News / Species Spotlight / Highly Underrated Corals - Acanthastrea echinata (04/10/14)

Highly Underrated Corals - Acanthastrea echinata

In The Wild

This is likely the most common Acanthastrea in the ocean, and thus has a wide variability in coloration. Their range is spread all over the Pacific and Indian Oceans, usually in reef settings and at a variety of depths. There are many similar appearing corals that are difficult to differentiate, however, these Acans have a fleshy polyp that is a defining factor between it and many of the favids that it resembles.

Very similar species include A. subechinata, which has less pronounced septa (toothy upraised portions) and A. brevis which has very pronounced septa; and A. hemprichii which has much more closely spaced, less fleshy polyps. All of these similar species have much more restrictive ranges than A. echinata.

In the Aquarium

Acanthastrea echinata is often overlooked in favor of A. lordhowensis, which has larger polyps and is less common. Which is a shame as this coral can be just as stunning as its cousin and individual pieces can show much more color variation than anything similar. Echinata is a very hardy encrusting coral with good growth rates. General health, coloration and growth are all greatly enhanced by frequent supplemental meaty foods. It survives the fragging process well, and grows easily over large flat plugs. It will thrive in lower to moderate lighting conditions and will really show some amazing coloration if displayed under actinic lighting. They are not extremely sensitive to water quality just as long as parameters are stable.

All in all this is a pretty much "can't miss" coral for LPS and mixed reef aquarium systems.

References:

Ronald L Shimek, PH.D., Marine Invertebrates, 1st ed. (T.F.H. Publications Inc, New Jersey, 2004).
JEN Veron, Corals of the World, Book 3, 6th ed. (Australian Institute of Marine Science, Qld, 2000)
QM In House Sources: Eli Fleishauer, Adam Mangino