kind educational tool designed to help reef aquarium hobbyists build and maintain a beautiful SPS reef tank. The course is a series of video presentations with some supplemental video from my YouTube channel. There are also quizzes to help students retain and understand the information presented in the course.
Need some frags…..I can help with that as well 🙂 Please visit my SPS Frag store to see what is available.