Photograph by Jan Messersmith

Table Acropora

Shaped as its name would suggest, as a table, and taking up significant space on reef surfaces, Table Acropora colonies thrive basically by branching out horizontally in a way similar to flat bushes.
This approach and method of growth is entirely different from that of staghorn corals, which essentially branch out in a similar way as a tree would on the surface. Nevertheless, the way in which table corals expand helps them expose their branches in a more direct fashion to the sunlight that feeds their growth and allows them to thrive in a variety of different locations.

The Practical Uses of a Unique Structure

Table Acropora is known as a hard coral which creates skeletal structures built from calcium carbonate that are essential to the overall integrity of all coral reefs.
Depending on the environment, the amount of sunlight that reaches them and the intensity of water currents in the area, table corals can develop a variety of different reef shapes to serve for assisting the ecosystem’s development and continual conservation.
Table corals have numerous branches that are lined up by cup-shaped extensions from which polyps are extended to feed during the night. This configuration together with the number of polyps it allows to come into contact with vital nutrients makes the entire existence of these species of corals far easier and more stable due to their ability to capture more food.
The practical advantages of the structure associated with Table Acropora are exemplified by a specific type of Acropora coral species called Hyacinthus. This is an abundant and widespread species that not only serves itself, but also provides shelter for a wide variety of coral reef fish species which can take shelter and thrive underneath its large plates.

Water Chemistry and Lighting Conditions

Most table corals are not considered to be very picky when it comes to the water conditions they can survive in. Nevertheless, researchers have observed that there are specific conditions which would allow them to maintain their health more successfully.
Some of the main concerns regarding the healthy growth of most table coral species are the levels of nitrate and phosphate compounds, as well as the temperature and salinity of the water they would attempt to survive in. Areas involving nitrate levels lower than 5 ppm and phorphate concentrations that don’t exceed 9-10 ppm are those where the species thrive best.
Also, a specific salinity level of about 1024-1025 is required, while the lighting and temperature conditions do not need to exceed normal levels.
Unfortunately, Table Acropora, like many other types of coral species, have also been influenced by global warming and coastal expansion, many scientists considering that conservation efforts should be intensified in future years for these species to survive.

Blane Perun

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