Acan corals are becoming a must for every reef keeper’s tank. The bright striped color combinations these corals exhibit along with being a hardy coral is just too good to pass up. The decent growth rate and ability to propagate this coral has led to its explosion onto the reef keeping scene over the last few years.
Common Names: Acan Coral, Acanthastrea Coral
Skill Level: Beginner
Light Level: Moderate
Water Flow: Moderate
Water Conditions: 72-78° F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.023-1.025
The different color patterns you can find Acan corals in are probably the most extensive of all the corals available in reef keeping. Here are a just a few colors of the variety you can find Acans in.
The disposition of the Acan coral is considered aggressive, it is important to know that the coral should be placed so that no other corals are within a few inches of it. While I have never seen an Acan do this they have been known to extend their stomachs out onto neighboring corals to attack them.
Acanthastrea corals do contain zooxanthellae within their bodies to provide for some of their nutritional requirements through photosynthesis. This basically means that they have the ability to get some of their food from the lights on your tank. However for a much faster growing and happier coral it is recommended that you feed this coral every few days. I feed my Acans every two days and have seen great growth. I take raw shrimp bought from the grocery store and blend it up into very small pieces. Then I suck it up in a turkey baster and shoot the small pieces onto the Acan. The coral catches the small pieces of food in their tentacles and draws it into their mouth. I have read many places that it is suggested to feed your Acans at night but I have found this is not necessary. In most cases my corals will eat the food no matter what time of day it is. I have however noticed that it is easier to feed the fish first, then the corals second. The coral will sense the food in the water and you can see the tentacles begin to extend. When the tentacles are out feel free to feed the Acans. If your Acan colony is new to your tank you can expect the Acan to not eat for several weeks, this is acceptable. Once it is settled in you will notice when it’s ready to begin feeding. The image below displays an Acan Coral with its tentacles extended and ready to eat for reference.
In the image below I fed the acan polyps a minute apart to show the different phases of Acan coral ingestion.
Step one: In the Green Circle the polyp has caught its food and is drawing it toward its mouth.
Step two: In the White Circle the polyp closes around its food and pulls it into its mouth.
Step three: The yellow circle shows the food has been fully ingested.
When it comes to lighting there is such a thing as too much light. Make sure to not bake your Acan colony. If the coral is getting too much light you will notice they stay closed up. Moderate light is plenty; too much light can be deadly to your coral. Moderate flow is best as well. When placing the coral it is also important to realize that placed on rock, tank bottom, or sand bed does matter. I would recommend not placing the coral on the sand bottom. I have heard from fellow reefers that sand can get between the polyp and the skeleton and eventually cause the polyp to die. I have never seen this personally but have heard about it a few times. If you choose to place the coral on a bare tank bottom you can expect the coral to grow into a ball shape. This is due to the fact that corals will grow around the skeleton they formed in the middle. This can produce a very neat looking show piece coral but it does hinder the growth rate. To me the ideal placement of the coral is mounted to a rock so that it can have the maximum growth potential and the most natural look.
Propagation of this coral is more difficult than most other corals. The ideal propagation technique is with a band saw. This way you can move the coral through the saw trying to damage the polyps the least amount as possible. However if you do happen to cut one in most cases it will heal up just fine, or often will cause the polyp to split and create another Acan coral. The reason a band saw is needed is that in most cases the corals will encrust over a rock creating less skeleton than if it was left to grow on a tank bottom or sand bottom. Since you can seriously damage the coral by ripping it off the rock most people choose to cut through the rock as well. The 2nd choice for propagation tool would be a Dremel, the act is the same but it’s harder to use.
More Information: Acan Coral