11 great low light corals

11 Great Low Light Corals

Here is a list of 11 great low light corals that can thrive in a home aquarium that has low-to-moderate lighting, or in the darker corners of an otherwise well-lit tank.

Mushroom corals

mushroom corals are great low light corals
You can tell these corals are kept in a low light environment by the fact that they are growing and stretching upwards towards the light.

Mushroom corals are great low light corals. They are available in many different colors, are genuinely low maintenance.

Cabbage leather

Cabbage leather corals can grow in low light
The light intensity in this photo seems a bit high, but don’t let that fool you. This coral can do well in lower-light conditions.

The Sinularia cabbage leather coral is an easy-to-care-for low light coral that has been thriving in the darker corners of my tank for years now.

Kenya tree

Kenya tree coral in a darker part of the tank

The Kenya tree coral, also sometimes called a Colt coral, is another great low light coral option. This soft coral is hardy and will drop branches to help you fill in all the available space, even the darker corners.


Toadstool leather coral

Toadstool corals are typically purchased as smaller frags, but they can grow up to be mighty centerpieces. These soft corals are popular because of their hardy nature, easy of propagation/fragging, and the fact that they sometimes act as a surrogate host for clownfish.

Pulsing Xenia

Pulsing xenia is a popular low light coral

Coming in at number 5, the Pulsing Xenia coral mesmerizes saltwater aquarium owners. This great low light coral doesn’t just have polyps that flow in the current, it creates its own motion through a hypnotic pulsing action.


Duncan corals

The Duncan coral is a hardy Large Polyp Stony variety that grows well in moderate and lower light settings.

Hammer corals

Hammer corals tolerate low light

Hammer corals tend to do best in moderate-t0-lower light environments, making them a great option for this list of low light corals.


This frogspawn coral will do well in the lower regions of the tank

A close cousin of the Hammer corals, the Frogspawn is another Euphyllia coral that can thrive in conditions without a ton of light.

Torch corals


The last Euphyllia coral on this list is the Torch coral. Like the last few LPS that we described here, these corals are popular because of their large, flowing polyps, general hardiness, and ability to grow in lower lighting conditions.

Certain Zoanthids

zoanthids on live rock

Zoanthid button polyps are a diverse group of corals. Not every individual variety is ideally suited for low light, but there are a bunch of options that will do just fine. You may have to pick from some of the more humble colorations, but they should thrive and reproduce in your tank.

Green star polyps

Green star polyps are one of the best low light corals

Coming in at number 11, and one of my all-time favorite low light corals, is the Green Star Polyp, sometimes just abbreviated as GSP. This is a prolific, hardy, and tolerant species that adds a burst of color and mesmerizing appearance as the long polyps sway in the current.

Why do corals need light anyway?

All of the corals on this list have a symbiotic relationship with a small organism called zooxanthellae. These plant-like single-celled organisms live inside the polyp tissue of these corals and turn light energy into sugar through a process called photosynthesis. These sugar daddies feed themselves and the corals they live in.

How to grow low light corals faster

If you want to boost the growth of your low light corals, the key is to boost their nutrition. You can do this in two ways:

  1. Feed them directly
  2. Gradually increase the intensity of the lighting

Always be careful when increasing light intensity. If you change lighting schemes too quickly, you could stress the coral and cause it to bleach.

What to read next

Check out these other great saltwater aquarium lists, to get a jump start on planning out your next purchase:

  1. 5 Best soft corals for beginners
  2. 5 Best saltwater fish for beginners

Please leave a comment

Have you had success caring for any of the low light corals on this list? Or maybe one or more of these species has been challenging for you. Please leave a comment below and let us know what your experience has been.






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