There are SO many SPS corals to choose from these days and many are being sold at ridiculously high prices. Sorry, but I can’t justify paying a few hundred dollars for a half inch frag. Unfortunately, many sellers lean on photoshop and marketing hype to drive up prices. But perhaps that is a topic for a future blog post 😉
There are a number of great options for budget conscious reefers when it comes to selecting SPS for a tank. With that said, here are my Top 5 Most Underrated (and CHEAP) SPS Corals.
#1 Tyree Red Dragon
The Red Dragon is a deepwater Acropora with smooth skin. The coral requires good flow and does well in the middle part of the tank under moderate lighting, although it will do fine higher up or lower down in some tanks.
This coral generated a lot of buzz and hype a number of years ago when it made its way into the trade. Why did this coral grab so much attention? Well, it is unique due to its red/fuchsia/pink color, white colored polyps and growth pattern. The coral’s uniqueness and limited availability did translate into a very high price tag back then but today it is more readily available. This stunner can be had these days for only $40!
#2 Tubbs Stellata Montipora
This monti was named after hobbyist John Susbilla (a.k.a. Tubs). The piece was first known as the Tubs Lavender and Green Montipora Stellata. For some reason an extra “b” was added to the coral’s name at some point in time. No matter which way it is spelled, it is a must have monti that is great for either beginners or experts.
The Tubbs Stellata Monti does not require a lot of light so it can be happy in the lower part of a tank. In terms of flow it does well in areas with a low to medium amount of current.
This Montipora has bright green polyps and purple branches, a rare contrast in colors. It is a true stunner and will stick out in a reef when viewed from across a room. It too has dropped over time into budget coral territory. A nice chunk can be picked up for about $50.
#3 Sunset Monti
Another classic monti available on the cheap. The Sunset Montipora has bright orange skin and vivid green polyps. It is so friggin’ cool looking!
Similar to many encrusting Montipora, the Sunset is a fast grower and will spread across pretty much any type of surface. It does fine in low light conditions and does not need a lot of flow. You do have to be careful with placement since they can be aggressive and are capable of encrusting a large chunk of a reef’s main rock structure.
Cost of a frag these days is around $30.
#4 ORA Red Planet
The ORA Red Planet was acquired by ORA in May of 2006 and quickly became a popular coral among SPS enthusiasts once it became available for sale. They were hard to come by for a while and had a decent price tag as a result.
But I believe the hype was justified. This coral is bright red with hints of green at its base. It is also a table and can grow quickly under the right conditions (strong lighting and flow). I don’t have any proof of this, but I do believe this coral has been re-branded by some coral vendors. I have seen several look a-likes with much higher price tags. Unfortunately, this is part of the coral name game.
A true ORA Red Planet should only cost about $40. That’s a steal for a gorgeous red table!
#5 ORA Hawkins
Another oldie but a goodie from the ORA farm. It apparently was named after Robert Hawkins, an ORA facility manager, who acquired the coral from Germany in 2006. ORA classified the coral as an Acropora echinata but it commonly gets confused with the Acropora turaki since both sport a similar color and bottlebrush shape.
This coral has bright aqua/turquoise coloration and is a fast grower. It requires medium to high lighting and a moderate amount of flow. It is a smooth skin Acropora and can be more sensitive versus other corals when dipped or shipped.
The going rate today for this coral is about $40.
#6 Milka Stylo (honorable mention)
Ok, this SPS made my list of the Top 5 Fastest Growing SPS Corals but it also made this list. I love this coral because it has gorgeous, deep purple coloration. A true stunner that can be a centerpiece of any aquarium. It is also hardy and can adapt to a variety of tank conditions.
Frags are typically sold for around $30 but I wouldn’t be surprised if some reefers are giving this coral away since it grows so fast.
Well, that is my list of the Top 5 Most Underrated (and CHEAP) SPS Corals. Notice a theme? They are all classic SPS. Not only will you save money with old school SPS, but you will be acquiring some pretty darn cool looking corals.
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.