Buying Corals Online: Good Photos Matter

Buying Corals Online: Good Photos Matter

You want to know what you’re getting - which can be especially challenging when buying corals online. We specifically tackle this. We focus on providing a good representation of the corals we sell at Corals Direct, so you can make an informed decision. One of the ways that we do that is through our photography.

Abundant WYSIWYG Photos

We provide multiple images for each What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get (WYSIWYG) coral that we sell. This allows you to really see what the coral looks like. It takes a lot of extra time and effort, but it means we show the corals more completely than most online retailers. In our experience you can even see even more of the coral this way than you would typically be able to at an in-person retail store.

Multiple Colony Photos

We provide multiple colony photos. To the extent that we have more than one colony of a coral strain available, we can include shots that show the diversity of its growth and coloration.

Different Angles

We typically provide multiple angles of the subject coral frag or colony. This is really valubable. You can see and understand the coral better – its height, size, shape, condition and colors.

Broad-Spectrum Lighting Mixes

We use a mix of lights to take our photos. The mixture of lights shows broad, natural and beautiful coloration.

Most or our SPS photos and some LPS photos are taken under t5 lights. We use a mix of Aquablue Special and Blue Plus, usually with a lamp that adds a little red as well. We sometimes add a bit of blue LED – especially when we’d like to highlight fluorescence in a coral.

Most of our LPS and soft coral photos, and a few SPS, are taken under a mix of LED and t5s. We use Kessil lights set on a middle bluewhite color and a t5 fixture with Aquablue Special lamps.

High-Fidelity Images

At Corals Direct we work to represent our corals as they are:

  • Most of our product images receive no modification out of the camera except cropping and watermarking. 
  • We do not use color filters.
  • We do not obscure backgrounds.
  • When we do manually adjust images we are striving for excellent representation. Our images for social media and the website, for instance, usually get a quick adjustment of white balance and a few other basic adjustments – focused on making them true-to-life.

All Images Everywhere Are Always Processed:

Cameras make representations of the scene they photograph, no matter how sophisticated a camera may be. Every photograph goes through some kind of processing. Even before a human touches the image, for example, the camera will do some amount of processing to the images it takes. And photos must be processed just to look normal - especially if they come out of a DSLR in RAW format.

Some Photos are Truer to Life Than Others:

So the question is not whether an image has been processed. The question is whether the representation of the coral is good enough to make an informed decision about what the coral really looks like when you have it in your tank.

Many corals in the reef keeping world are grown and photographed under super-blue lights. It is really hard to represent what you see under blue lights in a photograph. Photographs taken under super blue lights require significant filtering and post-processing to get a final image that looks good. With all this manipulation some of these images are better at representing what our eyes will see in person than others.

There are all kinds of images of corals around the internet. Sometimes it is super obvious when a coral looks about right. Other times is can be harder to tell.

We Focus on Quality

Let’s be clear. We like to show you how awesome our corals are. We love to hone on our photography craft. We work hard to source, cut, grow, sell and photograph great corals beautifully.

Good Photos Are Intentional

Corals look different and grow differently depending on a host of factors including lighting color, lighting intensity, lighting distribution, flow, water chemistry and more. Parameters in any two tanks are rarely the same.Regardless of where you buy corals from, they may change a bit in your tank. This is normal.

But find a good source of quality, well-priced, and fairly-represented corals – Like Corals Direct – and you’ll have a much better understanding of what you’re getting.

Our approach at Corals Direct to represent corals well is intentional - so you can find and buy great corals online with us again and again.


About Corals Direct

We care for and sell a growing selection of aquacultured and hand-selected frags and colonies at

We built Corals Direct to serve you! Let us know how we can help you select and grow excellent corals in your own piece of reef.