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Acropora Coral Care PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 21 February 2012 05:55




Class Anthozoa, Subclass Hexacorallia, Order Scleractinia, Family Acroporidae, Genus Acropora


Common names: staghorn coral, table coral, branching or plating


Natural origin: Indo-Pacific, Caribbean

Sensitivity (Level 3 to 4): Acropora species are relatively

intolerant of unstable and less than ideal conditions.

Sensitivity varies widely depending on the particular species and

whether wild or aquacultured. To increase chances of success, do

not attempt to Acropora them in tanks less than a year old.

Significant fluctuations in temperature and/or water quality can be


Feeding: These corals have small polyps and poor prey capture

ability. They consume foods of very small particle size. For

example, oyster eggs, with a particle size of about 50µ, are a good

food for these corals. In a well fed tank with a variety of food,

additional feeding might not be necessary.

Lighting (Level 7 to 10): Though adaptable, Acropora spp. tend

to grow faster and fair better under more intense lighting. The

ideal lighting for any particular coral will depend on the species

and/or the depth and clarity of the water where it was collected or

cultured. As with any zooxanthellate coral, coloration can change

in response to changing lighting conditions. And as always,

sudden changes in lighting conditions can result in bleaching. Be

sure to acclimate properly.

Water flow: Acropora spp. need strong, turbulent water for

effective feeding, good health and to prevent sediment damage.

Place these corals in the highest area of water flow in the tank.

Placement: Place safely away from aggressive corals and be

careful of fast-growing encrusting corals that will compete for


General: Acropora spp. are often vulnerable to disease and

predation by certain species of coral-eating flatworms,

nudibranches, and tiny crustaceans called "red bugs." To prevent

an infestation, carefully inspect and quarantine all new corals for 2

to 3 weeks before allowing them into the main tanks. Steady,

healthy calcium (400 to 450 ppm) and alkalinity (3.0 to 4.5 meq/L)

levels are important for coral health and growth.



Level 1 - These corals are easy to care for, good for

the novice aquarists.

Level 2 - These corals require slightly more attention

than level 1 corals, but are generally tolerant and


Level 3 - These corals require stable, established

aquariums and care by an

experienced aquarist.

Level 4 - These corals should only be kept by the

most experienced aquarists.

Level 5 - These corals are not known to be able to

survive in aquariums even when under the care of

the most experienced aquarists

Note that this scale is not set in stone, but based on

the numerous experiences and reports of

professional and hobby aquarists. The sensitivity

and tolerance of any given coral in your tank will

depend on species, health when collected/purchased,

how long it's been in captivity, and other factors that

may or may not be knowable.


Lighting Scale (approximations):

Level 0 - no light


Level 3 - one foot below modest VHO or T5

fluorescent lighting


Level 5 - two feet below extensive VHO or T5

fluorescent lighting


Level 6 - one foot below extensive VHO or T5

fluorescent lighting

Level 7 - two feet below 250 watt single ended MH

light (or 150-175 watt MH with HQI ballast)

Level 8 - one foot below 250 watt single ended MH

light (or 150-175 watt MH with HQI ballast)


Level 10 - one foot below 400 watt single ended MH

(or 250 watt MH with HQI ballast)

Note that this scale is quite crude and only meant to provide a

rough idea of the different levels of light intensities. How much

(and what kind of) light actually reaches the corals in your tank

also depends on the type of reflector in the light fixture, the

temperature of the bulbs/lamps, the clarity of your tank water,



It's also important to note that different individual corals, even of the same species, can have very different lighting requirements and

ideals. Often times, the same types and species of wild caught corals come from different depths and different water clarities. It's nearly

impossible to know what kind or how much light was getting to your coral when it was first taken from the wild. One advantage of

aquacultured corals is that you can know what light they were grown under. Beyond health, the color of any given zooxanthellate

(photosynthetic) coral will change and adapt in response to the lighting it is placed under. All corals are vulnerable to bleaching if not allowed

to acclimate to a change to more intense lighting. If your coral begins to bleach, move it to an area of lower lighting and feed it especially well.



Please, always take the time to acclimate new corals.

Step 1: Float the bag with the coral in the aquarium water (away from lights!) for about 20 minutes.

Step 2: Open the bag and test the salinity of the bag water.

Step 3: Add about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of tank water to the bag every 10-20 minutes until the bag water and tank water

are approximately the same salinity. You can add less water over longer periods of time to acclimate more slowly

for more sensitive animals (or when the bag water and tank water have substantially different salinity).

Acclimation can also be done in a bucket (rather than the transport bag). However, the bucket water temperature can get closer

to room temperature than tank water temperature (especially for slow acclimations). Insulating the bucket in a Styrofoam box

or cooler during acclimation should help.

To acclimate to new lighting conditions, first place the coral in a less light intense area of the tank. Every few days, move the

coral towards more direct lighting until it is where you want it to be. If it begins to bleach at any point, move it back to a less

light intense area. After the coral recovers, commence moving towards more direct light more slowly.

General "Disclaimer"

These care sheets are a brief presentation of the needs and characteristics of a variety of commonly kept aquarium

corals. Though there's a lot of science in reef keeping, the hobby itself has always been and continues to be an imperfect

science. Much is still unknown and there is often more than one way to do things. Please take what's written here as a starting

point, but always keep an active and curious mind.


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