Acropora growth has been monitored closely for decades by scientists seeking to explore and understand the role that this species of coral plays in the various ecosystems it inhabits and, more recently, to account for the significant population decrease that coral reefs have sustained in the past 3-4 decades.
Acropora species are complex living organisms that require specific needs in order to grow or thrive. Many members of this family of corals are only able to survive at certain depths, while requiring particular nutrients, as well as ideal levels of sunlight and water movement.
Acropora Growth as Observed in the Wild
Most species of Acropora will reach maturity within 5 years, although the statistics may vary depending on the specific types one would encounter. Also, some can grow in length, width and overall size to more than 10-20 inches within a period of one year or less.
Despite its rapid growth, Acropora has significant difficulty when it comes to growing in harsher environments or under controlled circumstances. While growing it in a tank may yield less favorable results in most cases, however, some scientists have observed positive response to certain kinds of treatments when applied to Acropora species in their natural habitats.
A new study analyzing the growth of a species known as Acropora Muriata in the wild, using controlled vs. natural means over a period of four months has even concluded that certain treatment methods used were able to increase growth by more than 50% in some cases.
It was presented that the species used showed favorable results even when exposed to slightly higher concentration levels of phosphate, although the study did also show that, despite the increased growth, skeletal integrity was reduced as well.
Reluctance to Grow in Closed Habitats
Acropora growth requires extreme care, especially when members of the species are taken from their natural environment. High lighting levels, variable water turbulence (which differs in the case of each sub-species in part) and higher levels of calcium define healthy growth in many areas where Acropora has been found to thrive.
Under these circumstances, maintaining a healthy environment under controlled circumstances can be quite difficult, and many of those who try to keep Acropora corals in tanks have found it to be extremely difficult.
Most scientists, therefore, advise that the species be kept under careful observation and that efforts should be made to preserve the integrity of the ecosystem for the purpose of encouraging Acropora growth, or at least avoiding its hindrance which could have significant negative effects in the next decades.