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Family Acroporidae Acropora & Montipora
Nearly Mythical Corals with Small Polyps

Turquoise Acropora
Turquoise Acropora

Acroporidae is the largest and most important family of reef-building corals. Corals in this family are generally considered difficult to keep small polyp stony (SPS) corals by hobbyists, although there are several species that do not offer excessive difficulty if given the right conditions.

There are four genera (Acropora, Astreopora, Montipora, and Anacropora) in the Family Acroporidae (originating from the Greek “akron” meaning extremity or summit and the word for pore or porous). Like all stony corals, species in the Family Acroporidae are from the order Sceractinia in the class Anthoza (Subclass Hexacorallia).

Most common growth forms are branched, table-top, or encrusting. Generally highly adaptable, fast-growing and colorful, these corals are very sensitive to water quality and temperature stability—hence the reason they are generally considered “hard to keep.” Most genera are indigenous to the Pacific with only three species of the genus Acropora living in the Atlantic. Acropora species in the Atlantic have suffered greatly and are not available in the trade.

Green Acropora
Green Acropora

The two most common genera in the hobby are Acropora and Montipora. Acropora species are very fast-growing, but not as adaptable to captive conditions, while some Montipora species may be slower-growing but are more tolerant of captive conditions (even being termed “hardy” by some aquarists). A species such as Montipora digita is a great first coral from this family.

Within the hobby, species from the genus Acropora are generally described by combining the specimen’s growth form with its color. The main reason for this is that species identification can be difficult if not impossible without advanced tools. As such, expect to see species from the genus offered by branching, cluster, finger, table, or bottlebrush (you may also see bushy, plate, and column). Colors can run the gamut. In very general terms, more muted bottlebrush Acropora specimens and specimens with thin branches are the hardiest, while bright table Acropora specimens are the most difficult to keep. Acquiring captive-bred specimens is best in terms of conservation and hardiness.

Again, in very general terms, species from the genus Acropora need lots of flow, lots of light and very stable water conditions.

Blue Beetle Encrusting Montipora
Blue Beetle Encrusting Montipora

Species from the genus Montipora are much hardier than species from the genus Acropora. Identification of species can be difficult, but the common species (Montipora digita, Montipora Capricornis and Montipora stellata) are identifiable by the hobbyist, although there can be tremendous variations in growth forms.

In general terms, species from the genus Montipora often require less light and less water flow than species from the genus Acropora (although many species do quite well and even prefer high lighting and flow).

Published 10 June 2008. © Blue Zoo Aquatics

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