Acropora are found all over the world. They are found off the coast of every continent except Antartica. Most Acropora are collected from the Indo-Pacific, the hot spot of all corals. The Smooth Green Acropora originates from the Indo-Pacific but is maricultured by ORA in the Marshall Islands. Instead of coming from real reefs, these corals are grown in aquarium or in controlled areas offshore, separate from real reefs. This comes with many benefits that we will discuss later.
Acropora are one of the most popular corals in the hobby, but that doesn’t mean they are easy to keep. While it is technically possible for a beginner to keep Acropora, it will likely result in frustration and disappointment. For this reason, Acropora are typically left for the more experienced hobbyists. In case you’re unfamiliar with Acropora, we’ll go over the basic care requirements so you can decide if this coral is right for you and your aquarium.
To start, let’s talk about lighting. Acropora are one of the most light demanding corals. In the ocean, some colonies can receive 700 micromoles of PAR! In an aquarium, it is recommended that you provide 200-300 micromoles of PAR. The coral might be able to get by under more moderate lighting, but the colors will likely be drab. It is important to provide strong, full spectrum lighting, which is almost always achieved with LEDs, T5s, or metal halides. Before you place your Acropora in high light, you need to acclimate it first. Do this by starting the coral in dimmer light and gradually moving it into higher light over a month or even longer. This will greatly reduce the risk of bleaching and color loss.
Next, let’s discuss flow. Acropora also enjoy strong, turbulent flow. Flow is important to keep the coral clean while also providing it with needed nutrients and base elements. You are significantly more likely to give Acropora too little flow than too much flow. Ideally, the flow should be irregular and random to promote proper growth and to avoid dead spots. The flow should also be indirect.
An intimidating aspect of keeping Acropora is water chemistry. Keeping fast growing stony corals such as Acropora often requires some sort of base element supplementation. This means using a calcium reactor, a dosing system, kalkwasser, or a combination of these three. Although these methods are great, there is also a large risk of causing dangerous swings if you are inexperienced. Acropora require elevated levels of calcium, alkalinity, and magnesium that are also stable. Large fluctuations can be devastating.
Despite their photosynthetic nature, Acropora can benefit from feeding. Although it is not required, feeding may result in better coloration, faster growth, and greater over all coral health. It is important to ensure that the food particles are small enough and to not over do it. A safe way to feed is with live phytoplankton and amino acids.
As for other parameters, keep the nitrates around 1-5 ppm and the phosphates as close to 0.01 ppm as possible but not 0. Keep the temperature around 72-78 degrees Fahrenheit and stable.
Purchase Size: 1 – 2″
Placement: Middle to top.
Lighting: Medium to high.
Flow: Moderate to strong.
Parameters: 72-78° F, pH 8.1-8.4, salinity 32-35 ppt
Calcium: 350-450 ppm
Alkalinity: 8-12 dKH
Magnesium: 1,250-1,350 ppm
Maricultured corals such as this one adapt well to aquarium life and are better able to handle the stress of shipping than corals collected from real reefs. They are also far more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Do you part to decrease the impact the hobby has on the ocean by choosing aquaculture and mariculture.