Another day brings another interesting writeup on a notable stony coral we encountered on the Fluval Sea Flores Expedition. Like any good card-carrying Acropora lover we have perused all the pages of Corals of the World and distinctive species like Acropora pichoni and Acropora suharsonoi always caught our eye. A slightly less obvious eye-catching coral is the peculiar Acropora plumosa.
If you saw just a frag of Acropora plumosa you might be forgiven for thinking it was just another thin branching staghorn, as the true uniqueness of this species is in the shape that it develops at a larger size. Instead of growing upwards and bushy like a standard staghorn coral, Acropora plumosa grows in a a single plane, creating a fan of thin cylindrical branches.
When we sighted Acropora plumosa in the Flores Sea there was no mistaking the fully grown coral for any other coral, even though we had only seen this species in pictures before. The telltale fan shape of Acropora plumosa is well adapted to catch light at a more moderate depth than other staghorn or table coral species, especially in the slightly turbid waters and reduced light levels where our sighting was made.
The other distinguishing feature of Acropora plumosa is the side attached colony which radiates all of its mostly separated branches from a single point. It was impressive to observe how much stony coral was being supported by such a seemingly small base but it has worked out very well for this particularly perfect colony of Acropora plumosa which to have never experienced any structural damage to its glorious shape.
While not especially colorful, the stark growing shape of Acropora plumosa would make it a very unique and interesting colony in an SPS aquarium. Hopefully this is one species we can flag for the coral farmers to get into mariculture so that examples of the beautiful Acropora plumosa can be enjoyed in home reef tanks.