To many hobbyists a thriving reef tank full of colourful Acropora is the highest level of achievement in reefing. While they are undeniably one of the more difficult corals to keep, their vibrant colours make the effort worthwhile. The Red Planet Acropora is a tabling Acropora that is quite popular in the reefing community. It has a green base with red and pink corallites and the polyps are deep red. New growth is either white or light pink. This acro will grow in a tabling pattern, meaning more horizontally than vertically, and also encrust the rockwork around its base.
In the wild, tabling Acropora are found most commonly in the western Indo-Pacific region. Acropora are a reef building species and make up a very high percentage of the world’s reefs. They are found at depths of up to 20 meters and are most common in areas with high levels of water movement. Acropora colour morphs with specific trade names, such as Red Planet, are aquacultured or maricultured rather than wild collected. Not only does this reduce stress on natural reefs it also ensures a fair degree of uniformity between pieces and also means that a hobbyist is purchasing a coral that is adapted to thrive in a home aquarium. In home aquariums they are generally placed on an exposed piece of rockwork in the upper third of the tank where they will receive high levels of both light and flow.
All Acropora, regardless of type, do best in high levels of light and flow. A good way to tell if the coral is receiving enough light is to look at its colouration. A coral that is turning brown may not be receiving enough light and one that is bleaching or turning white may be receiving too much light. Make sure to make placement adjustments slowly to avoid shocking the coral. In terms of flow, they should be placed in a high flow area of the tank, although direct flow should be avoided.
Red Planet Acropora are photosynthetic and can meet all of their energy needs by utilizing aquarium lighting. However, some hobbyists find that supplemental feeding can increase the growth rate and encourage polyp extension. A good choice for feeding is Vitalis SPS Coral Food.
Acropora are generally fairly easy to frag. All that is required is to use a pair of coral cutters to carefully cut a branch from a healthy colony and then glue the frag to a plug and allow it to heal and encurst.
For hobbyists with a stable tank and good parameters the Red Planet Acropora is a beautiful addition to any reef.