Figure 1. A. efflorescens captive colony
A. efflorescens typically grows in the wild on reef slopes where there is constant moderate-to-strong current. In captivity, the corals require fairly strong flow (both to keep it growing well and keep detritus from accumulating on its large, flat plating structure). It is my experience that mid-tank placement with strong lighting typical of SPS systems will create the optimal environment for A. efflorescens. As every system is different, you can expect varying results with changes in flow or lighting levels and spectrum. I also have found that this species appreciates high-quality water conditions and will reward the aquarist who can maintain stable levels.
Back in 2004, a particularly beautiful specimen of A. efflorescens was purchased for $500 and from then on, that particular coral (and its descendents) became known as the “500 dollar efflo” 3. Several pieces of this original coral are now being kept and aquacultured by hobbyist and retailers across the U.S. I was fortunate to obtain one of those descendents which is pictured in figure 2.
Fig 2. Author's “500 Dollar Efflo”
Another well-known (and highly desirable) specimen of A. efflorescens is owned by Greg Carroll. Nick-named the “Ultimate efflo”, it is a wonderful example of just how gorgeous this coral can be in captivity. As the story goes, Greg purchased the original coral from a wholesale outlet in California and grew it into the mammoth colony pictured in figure 3.
Fig 3. Greg Carroll’s “Ultimate Efflo”
- Care level: medium/difficult
- Lighting: moderate/high
- Placement: middle/top
- Flow: moderate/high
- Temperature: 72-80
- Alkalinity: 7-11 dKH
- pH: 7.8 – 8.3
- Salinity: 1.023 – 1.026
As with many SPS species, the needs of A. efflorescens change over time. As the coral grows larger, you must be prepared for the consequences. It is generally a slow grower, and will take some time to become the massive plating monster you dream of, but you should plan accordingly. Due to its horizontal plating structure, it will shade everything underneath it. Likewise, depending on placement in your system, it may create significant impediments to water flow. You will need to ensure that the coral continues to get adequate lighting and flow across it as it bulks up.
Fig 4. Corallite detail of A. efflorescens
A. efflorescens is one of those SPS species that can be your “show piece” or the focal point of your reef aquarium. The coloration, shape, and texture of it is very attractive and unique among hard corals. While not necessarily easy to find or inexpensive, if you are patient and save up your money, you can usually find a nice aquacultured piece. Wild colonies can be an exciting thing to find, but bear in mind that they can be very challenging to successfully acclimate and should not be attempted by the novice reef keeper. A. efflorescens can be demanding and difficult, requiring expert husbandry, but oh so worth the effort.
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1 Australian Institute of Marine Science
2 World Register of Marine Species
3 Reef farmers