Five Incredible Cheap Corals for Reef Tank

So, you’ve finally gone ahead and setup a reef tank and are already reeling from the sticker shock. Yes, you’re the proud owner of your own slice of ocean, but those actinic lights definitely set you back a pretty penny.

Still, you want to fill up your tank with some corals as soon as possible so you can showcase your fancy new setup.

While your wallet might still be hurting from the initial cost of your setup, you’ll be glad to know that there are plenty of amazing corals that you can get for cheap. Let’s get into it!

1. Kenya Tree Coral

This is hands down the best coral to get if you’re on a budget and especially if you’re new to keeping coral in general.

Under standard lighting one might mistake this coral for being dullish in color, but give it some proper lighting and you’ll be wowed by its vibrant orange color. What’s more, this coral has a unique tree-like appearance and will look great being placed near powerheads as it bends and bows with the current.

You can expect this coral to run you as little as $5 for a sizable chunk and it grows super quickly in literally ANY reef.

2. Green Star Polyps

Following the trend of hardy corals, number 2 on my list of great corals for a low price are green star polyps (GSPs).

green star polyps
Image of long GSPs growing on the base rock structure of my personal reef tank.

These corals will thrive in most reef tanks and are absolutely stunning under actinic lighting. What I love about this coral is how it closely resembles grass, adding a really nice opportunity to landscape the bed of your reef.

This coral comes in a variety of styles with some having more long polyps than other and varying degrees of glow under the actinics. Personally, I have this coral in all of my tanks. I’ll start by attaching a small portion to the base rocks of my reef and let it do its thing.

You can find a sizable chunk of GSP for about $15-$20.

3. Acans

This coral comes in a lot of different variants some of which will cost you hundreds of dollars.

Luckily, there’s plenty of other variants that will be right in our price range for kick starting our reef on the cheap.

Pictured are bright red acans from my personal reef. I paid $25 for this small frag, it has since grown nearly 5x the size!

Acans are an incredible coral. They come in lots of different colors you won’t find in other corals. I’m talking deep reds and oranges, bright pinks, metallic blues, you name it!

What’s more is that acans actually fluoresce, so these bright colors will stand out at night when you just have the blues on. Acans are low light corals so will do best situated on the floor of your reef or in areas with shadows. What I love about acans is that they grow quickly if you take care of them.

This coral in particular is extremely receptive to spot feeding. Target it with some mysis shrimp twice a week and you’ll see new heads sprouting left and right.

You can find a solid acan for about $20-$40.

4. Toadstool leather

This is a great coral to get for cheap because they are hardy, they grow fast, they get massive, and they stand out. I really like this coral as a centerpiece for a grouping of corals or a small rock arrangement.

Toadstool leather coral
Toadstool (left) from my personal tank under white lighting.

I got my toadstool when it was about the size of a half dollar and within a few months it was about the size of a football! This coral is also super easy to frag so if you’re new to propagation, it’s an ideal candidate to try your skills at fragging on.

You can probably get a frag of toadstool for around $30 so we’re still working on a budget while getting some absolutely stunning pieces.

5. Kryptonite Trumpet Coral

This was the first coral I ever got that made me reconsider the lighting on my whole tank.

kryptonite trumpet coral
You can’t help but notice the bright green glow of the kryptonite trumpet coral pictured above from my personal reef.

By itself this coral will be one of the brightest glowers in your tank. Throw it under some nice actinics and WOW you could see this thing from space!

This is an amazing coral for cheap because of its stunning color and ease of growth. I was able to find a kryptonite trumpet during an online frag sale for about $20. It came with 2 heads, but within 3 months I had about 15. This coral’s stunning color also makes it a great contender for making some money.

Simply split off some heads (can be done with your hands) when it grows, and sell it to others who are just starting their tanks. They are bound to fall in love with the bright glow for such a cheap price.

Closing thoughts

That just about wraps up this list! Let me know your thoughts on this article! I started keeping reefs back in highschool so I have plenty of more corals you can get for the low, as well as tips on how to set up a reef tank for as little as possible!