Acan Coral (Acanthastrea echinate) Ultimate Care Guide

Acan Coral is a large polyp stony coral, they have a stony structure with large fleshy polyps.  They come in various colors, including purple, red, green, blue, orange, brown, rust, pale tan, and pale grey. There are several varieties of Alcan Coral, and they are native to the south pacific, especially the Philippines and Hong Kong.  It is argued that the best and most colorful coral is found near Australia.  Acan Coral seems to grow at the same depth as most waterproof watches still function.  If you’re diving and see Acan Coral, you’re probably about 30m deep. In the wild Acan Coral tend to feed at night, but in an aquarium, they will adapt to a convenient feeding schedule for you.

Acan Coral Care

Acan Coral is usually quite hardy and fairly simple to care for.  It’s considered an essential coral by some saltwater aquarium enthusiasts. Acan Coral isn’t picky about tank size and will live quite happily in a five-gallon tank as long as its light and flow needs are met.  They’re an excellent coral for designing displays around your vision and imagination.

All of this being said, please keep in mind that Acan Coral is a semi-aggressive coral and other coral (including other Acan Coral) should not be near it.

What does Acan Coral Feed on?

Acan Coral receives some of their nutrient needs from photosynthesis, and they also need other food in their diet to grow and be as healthy as possible. Since they are carnivores, they require animal protein to thrive.  Extended polyps are a good indication that Acan Coral is ready to eat. Chopped seafood, brine shrimp, copepods, or commercial frozen, flake, or pellet food are all good ideas.  The Acan Coral needs to be able to capture something tasty and pull it in to eat it.

Target feeding your Acan Coral is also an option.  Using a squirt feeder or even a turkey baster, liquid or suspended food mixed with aquarium water can be gently squirted into the extended tentacles and the coral will begin to feed. The frequency of target feeding can be twice a week up to every other day depending on your coral growth goals.

You’ll see accelerated growth with target feeding over scattered feeding alone.

Acan Coral (Acanthastrea echinate)
Acan Coral (Acanthastrea echinate)

Acan Coral Placement

When considering Acan Coral placement do so with the future in mind. Acan Coral is an animal and as such (when it’s healthy) needs room to expand and spread. It will take over the available space, so you don’t want it to be crowded.

Also, since Acan Coral is semi-aggressive they need four to six inches of space between other corals (including other Acan Coral) to prevent fights for dominance over their limited territory.

A habitat with moderate water movement, to disperse food adequately, is best for Acan Coral. If the movement is too fast, their fragile flesh can be ripped.   

Acan Coral Lighting Requirement

When it comes to light Acan Coral is a bit like Goldilocks, not too much, not too little, just the right amount. Too much light will bleach Acan Coral.  Their natural home is deep in the water so they’re protected from harsh light.  It’s best to emulate that low light in your aquarium. Avoid a bright light display to show off your beautiful coral. Actinic light with a PAR (Photosynthetically Active Radiation) between 25 and 50 will be just fine.  It will be sufficient for the Acan Coral and show off your coral collection nicely.


Acan Coral are warm water creatures.  The ideal temperature for their home is between 76 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

Water pH

Acan Coral lives with a PH of 8.0 to 8.4.

Acan Coral Growth Rate

The rate of growth for Acan Coral is variable depending on the source. Some say Arcan Coral is a fast-growing coral while others warn to exercise patience as they’re slow to expand and take up more territory in your tank. The growth rate also depends on the type of lighting and the rate and style of feeding your Acan Coral experiences.

Acan Coral may take their time to start growing, but once they get going you can expect them to produce several new heads at a time within a couple of weeks.

How to Frag Acan Coral

Fragging Acan Coral requires some power tools and a strong constitution.  Fragging is a process whereby human intervention is used to help Acan Coral reproduce.

 In nature, Acan Coral can reproduce both sexually and asexually.  They are broadcast spawners and will shoot eggs and sperm out at the same time resulting in fertilized eggs that eventually become a free-swimming larva. In a little while, the larvae will settle into the sand and rocks of the ocean and develop into a polyp that excretes calcium carbonate, the building material for Arcan Coral’s skeleton.

Natural reproduction in captivity looks like a stressed Acan Coral dropping tissue in an attempt to emergency reproduce and keep the colony alive.

Fragging Acan Coral is an involved process requiring full attention.  It can be difficult to separate the coral because the skeleton runs through to the center of the Acan Coral colony.

Be sure you have clean hands or you’re wearing gloves, choose your tool. A bone cutter can be used but is not as precise and you can risk cracking other members of the colony and damaging your Acan Coral. A band saw is a much more accurate and quick way to cut apart Acan Coral. You can more precisely make small cuts to isolate limited groups of polyps. Make sure the polyps are safely retracted before making any cuts.

Once the cuts are made, disinfect your new frags by dipping them in an iodine solution as they are susceptible to diseases.

Now you can attach your frag to live rock or a frag plug with glue.  A quick tip: Submerge the ceramic frag plug in water first to remove the existing air bubbles from it.

You should see your frag producing new heads in a few weeks, provided there is enough space for their growth.

Why is my Acan Coral Dying?

The most common causes of Acan Coral dying are, light, nutrients, other corals, and fish or other invertebrates.

Too much light can be a serious problem for Acan Coral. Low light is much preferred for color and growth. Signs of too much light to look for are, your coral appears too high in the tank, color changes, retraction. Slowly move your Acan Coral to a more shaded area of the aquarium to help it live its best life in low light.

Acan Coral need nutrients from the water column in order to survive. If your coral is looking pale and isn’t fully extending, a good place to start is testing for nutrients. This problem can be solved by providing additional feedings to your Acan Coral.

Acan Coral have been known to go to battle with coral that is even more aggressive than they are and win. However, Acan Coral doesn’t have sweeper tentacles, so their defense is limited. They could be being stung by other coral near them. Watch the tank at night to see if there are any coral with extended tentacles and put more space between that coral and your Acan Coral If need be.

Watch and see where and how fish, snails, hermit crabs, urchins, blennies, and gobies move and interact with your Acan Coral. If the coral can’t extend completely without being picked on or bullied by other creatures in your tank it can’t feed properly. 

Acan Coral doesn’t tend to die mysteriously and the cause will likely be one of the four reasons above.  Making changes should cure the problem, but changes must be made slowly to avoid disrupting the ecosystem of the tank and damaging the coral.

There are a few other issues and diseases that can contribute to unhealthiness for your Acan Coral.

Coral bleaching is when the symbiotic algae zooxanthellae are expelled from the Acan Coral leaving its flesh see-through and colorless.  Partial coral bleaching is also possible. The causes of this can be excessive light, high water temperatures, or big changes in salinity.

Yellow blotch disease is caused by bacteria that attack the zooxanthellae in the Acan Coral.  The coral is not able to photosynthesize when this bacterium invades it.

The disease is characterized by spots of translucent tissue that are yellowish in color. If symptoms are present on one part of the coral the rest of the coral may still be healthy.

Serratia marcescens is the bacteria that causes white pox.  White spots spread over the surface of the Acan Coral as the bacteria spreads and devours its flesh.

Where can I find Acan Coral for sale?

Acan Coral is very in demand and can be found in most high-end fish stores, or they can be ordered online.

The cost to purchase varies but is generally between 19.99 and 49.99 USD.

Acan Coral comes in many colors and varieties.  It is a stunning addition to an aquarium display and a joy to care for. It’s relatively easy to find and with proper care and feeding can grow and thrive for years to come.