Acropora florida is a common shallow-water reef building coral which is commonly seen on the reef, and also a popular coral for aquariums. The typical Acropora florida is green with axial corallites that are a varying degree of orange, but not all ‘Florida Acros’ are created equal.
Despite being a common and well-known aquarium coral, there is a very rare color morph of Acropora florida which is so fluorescent, that it threatens to make reefers want a green coral again. This elusive strain of Acropora florida is so fluorescent green that it has been described as ‘Toxic’ and ‘Radioactive’, but not in a marketing ploy kind of way, but in a burn-your-retinas-its-so-bright manner.
In the early days of SPS keeping, the Green Slimer was a champion for mini-reef building because it was a bright and colorful coral. It grew so fast and so well for so many people, encouraging a whole generation of reefers to become experienced with fast growing stony corals. Alas, all that success with ‘green corals’ has turned off some reefers to this shade, but we’re not kidding when we say that the Toxic Green Acropora florida is on a whole other level.
Our first encounter with this exceptionally brilliant strain of Acro was way back in 2008 or 2009, while visiting Kevin Pockell. Also known as Kevinpo on the bulletin boards back in the day, Kevin is a classic reefer with great reefkeeping fundamentals, and that has enabled him to grow some fantastic reefs and corals. Among these is a screaming-neon-green strain of the Toxic Acro florida in focus today.
Pictures cannot convey how it is possible for this Acro to completely outshine even the healthiest of green slimer Acros. Thankfully we have one great video of this coral from the show tank of Aquatic Dreams in Spokane, Washington, with both Acropora florida and the green slimer Acropora yongei displaying their respective shade of fluo-green.
One thing we’ll never forget is being present while a water change was performed, and as the water dropped below the toxic green Acropora florida, even the slime that came off this coral was fluorescent green, making beautiful neon streaks on the water surface as it sloughed off!
Years had passed since our first and last encounter with the Toxic Green Acropora florida, but we recently met up with another reefer who has, and truly appreciates, this unique color form. Robert Wurst is a well known reefer from the Netherlands and his 500 gallon reef tank has a whole collection of Acropora florida colonies, among many others.
Wurst’s reef tank doesn’t just grow the toxic green Acropora florida, but it also has several other strains of the same species, albeit not as bright. Seeing these few color morphs of Florida Acro really puts the toxic green variety in great contrast, and it was such a relief to know that this coral is still in captivity, despite not running into it for nearly eight years.
The coolest thing about visiting Robert Wurst’s reef was not just seeing the neon green Acropora florida again, but also seeing it juxtaposed with more typical Florida acros. Even without the help of any blue LED lighting, and simply under 20,000 Kelvin metal halides, there is a gulf of color brilliance and saturation between the different strains of this species.
Too many ‘Modern Reefers’ are currently obsessed with rainbow acros and corals which are incredible under flattering lighting, photographed with macro settings, ‘juiced’ in photoshop and then displayed on a high contrast monitor. But like the supermodels on the cover of Vogue magazine, only a fraction of these corals look as good in real life as they do in their cover photos.
Once that overpriced tricolor rainbow Acro outgrows its cute frag phase, the colors will be restricted to the growth margin and overall the colony will be lost in the reefscape when viewed from across the room. The toxic green Acropora florida is the antidote to photoshopped corals – it looks great as a frag and even better as a large colony once it’s had a chance to sprout numerous orange axial corallites.
With Acropora florida being a commonly farmed and aquacultured coral from Indonesia, we don’t have a really good reason for why the Toxic Green form seems to be so rare. Hopefully with this article we can help to bring more attention and desire for this coral, making it cool to have a big green SPS coral in your reef tank again.