What are Acropora?

At Sunnyside Corals, we love Acropora! Acros are one of the most well-known types of corals and are the envy of any tank. Growing acros are not for the faint in heart and definitely not for new tanks! They are known to be one of the more difficult corals to grow and keep happy. But truth be told, once your system is well established, acros are not as hard as some make them out to be.  For those who are ready to get started growing Acropora, here is an intro to everything you need to know about Acropora coral.

Acropora are a genus of  Small Polyp Stony corals (SPS)  and often referred to as “Acros” or “Sticks”. They grow hard carbonite skeletons and have rigid structures. Acros are covered in small little polyps that they use to absorb nutrients and food.

Acropora

Millepora

One of the most recognizable Acros.

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Tortuosa (Tort)

On the easier side of Acropora to grow and maintain.

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Austera

Fast-growing, thick branching acro.

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Tenuis

Come in a wide variety of jaw-dropping colors.

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Staghorn (Stag)

A great type of acros to try out first.

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Echinata

Smooth skin and can be harder to keep.

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Many Others

See all the different types of Acropora that SSC has.

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Acropora Coral Care

How much light do Acros need?
Quality lighting is extremely important for growing Acropora and getting good coloration. At Sunnyside Corals, we grow all of our corals under both T-5 lighting and Radions. we run our lighting on a modified AB schedule with our T-5s and Radions. Our Acros sit near the top of our tanks to assure that they are getting as much light as possible. We do not have a par meter but most people recommend that your acros sit at around 200 – 300 par lighting.

Flow Requirements
Part of the variation of growth structures comes from the amount of flow the acro is getting. Acropora in general requires a high amount of flow. When placing your coral in your tank, make sure that you place it close to a pump to assure it is getting the optimal amount of flow. Don’t forget to vary the amount of flow in your tank throughout the day. This helps promote healthy growth and is closer to their natural environment.

How to place Acropora

Make sure to place your acros close to the top of your tank or directly under a light so that it is receiving the most light possible. It is also a good idea to place pumps where they can directly blow on your acros to ensure they are getting a large amount of flow. Acros need room to grow so do not overcrowd them. This will also limit the amount of flow that they can receive which may stunt growth or make the acros unhappy.

Water Parameters
Water parameters are key to keeping acros alive and growing. Acros do well when run in a “clean tank” meaning shoot for next to zero Phosphates and Nitrates. The most important thing though, is that you keep your levels stable. If your parameters start to fluctuate or spike, you could stunt the growth or even kill your acros. Look into automation tools such as dosers, refugium, and calcium reactors to help stabilize your tank levels.

How to increase Acro growth
The key to increasing Acropora growth in your tank is to make sure your tank is consistent. Once you find a spot in your tank where your corals are happy, don’t move them. If you keep your parameters consistent and have adequate light and flow, your corals will start to thrive. 

Big R Walt Disney acropora

Things to Know Before You Buy Acropora

Acropora corals are not for everyone. Thankfully as technology advances, acros have become increasingly easy to take care of. Once you get your system running smoothly and it’s stable you can grow acros fairly easily.  Things like dosers, calcium reactors and other automated tools have made keeping Acropora a lot easier once you have everything set up. It is not completely hands-off though and does still require more attention than other types of coral.

Other important factors that play a role in the success of growing Acropora are the correct amount of lighting and flow. At Sunnyside Corals, we run a modified AB schedule with Gen 4 radions and supplement T-5 lighting on all our corals. Our acros grow best under high amounts of light. We do not have a par meeter but typically it is recommended to keep acros around 300 par. Typically at the top of your tank are the best spots.

Overall acros are a great choice and can be very rewarding. Some acros are touchier than others as well as have different growth rates. Please be aware of the needs of the specific type of acro when buying. 

When can I add Acropora to my tank?

Acropora can be one of the touchiest corals to grow. They require a stable system with very little fluctuation in water parameters and temperature. Because of this most tanks typically need to be close to a year old before you start to add acros. You need to give your tank enough time to stabilize in order to be successful in growing Acropora.

Dry Rock
If you started your tank with dry rock you will most likely have to wait close to 12 to 18 months before you will be able to successfully keep acros alive. This is because dry rock can leach phosphate into the water for a very long time. Acros typically do best with next to zero Phosphate and Nitrate levels.

Live Rock
If you started your tank with live rock that process can be dramatically shorter. However, be aware that just because your levels are where they should be, does not mean that your tank is actually ready for any corals. We recommend introducing LPS or Soft corals first with any new system. After having success with LPS and soft coral for a while you can begin to introduce easy SPS corals like montis. Acros should be the last thing you try to add to your system

Acropora FAQs

What is Acropora corals?

Acropora is a genus of Small Polyp Stony corals (SPS) and is often referred to as “Acros” or “Sticks”. They grow hard carbonite skeletons and have rigid structures. Acros are covered in small little polyps that they use to absorb nutrients and food.

Can Acropora touch each other?

Most Acropora can touch and often will stop growing in that direction once they start to touch.

Can bleached Acropora recover?

When Acropora bleach it is often due to temperature swings. Your Acropora may recover from bleaching if they are left alone in ideal circumstances but, this is not always the case.

How do I know if my Acropora coral is healthy?

Some key indicators that your Acropora coral is healthy include polyp extension, healthy coloration, and new growth. Sometimes corals will go through a phase where they do not grow as much but as long as your acro still has good polyp extension and good coloration, your acro should eventually start growing again.

How to acclimate Acropora?

Acclimating new Acropora can increase the rate of survival. It only takes a few minutes to do and is well worth it.

1) While still in the bag, place your coral inside of your tank to float for 10 minutes. This allows the water temperature in the bag to become consistent with your tank water.2) Remove your coral from the bag and place the coral and the water inside in a clean bucket designated for aquarium use.
3) Fill your bucket with 50% water from your tank and 50% water from the bag. (use all of the water from the bag)
4) Now is the perfect time to treat your coral with a coral dip in order to get rid of any unwanted hitchhikers.
5)After dipping and rinsing off your coral, you can place your coral in your tank. We recommend placing corals lower in your tank and moving them up slowly to find a happy spot in your tank. Every coral on our site has instructions on recommended placement requirements. Please, refer to the product page for specific requirements.

How to dip Acropora?

Most coral dips are too potent and often kill or stress out Acropora, especially smooth skins. We recommend that you use Bayer Advanced Complete Insect Killer when dipping Acros. It does the best job with the least amount of harm to your corals in our experience.

What causes Acropora to bleach?

The main cause of Acropora bleaching is an increase in water temperature.

When to add Acropora?

Acropora requires a very established tank in order to survive because of their sensitivity to fluctuations. We often recommend that hobbyist wait up to a year before starting to add Acropora to their tanks.

Are Acropora hard to keep?

Acropora is known to be one of the more difficult corals to grow and keep happy. But truth be told, once your system is well established, acros are not as hard as some make them out to be. For those who are ready to get started growing Acropora, here is an intro to everything you need to know about Acropora coral.

Where to place Acropora?

Make sure to place your acros close to the top of your tank or directly under a light so that it is receiving the most light possible. It is also a good idea to place pumps where they can directly blow on your acros to ensure they are getting a large amount of flow. Acros need room to grow so do not overcrowd them. This will also limit the amount of flow that they can receive which may stunt growth or make the acros unhappy.

Why does my Acropora have white tips?

White tips on Acropora mean that your coral is either starting to die or it just has new growth. Any Acropora that starts to develop white tips should be watched closely for any sign of deterioration.

Check out some of our Acros!