What Is Acan Coral?
People often think that, when viewing lovely reefs shown on nature shows, they are made up of beautifully colored rocks; in fact, these reefs are made up of living creatures like the Acan coral.
Scientifically known as Acanthastrea, the coral originates in the tropical Australian Indo-Pacific. As with all species of coral, it is a living creature; an animal that belongs along with the jellyfish to the family of organisms called cnidaria. Sac like in shape, the coral has a hole in one end that is fringed with stinging tentacles. These coral actually have the appearance of a miniscule jellyfish in its infancy. While still quite small, the baby acan floats in the water until a hard surface, usually part of the coral reef, to which it can attach itself. Once attached, it busies itself by building a shell using carbon dioxide and calcium to make limestone. The shell is a tiny fortress, round in shape, with the little coral polyp inside.
The Acan coral enjoys warm waters between 75˚F and 85˚ F that receives moderate lighting and an adequate supply of its food source. It obtains its food at night by putting its tentacles out of the shell into the water where they wave about waiting for plankton to float by. The plankton is stung by the tentacles, immobilizing it, before it is drawn into the shell where it will be consumed by the coral.
A coral reef is composed of millions of these small corals and many other coral varieties. As the polyps die, young ones are attaching themselves to the same spot to build their shells directly on top of the now expired coral. Different coral types form various designs; tubular, circular, fanlike and more designs may be found on the same reef. The Acan, with its individual round shells, form numerous spherical shapes of a variety of colors ranging from emerald green to ruby red.
Those who are aquarium enthusiasts are easily able to integrate the Acan coral into their large tanks, even as beginners. Fragged coral, or fragmented coral pieces, is the manner in which coral is propagated for aquarium tanks. It is much easier and faster than breeding coral. The frags can be purchased from aquatic shops in small to mid-sized pieces. Prepare your aquarium before adding the frags; the most important step being to introduce an object to which the frags will be able to adhere. A flat rock is ideal, but any clean, non-toxic item can be used. If placing several frags in the aquarium, be sure to allow adequate room of about 2 to 3 inches between each coral polyp to avoid aggressive behavior. Also, ensure there will be moderate current flow in the water to nurture feeding habits.
Feeding the aquarium coral can be equally as easy. Acan will usually eat any meat based food source of marine origin. Fresh, minced clams or oysters from the seafood section of the grocer’s will be adequate, as will commercially packaged brine shrimp. A good method of introducing the food into the tank is using a standard sized turkey baster. Mixing the food with a small amount of water and placing it into the baster, place the baster into the water and squeeze the food slowly over the coral polyps. Since the coral are typically nocturnal, it is best to do this when lighting is low.
Acan coral are beautiful living creatures that add a great deal of interest as well as biological benefit to the oceans of the world. Enjoying them in your home aquarium is yet another way to marvel at these small creatures that have such a big impact on the balance of our waters.