The first coral on this list, I would have to say, it’s pretty predictable, but it’s gonna be Acropora. Acropora right now, and perhaps for the past few years now, has been the hot coral.
There have been some other corals here and there’s like some really fancy mushrooms and whatnot that have kind of taken center stage for a while, but I think that the last couple years at least, it’s been the domain of really high-end Acropora.
So, for a reef tank, I have to say that Acropora tends to be one of the most rewarding corals to grow. And it’s for a couple of reasons, it is, generally speaking, it fast-growing small polyp stony coral, but it’s not boring.
Like there’s plenty of fast growing SPS corals that hate to say it, they don’t exactly ever really get anyone too excited, like, when was the last time you get super excited about, let’s say, in orange plating Montipora for example.
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I mean, they’re awesome corals, but it’s not exactly the same sort of energy that you might get from acquiring a homewrecker or Walt Disney Acropora, that sort of thing. The high-end acro market has a completely different feel to it.
Another aspect of growing acros it’s kind of nice. It always keeps you on your toes. Acropora just by the very nature, tend to be very sensitive, they tend to be challenging, they require pretty much the pinnacle of flow, lighting, stability, and if you’re able to give them all those things, they reward you with outstanding coloration, but there’s also this nuance in that coloration.
Because they’re so finicky about their conditions, that it’s always fun to kind of tweak every little micro parameter to see if that will instill better coloration, in which you’re growing. I would say that acros from a coral farming perspective, it’s an exciting market, it is a challenging coral, and it’s a very responsive coral to grow.
Some mix of all those things definitely lands it as the first coral on my list.
Goniopora – Flowerpot Coral
The number two coral on this list is Goniopora, known as Flowerpot Coral. For the longest time, Goniopora, you’re pretty much lucky just to keep them alive. They’ve developed a really poor reputation over the past 30 years. But I would say in the last few years or so, people have developed some husbandry techniques, and this I would say is kind of like the golden era of Goniopora.
There is way more variety than there has ever been, like, when I first started into this hobby, there were two colors of Goniopora: There were brown, and there were green. And no matter which variant you purchased, they would be dead in six months.
So nowadays, there are extremely bright colored ones, almost like this kryptonite green color. There’s like a speckled green, there’s like the deepest, most fluorescent reds, lots of interesting columns what’s going on in a lot of these Montipora, there’s a lot of these rainbow varieties that are very highly sought after I’m we’re talking probably like $900 or frags sort of thing.
And I’m enjoying tracking down any and all of those variants. Now, granted, there is still this element of challenge in there, for example, I just purchased a couple of the amazeballs variety, which is arguably right now, one of my absolute favorite corals, and they’re not happy right now. Anyway, despite that little setback, there’s a lot of fun to kind of go on this little Pokemon hunt for all the really interesting color morphs have Goniopora.
It’s again a challenging large polyp stony to grow, and I just love the aesthetic of it. Now I guess the only thing that I would also add that makes it, somewhat worrisome to propagate, is I always feel like I want to propagate them more.
But I think there really is like a minimum size that you should be cutting these things to, you don’t want to overdo it. For me, I’m comfortable with anything that’s like a half-inch or larger. Anything less than that kind of risks the colony.
Micromussa Lordhowensis – Acan Lord
The number three coral in this list is the coral formerly known as Acanthastrea lordhowensis, and that is now Micromussa lordhowensis. These guys for a little while weren’t the best things to farm. And it really came down to our inability to keep them very well said. There are plenty of corals out there, that will do just okay without spot feeding, and then there are others that the difference between spot feeding and not spot feeding it’s practically a different coral altogether.
And Micromussa fits right into that category. There are chances where they were kind of in a sub-optimal location, so they just kind of got overlooked or just didn’t get fed enough, versus the ones that we had selected and put in some prime real estate, and we actually took the efforts to turn off the pumps, feed them like crazy.
I would say that each polyp, on the fed side, would probably be close to four times the size. The coloration is amazing on these things. So I’ve got this newfound, I guess, excitement for propagating Micromussa again.
Now, kind of similar to Goniopora, one thing that I always struggled with is cutting them too aggressively. And because the Micromussa grows so large I mean, I’m talking some of these polyps are basically small Scolymia looking guys, they are still a stony coral. They have a skeleton, and that is really what you’re cutting right, it turns out that the skeleton is still very very tight.
So you might have what looks like a softball-sized colony, but really the skeleton way deep down in there is probably like the size of a golf ball if you’re lucky. And it doesn’t really make for the best cutting, it’s kind of like this test of one’s patience let’s say because you just have something that looks so massive, it’s like let’s get this thing ready to cut, you got to wait.
Let’s go on to number four. This coral used to be in my top one or two corals, since when I starting off in the hobby, and it is Blastomussa. Blastomussa, for a little while, I would say since 2010 or so, didn’t exactly excite me too much. There were like, reds, there were like the greens, there were like the reds and greens.
But lately, I’ve noticed more and more color morphs kind of popping up. Occasionally back in the day, you’d find something crazy like a peach-colored one or something like that, but now, I think that since there are more collectors involved, there are more, people looking for the really weird stuff and then taking the time to propagate it.
There are some really interesting pinch-splattered ones. There are some that are practically like blue and color, and red and blue, and red and yellow. So a lot of diversity now in Blastomussa.
They are easy to propagate, they heal very well from cuttings. Now, the only kind of wrench in the operation as far as like long-term aquaculture goes, is that I’ve noticed that sometimes Blastomussa are a little bit susceptible to weird bacterial infections.
If you’ve kept stony corals before, have you ever seen where a stony corals skeleton would turn pink? and then it’ll recede back, and then die usually. That kind of thing can happen with Blastomussa, and it’s kind of unclear why that is, but it totally does happen.
So this is a situation where propagating more actually helps out the coral. Because when we propagate, we oftentimes dip in like a disinfectant like iodine to kind of like also clean the sock, clean everything. And it’s almost like when we do a whole bunch of cuts, perhaps one down the road will develop that bacterial infection but the rest of them are fine, we start propagating again.
And it seems like we run into more of an issue if we slow down on the propagation. In a weird sense, we have a hard time growing some giant colony of Blastomussa. But we’re really good at growing a whole bunch of small frags, I don’t have all the answers.
But anyway, that’s number four, Blastomussa.
Favia and Favites
The fifth and final coral on this list is Favia and Favites, and it really shouldn’t lump these two together so readily just because they are very different than one another. They are very different in growth rate.
So, the Favites – smaller polyps, Favia – bigger polyps. The Favia tend to be super slow-growing, favites grow rapidly. The thing that gets me gravitating to Favia and Favites, is that they’re easily one of the most diverse when it comes to colors and patterns.
Pretty much anything you can imagine, as far as coloration, you will be able to find it in these two corals. Very cool stuff, they cut easily, they heal very well from cuts, and we have probably the most in-demand one that we currently have is called Meltdown Favia. And one time, not too long ago, I had one in my quarantine system, and something just went super wrong in that quarantine system, I think, basically, it went through a weird second cycle.
So I actually was having detectable ammonia and nitrite, clearly not good right? This coral, as well as many others in that tank just straight up lost all the color. It went completely brown and started to lose flesh.
I had low hopes, kind of upset because it’s a very nice coral below hopes for survival. I kind of rushed it into a more stable system, and pretty much after a few days, the flesh loss stabilized, and then it started to slowly get puffier and puffier, and then maybe a month or two out, and it’s completely regained its color!
So it’s a very forgiving coral. Again, there’s a lot of really cool colors and everything that you can find in this. And the keys for as fast growth goes for Favites don’t really need your help, they’re gonna grow. Favia is something that you can just stuff food into. And when you stuffed them with food, they reward you with halfway decent growth, It goes from completely like turtle paste super slow sluggish growth, to something that you can actually work with.
And it’s really cool to see them, add additional mouths. Because the polyps almost like internally, divide, and so you just start to see them like develop more mouths, and then they start to separate and the end, they have these concentric ring patterns, and it’s cool to see how the mouths form and then separate and then form the patterns. Anyway, cool stuff in that regard.
That is the top five list of my favorite corals to propagate.