The Acropora is a small polyp stony (SPS) coral that has over 149 species, including Staghorn, Elkhorn, and Table coral. It is a robust reef-building coral and can come in a variety of colors, including purple, yellow, green, and baby blue. Acropora corals are highly sought after because of their phenomenal growth rates and stunning, intense colors. Because there is a massive demand for this type of coral, there is a substantial market for captive grown Acropora. It is also endangered in the wild, which means that most educated hobbyists are prepared to pay a bit more for it when they know it was grown in a tank, instead of in the ocean. Captive specimens have even been used to repopulate barren reefs in the wild.
Moderate to high
Because of its symbiotic relationship with zooxanthellae, Acropora corals receive most of their nutrients from it. They also have other feeding strategies, which involve capturing planktonic organism and feeding on microscopic food particles. In captivity, supplemental feeding is advised, and it is recommended to feed these corals dissolved marine organics and rotifers on a weekly basis.
Acropora corals require high light levels as well as high turbulent water flows in varied patterns. Too much flow in a single direction is not good for them. These corals need optimal water conditions consisting of temperatures between 24 °C and 28 °C, high calcium levels of between 400 and 450 ppm, and a pH of between 8.2 and 8.4. It is also recommended that 5% water changes are made once a week, or at least 10% every two weeks.
Because of their particular needs in terms of water conditions and environment, Acropora corals are challenging to keep in a home aquarium. Other potential issues are red bugs and Acropora-eating flatworms. Typical ailments include rapid tissue necrosis (RTD), black band disease, brown jelly, and bleaching.
This type of coral is generally peaceful but should not be kept with large polyp stony (LPS) corals or anemones. Being in an aquarium with these incompatible marine creatures could stop them from thriving and showing their true vibrant colors. If you already have these species together in a tank, a possible solution is to run activated carbon, which could help remove the chemicals released by the corals. This will also help clean dissolved organics from the aquarium.
Another potential mismatch is crabs. Besides symbiotic crabs like the gall or commensal, most crabs are opportunistic predators and should be kept well away from Acropora corals. The same goes for soft leather corals. They are aggressive and tend to release terpins that are dangerous to Acropora corals and will eventually kill them.
Acropora corals are the most important coral species when it comes to contributing to reef formations around the world. It is a major reef coral responsible for constructing the massive substructure that supports the comparatively thin living skin of a reef. It makes up around a third of all reef-building coral species.