Russel Kelley, Jake Adams, Nic DosSantos and I just came back from a very productive expedition to the Great Barrier Reef, in a collaboration between Reef Builders and Ultra Corals Australia. Using a large ocean worthy cruise vessel and four lifelong coral we succeeded in collecting a wealth of first hand pictures videos and observations from this famous location for out-of-this-world-diversity and abundance of reef corals.
The first notable coral discovery we’d like to share with you is an Acropora species with a unique growth form that is unlike anything else. While diving the outer part of the inner barrier reef, in the shallows, we came across a particular species of staghorncan best be described as Australian Elkhorn coral. The shape is very strange, a mix of branching and plating. Plating branches is probably the best description of it.
Acropora sukarnoi, is not actually reported on the Great Barrier Reef, but we couldn’t find anything else that would match the description. And this coral was so beautiful, we couldn’t resist sharing the pictures of the Australian Elkhorn with you guys!
This coral belongs to the Acropora robusta group, so it has this classic thick branches that characterizes this group. The colonies of Australian Elkhorn are composed of highly fused horizontal branches. The colonies we saw were composed of thick branches that were widening toward the end, to become a small miniature plate.
Corallites are irregular and tubular to rasp-like, and mixed in sized and clearly the thickness of this Acro lets us guess that it’s a fan of high energy environment. We can find this species in less than 10m (30 ft) of water, on the exposed side of the inner and outer reefs of the great barrier, where swells hit hard, the water is close to gin clear, and light is at its maximum.
Maintenance in Aquarium:
So this species is in the Strawberry Shortcake direct line. It thus needs, very high flow, very bright light, in an ultra low nutrient system, with a dash of regular feeding. This is actually not the easiest environment to achieve, but just at looking at the tricolor base of orange-pink body with light blue tips and yellow corallites. The Australian Elkhorn is very close to the Bali Shortcake coloration, which do very well in aquarium so we can expect some glowing results with that particular species.
We can easily see this species quickly gaining popularity on the reef aquarium scene, and now that we can recognize it, should become more available around the world, as it’s plentiful in the right habitats of the Great Barrier Reef.