Acropora are the crown jewel of the SPS world. No other genus has the sheer number of species as Acropora and when reef aquarists talk about the requirements to keep an SPS system, they are talking specifically about the care requirements of Acropora. Having said that, Acropora are one of the most difficult corals to keep.
Indo-Pacific - Acropora are a genus of small polyp stony corals found in reefs throughout the world including the islands of the Indo-Pacific including Fiji, Tonga, Solomon Islands, and the Great Barrier Reef. They grow branching colonies that take on a variety of forms ranging from stag horns, elk horns, or even flat tables. Acropora are one of the primary reef building corals and are responsible for a large percentage of a reef’s calcium carbonate structure.
Most coral on the reef are photosynthetic and have some demand for light. Like many corals, Acropora have a special symbiotic relationship with dinoflagellates called zooxanthellae that live inside its tissue. The dinoflagellates are actually the photosynthetic organism and the coral animal derives nutrients off of the byproducts of the dinoflagellates’ photosynthetic process. Zooxanthellae is usually brown in color and the coral tightly regulates the population living in its flesh. Too little light will cause the coral to turn brown in color. As it seeks more nutrition, the coral allows more zooxanthellae to build up in its flesh. Too much light and Acropora will expel more of the zooxanthellae and cause unhealthy bleaching. Hobbyists looking to find that “just right” color play with both lighting intensity and spectrum over their tank.
There is a misconception in reef keeping that all corals require high lighting. In fact, very few corals need high intensity lighting and in many cases problems arise when there is too much light not too little. Acropora however are one of the few types of coral that are truly light loving. In our systems Acropora have fared best when given light intensity around 300 PAR however there are plenty of successful systems with lighting intensities higher than 500 PAR. Having said that, I don’t recommend blasting newly added Acropora with a ton of light right away. More damage is caused by overexposure to light intensity than not providing enough light so take a couple of weeks to allow the coral to adjust to lighting conditions in your tank.
Low light - Low light translates to about 30-50 PAR
Medium Light - Medium Light is between 50-150 PAR
High Light - High Light is anything over 150 PAR
Calcium - 425 ppm.
Alkalinity - 8 to 9 dkh
Magnesium is very similar chemically to calcium. It can bind up carbonate ions thus increasing the overall bioavailability of alkalinity compounds in the water. So again if you find that no amount of tweaking calcium and alkalinity directly is helping, you may want to make sure it is not your magnesium level that is in fact low.
Acropora are found in some of the strongest current areas of the reef and benefit greatly from strong water movement in the home aquarium. Water movement is essential for bringing nutrients to coral and more importantly removing waste away from them. Acropora even grow in patterns to adapt to the flow in a given area. For example, Acropora in very strong flow grow thicker and more dense than in tanks with less flow. Some species of Acropora might even take on a stockier shape with fewer long branches in very high flow areas.
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