Acropora care is deemed extremely difficult; many enthusiasts consider a thriving Acropora colony to be the holy grail of reef keeping. They require strict water quality and lighting conditions, but with enough care and patience the Acropora can become some of the most beautiful corals in your tank.
The general rule is ‘the larger your tank, the better’. A high volume of water goes a long to keeping pollution low, but be careful: the bigger your tank, the harder and more expensive it is to get things back on track if anything goes wrong.
Take regular measurements of the conditions present, from water temperature to lighting, so that you can make adjustments on time. Proper Acropora care can only be done if you know what’s happening in your tank, so keep a close eye on the environment.
Acropora love stability. In their natural habitat, temperature doesn’t change by more than 1 degree in a 24h period. Depending on what other corals you keep, your tank’s temperature can vary by up to 7 degrees in a day, which is usually too much for the Acropora to handle. Keeping the variance to 2-3 degrees is enough though, and can be done with the help of cooling fans and heaters coupled with timers and controllers.
Lighting is equally important. Metal Halider (MH) light bulbs are standard, but T5 lighting has been on the rise recently. T5s emit less heat than MH and can be placed closer to the water surface, but they emit as of yet untested UV radiation that has a suspected effect on coral colors. Some even use LED lighting. But whatever you use, you should always get a PAR meter and measure the lighting to avoid any damage to the corals.
Flow is vital to good Acropora care. A strong water current keeps the core clean of any debris and pesky algae. Strong pumps are required to move the water and create currents. The pumps are programmable and with a bit of tinkering you can achieve an almost naturally chaotic water flow that is ideal for Acropora growth. Testing the water thoroughly is a must. Salinity levels, along with nitrate, calcium, magnesium, and PH levels must be as consistent as possible. Check the web and ask other enthusiasts or specialists to find out the exact parameters matching natural sea water, or even collect some actual sea water to use in your tank.
Acropora care can be difficult, frustrating and quite expensive at times, but being able to enjoy the magnificent view of your flourishing coral colony is well worth the effort.