Staghorn or Acropora corals are among the most important and abundant groups of reef builders. There are over 300 species of Acropora corals found throughout the world, many of them in the Indo-Pacific and three species in Hawaii. They are found in a wide variety of habitats from the surface to depths of 100 feet. Many small reef fishes live near acropora colonies and retreat into the thicket of branches if threatened.

Here is a short list of some of the most common species found in the aquarium trade:

Acropora aculeus Acropora kirstyae Acropora samoensis
Acropora aspera Acropora loisetteae Acropora sp
Acropora austera Acropora lokani Acropora sarmentosa
Acropora clathrata Acropora loripes Acropora secale
Acropora echinata Acropora microphthalma Acropora subulata
Acropora formosa Acropora millepora Acropora tenuis
Acropora humilis Acropora nana Acropora tortuosa
Acropora hyacinthus Acropora nasuta Acropora valida
Acropora insignis Acropora pectiniatus Acropora vermiculata
Acropora kimbeensis Acropora prostrata Acropora yongei

Grow Forms

Depending on the species and location, Acropora may grow as plates, slender or bushy with branches. Dramatic changes in colony form are also seen within a single species. Some Acropora corals may form rounded colonies in shallow water, but flattened plates in deeper water where greater surface area is needed to capture the diminished light. The most common growth form imported for the aquarium trade is bushy in appearance with short, compact branches.

With that many species currently known, grow forms, and colors, identifying individual species can be a tricky task.

In the aquarium

The ideal conditions for the Acropora coral is an established reef aquarium with bright lighting. Metal halides are known to be the best lighting but they can also thrive under T-5 or compact fluorescents. Along with lighting, Acropora corals prefer strong, intermittent water flow.

If given the right conditions, Acropora corals grow quickly and individual colonies can exceed 1 meter across in the wild. In a well maintained reef aquarium, finger-sized fragments can easily grow into basketball-sized colonies in 1 to 2 years.

Propagation

Acropora corals reproduce sexually or asexually.

Sexual reproduction: Occurs via the release of eggs and sperm into the water.

Asexual reproduction: Occurs via fragmentation, when a branch breaks off a colony, re-attaches to the substrate and grows.

Acropora, as well as most all other SPS corals, are very easy to propagate. It is as simple as breaking off a branch and attaching it to a piece of rock or rubble. One of the best ways to attach frags is to use Super Glue Gel or any cyanoacrylate based gel glue (make sure you by a gel type glue).