Walt Disney Acropora Care – How To Grow This SPS Coral

If I were to say “Walt Disney”, what comes to your mind? Bright colors? Pure excitement? Amazing memories? Well, that is exactly what owning a Walt Disney Acropora will provide you with, and why they are a must-have coral for Acropora collectors. 

Acropora (Acros) are fundamental building corals, responsible for a large portion of the calcium carbonate in coral reef ecosystems, making them the “crown jewels” in the aquarium hobbyist world. 

Now, they are a challenging SPS (small polyp stony) coral due to their care requirements, but taking on the challenge is a good thing for aquarium hobbyists like yourself, and I am sure you would agree that SPS-dominated tanks are love at first sight. 

While they do not provide as much movement as a heavily soft coral-dominated aquarium, they will provide you with a rainbow of colors, and it is their color variability that feeds the desire for taking on the challenge for many aquarists. 

The Walt Disney Acro loves flaunting their beautiful coloration. Their green, pink, bright yellow and blue variability make them stand out from many other Acropora corals, perfect for SPS coral lovers. 

Summary

  • Common Name: Walt Disney Acropora 
  • Origin: Indo-Pacific
  • Care Level: Moderate
  • Temperament: Aggressive
  • Lighting: High (PAR 300-500)
  • Water Flow: Strong
  • Placement: Top third 

I am sure you are bursting with excitement already, and are probably wondering how to take care of this awesome Acro… Well, let’s dive straight into how you can be successful in keeping a Walt Disney Acropora coral!

Walt Disney Acropora Care

Acropora corals are fairly demanding when it comes to coral care, and the Walt Disney Acro is no exception to this rule. Success in keeping this coral is a result of near-perfect water conditions and incredible tank stability. 

  • Temperature: 72° – 78 °F
  • pH: 8.0 – 8.3
  • Salinity: 1.023 – 1.025
  • Alkalinity: 8 – 12 dKH
  • Nitrates: <5 ppm
  • Phosphates: <0.03 ppm
  • Calcium: 420 – 450 ppm
  • Magnesium: 1350 – 1500
  • Strontium: 10

While it may feel like a big challenge, do not let this put you off from this mesmerizing coral. Keeping the above water parameters level and maintaining conditions by frequent water changes and regular testing will help your Walt Disney Acro coral to prosper and reward you with rapid growth and beautiful coloration. 

Common Acropora Diseases & Pests

Diseases and pests can affect your coral’s growth, and in some cases even kill your coral if left too late. 

Walt Disney Acropora is prone to rapid/slow tissue necrosis (R/STN), a disease that is common with SPS corals both in captivity and in the wild. Tissue necrosis degrades the coral’s tissues, often killing the entire colony. 

The difference between STN and RTN is that STN takes days to months to strip the tissue, whereas RTN can occur in hours. There is still not enough evidence why it affects corals, however, lack of water flow, high temperatures, and elevated phosphate and nutrient levels are thought to be linked. 

If your Walt Disney Acropora shows signs of RTN or STN, you can try dipping it in an iodine solution or propagating in the hope that some frags can regrow. If you do not frag the colony, the tissue necrosis will spread like wildfire.

Unfortunately, Acroporas are vulnerable to two pests: Acropora Eating Flatworms (AEFW) and red bugs. 

Acropora Eating Flatworms are difficult to see because they can mimic the coloration of your Walt Disney coral. When infected by AEFW, your coral will likely turn brown and then show white bite marks from the worms. If an infestation has occurred, you can treat your coral with pest control dips. If you need to treat the whole aquarium you must run activated carbon to remove the treatment which will protect other organisms in your tank. 

Red bugs are less of an issue, but they are difficult to treat as they are very small and can be resistant to coral dips. Aquarium hobbyists have been successful in using more aggressive dip treatments such as Interceptor (Milbemycin oxime) that is used to treat worm disease and internal parasites in dogs. When dipping, you should always consider the damage from treatment and never expose your coral for more than 25-minutes. 

Walt Disney Acro Water Flow

Acropora corals require strong water movement, this includes both the level of flow and motion. Creating ideal water flow conditions will allow your Acropora to produce more healthy slime, remove waste, absorb more nutrients, and protect themselves from diseases and pests. 

Walt Disney Acro Lighting & PAR

Walt Disney Acros require a lot of light. Acropora is one of the rarer corals that thrive in intense lighting, however, this does not mean you should blast your coral with extreme lighting. A PAR level between 300 and 500 will give your Acropora enough light to thrive. 

Selecting which lighting fixture depends on your aquarium setup, however, LEDs and T5 lighting are becoming more common than metal halides. High output fluorescent bulbs like T5s will give sufficient lighting for your Acropora, but many hobbyists still swear by more intense lighting such as metal halides for this particular species. If selecting more intense lighting like metal halides for your aquarium, it may take your Walt Disney Acro more time to acclimate. 

With advances in technology, many heads are being turned to LED aquarium lighting. While they are more expensive, they will save you money down the line as they have a longer life expectancy and are more energy-efficient, which means a cheaper energy bill! 

If your Walt Disney starts changing color, do not be alarmed, Acropora are notorious for dramatic color changes depending on lighting and other tank conditions. 

Walt Disney Acro Feeding & Nutrition

Even though Walt Disney Acros contain zooxanthellae, which provide them with most of the nutrients needed for growth and coloration, they will also benefit from direct feeding. A variety of foods such as amino acids and meaty zooplankton like rotifer-based foods, are the perfect size for them to ingest. 

Another source of food and nutrition comes from fish. Many hobbyists swear by a higher volume of fish when keeping Acropora corals in a saltwater reef aquarium. However, if you heavily stock your tank, keep a close eye on elevated nutrients and avoid overfeeding, as overfeeding leads to nutrient overloads and algal blooms, which can make your coral sick.

Calcium, Alkalinity, & Magnesium

Calcium, alkalinity, and magnesium are essential to water chemistry in saltwater systems like your aquarium, but the way they interact can make it difficult to control. 

It is important to note that reef aquarium chemistry is dynamic. The addition of calcium supplements can cause drops in your alkalinity levels. Magnesium may also be why you are seeing an imbalance in alkalinity and calcium. Performing regular water changes and the use of a dosing pump will help you maintain these three chemical parameters. 

Walt Disney Acro Placement 

As your Walt Disney Acro prefers high light and strong water flow, your coral will be the happiest near the top third of your aquascape. 

Acropora corals are aggressive. Even though they do not have stinging sweeping tentacles, they still can sting other SPS corals in close proximity with their digestive strands. 

When an Acropora comes into contact with another, one colony will usually dominate the other, damaging the weaker coral and stripping their skeleton. That is why you should think ahead when placing your Walt Disney Acro in the aquarium, especially if you have zoanthids and soft leather corals, as Acropora corals take a quick disliking to these particular neighbors. 

Walt Disney Acro Acclimation 

It is likely your Walt Disney Acropora will be stressed from shipment, which is why it is important to carefully acclimate your coral. After acclimation, you should place it in their permanent position to allow them to regain normal growth, which can take up to 6 months. 

Closing Thoughts

Walt Disney Acropora corals are the “crown jewels” of the hobbyist world, providing saltwater reef tanks with a rainbow of color. They are a challenging coral, however, if you are a novice coral reefer do not let this put you off, taking on challenges like caring for the Walt Disney Acro will only make you a better hobbyist. 

If you keep water conditions stable, you will be rewarded by their fast growth and perfect coloration, let’s just say owning a Walt Disney Acro is love at first sight!

    by
  • Roy Lee

    I have an unhealthy obsession with reef keeping and maintaining successful tanks. If you haven't noticed from the website, I love everything related to saltwater tanks like coral, fish, and everything else in between.

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